Steppin’ Out in Faith
Pastor Jim Kniseley presented this sermon at Resurrection
on Sunday, July 23, 2006. The text is
Joshua 3 and 4, the account of the Israelites crossing the Jordan
River into the Promised Land.
Friends in Christ,
of us are about to enter the Promised Land of Vacation Bible Camp. Tomorrow is the start, ready or not, for the
time we have the privilege of retelling the great stories of faith from the
Bible to our children.
am thankful that this congregation has been blessed with folks who bring such
creativity and enthusiasm and contagious faith in presenting our annual summer
vacation bible camps. I know it’s hard work, but the benefits to children and
their families and our church are truly worth it all.
think back to my own wonderful experience at Vacation Bible
School when I was the age
of our children. Many adults here have a similar memory. Some of the songs and stories are with me to
this day. I even have the Bible I used
in first, second and third grades. I also
have a shield I made in the 4th grade at VBS. It is the shield for the apostle John,
showing a chalice and a snake, to show that he was poisoned, to silence him
from telling the good news of Jesus.
What I remember to this day is that all the followers of Jesus were
willing to give their lives and risk dying in order to serve Him.
week we will be presenting 5 great stories from the Bible, all having something
to do with “water.” Susan Cheatham
selected each of these stories because they show the power of faith in trusting
I want all of you to join me in remembering one of the heroes of faith,
Joshua. His story is recounted in the
Old Testament Book of Joshua, the 6th book of the Bible.
is the leader who followed Moses. Moses
had led the people out of slavery in Egypt, and they could have gone
into the Promised Land almost immediately.
But their grumbling and lack of trust in God’s promises made God decide
that they were not ready yet. He let
them wander in the wilderness for 40 years, refining them and getting them
Jordan River was important for the people of Israel. They saw it as the barrier they had to cross,
the dividing point between their desert wandering and the rich, fertile land
promised to them by God.
Jordan River represented something else
too. The Canaanites occupied the land
and they were worshippers of Baal. Baal
was the god of water, rain, storms, wind, thunder and lightning. When the people of Israel
came to the Jordan,
it was deep and flowing swiftly. When
Joshua told them that the only way to enter the Promised Land was for them to
walk into the River because God had told him to say this, the people saw this
as a contest of power between God and gods of the Canaanites.
in Egypt, the parents and
grandparents of these Israelites were scared enough when they had to cross the Red Sea. But Moses
lifted the staff and the Lord caused the waters to part and then they walked
through the Sea to the other side. On
this occasion, the waters were still deep and flowing. Perhaps you remember the scene, the priests
were carrying the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol for God’s presence in their
midst. This gold covered wood box
contained the tablets of the 10 commandments.
The Bible emphasizes that the waters did not stop until the priests
stepped into the river. Then they walked
to the middle of the river and stopped, while the people all crossed safely on
dry land to the other side.
children this week will learn these stories at their own level of
understanding. As children mature into youth and adulthood, the goal of all
Bible Study is to get us to apply the wisdom of scripture to our own
lives. So I ask of you today, what are
some of the barriers we allow to exist between us and the calling God has given
us to fulfill? The Bible says we all
have a call from the Lord upon our lives.
How about in your own life right now?
How about in the life of our congregation?
each of the Bible stories this week, we will learn that doubts and fears were a
constant temptation for Bible heroes.
Some came from within themselves, others came from folks about
them. “I fear that God will not really
take care of us…I fear being rejected by others who will think I am foolish…I
am uncertain if this is really what God wants…I fear that we will fail…”
is a good thing that we have a patient God.
God waits until we are ready to listen and trust him above all
believe that who we believe God is strongly influences how much we trust
Him in our daily lives. If we believe He
loves us, it’ll be easier to trust Him.
If we believe He is powerful enough to help us during the ranging storms
of life, it is easier to turn to Him for help.
this Celtic Sunday at Resurrection, we have to remember St. Patrick. I have no doubt that some of Patrick’s
inspiration came from reading the story of Joshua. We know much of Patrick’s experience from his
writings. He was kidnapped while still a
youth in Britain and sold as
a slave in Ireland. He worked there for 7 years and came to faith
in Christ. He escaped and went back home
and knew through his visions that Christ was calling him to be a priest and
bishop and knew he would take the gospel to the people in Ireland. When a person is captured by a vision from
the Lord, you better watch out. They
seem to have a power than no one on earth can stop. Patrick challenged the power of the druid
gods of Ireland, he
tirelessly converted folks to the Christian faith, he withstood the jealousy of
the church leaders in Britain
who wanted to remove him, and he gave all the credit to the Lord.
Joshua 4 you will read about something else the Lord commanded of the people
before the Jordan River again began
flowing. While the priests were still in
the middle of the riverbed, a man from each of the 12 tribes was to walk back
into the river and get a stone. These
stones were to be set up as a monument and reminder of what God had done for
his people in letting them cross into the Promised Land. These stones represented the 12 tribes of Israel. Future generations could remember what great
miracle occurred at the Jordan River when
parents re-told this story to their children.
we do not have those stones to tell the story of the mighty acts of God. God uses us to tell and retell his
story. I thank God today for those in
our midst that are stepping up to the privilege of telling and retelling the
stories of faith from the Bible to our children.
be to God.