An Impossible Step of Faith

200390_9299On Sunday we looked at the story of Joshua in Joshua 1 and 2, because the story of Joshua is really a story of “Plan B”. The Israelites have been in a holding pattern for years, wandering in the desert, wondering when their breakthrough would happen, wondering when Plan B would end and they would move into the promised land.

This is where we find the Israelites in the first few chapters of Joshua, anticipating the future but not sure how to get there.

And God comes and speaks to Joshua and tells him something clear, but also something difficult. He says take the Ark and go and stand in the Jordan River. That’s it. That’s all he says. That’s all he gives.

The difficulty is that the Jordan River is what stands between the Israelites and the Promised Land. The difficulty is that the Jordan River is not a lazy peaceful river. In verse 15 we read the Jordan River was raging, at flood stage, was not peaceful at all. The Jordan River starts way up high, and runs very quickly towards the Dead Sea, the lowest place on earth.

And so what is happening is all the water, all the rain, all the moisture is now rushing downwards creating a raging, flood-high, dangerous river for Joshua to cross.

And God says go step in the river and wait. That’s it. That’s all Joshua has to go on.

But Joshua takes an impossible step. He steps into the raging waters. He steps into the flood and he waits, and God acts and does a miracle and makes dry land.

But here is the thing: God doesn’t act until Joshua has taken the step. God doesn’t do the miracle first, God’s miracle comes after the trusting step of faith.

So on Sunday we looked at how if we want to get out of the “Plan B” situations we are in, it often takes a step of faith. It often means us taking an impossible step. It means us trusting in God, and then stepping out to see how God might come through.

The main point was this: To move out of Plan B, requires a step of faith.

We closed by asking ourselves: what is our Jordan River, and what is our step of faith? What is the obstacle we face that is stopping us from moving forward into the Promised Land? What is the obstacle that is stopping us from receiving God’s promises? And what is the step God is asking us to take? For some it’s a phone call to a fractured relationship, for others applying for that job or starting that business, for others, to admit that you need help. The point is that before God acts, he asks us to trust. So what step in trust is he asking us to take?

The challenge then this week was simple: take the step of faith, and step into the flood. My prayer then was that this week we all might see dry land, and walk through to the Promised Land, as God proves his faithfulness to us.

 

 Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: To move out of Plan B, requires a step of faith.

Teaching Points:

  • Suffering, of course, can lead you in either of two directions: It can make you very bitter and close you down, or it can make you wise, compassionate, and utterly open. Richard Rohr
  • God’s promises don’t have an expiration date.
  • When life doesn’t turn out the way you thought it was going to turn out, you may think you’re losing control. But the truth is, you never had control in the first place. Pete Wilson
  • We don’t give up on God, and we don’t give in to fear.
  • You grow more through difficulty and hardship than through the easy times of life.
  • Plan B times are tough, but they are also times of growth.
  • First, that God asks us to take a step of faith, Second, that we don’t always know how things will turn out, Third, the step is often difficult
  • Moving out of Plan B requires an impossible step.
  • “Plan B situations force us to rely on a power outside of ourselves” – Pete Wilson
  • In Plan B times our faith will either grow or shrink.
  • What step is God asking you to take?

Adult Discussion Questions:

What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it? What was new?

How have you seen Plan B times either shut down someone’s faith, or be a reason it grows? What about you personally? Has a Plan B time ever shrunk your faith, or opened it? How before has God ever asked you to take an impossible step? What happened when you stepped out in faith? What obstacles or river are you facing now? Do you have a sense of your next step? Who can help you support you as you take it?

Discussion Question for Families:

Talk to your kids about this week’s story, and how Joshua has to trust in God. Teach them that sometimes God asks us to take steps before we know what might happen.

Ask them if they have any obstacles in their life (Jordan Rivers) and what step God might be asking them to take. Pray about their obstacles, and help them take their next steps.

Challenge for the Week: Take the step into the flood.

The Valley of Dried Bones and FreshWind

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOn Sunday we looked at an amazing passage in Ezekiel 37, the valley of dry bones. The valley in this vision from Ezekiel is a place of death. It’s a boneyard, or a graveyard where all life has vanished. And God comes to Ezekiel and asks him “Can these bones live again”. And Ezekiel says he doesn’t know, that it is up to the Lord.

The beautiful thing about this passage is that it is up to God, and God shows what his desire is. His desire is to give life to lifeless things. His desire is to renew dry and death filled things. His desire is to resurrect out of a boneyard new life and new spirit.

So in the story a wind rushes and Ezekiel sees the bones comes together, and God’s spirit fills them. His breath, his life, his Spirit, his wind flows into the bones bringing a freshness and a newness. This was not an act that happens at the end of time, but an act in time. God brings healing and a fresh wind to people in real life dry and dark circumstances.

We ended looking at how God did that years ago with the Israelite people but that he wants to do that with us today too. Because God is in the business of brining life to dry bones. God is in the business of rejuvenating broken spirits. And the amazing thing about this decision of God is that it is unilateral. If you read in the passage God continually says “I will do this…I will do this…I will do this”. God acts because that’s God’s desire.

So on Sunday we left everyone with one simple challenge. If it’s God’s desire to fill us, to send forth his life, Spirit, wind, and breath – then simply breathe deeply. Breathe deeply asking God to fill all of you and trusting he will. I gave them this impossible challenge, to each time you breathe this week,  remember and picture God filling you. And yes the challenge might be impossible, but that’s the beautiful thing about God. Sometimes the impossible happens and life flows into dry bones.

Sermon Notes:

Big Idea: God wants to breath new life into you

Take Aways…

  • The life of faith is one of change
  • Dead souls do not produce the same stuff as living ones do. Michael Gungor
  • “Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”
  • You are in the valley of dry bones, when no hope seems possible and no change is on the horizon.
  • God will give new life to prove he is truly God.
  • God wants to breathe it into us
  • My soul cries out / My soul cries out for you / These bones cry out / These dry bones cry for you / To live and move / ‘Cause only You can raise the dead / Can lift my head up. Gungor, Dry Bones
  • Breathe Deeply
  • God is in the business of filling

Adult / Group Discussion Questions: What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? How did God speak to you through it?

When have you ever felt to be in the valley of dry bones? What did it feel like? What made you feel that way? Was anything of a help in that time?

What were you picturing as we read the story? When we read the story what emotions filled you – hope, numbness, desire, intrigue, wonder, doubt? What brought on those feelings?

As you were breathing do you believe that God was filling? What helps you to believe that, and what is a block to believing that? How might God want to fill you even now with new breathe and life? What did you think of this quote: Dead souls do not produce the same stuff as living ones do. Michael Gungor. If God breathes into your soul making it alive what might he want to produce through you?

Discussion Questions for Young Families: Take sometime to talk to your kids. Talk to them about what you love about them. Talk to them about their wonder, their awe, and why having a “wide-awake” soul is a beautiful thing. Ask them what they want to create, maybe read the story of Ezekiel and ask them to draw, or paint it. Talk to them about never losing their wonder, breathe, and life in their soul.

Challenge for this Week: Every time you breathe remember God