"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
June 4, 2014
In Joshua chapter three we read the story of the Israelites finally crossing the Jordan river to enter into Canaan, which was the promised land. It had been forty years since they had been delivered from slavery from the Egyptians by the guidance of Moses. The journey from Egypt to Canaan shouldn't have taken forty years, but due to the Israelites disobedience, unbelief, and lack of faith they ended up wandering in the wilderness far longer than God ever intended.
Moses had died, and now Joshua had taken over as their leader. The only thing standing between them and the land that God had promised them was the Jordan river. Joshua has been given specific instructions from the Lord regarding how they are going to get across this barrier.
In verse 13, Joshua tells the people, "The priests will carry the Ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth. As soon as their feet touch the water, the flow of water will be cut off upstream, and the river will stand up like a wall."
That's exacted what happened! As the priests and the people obeyed, God fulfilled His word, and the people crossed over on the dry riverbed.
I'm sure that there were those who had spent time trying to figure out how they were going to get all the people and their possessions across the Jordan. Perhaps they were thinking that they would need to build rafts or boats. The river was overflowing its banks at that time, so many probably thought that Joshua should wait until the flooding subsided and the current calmed down. Some may have even been trying to figure out if there was a way around the river; or where the narrowest point of crossing would be. This wasn't a small group of people, but there were several thousand men, plus their wives and children. Getting that many people across the Jordan river must have seemed an insurmountable task.
But God had a plan that none of them had even thought of! As soon as the priests' feet touched the water at the edge of the river, He was going to cause the water to be cut off upstream and the river stand up like a wall, and the river downstream to flow on to the Dead Sea; the riverbed becoming empty so the people could cross on dry ground. They didn't cross through mud and mire, but God caused the riverbed to become dry for their trek across. How was that even possible?! Yet God miraculously did the impossible!
In Isaiah 43:1b-3a (NLT) God says, "....Do not be afraid, for I have ransomed you. I have called you by name; you are mine. When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior."
There are many of us who are praying about specific needs. Perhaps it is the salvation of a family member. It may be a financial need or career change. Perhaps it's a health issue that you or a loved one is dealing with. It may be something personal that you can't share with others, but something that has you burdened down. Maybe you are desiring a child, but are unable to conceive. There are many, many different situations that we each deal with.
We may know what the Word of God says and believe that God is going to answer our prayer. We may have even had a trusted believer speak a word of confirmation to us. We don't doubt that God is able to intervene and answer our prayers, but we see the "river" between us and the promise and we can't figure out how we're going to get across. It is overflowing its banks, the current is swift, there are tree limbs floating in the water, causing the crossing to look impossible, according to the eyes of the flesh.
The Israelites had been camping beside the river for three days, looking at that roiling Jordan river. But when God instructed them to move out, they had to pack up their tents and step out in faith. All they had to go on was the word that the Lord had given to Joshua. But they chose to obey and pack up their belongings and pull down their tents.
Sometimes God is waiting for us to take that step of faith and move out of our comfort zone, so that He can do something miraculous in our lives. We have to pull down our tent and prepare to cross over the Jordan, relatively speaking, even though it looks impossible. God may want to answer our prayers in such a way that credit can never be given to an individual and they receive the glory. Perhaps He is desiring our focus and attention to be solely on Him. God may want to astound us with accomplishing something that seems so over the top and far-fetched and impossible. But He can only do so when we exercise our faith and step into the water to cross over to take hold of His promise for us.
God has promised that He will be with us in the deep waters, and when we go through the river of difficulty that we will not drown. God desires for us to stop wandering around in the wilderness and enter into the promise that He has for us.
Joshua 3:15 says that it was harvest season, and the Jordan was overflowing its banks.
I find it interesting that God would plan the timing of the crossing to coincide with the harvest season. Once they crossed the Jordan and entered into the land that God had prepared for them, they would find fields of crops and fruit trees to sustain them all. They didn't have a lot of provisions with them, but God prepared the timing so that they would have food to eat until they could get settled. After forty years of leaving Egypt, the Israelites finally reaped the harvest of promise that God had prepared for them long ago.
Galatians 6:9 (NLT) says, "So let's not get tired of doing what it good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up."
When we step out in faith to take hold of the promise that God has for us, cross over the overflowing river to get to it, then we reap the harvest that He has for us. Each of our harvests will look differently, because we are all in need of different things. But God specifically has a harvest prepared for each of us in our land of promise.
Nothing is too difficult for God. No situation is too hard for Him to handle. God can turn our impossibilities into possibilities! He can take a situation that looks hopeless and restore hope and bring about restoration. God can give us that miracle of "parting the river and making the water stand up like a wall so we can cross the riverbed on dry ground" - whatever that may mean or look like for each of us. God can amaze us with His creativity and insight and miraculous ability. Then we can reap our harvest. Absolutely nothing is too difficult or impossible for God!
Earlier in Joshua 3, the Israelites came to the Jordan, and camped for 3 days before they found out anything. I expect many of them were wondering why Joshua wasn't doing anything. They probably thought he should be getting people to build rafts or something.
On the third day, they were told to get ready because something would happen the next day. They were to watch for the ark of the covenant, and follow behind it a little over half a mile. So again, they waited another night, probably with mixed feelings of expectations and doubt.
The next day, a small group carried the ark into the edge of the water. And 'tada!', still nothing. God stopped up the water far upstream of the Israelites, where it wasn't visible. It may have been a long time before they were able to notice that the edge of the water started to draw back. But from over half a mile away, they probably still had doubts. And it could have taken all day for the water to dry up so the bed of the Jordan was dry land.
Sometimes we can have all the faith in the world. We may see the bearers of the ark step into the water, and expect some miracle, like rocks rising up to the surface, or a bridge to appear, or someone to show up with a huge raft. But when we watch, and see nothing, it's easy to lose faith. Joshua told the people that God would take them across on dry land that morning, but when nothing seemed to happen, it would be easy to think Joshua wasn't so anointed as he said.
But they waited, and were rewarded.
Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas
Monterey Jack or Pepper Jack Cheese
2 cans Cream of Chicken Soup
Sliced Jalapeno Peppers (optional)
16 oz. Sour Cream
Cook chicken; debone and cut into chunks or shred. (I often cheat and buy a rotisserie chicken to debone and use.) Saute onions in a small amount of butter or oil. Mix cream of chicken soups and sour cream together; set aside. Mix onion and chicken together. Put chicken and onion mixture in each tortilla and roll up; line up in a large baking pan. Pour soup/sour cream mixture over the top. Bake at 350 for 25 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from oven and add cheese to the top; heat until the cheese is melted. Add sliced jalapeno slices to the top, if desired.
My sister, Janie, recently had this conversation with her grandson, Jax:
Jax: Who are you?
Janie: I'm Grandma.
Jax: But you look like Aunt 'Retta today!
Janie: What about me is different?
Jax: We-ell, you look like 'Retta?!?!
(Janie had just dyed her salt-and-pepper hair to the same shade as Loretta's.)
Nothing makes a person such a good listener as eavesdropping. - Franklin P Jones
We love you!
Loretta & Jon