March 30, 2014

Crossing over the Jordan to Follow the Lord

Passage: Joshua 3:1-17
Service Type:

Bible Text: Joshua 3:1-17 | Preacher: Pastor Steve | Series: 40 days of Abiding
Joshua 3:14 …as soon as the feet of the priest who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water began piling up at a town upstream called Adam, which is near Zarethan. And the water below that point flowed on to the Dead Sea until the riverbed was dry. Then all the people crossed over near the city of Jericho. Meanwhile, the priests who were carrying the Ark of the LORD’s covenant stood on dry ground in the middle of the riverbeds as the people passed by them. They waited there until everyone crossed the Jordan on dry ground.
The Israelites viewed the Jordan River as a barrier between them and the Promised Land where God had called them to live.
When the Isalites reached the banks of the Jordan River they had to choose whether or not they would be totally committed to God.
This was a transitional moment from FEAR to FAITH!
…as soon as the feet of the priests who were carrying the Ark touched the water at the river’s edge, the water began piling up at a town upstream called Adam…
The Bible is telling us that nothing would happen until the priest’s feet touched the water. If you or I were at the banks we can imagine saying to God, okay Lord, divide the water then I will cross over; but God is saying step in and THEN I will divide the water.
What loosed the power of God was the commitment to step in and then the waters divided. God acts when we live out our commitment. It is like our tithe, we say okay God, go ahead and provide and then I will tithe; but God says go ahead and tithe and then I will provide.
We need to take the first step: we declare to God that we are totally committed to Him step in move forward and then, trust Him to do the rest.
Learning from the Word: Joshua 3:1-2 Early the next morning Joshua and all the Israelites left Acacia and arrived at the banks of the Jordan River, where they camped before crossing. Three days later, the Israelite leaders went through the camp.
The only reason to cross now is the simple fact that the Lord said NOW IS THE TIME. Our success will come because we learn to listen to the Lord. We learn to wait to hear from Him. The only way we are going to “cross through” the barriers that hold us back is for God to go before us. We need God to be first in our lives, leading the way to the other side of the river:
Keep God first
Keep God in sight
Keep the Lord in front
Joshua 3:3-6 … giving these instructions to the people: When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, follow them. Since you have never traveled this way before, they will guide you. Stay about a half mile behind them, keeping a clear distance between you and the Ark. Make sure you don’t come any closer. Then Joshua told the people, purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you. In the morning Joshua said to the priests, lift up the Ark of the Covenant and lead the people across the river. And so they started out.
Keep the Lord first in front of you. What we learn from Joshua is that the Lord must to lead the way
Declaration the Shema:
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 Hear, O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
The only way we are going to cross the barriers is to put God in front and let Him lead the way.
The Ark of the Covenant is a representation of the presence of the Lord leading the way in front of the people.
Inside the Ark were three items:
The Ten Commandments – the Word of God – His way of living- His boundaries – man’s relationship with God and man’s relationship with man
The jar of manna – Provision; the miracle bread of provision of the Lord
Aaron’s rod – Confidence; branch of an almond tree that though dead it budded. At a time of conflict within the nation of Israel God told Moses to gather a branch representing each tribe and whichever branch buds that is where life comes from and it was the Levites – from the priesthood life would flow. God’s power and authority given to His people.
The top of the Ark:
Mercy Seat – ATONEMENT where the blood was sprinkled upon; represents the blood sacrifice that was the only way of the atonement for sin – by the sacrifice of a lamb, and forgiveness that comes by the blood of the lamb
The Cherubim Wings- Presence; that spread over the mercy seat – creatures that are associated with the glory and majesty of God.
The Ark was positioned in such a way that all could see it and keep their eyes on it as they crossed over the Jordan. The amazing word picture literally going before the people was the Presence of God, the Word of God the Atonement of God, the Provision of God and the Confidence of God and the water stopped and they crossed on dry ground. God will do this very thing in our lives as we follow Him.
Hebrews 12:1-2 … And let us run the race that God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, on whom our faith depends from start to finish.
Joshua 3:7-13 And the LORD said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. You shall command the priests who bear the Ark of the Covenant, saying, ‘When you have come to the edge of the water of the Jordan, you shall stand in the Jordan.’”So Joshua said to the children of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God.” And Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Hivites and the Perizzites and the Girgashites and the Amorites and the Jebusites: Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is crossing over before you into the Jordan. Now therefore, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man from every tribe. And it shall come to pass, as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off, the waters that come down from upstream, and they shall stand as a heap
How do we step out and keep moving forward by keeping our eyes on Jesus? Reading the Word daily, being in relationship with other believers, we will see amazing things happen in our lives Abiding in Jesus.
Discussion Questions:
When the Israelites reached the banks of the Jordan they had to choose whether or not they would be totally committed to God. How difficult do you think it was for them in that very moment? How difficult is it for you to believe God in your own circumstances?
Is there a “Jordan River” stopping you from crossing over, an attitude, fear, rejection, bad habit or mindset that is stopping you? What will you choose to do?
In what way is tithing a declaration of being totally committed to God?
What does it mean for you personally to love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength?
Share a moment when you transitioned from “Fear to Faith”, what transpired as a result?
Joshua 3:3-6 Joshua issued two instructions for spiritual purification:
To the people: sanctify, purify yourselves, because tomorrow the Lord will do miracles
To the leaders: follow the Lord and get out in from so the people can follow
It was important for the people to be purified before the miracle of God was going to be performed.
In what ways should we prepare for the miraculous in our lives?
What does the word picture of Ark of the Covenant represent?
What must we do to run with endurance the race that is set before us?(Hebrews 12:1-2)
What does it mean to you personally?
The way to success is keeping Jesus in front of us through reading the word daily, listening to the Spirit of God and being in relationship with other believers. How has living this way changed your life? What needs to change in order to practice this discipline?
In what ways would you encourage someone today to step out in faith overcome their Jordan River and believe God for the miraculous?

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