Going All The Way With God
A Sermon for all the Oddballs
For a Christians to desire to go all the way with God, to be fully surrendered, he is identified by the world as an oddball. When a normal person lives in a world full of oddballs he begins to think he is odd.
God calls you to complete your Journey with Him. He want’s you to go all the way so He can fulfill His promises through you. THIS STORY REMINDS US THAT GUIDANCE FROM GOD IS A FUNDAMENTAL ISSUE FOR ALL BELIEVERS. The Bible teaches us that God does have a will for us.
What does "going all the way" with God entail?
CATCHING A CLEAR VISION OF HOW GOD WANTS TO USE YOU AND THEN MOVING FORWARD FOR GOD.
Most people fail in their journey with God because they don’t have a clear understanding of how God wants to use them, or what God’s plan for their life is.
The tribes of Gad, Reuben, and the half tribe Manasseh THOUGHT GOD’S PLAN for their lives WAS COMFORT AND ACCOMMODATION.
"...the land the LORD subdued before the people of Israel — are suitable for livestock, and your servants have livestock. If we have found favor in your eyes," they said, "let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan." Moses said to the Gadites and Reubenites, "Shall your countrymen go to war while you sit here?" Num 32:3-7 NIV
The 2 1/2 tribes wanted to enjoy the "good life". It seems that they did not cross Jordan because they did not want to endanger themselves or risk the comfort of what they had.
The tribes of Gad, Reuben, and the half tribe of Manasseh were willing to stay on the wilderness side of the Jordan River. The wilderness experience depicts believers who live in unbelief and disobedience and don’t enter into the rest and riches of their spiritual inheritance.
Like the two and a half tribe of Israel, do you come to a crisis place, but refuse to obey the Lord and His claims for your life? They were delivered out of Egypt, but Egypt was still in their hearts. The wilderness march was an experience of delay, defeat, and death. But their experience in Canaan was to be one of life, power, and victory.
Like the two and one half tribes of Israel, do you want God’s blessings but desire to stay in your old life of sin?
"It’s ok to look back as long as you use it to help you leap forward."
God wanted the entire nation of Israel to cross over into Canaan. Canaan represents the Christian life as it ought to be: gaining victory through conflict, faith and obedience, spiritual riches and rest. It’s a life of faith, trusting Jesus Christ, our Joshua, the Captain of our Salvation (Heb. 2:10). The victorious life isn’t a once-for-all triumph that ends our problems.
The victorious life, as pictured by Israel in the Book of Joshua, is a series of conflicts and victories as we defeat one enemy after another and claim more of our inheritance for the glory of God.
Life is a string of difficulties, and how we tackle each one determines the quality of our life.
"The cross is the key (to victory). If I lose the key I fumble. The universe will not open to me. But with the key in my hand I hold its secrets." E. Stanly Jones
WHEN CHRISTIANS ARE BLESSED BY GOD, THEY ARE VULNERABLE TO BECOMING LESS DEPENDENT ON THE SPIRIT OF GOD. SPIRITUAL VICTORIES CAN PROMPT SATAN TO ATTACK.
An old time preacher used to say that the victorious Christian life was a series of new beginnings.
FOCUSING ON GOD.
Everyone will come to a place in their life when they will have to decide whether or not they are going to cross their own personal Jordan River. They will have to decide whether they are going to move forward or if they are going to quit moving in their journey. When you move forward for God you’re going to come under tremendous spiritual attack. That’s why you need to keep your focus on God and His Word.
"Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth: meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful." Joshua 1:8
Why is it important to focus on the God and His Word? Because Israel’s strength and courage would come from meditating on the Word of God, believing it’s promises, and obeying it’s precepts. That’s also where your strength and courage will come from.
It is important to focus on God and His Word so God can bless you. When God blesses his children He is glorified. When the two spies entered the fortified walls of Jericho, Rahab told them, We heard of what God was doing through you and "our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you." Joshua 2:11
When you are totally focued on God and his will, people will take notice that God is doing something through you. The problem with the 2 ½ tribes that stayed on the east side of Jordan is that they failed to understand God’s ultimate purpose.
THEY THOUGHT THEIR END WAS TO HAVE COMFORT AND SECURITY. That was not God’s ultimate goal for them. God’s ultimate goal for them was that He wanted to bless them. He wanted for them to experience conflict so they would glory Him when He gave them the victory. Prosperity and peace are the wonderful results God’s blessings in our lives. But as we experience victory over conflict and as we focus on God, He is then given the credit for the victory and thus glorified by the conquest. Focusing on God through conflict also draws us closer to Him and develops a deeper relationship and dependence on Him.
That As we Focus on Him DISTRACTIONS THAT DRAW US AWAY FROM FOLLOWING HIM ARE LESS COMMON.
Ten of the spies that originally went over to Canaan looked at God through difficulties. They were distracted by their surroundings. While Joshua and Caleb looked at the difficulties through what they knew about God. They refused to be distracted and diverted from God’s ultimate plan. (see Numbers 13)
God told Israel..."Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go." Joshua 1:7 In other words, God was telling them, don’t get distracted on your journey. Don’t quit and don’t take a detour!
Are you easily distracted on your journey with God. Do you find yourself on a spiritual roller coaster? If you do, you are most likely being distracted by the things of this world just like the 2 ½ tribes who refused to reside in Canaan. They were distracted from the way God was leading them. Are you easily distracted from God’s ways and his guidance in you life?
MAKING DECISIONS BASED ON FAITH IN GOD AND NOT BASED ON WHAT IS MOST APPEALING TO YOU.
"the land the LORD subdued before the people of Israel — are suitable for livestock, and your servants have livestock. If we have found favor in your eyes," they said, "let this land be given to your servants as our possession. Do not make us cross the Jordan." Num 32:4-5 NIV
The 2 ½ tribes based their decision to settle east of the Jordan purely by sight and what appeared best to them. They did not consider how their decision would affect their brother and sister believers who were willing to obey God and cross over the Jordan.
When we do what we want, the way we want, we are actually hurting our fellow believers. We hurt them by being selfish. We hurt them by rebelling against God’s guidance in our lives. We hurt fellow believers by resisting the Spirit’s leading. We hurt them by discouraging them to advance in their own personal spiritual walk with God. Moses said, "why do you discourage the Israelites from going over in the land the Lord has given them?" (V. 7) Moses cursed them and said, by doing this thing you will cause them to stumble in their faith." (V. 14,15)
Moses compared these 2 ½ tribes to the ten spies who refused to follow God wholeheartedly and enter into Canaan Land.
It seems that these 2 ½ tribes had no vision from God part from their own wants and desires. They became very self-absorbed instead of God-absorbed. We must die to self and come alive in Christ.
Share an illustraion about dying to self-interest.
We have all heard the "Good New!"..."Bad News!" aphorisms. Here’s one with a little different twist. I have some "Bad News!...Good News!...Best News!" for you...
The bad news, you are dying! It’s no joke, biologist tell us that every day, to some extent, each of us are dying...The cells and atoms in our bodies are dying. In fact, every atom and every cell that is now in our bodies will die off within the next seven years. In essence, we are experiencing a daily dying of our physical being.
The good news, you are being restored! Just as the cells and atoms in our bodies are dying, likewise new ones are being created to take their place. It is my understanding, (and I make no claim to being a biologist) this process makes a complete transition every seven years. In one way, every seven years, you completely become a different person. So, when someone tells you, you’re not the same person you use to be, there is a whole lot of truth in it. I find this whole idea of our bodies continously dying and being restored a rather refreshing thought. But!...even with this good news...we will eventually taste physical death, the bad news!
The Best News! You don’t have to wait seven years to be made a "new person". And the Best news...this time, the "new person" will live forever. The Bible says if anyone be IN CHRIST, he is a NEW craature; old things are passed away; all things become new.
Yet, we must die to self and self-interest, and be raised with Christ and be Christ-absorbed. So, when making decisions we will make decisions based on faith in Christ and not based on our own self-interest.
The Bible tells us that we need a clear vision from God otherwise we will constantly struggle and be waylaid by setback in our lives. God’s Word instructs us that we must acquire a clear vision of what God wants us to do in our lives. You can only get a clear vision from God when you are willing to go all the way with him and focus on Him and His word.
When you do this you will start making decision based on what God wants, rather than what you want.
WE MUST KEEP OUR PROMISES EVEN IF IT COSTS US DEARLY.
The 2 ½ tribes made a vow to Moses and God that they would help the rest of Israel conquer the Promised Land if God would allow them to lodge on the east side of the Jordan.
This Bible teaches us that God calls all of us to live a covenant lifestyle. Putting the interest of God and our fellow believers before our own.
God praises those who keep their oaths he "honors those who fear the LORD, who keeps his oath even when it hurts." (Psalm 15:4 NIV)
Take for example Joshua’s agreement with the Gibeonites (Joshua 9), as the inhabitants of Canaan, the Gibeonites were slated to be destroyed by the Israelites. But they deceived Joshua and the leaders into making a covenant of peace with them, and Joshua kept that covenant, even though it was difficult.
The ultimate example of one who lived out a true covenant life even though it hurt was our Lord Jesus Christ. God calls us all to live a covenant lifestyle.
The kind of life God wants us to experience today is a life with Jesus Christ, our Joshua, leading us in conquest and sharing with us all the treasures of His wonderful inheritance. (see Eph. 1:3)
Yet, this story also teaches us, it is extremely important to finish a task even though you may not directly get the benefits. Sometimes you will be called to finish some tasks only for the good others and for the good of the Body of Christ. Numbers 32:18,19
Jesus teaches us in the New Testament, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me...and you will find rest from your souls." YOU BECOME A CHRISTIAN BY COMING TO CHRIST, BUT YOU CANNOT REALLY LIVE THE CHRISTIAN LIFE UNTIL YOU ASSUME THE "YOKE OF CHRIST."
A yoke is a shaped piece of material (usually wood) by which two draft animals are tied together to pull a load. To take on the yoke of Christ means to submit to Him, to His leadership, to His Lordship, to serve Him for the good of the Body of Christ for God’s glory. And to do this is to discover what it means to live the Christian life as it was really intended to be lived.
YOU ARE WILLING TO MOVE BEYOND YOUR COMFORT ZONE.
Don’t become like the frog placed in a kettle of room-temperature water with a fire under it. The frog was very comfortable and content to remain in the kettle of water. Little did the frog realize that by staying in the kettle of water it was slowing getting warmer and warmer until it grew hot and hotter. Eventually the frog boiled to death because it slowing adjusted to a dangerous enviroment. The Biblical principle is obvious: Don’t stay in your comfort zone, because eventually contentment in a dangerous spiritual enviroment will destroy you.
It is God’s responsibility to guide us. It is our responsiblity to go!
’The LORD your God is giving you rest and has granted you this land... You are to help your brothers until the LORD gives them rest" Josh 1:13-15 NIV
The 2 ½ tribes of Israel kind of liked things where they were. Why go on? The children of Reuben, Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh desired to stay on the other side of the Jordan because IT SUITED THEM.
WHEN PEOPLE SETTLE FOR "HALF-AND-HALF" CHRISTIANITY IT IS BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO STRONG FAITH IN THE PROMISES OF GOD TO PROVIDE FOR THEIR NEEDS. THEY HAVE NO GREAT LONGING FOR THE PRESENCE OF GOD.
The text shows us that God’s Promised Land of Blessings was great, but the land where they wanted to remain was good enough. They had come to a dangerous decision. Have you come to that same point in your life? Do you believe that where you are at is Good Enough? Are you content in your spiriutal journey? The land they desired was not what God had desired for them. God had promised them the land across the Jordan, full of blessing. It is a shame they were unable to comprehend it. Have we been self-deceived into accepting the same fate as the 2 1/2 tribes?
JUST LIKE THE 2 1/2 TRIBES, IF WE STAY WHERE WE ARE WE MAY BE AT EASE...SOME OCASSIONAL BLESSINGS MAY COME...BUT, WE WILL NOT GROW SPIRITUALLY THE WAY GOD DESIRES FOR US TO GROW.
We see this same scenario so often amongst Christian. They feel they are spiritually good enough. They don’t desire to go forward with God. They are willing to settle for much less than what God has in store for them.
How about you? Are you satisified with where you are? Have you stopped moving forward with God? HAVE YOU LOST YOUR DESIRE TO MOVE FORWARD WITH HIM?
Let me share something with you, you will never experience the fulness of God’s blessings until you move forward. Remaining where you are will spiritually stagnate you. It’s only as you continue to move forward that you will you start experiencing God’s blessings. Be prepared to experience the "conflicts of Jordan." There are conflicts in the new land where we move to. But remember, God will turn those conflicts into your greatest blessings.
"The issue isn’t whether or not we are doing a GOOD THING, the issue is, whether-or-not we doing GOD’S THING!" Going all the way with God is the only way to to get His fullest blessings.
This is the case today. Multitudes of the Lord’s people are satisfied with their spiritual development (or should I say, lack of development). They are ready to settle down and make a little colony in the world, enjoying what they think they have attained in Christ to this point. They are "frog-in-the-kettle Christians". They don’t seem interested in pressing on to the fulness of the possessions of God in Christ.
Living a covenant lifestyle will force us to move out of our comfort zone. A covenant person will seek, not his own interest, but the interest of the Body of Christ. So a husband looks to the interests of his wife; parents look after the interest of their children; and a believer in Christ will look after the interest of the whole community of believers of which he is a part.
When a believer is baptized, he confesses Jesus Christ as Lord and enters into a covenant with him. From that point on, he no longer lives for himself but for Christ. The greatest idol is self; Jesus demands that we deny self, take up the cross daily, and follow him. When a believer joins a local church, he enters into a covenant to seek the welfare of that community. The Bible detests such people who are self-seekers.
Are you willing to go all the way with God? Or have you stopped moving forward? There is no middle ground. Either you will stay in the wilderness land or you will move into God’s promised land. Until you realize the victorious life isn’t a once-for-all triumph that ends our problems. Like Israel in Canaan, the victorious life, is a series of conflicts and victories as we defeat one enemy after another and claim more of our inheritance for the glory of God. We need a clear vision of where God is leading, otherwise we will constantly struggle and be waylaid by setback in our lives.
Going all the way with God will take us out of our comfort zone, we will be compelled to see God’s interest and the interests of our brothers and sisters in Christ above our own. This way of life is so contrary to the way most of us have been taught to live and the way we have been brought up to believe. Yet this is the only way to experience the full blessings of our own personal Canaan Land victories.
I began this sermonn by saying that when a normal person lives in a world full of oddballs, he begins to think of himself as odd. When you are willing to go all the way with God you will never be any truer, any more genuine, any more authentic, to the person that God created you to be. Those "of the world" are actually the ones skewed, the crooked ones, the ones bent towards sin, the "oddballs". However if the world choose to call "the normal ones" the "oddballs" then, for Christ, ODDBALLS WE ARE!