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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

walking by faith 
            Scripture reading today will be found in Joshua 3:13.  While everyone is turning there let me just say that I've written several sermons but I've never been asked to preach one.  So I thought "this will be a piece of cake".  I'll just pull one out and practice it, no worries. But God had other plans.  I believe that He impressed me with something else altogether.  One of my sermons has to do with delivering the message that you've been given.  Jonah didn't want to give a message and he had to spend three days in a fish.  Then there were two men named William Foy and Hazen Foss that were given messages that they didn't want to give.  The messages were taken from them and given to a girl.  Today their names are hardly remembered.  Foss is quoted as having said to Ellen White, "be faithful in the bearing of the burden and relating the testimonies of the Lord and you will not be forsaken of God. I am a lost man." His Messenger p.39 PP1  I truly believe that in these last days god will give his messages to young and old, men and women.  While I would never claim a high or lofty status as a prophet I also don't want to spend time in a great fish or worse yet lost.  Thus I penned a whole new sermon just for today.  Before we read God's word shall we pray?  Dear Lord, Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in our sight and pour out your Holy Spirit on us so that we might finish Your work and go home with you when you come and please come quickly Lord Jesus. Amen  _______ could you read Joshua 3:13 please? "And it shall come to pass as soon as the soles of the feet of the priests that bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth shall rest IN the waters of the Jordan, that the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from the waters that come down from above, and they shall stand upon an heap." It has been said If we do not learn from history we are doomed to repeat it"  Today I am going to be giving you two scenarios of stepping out in faith, before we see God's blessings.
            Originally in Israel's history back in Exodus chapter 14 verses 13-31 God led the Israelites to the red sea. Verse 13 says, "and Moses said unto the people, fear ye not and STAND still and see the salvation of the Lord..." They could not go back, the Egyptians were there.  We cannot go back.  They could not go sideways, the mountains were there.  We might seem to have mountains on every side as well.  They couldn't even go forward until God worked a miracle. Is that where we are? The children of Israel had been in bondage for many generations.  They had not known the leading of the Lord so when they started out God gently led them step by step through the wilderness. After wandering around for 40 years having everything provided for them, their food, their water and the many miracles that had led them that far Moses said to them in Deuteronomy 8:2 "And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no." 1 Corinthians 3:2 gives us a little indication as to why the Israelites had to wander.  Paul says, "I have fed you with milk and not with meat; for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet are ye able."  God knew that they would need time and evidence before they were able to trust.  Moses frequently referred to the children of Israel as a "stiff necked people." see Deuteronomy 31:27 But now it is time for them to inherit the land of Canaan and God sets up a little test.  This was just a "little" river in comparison to the Red sea but God did not first part it as He had done previously.  They must first get their feet wet and then God would part the river. The next day Joshua told the priests to lead off carrying the ark of the covenant towards the River Jordan. The river was in flood and dangerous to cross. God told Joshua to tell the priests when they got to the river bank not to stop but to go and stand in the river. – Slide 3 Are we today standing on the banks of a river waiting for God to part the waters before we take a step forward in faith?  An old song says, "Step into the water, wade out a little bit deeper..." 
            The second scenario that I'd like to bring you today is one that we are also very familiar with.  It is found in the book of Matthew chapter 14 and verses 28-31.  Let's read that together shall we?  "28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me. 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?"   Whenever I read this I kinda get this weird feeling like "really?"  There were 11 other people on the boat!  Only one of them had enough faith to even got out of the perfectly good boat!!!  Peter had lived on the sea of Galilee all his life.  He was a fisherman! He probably came from a long line of fisherman! Do you know how much faith it took to step out of a perfectly good boat?  I don't think I could have done it.  He didn't even say, "wait, let me put on my life jacket."  He was in the middle of the lake, too far to swim from either shore.  And yet Jesus said to him, " oh you of LITTLE faith!"  I used to think that I wanted to go parachuting.  My dad would often ask me why anyone would want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane?  Well that is how I feel about perfectly good boats. How much faith it had to take to step out of one and yet. Jesus calls Peter's faith "little"!  I mean I understand what Jesus was saying, it wasn't about the stepping out of the boat part but the being afraid of the waves part.  But even still not one of the other eleven got out of the boat!!! I heard a joke about this once that goes like this: a Rabbi, a priest and a Baptist minister went fishing one day and as they were already out on the lake the rabbi suddenly remembers that he left the bate in the cooler back on land so he gets out of the boat walks across the water gets the cooler and walks back the priest is astonished.  Then the baptist minister remembers that he left the poles in his car, he gets out of the boat walks across the water gets the fishing poles and walks back.  The priest thinks these guys have such great faith. They can't possibly have more faith than me. So when he remembers that he left the tackle back on land he gets out of the boat and immediately sinks.  As he comes up sputtering the Rabbi says to the minister, Do you think that we should have told him where the rocks are?   Are we afraid of a little wind or the boisterous waves?  What is holding us back from stepping out in faith? Is it fear?  Is it that we are too comfortable sitting in the perfectly good boat?  Question for you.  Raise your hands if you own at least one TV in your home.  Keep your hands up if you own two TV’s? Two TV’s and a computer? And a smart phone? Two smart phones?  Three TV’s?  And a laptop? And a tablet? More than one tablet?  So, is it money that’s holding you back? Because, my God, the God I serve,He owns the cattle on a THOUSAND hills! My favorite author outside of the Bible says, "We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history.  Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White p204.1"
      Folks, Jesus is coming back very soon.  My daddy used to describe it this way.  You know the image of gold, silver, bronze, iron and iron mixed with clay, spoken of in Daniel?  Well we are in the toes of that image, and not just in the toes, but we are in the tippy toes of this image. I feel like I'm six years old again and it is Christmas morning and my parents are still sleeping.  I just want to rush into their bedroom and jump on their bed and say, "wake up, wake up, it's Christmas!"  We need to wake up folks!  Jesus is almost here! All of these things that we cling to will be burned up.  Nothing matters more than all of the lost souls in this world.
            In conclusion, I'd like us to turn to Hebrews 12:1,2 "Therefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, 2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God."  When we have the word therefore we must find out what it is there for.  What immediately precedes Hebrews chapter 12?  Well it's Hebrews chapter 11 and what do we call Hebrews chapter 11? The great faith chapter! We have many witnesses of faith Hebrews 11 is filled with those who have stepped out in faith before us.  Hebrews 11:6 says, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Jesus says in Matthew 6:31-33, "Therefore take no thought saying what shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or wherewithall shall we be clothed (for after all these things do the Gentiles seek.) For your heavenly father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you." If we put Jesus and his soon coming ahead of the things of this world we will soon see his mighty hand blessing us in ways that we could never imagine.  Jesus says through the pen of inspiration in a little book called "The Desire of Ages" in a chapter about the feeding of the 5,000, chapter 39 on page 371"The means in our possession may not seem to be sufficient for the work; but if we will move forward in faith, believing in the all-sufficient power of God, abundant resources will open before us. If the work be of God, He Himself will provide the means for its accomplishment. He will reward honest, simple reliance upon Him. The little that is wisely and economically used in the service of the Lord of heaven will increase in the very act of imparting."  P. S. Remember Caleb and Joshua

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