It’s tempting when we don’t know where we’re going to cling to what we know. Adrian’s message on the crossing of the Jordan in Joshua 3 is a reminder that God is always calling us to step in
Araminta Ross made the treacherous journey from slavery to freedom in Pennsylvania state in 1849. Also known as Harriet Tubman she ran the Underground Railroad and went on to rescue hundreds of enslaved people in America. She made a startling statement that she could’ve saved so many more if they’d only realised that they were slaves.
In Joshua chapter 3 the Israelites are on the verge of entering the Promised Land after 400 years of captivity and 40 years in the wilderness. Some had rebelled and died in the desert. Some wanted to return to Egypt and slavery. But now Joshua had taken over from Moses and God had led them to the bank of the Jordan at its highest point.
It was decision time.
As we move out of our own brand of ‘captivity’ of lockdown, not knowing whether we’ll have another one we're facing a time of decision as well. Here are three lessons we can learn from the instructions God gave the Israelites:
1. Stay focussed on the Holy Spirit’s leading (v3)
We need to follow the Holy Spirit as He goes ahead of us, as the Israelites were commanded to look to the ark, a symbol of God's presence with them.
The priests were commanded to carry the ark and to step into the river. Just as they didn’t see where the flow of the river was stopped the moment their , in the same way we don’t see what God is doing upstream in our lives, but we still need to follow the Holy Spirit.
We too are on different journeys. God is moving us from one place to another on our journey in incremental stages. He doesn’t want to leave us where we are. He wants to carry us.
2. Consecrate your hearts (v5)
We need to consecrate or set apart our hearts. This means changing our mindset and cleansing our speech. The temptation is to consistently think that we’re going back to captivity, or to a past experience. We need to look forward to where we’re going. We need to be saying, ‘I’m looking forward to where we’re going next, not hankering for what’s behind.’
Going back to work, church, family will be different after months of isolation. We need to catch ourselves and ask, where is God taking us – back or forward?
Sometimes there are obstacles. It’s not a straight path. If you have anxiety about where you’re going in the future the Lord is saying, ‘Do not fear, as I was with Moses, so shall I be with you.’
Some of us have been waiting for a sign. He’s saying that now is the time.
3. Make your memorial a springboard (v12)
The priests were commanded to take up 12 stones from the riverbed to act as a memorial.
Memorials are there to remind us about great things. But you’re supposed to remember, not remain. They act as a springboard for moving forward.
Just as the slaves who refused to go with Harriet Tubman because they thought what they knew was better than the unknown, we can be slaves to the bad things and the good things that have happened. We need to leave the captivity of a memorial in our minds. whether it's a trauma, a loss, a sickness, or a victory. We have to leave the good and the bad.
We need to lay down our stones of remembrance, but not stay and camp at that site. As painful as it is, we have to leave it behind and move forward.
When Christ was crucified the cross was a marker between the old and the new. He obeyed and went to the cross, and enabled us to cross over. But God doesn’t want us to just stay at the cross. He wants us to move forward. There were so many victories in the past. God was providing a new place that was not about the Law, but about grace.
We are at this place now where we have to make a decision about our past and our future. Which way will we go? Will we cling to the past and the old way of doing things, or do we go out into our future?
God is doing a new thing; He is going to take you forward and is always calling you to step in.
This is post gives highlights of a message by Adrian. To listen to the full message, 'Moving forward', visit our Sermons page.