Archive for category Joshua
After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3 giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it.4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.”
5 Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”
6 Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they took it up and went ahead of them.
7 And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. 8
Leaders are in short supply in the church. Oh, there are plenty of people in positions of leadership — pastors, deacons, elders, etc. But many of churches are governed by committees, driven by small programmatic goals, maintaining the status quo, tweaking programs, following the latest church growth trend and attending more church conferences.
Another way to put it is this: Many churches are doing a bunch of stuff, but they aren’t going anywhere exciting together. We need to recapture the sense of mission and movement that we read about in this story of Joshua and his large community of people-on-the-move.
1. The people are given orders and they obey (“you are to move out from your positions and follow it”). This congregation of God’s people have a soldier’s mentality; they hear their commanding officers marching orders and they obey. Few churches have this mindset as we look at our mission as a church. We operate more like country clubs, trying to please our constituency and appease our members. I wonder how much more kingdom work might be accomplished if we saw ourselves as soldiers for Christ, and we obeyed every time we heard an order — even if it didn’t feel comfortable and safe.
2. Some lead and some follow. This story clearly shows that God’s congregation is comprised of leaders who go first and followers who follow. Not all are called to lead and it is okay to be a loyal follower of the leader. It’s not a sign of weakness or inferiority. It’s an understanding of one’s role in God’s community. Likewise, leaders will step out and take initiative when duty calls. Joshua and the priests are given a prominent role in this story: They will take the first step into the water, they will carry the presence of the LORD on their shoulders (in the Ark) and the people will follow them to the other side.
It’s been fun to watch God raise up leaders at MainStreet. It’s scary to step out and take the first step.
It’s also been fun to watch others faithfully follow leadership onward in our journey.
Finally, God uses this moment to exalt Joshua in the eyes of the people and to increase his leadership credibility. This is his moment to shine and be used mightily as a leader of God’s people.
Lord, may you grant me the grace and wisdom to rise up at this moment in MainStreet’s journey and prove myself an able leader of your people for such a time as this! Amen.
3. God always gets the glory! I hope MainStreet is always a church where we’re expecting God to do amazing things among us — every time we gather, every new season, every turning point. May we never see the day when MainStreet gets settled into a routine and are content with church-as-usual. God, we’re waiting and watching, praying and expecting you to do amazing things among us at MainStreet in the coming days!
“Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. After three days the officers went throughout the camp giving orders to the people” (Josh. 3:1-2).
MainStreet Church is standing on the bank of the Jordan these days and gazing across at the Promised Land of future ministry fruitfulness in Mound waiting on the other side of this critical moment. As a pastor, my greatest desire is to lead a congregation of people who don’t just read and hear sermons about the Bible, but actually enter into the story and experience it for ourselves today.
This is our time to join Joshua and the Israelites and experience our own Jordan River crossing.
This series of posts invites us to insert ourselves into the unfolding plot and to get our own feet wet as we exercise our own faith in ways that stretch us beyond the point of comfort. I’ve read the Bible many times, and rarely is comfort and security a part of the story.
This story begins with a people settling down on the river banks and camping for a few days. The left one place in order to move toward another. Leaving one place behind is always a prerequisite for those who want to go to the better place God has waiting for us. Waiting is the other common experience of God’s people.
What do you think the Israelites did for those 3 days on the river’s edge? Three days seems just long enough to get people bickering, “How are we going to ever get across that?” Three days was enough time for all the fears and doubts about the new land they were entering to set in. “There are giants in the land! We are like grasshoppers! Crossing this river will ultimately lead us to our doom!”
Or, for the more optimistic folks in the camp it was a chance to dream about all the great adventures that await on the other side. It was a time to prepare themselves for a new chapter of life together. I bet those 3 days crawled by slowly for those anxious to enter the Promised Land. Remember they’ve been waiting ultimately for 40 years, not just 3 days!
So, we have been setting up camp on our own bank at MainStreet. We have been here just long enough to begin our own doubting and dreaming, planning and fearing! For 3 days (or months) we’ve been staring across the Jordan at the new storefront facility that we’re going to be transforming into our new ministry center this fall! For 3 days (or months) we’ve been sizing up the river and trying to figure out how in the world we’re going to get across this barrier. The Jordan represents all the potential obstacles that stare us in the face as we prepare to take this step of faith. For three days (or months) we’ve looked at the cost of rent, the cost of building out, the number of skilled workers this project will require, the time it will take to accomplish, the need for appropriate permits and more.
For 3 days (or months) we’ve waited for God to tell us to MOVE forward. We believe God has sent word throughout the MainStreet camp, we’ve heard his marching orders, we see the destination to which He is calling us, and we are preparing for the great crossing event. Join us for the crossing!
“God’s ways are not our ways,” we often say somewhat flippantly. But to what extent are we willing to live into that reality? How far “out there” are we willing to in our obedient to God? Are we willing to follow the Apostle Paul in being “fools for Christ” (1 Cor 4)? Will we risk public humiliation for the cause of Christ? Will we embrace the peculiar lifestyle Jesus calls us to?
Some events from the Bible are quite over the top and “out there”: Talking donkeys, barbecuing excrement, walking around naked for years, being fed by ravens, pulling coins out of a fish’s mouth, three nights in a fish’s belly, and so on. You start to wonder if perhaps we serve a creative God with a sense of humor!
One of my favorite moments of obedience to God’s absurdity is the fall of Jericho in Joshua 6. Can you imagine being a soldier in Joshua’s army the day they received their odd marching orders? ”Alright boys, leave your weapons here, grab your trumpets and let’s march around the city for seven days straight. Don’t say a word, only let the trumpets be heard. Then on the seventh day we’ll march around seven times, blowing trumpets and then we’ll all scream really loud! And then the city will be ours.” Does this sound like an episode from Pee Wee’s Playhouse? I can hear Pee Wee’s voice in my head, saying, “Everybody screeeeeeam reeeeeeeal loud: Aaaaaaaaaah!” Here’s the story: Read the rest of this entry »
In Joshua 4 the Israelites cross the Jordan River after God miraculously parts the waters for them. To commemorate the mighty work of God among them, Joshua has them set up 12 stones to be reminders of God’s faithfulness.
“When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the LORD said to Joshua, “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.” In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4)
In this video, Jeremy talks about the importance of setting up memorial stones in our own lives, remembering the faithfulness of God in our past so that we can walk confidently into the unknown future. Enjoy.
Enjoy some reflections from the book of Joshua in light of our mission as a church to be moving into territories today with the love, grace, selfless acts of service and the good news concerning Christ and the Kingdom of God.
“No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Josh. 1:5-9)
First, do we really believe God is WITH US today as we drive to the office, enter the public school classroom, pick our kids up from soccer, and attend our family reunion? How would we approach our daily tasks differently if we really embrace the truth of “Immanuel” — i.e., God with us? Jesus’ last words to his followers were “Go, make disciples….and I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt 28). Read the rest of this entry »