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Claiming Our Canaan
We’ve come “Out of Africa” now into the wilderness. The deliverance of Israel from Egypt is a picture of our salvation. We were slaves, in bondage to sin, the toughest master you’ll ever serve. Sin takes us farther than we want to go, keeps us longer than we want to stay, and costs us far more than we want to pay.
Now they are at the edge of the Promised Land. Moses sends 12 spies into the land. They return and 10 of them give a discouraging report that went something like this: It’s great, beautiful, and everything God said it was. It is luscious, and would be very nice, but we have absolutely no chance of possessing this land. It is already occupied by heathen, and they are huge. They look like Hulk Hogan, and we’re like little runts, grasshoppers next to them. Their cities are walled around with walls so wide you could drive a chariot atop them.
Then there were the other 2 spies, the ‘minority report.’ They said, you may see the giants, but we see God! And if He wants us to have that land then it won’t be a problem. Joshua and Caleb were their names.
But the people decided to follow the naysayers. And where will that get them? Nowhere! They wander in the wilderness for 40 years, meandering in circles. They turned an 11 day journey into 40 years!
1 Corinthians 10:11
Just as being freed from slavery in Egypt pictures our salvation, so wandering in the wilderness pictures the carnal Christian life, going nowhere! Saved? Yes. Living in victory? No! Not maturing, just coasting thru life w/ their fire insurance policy in hand. Perpetual babies they are, never graduating from milk to meat, only crying out to ‘dada’ when something is wrong and they need something, and never coming of age spiritually to the place of real faithfulness and responsibility.
40 years later when that rebellious generation died off the new generation marched into the Promised Land and possessed it. This land was called Canaan. They were claiming their Canaan!
Canaan is a picture of the victorious Christian life. It’s not heaven...this promised land, no! Moses couldn’t enter this land because He disobeyed, but you’ll see Moses in heaven someday! The life of victory isn’t a life of perfection, but of growth. Growing in grace, maturing, taking higher ground, gaining victories in life, over sin, over the world, over our own flesh, and over the devil.
Every person here today is in one of these 3 locations:
· In Egypt, still in slavery to sin, and you need to be saved.
· In the wilderness, saved, but going nowhere other than in circles. Been saved for years but you still aren’t really digging into your Bible, still not really praying, still not tithing consistently, still not making commitments to be faithful and to serve. Been saved for years but never led a soul to Christ! You’re not much closer to God than you were the day you got saved.
· In Canaan, excited, growing, having the joy of the Lord. They’re not a wilderness wanderer, but a giant conqueror!
And there are 3 kinds of churches:
· Egypt churches which don’t preach salvation by grace. The blind are leading the blind. They are more of a social club than a church.
· Wilderness churches with saved people going nowhere but in circles...going thru the motions. They rarely see anyone get saved, people at the altar making decisions, or the Spirit of God moving mightily amongst them...but that’s ok, because the offerings are good and we’ve been able to make a lot of improvements to the building...and someday we’ll go to heaven! Sure there’s sin in the church, nobody’s perfect, and I hate to think what’s going on in the privacy of many member’s homes, but let’s not talk about that, let’s dress up and shake hands and have parties and eat and thank God we’re saved and not like this world that’s going to hell in a hand basket!
· Canaan churches where you walk in the door and you can feel the spirit of excitement, the joy, the expectancy in the air. The church is growing, decisions are many, it’s a pleasure to serve, to give, to work together as a team, to hold accountable and be glad to be held accountable! They’re not only encouraged but also challenged, convicted, and humble enough to confess and make things right...going forward, climbing uphill, swimming upstream, against the course of this world, often maligned, but proud to wear the badge of being Biblical, striving for something better, seeking the Promised Land of the victorious Christian life!
I don’t want to look back years after I got saved and see meandering circles. God wants us to go places!
In our text, Moses’ job is done, and he dies. The Lord selects Joshua, Moses’ servant, to take the lead. The law hasn’t saved anyone to date, and it never will. It’s time for a new chapter, a new era to begin, and a new generation is asked to step up to the plate and do their part!
This chapter shows us 3 principles that are necessities to claiming our Canaan:
v. 11 Victuals = vittles or food.
Here they are getting ready to cross the swollen Jordan river. Chapter 3 says at this time of year the Jordan always was overflowing its banks. You’d think that Joshua would have said to prepare a bridge or a boat, but instead he said prepare brunch...you must have proper nourishment. An army travels on its stomach! A hungry soldier will not fight well.
They needed a diet change. They’ve had manna every day for 40 years. Nobody ever came home to ask, what’s for supper. They knew!
Ill.—some here lived thru the great depression and had 3 meals a day: oatmeal for breakfast, corn meal for lunch, and no meal for supper! I complain if my kids badger me to go to McDonald’s twice in the same week, and there I can have some variety of hot foods. My wife can even get a specialty coffee now at a reasonable price instead of going to FourBucks [Starbucks!]
They were only supposed to eat manna for about 11 days, like a heavenly appetizer before entering the land flowing with milk and honey.
VeggieTales sings it this way:
We didn’t have a lot of fun in the desert
We didn’t have a lot of fun in the sand
So saddle up your cow and fall behind us now
Cause we’re going to the promised land
For years I’ve eaten nothing but manna
The dish that is filling but bland
But now we’re on our way
I’ll have a cheese soufflé
‘Cause we’re going to the promised land
The dining was lousy with Moses
But we’ll be feasting with Josh in command
I’d like a taco please with some pintos and cheese
‘Cause we’re going to the promised land
Well in the promised land
It’s gonna be so grand
We’ll have our fill from the grill
As much as we can stand
It’ll be so great
Put waffles on my plate
‘Cause we’re going to the promised land!
That may be a trite little ditty but there’s quite an element of truth in it. Because if we are going to claim the promised land of Canaan we’re gonna have to change our diet and start feeding on God’s Word. It’s a feast God has set before us but we go all week w/out it, acting like we’re not really hungry. Today some will push away from this table not to return again for a week or more!
What I give you at church is not enough...it’s only supposed to be an appetizer. These are divine hors d’oeuvres that should whet your appetite to dig in for more on your own all week long! This is where religion becomes reality, when you aren’t just being spoon fed but you are obeying this verse...
2 Timothy 2:15
But instead of feasting on the Word of God, we fill up on everything else, the junk foods of this world. We are addicts to tv shows and movies, video games, computers and phones...and all sorts of activities as long as they aren’t things of God!
Garbage in...garbage out! We need to change our diet. We stuff ourselves full of things that aren’t good for us...and we are deceived into thinking we are satisfied, but it’s only temporary, and we’re back out again searching for more.
As a result we are losing our children, and you’ll notice that after they graduate they are missing from church, largely. They are a missing demographic in the church, only to return later once the school of hard knocks has got their attention, or they have kids of their own that they want to try to raise better. Let me explain...
God gave His children 7 feasts to observe, and we’ll study them someday in the future. They didn’t keep those feasts in the wilderness, only once they arrived in Canaan. Why? Because they were celebrations, and they had nothing to celebrate in the desert.
Imagine a father in the wilderness deciding he wanted to keep the feasts of the Lord. All he has is manna, he’s sitting on a hot rock, leaning against a cactus, trying to feast. His son asks what he’s doing. “I’m celebrating God’s blessings upon us!” The son scratches his head, thinking, man, all we’ve got is dusty manna, we’re thirsty, and I’m tired of it. We have nothing to celebrate, I’m going back to Egypt!
We lose our kids when they see us come to church and act holy, but then they see us go home and wander in the wilderness. To them our Christianity isn’t real and exciting, vital and alive. They graduate and say, if everything I’ve seen is all there is to the Christian life then I’m gonna check out what the world has to offer!
A mom and dad who really live the life and walk the walk throughout the week is worth a library full of arguments over rules and curfews. The motto, “Do as I say, not as I do” won’t cut it w/ our kids. We don’t get what we want...we get what we are. We need a diet change, we must feast on the Word bountifully placed right in our own laps!
Let’s apply this to the church:
If this church gets built up and blessed it won’t be because of my funny jokes and uncommonly good looks! Especially true since I’m running out of both!! Any true growth, spiritual growth, will only be because the Word of God is given out and people are fed. My job is to lead and feed and your job is to swallow and follow!
Where are you at? Still in Egypt, needing salvation? Wandering in the wilderness, needing direction? Let’s march forward and claim our Canaan! A good start would be to come back tonite for the rest of this.
Riding the fence in the promised land, somewhere between Egypt and Canaan, is a miserable place to be. You’ve got a foot still in the world and the other on the border of victory. You’ve got enough of the world still in you that you can’t enjoy Jesus, and enough Jesus in you that you can’t enjoy the world. Stuck in the middle you’ll do nothing but meander in misery! You’re saved, but not at all satisfied.
Ill.—A man had been missing a lot at church, so the pastor went to see him. He explained, “I’ll tell you why I don’t come...it’s all this rain, it just rains everyday.” The pastor said, “Well, it’s dry in church”. The man said, “Yeah, that’s another reason I don’t come.”
The wilderness is a dry, dusty existence, but the good news is that the land of milk and honey is not far away at all!
This chapter shows us 3 principles that are necessities to claiming our Canaan:
1. Preparation. [feeding on God’s Word – ‘victuals’]
v. 11 ‘3 days’ = resurrection power. Just as Jonah came out of the belly of a great fish or mammal or something, so Jesus came forth from the dead after 3 days. Abraham took Isaac to the mountain to sacrifice him, but they both returned alive after 3 days. I think it’s no coincidence that Joshua said we’re making our move in 3 days...they were going in with God’s power!
Our challenge this morning was to go to the next level with God. But immediately we see that we don’t have the will power, or the personal power to do what we know is right. You can’t live the Christian life in your own strength. Plug in to the real power source!
“Living victoriously is not your responsibility – it’s your response to God’s ability!”
Greater than the power of God’s creation of the universe, as monumentally, unfathomably powerful as that was, even greater is resurrection power. Raising Jesus from the dead was the greatest power display because that paves the way for God to do it for each of us. You see, making something out of nothing is what made God the Creator, but making life out of death is what makes Him our redeemer, and we are a fallen creation. We fell not because He didn’t create us very well but because in our own strength we couldn’t make it, we gave in and collapsed. It’s time to plug in to the higher power!
If we want to live victoriously there will be giants to face and walled cities to attack. But we don’t have to face them alone...we CAN’T face them alone and have any success.
Ill.—this coat I am wearing has been with me for many sermons. Let’s see what it has learned. Let me take it off. Now I want to give it instructions: Coat, wave at the people. No? Pick up that Bible and lift it high. You can’t? Let me put it back on. Now it can wave, now it can lift high the Word. You say, no, that’s you in the coat. I’m glad you got the point!
With God working in us and thru us we can do anything!
Let God fill you and use you and give you victory over your giants, whether anger or addiction, lust or greed. Maybe it’s a financial giant. You don’t have to fight it alone! Thru obedience and faith you can get God on your side to fight your battles.
Resurrection power – ‘after 3 days we make our move!’
v. 12-13 “This land”
This was land on the wrong side of the Jordan, and some of the tribes were enamored with it. This wasn’t the promised land. It was fertile and nice, close to the river, but it wasn’t what God had given to them.
Joshua reminded them that since they had made their choice, they were gonna get just what they want, and have no inheritance in Canaan. We have here a 4th category added to our choices. Not just Egypt, the wilderness, and Canaan, but now a ‘not quite’ category. [East siders – but they’re not “movin’ on up”]
Even in good ‘Canaan-land’ churches like ours sometimes a separation takes place, much like in Joshua 1. Some become satisfied with staying just like we are. Others have a vision to go forward, and the 2 groups drift apart.
‘East-siders’ settle for less than God’s best. They may have marched the football all the way down the field, but they allow the devil’s goal line stand to keep them out. With the promised land in sight, they give up and are shut down, just inches away from victory!
It’s easy for Christians to get into a ‘comfort zone’, and never reach the ‘end zone.’ They’re better off than they were in Egypt or the wilderness, and that’s good enough for them. God’s best for their life is just a step away, but they don’t take that step.
“I may not be on fire for God but I’m not exactly living in sin, either!”
We aren’t supposed to compare ourselves to the world, or to one another, but to Christ!
You are as close to God as you want to be. No one is holding you back. You are the master of your fate, spiritually speaking.
Don’t be an east sider. Don’t settle for less than God’s best!
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