Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: "There is no success without sacrifice. If you succeed without sacrifice it is because someone has suffered before you. If you sacrifice without success it is because someone will succeed after." (Adoniram Judson)

Opening Illustration: Henri Nouwen was also a person whose heart was to serve the Lord. And as a world-renown Catholic educator and teacher he had a great deal of success in encouraging others in their faith. Yet one day, God asked him to leave that and become a house parent in the Le Arche community, an organization that gives homes to the mentally and physically handicapped children. So he did. He left the world of the high flying speaker and entered a home where none of the people he was ‘father’ to, knew of his fame and success. Believing that he would be serving them, Nouwen soon found that the shoe was on the other foot.

When Nouwen came into a room he saw the faces of the children light up. Each day he was greeted with smiles and hugs, openly involved in the sorrows and success of the children, and generally made to feel like a valuable part of the community. Before long, Nowen found himself in the deepest pit of depression that he had ever experienced. In the face of the profound love and acceptance that these handicapped children had given him, Nouwen’s reliance on his ability to dazzle with knowledge crumbled and the loss was devastating. Yet it was in this breaking point that Nouwen experienced the unconditional love of God at the very core of his being and he understood that God can and does use the handicapped and wounded to do His will. Out of that experience came the wonderful book, “The Wounded Healer,” which ends with the statement that “the wound which causes us to suffer now will be revealed to us later as the place where God made his new creation in us most intimately known.” (Amanda Wilson, Gladius Publishing)

Introduction: Moses’ three greatest excuses for not to step into his calling were: (i) I am not qualified (ii) I am not ready and (iii) I am not supported. God speaks clearly. His “call” isn’t some ambiguous mystery to figure out, like some people make it look like, it is explicit. The more you are going to fight against God’s call, the greater your failure will be displayed. Just trust your Creator and follow His lead. He knows it all.

God chooses Joshua for ‘Mission Impossible’ without his consent. Three times in the opening 9 verses of Joshua, God tells him to be strong and courageous. It is quite obvious in the case of Joshua why he might be afraid and need God to tell him to not be afraid. While Israel has just conquered two mighty kings, Og, King of Bashan and Sihon, King of the Amorites; yet the victory was won with Moses as their leader. Now Moses is dead and they are about to cross the Jordan River to take on 31 kings and their armies, all of whom live in fortified cities and some of whom are people of extraordinary size. So God first tells Joshua to be full of courage and not fear as he leads the people into the land.

How ready are you to step into your calling?

1. Readiness to take on DIRE CIRCUMSTANCES (vs. 1-2)

Now we need to take our eyes off of ourselves and square on God. Trust in his promises to go forward into life’s challenges. But we see the obstacles and they seem insurmountable. How can we overcome such hindrances?

Joshua faced great obstacles in his mission too. These obstacles could have kept him from accomplishing God’s purposes if he had let them overwhelm him with panic. What were his challenges?

• “Cross the Jordan River” – Across the river he would encounter a formidable enemy. In Scripture, the Jordan often represents an obstacle, a hindrance to growth, ministry or success. It is possible that at the time of the year Israel crossed the Jordan to enter Canaan the river was swollen over its banks. How would they get across?

• Entering a hostile land – Once they got across the river they were in enemy territory who had chariots. They were giant people living in fortified cities and Israel saw themselves as “grasshoppers” in comparison. A further danger exists when these godless people pressure them to conform to the status quo of idolatry.

• “You and all these people” – This was not a small group of people. Seventy entered Egypt when Joseph brought his family out of a time of famine, and one million men and their families left 400 years later. On top of that these people were known to be complainers and whiners.

These three obstacles would make any leader quake with fear. And fear is paralyzing when it gets out of control. Any thesaurus will list boldness and fearlessness as synonyms of courage. But courage often exists in spite of the presence of fear. True courage might possibly be most evident when someone does what they are afraid to do. Real courage is the ability to face dangers or challenges with resolve in spite of fear. As John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”

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