SERMON TOPIC: “THE DANGER OF SETTLING” WHAT SIDE OF THE JORDAN WILL YOU CHOOSE?
In an old Peanuts cartoon, Lucy demanded that her brother Linus change TV channels and then threatened him with her fist if he didn’t. "What makes you think you can walk right in here and take over?" asked Linus. "These five fingers," said Lucy. "Individually they are nothing, but when I curl them together like this into a single unit, they form a weapon that is terrible to behold." "What channel do you want?" sighed Linus. Turning away, he looked at his fingers and said, "Why can’t you guys get organized like that?" That’s the power of teamwork
Today we are going to continue through the book of Joshua, describing the conquest of Canaan by the Israelites. Today we will see them tackle this issue of teamwork, as some of them are faced with the idea of backing out.
Let’s take another look at our text in Joshua 1:12-18.
12 But to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of Manasseh, Joshua said,
13 “Remember the command that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you after he said, ‘The Lord your God will give you rest by giving you this land.’
14 Your wives, your children and your livestock may stay in the land that Moses gave you east of the Jordan, but all your fighting men, ready for battle, must cross over ahead of your fellow Israelites. You are to help them
15 until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the land the Lord your God is giving them. After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan toward the sunrise.”
Joshua is reminding them that Moses had given them permission to live on the east side of Jordan on the condition that their army would help the other tribes possess their land on the west of the river. This they agreed to do.
“And they answered Joshua, saying, All that thou cammandest us we will do, and whithersoever thou sendest us, we will go. According as we hearkened unto Moses in all things, so will we hearken unto thee: only the Lord thy God be with thee, as he was with Moses. Whosoever he be that doth rebel against thy commandment, and will not harken unto thy words in all that thou commanded him, he shall be put to death: only be strong and of a good courage. Joshua 1:16-18
Now, to understand what’s going on, I need to refer you to NUMBERS 32. The Israelites have been on the eastern side of the Jordan River for some time. They have already been told that they would not enter the Promised Land for 40 years, because of their unbelief. Now, they were just camped there, passing time I suppose. Then, some groups decide that they like the land so much they want to stay there. At first it was the tribes of Reuben and Gad, but the feeling spread to the half-tribe of Manasseh as well. I say “half-tribe” because they were not a full tribe. They were from the son of Joseph, who was a son of Israel. Joseph’s 2 sons Ephraim and Manasseh each got a full share of land division.
Anyway, this is what they said to Moses in verse. 4 The LORD has conquered this whole area for the community of Israel, and it is ideally suited for all our livestock. 5 If we have found favor with you, please let us have this land as our property instead of giving us land across the Jordan River.”
Now, you can see why they wanted to live there. First, they were already living there, as much as they had lived anywhere else. Second, the land was already theirs. Third, it was just plain easier to stay there than moving on. Perhaps you are asking the question, well, what is wrong with dwelling on the east side of the River Jordan? Isn’t that a part of the Promised Land? Such questions are pertinent and require that we look at the passage of Scripture in which lies the account of the crossing or the Jordan River.
Crossing the Jordan River was symbolic of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Under no condition, however, does it set forth our physical death. We often sing in the old Baptist churches: “On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand.” To begin with, The Jordan is not a stormy stream; neither do you and I stand on the stormy banks. Christ alone was nailed to that cross and hanging there; bore all the storms of the judgment of sin. When the storms of judgment feel on Him, they fell on us. The River Jordan speaks of sanctification.
- In the Book of Judges we find out that the two and one-half tribes made a big mistake staying on the wrong side of the Jordan. Also when Christ crossed the Sea of Galilee to the country of the Gadarenes, He found the Jews in the pig business. They started off wrong on the wrong side of the Jordan River. They didn’t get sanctified for real or rather, they lost their sanctification because they wound up in a place they were never supposed to SETTLE IN. You’re your neighbor, “says neighbor, “DON’T SETTLE!” Many Christians are in the pig business today and are frustrated. They ought to enter into the rest Jesus has provided in His death and resurrection.
Believe me, it was easier for me to keep the church in the basement of my house, I didn’t have to leave the comfort of my home. The members came to my house and I didn’t have to burn up my gas going across town to another location
- It’s easier for some people to sit on their couch and watch Rod Parsley, Creflo Dollar, TD Jakes, Joel Osteen, Joyce Mayer, Marilyn and Sarah and still feel saved. You don’t have to read and study the Bible or get a word from God for yourself; you can just quote what you heard your TV pastor say.
- It’s easier, I say, to pray propped up on a pillow in your bed at midnight, you say, “God ain’t deaf, and He can hear me from here, why should I meander my way down a dark stairway, to my prayer corner to pray?
- And here we go, “I’m tired, it’s dark, this is too hard, I got to get up early for work the next day, I prayed on the prayer line already today! I’M SETTLED IN FOR THE NIGHT, I NEED MY REST.
- BUT YOUR FAMILY IS GOING TO HELL IN A HANDBASKET,
- AND YOUR NEIGHBOR NEXT DOOR IS STRUNG OUT ON CRACK COCAINE,
- AND SISTER WATERMELON’S HUSBAND JUST BEAT HER TO A PULP. SOMEBODY IS DEPENDING UPON YOUR PRAYER!!!
"Those 2-1/2 tribes just wanted to settle. Yes, it means that they wanted to pitch their tents and live on the eastern side forever. But, it also means that they were willing to accept less than God’s best. They were going to try to be content with their little share. They were going to be happy just making themselves happy;
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I'm happy
Clap along if you feel like that's what you wanna do
And I don’t think that people are much different today. Even in the church. After all, look at what God has done for us. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. He took the punishment we deserved. He carried our sins, our character flaw, our infirmities and mistakes to the cross.
- Every time we cursed, Christ carried it.
- Every time we lied, Christ carried it.
- Every time we rebelled, or we disobeyed our parents Christ carried it,
- Every time we harbored bitterness, showed selfishness, or lusted, Christ carried it.
- Every time we did the opposite of what we knew God wanted, Christ carried it. He took our sins and took our punishment. He took our PLACE
He took the punishment for our sins so that we wouldn’t have to. But the grave was not the end, neither for Jesus nor for us. There was a resurrection on the 3rd day. He didn’t continue to carry our sins. He shook them off like an old rag. But the next part of the story is the part most of us miss. Saints, just as Christ got rid of our sins, so should we! The fact that Christ took our sins is no excuse for you to remain in them. Forgiveness is not a good enough reason for you to remain in sin.
Yet some see it that way. Once they are forgiven, they assume that nothing can ever separate them from God. They assume that they are now out of the fire or watery grave. After all, isn’t that what “saved” means?
So then, we are left with a group of halfway saved, Bible toting, Scripture quoting, tongue talking, prophesying or lying, body jerking, Christians who are living beneath their privileges, acting more like AINTS than SAINTS! I read a quote from one pastor who spoke up and said, “Brother Brown, would you please stand and lead us in a word of criticism?” Now that may sound funny. But many in the church have become a group of skeptics and critics. Most of us have seen people with the worst critical spirits, people that are never pleased with what someone else does in or for the church. I’m not saying that a person should always blindly accept what goes on. But as another pastor said, “Critics don’t build churches; they inspect them.”
And here we are, back with the Israelites. The Promised Land is stretched out before them in the horizon, and yet some want to stay right where they are. Why? Because People settle they get comfortable.
- They settle for less than what God wants for them.
- They settle for habits that they don’t need to be in bondage to.
- They settle for selfishness that Christ died to set them free from.
- They settle for a critical spirit, undermining the hard work of others, when God has really called them to pitch in.
It’s about being content with our own anemic spirituality, without daring to step outside of our comfort zone. It’s about being happy where we are, instead of helping others rise above where they are.
- You see, we settle too easily, too soon, and too often.
- We settle for our own convenience. We settle for our own pleasure.
- We simply settle. President John F. Kennedy said, “Once you say you’re going to settle for second, that’s what happens to you in life
You see, when you settle in, and hold back, and give up growing, you do a disservice to everyone else. You, staying home when you just don’t feel like going to church discourages the rest of us. To see you stop fighting the good fight, just because you get ticked off or tired discourages the rest of us. You see, what you do affect us all.
That word, “settle”, is found in the New Living Translation. It’s translated “occupy” in the NIV, and it’s translated “enjoy” in the KJV. That word “enjoy” – I like it. That’s how some Christians get. They enjoy the blessings of forgiveness. They enjoy the blessings of prayer. They enjoy worshiping. They enjoy it all. They enjoy it so much in fact, that that’s where they stay. They don’t care to share it. They don’t care to display it. They keep it all to themselves.
We did a two month study on the fruit of the Spirit. We talked about the different fruit of: love, joy, peace, longsuffering etc. All of these attributes or gifts are meant to be displayed. Sometimes when we are running low on one particular fruit, we are to ask our Father, who gives and extends these grace gifts liberally. But do you know why some fruit get rotten? Watch this, Why do some people stop growing and getting better? Why are the saints getting bitter and not better?
Why does any fruit go bad? Well, the answer is simple: we fail to find others with whom to share our fruit with. Not enough people partook of it, so it went BAD! It didn’t bless anyone with its sweetness. It just got unused. Maybe it was kicked to the curb, maybe, it was criticized so much that it just sat and sat and sat in the comforts of the bowl or at the bottom of your refrigerator.
When you sit and sit and sit, wring your hands in frustration, cry yourselves to sleep at night because you feel left out, ostracized and alone; those old feelings of fear and rejection plays in your ear as an old familiar song; “Nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen, nobody knows my sorrow.”
- When you think you are unusable, you will grow rotten.
- When you stop blessing others, you will grow rotten.
- When you would rather criticize than contribute, you will grow rotten.
You say, but I’m only one person. I’m too old, I’m too young, I’m not talented enough, or, I’ve failed too many times. Folks that are what you call, “STINKING THINKING.” You’re thinking of how small you are, when you should be thinking of how BIG God is. You’re saying, God is just not smart or wise enough to use me. You should be speaking much more about your faith in Him than your faith in yourself.
The truth is, God can use you. And He will if you let Him. Ask Him how. How do You want me to grow? And, how can I contribute to this church? How can You use me to make a difference? How can I be used to help others into your blessings for them? Yes, you will need courage for the assignments. Yes, you will need to be strong. But, if God is for you, who can be against you. If God sends You, He will strengthen you.
That was a long one, so I apologize. Have a Blessed Day today and enjoy this moderate winter weather.
AND: DON'T FORGET TO SAY YOUR PRAYERS!