Mission: Possible, although…

Jeff Vann

Joshua 1:10-18 NLT

10 Joshua then commanded the leaders of Israel, 11 “Go through the camp and tell the people to get their provisions ready. In three days you will cross the Jordan River and take possession of the land the LORD your God has given you.” 12 Then Joshua called together the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. He told them, 13 “Remember what Moses, the servant of the LORD, commanded you: ‘The LORD your God is giving you rest and has given you this land.’ 14 Your wives, children, and cattle may remain here on the east side of the Jordan River, but your warriors, fully armed, must lead the other tribes across the Jordan to help them conquer their territory. Stay with them 15 until the LORD gives rest to them as he has given rest to you, and until they, too, possess the land the LORD your God is giving them. Only then may you settle here on the east side of the Jordan River in the land that Moses, the servant of the LORD, gave you.” 16 They answered Joshua, “We will do whatever you command us, and we will go wherever you send us. 17 We will obey you just as we obeyed Moses. And may the LORD your God be with you as he was with Moses. 18 Anyone who rebels against your word and does not obey your every command will be put to death. So be strong and courageous!”


Outline:

Big Idea: God has called you to a mission, and no matter who you are, that mission is possible, although…

1) Preparation will be necessary.

a) “tell the people to get their provisions ready” (11)

2) Your mission will be a challenge to you.

a) “be strong and courageous!” (18).

3) You will not be able to do it alone.

a) “Joshua called together the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh” (12).

b) “your warriors, fully armed, must lead the other tribes across the Jordan to help them conquer their territory” (14).

c) “Stay with them … until the LORD gives rest to them as he has given rest to you, and until they, too, possess the land the LORD your God is giving them.” (14-15).


Let’s review last week’s message:

Big Idea: God has called you to a mission, and no matter who you are, that mission is possible.

Remember that there are (at least) three things that the Bible instructs us on.

It teaches us how to be saved by explaining the gospel of salvation by grace through the death of Christ on the cross.

It teaches us how to cooperate with the Holy Spirit and be sanctified – cleansed from habitual sin, and fit for the Master’s use.

It teaches how to follow the heart of God and be sent on a mission or missions wherever he chooses to send us.

So, last week we talked about why that mission is possible.

1) The Mission is Possible because the presence of the LORD is with us wherever we go.

2) The mission is possible because the grace of God is demonstrated in our lives.

3) The mission is possible because we have the word of God as our mission manual.

Today’s Big Idea is the same, except I’ll be using the word although instead of because.

It is important to see both sides of an issue. We need to have the courage to do what we are called to do, but we also need to be aware of the challenges we face in doing so.

This is particularly important because believers often get inspired to serve the LORD in some particular way, but then reject that mission at the first sign of difficulty or conflict.

The Book of Acts records stories of the missions the first century Christians went on in attempts to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading and reach their world with the gospel. They faced trouble and opposition all the way.

Our Old Testament mission manual, the book of Joshua, tells a similar story. The mission was different, but there are a number of similarities as well.

Joshua 1:10-18 begins to reveal some of the challenges God’s people face when following him into missions.

Big Idea: God has called you to a mission, and no matter who you are, that mission is possible, although…

1) Preparation will be necessary.

a) “tell the people to get their provisions ready” (11)

This is God’s way of saying “get yourselves ready because what I’m calling on you to do is not going to be easy.

This was Joshua’s way of telling the Israelites that they were not just going to parade into Canaan and get all they wanted handed to them.

The WWI soldier would hear this command: “lock and load.”

He’s telling the Sampsons to get their donkey’s jawbones ready.

He’s telling the Davids to get their slings ready and pick up their stones to sling.

He’s telling the Daniels to prepare for some quality time with the lions.

He’s telling the Jeremiahs to get ready for a long mudbath.

He’s telling the Elijahs to get ready for conflict with the priests of Baal.

He’s telling the disciples to get ready to face the cross.

He’s telling Peter and Paul to get ready to face the sword.

What he is not saying is what we often hear from television and radio pulpits: that if God calls you to himself, it is not going to cost you anything. In fact, the implication is that following Christ will only make you richer, healthier, and handsomer. Poppycock!

God calls you to himself by his grace, but when he sends you into this world as his representative, it may cost you everything you’ve got.

It may cost your reputation.

It may cost your family.

It may cost your job.

It may cost your health.

It may even cost your life.

Jesus put it this way:

“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34 NLT).

“If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine” (Matthew 10:38 NLT).

Taking up the cross was a sign of only one thing: you were about to die. You were about to face the greatest challenge a person could ever face.

Following Jesus where he sends us, and doing what he calls us to do is going to be the most difficult thing we ever do.

He’s going to ask us to step way outside our comfort zone, and operate way outside our gifts and talents.

He’s going to ask us to befriend and associate with and love people we don’t like.

Jesus taught about this kind of commitment:

“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? 29 Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you” (Luke 14:28-29 NLT).

Your resources are limited. You do not have enough to follow Christ, AND do what you want.

One problem we have with modern Christianity is that we have a lot of people who join Christ’s kingdom, but still want to invest all their resources in their own. It does not work that way.

Big Idea: God has called you to a mission, and no matter who you are, that mission is possible, although…

2) Your mission will be a challenge to you.

a) “be strong and courageous!” (18).

As foreign missionaries, we often found ourselves praying, “LORD, we know you want to do this. Why is it so hard?”

Part of the answer to that question is that it has to be hard for us, so that God gets the glory when it is accomplished.

· Picture Samson on a mound of a thousand Philistine bodies. He had to be saying “there’s no way I could have done all that.”

· Picture David with Goliath’s severed head in his hands. Hundreds of Philistine soldiers rubbing their eyes and saying “did that just happen?”

· Picture Daniel confidently walking out of the lion’s den without a scratch. You can hear the soft growls of hungry lions.

· Picture Jeremiah being pulled up from the muddy pit. People mumbling in the background, saying, “there’s no way he survived that.”

· Picture Elijah on Mt. Carmel. He soaks his altar three times. He wants to make it unburnable, because God is going to burn it.

· Picture a handful of disciples turning the world upside down for Jesus Christ. People look at them and see ignorant fishermen.

· Picture Peter and Paul in Rome, each has a date with a chopping block. 2000 years later, imperial Rome is gone, the executioners are gone, but Peter and Paul’s influence lives on.

Someday you and I will see all these saints of God, and get the chance to talk to them about what they faced. Not one of them will say that following the LORD was easy. But all of them will say that it is worth it.

3) You will not be able to do it alone.

a) “Joshua called together the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh” (12).

b) “your warriors, fully armed, must lead the other tribes across the Jordan to help them conquer their territory” (14).

c) “Stay with them … until the LORD gives rest to them as he has given rest to you, and until they, too, possess the land the LORD your God is giving them.” (14-15).

Joshua’s instruction to those tribes who had already received their land on the east side of the Jordon was this: you have to join with the others because the mission is yours as well as theirs.

There are reasons that God in his wisdom saves us by grace as individuals and then enfolds us into his church by having us join his churches. We come to the cross alone, but we cannot go into his mission field alone. He will not have it.

Some years ago, I was studying the ministry of Paul. I had the impression that Paul was the “lone ranger” of missions. I discovered that my impression was false. Paul had an enormous team of people who assisted him, served with him, helped him, supported him and blessed him as he carried out his mission.

That team included Aristarchus, Artemus, Aquilla, Apollos, Barnabus, Crescens, Demas, Epaphraditus, Erastus, Gaius, Jason, Justus, Mark, Lucias, Luke, Priscilla, Secundus, Silas, Sosipater, Sosthenes, Tertius, Timothy, Titus, Trophimus, Tychichus, and Zenas.

As we join together in teams to do what God calls us to do, he gets the glory, he sets the standard, and he empowers us to do more as a team than the sum total of our individual efforts.

Last week’s message was designed to encourage us all to do missions – here, there, and everywhere.

This week’s message is designed to warn us not to dive in without first checking the depth of the pool. Both messages are biblical. Both are needed. The LORD has called us and is sending us out like sheep among wolves. So he instructs us to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves.

He wants us to make a difference for his kingdom, and the message of Joshua 1 is that we can… but it’s going to cost us.

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