Faith Over Fear

Learning How To Follow God And Walk In Faith Over Fear

Ross Sawyers
Aug 27, 2023    57m
In a world where we plan everything we do, it can be hard to trust God and learn how to walk in faith instead of fear. While we would prefer to see how life circumstances will play out, God invites us to follow His lead and take one step at a time in faith. Video recorded at Grapevine, Texas.

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Ross Sawyers: [00:00:01] What an awesome time to be led by our students in worship today, and that happens every Wednesday night and Sunday, and just love what God's doing in the lives of our students. They're just incredible stories day in and day out of the ways he's working in and through them.

Ross Sawyers: [00:00:18] A few months ago, a friend of mine gave me a book called Endurance, and it's the story of Ernest Shackleton. In the early 1900s, probably prior to that, Shackleton was an adventurer, an explorer, and his goal was to reach the South Pole in Antarctica before anyone else. But he tried a couple of times, didn't make it, and then some Norwegians actually got there first. Then Shackleton's only goal he could have left would be to cross Antarctica by land on foot with sleds and dogs, and he spent years prepping the boat. The boat was endurance, prepping the boat being made, and selecting the right men to go with him in what would be pretty treacherous situations and circumstances. And I think he actually recruited them in some sense of, hey, if you want a lot of adventure, you're not sure you'll make it back, this is for you. And by 1914, he was ready to set sail. He had 27 men who were on that journey with him, and they set sail into the ice floes and all that it would entail in Antarctica. They set sail in August of 1914, in January of 1915, after going some 1000 miles through different ice floes, they were stuck between the ice. And for the next ten months, Shackleton and his men were on this ice floe with their ship just slowly being encased by the ice. They were hopeful that summer would come, it would melt away, and they'd be able to set sail. But it became increasingly clear with the frigid conditions and so forth that that was not going to happen. They had four lifeboats on the Endurance, and they pulled three of them off. And over those ten months, after ten months, finally the ship was crushed and Shackleton and his men dragged the lifeboats for weeks across the ice floes until they finally arrived and they could get in the water again, which was treacherous waters for these lifeboats. They made it to an island called Elephant Island. And by the way, this is one of those books some of you have probably read Unbroken, the story of Louis Zamperini from World War Two. And in that book, it's like you keep reading and you're thinking, there can't be one more tragedy. It's just like chapter after chapter, you're thinking, there's no way anything else can happen to this guy. And that's what this is like for Shackleton and his men, it's like chapter after chapter there's no way that this can just keep going bad on them and they survive. They finally made it to Elephant Island, it ended up not being the place they thought it would be, and they realized their only chance would be for Shackleton and five others to board the 22-foot rescue boat, one of which they had dragged along with them, and to go 800 miles across Drakes Passage, which is considered one of the most turbulent parts of any ocean in the world. And he had to hit an island called South Georgia Island in a very precise way, or if he missed it, they would never be able to get back due to the prevailing winds. They had no contact during this time with anybody else, nobody knew where they were, and it was obstacle after obstacle. But Shackleton's goal, once he realized the mission would not happen and he'd not be able to go across the Antarctic, his mission was simply to get those 27 men home.

Ross Sawyers: [00:04:12] I want us to think this morning in Joshua 3 about faith over fear. Shackleton stepped in faith, and he moved over fear in that faith. And I want us to think from Joshua 3 today, about that idea. A few years ago, I worked through the book of Hebrews verse by verse with our church, and one of the messages that I preached, I titled it, Faith Over Fear. And as I prepared for this week, I thought that phrase came to my mind again as I studied and as I thought about what Joshua was doing. And I think it's an encouraging reminder for those who might have locked in that idea, for those that it's a different way maybe to think today, I'd love for us to see from God's Word how we could walk today in faith over fear. Now, Shackleton was at this for about two years. Joshua was wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. So imagine what it had been like to know that the opportunity had been missed in the moment to cross into the land that God had promised because there was so much fear among the people. Yet Joshua and Caleb were not fearful, they believed God, and now they had to wait 40 years. Now, for so many of you, that's a work lifetime, 40 years. So for the whole of an adult life, he was having to wait until he could take and follow through with the promise that God had given.

Ross Sawyers: [00:05:47] Imagine what that would have been like, the disappointment of walking with a whole group of people that continually grumbled and didn't have a faith in God like he did. Imagine the mind games that must have gone through him as he wandered through day after day after day in the wilderness. Imagine the obstacles, we have just a few that are written for us to consider. But 40 years, day in and day out in the desert. What would that have been like? And yet Joshua had a great leader with Moses, and he had a great God that he had the courage to follow, and he did not waver in those 40 years. Faith over fear.

Ross Sawyers: [00:06:43] In the first chapter of Joshua, just to catch us up, the key verses, the theme for Joshua in chapter 1, verses 8 and 9 is this, and I would encourage you to memorize this. This would be a good way actually to think about every book of the Bible, and once you memorize the theme verse for every book of the Bible, it will be a way to remember what that book is about in a primary way. Those themes are often times described in your introductions, in your study Bibles, or in your Bibles prior to the book of the Bible, or we could be a help to you on that if that was ever a desire.

Ross Sawyers: [00:07:16] But Joshua 1:8-9 says, “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. 9“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” That is the theme of Joshua, to be immersed in God himself in his Word, and to know then that whatever assignment he gives you and he gives me, that that assignment will prosper, and it will happen as we immerse ourselves in the Word and as we walk in strength and courage. Because God is with us in the assignments that He gives us to carry out. Faith over fear, how can we do the same?

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:10] In verses 1 through 6, I would say this, that we can have faith over fear when we expectantly prepare with what is known. There are things that we know that God wants us to do to prepare for whatever it is that He has. And we want to walk faithfully in those things over fear in order to then take the next step in faith.

Ross Sawyers: [00:08:34] Let's anchor into His word, Joshua chapter 3, verse 1, "Then Joshua rose early in the morning; and he and all the sons of Israel set out from Shittim and came to the Jordan, and they lodged there before they crossed." In chapter 2 of Joshua, two spies had gone in to see Jericho, they met a harlot named Rahab. We talked about her last week, an incredible story of God's grace on her. She tells them the people have melted; their courage is no more before the God of Israel. Now they have this good report, and that's what Joshua is operating on in verse 1. So he rises, they are in this area called Shittim, and then they came to the Jordan, and they lodged there before they crossed, they stopped again. Most would say from that area of Shittim, which means acacia trees to the Jordan would have been about a day's journey. Now they continue to walk in faith, they don't have a battle plan revealed to them yet. They don't know how they'll cross the Jordan River. They don't know how they'll take all the land that God has promised them. They don't know. But they're walking in faith, faith over fear. They don't know how this will play out.

Ross Sawyers: [00:09:48] But the next step is to follow Joshua one more day's journey, and then to hang out by the Jordan River. Now, we need to keep in mind the number of people in numbers we're told that there were 600,000 family men, which means when you put their families with them, it was at a minimum of 2 million plus that were on the move. And here they are camped outside the Jordan River, they're expectant because they know that God's giving them the land, they're moving on it, and they're taking that next step.

Ross Sawyers: [00:10:22] Verse 2, "At the end of three days the officers went through the midst of the camp." Now, they had to stay there, they went a day's journey, and now they have to wait again. Now, sometimes we find ourselves frustrated with delays, we're ready to move. Sometimes we're just ready to go, and it looks like we're close to the thing that God has us on, or just think any scenario and you're ready to go, but now there's another delay. And one thing we need to know is that God works in delays, he's not just always moving, he's working in the delay. There are things that need to be done when we're delayed that we're thinking, why can we not just get on with it? But God has work to do, and we may not always know what that work is, but our faith is in him and we're trusting that there's a delay for a reason. Alexander McLaren said it this way, "God often opens his hand one finger at a time. He doesn't show his whole hand, just one finger at a time. One step at a time." Sometimes there's a delay, and God's at work even in the delay.

Ross Sawyers: [00:11:42] Verse 3, "And they commanded the people, saying, “When you see the Ark of the Covenant of the LORD your God with the Levitical priests carrying it, then you shall set out from your place and go after it." There's a little bit more that's being revealed now. So they're walking in faith, they took that day's journey, they're hanging out, and now they learn that it's the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord with the priest carrying it, that once they see that on the move, that's when they go.

Ross Sawyers: [00:12:09] Now, let's pause right here. Not everybody knows what the Ark of the Covenant is, some of you do, some don't. So what is it? This is significant to what is about to happen. the Ark of the Covenant is described in Exodus, the second book of the Bible, chapter 25, verses 10 through 22. We have a picture that's at least a semblance of the Ark of the Covenant. When we look for images, they're always slightly off. For example, where the pole is should actually be at the feet of the box as it's described in Exodus, but at least you've got the idea. It was a rectangular box made of acacia wood. I think it's interesting that the place they'd been hanging out is Shittim, the word Shittim means acacia trees. So it's acacia wood that that box is made of. It's a rectangular box, it's 45in long, it's 27in high, and it's 27in in width, it's not very big. This was in the Tabernacle where the people of God's Sacrifices would be brought, and then once a year a priest would go into the Holy of Holies inside the Tabernacle where the Ark of the Covenant would reside. One time of year the priests would go into that most holy place, into the presence of God, and make a sacrifice on behalf of the people. The whole box was made of that acacia wood overlaid with gold, the poles the same, the rings. But on top of the box was a mercy seat, and then angels with their wings, two cherubim over the mercy seat, and it's there that the presence of God would reside, and it was the place where he would meet the priests when the priests would come. Inside the Ark were three things, the Ten Commandments, the rod of Aaron. Aaron was the first priest out of the tribe of Levi, and so there was a representation of the Levitical priests in the box, and then some manna for the 40 years that they were in the wilderness, God supplied them manna, it is a type of bread, and that's what they survived on for those 40 years. And it was a reminder to them inside the Ark of the Covenant that God is their provider. This is what would lead the way for them, it's going to be an unusual plan.

Ross Sawyers: [00:14:59] The priests, and the clergy, are leading the way with the Ark of the Covenant, which symbolizes the presence of God with them. God is the leader and will take them forward. The Levitical priests, when we read about when God said it would be through Abraham that he would establish a nation, then we read about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Any time you read that or hear that, Abraham had a son, Isaac, Isaac had a son, Jacob, Jacob had 12 sons, and those 12 sons represent the 12 tribes of Israel. Levi was one of those sons, and the Levites would be the ones who would be the priestly tribe. A sacrificial system came into play, and it was the Levitical priests that would lead the charge.

Ross Sawyers: [00:15:51] So we see in verse 3 then, the Levitical priests, the priestly tribe, would carry the Ark by the poles. If you didn't carry it by the poles, we read later, it's a whole lot of trouble if anybody touched the Ark, it was a holy presence of God. But when God's on the move, then they're to go on the move, and I love that at the end of verse 3, he said, when you set out from your place with it, then go after it. I don't know if the emphasis is supposed to be like that or not, but I love that idea. When God moves, then go after it, you go with him. When God moves, you move. When God delays, you delay. But God leads, and we follow him, and it's going to be really evident for them when to move because the priests will move, they'll move with the Ark of the Covenant out in front.

Ross Sawyers: [00:16:39] Verse 4, “However, there shall be between you and it a distance of about 2,000 cubits by measure." 2000 cubits is approximately a half mile, and he says there will be a distance, "Do not come near it, that you may know the way by which you shall go, for you have not passed this way before.” Don't try to get ahead, follow the lead of the priests and the Ark of the Covenant. Go after it, but follow it, and by the way, don't get too close to it. I think that's one of the challenges in our culture today, is we have failed to understand the holiness of God, he is radiant and pure and completely separate from anything sinful. The smallest of sin in our eyes is the vilest of sins before a perfectly pure and holy God. And he says to them, keep your distance, it's not going to go well for you if you get too close to the Ark and the presence of God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:17:57] Verse 5, "Then Joshua said to the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.” All right, the plan is unfolding, they're taking a step. They're at the shores of the Jordan River, they know now that the priests are going to lead the way. They know the Ark of the Covenant, and they're not to get ahead of it, they're to stay behind, to follow it, God will show them the way, he lays it out for them. Now, what are they supposed to do before they follow? Consecrate yourselves. The word consecrate means to set apart, it means to set yourself apart as holy. And we go back to Moses again to learn how they were to do this, what were they to do to prepare? In Exodus 19, we're told by Moses that they were to consecrate themselves for their next move, and that meant they were to have clean clothes and they were to abstain from sex. There was to be a total purity about them. This is what they were to do to prepare themselves. And once they prepared themselves, then they were, tomorrow, about to see God do amazing things. Isn't that interesting.

Ross Sawyers: [00:19:17] I don't know if you know Jesus or not today, but if you do, we're actually given the same instructions. In First Peter chapter 1, verses 13 through 16, we're told to prepare our minds for action, we're told to be sober and alert, we're told not to conform to the old ways in which we lived, but instead to be holy in our behavior, just as God is holy in who he is. We're to set ourselves apart by being pure and holy, just as God is. He's the one that ultimately does that work in us, but there's a responsibility on our part to step in it. So in the same way, then they're to set themselves apart to see what God's about to do, the amazing and wonderful things he's about to do; for us to see the amazing and wonderful things that God's going to do, we set ourselves apart, cleansed before him. See, when Jesus came on the scene, he preached a sermon. We call it the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5 through 7, and one of the things he says is "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." Sometimes we wonder why we don't see God, we might need to step back and take a good look at our own hearts, is there sin that's just residing there, and we can't see God? But God has provided a way through the cross for there to be a purity, and there's a purity within us, then we not only see the amazing things that God does, we anticipate those.

Ross Sawyers: [00:21:12] I've shared this often and I'll continue to do so. Psalm 5:3, the psalmist says, "In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch." See those who are sons and daughters of God, we awaken in our morning, and we ask God, we come before Him and we ask him, Help us have eyes today to see the amazing things you're going to do; to eagerly anticipate what you're going to do today. And I'm ready to be thankful when I see it, I'm ready to praise you when I see it, and I'm ready to be used in the things you want to use me to be a part of what you're going to do today. Eagerly anticipate, we're eagerly preparing in what we know, and we know that those who are pure in heart will see God just as they're about to see God do amazing things.

Ross Sawyers: [00:22:12] In verse 6, "Joshua spoke to the priests, saying, “Take up the ark of the covenant and cross over ahead of the people.” So now they know again they're going to take up the Ark, go across. They took it up, the Ark of the Covenant, and they went ahead of the people, they're on the move. And we want to continue to be on the move. What about us? How do we expectantly prepare in what we know, and how do we continue to know? One of the ways we do that is by going back to the theme of Joshua, and by immersing ourselves in God's Word. And that's where we are when there are delays, that's where we are when we're on the move because we know what it is that God is saying to us. Joshua saw this example, he was with Moses, and Moses was really intimate with the Lord. And he would see Moses when he came out with his times, with God, and he'd just see a glow about him. And then Moses would say, here's our next move. So Joshua knew in order to make the next move, he needed to be with God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:23:33] Psalm 27:14 says this, I've been reading the Psalms in my own personal time with the Lord, and this week I was in the 27th Psalm in this verse. It says, "Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD." The person who is strong is not necessarily the hard charger who gets ahead of God, the person who's strong is the one who waits for the Lord and then follows him and has the courage to follow whatever it is God is saying. But God's the leader, we're not the leader. In order to not be the leader, we surrender and yield to God himself and follow his lead, and we follow it in His word.

Ross Sawyers: [00:24:24] Some people refer to the things we talk about in God's Word as disciplines of grace. There are ways that God has given us to be able to prepare and know what we're to walk in now. The very base discipline of grace is solitude, without solitude, it's difficult to do any of the other disciplines. This is the base discipline, and it's simply carving out the space to be alone with God. If there's not the space to be alone with God, there's not the space to read God's word, there's not the space to memorize it, meditate on it, hide it, study it, and then to go in obedience to it. If there's not the space set aside, there's not the space to pray and to hear what God is saying. So a discipline on our part, a step in faith we take, is to set space aside each day, and then sometimes longer spaces to be alone with God. Then we actually know what it is he's asking us to step in faith in.

Ross Sawyers: [00:25:47] This last week I took seven guys, one in his 20s, one in his 60s, and everything in between, seven different life groups, and we did 121 outdoors. We've talked about this several times in the last couple of years, and God's just been meeting us. I encourage you if you get the opportunity, to do something like this. We took two days up in Colorado and we tied it to an opportunity with Pioneers, which mission organization reaching the unreached across the globe. But part of what we always do on our 121 outdoors is carve out space for solitude alone with God out in his creation. I will say it was about 80 degrees on Monday morning, so just, you know, it was nice to get a break. Then Friday, Lorraine led our ladies, and 50 Ladies came to spend and have solitude alone with God, it was an incredible morning on Friday for our ladies. So we do things to try to help to see what that's like, and then we do it on our own. I met with a priest years ago to help me with solitude. One thing he said to me, he said, you know what, he said, Catholics are really good about silence and solitude. He said Protestants are really good about evangelism, serving, and being on the move. If we pull the two together, we've got a good rounded-out plan. We don't want to just be on the move, we may be on the wrong move. It might look good, but it might not be the thing God had in store because we didn't sit with him long enough to know this is what he has. We busy ourselves with good things that might be the wrong things.

Ross Sawyers: [00:27:32] But I didn't expect this from the priest, he said to me, he gave me an example of Michael Jordan. I said, all right, here we go. He said Michael Jordan was known for his work ethic in practice, and he would practice, and then when he was done, he would stay another hour. And it was oftentimes in that extra hour when everybody else had gone home that his skills were really refined. And the priest tied that to solitude, and he said it's the same. He said, when you're ready to leave, to get up and leave, stay. Stay five more minutes, stay ten more minutes, God might have something for you in that extra moment and he wasn't quite ready for you to leave. The disciplines of grace, this is how we prepare.

Ross Sawyers: [00:28:36] I went to the dentist this week; this is my six-month report. If you were here six months ago, you heard me talk about my dentist, my new dentist, and they encouraged me to floss. I didn't floss my whole life. Every time I go to the dentist, they tell me I need to floss. And I said, well, why would I come here every six months you all do it for me, so I thought that was a great idea. They scrape away, and I think I'll leave, and it feels good, and so I'm good for another six months. Except six months ago they did this thing, and I don't exactly know how to describe it, if you go to the dentist routinely, or maybe it's just when you're older, I don't know. I feel like I'm getting something checked every other week. So my goal is to have one month where I'm not at some kind of something to get my physical health checked, but that's another story. So I'm there and six months ago, and he they do this thing, and they start doing these numbers. And I asked him, I said, do you think our church will know? He said, a lot of people will understand these numbers. I said, all right. So it's one through five and they're kind of testing your gums to see if they're in bad shape or good shape or whatever. Well, you don't want to hear four and five, that's bad. So they started doing the numbers six months ago and I heard a lot of fours and I thought, okay, that's not what I was after, and I had 23 pockets, whatever that means. You don't want pockets, I know that. This time I went, and I actually flossed quite a bit in the last six months, I flossed more in the last six months than I flossed in my whole life. And I finally understood Thursday when she told me, she said, the toothbrush doesn't get everything, so that's just like finishing brushing your teeth. I thought, I wish somebody would have said that simply to me years ago because it just never crossed my mind that that's actually what was occurring. You're thinking, and I'm listening to you today, but it just struck me afresh. Well, they did it this time, and I was hearing two, two, three, one, two, two, three, three, four, four, three, whatever. This time I only had seven pockets, so the flossing worked. And they said, I think you can get it down to zero pockets if you just keep doing what you're doing. And there are some areas I wasn't doing it quite right, so they showed me and taught me how to do it, it's perfect. Now it's a competition, I actually saw the benefit, so now I'll do it even more, so I haven't missed since Thursday. I had a lot of misses in the last six months, but I still did it more than ever now.

Ross Sawyers: [00:31:16] Why do I tell you the flossing story? Because this is what we do with the spiritual disciplines before God. We don't do them on our own, why would we do that? I'll just show up at church on Sunday, or I'll show up every few months, or I'll show up Christmas and Easter, and that'll be my fix. No, no, you get the privilege and I get the privilege daily of being with God; and just being in his presence is cleansing and freeing, and in his word. And another discipline is confession and repentance, if I wait every six months to confess and repent, there's a lot of plaque that's built up around my heart that's hardened me and might even start to sear my conscience. But daily confession and repentance as I go keeps me clean. I'm not waiting for something out here for somebody else to do it for me, I'm sitting before God myself. Let's pick up the pick and floss a little bit more in God's Word and prayer. We don't want fours and fives, we want one, twos and threes.

Ross Sawyers: [00:32:58] Joshua was walking with God; he knew the next step. So what's the next step? The more we listen to God in that carved-out space routinely with him, not waiting for someone else to do it, but routinely with him, then we actively continue to listen. Verses 7 through 13, "Now the LORD said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you.' Now God exalts people, everything is for God's glory, but the Scripture tells us we should honor one another. Now, we're not to praise ourselves, but we're to let another do that when God chooses to do it, but God's the one who brings the praise. But why is God going to exalt Joshua? Because he wants the people to know that he's with him, he's exalting his own name by exalting Joshua. He just wants the people to know that he's with Joshua and he's going to honor Joshua and exalt Joshua so that people will see God. This book of Joshua is not about Joshua, it's about God, it's about his name being honored, it's about his name being glorified, it's about stepping in faith over fear, following him.

Ross Sawyers: [00:34:20] “You shall, moreover, command the priests who are carrying the ark of the covenant, saying, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan." Here's a little bit more of the plan being revealed. The priest, they're going to go ahead of you, they'll have the Ark of the Covenant and they're going to stand in the middle of the river. Now, this is harvest time, as we'll see in a few verses, in March, and April, the Jordan River is 3 to 10ft high as it's norm, and about 90 to 100ft wide, but it's flood season when God brings them, and in that just like God to do this in a way where only he'll get the glory for the way he brings them across. So they're thinking it's flood season, the river is really difficult to cross, and you're telling us we're just going to go stand in the middle of it. Okay, loving this plan.

Ross Sawyers: [00:35:13] "Then Joshua said to the sons of Israel, “Come here, and hear the words of the LORD your God.” , keep actively listening so you know what the next step is. And "Joshua said, “By this you shall know that the living God is among you, and that He will assuredly dispossess from before you the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Hivite, the Perizzite, the Girgashite, the Amorite, and the Jebusite." These were the different ethnicities in the land of Canaan that God was about to dispossess and then give the land to the people of Israel, his own people. Now, why did he declare that he's the living God? It's a contrast to what the psalmist writes in Psalm 115, verses 3 through 8, "But our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases. 4Their idols are silver and gold, the work of man’s hands. 5They have mouths, but they cannot speak; They have eyes, but they cannot see; 6They have ears, but they cannot hear; They have noses, but they cannot smell. 7They have hands, but they cannot feel; They have feet, but they cannot walk; They cannot make a sound with their throat. 8Those who make them will become like them, everyone who trusts in them." Whatever it is that we've placed our ultimate trust, whether it's ourselves or whether it's our money or whether it's our power or whether it's our position or whether it's science or whether it's some other narrative, we become like that which we trust. And everything outside of the living God is empty, and we will become empty just like that thing that we trust if it's not the living God. They can trust the living God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:12] “Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth." Here's why you can trust him, He's the Lord of all the earth, this is all his. He's the God that has put every natural law in place that science has helped us know what those laws are, and because God is the one who made the natural laws, he will supersede those laws for His glory when he so desires. And he's the Lord of all the earth, and He's crossing ahead of you. God's in the lead. “Now then, take for yourselves twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one man for each tribe." so further instruction.

Ross Sawyers: [00:37:47] Then verse 13, “It shall come about when the soles of the feet of the priests who carry the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan will be cut off, and the waters which are flowing down from above will stand in one heap.” That word heap is the same word that's used to describe when Moses crossed the Red Sea and God parted the waters for him. We're just seeing a replay of what God did 40-plus years before. And now Joshua's planning it as they come into the Promised Land. In verse 13, you'll notice that the first word for Lord, it's the word Yahweh. It's the name that God said to Moses when Moses said, Who do I tell them you are? What's your name? And he said, I am who I am, I'm the self-existent one, I'm in no need of anyone else. I am who I am. He says that, and then he says, The Lord of all the earth. That word for Lord is the word that gives us Adonai, which means owner or ruler. So is I am who I am, and he's the ruler of all that is on this earth. God is the living God, so we can lean into and trust the living God, we can walk in faith and courage in this God.

Ross Sawyers: [00:39:13] This leads us to the last piece, we're talking about faith over fear, and taking one step at a time in faith and then watching God start to unfold it from there, and he'll give us the next step. So we keep walking verses 14 through 17, and now we just gratefully watch God come through. It's not, am I going to come through, it's not because of Joshua's fantastic leadership they'll come through, we're going to watch God come through in verse 14, "So when the people set out from their tents to cross the Jordan with the priests carrying the ark of the covenant before the people." They know the plant, the priests lead the way, and they're carrying the Ark, the presence of God is in front of them, "And when those who carried the ark came into the Jordan, and the feet of the priests carrying the ark were dipped in the edge of the water." So they did it, they stepped. It wasn't that they just knew this was the plan at this point, in faith, they stepped. Again, it's swollen waters, they're raging waters. I don't know what they're thinking as they step there, but they did trust God at this point, faith over fear. It would be fearful looking at that river and how are we going to do this? And then they dip their foot, they did it.

Ross Sawyers: [00:40:39] In verse 16, "The waters which were flowing down from above stood and rose up in one heap." Exactly as God said it would. "A great distance away at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan." So when you have Israel, there's the Sea of Galilee here, the Jordan River flows out of it, and it runs down to the Dead Sea, it's about 60 miles. And where they're located at this point, that city of Adam is about 20 miles upriver, and that's where the water is stopped, so it was cut off and then the people crossed opposite Jericho. So they were crossing, that's where Jericho was, they were making that move.

Ross Sawyers: [00:41:24] Now there are different thoughts about how the river stopped. So oftentimes today people don't believe in the supernatural, so we just can't take it at face value that God stopped the water. It is known that there were mudslides that on occasion would come down during flood season and stop up the Jordan River, the last one we're aware of is 1927, and a mudslide came, and it stopped it for about 20 hours. Now, keep in mind, that we have about 2 million people that need to cross the river, is it possible that God caused a mudslide and that's how he stopped the water in one heap? Sure. Does that mean it's not supernatural and impossible and a miracle because the timing has to be pretty incredible, doesn't it? Dip your foot, mudslide. I mean, regardless of how God did it if he just stopped it, he stopped it. If he used a mudslide to stop it and timed it with the priest's foot dipping, God did it. It's the only way to slice this one, God does the impossible, but he often asks us to dip our foot in first and then he shows us the impossible. But he's asking us to step in faith into what might seem impossible.

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:03] A friend of mine, Gary Taylor, led a few of our men's retreats in the early days of 121. I've never forgotten the definition of faith that he gave us at one men's retreat. He said, faith is believing in the dark, what God has revealed to you in the light. When we're in those dark places and it's really difficult to take the next step, faith is believing in the dark what God made known when you were in the light, and we keep stepping. Stepping in faith.

Ross Sawyers: [00:43:49] What happened when they did it? Verse 17, "And the priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground." So not only did he stop the water, but you would expect when the water stops, it would still be awfully wet on the riverbed. But the ground was dry, God dried up the ground for them to be able to walk across. The Ark of the Covenant is there, the priests are there, and now the people are walking across the dry ground until all the nations have finished crossing the Jordan. This is the first time since the exodus that they referred to as a nation, and God is just laying it out for them. This is what I promised, you would be a nation, you'd have a land, and now they're crossing into that land that he's promised them. Faith over fear, they are watching God work. God is honoring what he's saying and they're honoring what he's saying for them to do, and they're stepping in faith.

Ross Sawyers: [00:44:44] Now, what about us today? What faith is God asking you to take? What is out there that looks impossible to you, but there's a step he wants you to take, and then watch the God of the impossible make it happen. Is there anything that's too difficult for the Lord? Jeremiah says, no, no. He's the creator of the ends of the Earth, there's nothing too difficult for him. Sometimes he asks us to step, and when we step, he'll show us the next step, and we just keep in faith stepping. For some today that might be just stepping into a real and genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. You've kind of been flossing your teeth every six months, but you've never really met Jesus.

Ross Sawyers: [00:45:50] So when we read the Old Testament, we look at how it points us to Jesus. The writer of Hebrews in chapter 4, I'll just read it on the screen because I can't find it, "For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard." He's referring to that wilderness wandering of the people, and they had good news that they were going to a promised land, and they would be a nation. But they didn't have faith, they let their fear overtake their faith, and so they missed out, it didn't profit them. And that's what happens when we hear the good news that Jesus Christ crucified, he is the mercy seat on the Ark of the Covenant today. It's not a once-every-year sacrifice a priest makes at the mercy seat, Christ himself is the mercy seat, and he's the once and for-all sacrifice, there's not a need for another one. On the cross, he shed his blood, and his body was broken for us so that we could escape judgment, and escape condemnation and guilt, that we'd be freed up from sin and no longer be enslaved to sin, but we'd have a freedom in Christ and a rest at the foot of the cross. But that's only good news if it's united with faith, that you believe it and trust it, what God has done on our behalf in Christ.

Ross Sawyers: [00:47:25] And then we have a priest, we don't need a Levitical priesthood. Jesus Christ is the high priest, and we don't have to keep a distance of half a mile from a holy God. He tells us to draw near to the throne of grace, it's through Christ that I can draw near to him, I don't have to be distant from him anymore. He's not this God out there and I'm down here and he can't hear me, we draw near to the cross. Maybe the faith today is to step through the cross and then believe that you're his. For many in the room that is united by faith, you have heard the good news, but are we still walking in faith? Paul writes in Colossians 2 and says, "Therefore, as you receive Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him." Well, how did we receive Jesus? We received Jesus in faith. Now walk in the same way, walk in faith one step at a time. We walk by faith, not by sight.

Ross Sawyers: [00:48:35] One day there's really good news, in the new heavens and the new earth, we don't have to have faith anymore, we'll see Jesus just as he is. In the meantime, we walk by faith. For many of you today, that just might be what's the next step of faith for you. There might be some big decisions for a number of people, but maybe there's not, maybe the faith step is just a carve out some extra time with God and see what happens. You think, man, I've got such busy days, I don't know how I can do that. Maybe the faith step is to carve out 30 minutes, carve out an hour, and trust God to take care of your day. Maybe the faith step is like those baptisms we saw, and you haven't had the courage to step out, that you've been afraid of the crowd of people. Maybe the faith step is, you know, I don't care how many people are there, I love Jesus and I'm going to be obedient to him and I'm going to step in faith and get baptized. Maybe the faith step today is to show up in this building on Tuesday at 7:00 for a new something we're starting called Renew that several people have been working on for over a year to help people with addictions and sin struggles and habits and to be free from those. It will be a massive step if you just come in that door on Tuesday night towards freedom.

Ross Sawyers: [00:50:01] I was talking to a friend this week, and I had a new idea, and I'm going to throw it out to our empty nesters and our retirees, and people that might be near retirement, and you're kind of, you know, you're in good shape financially. We hear again and again, and this is not in our present school system where we are right around us, it's in the DFW area. And somebody told me about a book that just got approved that's in the library, it's disgusting that that book would be in a library. I don't care how old somebody is, it shouldn't be there, but it passes a legal test. And so because it legally passes it of not being too graphic, then it gets to be there. But as we were talking, I just thought, okay, what are different things we can do? We can sit out here and whine about it, but I wonder today, my oldest son's favorite teacher was Mr. Johansen at Birdville High School, he was a physics teacher. He had retired from his job and he taught just because he wanted to teach. He didn't have to do it, he didn't need the money, and he wasn't trying to support his family with it, but he was many a kid's favorite teacher. I wonder how many people that are retired, God does not call us to retire out of advancing the kingdom. Retire from a job, but what's he retiring you into to advance his name? What's that faith step at whatever age? What if he figured out this is what I have to do to get a teacher certification and you go back into a classroom and teach and you become 150 kids' favorite teacher, and you stand bright for Christ? And you know what, you've got nothing to lose, you can get fired and it doesn't matter. You don't have a family that you're supporting. You don't need the money. Can we get creative about the amount of space and time we have to advance the Kingdom of God? What is that faith step? What does God want you to dip your foot into? What water does he want you to dip your foot into, and only dip it after you've spent time with him and you know where he's asking you to dip your foot, and then go for it and watch him work? Follow his lead. What is it?

Ross Sawyers: [00:52:38] Well, Shackleton was on the island, he knew his only chance was to take five men on a 22-foot rescue boat across Drake's passage. He had to hit it just right, and he did, except they landed on the wrong side of the island, the whaling station was on the other side. The boat was no longer worthy to be able to get him around, so his only option was to take two other men and go inland, and no one had ever done that before. It was treacherous conditions, cold, icy, snowy, foggy, over mountains, down them, in valleys, and they take off for 36 hours, with no sleep, and they finally made it. Forty years later was the first time that anybody else attempted it, and it was professional climbers, hikers, with all the best gear and they could not fathom how in the world these three men made it, but they did. Shackleton, it took him three more months, three different times, and the fourth time he finally got through to the other men that had been left behind on Elephant Island and he got all 27 men home two years later. Later in reflecting, they thought it seemed like there was a fourth person walking with us across that island. I want you to know today, the same way those men took step after step, having no idea what that step held, that there is someone with us today when we take those steps, Christ is with us. And how cool would it be if we spent the rest of our days making sure that we did our best to get our families home, to get our friends home, to get our co-laborers home, to get our students home, to get the stranger home, in the new heavens and the new Earth that's only accessible by faith in Jesus Christ?

Ross Sawyers: [00:55:01] Father, thank you for our time in Your word this morning, it's rich. And God. I pray that your Spirit would just stir and move in and through us, God, and that we would have a genuine faith over fear. We know, God, today that every person has faith, the only difference is the object of that faith. So I pray, God, ours would be in Jesus. And then, God, I know today that all of us have fear, and the differentiator in that fear today is what we do with it. And God, we bring it to you, and you overcome it, and I thank you that you have. Help us unite the good news, and unite it with faith, and Father, help us walk in it well and have the courage to follow you just as Joshua did. So whatever that means for people today, I pray we would hear it and that we would respond in obedience to you in it. And I pray these things in Jesus' name.

Ross Sawyers: [00:55:53] If we could, let's just be quiet before the Lord. And how is he speaking to you today in very specific ways? And then I would encourage you to walk in that next step in faith over fear today.

Recorded in Grapevine, Texas.
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121 Community Church
2701 Ira E Woods Ave.
Grapevine, Texas 76051