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Where Is Your Focus?

Joshua chapter 3 tells a fascinating story. It’s a story that gives many lessons for today, even though it took place so many years ago. The Israelites were preparing to cross the Jordan River near Jericho to enter the Promised Land. What was intended to be a short trip from the slavery in Egypt turned into a long journey of 40 years through their own ignoring of the Living God and not continuing to trust in Him. The disobedient generation had now died out and God was bringing the next generation across to settle the land of Canaan. But there were rules to follow – important rules!

First, the Ark of the Covenant was to be carried only by the priests assigned to that task. The Ark was the symbolic residence of our Holy God amongst the people and it contained the Word of God. The Ark was to be carried to the middle of the river. God certainly does pick His time; it was the time of year when the Jordan is deepest and widest, when crossing it with that many people would seem an impossibility. When the feet of the priests touched the water, the river stopped surging and the waters heaped up to the north of them. The priests stayed put until everyone had safely crossed.

The second rule was that the people had to keep their distance (.8km) from the Ark. This was to remind them just how holy their God, our God, was and still is. Imagine that many people crossing the river on both sides of the Ark at that distance. That would be a frightening sight for the inhabitants of Canaan to behold who had already heard the accounts of what this God could and would do for his chosen people.

The third rule was that they were not to move until the Ark moved. In other words – wait for God to act, don’t take matters into your own hands. Joshua said to his people, “Then you will know which way to go, since to have never been this way before.”

The fourth rule was to trust God. You are going places you have never been before. “This is how you will know the living God is among you.”

The fifth rule, which actually was first and most important, “Consecrate yourselves, for the Lord will do amazing things among you.” In other words: set yourselves apart (for God’s purpose), devote yourselves to God, pledge yourselves to God. It is my personal believe that if a person consecrates themselves, the other rules are easier to follow – focusing on God’s Word, respecting the holiness of God, don’t take matters into your own hands, and in all things trust God.

How does all this play into everyday life for us? We now face many bitter enemies, especially the pandemic which threatens to invade each life. God’s rules have not changed. When God’s people got the rules right, they went into the unknown without fear. They had their priorities lined up. The proof was in the pudding. In a short while the walls of Jericho tumbled without the people even having to raise any weapons of war. God’s almighty power made it happen. Each day we go into the unknown.

These are troubling times. The news is seldom good. And, as much as humanity believes they are smart enough and wise enough to bring an end to it all, the question is still when or how. I have yet to see one single leader publicly proclaim that God is all powerful, that God is forgiving, that God is holy, that the world lives in fear because humanity does not trust God or trust in God, that we are moving without direction from God, that humanity does not focus on the Word of God. Through the prophet Hosea, God said his people were dying because they no longer knew God. And yet, our God has accomplished everything he has promised – He sent Jesus the Messiah, He nailed our sins to the cross, He rose Jesus from the dead to give us life eternal, He had Jesus ascend to plead our case, He sent the Holy Spirit to keep us strong and on the right path, and, He promised that, at the end of the age, Jesus would return to gather all his own to a new heaven and earth. Need we be afraid? How much more does our God and our Lord have to do to prove Himself?

So now it all comes down to us, our personal relationship with Christ. As our departed apologist and evangelist Ravi Zacharias so often said, “we are important to God.” He loves us and has assigned us to follow the guidelines. Trust Him, He is holy, focus on His Word, don’t move without his blessing, and then watch what happens in your life and the lives of those you touch.

I’m reminded of a hymn written in 1896 and are still valid today. Here are some of the words:
All to Jesus, I surrender, all to Him I freely give
I will ever love and trust Him, in His presence daily live.
All to Jesus I surrender, make me, Saviour, wholly thine;
Let me feel the Holy Spirit, truly know that Thou art mine.
I surrender all, All to thee, my blessed Saviour, I surrender all.

Remember, each day we stand in the palm of His almighty hand, He loves us, know Him heart to heart.
Pastor Job

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