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Jack Graham - God of Wonders

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    Jack Graham - God of Wonders
TOPICS: Series: Forward

Take your Bibles and turn with me to Joshua, the third chapter, Joshua chapter 3. This is our message series that we're calling FORWARD. And the title of today's message is "God of Wonders". So I want to talk to you about your opportunity, my opportunity, and that is to win in life; and in particular, the Christian life. Now there are three kinds of people in this room and watching online. We do welcome everyone with us online today. But there's three kinds of people. There are those who are lost without God, far from God, and in the biblical portrait living in Egypt. Like the Israelites before us, living enslaved in Egypt, under the domination and the power of Pharaoh who is a picture of Satan himself.

So there are some of you who are viewing this message right now in this congregation today, you're in Egypt. You're enslaved in Egypt. And our prayer is that before this day is done, these moments are finished, that you will come out of Egypt and come into life and the freedom that we have in Jesus Christ. Because Christ died for you; He loves you. And then there's another kind of person in this room today: you have come out of Egypt but you are still in the wilderness. Now the children of Israel came out of Egypt and there were great miracles that accompanied them according to the Scripture. And there were the miracles of the plagues that God sent upon Egypt; there was the miracle of the Passover moment; there was the miracle, of course, of the Red Sea when the Red Sea was parted.

And there were many miracles in the desert, the wilderness. And they needed those miracles because how would they exist in the desert between two and three million Israelites, how could they live in the desert without apparent food or water? How would you get through the desert to the other side? And there were wonderful miracles. But ultimately, just giving you a snapchat of what has happened in the life of Israel in the past. And let me just say, we continue to pray for Israel and the hostages and the end to hostilities and the defeat of Hamas. Israel is a miracle nation. The very fact that Israel exists then and now, is a miracle. And so the Israelites experienced miracles. They were led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They were fed by a supernatural bread that appeared upon the ground in the desert day after day; it was called manna.

And God sustained them and provided water and protected them. It's an incredible story because God takes care of His own, and God provides for all of us who follow Him. But there was a problem with children of Israel in the desert; they stayed there way too long. Rather than believing God and trusting Him for the promise, they hesitated and as a result of their unbelief, they wandered and waited in the wilderness for an entire generation to die off. There was punishment. They were in effect put in the penalty box for a generation until a new generation was then ready to cross over into Jordan.

And that's what we've been learning so far in the book of Joshua, chapter 1, chapter 2. Moses had died and was buried on a mountain. And now Joshua has been called and commanded to take the children of Israel forward. Why? Because they had been in the desert way too long. And the second kind of person in this room that I'm talking to today is that person who is saved. You know Christ, you have come out of Egypt. You are truly a child of God, but you're a desert disciple, a wilderness wanderer. You've not stepped into the promise that God has given you, the fullness of His blessing, which is the Promised Land.

You see, God gave them this wonderful promise of a life in a land that was flowing with milk and honey. Moses gave them this promise through God Himself. And this land is a picture, if you will, of victorious Christian living. Canaan is the championship. The land of Canaan. Some have called it glory land. The glory land of God, the God provision and promise to His children. And we are to live in this abundant life. We are to live in victory in Jesus Christ. But unfortunately, too many of us are not living in that victory. We're in Christ, but we're not in Canaan. That is, we're not living in the fullness and the freshness and fullness of the blessing of life. We're not living in the glory land. Moses said to the children of Israel that the same God who brought you out of Egypt will bring you into the land of promise.

And so I showed up here this morning to say that to you. That the same God who saved you and brought you out of Egypt, out of bondage as a believer and follower of Jesus, will now bring you not only out, but bring you in to the miracle-working power of God in your life. I believe in a God of might and miracles! That's why I'm calling this message "The God of Wonders", because the Scripture we're about to read tells us that prepare yourself because the God of wonders, or that the God of Israel, God Almighty will do wonders among you. I believe in miracles. And the reason that I believe in miracles is because I believe in God. I feel sorry for the person who doesn't believe in God because life is lived by chance and circumstance.

There are no moments, no miracles that God ordains in their lives. I believe in wonders. I believe the God of wonders lives today and that God still moves in the hearts of His people, in the life of His church. God is still at work. God does the impossible. For the children of Israel, after all those years of living in the desert. Someone called it the longest funeral procession in history as one by one a generation died out, buried in the desert. Oh, what regrets they must have had. I was reading a study of people who were interviewed they were people in their octogenarian years. That means they were old! And in their eighties and nineties. And they asked them about their regrets.

What regrets do you have as you look back over your life? And there were typical answers. But by far the first answer, according to the scholars who did the study, was people looked back and they said, "I wish I had been more true to myself. I wish I had been more true to who I really was". Not exactly sure what that meant for everyone who answered it that way, but I looked at that and I thought, "Well, no, actually the greatest regret would be to look back on your life and think, 'I wish I had been more true to God. I wish I had been more faithful to my Lord.'" So that entire generation of wilderness wanderers died out. Like so many today, never experiencing the fullness of the promise, never experienced the glory and the opportunity to be a champion for Christ. And to hold up a trophy at the end of the day and then to lay it at His feet, and to say, "Thank you, Lord, for a life that you have given me; a life of abundance".

So there is a third kind of person in this room today and that is the victorious Christian. Don't you want to be a Christ-filled, Spirit-led, victorious Christian? And to live your life without regrets. Not without mistakes; we all make them. Not without sin; we sin! But a life that is in forward motion. And I believe today is a defining moment for many of us who are watching today, who are worshiping in this room today. This could be your defining moment! This could be your miracle, when you cross over from the desert and win the victory that is yours in Christ. Because remember, we learned, it's already there for you; just go and take it. Just go and get it! There are miracles all around us.

Our little granddaughter Lauren is a worshiper. She's just 7, but our wonderful Christian school teaches all of our children to worship. And she comes home so often singing songs that she learned at school and one of them is a contemporary Christian song called A Million Miracles. And I can't sing it but Lauren can sure sing it. And like a little child she believes in a million miracles, "Miracles and miracles, a million little miracles. One, two, three, four, I can't even count them all". That's the child-like faith that we should all possess. Is to see the miracles around us and the moments around us that turn into miracles when we cross over from the desert to the dream, if you will, of what God has set before us.

This is why we're calling this message series FORWARD. Verse one of Joshua 3: "Then Joshua arose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. And they came to the Jordan, he and all the people of Israel, and lodged there before they passed over. At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, 'As soon as you see the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the Levitical priest, then you shall set out from your place and follow it. (In other words, go forward, following the ark.) Yet there shall be a distance between you and it, about 2,000 cubits in length. (That's about 3000 yards, a half a mile) Do not come near it, in order that you may know the way you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.'"

We're praying that God would do great and mighty things, miracles and miracles and millions of miracles in peoples' lives. And as we go forward, we've not passed this way before. My prayer for all of us is that we would experience great victories along the way, and blessings that are poured out. But in life there are also battles and there are struggles and we don't know but that we will be fighting battles that we didn't think we would face in 2024. The thing about the future is it's the future, and while people like to try to predict it, it is unpredictable in so many ways. And that could be frightening as you look at the next months in this year, we've never been this way before.

So what should we do? Verse 5: "Joshua said to the people, 'Consecrate yourselves (or sanctify yourselves, or dedicate yourself), for the Lord will do wonders among you. (That's the God of Wonders) And Joshua said to the priests, 'Take up the Ark of the Covenant and pass on before the people.' So they took up the Ark of the Covenant and went before the people. Then the Lord said to Joshua, 'Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.'"

Alright, let me set the stage here. Israel, all 2 to 3 million of them are on the brink of a blessing. They're right on the edge of the Promised Land. Before them is all this promise, all this glory land, all this promised land in life. But there was a problem and it was the Jordan River. Now when you travel to Israel today you can still see the Jordan. In fact, we've preformed many baptisms in the Jordan River. That's where Jesus was baptized. And it stretches all the way from the top of Mount Hermon and all the way through Israel. It stretches throughout Israel. And really in some places today it sort of looks like a big ditch with muddy water. And yet, it is a powerful river that has great biblical significance.

As I said, Jesus was baptized in it, and some Bible scholars believe that it was perhaps right at this very place where Israel crossed over, in the middle of it where the Ark of the Covenant led them through, that Jesus could have and would have been baptized. I don't know. But here is this river and in effect, this river seemed uncrossable because the Scripture notes in this same passage that it was the harvest season and the river was at flood tide. So it wasn't a small mouth of a river or a small ditch. It was rather a raging river at this time, as much as 1000 feet wide. So the children of Israel are looking at this river and saying, "How are we going to get across this river? What's the plan; what's the plan"? And God said to them, Joshua commanded them, "Sanctity yourself before the Lord this day".

I know some people don't really believe that that much. They think about crossing big raging rivers and they can't even get to church on a rainy Sunday. But God wants you to cross over today and to believe Him for a miracle in your life. How are we going to do that? Number one, prepare your heart, check your heart. Prepare your heart. That's what God is saying to us as He said to Israel so long ago, as Joshua proclaimed, "Dedicate yourself to the Lord". Consecrate yourself before the Lord. Some of us cannot experience a miracle in our lives because we're cutting them off with uncleanness and ungodliness and unholiness, when God has called us to consecration and dedication and separation.

The word "sanctifies" as in the King James or consecrate or dedicate in other passages. It simply means that we are to be cleansed before the Lord, body, soul and spirit. Sanctify yourself body soul and spirit, for this is the will of God in Jesus Christ. For all of us! You see, the children of Israel needed to get the smell of the desert, the stench of the desert, the dirt, the sands of the desert off of them and symbolically they were to cleanse themselves and sanctify themselves, not just externally but internally; to prepare their hearts for what God was going to do in the big crossover. And this is what God is calling us to do today. God is calling us as a nation to repent of our sins and to renew our faith in order that we might see the hand of God move.

And, oh, how we need God in our nation today if we're going to move forward as a nation. We're told that Joshua got up early in the morning to receive this message. It was a holy habit for Joshua. We see him doing it again in chapter 3, verse 12. And again, getting up early in chapter 7, verse 16. And our heavenly Joshua, Jesus Himself also got up early to pray and to seek God. A preaching point here: If you want to see God bring you through in your life and bring you forward in your life day to day, day after day, get up early because the morning is rudder of the day. I would really challenge you as I did in the message earlier to get up early every day; get your mind right by opening God's Word and meditating upon God's Word. Joshua and the children of Israel were facing a challenge that they could not overcome in their own strength.

Have you ever noticed how often in life God brings us into situations in our lives that we are helpless to do anything about them unless God comes through? God brings us to situations like that. And every day is a challenge. And so that's why I love to get up early in the morning. I wasn't always an early riser, but I've learned over the years that this is a habit worth repeating. Before you see the face of anyone else, see the face of God, and prayer. Open God's Word. Before they could go, they needed to wait. Isaiah 40:31, a favorite of mine, "They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings of eagles; run, and not be weary; and walk and not faint".

And so what I want to challenge you to do at the outset of your crossover is to dedicate, consecrate, yield your life, confess your sin, ask the Holy Spirit to cleanse you and to prepare you for the miracle that God wants to do in your life. You look at your situation and you do say "impossible. I see a way. I don't see a way through. But God, I do believe there is a way if I could somehow learn to trust You". God will get you through and on to the other side of that sickness. You say, "I prayed for a child". God will provide in His own way, in His own time. You look at that prodigal child of yours and you're wondering if they're ever going to come back to the Lord. And God says, "Keep trusting Me; keep believing for the miracle".

Yes, God will get you through. God will get you through and on to the other side of that addiction, that habit in your life. God will move in ways you don't understand. When you believe God to do great things in your life. I mean, it doesn't honor God just to believe the little things. I believe in praying for little things; I do. But what bold things are you praying, what big things are you asking God to do in your life? Because when we pray big and bold believing prayers, God does big things in our lives, things beyond our imagination. In the natural it appears to be impossible, but our God is a God of wonders; He's a supernatural God! And God is not limited by your resources or your education or your environment or your ethnicity or your nationality or your background. God is not limited by any of this! I've learned to ask God to supersize His blessings.

You know, when you hear of some of these restaurants, they say, "Shall I supersize that for you"? And when I'm praying these days, I'm asking God to supersize it. God give more: more love, more power, more anointing, more blessing! God made you on purpose and for a purpose. He has a plan for your life and your destiny is distinct before God. Ephesians 2 and verse 10: "For you are His workmanship, created in Jesus Christ unto good works". You are God's designed poem, God's design plan; His work in your life.

Psalm 139, verse 16: The psalmist said, "All my days were written in Your Book". You're not a by-product of chance or circumstance. Your life is a divine plan of God. And in order for you to receive what God has already promised to give you, if you will take it, is to first start with laying your life out before the Lord and saying, "Lord, my life is Yours. I dedicate it to You". You saw these parents today, and I pray each one of them came with sincere hearts to say, "Lord, we dedicate our lives to You as moms and dads, as parents. We give our children to You".

It's a dedication. When you stand at an altar in marriage, man and wife, husband and wife, there's a moment when a miracle takes place. It's the miracle of marriage when one plus one equals one. because "the two shall become one". And that miracle of marriage takes place and that couple's life is the dedication. This is why I truly encourage if you're going to get married, stand before God, and if you will, stand in God's church at an altar of dedication and say, "We dedicate our home and our family and our marriage to You". "Lord, I dedicate my income and finances to You". "Lord, I give it all to You".

And when you do this, God will reveal His purpose in your life and you will serve God in your generation. Some people say, you know, the Bible's boring. No, I say you're boring! We can make the Bible boring. The Bible's not boring. I don't understand that. It's full of all the epic adventures and exciting adventures that are just filling and thrilling and I look at this and I say, "Lord, thank You". There was a time and a place where I gave my life for following You, and brought me out of my past and into a future that I could have never imagined. And what God has done for others, He will do for you. But it begins with consecration and a dedication of your life to Him.
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