______________________________________________________________________________________________________ April 14, 2013 - Pastor Dale Lloyd Scripture Reading: Joshua 1: 1 – 9
At the beginning of the year the Holy Spirit spoke a clear word regarding the future of this faith community. That word has been centred in this theme: Closures & New Beginnings. Periodically we have moved away from that theme as directed by the Spirit. By no means are we done dealing with this business of change – of new beginnings, new chapters and the transitions involved in this. In fact I think that the better part of this entire year will be about this theme. And speaking of time, let me say that I am in no hurry; it is best that we move along methodically and at the Spirit’s pace and hopefully get it right rather than rushing forward and making unnecessary messes.
You are going to find that the messages you hear from Pastor Adam and me will overlap. That’s okay; we are using the same Bible, the same study book and addressing the same theme. Both of us will be working out of the first few chapters of the Joshua record.
If ever there was an entire generation that literally crossed over the Joshua generation certainly did. The term you are going to hear many times – even to the point of not wanting to hear it again – is this: ‘crossing over.’
In the New American Standard Bible there is a heading at the beginning of chapter three of Joshua – Israel Crosses the Jordan. What were they doing in the first two chapters? Quick answer: they were getting ready to cross over. This brings us to the theme of this message: ‘Preparing to Cross Over.’
I do not want an open response to this question but please ponder it in your heart: Are you ready to cross over? At this stage being ready to cross over may mean little more than the willingness to cross over. Being willing to cross over and being prepared to cross over are two very different realities.
First, crossing over almost always requires major change. That change can range from unsettling to traumatic to devastating. Do not romanticise it – it is costly and can be messy. Second, the opportunity of crossing over comes to every generation. You can refuse to cross over but you cannot finally deny it or avoid it in the sense of being unaffected by it. Third, preparation for crossing over is that part of the process we least enjoy. This is the work you do before actually experiencing the new. Everything at this stage is an act of faith, without the manifestation of what we are believing for. Fourth, we must understand the importance of preparation. Though it may be the least exciting aspect of the journey proper preparation determines to a large extent the quality of our experience once we have crossed over. How well we handle the promise is tied to how well we prepared for the possession of that promise.
Understanding the Joshua record it is clear that their crossing over was the final act that closed the door on their slavery in Egypt, and secondly it closed the door on the forty years of wilderness wandering. That’s the importance of crossing over. Joshua 5:9 Then the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.’ This does not happen on the wilderness side of Jordan. It is a blessing only for those who cross over.
The Jordan represents that final barrier that God is calling you to cross over. In doing so you will be transported out of your past and launched into the promise-filled future He has appointed you to possess. In this house we are dealing with both personal crossings and corporate crossings. There is a personal Jordan and a corporate Jordan. Crossing that Jordan represents the transition between where you are now and where God is taking you.
Whether personal or corporate this crossing over involves upheaval and personal pain. I guarantee you it will require a great deal of courage and the ability to stand firm in your convictions regarding what God has said. Everyone wants the benefits of Canaan but not all are willing to surrender to the future and separate from past mindsets, yesterday’s practices, and former relationships. It is vital that we discern the difference between what was good but must now pass away, and what is still good and must remain. Crossing over is as much about discovering what we must leave behind as it is about embracing what we are to keep.
In the book we are using, the author set out six stages of preparation. We may not consider all of them but certainly some of them are pertinent to where we are. Before presenting those six stages let me share one more consideration regarding this whole business of crossing over. If we are going to do this then we must be prepared to follow through on our commitment. We cannot simply experiment with it and then abandon the journey. We can’t just dip our toe in the Jordan and wait for the miracle to evidence before we commit further. We either believe God and step out on the basis of that faith, or we stand on the bank of Jordan and dream of Canaan.
Here are the six stages of preparation: separation, confirmation, courage, commitment, secrecy, and favour in the city.
Separation: Josh.1: 1-2 ...the Lord spoke to Joshua.... “Moses my servant is dead.”
This first communication of God to Joshua was not about transferring information about the state of Moses; it was about separation. Separation is about reconciling our souls to the fact that Moses is dead. This separation began in the physical realm. Moses went to the top of a mountain and simply disappeared; was never seen again.
The physical separation was one thing but the far greater thing was conceptual and generational separation. This was an entirely new generation with an entirely new conceptual approach to things. It is not enough to say that they saw things differently. They saw things differently because they saw different things. They were not looking into the wilderness; they were looking to the other side of the river. There was a change of focus.
Separation is always the first act of possession. For our hands to be filled with the new they must first be emptied of the old. The apostle Paul stated it this way: ‘...but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on...’ (Phil.3: 13-14) According to Christ (Jn.12:24) a seed can only release the increased harvest it contains by dying to its present identity.
It’s a tough issue but we must discern what has to be left in the wilderness – what we cannot carry forward into the new. We cannot have Joshua and keep Moses. We cannot have Canaan and the wilderness. It is one or the other but it can never be both. We have to honestly assess those valid parts of yesterday that have no place in our tomorrow.
Joshua had to understand that he was not a clone of Moses; that he was not there to lead these people the way Moses had. This generation had to come out from under the shadow of the former regime.
This is where we are as a faith community. This is what we are moving through at this time. This is the unavoidable challenge faced by every single individual who is committed to crossing over and to possessing all God has for the future.
Moses is dead. He was awesome in his time, but this is no longer his time. It is your time. It is my time. It is our time. It is this generation’s time. We are the Joshuas of this hour; the Joshuas of this day.