An efficiency expert once concluded her lecture with the comment, “Please don’t try these techniques at home.”
“Why not?” she was asked.
“I used to watch my husband prepare breakfast and wondered why he made so many trips to the table carrying only one item at a time,” she replied. “One day I asked him, ‘Wouldn’t it be quicker and more efficient if you organized yourself to carry several things to the table at the same time?’”
“Did it work?” she was asked.
“Oh, yes, it worked,” the expert replied. “It used to take my husband twenty minutes to prepare breakfast. Now I do it in seven.”
Not all advice is readily received. And sometimes it is not heard the way it was intended. But neither should all advice be followed; rather, wisdom learns to separate kernels of truth from weeds.
Some advice worthy of consideration, though, comes from multi-billionaire Warren Buffett. These are some of his rules to live by.
1. Pay off your credit cards every month.
2. Put integrity first in your life.
3. Be smart about whose habits you decide to copy.
4. Don’t do something just for the money. Happiness comes from loving the work.
I have a friend who believes in trying to do what you love. He says, “Seven years ago I decided to do what I loved most—loving people. Since that time my cup has slowly been filled and is now flowing over the brim with love.
Simultaneously, while seeking humility and significance, I lost pride and prominence. During those seven years I have had several mottoes. Probably the most significant one is: If you are not loving life, you are not living love.”
There’s a motto worth keeping. If you are not loving life, you are not living love.
I may never be a multi-billionaire like Warren Buffett. But if I get better at living love, I may just be about the richest person around. —Steve Goodier
We’ve all heard, and probably even used, most of these phrases.
Ever wonder where they originated?
THE WHOLE NINE YARDS—American fighter planes in WW2 had machine guns that were fed by a belt of cartridges. The average plane held belts that were 27 feet (9 yards) long. If the pilot used up all his ammo he was said to have given it the whole nine yards.
BUYING THE FARM—This is synonymous with dying. During WW1 soldiers were given life insurance policies worth $5,000. This was about the price of an average farm so if you died you “bought the farm” for your survivors.
IRON CLAD CONTRACT—This came about from the ironclad ships of the Civil War. It meant something so strong it could not be broken.
PASSING THE BUCK/THE BUCK STOPS HERE—Most men in the early west carried a jack knife made by the Buck knife company. When playing poker it was common to place one of these Buck knives in front of the dealer so that everyone knew who he was. When it was time for a new dealer the deck of cards and the knife were given to the new dealer. If this person didn’t want to deal he would “pass the buck” to the next player. If that player accepted then “the buck stopped there”.
COBWEB—The Old English word for “spider” was “cob”.
SLEEP TIGHT—Early beds were made with a wooden frame. Ropes were tied across the frame in a criss-cross pattern. A straw mattress was then put on top of the ropes. Over time the ropes stretched, causing the bed to sag. The owner would then tighten the ropes to get a better night’s sleep.
SHOWBOAT—These were floating theaters built on a barge that was pushed by a steamboat. These played small towns along theMississippi River. Unlike the boat shown in the movie “Showboat” these did not have an engine. They were gaudy and attention grabbing which is why we say someone who is being the life of the party is “showboating”.
OVER A BARREL—In the days before CPR a drowning victim would be placed face down over a barrel and the barrel would be rolled back and forth in an effort to empty the lungs of water. It was rarely effective. If you are over a barrel you are in deep trouble.
BARGE IN—Heavy freight was moved along the Mississippi in large barges pushed by steamboats. These were hard to control and would sometimes swing into piers or other boats. People would say they “barged in”.
HOGWASH—Steamboats carried both people and animals. Since pigs smelled so bad they would be washed before being put on board. The mud and other filth that was washed off were considered useless “hog wash”.
BARRELS OF OIL—When the first oil wells were drilled they had made no provision for storing the liquid so they used water barrels. That is why, to this day, we speak of barrels of oil rather than gallons.
HOT OFF THE PRESS—As the paper goes through the rotary printing press friction causes it to heat up. Therefore, if you grab the paper right off the press it is hot. The expression means to get immediate information.
FALLEN OFF THE WAGON—The wagon in this American expression refers to the water wagons used to sprinkle water on the streets to keep the dust down. During the times of Prohibition in the 19th century, men often climbed onto these wagons and took an oath they would give up alcohol and drink only water. This gave rise to the expression to be on the water cart/wagon; it was later shortened to on the wagon. When these individuals broke their pledge and started hitting the bottle again, they were said to have fallen off the wagon.
Modern readers have nearly forgotten The Pilgrim’s Progress, yet John Bunyan’s famous allegory still provides enriching reading as it covers every aspect of the Christian life. Here’s a scene to whet your appetite. Near the beginning of his journey toward theCelestial City, Christian stopped at the Palace Beautiful, constructed by God as a place to refresh pilgrims. In the armory there, Christian was fitted with armor: “Sword, shield, helmet, breastplate, all-prayer, and shoes that would not wear out.”
It’s a good thing Christian armored up, for he had no sooner resumed his journey than he met the enemy—Apollyon—who savagely attacked him. The battle lasted hours, and the enemy rained lots of flaming darts at him. But Christian prevailed thanks to his armor and sword.
When it comes to facing the enemy, the question isn’t if but when. The probability of battle is one hundred percent. If you’re under attack today, it means the enemy feels he needs to stop you. Resolve to resist the devil with all your might. Grip the shield of faith in one hand and the sword of the Spirit in the other. Armor up for the battle.
“He threw a flaming dart at his breast; but Christian had a shield in his hand, with which he caught it, and so prevented the danger of that.” —John Bunyan, in The Pilgrim’s Progress
Someone once wrote a letter to the local newspaper that said, “Ministers seem to feel their sermons are very important, so they spend a great deal of time preparing them. I’ve been attending church regularly for over 30 years, and I’ve probably heard about 1,500 sermons. The awful truth is that I can’t remember a single one! I wonder if a minister’s time might be better spent on something else.”
That Sunday, a minister read the letter to his congregation and said he’d be interested in any replies the congregation might wish to send to him.
The following Sunday, the minister reported that he’d received many responses, most of them expressions of indignation aimed at the anonymous letter writer. He thanked the church members for the responses but said he was most thankful for one in particular, which he then read to the gathering.
“I have been married for 30 years. During that time, I have eaten well over 32,000 meals — mostly my wife’s cooking — but I can’t remember the menu of a single meal. Of course I can recall some of my favorite dishes, but not the menus. And yet, I received the nourishment from every single one of them. I have the distinct impression that without them, I would have starved to death long ago.”
A third grader was wearing a Fitbit watch, which prompted the teacher to ask, “Are you tracking your steps?” “No,” said the little girl. “I wear this for Mommy so she can show Daddy when he gets home.”
A woman loved the dress that she bought at a flea market. It fit perfectly, and the skirt was a swirl of intricate pleats. She wore it confidently to an evening party and glowed when a friend exclaimed, “Oh, how stunning!” Yes, she was grinning from ear to ear, until she added cheerfully, “Hang on to it, honey. Pleats will come back someday.”
A customer walked into my clothing shop and asked to see the pants that were advertised in the paper that day. “We don’t have an ad in the paper today,” I told her. She insisted I was wrong, so I got a copy of the paper, and we went through it, eventually landing on an ad for pants from another local store. Exasperated, the customer glared at me and said, “In my newspaper, the ad was for this store!”
Because of their unbelief, Israel was sentenced to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. Those years have now expired and the children of Israel are poised to enter into Canaan Land. They are ready to claim their inheritance in the land of promise. However, before they can enter Canaan, they must first get past one final, major obstacle: the Jordan River. Normally, this would not have presented much of a problem, since the Jordan was only 100 feet wide at Gilgal where they crossed. However, it seems that God always does things in such a way that no man can boast of having done them on their own. This crossing would be no exception. You see, God brought them to the Jordan River at the time of harvest, 4:15. Those who have been there during the harvest time tell us that the Jordan swells to an impassable width of over 1 mile! It was over 50 times wider than it normally would have been when Israel arrived. There was no way they could cross this river on their own! They needed supernatural help. We each have Jordans that we face from time to time! When we look at the obstacles that stand between us and spiritual victory in our own Canaan, we may feel that we will never be able to enter our Canaan of victory and enjoy the abundant life that Jesus promised His followers. Well, it is true that I do not know what kind of obstacles that you face in your life. These verses show us a God who specializes in overcoming the overwhelming and in leading His children to victory.
I. 3:1-13 WE NEED TO EXAMINE A MESSAGE
A. V. 3-4 It Involved A Challenge – When it came time for the people to move forward to cross Jordan, God has a message that they needed to hear. In the words they heard, they were challenged to do three very important things. These things were designed to help them follow the Lord better. These are the same things that we need to hear this morning that will help up to follow the Lord better as well.
1. Watch God – Notice that the Ark of the Covenant is mentioned some 7 times in chapter 3. The Ark, was that special piece of Tabernacle furniture that symbolized the presence and power of God. When the Ark was in the Holy of Holies, the glory of God rested upon it and it was the dwelling place of God. To Israel, it represented God’s presence in the midst of His people. In other words, when God moved, they were to move. When God stopped they were to do the same.
There is a valuable spiritual lesson in this passage for you and me. We would do well, when we face times of crisis, or when we need direction in life to learn to be sensitive to the movement of the Lord in and around us. It is a fact that God loves you and that He will show you what He is doing. If you will watch Him, He will teach you how to live day by day.
2. Follow God – When they saw the Ark of the Covenant move, they were to “leave your place, and go after it” Not only were they to watch God, they were to move when He did. They were to pursue God!
Again, the lesson for the believer is that it isn’t enough to know what God is doing, there comes a time when you must “leave you place and go after Him.” This may require us to leave our comfort zone! Israel was about to follow the Ark through a river that was over 1 mile wide! That couldn’t have been easy, but it was still necessary and right! Folk, following God may not be the easiest thing you will ever do, but it will be the best thing you ever do. If you ever expect to get past your obstacles and enter your Canaan, you must learn to follow God.
3. Honor God – Notice that the Israelites are told to stay at least 3000 feet behind the Ark. This was so that they could easily see what was happening ahead of them. Another reason is that the Lord wanted no one but the Levites near the Ark. To get too close would have meant death.
Again, there is a lesson here for us as well. We must never be guilty of treating God like is one of our buddies. There must always be a holy reverence and a fear of the Lord in our hearts. God help us that we never allow a spirit of familiarity cheapen or walk with the Lord. Regardless of what we go through with holy, righteous God and we are still nothing but sinners saved by His marvelous grace.
These things are most easily accomplished by learning to walk in the Spirit. That is, learning to give control of your life to the Spirit of God and to follow God as He leads through His Word and through prayer. It may not always be easy, but I can promise you that if you will follow, He will certainly lead!
B. V. 5 It Involved A Command – Next, the people were told to “sanctify yourselves.” This referred to being sure they were as clean and holy s possible. They were to put away anything that was displeasing to the Lord. They were to examine themselves and get ready for the Lord to do something great for them.
If you and I ever expect to get past the Jordan’s that arise in our lives, we are going to have to learn that one of the first things we must do is examine our lives to make sure they are as clean as possible. May the Lord help us to realize that many of the things that happen in our lives that prevent us from walking in Christian victory are the results of our sin and the Lord’s chastisement, Gal. 6:9 “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”; Heb. 12:6-11. Christian, is everything in your life just as the Lord would have it to be? Remember, there is forgiveness in confessing our sins to the Lord – I John 1:9
C. V. 9-13 It Involved A Commitment – This message to the Israelites reminded them that getting across the Jordan did not rest on their shoulders, but on the Lord’s. It was His plan to get them over and it was His problem. In these verses, He makes them a promise and tells them that He will bring them through in a powerful fashion. God, here, commits Himself to bringing his people across their Jordan! All that was required of Israel was that they trust God!
(Ill. May I remind you that things have not changed one bit? If God could be trusted in those days to keep His promises, then He can still be trusted today! Often, we are unable to get past the obstacles in our lives because we live a life that exhibits a deep lack of faith in the promises of God! How do I know? Because of the worry and doubt that marks the lives of the people of God.
1. We worry over tomorrow, yet the Lord has said – Matt. 6:34.
2. We worry over material things, yet the Lord has promised – Matt. 6:25-33; Phil. 4:19.
3. We worry about facing various things in life, yet the Lord has promised – Heb. 13:5
4. We worry over so many things, yet the Lord tells us that all of our worry is sin and that our duty is to trust Him – Phil. 4:6-7.
5. The bottom line is this: Jesus is all-powerful, He is all-knowing and He is all-present. He knows what you are going through. He knows everything there is to know about it. He even knows more about it than you do! Here is what He says to you: “The just shall life by faith“, Rom. 1:17; “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin“, Rom 14:23; “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith“, Matt. 8:26.
What He says to us is that He is the Lord and that He is greater than any problem we have ever or will ever face in life. His desire is that we simply learn to take Him at His Word and trust Him. We need to remember that what the Lord has promised to do, He will do, Rom. 4:21 “And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” That is the message, let us take it to heart!
I. We Need To Examine A Message
II. 3:14-17 WE NEED TO EXPECT A MIRACLE
A. V. 15b There Was A Problem – As I mentioned in the introduction, the children of Israel were facing a big problem. The river was over 1 mile wide and there were 2 million people who had to cross, and yet the Lord wanted them to go over. They couldn’t build a bridge, there wasn’t enough time or materials. They couldn’t transport everyone over in boats, there were no boats and they would have ben sitting ducks for their enemies. There was only one way around their problem and that was through it!
Have you ever sized up your problem and thought about how big it was? Maybe you looked at it and concluded, “There is no way around, through, over or past this problem.” I suppose we have all been like the 10 spies that returned from spying out the land of Canaan with Caleb and Joshua. We have sized up our problem and think that it is more than we can ever face, Num, 13:31-33. Our problem was the same one we always have when we face a difficult situation: we forget about God! Where we see only problems, God sees only solutions. Where we look at things and say, “There’s no way!” God looks at the problem and says, “Follow me, I have a plan!”
Jeremiah :29:11 “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” Hebrew word for thoughts (machashabah) means purpose or plan.
B. V. 15 There Was A Plan – The plan was this, God said, “When the feet of the priests enter Jordan, I am going to part the waters and lead you through on the dry ground!” There was a catch in this plan and it was that the waters would not part until the priests who were carrying the Ark stepped into the water. In other words, it took a step of faith, whereby the people obediently followed the Lord for them to see the miracle come to pass.
What a lesson for you and me. Too often, we want the Lord just to fix everything in our lives for us. We don’t want to have to make any decisions nor do we want to have to exercise our faith in Him. We just want Him to do it and that will be the end of it. However, most of the time, God will require us to take steps of faith in order that we might see our Jordan parted. God had a plan, but for this plan to work, it required faith on the part of His people! The same is true for you and me! As long as we are trying to solve our own problems we are not walking in faith. It is when we turn loose of the reigns of the problem, step away from it and let the Lord have it that we will see it taken care of for His glory. It never is about what we can do, it is always about what the Lord is able to do, Eph. 3:20 “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,”
C. V. 16-17 There Was A Performance – When the priests stepped into that raging river, it parted and God opened a path of dry ground through the waters for His people. By the way, verse 16 says that the waters backed up to the City of Adam. This is over 10 miles north of where the children of Israel were crossing. God made them a path through the water that was more than adequate for His people to get through.
We need to remember that faith honors God and God honors faith! When He does it, it won’t just be patched up and ready to fall apart again, it will be done right and it will be done forever. Folks, I want to encourage you this morning by reminding you that this God Who did this great thing for Israel is still the same God we are serving this morning! What He did them, He can do now. He was ABLE all the way through the Bible, and He is still ABLE today! Regardless of the circumstances, He is still God and He still can! Ill. The question that plagued the Jews,
Ps. 78:19 “Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness?”
God can! Just ask, Noah, Moses, Daniel, the 3 Hebrews, a widow down in Zarephath, the Disciples on a little ship, and Saul of Tarsus. Just look back over your own life. How many times has the Lord opened your Jordan already? He is all we need! He is still the same miracle working God that He always had been. Learn to expect miracles when you are dealing with God!
I. We Need To Examine A Message
II. We Need To Expect A Miracle
III. 4:1-24 WE NEED TO ERECT A MEMORIAL
When all the people had passed over Jordan, Joshua commanded one man from each of the 12 tribes to get a rock from the midst of Jordan and build a memorial on the Canaan side.
A. V, 6-7; 21-24 The Purpose Of The Memorial – These verses tell us that the purpose of the memorial was to remind successive generations of the power and faithfulness of God on behalf of His people. That memorial would be an important landmark to those who would come after.
By the same token, we need some memorials in our lives as well. However, we must use caution, we do no want to embalm the past and by doing so cripple the future. Many churches have done that and are suffering as a result. What we do want to do, however, is remember the things the Lord has done for us so that we can tell others about them and so that when we come that way again, we will remember that the Lord was faithful in that day and that He will be faithful in this day as well. Never forget what the Lord has done for you in your yesterdays. It is those yesterday experiences that will tide you over when the trials of today and tomorrow arise in your life!
B. V. 9, 20 The Picture In The Memorial – It is interesting to notice that Joshua constructed 2 monuments. One on the bank and one in the river. These 2 memorials served 2 different purposes. Notice what they were.
1. V. 20 A Picture Of The Faithfulness Of God – The one on the bank of Jordan stood as a testimony to the faithfulness of God as I have. It was there to remind others of what the Lord had done and what He could do. Again, we need to remember the faithfulness of God in the past. It will help us cross the Jordan we face today.
2. V. 9 A Picture Of The Faith Of The People – Now, what about the rock pile in the river? No one could see it but God! It stood as a monument to the faith of the people! You see, when you face a time of trial, others are often guilty of misjudging your motives and actions, however, only God knows the truth about your heart. Even though Israel couldn’t see it, they knew the monument was there! They remembered that they had believed God then and it had worked. This was a monument in their hearts.
We need that same kind of monument as well. As I said, too often we are misjudged by others in our times of trial, but God alone knows you heart. When you have trusted Him and He has brought you through, never forget it! Build that monument in your heart, where only God can see it, and where you will never forget it and when the tough time comes again, and it will, look at that monument of His faithfulness and of your faith and know that what worked before will work again. God will bring you through your Jordan!
What about your struggles? Is there any chance, any possibility, that you have been selected to struggle for God’s glory? Have you “given for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29)
Here is a clue. Do your prayers seem to be unanswered? What you request and what you receive aren’t matching up? Don’t think God is not listening. Indeed he is. He may have higher plans.
Here is another. Are people strengthened by your struggles? A friend of mine can answer yes. His cancer was consuming more than his body; it was eating away at his faith. Unanswered petitions perplexed him. Well-meaning Christians confused him. “If you have faith,” they said, “you will be healed.”
No healing came. Just more chemo, nausea, and questions. He assumed the fault was a small faith. I suggested another answer. “It’s not about you,” I told him. “Your hospital room is a showcase for your Maker. Your faith in the face of suffering cranks up the volume of God’s song.”
Oh, that you could have seen the relief on his face. To know that he hadn’t failed God and God hadn’t failed him—this made all the difference. Seeing his sickness in the scope of God’s sovereign plan gave his condition a sense of dignity. He accepted his cancer as an assignment from heaven: a missionary to the cancer ward.
A week later I saw him again. “I reflected God,” he said, smiling through a thin face, “to the nurse, the doctors, my friends. Who knows who needed to see God, but I did my best to make him seen.”
Bingo. His cancer paraded the power of Jesus down the Main Street of his world.
God will use whatever he wants to display his glory. Heavens and stars. History and nations. People and problems.
Rather than begrudge your problem, explore it. Ponder it. And most of all, use it. Use it to the glory of God.
I am so sorry about you being sent to the dog pound for the broken lamp which you did not break; the fish you did not spill; and the carpet that you did not wet; or the wall that you did not dirty with red paint.
Things here at the house are calmer now, and just to show you that I have no hard feelings towards you, I am sending you a picture, so you will always remember me.
The Old French root of the word “repent” is “repentir,” which actually means to be sorry. The cat may have said he was sorry, but there is no sorrow here.
It reminds of me of the story of a woman with fourteen children, ages one through fourteen, who decided to sue her husband for divorce on grounds of desertion. “When did he desert you?” the judge asked. “Thirteen years ago,” she replied. “He left 13 years ago? Where did all the children come from?” The woman looked sheepish. “He kept coming back to say he was sorry.”
Again, no sorrow here, for if he’d been truly sorry, he’d have stayed. Sincere repentance always leads to change.
We need to learn how to make a GOOD APOLOGY—one that is sincere and honest. One that gets the job done. Offering a good apology is not something many people do well. But we can learn. It is well said that a good apology has three parts: I am sorry; it is my fault; what can I do to make it right?
I am sorry. Three short words that, when they are heart-felt, can be most difficult to say. But when uttered, they can change lives.
It is my fault. No excuses. No blame. Psychologist Carl Jung insightfully said, “The only person I cannot help is one who blames others.” When we accept fault we have the power to do something about it. When we pass the blame, we are helpless to keep it from happening again.
What can I do to make it right? Unless we change something, nothing changes. A good apology is followed by action. Otherwise, it is only words.
If you are going to apologize, apologize well. Never ruin your apology with an excuse and back it up with action.
Learning how to make a good apology is too important to neglect. It’s part of maintaining whole and healthy relationships. And it’s something we can practice today.
—Steve Goodier —LifeSupportSystem.com Used by permission