Beginning with today we will be addressing another one of the questions we shouldn’t have to raise but because of the distortions of God’s truth, we need to formally meet. The question is, “What is the purpose of life?” Some might feel content to snuggle themselves in the glorious truths of the gospel: God’s love, light and forgiveness. This might be an answer for a self-focused generation but not for God’s people. You see, God has given us beautiful gifts of eternal life, Holy Spirit, peace, joy and love not just for our own good, but for accomplishing His purpose. God, in saving us, has at the same time enlisted us in His mighty army. He has taken from the captivity of the evil prince and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son.
As it stands, the victory and the inheritance are ours. And yet, in another way it is not yet ours. I hope this morning we will begin to grasp the instructions that come sealed in that envelope called salvation. On the outside of that scroll are written the words ‘The Mission,’ and inside are the instructions to carry it out. Today, we will have time only to discuss the words imprinted on the outside.
A. The Setting Of The Mission (Joshua 1:1-2a)
The Israelites on the edge of the Jordan River just didn’t happen; just like we didn’t just happen. There was a past. The Israelites were formed much different than most nations. God formed them for Himself. They were non-existent when God called Abraham forth. God made the nation just as He is making the church today. Some try to melt down the story of what God had done. In fact rare is the commentary that believes Israelite was a nation that escaped from Egypt and conquered the land God gave to them. We have many theories about how they came from within that Canaanite culture as a reform movement. We cannot accept that. This book of Joshua was written in the wake of their great leader Moses. Moses led them so far but now he was gone. God’s servant is dead.
1) Very Different (Moses is not there)
Very unfamiliar. The way it worked out before is different. Like new counsel or new pastor. Comfortable with past; fear of future. Coping with the void
2) Very New (Not much time to acquire: Law, Land, Liberty, Leaders)
We dare not wait for another generation to come on the excuse that we need time to go slowly. The Lord in fact didn’t want them to get so comfortable with themselves that they get resistant to moving on. (eg. go while young -otherwise too settled). Dealing with the future. Do they just wait? Train? In the sentence where Moses is declared dead (died where the people could not see him), God also speaks and tells them to move on.
Application We all have a setting. We are somewhat different than the age witnessing Christ’s death and resurrection. We already have many generations who have testified to God’s faithfulness. However, in another way, we as a generation of Christians must confirm what the Lord wants from us -this is new to us. We have been fed, watered and bathed to stand up and face our responsibilities in the great commission of the Lord Jesus Christ. Rev 3:1-2
As we open ourselves up to the Lord’s commission, we will discover within our hearts that what He asks us to do is very different than living in the comfort zone we have been so comfortable with. We are willing to see ourselves as God’s agents and soldiers, and altogether as God’s army.
In my heart have a great concern for the Chinese churches throughout North America. I sense we have never really opened ourselves to God’s great work, which He wants to do among us. We are content with the usual and familiar. We have so much money, talent and time that instead of doing something new, we argue with each other and split into divisive groups. Some good things have happened such as CCCOWE; some great preachers and evangelists have arose but far, far too small. Let’s throw away our smugness and be humbled. Let us stop resting ourselves in the work of others. Moses is dead. Let not our generation trust in another for glorious battles. May God call us as His people to be alive and brave to face what He would have for us. Let us free the reigns of our horse ... throw into the wind ... and let the Lord drive us where He wants and how He wants.
B. The Charge (Joshua 1:2)
In coming to grips with our being and purpose, we realize we exist to do the will of God. We cannot stand still; we dare not sit when we should be standing.
1) Arise .... Break camp
We cannot wait any longer. We see that the time has risen. We must rise with her. The Spirit is already our ownThe time comes when we have to march across the Jordan and commit ourselves to the great task God has given to us.
2) Cross this Jordan ... baptized with Holy Spirit
The problem is that we are content with the few who commit themselves. It is right for us to think of all of us as sent, as missionaries. The difference is not our calling but where we are called toward and the difference in support some might need. “We will be going backwards if we insist on repairing the American church first before going out to the ends of the earth.” -Winter
3) You and all this people ... no exceptions
If you want to stay, then don’t count yourselves to be with God’s people. If you are the Lord’s, listen to Him. If you are to busy with your own life to hear what He has for His people, than stand back and let those who love God go into the Promised Land.
4) To the land which I am giving to them ... to what the Lord is giving
Sharing the gospel. God grants it. We also gain reward. Kingdom is people committed to God and His purposes.
Application We cannot stand still. God’s people are moving and we must, if we call ourselves God’s people, move forward with them. It is with God’s people, you have His presence, His joy and peace. If you stand behind, then you stand alone without God in this dark world.
C. The Scope (Joshua 1:3-4)
I’m glad God tells us what to do. It is hard enough for a church to keep on track when God has told them clearly what they should do. If God didn’t remind these Israelites, they would follow the path that leads to least resistance.
1) The Continuity of the Promises (with Moses and with them)
These promises are old and golden. God does not break His promise. His purposes are not frustrated. The great commission sounds out today as ever. What is it that the Lord has for us? Are we to restart the Crusades and conquer the physical land of Palestine? No. The Lord has as Christian Jews and Gentiles re-shaped what we should be doing. We see this truth like the Law given and then followed with the Great Commission. Jesus left the scene just as Moses. God promised to be with us but in a different way. Instead of those bright lights in the clouds, the manna from heaven and the mighty experiences of our leader, we find ourselves dependent upon faith, our trust in the Lord.
2) The Scope of the Promise (wilderness to Euphrates)
It’s a great promise. Ideally speaking it is just what they needed. In justice speaking, it is just what their enemies needed. Practically speaking, there are a whole lot of enemies out their. They are one nation and they are to replace 6-7 nations including the domination of Egypt over Palestine at that time.
I sense (not prophecy) that we are in very perilous times. I know Satan is opening up all of Russia to the gospel now only because he thinks there is a better end in sight. The best reason for the downfall of communism is because there is something more mischievous -probably a world order which in time will crush the living juice out of Christians. I personally don’t expect to die peacefully. I sense it is the time when the nations can hear the gospel and be saved is coming to an end. After this, it seems the nation of Israel will greatly turn to the Lord. If this is so, this makes us, our generation, the one to claim the last of God’s inheritance. We need to bring the gospel to the last of the Gentiles.
Application Whatever stands before us, even martyrdom, I assure you that God’s promises our with us just as God promised that they would continue with Joshua, and Jesus confirmed to us that He would be with us right down to the end of the age.
D. The Promises (Joshua 1:5)
God does not leave us alone or defenseless. Many of us feel that we can not do anything. On the contrary, we have all we need. Whether we are new Christians or 25 year-old Christians.
1) The Certainty of the Promise (no man will stand before them)
Certain victory when we fight. This is what we saw in I John. This is what we witnessed in Christ’s resurrection. The gates of hell will not prevail against the church. One might think of this as defensive only, but I assure you that God has given us many battles to fight and win. We claim the victory; the battles are guaranteed. A sense of defeatism is foreign to the church of God because that would admit that our leader Jesus Christ has also been defeated. We have a risen Lord. Now is the time to fight.
2) The Presence of God (God will be with them)
The key to understanding these battles and victories is wholly based upon God’s presence with us. When they left God and hid sin -they saw defeat. But when in faith, we step forward God mightily moves. We have to forget the visible confirmations of His presence and realize that we see Him the clearest when those promises we claim are confirmed in victory. We see God’s presence when through prayer and godly lives we live consistently in this world.
Summary We cannot stand still. There remains a life of battle ahead of us. Some say filled with the Spirit means rolling around on the floor or filled with ecstasy or speaking to oneself in different languages. We see the opposite in Acts. We see them waiting but once having the Holy Spirit they moved on. They spoke in tongues and shared God’s truth with people from all the different countries. They, when filled with the Spirit, spoke bravely the gospel truths. They, when filled with the Spirit, spoke wise words confounding kings and wise men.
Are you ready to step over the Jordan and be used by God? What selfish purposes have you not yet committed to Him. What we don’t realize is that our world is perishing while we enjoy our houses and comfortable jobs. We cry when we don’t get our raise -but we forget there are those 3,600 Indian missionaries or the mainland Chinese evangelists traveling with much less than we could put in the front seat of our cars. Are we to busy having children, getting married, being transferred, researching, etc. that we have forgot to pray.
As God’s people, let us arise to the great task, which He has given to us! => Next