Chuck Colson made a keen
observation that "Western society has been obsessed
with the search for self." He adds, this
"obsession to 'find
ourselves' has spawned a whole set of counterfeit
values; we worship fame, success, materialism, and
celebrity. We want to 'live for success' as we 'look
out for number one,' and we don't mind 'winning
through intimidation . . . . '
"But, the church is in
almost as much trouble as the culture, for the
church has bought into the same value system: fame,
success, materialism and celebrity. We watch the
leading churches and the leading Christians for our
cues. We want to emulate the best-known preachers
with the biggest sanctuaries and the grandest
"Preoccupation with these
values has also perverted the church's message. . .
. 'We give the people what they want.' This heresy
is at the root of the most dangerous message
preached today: the what's-in-it-for-me gospel.
"The 'victorious Christian
life' has become man's victorious life, not God's. .
. . This is not just a religious adaptation of the
look-out-for-number-one, winner-take-all, God helps
those who help themselves gospel of our culture; it
is heresy." (Charles W. Colson, Loving God.
Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1983, pp. 13-14).
But I am convinced there
is a better way of life than this spiritual rat race
that ends up on a fast road to nowhere with a lot of
glitter, but little substance. Where do you find an
authentic intimate love relationship with God
without all the glitter and carnality? Where do you
find authentic discipleship?
Our major goal in life is
to know and experience God. While a senior in high
school I made a commitment that I would live to the
hilt of every situation I believed to be the will of
God. The passion of my heart is still the same. I
want to know Him and the power of His resurrection
and the fellowship of His sufferings. I press on
daily toward the goal of the prize of the upward
call of God in Christ Jesus. Do I really want to
know Him? Do I want to understand who He is and His
purpose for my life? Do I want to understand how He
sees my circumstances and station in life? Do I
humbly yield to Him the desires of my life?
The more I am around
Jesus the more I want to be like Him. I want His
kind of life. The more I get to know Christ the more
I get to know myself. I realize there is more of the
Christ-life available for me. I need to go in and
take possession of what God has given me in Christ.
The apostle Paul is quoting the prophet Isaiah with
these words of encouragement for the believer.
"THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT
HEARD, AND WHICH HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN,
ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM" (1
God has provided for us
His kind of life in Christ Jesus. Jesus said, "I
came that they may have life, and have it
abundantly" (John 10:10b). Kenneth Wuest expanded
the translation to bring out the depth of Jesus'
words: "I alone came in order that they might be
possessing life, and that they might be possessing
it in superabundance." The Lord God has provided
everything we need to faithfully live the Christian
The book of Joshua makes
an excellent analogy of knowing and experiencing God
in the Christian's daily life. The historical
crossing of the Jordan River illustrates beautifully
our present inheritance in Christ. The Christian's
Promised Land is full of privileges to be enjoyed by
all born again believers. God invites us, indeed
commands us to appropriate our vital union with
Christ. Am I appropriating my resources in Christ?
Am I drawing from His power and strength to live
Many of us are facing
some turbulent waters at springtime flood stages in
our personal and spiritual lives. The Jordan is a
picture of death, the dark river of judgment. The
crossing is a beautiful analogy of the believer's
death with Christ and the resurrection life in Him.
The moment we put our
faith in Jesus as our personal Savior we have
everything in Christ. The Holy Spirit invites us to
come and take possession of it.
THE PROMISED RESOURCES
For three days before
crossing the Jordan River the children of Israel
looking out over the flooding river. It is
overflowing its banks. Can you imagine what is going
on in their minds? What were they thinking? We are
going to cross that river!
Remember God told Joshua
to go in and take the land. "Cross this Jordan, you
and all this people, to the land which I am giving
to them, to the sons of Israel" (Joshua 1:2). With
God's promises come God's provisions. The land was
God's gift to Israel. Verse three says, "Every place
on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given
it to you, just as I spoke to Moses" (Joshua 1:3).
Yeah, Joshua, you talk
big talk. How are we going to do it? Yahweh said,
"No man will be able to stand before you all the
days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I
will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake
you" (Joshua 1:5).
How big is your God
Joshua? How big is your God children of Israel? How
big is your God wil Pounds? The problem is not are
you qualified, but a willingness to be used of God.
It is not position of power, but an intimate abiding
relationship with the LORD. Put your own name in
this promise. Claim it by faith. "Just as I have
been with Moses, I will be with you Wil Pounds; I
will not fail you or forsake you." Let Joshua 1:6-9
sink in. "Have I not commanded you [Wil Pounds]? Be
strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be
dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever
you go" (v. 9). Go back in your spare time, reread
these verses, and personalize them. Jesus said, " .
. . lo, I am with you always, even to the end
of the age." That fact is still true.
God's promises means
God's provision. Ask the Lord for strength and
encouragement in your walk with Him. He will make
you strong. Obey God's message of instruction and
guidance as you find it in His Word. Remind yourself
often that the Lord is within you. He has promised
to go before you. Surrender your life to Him. Make a
once-for-all commitment of your life to Christ, and
then daily give each day to Him. Follow His leading
in every area of your life and you will experience
Stake your claim. All of
the Lord Jesus is mine at conversion, but I possess
only as much as I claim by faith. Great saints were
great receivers. The apostle Paul was a great
receiver. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord
Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every
spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,
just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of
the world, that we would be holy and blameless
before Him" (Ephesians 1:3-4).
As you realize your
identification with Christ in His death and
resurrection, you enter in to a life of joy and
victory as you claim your privilege as His follower.
You have the Holy Spirit living within you to
empower you and guide you.
We have the precious
promised resources of God for our daily Christian
life, and the power of God's deliverance.
The two spies came back
from Rahab's place at Jericho with their report to
Joshua. "Surely the LORD has given all the land into
our hands, and all the inhabitants of the land,
moreover, have melted away before us" (Joshua 2:24).
That was a completely different report than what
Moses received from twelve spies 40 years earlier.
instructions to the people for crossing in three
"Then Joshua got up early
in the morning; and he and all the sons of Israel
set out from Shittim and came to the Jordan, and
they spent the night there before they crossed. Then
at the end of three days the officers went through
the midst of the camp; and they commanded the
people, saying, "When you see the ark of the
covenant of the Lord your God with the Levitical
priests carrying it, then you shall set out from
your place and go after it. However, there shall be
a distance between you and it of about two thousand
cubits by measurement. Do not come near it, so that
you may know the way by which you shall go, for you
have not passed this way before" (Joshua 3:1-4).
In Joshua 3:5, Joshua
commanded the people to "consecrate" themselves,
"for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among us"
(3:5). The word (qadash) "consecrate" means
to make holy or to sanctify, to be set apart. The
idea is to be set apart for God's service. Here it
means to consecrate yourselves, set yourselves apart
for God's use. It is the responsibility of the
individual to reserve himself for God. He is
dedicated, reserved for God's purposes.
God wants us to make a
once-and-for-all consecration of ourselves to Him.
What infinite joy to be reserved for His eternal
purposes. With that consecration to Him the
Christian life becomes a daily, moment by moment
walk with Him every day.
God calls us to sanctify
ourselves. He calls His people to holiness,
separation from sin and walking in the Holy Spirit.
God wants consecrated, clean, empty vessels that He
can pour Himself into and use for His glory. We
hinder the power of God when we are defiled and full
of ourselves. God is holy and He wants us to be set
apart for Himself. We need to remove the barriers to
God's power and fellowship and prepare our hearts to
receive His grace. He invites us to come again to
claim the cleansing of the precious blood of Jesus,
which washes away all our uncleanness and sin. With
a fresh sense of fellowship with Him, He enables us
to be used of God. Is there some sin that needs to
be confessed and forsaken? You know where God is at
work in your heart. Please obey Him. God is not
going to work in all His fullness in our lives if we
are unwilling to be open to His cleansing and His
leadership. However, He will do wonders in us and we
will experience Him if we sanctify ourselves.
A very faithful believer
and businessman in a former pastorate said to me
recently, "Bro. Will, the most important thing I
ever learned was the day you emphasized that God
wanted us to consecrate our lives to Him in a
once-for-all unreserved commitment to Him. Then
begin each day asking Him to take our lives and live
His life through us, to lead us, and guide us
throughout the day. Man that revolutionized my
Christian life. Everyday is a new experience with
Him. You can then walk moment by moment with Christ.
Keep teaching that great truth to your
God's Presence is
"Then Joshua said to the
people, 'Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the
Lord will do miracles among you.' And Joshua spoke
to the priests, saying, 'Take up the ark of the
covenant and cross over ahead of the people. So they
took up the Ark of the Covenant and went ahead of
the people" (Joshua 3:5-6).
The Ark of the Covenant
is mentioned fifteen times in chapters three and
four of Joshua. The Ark of the Covenant symbolized
God's presence with His people. God demanded that
the people treat the Ark with the same respect they
treated Him. It symbolized His holy presence with
them, and that He was personally leading them. The
nearer we live to God the greater will be our
respect and reverence for Him.
Joshua reassured the
people that the LORD would be the first to cross the
Jordan and the people would follow Him. They must
follow the LORD across the Jordan. He will do
wonders for the people. He has demonstrated His
ability to provide for them for forty years. Now He
will demonstrate that they do not go in their own
strength, but in His strength. They were not to run
ahead of the Ark. They were to follow a half-mile
behind it (Joshua 3:4). They were to keep their eyes
on the Ark ahead of them. It would lead them and
point them in the right direction.
The LORD wants to lead us
into new experiences. We, too often, want to go
dashing out ahead of Him. On the other hand, just as
bad, we drag our feet and are forever making up
excuses for not following. Are we walking hand in
hand with Him? Where is God at work in our lives?
Where is He leading? Do we expect God to work a
I can hear them now, "We
have not been this way before." Joshua, "We have
never done it this way before." The future is always
unknown and uncertain. Only God knows the future.
"These people possessed the Ark before. Yes, but had
not followed the Ark, but the cloud; and they would
never see it again; the cloud of fire by night, and
the midst and mystery by day had ceased. They had a
new pathway to tread, with a different method of
guidance. They who had waited for the moving of the
cloud were now to wait for the moving of the Ark and
the priests. The cloud was the provision for the
wilderness. God was changing His method with them.
They were to live not by a particular sign, but by
the word of the Lord. They would never forget that
the Ark came out of the cloud" (G. Campbell Morgan).
At what level are we
prepared to meet God? He wants people who are
committed to Him. Are we willing to consecrate
ourselves and follow Him into the unknown adventure
of intimate fellowship? The unknown is always scary.
Jesus Christ is the
true Ark of God.
Jesus Christ is the true
Ark of God. He is God with us. The Ark was the
symbol of the Presence of Yahweh with His people.
The Lord Jesus is the reality of the divine Presence
with men. He is Immanuel––God with us. Christ is the
reality of God with His people. The Ark of the
Covenant symbolized that God had entered into a
covenant with His people Israel. It was a covenant
of grace. God chose them. Moreover, God has entered
a covenant relationship with us in and through the
Lord Jesus Christ.
Just as the people of
Israel were to follow Yahweh into the Jordan as He
opened the way before them, we believers of the Lord
Jesus Christ follow Him through the dark murky
swollen waters of judgment and rise with Him to sit
in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus. As the Shepherd,
Jesus becomes the Ark that guides us. He guides and
directs His chosen people. Jesus says to us, "If you
love Me you will obey Me." We don't have any problem
obeying Him if we love Him. We will always be at the
center of God's will if we follow Him one day at a
time. He has promised to never leave us, nor forsake
The Ark leading the
people into the Jordan reminds us of Jesus going
down into the dark waters of the wrath of God.
Christ rolled away the dark waters of judgment for
everyone who believes on Him for salvation.
Do you face a cold slimy
Jordan today? Here is your river of opportunity. It
may be some habit, or passion, or lust, or pride, an
unloving spirit, judgmental attitude, critical
spirit or sensitiveness or just plain ugly
selfishness. Why do you halt? Where is God at work?
Why do you wait? He bids you and me to come and
follow. Let's enter into some new spiritual land and
conquer some spiritual giants in our lives. What do
you want to be like as a Christian ten years from
It is time to get
your feet wet.
Joshua tells us in 3:6
the very moment the priest's feet touched the water
the Jordan dried up to allow the people to cross.
The priest took up rods of gold that suspended the
Ark of the Covenant and crossed over ahead of the
people (v. 6). The priests came to the edge of the
water and stood still in the Jordan. The Jordan did
not dry up before the priests stepped into the
water. As the priests stepped into the waters, the
river sixteen miles upstream at Adam piled up in a
heap. They would have stood there all day waiting if
they had not stepped out by faith and put their feet
into the Jordan. God waited on them for 39 years in
their unbelief before they were willing to cross
over with Him.
Joshua 3:7-13 reads:
"Now the Lord said to
Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the
sight of all Israel, so that they will know that
just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you.
So you shall command the priests who are carrying
the ark of the covenant, saying, ‘When you come to
the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall
stand still in the Jordan.’” Then Joshua said to the
sons of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of
the Lord your God.” And Joshua said, “By this you
will know that the living God is among you, and that
He will assuredly drive out from you the Canaanite,
the Hittite, the Hivite, the Perizzite, the
Girgashite, the Amorite, and the Jebusite. Behold,
the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth
is crossing over ahead of you into the Jordan. Now
then, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes
of Israel, one man for each tribe. And it will come
about when the soles of the feet of the priests who
carry the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the
earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters
of the Jordan will be cut off, that is, the waters
which are flowing down from above; and they will
stand in one heap."
Picture in your mind's
eye the scene before the people. Two million people
are at the river banks looking on with wonder at
what God is doing before their eyes.
How would you like to
have been the high priest in the lead carrying the
front end of the Ark on its poles? Are you ready to
step in by faith and trust the LORD at the river's
edge? Are you ready to get your feet wet?
Joshua 3:14-17 tells us:
"So when the people set
out from their tents to cross the Jordan, with the
priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the
people, and when those who were carrying the ark
came up to the Jordan and the feet of the priests
carrying the ark stepped down into the edge of the
water (for the Jordan overflows all its banks all
the days of harvest), then the waters which were
flowing down from above stood and rose up in one
heap, a great distance away at Adam, the city that
is beside Zarethan; and those which were flowing
down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea,
were completely cut off. So the people crossed
opposite Jericho. And the priests who carried the
ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry
ground in the middle of the Jordan while all Israel
crossed on dry ground, until all the nation had
finished crossing the Jordan."
They had to get their
feet wet. They had to get out into the water. Can
you imagine if you were the priest in the lead as
you took that first step? Wouldn't that have been
fun? As you walk out into the water and take that
first step . . . Wow! Where did the water go? Come
on yawl. Let's go!
How many times do we come
to new experiences with God and He patiently waits
for us to step out by faith? And waits, and waits
and waits. He waits for us to get our feet wet. We
have no way of knowing how God will provide or lead
or deliver us and when we step out by faith He does
it. When we trust Him, He does it. God gives us
exactly what we need when we need it. His timing is
always perfect. When we obey Him, we experience Him.
Don't you know those
faithful priests had fun talking about that
experience in the years to come. I saw God do it!
And you did, too.
PLACE OF REMEMBRANCE
Joshua 4:1 tells us "the
entire nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the
LORD spoke to Joshua."
At God's command
the Jordan River returned to its flow over its flood
Now the Lord said to
Joshua, "Command the priests who carry the ark of
the testimony that they come up from the Jordan." So
Joshua commanded the priests, saying, "Come up from
the Jordan." It came about when the priests who
carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord had come
up from the middle of the Jordan, and the soles of
the priests' feet were lifted up to the dry ground,
that the waters of the Jordan returned to their
place, and went over all its banks as before"
Can you see them standing
back and watching those waters return to their
previous flood stage? There is no turning back. They
cannot retreat and go back over Jordan.
Two memorials were set up
in Joshua chapter four. God told Joshua to select
twelve men, one from each tribe to pick up a stone
from the Jordan and carry it to the other side of
the river. There they built a monument of
remembrance to God's faithfulness at Gilgal (Joshua
Joshua had a second set
of stones set up where the priest's feet were
standing firm in the river carrying the Ark.
Why did they do that? Verse six tells us it was show
and tell time. The children yet to be born would
ask, "What do these stone mean to you?" These stones
were to become a memorial of Israel crossing Jordan
in the springtime at flood season. "And he said to
the sons of Israel, "When your children ask their
fathers in time to come, saying, 'What are these
stones?' then you shall inform your children,
saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground'"
What a testimony! All two
million people who crossed the Jordan can say with
all their hearts, "I saw God do it!" For centuries
to come every time they passed Gilgal they would
retell the story of God doing just what He said He
would do. Now three thousand years later here we are
telling it again.
"For the Lord your God
dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until
you had crossed, just as the Lord your God had done
to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we
had crossed; so that all the peoples of the earth
may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, so
that you may fear the Lord your God forever" (Joshua
The people had two
memorials to remind them of how God provided for
them, and how He delivered them. How easy it is to
forget God's provisions and deliverances in our
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS
1. The crossing of the
Jordan beautifully pictures our passing from one
level of Christian living to another. Let's arm
ourselves with our spiritual weapons and take the
land God has promised us. Let's obey Him and
experience Him every hour, every day. As we walk by
faith, He fulfills in us what He asks us to do. It
doesn't happen automatically. God was saying to
Israel, "The land is already your land, now walk in
it. Take it. Claim it. Possess it." The priests were
obedient. They stepped out into the water, stood in
the middle of the river, and waited for all the
people to pass over. Unless we are willing to step
out and get our feet wet, God can never open the way
for us. God honors people of faith. Where is God at
work in your life today? Where does He want you to
grow spiritually? What new area in your
sanctification is He working? Does He have you at
the river's edge leading you into a new challenging
ministry that scares you to death? Perhaps now is
the time to step out by faith and follow Him.
2. When the children of
Israel crossed the Jordan, they were cut off from
their old life. Those who chose to go over into the
Promised Land began a new life from that day on with
a new identification. At the Jordan River they were
cut off from all the old pagan Egyptian life style
and wilderness wandering. Israel as a nation had a
new identity, new law and a new life in the land.
There was no need to go back across the river. The
old life style was buried under the waters of the
Jordan. That old life was dead. The came up out of
the Jordan to start a new life in a new land.
That describes our death,
burial and resurrection with Christ because we have
been so identified with Christ. We have been
baptized into Christ meaning we have been placed
into Christ and identified with Him. We have gone
through what Christ went through in His death,
burial and resurrection. We are so identified with
Christ that He not only died for our sins, but we
died with Him.
The apostle Paul
described our new identification with Christ as
being "crucified with Him," buried with Him and
risen with Him. "Consider yourselves to be dead to
sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus" (Romans
6:11). Be constantly counting upon the fact,
reckoning "yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive
to God in Christ Jesus." That will revolutionize
That is the heart of
living the Christian life. We are now identified
with Christ in His death. When He died, I died. We
have been buried with Him, and we have been raised
to newness of life with Him. When I choose to act
upon that truth, I experience Him in a new quality
of life. It is the resurrection life.
"Therefore," writes the
apostle Paul, "we have been buried together with Him
through baptism into death, in order that as Christ
was raised together from the dead through the glory
of the Father, so we too might habitually walk in
newness of life. For if we have become permanently
united, grown together in an intimate progressive
union, with Him in the likeness of His death,
certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His
resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was
crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be
done away with, that we should no longer be slaves
to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now
if we have died once and for all with Christ, we
believe that we shall also live with Him" (Pounds
3. What kind of monuments
are you building? We are all building monuments.
Some are to self and vainglory. Some are religious
monuments to humanism. What kind of monuments are
you building to God? Are they monuments to men or to
God? Who is the getting the glory and the applause?
I seriously doubt if God appreciates a lot of
applause we supposedly offer up to Him. I rather
think He would have us sit in silence and awe of
Him, contemplating His glory. Yes, there is a time
to clap and sing.
We have two powerful
monuments of God's provision for every believer.
They are the ordinances of baptism and the Lord's
Supper. They are testimonies of what God has done
for you and me. Our Savior died and we died with
Him. He went down through the cold, murky waters of
God's wrath and died for our transgressions and He
came up out of the bonds of death. When He died we
died, and when He rose form the dead, we rose from
the dead. God sees every believer dead, buried and
risen with Christ. Your baptism by immersion
pictures what God did for you in Christ. It does not
save you. It does not add one dot to your salvation.
It is a memorial to God for what He has already done
in you. The Lord's table is a memorial of Christ's
death on your behalf, dying as your substitute,
bearing the wrath of God in your place.
This afternoon take a
piece of paper and draw a time line across the page.
Begin your spiritual time line with the day you were
born again. Mark the place and date on your time
line. Then add those important precious events and
dates when you have watched the Holy Spirit
intervene in your life and bring you to great
moments in sanctification in your life. Mark those
events when you have watched Him do great and mighty
things in your Christian life. Jot down those events
when you have called upon the Lord and He has opened
the doors of opportunity to serve Him. Jot down when
you have watched God work in your life, your family,
your church, and you can only respond saying, "I saw
God do it."
4. We must keep our eyes
focused on Jesus Christ in order to cross the
"Jordan's" of this life. God went before His people
in the presence of the Ark, and He opened a dry road
across the river. He has promised to not only save
us from eternal punishment, but to lead, guide
protect and provide for us. We are in a lifelong
process of following Him deeper and deeper into His
life. The journey has only begun when we trust
Christ as our Savior. Let's go across this Jordan
and grow in our knowledge and grace in our Lord
Jesus. Only Christ is capable of leading us through
the dark waters of Jordan. Let's draw our strength
from Him. The Lord has promised us that He will go
with us just as He was with Joshua. Do you have
stones of remembrance in your life? Have you chosen
some stone out of your Jordan to remind you of His