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FEBRUARY 11, 2024

CROSS OVER!

JOSHUA 1:10-18
REV. MICHAEL DENSMOOR                   SERIES: UNSHAKEABLE

The transcript below has been slightly edited to make it easier for reading.

Father, we're thankful today to be reminded of how much riches we do have in Christ and how great it is to be a child of God. We thank You for Nathan and Friska, as they will celebrate not just being children of God, but how You have unified them in a family and created a new family in which they will follow Jesus and raise children in the faith. Father, we ask that You bless them this week as they conclude their period of singleness in their life, and as they now turn towards becoming a couple. May You lead them in Your ways. Knit their hearts together as one. Father, we pray now as we turn to Your Word. Speak, oh Lord, more than ever in the noise of this world, in the bombardment of all the messages that we’re receiving from people across the spectrum. Today, we need to hear from You. So speak. We are listening. We commit this time in Your hands. In Christ's name we pray, Amen. 

I'd like you to turn with me to Joshua 1:10-18. This morning, we had started a series called “Unshakable.” As Christians, when we are rooted in Christ, we are willing to live differently, have more faith to trust God despite the odds, and impact this world for Him because we are unshakable, we are His, and He is ours forever. Let me read for you the daunting challenge that that being an unshakable follower of God leads us to face: 

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And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’”

And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, “Remember the word that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.’ Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, until the Lord gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and shall possess it, the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses! Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”

Joshua had been rallying the people of Israel and they said that, “All that You have commanded, we will do. Wherever You send us, we will go.” That's an incredible commitment! The question is, how do the people of God go from understanding what we're told to do to a commitment that, “Whatever You tell us to do and wherever You send us to go, I will go?” Sometimes, people think being a Christian means taking this leap of faith and jumping into the unknown. That’s a statement of a leap of faith: “Wherever! I will do it!” No requirements put on that. 

I remember watching the movie Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Have you seen that movie? I remember getting to the end, and his father has been shot and is dying. The only thing that can save him is having water from the Holy Grail splashed on his wound to miraculously heal him. The big problem is, to get to the Holy Grail he has to follow these instructions in his father's journal. He arrives below this lion's head and as he's standing below it, there's this chasm in front of him. You look down as far as you can see and you can't find the bottom. But the Holy Grail lies on the other side of this chasm.

 

Indiana Jones is thinking, “How do I go across?” He reads the message written in his father’s journal, “Only a leap from the lion's head will prove you worthy.” He needs to take a leap of faith. He needs to trust what he saw in this journal. Then, he remembers his father's words echoing in his mind, “You must believe!” So he lifts his foot up and with full confidence he takes a step forward, and this bridge appears leading him across this chasm. A leap of faith. 

I think that's what we see happening here in Joshua 1. The Jews they have been promised this land. The only problem is that this land is on the other side of the Jordan River, and it's flood season by the way, so they can’t just walk across a little trickle of water. On the other side of this river are armies, advanced weaponry, and cities with big walls. Israel has none of that stuff. But God said, “It’s your land. Go across. In three days, you're going to go.” Do you have confidence that you could do that? Do you have confidence that you could just pick up and go? Do you have confidence you can make this leap in your life and do what God is asking you to do? 

Last time, we talked about, “Can I trust God?” In the first nine verses of this chapter, we saw that we could trust God because of His great promises to us. Every single word that the Lord has spoken has come true. Another reason we could trust God was because of His presence with us. He is with us. As believers and Christians, we have the Holy Spirit in our life guiding us day-by-day, moment-by-moment. So if we can trust God, it now leads us to a next stage in which we must act upon that. We must do it now. 

Some of us today are maybe facing some huge life decisions, “Will I trust Him? Can I trust Him?” Once you've concluded, “Yes, I can trust God,” it leads you to a response. I think that's the hard part in our life, isn't it? We know God's trustworthy. The problem is, I'm scared. Are you scared today? Are you struggling with a major decision? You have to leave or move in your life, and you're just scared to pull the trigger on it - scared to lift your foot up like Indiana Jones and step out into the abyss. God says, “I'm faithful. I'm with you. I will lead you across the Jordan River.” So how do we go from being Christians who know, believe, and will trust God to a Christian who actually takes the step? How do we get there? 

Deeper Knowledge of God's Will

I think the first way that we get there is by becoming confident that God's plan and will for us is the best plan. First, I see in our passage that what we need is a deeper knowledge of the will of God. If we want to trust God and and take the step of faith, we need to know what it is that He’s asking us to do. Do you understand God's will for your life? 

God's will for your life is different from His leading on your life. God's leading will change throughout your life. Your job might move, you might be fired, you have different things happening, etc. - situations in which God will lead you into something new. But God's will for your life is more static. What has He created you for? What is the calling that He's put on your life? You and I need to grow and deepen our understanding of that. When we first become a Christian, we know He's created us to do good works. Well, that's so general. What is it? The more I realize the gifts He's given me, the talents, the people, the experiences, it begins to refine and focus me on what it is that He has created me to do. 

In this case, we see the Jews were promised a land. But I want you to notice it's not just any land, it's that land. So often in our lives, we think it's just enough to just follow Jesus. It's more than that. God has a particular plan that He has created you for, and you must delve down, discover it, and then hold firm to that. 

For example, we see that Abraham was given this promise by God: 

The Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him, “Lift up your eyes and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and eastward and westward, for all the land that you see I will give to you and to your offspring forever. I will make your offspring as the dust of the earth, so that if one can count the dust of the earth, your offspring also can be counted. Arise, walk through the length and the breadth of the land, for I will give it to you.” (Genesis 13:14-17)

God didn't just promise Abraham some land. He didn't just say, “Look, there's going to be a bunch of new housing estates being built over there. Go and pick a kavling.” What He said is, “You see this land you're standing on? This is my land for you. This is what I will give you. Not that land, not that land - this particular land.” Unless we understand the detail of God's plan, we'll be satisfied with something less. 

It then goes on to have this plan repeated 430 years later, when Moses meets God in the burning bush. God says to Moses: 

I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. (Exodus 3:8)

Why is He talking about all these -mites? Because those are the people living on Abraham's land. They're squatters. They have no right, because the deed of that land has been given to Abraham. God could have said to the Israelites, “You messed around in Egypt. I gave the land to somebody else, sorry. But there's some other land over there I'll give you instead.” That's not what's happening. God had promised and said, “This land is your land - not that land. If this land is your land, that's the one I'm going to give it to you.” 

I want you to pay attention to this. When Moses heard God speak, “Go down to Egypt. Deliver them. Bring them up. They’re going to get this land. Go from that land, and I'm going to give you this broad land over here,” where were the Jews? They were slaves! When He told it to Abraham, Abraham was a nobody walking around this land where other people were living. God said, “It's nice land, isn't it? I'm going to give it to you.” Abraham says, “Well thanks God, thanks a lot. Appreciate it.” He's free. He might not have any status, he might not have any great ability to take over this land, but his position was so much better off than the Jews now. The Jews had gone backwards. They had gone from being in that land as a nobody, to now being in that land over there - a different land - as slaves. God says, “I'm going to give them a land.” How does he give them a land? 

Imagine Moses sitting there, “God, I'm sorry. Am I misunderstanding You? That land? I can't even get them out of Egypt! How are we going to get them out of Egypt?” God says, “Don’t worry about it. I will deliver them.” The problem is, when God communicates His will to you, you begin to throw up all the problems in your life: “I can't do that. Oh, that won't work God. Oh no, this would never work.” God goes, “Don’t worry about those things. Those are My problems. Your problem is, will you obey Me?” 

God says to Moses, “They're coming out of Egypt. I will deliver them. Don't even think about that. I will deliver them. Here's the issue, Moses. That land - you bring them there.” That's why He had to lay out which people, because He didn't want Moses to say, “Okay, this one's pretty good. I think this is the one God gave us.” There's no wiggle room. It's clear, it's particular. You need to dig deeper into knowing what it is that God wants to give you, has created you for, and what His will is for you. 

But then we see that it's not just this land, but Joshua had told the people what they were going to go through, and it’s, “The land that was given to you.” In verse 13, “a place of rest.” God wasn't just giving them a place to live, but He was also giving them a place in which their souls would be nourished. 

There’s nothing more fulfilling in your life than doing God’s will. We think doing God's will means great sacrifice, great stress, and great difficulties. Even though you must work hard to fulfill God’s will, there's great fulfillment in it. Joshua is telling the people that, “God's land that you will get, is a place of rest.”

What’s interesting is this idea of rest started when Creation happened. God created the world and it says, “On the seventh day, He rested.” That's why the Jews were to keep the seventh day, the Sabbath day, holy because it was on that day God rested from creation. God didn't need to work, by the way. God wasn't tired by doing His work. He instituted something for us: work for six days, rest for one day. Do you do that? That's another sermon for another series. 

Sabbath rest, the idea in Creation, was that you need a time to refill your gas tank. There must be a time when you recharge. When you're using something, you drain it all down and you deplete its resources. The Sabbath in creation was a day of restoration - a day in which you do something that gives life to you. That doesn't mean you just go read your Bible and pray all day (although both are very good things to do not just on the Sabbath, but also everyday), but it's an idea of which we do something different which is life-giving, not life-taking. 

But here it's interesting, because there's another reason you find for Sabbath in the Scripture, and it's tied to this idea of the Exodus. The Sabbath rest wasn't just a day of creation and giving life, but it was also deliverance from slavery and being given rest in the Promised Land. 

The Jews were slaves - they had to work hard, they had no place of their own, they had no rights, no dignity, and no humanity. God says, “I am going to deliver you. I'm going to give you a place in which you can be human, where you can fulfill the things I've called you to. Where you can respond and worship Me.” So Sabbath rest for them was tied, not to the idea of giving restoration and renewal to their days and their life, but to the idea of deliverance. 

When we do God's will, we see there's great freedom and deliverance. God has set us free to do His work and to fulfill the things that He's called us to. For the Jews, this meant going into a land, building a house, starting a family, planting, crops, and having a good life. 

But this only points us to the ultimate deliverance. Our Sabbath rest will eventually be complete when we rest in the New Jerusalem - when we have total fulfillment, when we have a combination of this life-giving day and this deliverance and freedom from our struggles. When it's put together in the New Jerusalem, we find ourselves in the presence of God. Our enemies have been defeated, our slavery to sin is over, the satanic attack on our lives are over, the influence of this world is over - we are delivered from all that. We are in the presence of God.

 

Deliverance and life meet together in the New Jerusalem. You and I live in this presence of God everyday, overflowing in the richness of being His children. This is God's desire: not to give a land which will eventually be taken away because of disobedience, but for you and I to be given a permanent inheritance in Christ Jesus - to be given Him. Our deepest riches, Jesus Christ, His very presence. 

It’s a particular land, but God's will for you is also something that gives you a fulfilling rest. This is only possible because we follow a covenantal God. It's not enough just for us to say, “I believe in God.” In order to have confidence to take a leap of faith, you need to know the God you believe in. You need to learn more about Him. Are you growing in your knowledge of Christ? Are you recognizing day-by-day how much more Christ loves you than you imagined? Do you realize the depth of His sacrifice for you? Have you come to understand how great God cares and shepherds your life? When you do this, it gives you a greater confidence to say, “Yes, I can proceed. Yes, I can go.” 

One of the big things that we need to understand about God is that our God is covenantal. What do I mean by that? We say that, “God loves me because I performed.” Why do we think that? Because that's what my father was like. My father was only said, “I'm proud of you,” or “I love you,” when I brought my report card home and he could see I did good at school or I got this award. Then he's proud I'm his child. 

We take that picture of a father who only is proud of us when you perform, and we project it onto the God of the Bible. We say, “The God of the Bible answers my prayer when I’m holy. The God of the Bible does something good for me when I do something good for others. My Father loves me when I'm lovable.” Here's the problem, do you feel lovable today? Did you wake up this morning and look in the mirror and go, “God must really love me.” My feeling is that's not the case. My feeling is a lot of us woke up today regretting decisions we've made the past week, wishing we had used our time better, wishing we had been successful, wishing we hadn't done that sin - a lot of regret, lot of feeling unlovable. 

The good news is, the more we learn about our God, the more we learn he's not a God who is asking us to perform. He's a God who loves us because of who we are, not because of what we do. The only way you and I will ever have confidence to implement the plan of God for your life, to cross over that Jordan River, is if we deepen our understanding of what God wants and who God is. A particular land, fulfilling rest that He wants to give you, and that He himself is the one who will deliver you. A deeper knowledge of God's will. 

Fuller Trust in God's Way

Secondly, a deeper knowledge of God will should spur us to take root, to take action, because God is calling us to do something which I think is really impossible. For the Jews here with Joshua, crossing over the Jordan River was an impossible task. It's flood season! How do you go across the river into the face of an army? They're being asked to do something from a weak position. 

We know God's will. We know He loves us. But when we look at the resources and what we have in our situation, we say, “I don't think I can do it.” God asking you, in your weak position, to fulfill the Great Commission. He said, “Go and make disciples of all people.” We think, “Are you kidding me? I can’t even get my children to follow Jesus. I've been trying to talk to my parents, and they don't follow Jesus. How am I supposed to go to Tajikistan? How am I supposed to go to Jordan? How am I supposed to go to Japan and do it? Don't You know how weak we are? We're just hanging on in this country. We're in minority. We just want to keep our head down, have a good life, and just get through it.” 

You feel like you're in a weak position. You feel like God's called you to do something, to make disciples, to be part of His kingdom-building effort, and you say, “God, the more I realize who You are, the more I realize You are trustworthy. I realize how weak I am, but I just don't know if I can do this.” The good news is, it doesn't depend on you. It depends on God. When we understand and believe that, we take the step. 

As we deepen our knowledge of God’s will, it leads us to do something. What it leads us to do is a fuller trust in God's way. God's got a plan, and God's plan will not fail. If God's plan won't fail, get to work in applying it! Get to work in doing it, because once you start doing it. He’s there and He will do it. 

The first thing I see that's happening here is after He tells them to do these things, they immediately begin to go. "In three days, get your stuff ready. We're going to break camp in three days and go across the river." That sounds like a good idea. it’s going to take three days to just get your camp disassembled. These are millions of people. They need get food ready and put the things in order. They're going across.

But here's the problem: they had this opportunity once before 38 years previously. They were told, “You can go across. I'm going to give you this land.” The spies had gone across (remember Joshua was one of these spies that had gone across) and they saw how beautiful the land is, but they came back and they said, “They’re giants! They’re not small like us. They're big, huge people. How are we ever going to do this? We can't do it.” As a result of their disobedience and unwillingness to trust God and take that leap of faith, they needed to wander in the desert for another 38 years. 

In two years, God had led them up to the border. It was actually about an 11-day journey, but God led them for two years to prepare them to go in the Promised Land. They saw these miracles, God had prepared them, and they didn't want to do it. So they had to spend another 38 years wandering. Now they're in the same place again - will they cross over? Will they actually do what God has led them to do? Or will a different generation be given this responsibility? 

I think that's an important question for us in the church to also answer. Every generation is given this responsibility by God - will you do it or not? We pray that God's kingdom will come, but we actually don't get around to building His kingdom. We spend a lot of time building a lot of things, but God's kingdom is one of the things we don't build very much of. Do we trust and believe this plan so much that we will be the generation to do it? 

The Jews once again are standing on the edge of this river. They have to make a decision: am I going to go or not? Will I take the step or will I be like the former generation and play it safe? This is where we get it wrong. When our eyes are turned on ourselves, playing it safe means doing what I'm capable of controlling. But when our eyes are turned on God, playing it safe means going where God leads me because I know He is the one who keeps me safe. When your eyes are on yourself, playing it safe is what I can control. When my eyes are on God, playing it safe is following Him step-by-step. 

They have this decision: will they go? Will they take the step? Will they trust God at this time? It’s not just that, but they have this immediate response to it. They immediately begin to take action. Once you know what you need to do, you need to act. You can't put it off. 

These leaders were given this charge - these secular leaders in the camp. The officials are like the secular version of the priests. The priests led in the religious area, these officials led in the secular area. They’re told right now, to get everybody together and start to get to work. “Break your camp. Put your matters in order. Get your children ready - bathe them, wash their hair. Do whatever you need to do. In three days we're going.”

 

Is that how you respond when you discover God’s will? Do you immediately respond in obedience and readiness to act, knowing that this is the moment we've been waiting for? Think about it, for 40 years they had been wandering in the desert and God says, “When this whole generation has passed away, I will lead you across.” This has been the exact moment that this whole new generation had been raised up for. Get to work. Respond immediately. 

But more than likely, most of us turn to excuses. I know the first thing I react with is excuses. It's very easy to look at the situation around us and have lots of extra considerations. To me, Exodus 3 is is a very funny chapter in the Bible. Moses is walking with his sheep and he sees a bush that is on fire. He says, “There’s a bush on fire, but it's not being burned up.” That to me is one of the funniest verses in the Bible. He says, “Hmm, I think I will go over and see why it's not being burned up.” If I saw this bush on fire but not being burned up, I would be like, “Whoa! This is amazing! What do I do with this?” Moses says, “Hmm, I think I'll go over and see why it's not being burned up.” Maybe I'm the only one who thinks the Bible's funny when I read it. 

God has appeared to him in this miraculous way, and what does Moses do? He is hearing God speak to him in a verbal voice, “Go to Egypt. I will deliver them. I will give them this land. I'm going to do all these things.” Immediately Moses goes, “They're not going to believe me. Who sent me?” When God answers all those objections, Moses comes up with another excuse, “I'm not very good at talking.” Excuse, after excuse, after excuse. 

Here's our problem with immediate obedience. God requires immediate obedience. Just like us as parents, when our child is supposed to eat, we say, “It’s time to eat.” We expect them to eat now, immediately. When we say, “It's time to go to bed,” we expect our kids to immediately go to bed. We don't expect them to say, “I want to watch another movie first for two hours. Then I want to like do something else.” We expect them to obey. 

When God tells us his children to do something, what does He expect? Immediate obedience. What does He get? “I don’t know… I like my life here… She’s prettier than her… I just don't know… I can't do it…” Excuse, after excuse, after excuse comes out of our mouths, to the point where we paralyze ourselves from doing the very thing God has revealed to us as His will. 

At the end of the day, our problem isn't that we don't trust God. The problem is, we love ourselves too much. We don't want to obey Him because we're comfortable with what we have and how we have it. For the Jews, they needed to to respond. What's ironic is we are so quick to sin, yet are so slow to obey. We are so quick to run head first into doing sin, as our heart is filled with this overwhelming desire. But we are so slow to desire the very life-giving, fulfilling will of God and to do it. As Christians, as we mature in Christ, we are ready to believe that He's going to do it and work through us. So we obey immediately. 

But it's not just immediate obedience, it's also those who have complete trust in every word that God has told us. Complete trust in the Word of God. This isn't just blind faith. Blind faith is when you do something without any hope or any previous knowledge that this was going to happen. Blind faith is when you just are filled with wishful thinking that things will turn out well. 

 

I find that happens a lot here in Indonesia. People here tend to make decisions based on feelings. “Because I feel this way, I'm going to do it.” They don't logically think and process. Instead, they go with their emotions. Well, your emotions aren't rooted in any sort of previous experience or trust. So we're just wishful thinking. We hope it turns out well because last time it also turned out well. We don't need a plan, we just need to do it. 

When Joshua hears from the Lord and then responds and says, “In three days we're breaking camp and we're going to go,” this was wasn't blind faith. Remember, Joshua had come out of Egypt and stood at the Red Sea - a larger body of water that needed to be crossed. Behind him was an army coming to kill them all. A hopeless situation, a bigger body of water, a fierce army behind them, and Moses just lifted his staff, the water parted, and Israel walked through on dry land. 

Now the people of Israel are standing on the banks of the Jordan River - a river that's not that wide. Although it is flood season and the water is raging and high, there's no army behind them pursuing them. There's an army on the other side of the river that needs to be conquered. 

God said to them, “Make your provisions ready. You’re crossing in three days.” My first question to God would be, “Where are the boats? Where's the bridge?” Wouldn't that be the logical response? “Three days you're going across the river.” “Great! Is there a ferry? Because I don't see one. How am I supposed to get two million people from here to there without boats?” But Joshua's leap of faith was based on God's Word that was based on his history with God. Before, God had demonstrated He was trustworthy. He parted the Red Sea. He will do this for us again today. 

If you want to get involved in God's plan and God's work, one of the healthy things to do is keep a journal of how God has answered your prayers. Keep a discussion going in your family of the good things that God has led you through up until this point. Build a monument to celebrate God's faithfulness to you despite the problems, despite the challenges, so that as you look back it gives you confidence to step forward. 

Joshua is being asked to do an incredible thing, but it is not a stupid thing. God has proved Himself to do greater things than just this. He can do this and will do it because it's His will. It's not a blind faith, but it's also a faith that's not irresponsible. It's not a passive faith. A passive faith is when we say, “Let go and let God.” When God tells me to do this, I'm just going to go with no plan, no idea, and no forethought. “I'm just going to let go and let God. It's all God's work, right? I don’t need to plan. I don't need to do anything.” 

What we see in this passage isn't blind faith, and it isn’t passive faith. It's not that we're just going to go without any sense of previous history with God, nor is it, “I'm just going to let God do all this stuff and I'm along for a free ride.” It's an obedient faith. “I know my God and I know what my God wants. So I will follow.” 

That's the kind of faith that God wants us to have: obedient faith. We trust His Word because we trust who He is. “I know that He will give me something so much better. He wants to give me a land filled with milk and honey.” When they cross over the Jordan, all this mana that they're eating is going to end. No more mana and no more bread. When they get over that river, they're going to be eating milk, honey, and things that are overflowing. God wants to give us this greater, deeper fulfillment when we cross over and do His will. It's a challenge for us in the church to live with greater faith in Christ. 

We also see that they do this together with a sacrificial integrity. Joshua then turns to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, and he says to them, “Remember, Moses promised you that you could stay here on this side of the Jordan. But you swore a commitment that we would cross over with our brothers and help them fight until they take over the entire land.” 

It’s just going to cost them something. It's going to cost them something to do God's work together with God's people. They could easily stay home in the land they’ve been given. Their wives are there, their kids, their tents, they've taken root, and they could think, “This is good.” But instead, they had made a commitment and they have to be people of integrity. 

When you want to do God's work, it means fulfilling the oaths that you make. When you make a promise, you need to fulfill it. That's what integrity means - it means paying the price to fulfill it. So many of us today look at what it’s going to cost us. After we promised something, we go, “I can't do it. The cost is too great for me.” We say we'll serve in the church, but then get a better offer this weekend and can't serve anymore. 

Some of us, we don't want to sign up in the first place because we don't want to be confined. We don't want to be limited in our options. I think one of the biggest problems we have today in our lives is you have so many options all the time. I can't go to a coffee shop and order. I go to a coffee shop with all the these expensive drinks, and all I order is black tea. Why? Because it takes me 15 minutes just to understand all the different things on the menu and all the different options. It's just incredible how many choices you have. Today, we want to have complete flexibility all the time, to where it paralyzes us. Too many options, so we don't act. 

In order to serve God and to do His will, you need to commit yourself to something. When you commit to it, you need to sacrifice to fulfill your commitments. The Gadites, the Reubenites, and the half tribe of Manasseh asked for the land over here. They said, “Yes, we'll do it. Here’s what we will commit to: we will cross over and fight with them. We will do it. We will sacrifice to make this happen.” Our following God, our doing God's will, will never be accomplished unless we're willing to to pay the price to follow. 

We also see another interesting thing here, and it's this heartfelt unity of God's people. These two and a half tribes just cross over because God needed them. It wasn't that they needed a bigger army. I want you to be clear on this. God is going to defeat the city of Jericho by just having the Jews walk around it seven times. There's no fighting. God can make these walls come down without any fighting. We'll see in Joshua 10 hailstones falling from heaven, killing the armies. God doesn't need an army. God can do all this without them. 

So why is Joshua saying, “You must come across. You must fulfill your commitment?” It's because of unity. There is great comfort and great strength for people who serve the Lord when there is unity in what we do. Togetherness. That's one of the beautiful things here in Indonesia, is how much we do things together and not individually. We do it together, show up and encourage one another. It's not that we needed them. We don't need them to come. But when they come, it adds to the spirit of the group. It adds to the ability for us to press through the problems. Why? Because we're not alone. 

I want us to think about this. What does this mean for us? What does it mean for you and I who now know God's will and step out in it? Does it mean that you are ready? Will you move forward? Will you respond today with immediate obedience? Maybe there's something you've been putting off in your life, just not wanting to do it. Maybe you just aren't confident in God, and you need to go back and make this list of who He is in your life. Maybe it's you've just gotten selfish and aren't willing to pay the price to fulfill the thing you've committed to. What is it right now that is keeping you from taking the step in obeying the Lord? 

I remember when I was in university, I knew the Lord had called me to be a pastor. I was clear on what that calling was. As I prepared myself to be a pastor, God first led me to work as a computer engineer at Motorola. I was writing software programs and doing all this work. I'll tell you, one year of working there and I had made more money than I made my entire life. My lifestyle was getting a little bit more comfortable. I was enjoying my life a little bit more. It was just getting harder to take the step. It was just getting harder to do the thing that I was confident and 100% sure that He had created me to do - to go and be a pastor. 

It led me to Indonesia. I knew Indonesia was the place to come. I had actually come to Indonesia and driven around the island of Java. The Lord had moved in my heart again to confirm this is where He wants me to go. All I have to do is quit my job and go. That's all I had to do! But I didn't want to tell my boss. I didn’t want to burn the bridges behind me.

 

There was a brother in my office who I would pray and share together with. It was the day that I had to tell my boss I was going to quit. The brother said to me, “So are you going to do it?” I said, “Yeah, I got to do it today.” He's like, “Well, go do it! Do it now!” He was basically pushing me down the row of cabinets between the cubicles, pushing me down to my boss's office. I could feel his foot on my rear end, kicking me through the door to go and talk.  

I needed this unity. I needed this strength of someone else to get me to do the very thing that I was confident God was leading me to do. I walked to my boss's office and said, “I need to tell you something.” He said, “What is it?” I said, “I'm resigning today.” He said to me, "Sit down.” He sat me down and said, “Here on my desk, there's a paper. I was going to give it to you later today. A promotion for you.” I said, “I'm sorry, I got promoted to a higher grade. I'm going to Indonesia to serve the Lord there.” 

Satan's challenges are great. The excuse, after excuse, after excuse. There's so many excuses we can be making. But God is calling us to take the step. Believe Him. Cross over the Jordan. He is faithful and His plan for you is the best plan. 

Greater Zeal for God's Work

So how do we do this? Let me share with you a few thoughts. First of all, how do we have a greater zeal, a greater passion to do God's work? It starts from believing that God's will is the best will. God's will is the best. 

The reason we don't want to quit our jobs and go be a pastor, the reason we don't want to take that step and get married, the reason we don't want to take a job here, or do this or that, is we're holding on to what is second best. We don't actually believe what God promised us is so much better than what we have right now, because that requires faith. What I have today, I understand. What's over there, I don’t know. 

The saddest people in the Bible, I think, are the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh because they wouldn't cross over the Jordan. They said, “Well this land's pretty good. It's much better than Egypt. It's much better than where we've been wandering around. How about we take this land? We're already here. My wife likes it. She already bought curtains to put up. How about we just stay here? My children are tired of walking.” 

So often, we look at what's here and we go, “This is good enough.” The kind of Christian I want you to be, and the kind that I can testify that God is faithful and blesses, is the kind that says, “Second best is not good enough. I don't want good enough. I want God's best for me.” 

It's really interesting - the land that the Gadites, the Reubenites, and the half tribe of Manassa settle for, that’s the land that's going to be attacked first by all the armies. They also took the land that happens to be one of the ten driest countries in the world. Over that river, milk and honey. Here, it's better than Egypt, but it's not milk and honey. 

Here's the problem. We know God will give us the best stuff, but we're satisfied with second best. We don't actually believe that God has something so much better for us if we're willing to strive, be faithful, and work for it. 

It's not just taking second best, but we also become second best. The consequence of being a Christian who doesn't pursue God's will in totality is that you settle for being a second-class Christian. Instead of being the best, instead of being juara satu (everyone in Indonesia wants to be juara satu - ranking number one in everything), we’re so quick in the church to be second best. 

These two and a half tribes saw this land and they said, “We have a lot of cattle. They can feed here, they can roam around. Look how wide it is! This is good enough for us.” What they're thinking isn’t, “How do I fulfill God’s will?” They're thinking, “How do I grow my business? I have a lot of cattle. Here’s a lot of pasture land. I can establish here. I can take over the market. Nobody's taking this market. I can take it all. I can conquer it, have a monopoly, and it's all mine. I'm going to become rich,” instead of saying, “God, what's Your will? What's Your work that You want me to do? I'm going to strive to do it.” Instead they're thinking about this place. 

Second-best Christians are Christians who live for this world, not for that world. First-class Christians are the ones who say, “God, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. I am walking towards my Zion, my New Jerusalem in heaven, where I will meet Jesus face-to-face. I will hear from Him the most wonderful statement in all of history, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant.’” 

So many of us are satisfied being second-best Christians who just want to have a career with money, a bigger house, and a bigger car. We think bigger is better. But hearing God say, “Well done,” and receiving our heavenly rewards is so much greater than anything we could ever imagine. What is it that you’re pursuing? Do you believe today that God's will is perfect? 

Paul had written (and we had reflected on this last year) Romans 12. A part we didn't go into much depth in is the end of verse two, about what the will of God. “What is good and acceptable and perfect.” Let me ask you today, do you really believe God's will for your life is perfect? Do you believe that? 

Some of us have been sitting here thinking, “If only God had given me different opportunities, a different child without learning disabilities, a different husband, a different wife, a better brain so I could be smarter, or better opportunities so I could be richer.” There are people here who have been stuck in Indonesia for ten years and tried everything to get to Australia. Everything is closed, closed, and closed. You sit there thinking, “Why?” 

It’s very easy to have bitterness in your heart. But do you believe God's plan is the best plan? Do you believe that God's will is perfect? First-class Christians believe God's will is perfect. They're satisfied in it, they want to do it, and they want to give everything to see that happen. They're not looking for another thing. 

Once they understand that God's will is perfect, what happens? They surrender completely to Jesus. They give themselves fully to the work of the Gospel. Once you believe God's will is perfect, you're satisfied knowing, “If He is leading me, I am going. If that's what He has called me to, I am doing it. I refuse to camp out on the wrong side of the Jordan. I refuse to be second-class. I believe God has prepared me. I believe God has called me. I am taking the step, I am going, and I will not hold back.” 

In our Bible study, we studied in Luke 9 of these three people who came up to Jesus and said, “I will follow You.” They said they wanted to be first-class, but instead they ended up wanting to be second. “I will follow You, but let me go home first and bury my father.” But his father's still alive, he hadn't died yet. “I will follow You, but let me get my inheritance first. Let me make sure I've got this world covered, and then I'll follow You. I need to be comfortable and it needs to be convenient for me.” No sacrificial integrity. No following through on the commitments you've made to the Lord. 

But when you absolutely surrender yourself to Jesus, we say, “Whatever You tell us, we will do. Wherever you send us, we will go. Full stop. No excuses. Absolute surrender. Why? Because God's will is perfect and I know God is not going to ask me to do something that He has not gifted me to do and is not going to bless me through. I know God is not going to send me someplace where He is not going to be there with me, working through all that I'm saying and doing.” Absolute surrender. 

He’s asking us today to respond, to be strong and courageous. You've got two and a half tribes who want to be second-best. You’ve got nine and a half tribes who will absolutely surrender and cross over. Can you really be a second-class Christian? Can you really experience the fullness of life in Christ if you only believe half-heartedly and you keep your eyes focused on this world? 

They were told not to be discouraged. “We will go! Our unity will encourage everybody!” But in reality, what we find happens when you look at the list of numbers (and that's why all those passages in the Old Testament are filled with boring numbers because at the end of the day, they're there to prove something), the people that were of fighting age from the Reubenites, Gadites, and half tribe of Manasseh is about 100,000 men. But when you read in Joshua 4 of the people that came from these two and a half tribes to fight, you find there's only 40,000 that showed up. That's only 40%! “We will go! We will fight! Be strong! Be courageous!” Then what happens? 40% show up. 60% commitment fail. 

What's your commitment level today? God's plan is the best plan. It can only be fulfilled if we absolutely surrender to Jesus. The question is, where is your commitment? 40%? 10%? If no better offer shows up, then I will show up? Today, God has given you a picture of His will. Do you know what it is? 

I find people aren't confused on what God's will is. I think the question is, “Will I cross over? Will I take the step today to put my life completely in His hands? To put my future completely in His hands? Will I trust Him more than I trust what I see with my eyes? Will I obey immediately? Will I commit myself and follow through? Will I listen to His Word and trust every one of it?” When we cross over, God is with us. 

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Father, we don't want to be half-hearted. We don't want to be like the people that settle for second-best, but we want to be people that not only trust You, but act upon it. So today, Father, as we have reflected on Your Word and as You've called us to a deeper commitment to following You, we ask that at this time You will lead us into Your plans for us. That our hearts will well up in great enthusiasm for the work of the Lord. That we'll be more willing to take the step of faith and encourage one another as we pursue our Jordan-crossing. Today, as You are speaking into our hearts, as we face our challenges in our marriages, in our singleness, in our career, and in our life-calling, Father open our eyes to see You in heaven. To know that every promise, You fulfill. Give us the faith to step out. Give us the faith to pursue You. May Your name be glorified in and through us. We thank you. In Jesus's name we pray, Amen.

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