Cross Over And Conquer
Text: Joshua 1
I want to talk to you today about vision. I believe that one of the greatest problems I have as a pastor leading this church is continuing to see the vision that God has given to us as His church. Do we as a church, do I as a pastor, do you as a believer have the vision of God?
I believe God gives a great visionary talk to Joshua in the first chapter of the book of Joshua. I believe that the vision he lays before the leader of his nation carries them though the battles the obstacles and ultimately the victory they had in conquering Canaan. I also believe it is the vision that can carry us through that we might also “Cross over and Conquer.”
The Past and the Vision Joshua 1:1-6
Now after the death of Moses the servant of the LORD it came to pass, that the LORD spake unto Joshua the son of Nun, Moses' minister, saying, Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast. There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee. Be strong and of a good courage: for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give them.
Moses is Dead, but the Promises are alive.
Israel had been at this very place before. Ready to cross over and conquer the land of Canaan. To enter into the land promised them by God a land flowing with milk and honey. They had come to this place and failed. When it came time to cross over and conquer they would not trust God and they could not forget Egypt and as a consequence they spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness.
They marched in great circles, while they slowly died just outside the promise land.
Marching In Circles
Sometimes I feel just like the Hebrews in this the wilderness. just outside the best that God has but are I cannot grasp it and so I just keep marching in circles.
I think many churches are marching in circles, never really accomplishing much just biding time until death puts a padlock on the door. They can be doing a lot while they’re marching in circles but they never fully experience God’s richest blessings. We need to what God is telling Joshua to do, cross over and conquer.
Two reasons that prevent God's best for us
I believe there are two reasons why we don’t cross over and conquer. Why we only get glimpses of God best for us but never really live in the Promised Land. First, the past doesn’t stay in the past and second, we lack the vision of God.
Israel failed the first time because they couldn’t let the past stay in the past.
Numbers 14:1 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. 2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! 3 And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? 4 And they said one to another, Let us make a captain, and let us return into Egypt
We often fail because we can’t forget the past the way it used to be. In our memory it was always better than the present. The Israelite wanted to go back because they thought it was too difficult where they were now. They even wanted to stone Moses and Aaron because they felt they were to blame. They were forgetting that they used to be slaves. They remembered the food and the shelter but they didn’t remember the chains and beatings.
We look back to the past the way things used to be and say, “If we could only do that again everything would be ok.” And as long as we stay with our heart set on the past we will never fully experience the blessing of God in the present.
Example: I spoke with a church member once who was determined to leave the church. They spoke of never having done that, they spoke of what used to happen and what used to be. I listened in sadness and then told them, “You can’t go back. Even if you could call those same pastors back this isn’t the same church and they are not the same pastors.” But all they could see was the past of their memory.
When I was your age
A young man, who was also an avid golfer, found himself with a few hours to spare one afternoon. He figured if he hurried and played very fast, he could get in 9 holes before he had to head home. Just as he was about to tee off, an old gentleman shuffled onto the tee and asked if he could accompany the young man as he was golfing alone. Not being able to say no, he allowed the old man to join him.
To his surprise, the old man played fairly quickly. He didn't hit the ball far, but plodded along consistently and didn't waste much time.
Finally, they reached the 9th fairway and the young man found himself with a tough shot. There was a large pine tree right in front of his ball and directly between his ball and the green.
After several minutes of debating how to hit the shot, the old man finally said, "You know, when I was your age, I'd hit the ball right over that tree."
With that challenge placed before him, the youngster swung hard, hit the ball up, right smack into the top of the tree trunk and it thudded back on the ground not a foot from where it had originally lay.
The old man offered one more comment, "Of course, when I was your age, that pine tree was only 3 feet tall.
Secondly, We lack the vision of God
We don't see as God sees. God pointed the way to the Promised Land for the Israelites, in order to have it they had to see it through God’s eyes, not a land filled with giants and walled cities but a land filled with milk and honey, a land of God’s blessings.
We must see the future as God sees it, filled with his blessings and secured by His promises. In every situation of our lives, do we see the promises or do we only see the problems?
One of most fundamental reasons we fail or do not achieve our full potential is serving God is because we do not have vision. We don’t look far enough done the road to trust God fully for the journey. Our minds and hearts are overly occupied with the here and now, so much so that we cannot conceive of a better future lived in the power of God.
This was the problem with the Israelites when they refused to cross over and conquer the first time they were at the border of Canaan. All they could see were the problems they couldn’t see the power and they could not see their purpose.
Why had God brought them to this place? Was it to watch them die? Was it to watch them walk in circles? No! It was to conquer Canaan. Joshua and Caleb understood it.
Numbers 14:5 Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly of the congregation of the children of Israel. 6 And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: 7 And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. 8 If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. 9 Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.
What is the vision God has for his church? Is it to die? Is it to bide time until he comes again? Is it to wander in circles? No, listen. Just like the Hebrews we have been told what God sees for his church.
Matthew 16:18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Read this verse and think about the picture it portrays. Some say this is a church with a wall around it and the forces of Satan are trying to batter down the door and they will not succeed. Certainly we believe that the church will stand. The church Jesus started over 2000 years ago is still here upon this earth and will be here until Jesus returns, but this verse doesn’t just promise perpetuity it promises victory.
The picture is not of the church under siege but the battlements of hell that are being attacked by the Lord’s Army, His Church. Jesus says those gates will not stand.
Is that the vision you see? Is that the church you belong too? A church ready to not just take on the gates of hell but something really tough, like Athens, Texas?
Are you seeing with God’s eyes? Do you have God’s vision?
God’s vision for our church. God’s vision for your life. God’s vision for your marriage, for your family for your finance? Do you see these things not through your eyes but through His?
Illustration: Peter and the vision of the unclean things Acts 10:9-18
On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: 10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending unto him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
The Passion and The Vitality Joshua 1:7-8
7 Only be thou strong and very courageous, that thou mayest observe to do according to all the law, which Moses my servant commanded thee: turn not from it to the right hand or to the left, that thou mayest prosper whithersoever thou goest. 8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.
Love The Book, Live The Book
God tells Joshua to be strong, be brave and to do all that Moses had written in the book. If he would do this than he would prosper in wherever he would go. He tells Joshua to not let the law depart from his mouth, to meditate on it day and night for that would enable him to do all that was written in the book. When he did these things then Joshua would make his way prosperous and he would have success.
We must love God’s Word and we must live God’s Word
In order for us to love the Book we must understand and hear it as the very word of God, as God speaking to us now. If we love the Lord then we will love hearing His voice in the page of scripture.
It must be God’s message to us, his letters of love to us. When we hear the love of God spoken from the pages of his word, when we realize they are sent to us personally and how intimate they are, then we fall in love with the Word of God and we will find it our greatest delight to walk the path of its precepts and principles.
Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
When we love this book we will live this Book. It cannot happen any other way. You can’t live it before you love it, for that is just legalism and your reward is the praise of men. But when you love it, you don’t even think about how hard it is to do what it requires of me. You just live what you love.
My Grandfather, Van George, was once on visitation at a members home. As he talked with the lady about church and God. She said, “Its hard for me to read the Bible. I just don’t get anything out of it personally.” Grandad had seen some letters from the woman’s husband laying on the coffee table. He asked her, “When you get a letter from you husband, do you let it sit around unopened and not really care about what he wrote?” The woman was shocked, “No of course not as soon as I pick up the mail, I look for his letter and then I open it up and start reading it even before I get back to the house.” Granddad said, “Of course you do that’s because you love him and you know he loves you. The same is true of the Bible. It is God’s love letter to you and if you’ll open it up and read it, knowing that He wrote it for you personally, it will make all the difference.”
The Power and the Verity Joshua 1:9
9 Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
God is With Thee
The ultimate, unshakeable, inviolable reason that Joshua and the Israelites would take the Promised Land, the reason they would be strong, of good courage and not be afraid or dismayed was because the Lord thy God is with thee, wherever you go!
That was real power and that was truth.
Trusting the Power of God’s Presence
Do you really trust in the power of God’s presence? Do you really believe in the presence of God?
Scripture: I share this often we those I visit in the hospital.
Psalms 27:1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. 3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. 4 One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple. 5 For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock. ...13 I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. 14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD
If I didn’t believe in and long for the presence of God in my life and in my church, I would have quit the ministry years ago. I would have walked away when another Christian fell by the wayside, when another battle was lost, when the heartbreak and the turmoil once again knock me to me knees. But it is there, when I am on my knees, that I feel an arm go round my shoulder and a strong hand lifts me back to my feet. Jesus Christ whispers to my heart. “I will never leave you. I will never forsake you.” And it is enough. It is always enough to know that He is with me.
There is power in that truth and when I am conscious of it, when I am depending on it then I can do those things that are beyond my own power and courage because I know, He is with me.
Illustration: David Livingstone, Crossing Over
David Livingstone had spent sixteen years in Africa but had not faced such peril. The missionary was surrounded by hostile, angry natives in the heart of Africa. He was in danger of losing his life and was thinking of trying to sneak away to safety in the darkness of the that night. But something changed his mind and gave him peace and courage. He recorded it in his diary that January 14, 1856:
“Felt much turmoil of spirit in prospect of having all my plans for the welfare of this great region and this teeming population knocked on the head by savages tomorrow. But I read that Jesus said: “All power is given unto Me in Heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” It is the word of a gentleman of the most strict and sacred honor, so there’s an end to it! I will not cross furtively tonight as I intended. Should such a man as I flee? Nay, verily, I shall take observations for latitude and longitude tonight, though they may be the last. I feel quite calm now, thank God!
God told Joshua, “Cross over and conquer! See the promises and you’ll not turn back. Live by this book and you’ll not fail. Walk with me and you’ll not fear.” Is his command to us any different today? Are there not still obstacles we must cross, enemies that we must conquer, promises we must see fulfilled? Is there still not a book to live by and a Savior to walk with? Then just as Joshua did, let us, “Cross over and conquer.”
Cross over and conquer your apathy. Cross over and conquer your cynicism. Cross over and conquer your fear. Cross over and conquer your bitterness. Cross over and conquer Athens, TX. Cross over and conquer your neighborhood. Cross over and conquer, the promise of God are before us His word is in us and He is beside us.