1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them–to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates–all the Hittite country–to the Great Sea on the west. 5 No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Vs 11-11 “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your supplies ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.'”
Getting ready for your Promised Land means embracing change.
Our text for this morning starts on a note of reality. It is written very matter of fact. Moses is dead. The leader is gone. Joshua is the new leader. Just by virtue of new leadership things were going to change, and if the Israelites were going to walk into the Promised Land, they were going to have to accept the new leadership. They were going to have to embrace the idea of moving to a new location. Sometimes even though the Promised Land is a better place and we believe it is, the trip, the cost to get there, the change required, can be a deal breaker for some people.
Some people resist change just because they are just negative (negativity) people. It is their personality to be critical or suspicious whenever change is discussed.
When the railroads were first introduced to the U.S., some folks feared that they’d be the downfall of the nation! Here’s an excerpt from a letter to then President Jackson dated January 31, 1829: As you may know, Mr. President, ‘railroad’ carriages are pulled at the enormous speed of 15 miles per hour by ‘engines’ which, in addition to endangering life and limb of passengers, roar and snort their way through the countryside, setting fire to crops, scaring the livestock and frightening women and children. The Almighty certainly never intended that people should travel at such breakneck speed. -Martin Van Buren Governor of New York (Source Unknown)
How he ever became president I do not know. Listen, you can’t get to the Promised Land without some vision. Get a vision, and you’ll lose your criticism. Vision sees beyond the obstacles. Vision doesn’t focus on the problems, but on the possibilities. “Where there is no vision, people perish,” Proverbs 29:18. But where there is vision, there is abundant life! You can look ahead and see the “giants” in the land and decide to stay put like the ten spies who scoped out the Promised Land or you can be like Joshua and Caleb, the two spies who saw how good it was and let how good it was over ride any challenge along the way.
Some people don’t like change simply because it requires an adjustment (adjustments) on their part. They like the familiar and comfortable and having to learn and accept something new just tweaks them.
We’ve all been there. We learn how to do something and just the time we get the hang of it, technology advances and it’s time to re-learn or de-learn it and do it differently. We put off change just because it will require an investment of our time or energy and fitting that into our already busy schedule or fitting that into our already over-crowded mind, just seems impossible.
I’m guilty here. I put off getting an I-phone forever. Until early summer, I still had a little flip phone. Nothing wrong with a little flip phone if that is all you really need. But as a leader of a growing ministry, a busy mom of two, and someone who is on the road a lot where I often have down time it made sense for me to have an I-phone in order to maximize my productivity. Doing more, faster, appealed to me to the point where I couldn’t resist any longer. Plus, you all kept texting me and it didn’t work to say, “I don’t text,” so basically you all pushed me into it! I love my I-phone now, but learning it about killed me. It’s a humbling thing to have to learn about technology from your children. Right?
Have you ever had to learn something from your children? For the first week, whenever I got a text I would hand the phone to Hannah and dictate what she was to type back. Gradually, I learned what to do, how to browse the internet, check my email, send messages through Facebook, play Scrabble with people all over the country, and find the cheapest gas to wherever my location was. I can’t imagine going back to the flip phone because of all I can do now and because of how it enhanced my ability to work and interact with people. Why had I put it off so long? Simply because learning how to use it seemed difficult.
I think a third category of people resist change just out of fear. What if I don’t like the change? What if it doesn’t work the way I think it will? How can I change without knowing exactly what the impact of the change will be up front? How will it affect me personally? Fear of the unknown can really paralyze people. We can’t control outcomes. We simply have to accept that. There are consequences, both positive and negative, any time a decision is made to move forward, but listen to me, there are also consequences for staying the same and 99% of the time, they aren’t pleasant.
From 1900 to 1967, the Swiss were the leading watchmakers in the world. In 1967, when digital technology was patented, the Swiss rejected it in favor of the traditional ball bearings, gears, and mainsprings they had been using to make watches for decades. Unfortunately, however, the world was ready for this advance, and Seiko, a Japanese company, picked up the digital patent and became the leading watch manufacturer in the world almost overnight.
Fifty thousand of the 67,000 Swiss watchmakers went out of business because they refused to embrace this new technology. It was not until years later that the Swiss caught up and regained their position in the marketplace with the creation of Swatch watches. (–from ACTS Daily Encounter)
There are consequences for refusing to change. You will suffer loss. You will be “left behind” in a sense. You will miss out. If it is God who is asking for the change, to refuse to do so will be disobedience, and there are big consequences for that. God will not bless people who won’t take possession of what He wants to give to them.
His presence and promises go with those who will go with Him. It’s right there in our text for today. We heard just this week from a pastor whose congregation is struggling to embrace change. When it was discussed that their aisles were so narrow that a wheelchair wouldn’t be able to fit in the aisle and that something should be done to accommodate a person in a wheel chair there was a huge brouhaha. One lady, “Sister Stiffneck,” we’ll call her, overrode the pastor’s desire to accommodate the needs of anyone who might come in and said, “We don’t have anyone in a wheelchair that comes to this church. When someone in a wheelchair comes, then we’ll do something. But until then, we’re not messing with the pews.” Seriously. Guess who won? How can God bless that decision? How can God bless a people who aren’t willing to possess a vision of ministering to all people?
(v. 2) “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan into the land I am about to give them…” Moses was gone. Moses did great things with God’s help, but a page was being turned.
I can just hear Debbie Downer and Cranky Carlos say, “But I like the way Moses did things. I don’t want a new leader.” “Joshua walks too fast,” or “He will ask us to park our camels in a different spot.” “Joshua is too contemporary.” “He likes the tambourine louder than Moses did.” I think I’ve made my point, but just in case, let me say, “The greatest obstacle to experiencing the abundance of God in your life today is your refusal to let go of yesterday.”
The journey to the Promised Land involves embracing change. It’s interesting in verse 11 that they were told to get their supplies ready. They were to take provision for food with them. Why? Manna was still falling from heaven every day. Why the need to take that which could feed them in the Promised Land? Yes, God had provided manna for them, but He was preparing them for the reality that He was about to do a new thing in the Promised Land. Change was coming in the way He would provide for them. They were used to just picking up their meal each day from the ground each day, but in the Promised Land, they were going to have the ability to produce food and feed themselves.
Listen. There are times when God will spot you. There are times when God will spoil you. There are times when God will provide a supernatural miracle in order to meet your needs. You will just have to bend down and pick it up. But there are also times when He says to you, “Bring what YOU have to the table.” Oh, it’s all still God’s provision. Whether money falls from the sky or it is directed deposited into your checking account through your place of employment, God has still provided both. It all comes from Him. However, sometimes He wants to change up the way He supplies in your life, and you need to be open to getting your supplies ready. You need to be open to taking some provisions into the Promised Land.
I spoke on Wednesday night about the feeding of the 5000. The disciples told Jesus to send the large crowd away so they could go get something to eat. Jesus said, “We don’t send hungry people away. You feed them.” Feed them? With what? There was a little boy there whose mommy had thought ahead. She knew when he got enthralled with something that it was hard to tear him away. Maybe he was one of those kids who would get so interested in what was going on that he would even forget to eat. So his mom packed him a lunch just in case he would get so involved in Jesus’ message that he wouldn’t make it back home in time to eat.
But when he heard Jesus ask the disciples what they had to work with, he remembered he had lunch! Now listen. Jesus could have provided enough food without any resource for those who were gathered that day. Sometimes, that is how He rolls! But there are other times, like with the Israelites who were about to step into the Land of Promise when He says, “Bring what you have to the party because change is coming and I want you to use what I have already given to you to make it happen.”
What change do you need to embrace? What do you need to let go of? What fear do you need to put behind you? What do you need to take with you on your journey to your personal Promised Land?
I want to commend you as a church on your willingness to embrace change during these last almost five years. You have accepted a fiery female preacher. We’ve changed staff. We’ve changed the by-laws. We have renovated and added to our building. We have implemented changes in worship, started new programs and outreach, and asked you to serve. We have developed a new mission statement, turned outward in our focus rather than be focused only on the needs of our members. We added a website and internet presence, moved out pews, brought in chairs, updated our approach to media, canceled Sunday evening services, moved Sunday School classes and nurseries around, and have developed policies to protect our children. We have asked the choir to stay in the choir loft in order to free seats on the floor, have recently asked the youth to share their space during Sunday School, and have asked you to park off site just to name a few of those changes.
I say without reservation that I believe all of those changes have been necessary in order for us to see all of the good things God has provided for us during these last five years. Over 100 people have saved. We’ve grown from about 120 people to a worshiping congregation well over 300. Last Sunday we had 365 people in worship! The growth wouldn’t have happened without the changes. Change is essential if we are going to grow toward the Promised Land.
What changes will this church need to embrace as we prepare to build the community center this community needs? Embrace them! They are part of God’s process for us. What do you have that you can take to the Promised Land at Teays Valley Acres that can be used to feed the multitudes that God will send?
Getting ready for your Promised Land means laying claim to what is ahead.
“I will give you every place where you set your foot…” ( Joshua 1:3) Does anyone have the faith to believe this morning that as you walk into your Promised Land that you will possess it? God wants you to have dominion. You are to occupy a place in this life. He has a plan for you. In order to occupy that place you are going to have to exert some energy. It will require physical, spiritual, and emotional effort if you are going to possess the Promised Land. If you have been standing still spiritually, hear the admonition this morning to start walking toward the Promised Land.
It’s exciting to read that God will give us every place where we set our feet. Woohoo! Bring it on, Lord. We’ll take everything You have to give! But that doesn’t mean we sit back, take it easy and receive the Promised Land on a silver platter. God said, “I will give you every place WHERE YOU SET YOUR FOOT.” Get up, Christian. Start walking. Start claiming it is yours. Start “faithing” your way into the Promised Land. Obey what you know to do. Act and speak as if it is yours because it is!
About midway in taking hold of the Promised Land, Joshua had to get the people together to have a talk about the part they were to play in setting their feet on the land. Look at Joshua 18. 1 The whole assembly of the Israelites gathered at Shiloh and set up the Tent of Meeting there. The country was brought under their control, 2 but there were still seven Israelite tribes who had not yet received their inheritance. 3 So Joshua said to the Israelites: “How long will you wait before you begin to take possession of the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, has given you? 4 Appoint three men from each tribe. I will send them out to make a survey of the land and to write a description of it, according to the inheritance of each. Then they will return to me.
Do you hear Joshua? He is asking, “How long will you wait to get started? What are you waiting on? What is the hold up? Get a plan in place. Get a committee formed. Survey the land. Get some things on paper, but don’t just stand still doing nothing.
Some of you here this morning know God is calling you to a new place. He has challenged you to ready yourselves and prepare your provisions, yet you haven’t taken the first step. Who do you need to talk to? What book do you need to read? What do you need to walk away from? Do you need to get some people to pray for you? What decision do you need to make in order to get started?
We see in Joshua 18 that some of the Promised Land had been taken hold of, but the Israelites as a whole had stopped short of what God had for them. Don’t be satisfied with partial possession. Don’t stop short of all that God has for you. Keep walking. Keep possessing. Keep claiming more and more territory!
Church, it’s time for us to possess the Promised Land God has put before us. I’m going to quit saying, “I’m going to drive up on the church property.” I’m going to start saying, “I’m going to drive up to the Community Center.” I’m going to exercise faith in my words and “faith” my way towards the Promised Land.
We are to possess the land we have named Teays Valley Acres. It is already ours. It is paid for. It is the gift of God. It is the dream birthed in the hearts of your leaders, both previous and current. We haven’t just been waiting for something to happen. We’ve been taking steps to develop the property. We’ve named it. What is your personal Promised Land? Name it and start faithing your way towards it. The name speaks of our mission. It is called “Teays Valley Acres” and “acres” stands for “All Can Receive Eternal Salvation.” We have made it available to the community. It’s open from dawn to dusk. It is being regularly used. We’ve added trails, a playground, septic system, electric and water, restrooms, sand volleyball, and God provided a beautiful two-land paved road. We have awesome volunteers who are maintaining it. We have developed a master plan. We have done soil samples to discover what kind of building can be built. But that’s just partial possession. Using that property for picnics and Easter Egg hunts is great, but there is more God has called us to do.
We have been casting vision. We have been preparing the way. We have a plan. God has increased our membership to the point where a capital campaign is viable. We have been praying for seed money of one million dollars and some have added fasting to that prayer. I have prayed for that money for almost five years now. The passing of time doesn’t diminish my belief that it is coming one bit. I’m still putting one foot in front of the other. God has already given us that Community Center, but we must continue to walk toward it.
Getting ready for your Promised Land means seeking and acknowledging God’s presence in your journey. (v. 5) “As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
You will never make it to the Promised Land without God. Treasure His presence. Acknowledge His presence. Ultimately, He is the One who will make it happen. He will take you where you could not otherwise go.
How was God with Moses? There was intimate communication. There were amazing miracles, signs and wonders. There was protection and safety. God was with Moses in a special and significant way because Moses knew the power of God’s presence. He didn’t want to be without it.
Exodus 33:15 15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?”
Moses knew he didn’t want to be anywhere without God, not even in the Promised Land.
Seeking the Lord means seeking his presence. “Presence” is a common translation of the Hebrew word “face.” Literally, we are to seek His “face.” But this is the Hebraic way of having access to God. To be before His face is to be in His presence.
In a sense we are always in God’s presence as God’s children. We know He is everywhere, but why would we be repeatedly told to seek the Lord and seek His presence? It’s easy to become distracted and forget the God who wants to be present with us. It’s easy, if you will, to become sort of “unconscious Christians.” We need to be God-conscious. That is, we need to be aware of where God is working, how He is leading, and what He is asking of us. He is trying to set you up in a good way, every day. He is always at work, and He is working to provide for you and orchestrate your life so that you can take that walk into the Promised Land. Be present to the journey. Be conscious of God. Seek His presence and be constantly aware of His leading.
It goes back to what I have preached on the last two weeks. “Now set your mind and heart to seek the Lord your God.” (1 Chronicles 22:19)
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2) Set your heart and mind on Him and keep doing it.
Will you take a walk with me to the Promised Land? Find your personal Promised Land, and together, let’s walk into our corporate Promised Land. In order to do so, you will need to accept change, lay claim to what is ahead, and seek God’s presence continually. The Promised Land is waiting. Let’s start walking!