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Zechariah 13:9 This third I will put into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, “They are my people,” and they will say, “The Lord is our God.”’

God will refine you like silver and test you like gold.

Life has a way of being a fire.  Of pushing buttons and casting us into unfamiliar and challenging circumstances.

Do not be surprised at the situations that come up but instead embrace the process that God uses to work change and transformation into our life.

This journey we’re on. It’s going to be messy. We are going to have moments when we are emotionally stretched. When we are misunderstood, when we are misunderstand, when we are freaked out, when we are tired, when we doubt anything and everything.

i love this Lost clip – THE MOTH – which illustrates the struggle, nature’s way of strengthening…

 

 

 

 

In those times I have 4 things for us to do:

  1. Identify what is really going on. Stop feeling and look at what you’re feeling and why that might be. Be honest. Journal.
  2. Talk to someone. Stay connected. Often in times when we’re going through a transformation we want to find a man – or woman – cave and get our mail delivered there.
  3. Don’t pull out of things you’re involved in. Don’t quit coming to church. Keep going. When you’re going through hell, just keep going. This is no time to quit. If you do, the enemy wins.
  4. Look after your temple. Maybe all the emotional stuff is coming out because you’re too tired, run down, not eating right, have your period. Make sure you’re getting good sleep and good food as it will be a contributor to how you are processing what is going on around you.

 

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Last week i spoke at our 7pm service @ The River as part of a series called EYES OPEN.

I spoke about how Joshua lifted his eyes and saw God and that enabled the walls of Jericho to fall down and for Joshua and his people to move into victory.

The big question of the night was : What is the Jericho in your life?

Eyes Open – To See God

Eyes Open – To Surrender

Eyes Open – To See

Eyes Open – To Worship

Eyes Open – To Hear

Eyes Open – To Follow

Eyes Open – To Victory

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“God has marvellous ways of taking our worst tragedies and turning them into His most glorious triumphs." -Joseph Stowell

 

Jericho could have been so overwhelming to Joshua that he could have turned his back and hightailed out of there. It could have been a crushing failure.

But Joshua chose to press forward and trust God.

In the times when your Jericho – be it an external circumstance or an internal heart issue – threatens to block the sunshine – look to the Son. Lift your eyes!

The decisions that we make today determine the stories that we’ll tell tomorrow.

Make a decision to know that God is with you and to obey Him in all things and see Jericho’s walls fall down. Make a decision to let the walls down and to let God in to heal you. Make a decision to encounter God.

Victory comes not from our own strength and will power. Joshua didn’t pull up his big boy pants, and knock the walls down himself. Brute strength and strategy didn’t win the day. Jericho’s walls fell down by a supernatural act of God. Likewise in our life. Yes we partner with God in the process. Yes we have to make actions to change and align ourselves with the principals in the Word of God. Yes we have to pull up our big boy / girl pants and just do it. But the changes that we need in our life will happen when we trust our amazing God. God rescues. God restores. God heals.

Joshua went on and led the Israelites to victory. As we have our eyes open and go into our world, God with us, we will see changes and overcoming. Jericho’s walls will fall.

Let’s be people who surrender to Jesus our Saviour and Lord.

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Jericho is a real make or break moments for Joshua. This is his opportunity to make his mark on the future of his people, to demonstrate his leadership prowess. And we see that one of the keys to Joshua’s breakthrough was that he had to follow God.

Joshua worshipped and heard. And what he heard must have made him go what the heck! God had a very non traditional battle plan.

The instructions were to walk around the city, once a day for 6 days. In silence. With the priests carrying the ark and trumpets. Which they don’t use.

Until the 7th day and then they have to go round 7 times and then shout when God tells Joshua.

Now Joshua is probably really glad that he lived a time with no facebook or twitter. Imagine how the feeds would have blown up!

#stillmarching This is one way to get my 10,000 steps in

So hard trying to keep my kids quiet on this long march. the boys just want to yell! #takethecity

March around a city? Heck, we can do that! We marched around that blasted desert for 40 years.  #justdoit

Just keep marching. Just keep marching. Marching marching marching. #srsly

Trumpets? What? That blows!

Seven times around the city? No problem, thanks to #ArkoftheCovenantFit!

If I wanted to travel in circles I would join NASCAR.

Joshua has lost his ever-loving mind. #blesshisheart

God is straight up crazy.

(thanks Dreamers and Builders for your creativity and wit for those!)

When we’re facing our own Jericho it’s important to know that God is with us. As Saviour and Lord. It’s important to know our help comes from the Lord and to get on His page.

We see Joshua doing this also in verse 15. “The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.”

Joshua obeyed. In the small and the big. In the battle and in the bare feet.

To see the walls come down in Jericho Joshua had to obey. In our own lives to see victory in our relationships, in our finances, in our health, in our well being, we need to listen and obey to the strategies God gives us. Sometimes this isn’t easy. Sometimes God will seem straight up crazy.

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“What does my Lord say to His servant?”

We are created to listen. You are hard wired designed to be in connection with God. To hear God speak. He is not a far away God but a God who is near.

 

I am the Shepherd and my sheep know my voice. John 10

Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know. Jeremiah 33:3

 

God spoke to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3), Habakkuk knew the sound of God speaking to him (Habakkuk 2:2). Elijah described it as a still, small voice (I Kings 19:12 ). However, I have found that usually, God’s voice comes as spontaneous thoughts, visions, feelings, or impressions.

Cultivating an ability to hear God speak takes time and effort. It’s something we do deliberately, not something we can cultivate on the run.

To cultivate an ability to hear God you’ll need to make intentional deliberate opportunities to listen. Sometimes that may happen here at church, or at home as you’re reading The Word and having some worship time. Sometimes it happens as you’re out driving. There is a particular corner and road that all I have to do is drive down there thinking about a problem and boom, God speaks. I’ve learned to keep a pen and paper in the car!

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And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?” Joshua 5:14 v14

Joshua bowed down and worshipped Jesus.

Worship is more than singing. It’s about expressing surrender, its about wrapping language about how we feel, its about changing our perception and seeing things from God’s vantage point. The quickest way I know how to knock something down is to worship God. When faced with obstacles, make a choice to get your eyes open and on Jesus and to worship Him.

 

Worship reinforces what matters most, reminds us of truths we forget and renews our desire to live what we believe. Rick Warren

 

It reminds us that yes, God is with us.

It reminds us of His greatness and power.

It lifts our eyes beyond our circumstances to believe the unfailing promises of God.

We see it time and time again in the psalms of david.

David is doing what I call compraying. It’s a combination of complaining and praying.

David is being real with God. Calling a spade a spade.

But then instead of staying in that place of woe is me, David flips it around and fixes his eyes upon God, and begins to worship.

There are so many instances in the bible where worship preceded victory.

We have got to be a people who carve out time to encounter God. I know I say it every time I get up here, and all the time at housegroup but it is so vital.

 

There is something you get in the secret place that you can get no where else. Do everything you can to establish a secret history with Jesus. ~ Banning Liebscher

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At the very moment that Joshua needed God, God was there. Joshua was surveying the territory he was going to advance into. Having another look over the city he was going to lead an attack against. Imagine the doubts, the fears, the insecurities. The pressure.

At that moment, Joshua had a very real desperate need to hear from God.

And there God is. His personal presence was with Joshua as a mighty declaration and assurance of God’s power and provision.

Theophanies : A Theophany is a manifestation of the preincarnate Christ, who, as the Logos, is the one who reveals God. If only a man or an angel, he would certainly have repelled Joshua’s worshipful response (vs. 14). Other examples of Christology is in Daniel 3 and when Abraham had 3 visitors, one of them a preincarnate Jesus, in Genesis 18.

 

How do we overcome the Jericho in our life?

We lift our eyes and see that Jesus is with us. We fix our eyes upon the One who can help us. We encounter His presence. Read the rest of this entry »

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God was on scene before we were. That means the world belongs to Him. He designed everything in creation with a specific purpose. The world not only belongs to Him; He knows the best way for it to operate. He knows the way forward. He knows everything that influences today and tomorrow. He has the blueprints for our life. He is the commander of the army. He calls the shots and gives the orders. He has the battle strategy.

Joshua’s question “are you for us or for against us?” is a bit like how we can see God sometimes. Sometimes He’s on our page, sometimes we can be stamping our foot and going “seriously!” But the reality is we need to be on HIS page. He is God and I am not.

“This is God’s universe and he does things his way. Now, you may have a better way of doing things, but you don’t have a universe.”

It’s the wisest decision to let Him be in complete control. It makes sense that if He is the Commander in Chief that we would not only consult Him in all things but that we would surrender to Him in all things.

God gets you.

He sees you.

He knows your fears and dreams, your flaws and your strengths.

He is not far away but just as He was with Joshua, He is right beside us.

God met Joshua beside Jericho. Jericho represents that thing that is standing between us and the Promised Land. That obstacle looming on the horizon that we wonder how we’ll get past.

What is the Jericho you face? Read the rest of this entry »

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And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted his eyes and looked, and behold, a Man stood opposite him with His sword drawn in His hand. And Joshua went to Him and said to Him, “Are You for us or for our adversaries?”

So He said, “No, but as Commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.”

And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said to Him, “What does my Lord say to His servant?”

Then the Commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Take your sandal off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Joshua 5:13-15

In this passage Joshua is facing one of the tipping point moments, not only in his life, but in the history of the nation of Israel.

We find him by Jericho, perhaps observing the city, planning his strategy, scoping the joint.

I can only imagine how he felt. The walls of Jericho were no ordinary walls but massive fortifications with a series of outer walls and inner walls and ditches between them. In ancient warfare such cities were either taken by assault – using cool ancient siege weapons or surrounded and the people starved into waving the white flag. Its invaders might try to weaken the stone walls with fire or by tunnelling, or they might simply heap up a mountain of earth to serve as a ramp. Each of these methods of assault took weeks or months, and the attacking army usually suffered heavy losses. It was not pretty.

And then lifts his eyes… which makes me so think of Psalm 121, I look to the hills, where does my help come from, my help comes from God, the creator of the heavens and earth.

Of course that was written AFTER Joshua but it so fits.

Joshua lifts his eyes and with eyes open sees a man, sword drawn. Now put yourself in Joshua’s shoes. He’s spying on enemy territory and then a man appears with a drawn sword. I would be freaking out! Is this some Jericho ninja, some champion of the city, the toughest kid on the block, ready to take the commander of the Israel out before the battle even begun?

I have to give Joshua some credit here. He uses courage begins a conversation with the man, assessing perhaps emergency exits or an Achilles heel.

What happens next shows us how we should have our eyes open when facing impossible odds, seeing God in the midst of the battle and moving on into victory.

 

 

*** part one of my preaching notes from Sunday 16th Feb – stay tuned for :::
Eyes Open – To Surrender
Eyes Open – To See
Eyes Open – To Worship
Eyes Open – To Hear
Eyes Open – To Follow
Eyes Open – To Victory

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Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.  1 Timothy 6:17-19

 

1 timothy 6 begins talking about honour and greed, the love of money being for some the root of all evil but continues into v 17-19

Paul encourages us to not look to our pay cheque or our boss for our provision and security but to trust the living God who gives us richly all things to enjoy. We need to put our hope in God who richly provides us with everything.

He then goes on to unpack what our response should be to such undeserved favour.

 

Let them do good
Ready to give.
Willing to share.

 

The flow on from this is that we will be rich in good and storing up eternal rewards.

at The River we want to live with our eyes firmly on the prize.  We want to live with the big picture in mind.  We want there to be meaning and significance purpose in our lives. 

 

Paul says there are three things we should do:
1  Make good things happen with our money, put it to good use, get a god return for investment made.
2. Be prepared to give, prepared in mind and heart and attitude so that you’re a cheerful giver, full of faith in the greater plans of God.
3. Be willing to share, having a loose territorial hold on your money, knowing that God can use ordinary people and their willingness to share in remarkable ways.

 

God is an on purpose God.  If you feel led to give and share, here and out there, do it.

 

Last year on the street outreach oliver and I met a woman who was down on her luck in a big way. She told us her story and let us pray for her.  Tears rolled down her face.  after we left I felt we should go back and take food from our food bank… Plus a little extra the money machine gave me. We drove back and delivered love in action, not just words to her.  She cried again and using colourful language said you have no idea how much this means to us.

 

Let them do good… Be ready to give, be willing to share.

 

Each Sunday you have this opportunity.  Our church is ready and willing to do good stuff, not only that will bless and benefit you, but will reach the lost, help the broken, build the kingdom.   The offering is an opportunity for you to respond to God’s great generosity and to surrender to His Lordship and to contribute to the good things He is doing through The River.

 

You are investing in your heavenly future as well as blessing your present.

Let us pray

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