You Can Do It
You Can Do It,
But, Will You?
Theme: Consecrating for Change to Meet the Challenge
Henry David Thoreau once said, “Be not simply good, be good for something.” Today, the question to you is: will you take the challenge? Will you take the dare, the confrontation, and the defiance? Will you bite the bullet, be brave and meet it head on? Will you deal with it, face up to it, stop hiding and do what needs to be done?
A newborn baby is challenged to suck in its first breath. Children today are challenged to conform and to hop on bandwagons of diversity, homosexuality, drug indulgence and immoral consciences. When many of us were children, the bandwagon was one of commonness. There are family challenges, challenges of poverty, mental and physical health challenges, political challenges, cognitive challenges and even criminals have judicial challenges of avoiding 3 strikes. There are challenges of war, challenges on land, in air and sea, gay people challenge straight people; small people challenge big people; challenges from the past and challenges about the future; challenges with what we think we know, and challenges about what we speculate; challenges of skill and ability and wants and desires. The world is full of challenges and people in the world are faced with these challenges moment by moment.
But the all important question remains: what will you do with the challenges you face? Will you deny them, fail at them, be fearful of them, or accept and meet them? As you do some introspection, can you think of a challenge you faced in life that you did not meet, one that you did not overcome, and can you remember the consequences from that failure? There is one challenge that every person must ultimately face. One will face this challenge either in this life or face the consequences of ignoring it in the next. At some point every person must decide what to do with Jesus. We know that ultimately every knee must bow and every tongue must confess, but what have you decided to do with Him right now? Some of you have faced the challenge and received Him as Lord and Savior. Some of you act like people who have received Him as Lord and Savior, and still others are just evading the challenge.
To those who have received the Lord as Savior remains another challenge to live the Christian life to the fullest.
From our texts today, we will find three (3) aspects of this challenge. There is:
§ The consecration for the challenge
§ The confidence in the challenge
§ The community of the challenge
When something is consecrated, it is said to have devotion towards something; or sanctification for something; to be dedicated and committed to something an allegiance and perseverance towards something.
Joshua was such a man. Let me just unpack this scripture for you. We find that 40 years earlier Joshua and Caleb had assured the Jews, “Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.” That’s faith! But the people said, “We are not able!” That’s unbelief, and it cost the nation forty years of discipline in the wilderness. In the Christian life you’re either an over comer or you’re overcome, a victor or a victim.
As the nation was waiting by the Jordan River, they must have wondered what Joshua planned to do to get across. The river was at flood stage, so any attempt to cross was almost surely deadly. But like Moses, who had been before him, Joshua received his orders from the Lord. Someone has well said that faith is not believing in spite of evidence but obeying in spit of consequence. Joshua had to act because living faith always leads to action. I know that because Abraham believed God and left Ur and headed for Canaan; Moses believed God and defied the gods of Egypt and led the Jews to freedom; and Gideon believed God and led a small band of Jews to defeat the huge Midianite army.
Not only did Joshua receive his orders from God, but he was also consecrated to the challenge before him. You see he was an early riser who spent the first hours of the day in communion with God. Just like Moses and Hezakiah and our Lord. In Joshua we find the order of the challenge and the promise of the challenge. After hearing from God, Joshua ordered the camp to move ten miles from the Acacia Grove to the Jordan. It probably took Israel a day to make the journey; they rested another day; and on thee third day, the officers gave them their orders: they were to cross the river, following the Ark of the Covenant. The Ark, the place where God’s glory rested in the tabernacle and God sat “enthroned between the cherubim.” The Ark going before them was an encouragement to their faith, for it meant that God was going before them and opening up the way. God is our companion as we go through life, and the Holy Spirit leads our way.
In verse 5 of Joshua 3, we find both an order and a promise. “Consecrate or sanctify yourselves . . . God will do wonders among you.” It is probable that “sanctify” here meant that everybody bathed and changed their clothes and that married couples devoted themselves wholly to the Lord (Ex. 19 and 1 Cor. 7) In the Bible, imagery of washing one’s body and changing clothes symbolized making a new beginning with the Lord. Much like when Jacob made a new beginning and returned to Bethel; or King David after confessing his sin, he bathed, changed clothes and worshipped the Lord. The promise was that the Lord would do wonders among them. Just as He had opened the Red Sea before, He would also open the Jordan River and take them into the Promised Land. He would go with them in the land, defeat their enemies, and enable the tribes to claim their inheritance.
By this great miracle, the crossing of the Jordan River at flood stage by a nation of about 2 million people, God was glorified, Joshua was exalted, Israel was encouraged, and the Canaanites were terrorized.
For Israel the crossing of the Jordan meant they were irrevocably committed to a struggle against armies, chariots, and fortified cities. They were also committed to walk by faith in the living God and to turn from walking according to the flesh as they had often done in the wilderness.
For believers today, crossing the Jordan represents passing from one level of the Christian life to another. (It is not a picture of a believer dying and entering heaven. For the Israelites Canaan was hardly heaven!) It is a picture of entering into spiritual warfare to claim what God has promised. This should mean the end of a life lived by human effort and the beginning of a life of faith and obedience.
You have an inheritance from the Lord today, part of which you can receive and enjoy right now. The order is to seek and obey, the promise is that all things that you need, He will supply. Wherever you go, the Lord is with you for He said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Whenever you are entreated by the enemy, God fights your battle for Paul says to leave room for the wrath of God for it is written, “vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord.
But you have to consecrate yourselves. You have to set yourselves apart for His use and service. You can do it, but will you? It means moving out of the wilderness of doubt into the full blessing of the Spirit-led life. It means giving up you old, preconceived ideas about what you think Christianity is all about. Will you do it? It’s means obeying God’s Word, in spite of the consequences. Will you do it? It means leaving your comfort zone and daring to walk into areas that you have avoided in the past. Will you do it? It means not understanding but willing to follow those who have rule over you in the Spirit. Will you do it? It means keeping your mouth shut and letting your walk speak. Can you do it?
In Acts we find reason to have confidence about the challenge. To experience this confidence, this belief in the challenge, to be sincere and have a passion for the challenge and faith in the challenge, we need to accept the role of the carrier and be familiar with the power.
In Acts we learn that the power of the church comes from the Holy Spirit and not form man. You see, the ministry of the Holy Spirit is not a luxury; it is an absolute necessity. The word translated “power” in the Greek is dunamis. It is an inherent power that resides in a thing by virtue of its nature. It can also been seen as an army or host with strength and ability. If you rely on natural ability, then you will get natural power. Natural power is your power. It is limited. It is dependable upon your exertion and decision to use it. It can be mastered and over-taken by another, stronger power. Natural power can only deal with natural occurrences. It can only deal with what is seen and heard and touched and smelled and what is tasted. Natural power has to be built up. It may fail you.
But dunamis power is different. It is an independent power. It is independent of any person or thing. It cannot fail. It can work in the physical world and in the invisible world. It is limitless and knows no boundaries. It is God’s power. It is the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead. It is resident and available to every believer in Christ. It is the only power that can enable you to live the Christian life today.
Dunamis power is within every carrier of the witness of Jesus Christ; the witness who tells what she has seen and heard. You see, some of God’s people have a calling to evangelize, but all of God’s people are expected to be witnesses and to tell the lost about the Savior. In Acts, the disciples were admonished to spread the Gospel from Jerusalem to Judea and Samaria and then to the Gentiles and to the ends of the earth.
In Matthew 28, commonly called the Great Commission, we find the community for the challenge. Within the community there is both a contact needed and a command given. It is worthy to note, however, that the first part of verse 19 is not a command that says we are to go. For so long Christians have held the idea that one must somehow go out to some foreign country, personally, in order to fulfill this edict. Usually, the congregation pays the pastor to preach, win the lost, and build up the saved – while the church members function as cheerleaders (if they are enthusiastic) or spectators. The “converts” are won, baptized, and given the right hand of fellowship, and then they join the other spectators.
However, in the original language, the Greek verb translated as “go” is actually not a command but a present participle meaning (going). Jesus said, “While you are going, make disciples of all the nations.” The command is to “teach all nations.” While you are going to the store, be a witness. While you are having your hair done, be my witness. While you are waiting in the doctor’s office, be my witness. While you are working, be my witness. While you are gossiping, be my witness. While you are eating, be my witness. While you are on the bus, be my witness. You can do it, but will you? God told Joshua that wherever his feet would tread, He had already given to you. In effect, He was saying however much you want, it’s yours.
It’s true for you today. You can have as much of the power of the Holy Spirit and live as much of the Christian life as you want. If you are not satisfied with your walk today, if you are not experiencing any real victories, if you are not seeing wonders in your life, it is because you haven’t really wanted any more.
The land of Canaan is described as abundant and far-reaching, a land in which you will find all you need, in every area of life. That is the Christian life that Jesus dies for you to have. That is the Christian, spirit led life that is available to you and waiting for you to possess today. The secret of living in the land includes both a promise and a presence; an obedient heart and an empowering spirit. You can have it and you can do it, but will you?
Jesus said, “I’ve come that you might have life and have it more abundantly.” Does that describe you today? Are you living the life that He gave His life for?
I know that He came to this sinful world just because He had each one of us in mind. He lived among men and was tempted in every point of temptation just as we are. Yet, He never compromised with sin or yield to the temptation. He learned and He taught. Though He was the Word, He learned the Word and became witness to the Word.
Everywhere He went, wonders followed. He accepted His challenge, He confronted evil, and He met the challenge of providing for our future, head on. You see, with sheer devotion, steadfast dedication, pure allegiance and profound commitment, He became the sin bearer and allowed Himself to be hung on a cross, becoming a curse in our place.
His greatest agony was the separation from His Father as He bore our sin and accepted the wages of the same. The wages of sin is death, and died He did. Men argue today over who really killed Him. Was it the Jews? I think not! Was it the Romans? I think not! Was it the centurion? I think not! Was it the Pharisees? I think not! If anybody is to blame, if anyone is responsible it is I and it is you. All of us collectively are the reason for His death, but even we did not take His life. You see, no man had the power or the authority to take His life. Yet, He laid it down, willingly. He gave His life so that we might have a life.
He died so that you might live and He asks one thing of you now. The Father raised Him from the dead on the 3rd day through the power of the Holy Spirit. That same power, that dunamis power, is with you today. That power is waiting for you to consecrate yourself, to come out from among them and be separate. That power is waiting for you to decide to meet the challenges that are before you today.
Oh, you may have some physical challenges, but you’ve got dunamis. You may feel challenged by the economy, but you’ve got dunamis. You may think that your past failures are far reaching, but you’ve got dunamis. Paul said, “Forgetting those things that are behind, I press on toward the mark for the high calling in Christ Jesus.” You can do it, but will you?
Whatever changes need to be made to get you to the place of meeting and over-taking your challenges, you can do it, but will you? How do you meet the challenge? You shout it out! Not with literal detergent, but much like the people of Bible times, you need to bathe yourselves in the Word of God, change your clothes and put on the newness of Christ Jesus and wrap yourselves in the Holy Spirit. Start new, right now, right where you are. You can do it, but will you? It’s not all about numbers within these walls, but it is about the quality of your service. Are you devoted, dedicated and sanctified to the complete Word of God? Are you willing to let go of old opinions, old ways, unfounded ideas and wrong interpretations and latch on to the trueness, the completeness, and the reality of Gods Word? You can do it, but will you?