Summary: This sermon is a part of the sermon series "A Faith That Works," and looks at several examples from the Bible of those who stepped out by faith and how God rewarded.
A Faith That Works
“Venturing Out By Faith”
One reason why people lack vision is because they lack the faith to believe that God will do what He has promised. The first time the children of Israel were at the border of the Promised Land they didn’t go in because they lacked the faith to believe, so they never received what God had in store for them.
However, after 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, they didn’t make this mistake the second time. They ventured out by faith, keeping their eyes firmly fixed upon the Lord, and they crossed over.
Let’s take a brief look at this story.
Read Joshua 3:1-6, 14-16
The people were about to cross over into the Promised Land, but there was one obstacle before them, the Jordan River. Normally the Jordan is not that wide or fearsome, but in the springtime it’s generally flooded, and so instead of calm flowing waters, the children of Israel encountered a rushing raging river, and to cross it would be insane.
But God commanded that they cross if they wanted to enter the promises. They were to enter these raging waters, but not presumptuously, but with full faith in God.
They began where all faith begins, and that is with God, and in keeping their eyes firmly fixed upon Him.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV)
The word, “acknowledge,” means to know God in a real and intimate way. We’re to love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And that sort of love leads us to make Him first in our lives. And that’s exactly what Joshua commanded the children of Israel to do when he said they were to “sanctify” themselves before the step of faith was made.
To sanctify means to set ourselves apart completely dedicated for the Lord and for His service.
We see this in the command that the people keep the Ark of the Covenant clearly in their sights, and not to move until it moves. The Ark represented the Lord’s presence among His people, and so in essence the people were told, “Don’t move until you see God move.”
The priests were to carry the Ark into the Jordan River and the people were to follow. To the priests Joshua said, “Don’t wait to the waters to go down, rather step into the river now and see God move.”
It’s similar to when Jesus told His disciples to get into a boat and cross the Sea of Galilee. But while they were following Jesus’ instructions a great storm came and they were tossed about pretty good. Then in the midst of the storm Jesus came walking on the water, and it says they were troubled.
Jesus immediately assured them that they weren’t seeing a ghost, and then Peter asked if Jesus would command him to come on the water to Him, to which Jesus replied, “Come.” Peter stepped out of the boat and onto the water and began one of the greatest walks of faith ever known. Yet, as he began to look around at the wind and waves, he began to sink. He immediately cried out for Jesus to save him. Jesus reached out and pulled Peter back up and said, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt.”
Now it’s easy to get on Peter’s case of not trusting, but if the truth be told, most of us would have never gotten out of the boat to begin with. It’s true that Peter had little faith, but for most of us it would have been less than a little.
This is where we find the priest in our story. They had to get their focus off of the current condition, that is, the raging water of the Jordan River, and put it on God’s promise. And so into the water they went. They couldn’t wait for the waters to recede, because if they waited they would still be there standing today.
We cannot afford to wait until the circumstances in our lives to get manageable; instead we need to venture forth by faith upon God’s word. You see it wasn’t until they stepped into the river that it began to pile up 15 to 20 miles north of where they stood.
Now catch this, these priests had to stand there in the river until 15 to 20 miles of raging rushing water passed by them; water that threatened to drown them and wash them away.
That’s the way if feels when we venture out by faith in the dreams and visions of God. It feels like the waters of difficulties and problems are going to drown us. But before we can enter into the fullness of the promises, we’ll have to face these same seemingly impossible situations and obstacles.