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Greg Laurie - Get Your Feet Wet

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    Greg Laurie - Get Your Feet Wet

So let me start my message with a few questions. Are you satisfied with your present spiritual state? Do you wish you could be stronger, as a Christian, in your faith, and even be used by God more? Do you feel like maybe you're stagnant spiritually, and maybe have even lost some ground in your Christian experience? And would you like to overcome sin in your life and take new ground as a follower of Jesus Christ? And, the most important question of all, don't you think that Prius drivers should get out of the fast lane all together? Because they can't seem to drive the speed limit?

I want you to think about that, not really. But these are questions that we maybe all ask from time to time. How can I grow more, how can I do more, how can I see more happen in my life as a follower of Jesus? Well, here we are in the book of Joshua. This is a pivotal moment, the wilderness wanderings are done, the spies have gone into the land and they've come back with a good report, Rahab has been a great hero of the faith and she has protected the spies. And so, now they're poised and ready to enter into this Promised Land. There was just one really big problem, an obstacle in their path, it was a mighty, rushing Jordan River, so it was time for them to get their feet wet.

So, let's read, now, Joshua chapter 3, as the Israelites come to the point of entry of the Promised Land and they face the Jordan River. Joshua 3, starting in verse 8, I'm reading from the New Living Translation. "When you see the Levitical priest carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, move out from your positions and follow them. For you've never passed this way before". You might underline that phrase, I'm gonna come back to it.

"'You have never passed this way before, they will guide you. Stay about a half mile behind them, keep a clear distance between you and the Ark. Make sure you don't come any closer.' Then Joshua said to the people, 'Purify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do great wonders among you.' In the morning Joshua said to the priests, 'Lift up the Ark of the Covenant and lead the people across the river.' And they started out and went ahead of the people. The Lord told Joshua, 'Today I'll begin to make you a great leader in the eyes of the Israelites. They'll know that I'm with you, just as I was with Moses. Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: "When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there".'"

Okay, we'll stop here. And here's point number one, if you want to enter the land of promises, you must be bold and strong. Let me say it again. If you want to enter this land of promises, you must be bold and strong. Look at verse 4, "They had never passed this way before". Maybe I'm talking to somebody right now who's in a new season of life, maybe you've just moved out of your parents's house, you are 50, but still, you've done it, so that's good, and they're very happy about that, by the way. Maybe you're newly married, maybe you just had your first child, maybe you've started a new career or maybe you've started a new ministry, and you're kind of afraid, "Well, I don't know what's gonna happen next," you've never passed this way before. God was with the people of Israel, he'll be with you as well.

Point number two, if you wanna live in the land of promises, keep your eyes on God, keep your eyes on God. The key for the Israelites was the Ark of the Covenant, look at verse 4, they had to keep their eyes on the priests and the Ark leading the way. Verse 4, it says, "When you see the Levitical priests carrying the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, move out from your positions and follow them". The Ark of the Covenant. Now, many of us know more about it because of the "Indiana Jones" film, and we think, Isn't that stored in a warehouse somewhere?

Well, there was an Ark of the Covenant given to the people of Israel, it's mentioned, by the way, 16 times in chapters 3 and 4. What was in the Ark were the Commandments of God, the Ten Commandments were in the Ark, Aaron's rod and a jar of manna, it was a visible symbol of the presence of God. So, the priests would pick it up, they would carry it on their shoulders, they were not to put it on a cart, they were to carry it by hand, and that visible symbol of God's presence was to be at the forefront of what they are doing.

So, the people of Israel are told, "Keep your eyes on the Ark and keep your eyes on the priests who are leading the way". And the same is true for us, when you're going through life following Jesus, keep your eyes on the Lord. Don't put your eyes on people, because people are gonna let you down, people are gonna disappoint you. Guess what? You're gonna disappoint someone, right?

And so, keep your eyes on the Lord. As the author of Hebrews 12 says, "Looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith". "Lay aside the way in the sin that so easily besets you," he says before that, and keep your eyes on the Lord. I don't wanna go anywhere if God isn't going there first, I wanna be where the Lord is. I'd rather be in a lion's den with Jesus than in a palace without him, I'd rather be in a fiery furnace with Jesus than on a tropical island without him, I'd rather be in a storm with Jesus than on dry land without him. I wanna be where he is. And this is what the Lord is saying, "Keep your eyes on the Ark".

Point number three, if you wanna live in the land of promises, you need to take risks. Here was their challenge, "You have to cross the Jordan River". This is flood season, this river moves at about 10 mph. There's no way you wanna cross this river with your little kids and your livestock and your belongings, it's not possible. There was just an impassable river, as I said, in flood season, but they yet began to walk.

Bringing me to point number four: If you're called to lead, you must go first and set the pace. God made a promise to Joshua in Joshua 3:7, he said, "Today I'll begin to make you a great leader in the eyes of the Israelites," and, "They'll know I am with you, just as I was with Moses". Wow, I'm gonna make you a great leader in their eyes, King James says, "I'm gonna magnify you". But it's interesting that Joshua doesn't go and say that to the people. He didn't say, "Hey, by the way, God just spoke to me and said he's going to magnify me and make me a great leader," he says something different. He says to them instead, in verse 10, "You'll know now that the living God is among you," no pride or arrogance about it.

You know, sometimes it's best to keep your dreams to yourself. Let me explain. God revealed to Joseph that he was gonna be the second-most powerful man in all of Egypt. He had this dream, this vision of his future, and he went and told his brothers, and it did not play well in Peoria, they were angry, they were jealous, they were resentful. And you know that story, how they betrayed him and sold him into slavery, and all the rest. And then, ultimately, Joseph's dream came true, and he was exalted to be this man of influence and power. But sometimes the Lord might reveal something to you, but that doesn't mean you need to tell everybody else, just wait on the Lord and trust in the Lord and be humble before the Lord.

And if it is meant to be, it will be and it will happen. And so, Joshua is humble about this, and I think if you wanna be used by God, you need to be humble. Now, you can act like you're humble when you're not humble at all, you can talk so much about how humble you are. "I'm just so humble". You're so humble you drop the H, "I'm just so 'umble". Now you're British too, you're Cockney actually, you talk like Michael Caine. That's a bad Michael Caine. But you're not really humble, you can talk so much about being humble it becomes prideful, just do your job and do what God has called you to do, and the Lord will guide, and the Lord will direct.

Bringing me to point number five: Joshua and the people of Israel moved in faith. It took faith to put their feet into the water. Oswald Chambers said, and I quote, "Faith enables the believing soul to treat the future as present and the invisible as seen". That's a great statement, "Faith enables the believing soul to see the future as present and the invisible as seen".

Point number six, if you're called to be a leader, then lead. If you're called to be a leader, then lead. Notice, the priests had to take point and do this first. Now, maybe God is calling some of you to be a leader. You think, "Well, that's very prideful, to say, 'I want to be a leader.'" Well, I think it's prideful to not obey God. If he's called you to lead, then lead. I can guarantee this, he's called everyone to do something. We all have certain spiritual gifts that God has placed in our life. Romans 12:7-8 says, "If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you're a teacher, teach well. If your gift is encouraging others, then be encouraging. If your gift is giving, then give generously. If God has given you a leadership ability, take that responsibility seriously".

If you think that maybe God has called you to be a leader, here's a good way to find out, just lead and see if anyone follows. "Hey, everybody, come on, let's go". If you're by yourself, maybe you're not a leader. You know leaders when you see them. They just have that ability, they have that gifting, they have that something that makes you wanna listen to what they say, follow them where they tell you you ought to go. One definition I heard of leadership is, "A leader is someone who takes people where they don't necessarily want to go, but when they get there, they're glad they went". I think that's a good definition.

So there's one final point I wanna make, and we'll wrap this message up, and it is this. Remember to give thanks with as much passion as you prayed for help. So, the Israelites step into the water, following the priests who have the Ark of the Covenant aloft where everyone can see it. Suddenly, they're going through the water, it pulls away. Now, it's different than the Red Sea. When they came to the Red Sea, their parents saw this, they didn't. But they came to the brink of it, Moses holds up his staff and the Red Sea parts, and it's like walls of water on each side. The difference here is, they had to get in the water. How high did it go? It's moving fast, maybe it got up to their ankles, maybe up to their knees, I don't know, and all of a sudden, bwoom, the water pulls aside, they walk over to the other side.

And that brings us to this last point, go to Joshua chapter 4, they're to commemorate this event with stones of remembrance. Joshua 4, verse 21, "Then Joshua said to the Israelites, 'In the future your children will ask, "What do these stones mean"?'" They piled up a bunch of stones. "You can tell them, 'This is where the Israelites crossed the Jordan on dry ground.' For the Lord your God dried up the river before your eyes, he kept it dry until you were all across, just as he did at the Red Sea when he dried it up and we all had crossed over. He did this so all the nations on the earth will know that the Lord's hand is powerful, and that you might fear the Lord your God forever".

We'll stop there. So, as I said earlier, it is our job to pass on what we have learned to the next generation. We don't wanna live in the past, but we don't wanna forget it either, it's good to keep a record of what God has done. My wife has a little notebook where she writes prayer requests down, and so, she'll say, "Do you know what we were praying for on this day one year ago"? I'll say, "No, what"? And she said, "We were praying about this". And I'll remember, "Oh wow, that was a big thing, that we were wondering how we were gonna get through that challenge, and look how the Lord answered that prayer". So when you reflect back on what God has done for you in the past, it helps you as you're facing the present and then looking forward to the future.

Let me ask you, has God been faithful to you in the past, yes or no? Yes, okay? But sometimes we have spiritual amnesia; we forget what the Lord has done, so it's good to commemorate these things. They were to set up 12 stones, we need to remember as well. You know, the thing is, sometimes people wanna live in the past, and they don't wanna move forward into the present and certainly not into the future, and that's not a good thing. I like to hang out with younger people, I love to hang out with my grandkids, I've told you that before, but I like to spend time with younger people in general.

And one of the reasons is, when you hang around old people, and I am an old person, that may come as a shock to me, but sometimes when I hang around older people, it's not long until everyone starts talking about their latest operation, right? Or their newest ache or pain, and that just gets kind of old to me, frankly. Old people like to say things like, "Back in my day," right? Or, "I'm just gonna sit here for a minute and rest my eyes". Okay, whatever, "Let's go get the early bird special". Yeah, okay, old people. You hang around young people, sometimes you don't even know what they're saying anymore, they have their own language. I was sitting with my granddaughters the other day and one of them said, "That's sus". I said, "What"? She said, "That's sus".

How many of you know what sus means? Don't act like you do. All the younger people here, the rest of you, you don't know what it means. No, you may. Sus means suspicious, so, if I see something that doesn't look right or someone doesn't seem right, I'll say, "He's sus". So if some kid says, "You're sus," that's not a good thing, just be aware. And I heard that one of my granddaughters said to her mom the other day, "Bro, listen," she's like, "I'm your mother, stop calling me bro," right?

And there's another one, "They have rizz, they have rizz". You ever heard that one? How many of you know what that means? Okay, you guys, that's a good thing, if you have rizz, it means that you have charisma, it's short for charisma. So, if some kid says, "You have rizz," "Thank you". "You're sus," "Wait, what"? We'll never find that out if you don't hang around young people, you'll be around old people, saying things like, "That's hunky dory," and, "That's malarkey," or, "That's far out, man". It's a good thing to remember what God has done. Listen, when Joshua finished his task, he was sadly forgotten in one generation. In Judges 2, it says, "Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of 110". "After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the Lord or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel".

Wow, one generation, next generation didn't know any of it, they'd forgotten all of it. All the great things God had done through Joshua were largely forgotten, bringing us back to our responsibility as parents, to raise our children in the way of the Lord. That's so very important, that's our job. That's not the school's job, that's not even Sunday school's job, though we thank God for all the folks that do it, that's not the job of the Christian school, though we're thankful for the Christian school, it's our job as parents to teach these things to our children, and we need to take it seriously.

Moses said in Deuteronomy 6, and he said this to me personally, "These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts". I love this, "Repeat them again and again," and again, "To your children. Talk about them when you're at home, when you're on the road, when you're going to bed and when you're getting up". I love that, you know, just integrate it into your life. By the way, I think it's a good idea to do devotions with your kids. And just a thought about devotions, don't make them too long, you don't need to take your kids through 18 chapters of Leviticus, okay? Five chapters will suffice. No, but seriously, there's some great resources out there that you can use, I actually would recommend the New Believer's Bible, that I wrote the notes for.

There's a lot of little guides in there and tracts that you can follow, that will take you through a lot of important things in Scripture. So, you could use a tool like that, but read a passage, interact, ask your child questions, listen to what they say. It's not for you to pontificate and sermonize, it's for you to integrate those truths into their little lives and show them how they apply to what they are facing. It's so important, because one day we'll be gone as parents, and I wonder what our children will remember about us. I can tell you this much, your kids will remember the time you made for them, they'll remember all of those games you showed up for, all of those recitals, all of those events, and you were there taking pictures, being crazy mom and dad. They remember. Oh, they looked embarrassed at the time?

The first thing they did when they got up there is they looked for mom and dad out in that audience, they'll remember that you did that for them. Your kids will remember the way you interacted with your spouse, because you're effectively, now, giving them a template for their future. You're saying, "This is the way that a husband should treat a wife, this is a way that a wife should treat her husband". They're watching it, they're observing it, and most likely they're gonna repeat it for better or for worse. So, when you think it's a good idea to have arguments in front of your kids, and raise your voice and slam doors, and have your kids take sides in your debates, you're doing a great disservice to those children. Model for them what they need to see, they'll remember that as well. They'll also remember your words of affirmation and your words of criticism.

Some parents beat their children down, other parents lift their children up. That doesn't mean we should not correct our children. That is the job of a parent, not necessarily the job of a grandparent, I might add, though a grandparent might need to do that. I feel the job of the parent is to raise the child, the job of the grandparent is to fill them up with sugar, spoil them, indulge them, be delighted by everything they say and do, and then give them back to their parents, right? So, but grandparents play such an important role right now. I've heard so many stories, as you have, of delinquent parents who have failed in their responsibilities and grandparents have stepped in, sometimes ended up raising the child. And how important that is. My grandparents made a great impact on my life when I lived with them for a time while my mom was living her crazy life. But we are to train them up in the way that they should go, and so this is something we all should do.

Now, I'm sure every one of us, as we've heard this, have thought, "Well, I've fallen short in a lot of these things," right? We've made a mess of our life. Maybe I'm talking to someone who's made decisions they deeply regret, you've lost precious time with your kids, as an example, and you say, "It's too late for me, I can't change". Well, you can't change the past, but you can make decisions that will affect your future, and you can say, "Okay, I'm not gonna live that way anymore and I'm going to repent". Remember, when we repent, God relents. Acknowledge where you've fallen short, ask God to help you, and move forward. Now, let's wrap this up, and pull the camera back for a moment and look at the bigger picture of Israel entering the Promised Land.

What was this all about? This land that they were entering into was gonna be the very geographical location of the most important event in all of human history, this is where the Son of God was gonna come down from heaven and enter our world, this is where Jesus Christ would be crucified for the sins of humanity and of every person, this is where he would rise again and ascend to heaven, and this is the place that he would return to as well. This is what it was all about, and now we're told to put our faith in him, and I can't think of anyone I'd rather put my faith in.

Don't put your faith in objects or possessions; they'll let you down. Don't put your faith in accomplishments, don't put your faith in other people, you can love them and respect them, but don't put your ultimate faith in them. Don't put your faith in politicians, they're gonna disappoint you. Don't put your faith in preachers, they'll disappoint you, too, except me. No, I'll disappoint you as well, I don't even have to say that. Why did I even say that? You know, "But I won't". I will, yes. No, put your faith in God, that's where your faith belongs, he will never let you down, ever.
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