Text: Joshua 1:1-9
Topic: GETTING READY FOR A GREAT DAY
Pastor Bobby Earls, First Baptist Church, Center Point, Alabama
October 22, 2006
1After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, it came to pass that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, saying: 2“Moses My servant is dead. Now therefore, arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them—the children of Israel. 3“Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses. 4“From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your territory. 5“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you. 6“Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7“Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may prosper wherever you go. 8“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. 9“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
One of the things that I really enjoy doing is traveling. I especially enjoy those trips in which the whole family can participate as we did just last week. We all had the opportunity to drive out to Fort Worth, and Southwestern Seminary to visit with Josh, our oldest.
Part of the fun of traveling is in the planning and the anticipation of the actual trip. Things really got exciting as we started our preparations to leave. Getting ready to go is often the best part of the trip! It’s also the hardest and most important, often taking longer than the trip itself.
It's the same in the spiritual realm. Preparation is an act of faith. If we really believe God is going to do something, we get ready for it. When we pray for rain we ought to carry an umbrella. In my own spiritual pilgrimage I am discovering that God gives me only what I am prepared to receive.
As a church, we have set aside an important Sunday next month, November 19th, as a special day of celebration and thanksgiving of God’s graciousness and His goodness to us. We are calling this day, very simply, “A Great Day.”
As we plan for and begin to anticipate this Great Day, we need to begin to prepare ourselves for it. Our level of preparedness will determine just how Great this day really will be for us.
In this first chapter of Joshua, God speaks to Joshua, the new leader of Israel, and Joshua came away convinced God would go with them and give them the land of promise. He was so certain of this that he ordered the people to get ready for immediate action. God had spoken and their preparation was the evidence of their faith in that spoken word.
The Bible says: (Read 1:10-11)
Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people, saying, "Pass through
the midst of the camp and command the people, saying, 'Prepare
provisions for yourselves, for within three days you are to cross this
Jordan, to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you,
to possess it... (Read Joshua 3:1-6)
It is the prepared people who possess the land; therefore, we need to examine the preparations required for a Great Day.
I. A NEW DIET
"Prepare provisions", God said. That's interesting. Here is an entire nation, possibly three million people, about to cross a flooding river, and what is the first thing they are to prepare? A bridge? That would seem reasonable. Boats, at least. But without a bridge or a boat in sight God told them to prepare--bread. During the wilderness years God provided manna to eat. Now, if you're stranded in a desert with no other food, manna is all right, but it has been highly overrated in sermons and songs. Manna was a coarse dry, hard bread--not steak and potatoes. It could sustain but not satisfy. Get this: the diet that was adequate to maintain life in the desert would not nourish combat troops conquering and settling a new land.
Most of the Christians I know exist on a desert diet--just enough to keep them alive. But if you want to move into the land of promise and experience daily victory you must upgrade your diet and increase your intake.
I'm talking about your personal worship time with the Lord in prayer and the Word. Much has been said about this already because I am convinced that this is the single most important factor in consistent Christian living. How much time have you spent along with God today on your knees before an open Bible? If you're serious about a victorious life, then determine right now that whatever the cost or sacrifice, you will
establish a daily time with God in prayer and Bible study. The strength and stamina you have in the conflicts of life will be determined by the quality of nourishment you receive from the Lord.
But I’m also talking to us as a whole church family today. Our preparations to enter into a new year, a new era, must also include for us a new diet.
Most diets don’t include bread which are high in carbs these days. But bread is a standard food substance that represents the most simplistic of food groups needed for survival.
As a church, our new diet of bread must include ingredients such as large quanities of the word of God taught and preached in our classrooms and pulpit. We need generous heapings of meaning worship and celebration from a thankful people. Add in a sufficient amount of evangelism, discipleship and fellowship also. But we also must increase one of our main ingredients in this new diet called stewardship. The giving of our time, resources and support needs to rise to a new level of commitment and sacrifice.
We must make provisions for ourselves as we prepare for a great day. Second, we also need a new delay.
II. A NEW DELAY
This part of their preparation was even more surprising than the first. There would be a three-day delay. But Lord, why this delay? We've been delayed forty years already and now we're ready to go. But God said, "Wait" One of the things I've learned about God is that He never hurries.
One of the toughest things we have to do is wait and we’re not good at it. We Americans are accustomed to instant gratification: instant credit, instant comfort, and instant coffee. Our cry is, "Lord, give me patience and give it to me right now!" But God never wastes time, and every delay plays an important role in His plan.
God used the delay to accomplish three things. First, it was a time of
observation. The people had to camp on the banks of the Jordan for three days—and what did they do during that time? They watched the swollen river surging over its banks. "We're going to cross that?" they may have whispered to one another. "But there's no bridge, no boats! It can't be done!" That's the point exactly. God was letting the impossibility of the task sink into their minds.
I’m convinced that is the way God has dealt with us. He has plopped us down beside the Jordan as a church and forced us to look at it. The flood waters we see include overwhelming challenges for our future. Rebuilding, reorganizing, renewing our commitment to press on to cross this Jordan. Threatening flood waters that have caused us cut backs, and reduction in ministry in the past must now be forged by implementing new ministries and programs that attract new people and families to our church. The more we observe these rising waters the more threatening they appear. Some would even say we face an impossible situation.
So what do we do? Give up? Quit? Sell out and move on as others have done? I don’t know about you, but that’s not on my agenda. We must cry out for deliverance, realizing that our only hope is in the Lord. We must conclude that apart from God there is no solution. When we are convinced that only God can get it all together, then we're ready to move. We’re ready for a great day.
The delay was also a time of confrontation. Forty years earlier, twelve spies were sent out from Kadesh-barnea. It was their faithless report, blurted out in front of all the people, that caused them to turn back and forfeit the land. This time Joshua sent out two spies, who spent these three days scouting the land. Their report, brought privately to Joshua, declared that God was surely with them--all the inhabitants of the country were terrified of them. God used the waiting period to confirm His promise.
During frustrating delays, if we keep our eyes and ears attuned to God, He will give us one evidence after another that He is capable of handling our situation.
The delay was also a time of separation. While Moses was still alive, the tribes of Reuben and Gad and half the tribe of Manasseh became enchanted with the wilderness close to the Jordan River. It was fertile land and they wanted to settle down there. They preferred the wilderness. In anger Moses replied, "Oh, so you want to let your brothers go on and fight alone for the land God has given to all of us. Well, you can stay here if you want, but first you must go over and fight with the rest of us." And they
agreed. In verses 12 through 18 of chapter 1, Joshua honored the decision made by Moses and those tribes.
That incident is packed with spiritual instruction. God lets us choose the level of our Christian experience. He forces no one to enter into victory. If the wilderness is what you want, the wilderness is what you will get.
The same is just as true once again for us as a church. We must be willing to fight as a family against everything that threatens our church and our future. We also must realize that it is us and God. In this moment of divine delay, God is allowing us the opportunity to decide what kind of church we will be in the future.
Like a motto I heard many years ago for the Great Commission, “if it is to be it is up to me.” As a church we must all agree, “if it is to be it is up to us!”
III. A NEW DEDICATION
After the period of waiting, Joshua told the people to consecrate themselves.
The last time they had heard this command was when Moses went up to the mountain to receive the law from God. In Exodus 19:1 Moses told the people to consecrate themselves so they would be ready to hear God's words upon his return. This was an old dedication; a lot had happened since then, and they had long since been unfaithful. Now God was about to do something new, and they needed a new dedication.
"Consecrate" means "to purify, to sanctify, to make something holy by setting it apart for special use." There is a sense in which God sanctifies us and another sense in which we sanctify ourselves. By virtue of our salvation, we are all sanctified, set apart for God's special use; every Christian is a saint. But the Bible also commands us to purify ourselves (1 John 3:3), to set ourselves apart from the filthiness of the world; and
this is a "must" for the life of victory.
We must be willing to deal with our sins, to confess and forsake them, and allow God to cleanse us from every unrighteousness (I John 1:9). Just a casual reading of Joshua 7 reveals the devastating effects of hidden sin in the life of one believer. God demands holiness.
We must be holy in our public lives. Our activities are to be pure. Exodus 19 shows that this process of purification required that the people wash their garments: "The Lord also said to Moses, 'Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments"' (Exodus 19: 10). The garments, seen by all, were to be spotless. We are to present to the world a clean life; our activities must be above reproach.
We must be holy in our private lives. Our affections are to be pure. This was symbolized in the purification rite by marital abstinence for a period of time. "And he said to the people, 'Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman"' (Exodus 19:15). This indicated a complete dedication to the Lord in the most intimate affairs.
When we get down to business with God, our private lives will be characterized by holiness. Let me suggest you pray through Psalm 139, especially the last two verses: "Search me, 0 God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way: (Psalm 139:23, 24).
It might be good to stop at this point and catch up with yourself. Are you weary of the wilderness? Does your heart cry out for the much more of Christ? Above everything else in the world do you want to know Christ in all His fullness? Are you ready to let Jesus, our Joshua, lead you into the Promised Land? If so, then consecrate yourself and get ready, for the Lord is ready to do wonders in your life.