Joshua 1:1-11 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. 6 “Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” 10 So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 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.'”
Everyone say, GET READY
Have you ever felt as if you were on the verge of something great; on the edge of something spectacular or life changing? If tomorrow was a Promised Land day for you, would you be ready for it? As I was preparing this message, the thought came to me, “How important is it that I am ready or in a position to conquer before the opportunity presents itself?”
Israel was in a tough spot. They had gone through a rough patch. They were at a low point. Having lived on the back side of a desert for 40 years, living as wanderers they probably wondered if they would ever get anywhere where they could settle. Have you ever asked yourself, “Will I ever get ahead? Will I ever get established?”
Even though the Israelites were rather close in proximity to the Promised Land at this point they weren’t in a position to conquer it. They weren’t ready for it. Worse than being unprepared they suddenly found themselves without a leader. Moses, their leader, died. Their former leader couldn’t make it happen, and now they are stuck with Joshua, a new leader, a novice. Did he really think he could do what the great Moses wasn’t able to do?
Grieving and tired, they were in no position to conquer anything. Listen, God doesn’t wait until you are at the top of your game or in a good mood or on some mountaintop before He decides it’s time for you to conquer something. No. While that may happen once in a while, more often than not, it is when you are at your weakest, when you are at your lowest, when you have lost confidence in your future or when you are grieving some kind of loss that God decides it is the opportune time for you to become a conqueror.
Why? Perhaps because when you are discouraged and defeated, that is just the time to prove that it’s not you, but God in you and God before you and God behind you that is what truly gives you victory. “It’s not by might, not by power, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord. (Zech. 4:6) God wants someone to know this morning that although you look like the opposite of a conqueror He is getting ready to do something that is so amazing that you and everyone around you will know it is Him at work in you. You may be going through a period where nothing is going right, where everything you have tried has failed, where everything that could go wrong has, don’t be discouraged! Look ahead because you may be closer to your Promised Land than you think! Look at your neighbor and say, “You’re on the verge of a big thing! Get ready to conquer!”
In order to get ready for your Promised Land, get your mind ready for it!
Listen again to what God said, “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.”
They would have never conquered the Promised Land if they hadn’t fixed their minds on what God had said. If they didn’t believe they were going to take the land, if they didn’t believe their territory was about to expand, if they didn’t believe they would defeat their enemies, they would never have gotten ready to conquer the land. What you believe about what God says makes all the difference. What you believe about your future makes all the difference. What you believe about God’s ability to do the impossible for you and in you makes all the difference.
You get your mind ready by believing what God says. You also get your mind ready by meditating on His Word. Look at verse “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
You will never think like God thinks without saturating your mind with His Word. Never. Your will never know His perfect will for your life without meditating on His Word. You will never have the courage the Israelites are told to have in verse 9, if you don’t meditate on His Word. God’s Word will give you courage. It will give you confidence! Get rid of your preconceived ideas about how hard it will be, how long it will take and if it will be worth it in the end, and do that by filling your mind full of God’s Word!
You also can get ready for your Promised Land by getting your body ready for it. Don’t worry. I’m not going “there.” I’m not going to start talking about diet and exercise! The Israelites weren’t physically far from the Promised Land and yet we read in chapter 3 and verse 1 of Joshua that they break camp and move even closer to the Jordan River. In other words, they needed to strategically position themselves to cross over the Jordan as soon as God gave them the command. In other, other words J they needed to be as ready as possible to go when God said “Go.” In other, other, other words J some of you need to move from where you are to position yourself to be able to cross into your Promised Land when God calls.
Our immediate Promised Land as a church is to build a community center that will serve as a ministry center 7 days a week. We own 74 Acres just one mile east of here at Teays Valley Acres. We need about 3 million dollars to make it happen, but we haven’t been sitting still waiting for 3 million dollars. We have been inching toward that Promised Land by getting a nice sign made so that people know it’s there, by developing what we can, building what we can, keeping it mowed for the community to use, running volleyball leagues and talking it up to people we know. We moved forward by obtaining a 9,000.00 Master Plan. We are moving forward right now as our Engineers are working on an engineering plan that is costing us in excess of $50,000.00. Do you know we have two families that have made TVCOG their home church as a result of first visiting that property to walk their dogs? We are strategically positioning ourselves for readiness, so that when God says “Go,” we are ready to go! It takes some effort. It takes some planning. Remember when Joshua told the Israelites to get ready that included getting their supplies ready (Vs. 10).
Don’t just sit around and wait on your Promised Land Day to arrive. If you do, you won’t be ready for it. There are some changes you need to make, even if they are baby steps, in order to get you even closer to your Promised Land. I’ve worked with people who say they believe God is calling them to some kind of ministry and they wonder and wait and think about what it could be, but in the meantime they do nothing to serve Him.
Listen, God directs walking feet. We see it in the life of Abraham who set out to follow God not knowing where He would go or what He would do. God just said, “Start walking, and I will show you where you need to be.” Waiting on God doesn’t mean doing nothing. It involves actively doing what we know to do to help us inch as close to the Promised Land as possible.
There was a mental preparation. There was a physical preparation and there was a spiritual preparation as we see in chapter 3:5 that even though they were on the edge of the Jordan, they didn’t just cross immediately. There was a 3-day wait. There was a time of consecration. It was a time of spiritual cleansing. Taking the Promised Land was a holy undertaking, not just a physical one. They were to take the Promised Land in response to the command of God. Any time we attempt to do something big in response to the command of God, we had better be spiritually prepared or we will fail. While we need to regularly bring ourselves before the Lord for cleansing and evaluation, why not take a full day every few months to get alone with God just for the purpose of spiritual preparation for the next big thing? The Word for some of you today is to get ready for your Promised Land!
The Word for some others of you is not get ready for it, but GET AWAY FROM IT. Some of you have no hope of getting to any kind of Promised Land without letting go of some things or getting away from some things. There are some things that can get a hold of people and tie them to “no man’s land” rather than lead them to the Promised Land. The Promised Land represents obedience and faithfulness to the Lord. Sin and the Promised Land aren’t compatible with one another.
If you wonder why Moses died without seeing the Promised Land after doing all the leg work (literally!) and the tough work of continuously reining the Israelites in and refocusing them on God time after time, it was because of sin. In Numbers 20 we read about one of the Israelites lesser moments where they were arguing and complaining about the need they had for water. God isn’t bothered when we have a need, but He isn’t going to be thrilled about arguing and complaining from the lips of His people. So Moses went to the Lord to express the need of the Israelites for water. God told Moses to speak to a certain rock and water would come out of it for them to drink. Well, Moses gathered everyone around the rock, but he didn’t speak to it. He struck it with his staff instead. Direct disobedience. The leader of God directly disobeyed God in FRONT of all of the people. That’s not going to work with God. Listen, how we do what we do is just as important if not more so than what we do. Moses’ punishment was severe. He led the Israelites to the edge of the Promised Land but would die without ever getting to set foot in it.
(I PETER 4:1-3)
God takes sin so very seriously. We cannot go on sinning and think we will live in the favor of God. Have you heard people use the expression, “I am so done with it?” Why is it we can make up our mind to be “done” with so many things or people yet we have a hard time being “done” with sin. We are told that the Christian life is characterized by people who are DONE with sin. Look at 1 Peter 4:1-3 1 Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin. 2 As a result, he does not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. 3 For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do–living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.
Is this word for you today? Have you spent enough time doing what the pagans do? Are you always looking for a quick fix, a momentary high, pleasing yourself, or a shortcut to success? Have you spent enough time elevating a boyfriend, girlfriend or a spouse over your relationship with God, making an idol out of that person? Have you spent enough time being out of your mind with drugs or alcohol or anger or lust to the point where you aren’t even leading your mind anymore, but you are following it wherever it takes you? It is time to be done with sin by getting away from it.
Not only do we need to be done with sin, but those who are maturing in Christ need to get away from the things that hinder their progress. Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.”
Maybe some of you aren’t making steady spiritual progress or marked spiritual progress or fast spiritual progress because you are tied to things that are hindering you. They are dragging you down. Maybe it’s an addiction to something. It could be an addiction to alcohol or tobacco. It could be an addiction to your cell phone or the internet which is consuming your time and stealing time away from your priorities like your family. It could be an addiction to sports or exercise which takes precedence over everything including church attendance, Bible reading, and prayer. It could be an addiction to work and the “almighty dollar.” Perhaps it is a toxic relationship that pulls you down, steals your joy, and puts you in a position of defeat. It is time to get away from anything that keeps you from becoming God’s best for your life.
You will never make it to the Promised Land with sin in your life and you will never make it to the Promised Land with hindrances that are like chains around your ankles. Just because something appears to be a good thing or even is a good thing doesn’t mean it’s God’s thing for you! Today is a day for some of you to get away from it.
While some are getting ready for it, some are getting away from it, some here today need to GET OVER IT.
Some of us here are tied to the pain of our past. There are things you have done to yourself that you regret and wish you could go back and do differently. God wants you to know He isn’t limited by your mistakes when it comes to writing an amazing story for your life.
There are things people have done to you that have left scars on your soul. God wants you to know this morning that He has enough grace to bring healing into your life and turn those scars into trophies and testimonies.
Listen to Paul’s words in Philippians 3:12-14 “12Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Paul starts by saying, “I haven’t arrived. I’ve made some mistakes. My past isn’t perfect. I don’t have a perfect record, but I’m not going to let that stop me. I am pressing on!”
So it hasn’t been a bed of roses. You haven’t always gotten it right. As you evaluate where you have been and where you have come from you can say there are things you wish would have been different. You weren’t born into this world with a hope that people would be cruel, unkind, abusive, manipulative or deceptive. But your reality is that you have had to suffer some injustices. Paul isn’t denying there are things in his past that he wouldn’t want changed, but in a matter of fact way he says, “I’m not going to let those things define my destiny or ruin my future.”
He gets over his past by being future-oriented. I’m not saying it’s easy. Paul didn’t say it was easy. He said he had to press toward his future. He had to strain toward his future. He had to “forget” what was in the past in order to make forward progress.
Paul wasn’t saying he could actually mentally forget all his past held, but he was choosing to place his thoughts on something different. He was choosing to focus his mental energy on that which would take him forward. Dwelling on the pain of our past isn’t going to get us anywhere. If you want to focus on the past with the purpose that you are going to gain the tools through counseling, Bible reading or prayer to put it to rest once and for all, that is good use of your mental energy, but if you are going to dwell on the past for the purpose of rehearsing all of the injustices done to you or rehearsing the failure you’ve been, you will forever be stuck in your past.
Rather, Paul says, “I am going to focus my thoughts on what is ahead.” Listen, healing is ahead if you want it. Start thinking about what a healed life looks like. Victory is ahead if you want it. Start thinking about what victory looks like. Restoration is ahead if you want it. Start thinking about what restoration looks like. Get focused on the Healer. Get focused on the Victor. Get focused on the Restorer.
“Forgetting” in Bible terms involves choosing not to be influenced or negatively affected by something. You can break off the power of your past if you will choose to start living for your future. Dwelling on your past won’t change it, but you can choose not to let it define you. You can’t change your past, but you can change its meaning. If you believe your past means you are a loser, you don’t believe what God says about you. God says your past can be turned into a victory in His hands and cause you to triumph and you to take others to victory along with you. Listen to me, your greatest victory to date could be the redemption of your past in the hands of God if you will surrender it completely to Him! If God can make all things new, and that’s what the Bible says, then He can even make your past new in a way that allows you to move into your future with confidence, focus, and victory! Your future will always include your past, but in God’s hands and by His healing power and with His perspective, your past . . . in the future . . . can become a beautiful and powerful thing!
Isn’t that the conclusion Joseph came to? He had been sold into slavery by his jealous brothers who lied about what happened to him as they told their father he had been killed by wild animals. Someone must really hate you to fabricate to your parents that you had died as I can’t think of any earthly pain worse than the loss of a child. How would that have made Joseph feel? He was robbed of whatever was left of his childhood and was robbed of his earthly father’s shaping influence, love and emotional support. His life from that moment on was full of twists and turns that he didn’t choose. Most of them were unpleasant as they included jail time after being accused of things he didn’t do. Friends who made promises to him didn’t keep them and they impacted his life in awful ways. He couldn’t point to ONE earthly person and say, “She is for me or he is my one true friend.” But Scripture tells us that at every turn, God was “with” Joseph. God was there when Joseph was put into a pit? God was there when he was sent to prison? Well, if God was there why the pit? Why the prison? I can’t answer that question, but I can tell you with confidence that even though no one else protected him, helped him or cared what happened to him, God was with him and because of that, his future was better than anything he could have dreamed. His future only became his future because of the pit and the prison and because God was with him in those places.
He was elevated to like a Czar in Egypt and got to oversee the distribution of food during a time of famine. And it was a famine that reunited him with his brothers that he hadn’t seen for years. Time can make a person bitter or better. Joseph became better and when he saw his brothers and when they realized who he was, they were scared “spitless.” But he told them not to worry about the past because though they intended to harm them, God intended it for good. (Genesis 50:20) Joseph’s past made his future all the more incredible! If he had been raised by the Pharaoh and lived in the lap of luxury and had the finest education, it would have been a natural progression for him to have been elevated to Czar. Everyone would have expected it. It would have simply been natural. But listen, Child of God, our God works in another dimension. We live in a natural world, but God is always at work in our lives in supernatural ways. While being sold into slavery and prison wouldn’t be what a person puts on their resume when applying for the Czar position those experiences didn’t hinder Joseph’s ability to take the reins and run with it because God was with him!
Let me also say, your ability to find healing from your past will be tied to your willingness to forgive yourself for your bad choices and your willingness to forgive those who have hurt you. Forgiveness will break the power those experiences have to enslave you to your past. Haven’t you given enough time and energy to your past? Stop reliving it in the present. Tell God you desire to “get over it” and ask Him to show you what the future looks like that He has planned for you.
Maybe the Word for you isn’t “get ready for it” or “get away from it” or “get over it” but it is “GET THROUGH IT.” One of my favorite Scriptures to take out of context J is “And it came to pass.” Whatever you are going through, it cannot last forever! God is with you. If God is with you whether you are in a pit or a prison of any kind, you are going to make it. Lift up your head and look to Jesus for help! He isn’t called a “Deliverer” for nothing. He will make a way for you. You may only be able to see your pit, but don’t throw a pity party! You may be in a prison, but that’s not the time to throw in the towel. God sees the end from the beginning and while He is allowing something to happen to you, He is doing something for you. He is doing something in you. He is doing something through you for a watching world to see.
Child of God, you are never without hope. The One who can change your circumstances in an instant is Your Shepherd. He is providing for you. He is working things out for you. He knows what you need, and He won’t withhold it from you. He is leading you to a time of refreshing beside stilled waters. He will restore your soul. Don’t give up! Though you may feel weary, it’s not time to give up. For when you are weary that’s just the time God infuses power and strength in us enabling us to soar like the eagle. You may feel like you can hardly crawl, but God can step in at any moment and give you the ability to run and not grow weary. He is in the restoring of souls business. He is in the renewing of spirits business. There is a path of righteousness with your name on it because His name is on the line, and if it involves a pit or a prison, don’t despair. You’re not staying there! You are meant for the palace!
If you are in a valley there is nowhere to go but up! Hallelujah! Satan and his imps can’t keep you from getting through it. God’s rod and staff will guide you and steady you on your way out. In fact, whatever you are in right now, you are more out of it than you were before you heard this message because God is already at work building your faith, giving you courage, and birthing new hope in your heart. I’m not here to give you a warm and fuzzy motivational speech, but I am here to tell you that the promise of God is that He will never leave you or forsake you and because of that you will get through it, whatever IT is, because nothing can stop our God!
All you have is this moment. God is speaking. It is time to get “while the gettin’s good.” Some of you here need to get ready for your Promised Land. Some of you need to get away from sin or some hindrance or habit. Some of you need to get over your past and some of you need to believe that you will get through whatever you are currently facing.