03 Jan 2016
Joshua 6 Mission Impossible Pastor Jason Lim 03 January 2016 God leads you to Mission Impossible, so that you may see God Unmistakable!Find out how you can overcome the overwhelming obstacles in your life in this sermon! Slides Audio **Right Click to Do
God leads you to Mission Impossible, so that you may see God Unmistakable!Find out how you can overcome the overwhelming obstacles in your life in this sermon! Slides Audio
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Joshua 5:13-15 - Joshua 6
Now today is the first Sunday and as such I have decided not to go to Hebrews. For this morning we'll have a word from the Lord in how you can encounter and also overcome challenges in a new year ahead. So today's title is simply 'Mission Impossible'. Well I know this title is a spoof, as it were. It's taken from the movie franchise popularized by Tom Cruise 'Mission: Impossible'. But you know, Mission Impossible is not original to Tom Cruise. Mission impossible is original really in the Bible, because the Bible tells us of amazing stories of how people went through impossible situations because God is with His people. You recall how Moses led some two million people out of Egypt across the Red Sea into the wilderness. It was mission impossible. Or you can recall how Jesus were to give this amazing responsibility to twelve men to bring the Gospel unto the end of the age. This is also mission impossible. How about you? Are you in some situation today that you would say it is mission impossible? You know that is what you're supposed do but it looks so difficult. It looks impossible. The task is way greater than you can handle.
Well, in my life, I have my share of missions impossible. I remember the day I told my dad that I want to enter into full-time pastoral ministry. That was in a sense like mission impossible for me. I could still remember the day and by the way, I met the paediatrician recently who diagnosed my son to have autism. I remember that day, it was mission impossible for me. I remember the dream to enter into Punggol and to be a blessing in Punggol - the land, the funds, the ministry, it is mission impossible to us. What do we do when we meet with mission impossible? What do you do if your doctor has just told you, you have an incurable cancer stage 4? What do you do if you are stuck in some addiction and you can't quite get out of it? What do you do if your husband is abusive? He does not know Christ and he is abusive. Do you stay there? How do you break through? What do you do if you have some financial difficulty today and there seems to be no way out? Maybe some of you today are facing mission impossible right now.
Or maybe in 2016, in this new year, you may meet with new missions impossible. What is God saying to us today? I think we can take a leaf from a man named Josh. Josh was entrusted with a wonderful responsibility - to lead his family into a better future. He knows that it is God's will for him not to go back but to go forward. But if he is to lead his family to a better future, right in front of him stands an insurmountable obstacle and he literally has to run up against the wall.
Maybe by now you know that mission impossible is about coming against a wall that seems to be impregnable and you know that we're going to talk today about Joshua, who is not just going to lead his family into a better future, but he is responsible to lead an entire nation into the Promised Land, into Canaan where it flows with milk and honey. He is going to lead the young, the old, the women, the men, the children, the elderly, everyone. Their lives are in his hands. He knows that there's no turning back. They have left the wilderness and right in front of them is the promised abundant land. But there, right in front, is also mission impossible - the impregnable fortress of Jericho. You say how impregnable is this Jericho? But the Bible tells us Jericho is a formidable city with walls that are right up there to the skies. The Bible also tells us that the walls of Jericho are really thick.
You say how do you know? Most of the time our walls are quite thin, no big deal. But in Joshua 2 we read of Rahab having her house in the wall. Imagine that - it's a house built into the wall. So this is quite a tall, thick wall. And the Bible also tells us that Jericho, because of Israel, is now shut up, meaning it's in lockdown situation. No one goes in, no one comes out. Don't forget Canaan is the land of giants, the people standing behind the walls will be formidable warriors. So Joshua is entrusted to lead Israel into the promised future but right in front of them is mission impossible and he looks at himself and says, "It is ridiculous. How can I do it? I mean, we are not specially trained, we don't have special equipment or weapons. We've been wandering around in the wilderness and we just had our national circumcision program." In Joshua 5 we just had the nationwide circumcision and so they were not in the best state, humanly speaking, to face this challenge. But, this is what they are called to.
Let me tell you a secret about Tom Cruise and about mission impossible movie franchise. Now, I have not watched it, but I suppose, now it's number movie number 5 or 6 or 7 I'm not sure. Instalment number don't know what, but I'm pretty sure every movie results or ends off the same way - Tom Cruise always wins. I have not watched it but I'm pretty sure that is the storyline. It looks like impossible but he always wins. Now let me give you the spoiler in advance for Joshua 6. Joshua wins, but how does he conquer mission impossible? Right off I'll tell you the answer. Hebrews 11:30 : "By faith, the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days." So right up front, the Bible tells us that this mission impossible is possible by faith. That's how he did it and this faith is not misplaced.
It is not wishful thinking or just blind optimism on the part of Joshua. He did not just imagine this out because in Joshua 6 and verse 2, God said to Joshua, "See, I have given Jericho into your hand..." Now, often times when we read this, we read it like this, 'I will give Jericho into your hand'. But no, no, no. If you read it like this, you have read it wrong. It is not future tense, it is past tense and for those who are very precise past perfect tense. 'I have given' - No, it has not happened yet, but it is as sure as it is done. It is as good as it is accomplished and so God says, 'Look, Joshua, I have given. It looks like mission impossible to you but it is nothing for Me'
In the New Year, as you face your cancers, addictions, irresponsible spouses, rebellious child, ministry stagnation; as you face these seemingly missions impossible, well let's remember from the beginning to the end today, the message is about have faith in God who, to him nothing is impossible. So Joshua heard these glorious words, 'I have given'. See, when God leads you to Jericho he enables you to bring down Jericho. He doesn't bring you to obstacles to taunt you. He brings you there and shows Himself strong. But it's very important- right from the beginning I want to say, there are people who abuse Joshua 6, to say oh, if I want anything in my life, as long as I have faith in God, He will do it. Now, that is wrong because faith is not demanding of God to do what I want. Faith is believing God to do what He wants, not what I want. So there are people who have this word of faith, blasphemous teaching, that says, 'Oh, if you could just visualize the Ferrari and if you could just believe enough and you claim it by saying I believe God can give me Ferrari, you will have it'. That is an obvious lie. That's presumption, that's not faith. But notice here, it is God who led them to Jericho and it will be God who will enable them to bring down Jericho. So let me just share with you this faith, this is amazing faith that brings down impregnable fortresses.
What does this faith look like? How is this expressed? How do you get to it? How do you really tell if you have faith in God? A few components in this anatomy of faith and number one, it is this. Real faith has a certain..
Real faith begins really with a certain frustration. You say frustration about what? It is a frustration with yourself. You cannot really trust God until you know you can't trust yourself. You can't really depend on God until you despair of yourself. You see, the greatest enemy to faith today is our own resourcefulness. It is our own dependence on our own abilities. Singaporeans are champions of this, really we are. We're so well resourced, we are so well connected, we are so capable, that the life of faith is so foreign to us.
I ask you, if your son is sick, what is the first thing you do? Not very sure? What is the first thing you do when your son is sick? Go see a doctor. I think so. But I think nowadays the first thing people do is go to Google. Not hospital, go Google first. Google- cough, rash, fever, running nose, what is it? So that you read out all you can know about this disease. You actually don't need to study 5 years to be doctor. You have Google, you can be doctor and after you study everything about this, you go to the doctor and ask him all kinds of difficult questions. But you see, you know that you can handle it because all you need to do is to Google, get the diagnosis, you know what medicine to give, you know which doctor to go to, you have all the money in your bank account, you don't worry. And that becomes the habit of our lives. You have a problem, just go to the ATM, go to the Internet banking. If you have a problem just call your friend, call the professionals, call the specialist living in Singapore. Singapore is such a well resourced nation. But you see, it does not lead us to faith because we are so capable.
You know why God gave this amazing plan to Israel? Israel, your job is to walk around Jericho. What do you have to do? Kia lai kia ker (Chinese dialect for 'walk here and there'). Why? Why, just walk around and watch the building and do nothing about it? I like what Alan Redpath has to say. He is a wonderful commentator for the book of Joshua. He says, "Why had they walked thirteen times around that place in silence?" (I mean, keep quiet, just walk, just watch and walk thirteen times. Six times for the first six days, one time each day, and then on the seventh, they walk around it seven times). He says, "I suggest it took that long for every one of them to realize that it was utterly impossible for them to capture Jericho if God were not with them- thirteen big long looks at the enemy, until they became so convinced that they were no match for those behind the walls. So God made the Israelites walk around the great fortification until within themselves they died to every hope of conquest unless God should intervene."
Genius! So God leads us today to impossible situations that we may die to ourselves, because it's only when we die to ourselves that we can now begin to trust in God. That's why God puts you in conditions such as stage 4 cancer, because if it is stage 1, you can handle it. Maybe, that's why God puts me today through autism because I thought I had prepared for every medical condition my son could have but not that. I had to die within myself. He calls us to Punggol, not because this church is fantastically strong and resourceful but because we are weak. Die to ourselves, but this is the fertile ground from which faith may blossom. This is a picture of Randy Pope. You say, who is he? Well, he's the lead pastor of a church in Atlanta, Georgia, called Perimeter Church and I share about him, because he is going to be your camp speaker in 2016. So get to know him. Wonderful man, down to earth, humble guy, loving. But I remember a story he shared.
He said he met with this- he knows a senior man who is 15 years older than he was and he watched his life. He watched this older man's life. This man seemed to have such a deep walk with God. He seems to die to the things around him. He has this sense of death to self and to the world. And so Randy asked him, 'Hey, how do you get there? How do you live such a kind of a life that you've intimacy with God?' This older man, then says, "Randy do you do push-ups?" "I do it every day," he says. "How many can you do? What's the maximum number you can do?" And so Randy gave him a number. "This is the number. Alright. Suppose you have just done that maximum number of push-ups; you're on the floor. If I were to give you $1 million for one more push up, do you think you can do it?" Randy says, "With all the adrenalin pumping and with $1 million, I think I probably could squeeze out one more." "Now, after you've done it one more, if I were to now offer you another $5 million to do one more, do think you can still do it?" Randy now shook his head and said, "I probably will have my arms give way and my chest will hit the floor and I don't think I could." "That's the picture, Randy. When you say you can't, when your floor is- when your chest is on the floor, when you say you're history, that's where God kicks in, Randy".
See, so often we say that we are so capable, we are so resourced, we are able to do this, we are good, we can.. that's why God doesn't work, that's why we never trust, but it's when we realize we can't, that's where God says "All right, here I come, watch Me do things, amazing things."
So real faith begins with frustration with ourselves, with a realization that we can't do it, because when you say you can't do it, then you begin to say, only God can do it and that's where the second aspect of faith comes in. When you're frustrated with yourself, you now could shift your focus on to God.
And in this story of conquering Jericho you realize that the focus is God. You say, where is God? Well God's presence is represented in the ark which they had to bring around. The central focus of this whole procession of maybe some 600,000 men, able-bodied men is not the men, but really the ark. The priests were before the ark, the trumpets were before the ark and the Bible tells us, it is really the ark of the Lord that circled the city. So the focus, is not Israel, the focus is God. Joshua 6 is remarkable. There are fourteen occurrences of the number 7. Now, we don't get overly superstitious and attached to numbers, of course. But it is significant when it happens some fourteen times in one chapter, a number that represents God of perfection. I suppose this chapter is oozing the reality that this is God's work. I say to you, as you face mission impossible, you've got to shift your focus from yourself and to place your trust in God. Whether it's your spouse, whether it's a ministry, whether it's an addiction, whether it's your job. Impossible situations can only be taken down by God Himself.
So there is a wonderful focus, but there's a third part of this anatomy and I want to say this: So often we think faith is let go and let God and we do nothing about it. Hah, it is so easy, just trust God and He will provide. Just do this, just believe He will do it and all things will be well. No. No. No. Faith, as far as I read in the Bible, is never lazy. Faith is never passive. Now there are things for us to do. The success is not based on the things you do, it is based on God. But it's His infinite wisdom that God is going to work through our obedience and faith will express itself with a certain following of God's plan. It will express itself with obedience. After all, faith without works is dead, as James would tell us.
So Israel had to believe God will do it, but Israel had a part to play. I can't do it. God must do it, but there is something I need to do and that something I need to do is very simple. Actually it is very simple. What are they going to do? They are just going to walk around Jericho thirteen times. Nothing very fanciful and I suppose they probably have no idea why they are supposed to do it. I can imagine on day one.. Joshua told them the grand battle plan given by God. They are all getting ready their weapons, their arrows. They are sharpening their swords and polishing their shields and then Joshua says, 'No need all these things lah'. You just walk as if it's a nice stroll around this Garden City. Just walk around it and you say what? 'What are you saying? This is crazy! Why do we walk?' 'I do not know but God tells us to walk!' 'You mean everyday, Joshua, we just go around in circles?' 'Yes.' 'Everyday is Groundhog Day?' 'Yes.' 'What am I going to tell my wife? I am a soldier! You ask me to walk?' 'Yes. That's what you are going to do.' 'But Jericho is going to laugh at us.' 'Never mind, just walk.'
And they obeyed. I think they obeyed without knowing why or how it works. But faith obeys not because you understand how it works. But faith obeys because you believe He is God and you are not. And so Israel rose on day one. Joshua rose early in the morning. You know, he really believes God. He is so excited about it. This is the plan. I don't understand but I'm going to do it and I believe God is going to bring the walls of Jericho down. When you are excited about something you wake up early. Umm.. Hint, hint, church service. (Laughter in the congregation) When my son got his birthday present, a Lego set for his birthday present, he determined the next morning to wake up real early and he did. Usually he will rrrrr roll around in bed but on that morning he rose early because he is excited.
Joshua was excited by faith. He rose early in the morning and this enthusiasm did not just die on day three or four, because on day seven, they rose early, everybody rose early. God is going to do something amazing. I do not know how it works. We just kia lai kia ker but today is the day Jericho is going to come down. They trust Him. Mission impossible can only be possible by faith and faith begins with frustration, anchors in a focus on God and results in a following through of God's plan. That's what faith looks like. So pastor, this is all so nebulous, so 'cheem' (Chinese for profound). Can you break it down a little bit more? Yah, yah let me try to do it in some specific circumstances.
1. Unbelieving husband
Just spoke to people who say, you know 'I'm a believer, my husband is not a believer, but what's worse is that my husband is beginning to throw things at me and be abusive to me. Pastor, what do you do, what do I do?' I think for many of ladies who are like this, they wish that the Bible says if your husband do this to you, you get out of marriage. And you know something, as far as I can read in the Bible, there is no turning back. He's your husband for life. You can only go forward. But he is like a Jericho: 'cha tow' (Chinese slang for blockhead). OK no, not cha tow. He is like a block. He doesn't see his sin. He doesn't see the need for Jesus. How can I get through? So you fight him, you resist him, you challenge him at all fronts and you hope that by your provocation he may wake up one day and say, "Ok, I'm wrong, I need to believe in Jesus." But you've tried that for a long time, doesn't work. In fact, he gets worse, he gets agitated, he gets angry. Maybe this is the right time for you to say, I can't do this.
You are frustrated with your own inability to touch and change any man's heart and now you say I got to shift my focus to believing that God can do it. And then God says to you there is a plan for you to follow. Okay, what's the plan? Kia lai kia ker. So every morning when you wake up, walk around your husband. No. No. No, you don't do that. He will say you siow ah ler (Chinese for 'you've gone insane'). No, no you don't walk around your husband literally, but you do something that seems to be foolish. You do something that people may laugh at. You do something that doesn't seem to really work. But you do it not because you understand all that will go on but you believe He is God.
You say what's the kia lai kia ker for the wife? I think it is this: "Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, (even the unbelieving husband and if I may say, especially the unbelieving husband) so that even if some do not obey the Word (they don't believe the Gospel), they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives when they see your respectful and pure conduct." (1 Peter 3:1-2 ESV). Look at what God wants from the wife. You say, wah, you do this, he's going to laugh at me. He's going to abuse me more. He's going to take advantage of me even further. Kia lai kia ker. Silly to us, but that's exactly what God wants. Now, by the way, 'subject to your husband' doesn't mean you are exposing yourself to more abuse. There are things you can do whilst you retain that respectful submissive spirit. But the point is this: You are absolutely trusting that God is the only one who can change your husband's heart and if you believe that, then you will obey His plan. But if you don't believe it, then you will try to do your way- manipulate, pressure, resist. But my friends, there is no way out, there's no turning back. If you want to go on, you go on by faith through Jericho.
2. Worries & fears
Some of us may suffer from worries and fears and you, you might be struggling with that. You are anxious, you have panic attacks, you have seen doctors, you have sought psychiatric help, counselling, you have even taken pills and medicine and you have tried all things, but you're still stricken with this problem. What do you do? Well, focus on God, trust Him. Now does God give me something to do? I mean, I trust him, but is there some- yeah, there is. Something very simple. You say what? Well, number one, you've got to pray. Very simply, Philippians 4 tells us, you are "not (to) be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts..." (Philippians 4:6-7 ESV).
By the way, important to clarify this verse is not saying that when you pray, all problems will go away. No, in fact, this prayer is saying that your problem may not go away. That's precisely why this peace of God surpasses all understanding. That the problem still remains but now you have a deep peace within. So what do you do? Well, you pray. Anything else? Yup, you think properly. You are not to replay and rewind all the things that cause you to worry. But whatever thing is honorable, true, just, pure, lovely, you think about these things ("Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." Philippians 4:8 ESV). And finally, you do these things. "What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me - practice these things, (and the God of peace will be with you." Philippians 4:9 ESV). Do it and notice when you pray, when you think and when you do rightly, when you kia lai kia ker properly, now it is not the peace of God that will be with you, it is the God of peace that will be with you. Not just the peace, but the God, who is going to be with you and I don't think Paul made a mistake in writing these things. He is telling us the reality that as you obey and follow God, He is with you. That's how breakthroughs will be received in lives.
How about finances? So often we try to juggle two things. You know, I would say, 95, 99% of Christians in Singapore, they are probably playing this juggling game- serve God, serve money, serve God, serve money. On the surface you say, 'No, I don't- I serve God. But really, you're trying to make the best of both worlds- be a decent Christian on Sunday morning, especially, maybe on Friday, when you meet for care groups, but for the rest of the week you think that, the balance is I earn as much money as I can so that I am not so much a loser to my friends. I will still be able to keep up a little bit with the Joneses. So you play this juggling game, you know.
When Jesus actually already told you, no man can serve two masters. He didn't say no man 'should', he says no man 'can'. It's impossible. So now you rack up for yourself a life of misery, whether financially or spiritually, and you say, what am I going to do about this? I've been trying to balance my balance. That's the euphemism. That's a nice way of saying I am trying to serve the world whilst I try to serve God. I have been trying to balance my life for so long, what do I do? I tell you what you do. Stop trying to balance your life that way. Let God be God and then follow His plan. What's His financial plan for you? Well, seek first the Kingdom of God. ("But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33 ESV).
Not a balance, but a priority. Not just to seek the kingdom, but to seek first. The most important and the foremost priority. And that means in a very practical way to honour the Lord with our firstfruits, the best of what we have and the first of what we have. ("Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce; then your barns will be filled with plenty; and your vats will be bursting with wine." Proverbs 3:9-10 ESV).That's what it means to kia lai kia ker- to trust. Doesn't make sense? I do not know how that when I give to God, He's going to bless me and support me and sustain me. I do not know how it works, but this is what it means to follow in faith, to believe that my God is able to make all grace, He is able. Do you believe He is able? The God who created the heavens and the earth with His Word? To believe that He (God) is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work." (2 Corinthians 9:8 ESV)
How about this Jericho of suffering? The Bible says be content. It is very hard, but be content because the first thing we want when we experience pain is to withdraw. Right? I mean, if you have a hot stove, you put your hand on a hot stove, wah the first thing..(action of withdrawing hand). No one says wah, burn some more la. I mean you are crazy if you say I want to burn some more. The moment when you are burned, when it's pain you withdraw and that's what happens to us when we go through trials. We don't like pain. But what if God says no turning back, go forward? Doesn't make sense. I want to get out of this, but God says, be content. Like, what Paul says, 'For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weakness, insults, hardships, persecutions'. ("But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong." 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 ESV).
In fact he says, count it all joy- James tells us, count it all joy. ("Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." James 1:2-4 ESV). It's a very different mindset, you know. People without faith want to run, the people of faith stay under, if this is the will of God for you. Sad when churches don't preach about sufferings anymore. I think it robs us of a life of faith.
My friends, I want to say, collectively as a church, we're going to face some Jericho, some big Jericho and I think it looks like this. This is Punggol (picture slide). Punggol rhymes with Jericho. (Laughter in congregation) But, okay, no, it doesn't. Alright, I know, bad one. No, I'm not saying the people there are like Canaanites. No, but I'm saying the task ahead of us is like a Jericho. Whether it's the obtaining of the land, or the $47 million which we were supposed to raise and also the people that will be raised, to serve. You know I'm getting very concerned, because as we roll out plans for Punggol, as we try to escalate and gear up the plans, I always hear a little bit of a fear and concern amongst Gospeliters.
I've got my crystal ball. I see 'Wah! Very very scary huh.. Punggol. Will we become this and that? Will be able to do it?' 'Aiyah we should really take care of our people first.' There's so many fears. 'Oh people are not responding, they are not going to serve, they are not willing to commit. They only do by and by. How can we meet all the needs there?' And I hear all these voices and then people ask me, 'Pastor, do you have a plan? Actually, I don't. I have a tag line, 'Step up, start up.' Wah, si beh (Hokkien meaning 'very') cool ah. So concise: 'Step up, start up'. So nice, but actually I don't have a plan. I have no clue how we, as a church, could effectively bring the Gospel to the people living in the northeast part of Singapore. I really don't. It is an overwhelming task.
I don't think anyone here has an idea how it should be done, really. It is overwhelming. We are not a huge successful, resourceful- I don't think we really are that. We are not a church that wah super mature Christians like all like apostle Paul and Peter walking around. I think we are very much a normal average church that struggles. So what do we do? Actually I'll tell you something. If your pastor has the plan, you must be very careful. He probably is 'hau seowing' (Hokkien for lying to) you. But that's the style God likes to adopt- brings us to mission impossible so that we will frustrate in and of ourselves and let our focus be on God. And let me tell you why I think we can do it. Not we, but God can do it. Why? Because I remember what Jesus said. Jesus said to his disciples "Upon this rock I will build my church". Whew! Praise God! He didn't say upon this rock 'you' will build my church.
I think Peter will be so scared if 'I am to build.' No, no, no, 'Upon this Rock I will build my church'. I'll tell you something. You are not going to touch the hearts of the people in Punggol. You can't. You can't change their lives because only God can change lives. But I'll tell you what we can do. We can kia lai kia ker. We can go to Punggol looking at Jericho and we can walk around Jericho. And by the way I've done that. I've done prayer walks, just walking around, praying around. Just kia lai kia ker. But what I mean by kia lai kia ker of course is not physically walking around Jericho, around Punggol, but to do the ordinary things and trust God to do the extraordinary things. What are the ordinary things I can do? Now, I say they are ordinary in a sense they are not spectacular, but they are deeply powerful. What are the ordinary things I can do? I know I can pray.
What's your grand plan Joshua? Walk. What's your grand plan Jason? Pray, teach, give, serve, disciple- that's all I know. Ha, like that you call grand plan? Ya but it's kia lai kia ker. Operation Punggol is KLKK. Pray, teach, give, serve, disciple. You mean like that the walls of indifference, the walls of atheism, the walls of false religion is going to come down? Yes, but it's not because we did it but God did it. But there's something we need to do- pray, give, serve, teach, disciple. Gospel Light, would we do it, would you do it? Now, I'll tell you why Jericho came down. Because 600,000 able-bodied men walked. Every one walked. Would you walk? That's all God is calling us to do. He will build His church. Will you follow? Would you obey? Some of you I hear are concerned. 'Pastor, are we going to become an another megachurch that uses gimmicks and compromising tactics just to draw the crowds in?' I say absolutely no.
As long as God's grace is in my life and as long as I'm called to serve in this church, I say no. You say why? Why should we? Why do we need to do that if we believe it is Jesus who is going to build His church and all we are to do is to be faithfully following His plans, as laid out in Scripture. Why do we need to compromise? I don't see it. So I want to say to you as far as we will, we are going to stick close to the Bible, stick closer to the Bible than ever before because we are going to meet new challenges like ever before. But let's be clear, this is mission impossible for us. Whatever tactics we use is not going to work. It's only God who can bring the walls down. And I think this is why God leads us to Punggol. It's a wonderful adventure of faith to see Him work.
Well, I've already told you about the spoiler. Jericho came down because when on the seventh day the people shouted with a great shout, the wall fell down flat. The people went up into the city, every man straight before him, they captured the city ("...the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people shouted a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they captured the city." Joshua 6:20 ESV). And "the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame was in all the land. (Joshua 6:27 ESV). You know why it is mission impossible? I think it's so that it is God unmistakable. Not Israel, no weapons, no strategy, no siege, no tunnels, nothing fanciful. Just kia lai kia ker, so that everybody knows God unmistakable.
When we go to Punggol...By the way, how far is Punggol? I mean in terms of time not distance. How far is Punggol? 11 months. Wah, now you suddenly feel it right? 11 months. Last year we were still saying, one year, one year, one year, one year, one year no more already, now 11 months. The countdown has begun. In about 11 months time, we're going to Punggol. Let us remember it is all about God, nothing less. What a beautiful verse, right? "By faith the walls of Jericho came (fell) down." (Hebrews 11:30 ESV). When they were frustrated with themselves, when they had a proper focus on God and when they followed His plan, the walls came tumbling down.
Just one more thing before I go off. Some of you say, pastor, great, I understand the anatomy of faith, I understand the success faith brings, but how do you get this kind of faith lah? Do I need to squeeze it out somewhere? Where can I manufacture this? Where can I buy this? How do I get this? I want to end with this little scenario, scene that is not shown in this mission impossible movie so far. So rewind a little to chapter 5 and there at the end of chapter 5, we read of how Joshua was standing by Jericho. (Slide Joshua 5:13-15 ESV) I think he knows that Jericho is the first fortress to take down and so as a responsible general and as a leader, he goes out for reconnaissance, finding out, surveying the land, AOS- appreciation of situation. And he was probably thinking about what is the best strategy to take this city down. Lay siege on it, dig a tunnel under it, errr.. don't know what lah. But he is probably thinking very hard. And it was then that "he lifted up his eyes (and looked), and behold, (he saw) a man standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, 'Are you for us, or (are you) for our adversaries?'" (Joshua 5:13-15 ESV) Are you on my side or are you against me? The man said, 'no, you have asked the wrong question, neither. But I am the commander of the Army of the Lord. Now I have come. Joshua, wrong question. This is not your battle, Joshua. I am the commander. This is my battle. The question is not whether I am on your side. The question is, are you on my side?'
Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshipped. This is not just appearing before a man. This is a worship scene. You see that? This is God, the very God appearing before Joshua and so he said to him, "What does my Lord say to His servant? And the Commander of the Lord's army said to Joshua "Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you're standing is holy." And Joshua did so" (Joshua 5:13-15 ESV)
You know, this phrase sounds familiar. This is the same thing that was spoken to Moses. Before Moses is to be sent to deliver Israel, Moses needed an encounter with God. And before Joshua is to go forward in Jericho, he needs an encounter with God. He's not going to live with a secondhand experience of his sifu (Chinese for teacher) Moses. No, he's got to have a personal worship and encounter with Jesus and that fills his heart with faith. In this New Year, God is going to say to you, I'll lead you to Jericho- healthwise, finance-wise, ministry-wise, relationship-wise.. but will you hear Me say these words, "See, I have given Jericho into your hands" (Joshua 6:2 ESV).
My friends, when, when you hear this or you will not hear this until you have a Joshua 5 experience. Do you realize that? So in this New Year, yes, we're going to meet Jerichos. Yes, we have to go through Jerichos, we have to meet mission impossibles, but I say this year, primarily once again is a reminder for us- back to the worship of God, back to encountering Him in our devotional lives, in our public congregational worship and in the community of God's people. See God, encounter Him, worship Him that faith may arise, that we may go forward in obedience, that victory will be seen and the glory of the Lord will be known throughout the land.
May God bless us, bless you this year with a great year of worship and faith.
Let's bow for a word of prayer together.
Some of you are going through amazing trials today and I don't pretend to know it all. But I do know that my God doesn't make a mistake. Where He leads, He will supply. Where he guides, He will enable. But maybe this morning He lead you to a place where you are absolutely devastated, where you are absolutely desperate. But my friends, that's where real faith can start to blossom. Instead of trying and trying and trying, would you begin trusting and trusting and trusting? Focus on Him and follow His ways. Obey and watch God in the seventh day, seventh week, seventh month, seventh year, or it may be even the seventh decade, bring down the walls of Jericho.
Maybe this year you're going to meet with trials that are way beyond you. I say the best preparation to go to Jericho is go meet with your Lord and take off your shoes for you stand on holy ground. Let God meet with you. Let yourself, your soul, be thrilled with the encounter of God in His Word, that faith arises within your soul. Maybe this morning you came and you say 'I've a Jericho in my life, I am a sinner, I do not know how to be forgiven of my sins. I can't do it. I just can't save myself.' You are absolutely right. But Jesus paid it all. Something you need to do: walk around Jericho. You say how? Repent and believe in Jesus, God's Son, who died and rose again for your justification, for your salvation. It's what you need to do. So my dear brothers and sisters, my dear friends, this morning in this New Year, remember the words of Hebrews: 'By faith the walls of Jericho came down when they encircled it seven days'.
Father, this morning, we thank You for Your Word. We cry out to You that You will humble us today, that we will come to an end of ourselves, because so often we are too strong. We think we are too capable, we think we are too able and it quenches the operations and the blessings of faith in life. But teach us today, to trust, to worship, to adore, to bow and then, with focus, with obedience, let us prove Yourself. Let us pray daily that You will show yourselves strong through our weaknesses. So I pray for each one here, as we face our mission impossible, as we face our Jerichos, help us see You, God unmistakable. As Gospel Light moves forward, there's no turning back, but really, as we move forward to be a blessing in Punggol, let it also be God unmistakable. Thank You. We pray all this now in Jesus' Name. Amen.
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