Evening Prayer CW – Sermon 284

17th February 2019 Off By Derek

Evening Prayer CW
6.30 pm
7th October 2018

Prayer to start

May the words of my lips and the thoughts of our hearts be graciously received for the glory and honour of our Lord Jesus Christ 



What!  You want us to cross over the Jordan river now? – but it’s the wrong time of year – there’s no way the people could get across – it’s too deep – the river’s flooded!

we ought to wait  – at least a month or so – then we can get across safely!

Obstacles! – life‘s full of them – big ones – small    ones – things that stand in our way – or oppose us –  physical ones – like the river that Joshua and the Israelites had to cross – Spiritual ones – like our fears – our doubt s – and sins –

the things that come between where we are now – and where God wants us to be !

How do we overcome them?

How do we go forward in spite of them?

Our readings this evening – provide us with examples of people moving forward – in faith – having to overcome major obstacles in their path – let’s see what they tell us on how we can face challenges that we believe are beyond us –

Point 1         God shows us the way – 

They started out as slaves – with nothing –

When they left Egypt – they expected their journey to be easy – when it didn’t turn out that way – they complained.  – They sent spies to check out the land – and when they were told it was inhabited by giants – they turned away – and thought their dream had turned to dust – 

But now some 40 years later – and with a new generation – Joshua and Israel again stood at the brink of entering Canaan – their land of milk and honey –

Their parents and grandparents would have talked to them – about their dream of entering the land God had promised them – everything they had ever done or said – would have been with this goal in mind – This time – their faith would not be tested by stories of giants – but by a deep fast flowing river –

During the harvest season – its possible for the Jordan to rise to nearly 14 feet above its normal level  – and flood the surrounding plain –

The command from God came to them through Joshua: “Give this order to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: when you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you are to take your stand in the river” –

The “Ark of the Covenant” – had replaced the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night as God’s visible sign amongst them 

As soon as the priests set foot in the water – the waters of the Jordan were cut off – the water coming from upstream – will stood piled up high – like a bank –

And then as they stood firm on the dry bed – in the middle of the river – all Israel crossed over – to other side –

The people were told to keep their distance – about half a mile – but if they happened to glance up stream – it would be the Ark that would see standing between them and the wall of water –

So like the generation before them – God clearly demonstrated His power and presence among them – with the holding back of water – He told them that He would prepare the way for them – and enable them to defeat their enemies – if they were willing to follow and trust in His call –

Everyday we stand on the bank of the river – with God calling us to cross to the other side – wanting to give us blessings – blessings that we could never imagine –

But to get there – we have to cross – leave behind the ways of the past – enter a new way – with God in control –

It means stepping into a raging torrent – and expecting God to do the impossible

As His we are called to cross the river together – Today we don’t have the Ark to follow but the Holy Spirit living inside us – to lead and show us where to go and what to do –

point 2         Step forward in faith

But as our reading shows – If we want to go forward – and master our raging torrent – we must first get our feet wet –

God tells the priests to make a few steps into the river – and then stop – and its only after they have done that – that things will happen – not before –

Stepping out takes courage – it means all the talking has stopped – and the action has started – it means we are prepared to take the plunge – without using our own safety net – prepared to trust – and step out with courage and faith – and depend on God alone

Trust and faith – are easy words to say – but hard words to live up to –

Contrast the behaviour of this generation with those of their parents –

The people of Moses were wanderers in the wilderness – afraid of the unknown – it stopped them entering and claiming the land –

They doubted God’s power – even though they experienced it – in the crossing of the Red Sea –

They were fearful of change – how many times had they complained of their circumstances – and asked to be taken back to Egypt into slavery –

People of Joshua – on the other hand – had accepted and embraced the changes that were ahead of them – they would receive the new food – the new land – a new home – a new blessing – that would come when they let go of the old –

Most of us are not risk takers – we are comfortable in our pews – and our predictability in serving God – we don’t like it much when we are faced with defining moments – when God asks us to let go of the familiar – move beyond our own strength – and seek new territory –

But God calls us to be cross-over people – people who are willing to grow – willing to claim new ground for Him – willing to inherit the future He has prepared for us –  

He is not asking us to leap into darkness but to trust His wisdom – accept the promises He has made to us – through His Son Jesus Christ – believe those reliable trustworthy messages He sends to us through His Spirit – that small voice we hear when we pray – when we read the Bible – and when we develop a relationship with His Son –

For many of us the biggest decisions we will ever make is – whether we will accept God’s offer of salvation and invite Jesus into our lives

Through Jesus Gods asking us to step out publicly – and to make His power known – to all the people around us – it’s exciting – it’s amazing – it can be the most joyous wonderful thing we have ever done – it can also be very costly – as we learn from our NT lesson –

Point 3         Messengers of the King – Expect difficulties

Jesus’ description of what lies ahead for the disciples – beatings – being brought before judges – and courts – must have seemed like a raging torrent to them – you can imagine the panic that must have set in – None of them would have considered themselves suited for the job –

but no one who reads this passage can be anything but impressed by the shear honesty – and openness of Jesus’ words – He is always truthful about what we can expect –

‘I will send you out as sheep among wolves’ – He said – ‘be on your guard – be wary as serpents – innocent as doves – everyone will hate you because of your allegiance to me”

Today we may not experience the same physical violence – the first disciples had to endure – but there will be major obstacles and barriers placed in our path – satan is a master at turning us away from where God is taking us –

Like the disciples – we are called to be messengers of the KING – instruments of Jesus’ presence in our world – giving – caring – serving – sharing His message of love –

When Jesus calls us to step out in faith – He is telling us to connect with others – to demonstrate the kingdom as well as talk about it –

Jesus came to give life – full life – abundant life – life before death  – life after death – when we put Jesus first in our hearts – and trust Him we enjoy a new freedom – a new power – we are transformed into His likeness  – we become open to God – and to the needs of those around us – and ready to respond to His call  –


Miracles will happen – obstacles will be overcome – His promises will be fulfilled – we have to believe it – hold on to it – and follow Jesus’ lead – and remember that we can overcome all our challenges – not in our own strength – but in His –

God is moving us forward – there’s no way around it – if He’s telling us to move and do things – we must move – and do things –

Have you said yes to God yet? –

Prayer                   AMEN