Christine Caine - Arise and Shine, Part 3
It's time to start speaking about how big your God is not how big your problem is. God is bigger than anything you are facing. The devil is small enough to fit under your feet, and God is big enough to fill the heavens and the earth. Don't start talking about what is not happening or how big the walls are. Doubt kills faith, so just stay in faith. We have to learn to shutteth uppeth. Now that being interpreted, if you can't say what God says, it's better to say nothing. Hey, Chris here. I wonder if you're facing some impenetrable walls in your life today? Have you progressed to a place where you've come up against setback after setback, and you just were not expecting it? Perhaps you're face to face with an obstacle that feels impossible to overcome. If so, I want to encourage you to keep going. Keep believing God, keep pressing in. Your breakthrough may be right around the corner, and today's message is going to help you. Let's get started.
Hey, everyone. I am so grateful that you have joined us today. I know that God has a word for you. I'm believing that you will be equipped and empowered and inspired to run your race and finish your course. Now, listen, I love to run. It's something that I do. I have to admit, as I get a little bit older, my knees are giving way more and more. But I've been running for decades, literally decades. It's how I de-stress. And my idea of running, though, is a five-mile slow jog, and I have to admit when I say slow, I mean, literally, the other day, I had mothers that were pushing their babies in a stroller overtake me. So that's where, I just wanted to lay that down for you. That's my idea of running. Whereas my friend dawn, now she's a legit runner.
Now she regularly competes in marathon races, and she's done the Boston marathon. And I'll never forget when she first introduced me to this concept of hitting a wall when you're running. Now apparently I've never run that far or hard enough to run into this invisible wall that my marathon runner friend dawn said to me exists. Now, this is what she wrote to me. I remember, I said, can you type this out? And this is exactly, these are her words. This is what she said to me. She said, I was 23 miles into my first marathon when I hit the infamous wall. It was hot, I was soaked with perspiration and water from the fire hoses being used to cool us all off. There were lines of salt that ran down the sides of my face, and my body hurt all over. I had set a finish-time goal, and a look at the clock revealed that I had 36 minutes to cover the remaining 3.2 miles.
Now, this would not have been an issue for her, but it would have for me, had I not already run 23 miles, and had I not had searing pain that was pounding through my lift hip. The left side of my brain, the rational side, told me to stop and walk the rest of the way, thoughts like, don't worry about meeting the goal. People will understand when I tell them how hard it was and how badly my body hurt. But just as loud, the right side of my brain thundered back. There's still hope. The race isn't over yet. It's still possible to meet your goal. Don't stop running. Both sides of my brain battled in a in a civil war that caused the rest of my body to scream for both sides to shut up. I did not have the energy to think anymore.
I wanted to turn my brain off. The wall is when you have nothing at all left to give. You're done, you're just done. You have expended every ounce of energy, and everything within you wants to quit. Yet somewhere deep down inside, the flicker of a goal or a dream, it begs not to be extinguished. Now, dawn spoke of this mental wall that you need to break through in order to get through to the other side. You can't see it, but it's a very real thing in your head. And in endurance sports, anyone that does any endurance sports, it means that you've run out of glycogen to fuel your muscles, and your body is switching to burning fat as an alternative fuel source. So all you want to do at this point, all you want to do is quit.
So today, I want to talk to you about a group of people in scripture who hit their metaphorical wall. Perhaps you're feeling like that today. Perhaps you're feeling like you've hit a wall. You want to quit, you want to give up. And we're going to turn to the scripture in the book of Joshua 5:13 to 6:20. And the Bible goes on and says: when Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, "Are you for us or for our adversaries"? And he said, "No, but I am the commander of the army of the Lord, now, I have come". And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, "What does my Lord say to his servant"? And the commander of the Lord's army said, "Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground". And Joshua did so.
Now Jericho was shut up inside and outside because of the people of Israel. None went out and none came in. And the Lord said to Joshua, "See, I've given Jericho into your hand with its king and its mighty men of valor. You shall March around the city. You shall March around the city, all the men of war going around the city once. Thus shall you do for six days. Seven priests shall bear seven trumpets of ram's horns before the ark. On the seventh day, you shall March around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets. And when they make a long blast with the ram's horn, when you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout, and the wall of the city will fall down, and the people shall go up, everyone straight before him". So Joshua the son of Nun called the priests and said to them, "Take up the Ark of the Covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of ram's horn before the ark of the Lord". And he said to the people, "Go forward, March around the city. Let the armed men pass before the ark of the Lord".
And just as Joshua had commanded the people, the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of ram's horn before the Lord went forward, blowing the trumpets with the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord following them. The armed men were walking before the priests who were blowing the trumpets, and the rear guard was walking after the ark while the trumpets blew continually. But Joshua commanded the people, "You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall a word go out of your mouth until the day I say to you shout. Then you shall shout". So he caused the ark of the Lord to circle the city, going about it once. And they came into the camp and spent the night in the camp. Then Joshua arose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the Lord, and the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of ram's horns before the ark of the Lord walked on, and they blew trumpets continually. And the armed men were walking before them, and the rear guard was walking after the ark of the Lord while the trumpets blew continually.
And the second day, they marched around the city once and returned to the camp. On the seventh day, they rose early at the dawn of the day, marched around the city in the same manner seven times. It was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. And at the seventh time when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, "Shout, for the Lord has given to you the city, and the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction. Only Rahab the prostitute and all who were with her in the house shall live because she hid the messengers whom we sent. But you keep yourselves from the things devoted to destruction, lest when you have devoted them, you take any of the devoted things and make the camp of Israel a thing for destruction to bring trouble upon it. But all the silver and gold and every vessel of bronze and iron are holy to the Lord. They shall go into the treasury of the Lord".
So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went into the city, every man before him, and they captured the city. Now I know that's more scripture than most of you have read all year. So I have just caught you up on your Bible reading plan. But what a story, this is a powerful story. After 430 years in captivity, as slaves in Egypt, the Lord miraculously set his people free. They experienced the Red Sea parting. They experienced the miracle of manna from heaven to sustain them for 40 solid years in the wilderness. They followed a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They saw the river Jordan pushed back, and they were ready to finally experience the land of milk and honey.
And the first thing they encountered when they got there was a large Jericho wall. They were finally ready to begin the process of claiming the Promised Land, and they hit the walls of Jericho. I wonder, what do you do when you were not expecting a wall, when you were expecting milk and honey, and you got confronted with a wall? You're in the Promised Land, but you have hit a wall. Now Jericho was considered to be the greatest walled fortress of all time. The city was surrounded by two great stone walls. The outer wall was 20 foot tall and six feet wide.
Now, the inner wall was 30 foot tall and 20 feet wide, and these walls was separated by a 15-foot guarded walkway. The Israelites had spears and swords and arrows, nothing, nothing that would destroy these giant walls. So from a human perspective, this was an unconquerable city. It was not an improbable victory. It was impossible. Jericho was a hindrance to Israel. It stood between them and their Promised Land. So before Jericho could be defeated, the walls that surrounded it had to come down. Those walls were a barrier between them and God's best for them. It was totally impossible to bring down those walls in the natural. I wonder if you, in your life right now, I wonder if you're facing some impenetrable walls.
Have you gotten to a place where, like the Israelites, you've hit a wall that you were not expecting? You're looking at something and saying, you can't get, it's saying to you, "You can't get over me. You can't get around me. You can't get through me". Perhaps you've stood in faith believing for healing, but you haven't improved. Perhaps you are a single parent trying hard to make ends meet, having to play the role of both mum and dad while trying to figure out how to keep yourself healthy. Perhaps you've been believing God for a spouse, and there's still no one. Perhaps you've been desiring a child, and it just doesn't seem to be happening. Perhaps you've been waiting for a new job opportunity or a promotion, and it's not happened yet. Maybe you've been serving God faithfully and believing God for a ministry opportunity, but nothing has opened up yet. Perhaps you've been carrying offenses and unforgiveness or bitterness, insecurity, or fear or doubt. And you just cannot seem to get past this wall. You're exhausted. You're tempted to give up, at the very least, lower your goals and expectations. You've pulled back from believing God in your heart and spirit, and the disappointment of hitting an unexpected wall has wounded you so deeply. You fear trusting God ever again. It's too painful, it's too difficult. It's just simply too overwhelming.
Well, I want you to know that I've come here today to encourage you. I want to encourage you to not give up, to keep going, to keep believing God, to keep pressing on, keep pressing on against that wall, and God will eventually bring that wall down. Don't give up, your breakthrough may be literally right around the corner. The book of Hebrews 11:30 tells us that by faith, the walls of Jericho fell after the people had marched around them for seven days. Did you catch how the walls came down? The Bible says it was by faith. Remember, it happened by faith. But the children of Israel had to actually, physically walk around those walls. They had to do it for seven days. The wall could have come down on day one, but God was building their faith with every lap around the wall. They were learning to trust God lap by lap. They were learning to believe God lap by lap, despite what they saw. You see, when we walk by faith and not by sight, we are a faith people who are learning to trust God even when we cannot trace him.
Jesus, in all my 30 years, has always given me unconventional instructions that don't make sense in the natural, and all he requires from me is unconditional obedience. Has God ever asked you to do anything that seemed unusual, that would not make any sense to anybody else? Now I remember when I felt the Lord ask me to go to Bible college when I graduated from university. It meant leaving a great job with great benefits, and in the natural, damaging my corporate career. But God had a plan. My family and friends tried to talk me out of it. They said I was ruining my life. But I chose to trust God. It didn't make sense, but you know what? It required faith.
Well, here I am today. Here I am today by the grace of God. When we started A21 in Thessaloniki, Greece, it seemed like the worst idea. The consultants told us it's never going to work. They said that, literally, they said it would be impossible to run an anti-trafficking organization in that part of the world. But God told me to start in that place, and here we are 14 years later, 18 offices in 13 countries. Thousands have been rescued. Dozens of traffickers in jail. What is impossible with man is possible with God. We've got all things are possible, and nothing is impossible with God. I've been following Jesus for a really long time. And I have discovered that strange plans call for strong faith. Nothing I have done that has lasting fruit has ever been logical. And that is because God says in Isaiah 55:8-9, "My thoughts are not your thoughts. Your ways are not my ways. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways".
You and I are finite. God is infinite. He knows what we don't know, and he can do what we cannot do. He is God, and we are not. I wonder if you would be willing today to trust God with your future, even if the strategy seems strange? The thing we need to do is to walk and un-talk. But Joshua commanded the people, "You shall not shout or make your voice heard, neither shall any word go out of your mouth until the day I tell to you shout, then you shall shout". God's plan came down to this. Just keep walking. Walk in the right order along the right path for the right amount of time, and do not say anything until I tell you to shout.
Remember, the victory was already promised in Joshua 6:2. See, the Lord had said to Joshua, "See, I've given you this city. I've given it to you". This is past tense. It was already done. God said that he had delivered Jericho into their hands. The battle was actually over before it ever started. The children of Israel just had to obey. It was that simple, but not easy. They had to take that first step of faith and then keep walking. As they walked with God, God was showing them the impossibility the walls were not getting smaller with the laps. They must have looked bigger with each lap. It seems like nothing was changing. Have you ever felt that way? You're being consistently kind, but your husband is still withdrawing. You're working hard, but someone else is promoted. You're talking and taking your medication, but you're still sick. You're saving, but there's still not enough money. You're on every dating website, but you still can't get a date.
Every passing day makes the breakthrough seem even more and more impossible. God was teaching them that their victory would not come by might nor by power, but by his spirit. There are times God will make you keep circling some things until you get to the place where you know there is nothing else that you can do, and God has to intervene. He is bringing us to a place of trust. I want to remind you today that when God is going to do a miracle, he starts with impossible. Don't disqualify God from being God just because your situation is impossible. He is infinite, we are finite. He is limitless, we are limited. He can do what we cannot do. He is God, and we are not, as the children of Israel decided. They were learning patience. We see in Hebrews 6:12 that through faith and patience, their promises are obtained. Faith is not enough.
I want to remind you of that today. We also need patience. It is part of the equation. You cannot have one without the other. In our instant snap and upload generation, we have to learn patience. Most of us don't see miracles because we cannot wait for one. We are the instant delivery, instant download, get the app, watch the movie, order Uber, dinner, get a date now. But as mama Joyce says, "Man, there is no drive-through breakthrough when it comes to God".
Now, the children of Israel were learning discipline by remaining silent. God's job was to work. Their job was to remain silent. You know, in our social media world, we would have sent out 100 tweets, 50 Instagram selfie posts as we circled the wall. Man, we would have let everyone know what we were feeling and thinking every but God was strengthening their faith. Joshua knew that doubt dies unborn if it's never spoken. If you cannot agree with God, say nothing. I think Joshua might've had a Déjà Vu experience. He'd been there before in numbers 13. And he had said with Caleb, "We're well able to possess the land," but the fear and the doubt of the other 10 leaders kept an entire generation out of the Promised Land. Unbelief kept an entire generation out of their destiny.
So Joshua was not prepared to go there again. Talking about the giants will not get rid of them. You frame your world with the words that you speak. Are you cursing your walls, and then expecting God to bless what you curse? It's time to start speaking about how big your God is, not how big your problem is. God is bigger than anything you are facing. The devil is small enough to fit under your feet, and God is big enough to fill the heavens and the earth. Don't start talking about what is not happening or how big the walls are. Doubt kills faith. So just stay in faith. We have to learn to shutteth uppeth. Now that being interpreted, if you can't say what God says, it's better to say nothing.
The fourth thing we must do is to remember that our God is in our midst. In verse four, we read, if you read this text casually, you actually might miss that God put himself in the middle of the battle plan by having the priest carry the Ark of the Covenant as they marched around Jericho. The ark contained the Ten Commandments, the golden pot of manna, Aaron's rod that budded. The lid of the ark was the golden mercy seat where the high priest would offer a sacrifice in the holy of holies once a year on the day of atonement. The ark represented the very presence of God with his people. Putting the ark out front was God saying, "I am leading the charge". It was God who made all the difference at Jericho. It did not matter how powerful the enemy was. God was with them. You do not need to go into your battles alone. He is with you. He never leaves you or forsakes you. Do you remember today that your God is fighting for you?
The fifth thing we have to do is just take another lap. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to put one foot in front of the other and go again. That thing that seems too hard for you, I want to encourage you, don't grow weary. I know that you feel like you're holding, you're in a holding pattern, but God has not forgotten you. Your God has not forsaken you. He is preparing you for what he has prepared for you. Every lap the Israelites took was faith in action. It was by faith that the walls of Jericho came down. I want to remind you that your faith is being strengthened. There is power in just doing the same little thing. Just do it again.
I have to ask you today, who or what is standing between you and your promise? Can you stop telling God how it should go? Can you trust God with his battle plan? Can you silence doubt and unbelief? Can you remember he is in your midst? Can you simply walk around again? We always have to partner with God. God could have knocked down the walls at any time. He made those stones. He could have blown them over. But the people still had to March, shout, and take the city. The people of God put their faith in action by continuing to March. They did not stare at the walls of impossibility. They put their faith to work because faith without works is dead. The children of Israel were commanded to shout before the walls fell. There is an expression of anticipation, a proclamation of faith.
The real battle of Jericho was not with the Canaanites. It was with the hearts of the people. Would they believe God? I came to remind somebody today, there is no promise too hard for God to fulfill. There is no prayer too big for God to answer. There is no problem too big for God to solve. There is no disease that our God cannot heal. There is no heart that our God cannot mend. There is no relationship that God cannot restore. There is no sin that our God cannot forgive. There is no past that God cannot redeem. There is no bondage that our God cannot break. There is no need that our God cannot meet. There is no mountain that our God cannot move. There is no enemy that our God cannot defeat. There is nothing our God cannot do. And because there is nothing that our God cannot do, you and I, we can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens us.