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A Faith That Works
“Living God’s Dream”
God put us upon this earth for a reason. God has a plan and a dream for our lives. God wants to use us for a great purpose beyond what any of us could every possibly imagine.
However, we have a problem when it comes to God’s purpose for our lives. It involves the barriers we put up in our minds and hearts. Barriers that say, “How could God ever use someone like me?”
But for God to use us we have to change the way we think. The Bible says as a person things in their heart, that is who they’re going to be, Proverbs 23:7.
Therefore, since God has a dream, purpose, and plan for our lives, what we need to do is find out what that is, because if we’re not being used by God then what are we doing with our lives.
The Bible says,
“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9 NKJV)
The Apostle Paul is saying that God’s plan and dream is mind-boggling. It’s so fantastic that we can’t even imagine it.
Through Jeremiah the Lord says,
“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you … thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 NKJV)
Paul tells us that God is able to do abundantly more for us than what we could ever possible ask or imagine, Ephesians 2:30.
We are made in the image and likeness of God, and seeing that God is the Creator, He has made us to be creative as well, and in that creativity He’s given us the ability to imagine. So, imagine what God can do in and through your life?
Unfortunately, many people have no imagination when it comes to what God wants to do. Even though we can marvel at man’s imagination, we still can’t imagine God using us.
But God wants to use us in great and mighty ways. Therefore we need to employ that imagination. Where is our imagination for God’s kingdom? Can we dream God’s dream for our lives? And then when God starts revealing it, we need to start living it.
Tonight I’d like to continue looking at the life of Joshua, and from his life there are four things we need to do if we desire to be used by God. And know this, that God has done remarkable things through ordinary people who imagined their lives as something more.
One of the biggest imagination busters is doubt. We must let go of doubt to move into the dreams, plans, and purposes of God.
Doubt limits our potential. It causes procrastination and we miss out on God’s best. We see this doubt in our words. We say, “I doubt that God could use me.” We doubt God by coming up with all these excuses.
The Apostle James says that if anyone lacks wisdom they need to ask God, and God will liberally supply whatever wisdom is needed. But then he adds,
But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt…That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.” (James 1:6-7 NIV)
Before God can use us we’ve go to deal with this doubt issue.
Joshua had a problem with doubt as well, in the military it would have been said that he had a confidence problem. And who wouldn’t. Look who he was following, Moses.
Who of us would like to be the follow up act to Moses? Moses was like Johnny Carson with Joshua being Ed McMahon.
And then there’s the assignment. He was to lead the children of Israel into the Promise Land, something Moses failed to do.
Joshua had his doubts. Why do I know this, because right before the campaign God had to give Joshua a pep talk, and three times He tells Joshua to be strong and courageous.
“Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9 NKJV)
The Lord was telling Joshua to dump his doubts because God was going to be with him.
Doubt is a choice. People choose to doubt, rather than live by faith. What’s even sadder is that people believe their doubts and doubt their beliefs. Instead let’s begin to doubt our doubts and believe in what we say we believe in, and that God wants to use us and give us great and precious promises.
There are two basic things that cause doubts
Instead of looking to God, we start looking at everybody else. We say they have more talent, better abilities, more education and experience. Or they may be like me, better looking. Maybe I should doubt my belief in that one!
The Bible says that comparing ourselves to others is a foolish thing to do.
“But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!” (2 Corinthians 10:12b NLT)
Joshua was constantly comparing himself to Moses, which is why God had to remind Joshua that Moses was indeed dead, Joshua 1:2a.
The second thing that causes self-doubt is
Remembering our past failures is like putting on a movie in our minds and replaying it over and over again.
God doesn’t want us to focus on our past. Knowing our past mistakes helps us from repeating them, but focusing on them keeps us from moving forward. Focusing on our past is never going to help us in the present, nor will it allow God to use us in the future.
Think about people God used in the Bible. Moss was a murderer before he became the deliverer. Jacob was a liar and manipulator before he became the father to the twelve tribes. King David was an adulterer and murderer. Abraham gave his wife away, not once but twice. “Save my life, take my wife.” Paul was a religious terrorist, and Peter was hardheaded, had a temper, and was always putting his foot in his mouth.
But God wanted to use them just as He wants to use us.
The Apostle Paul said,
“Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.” (Philippians 3:13 NKJV)
The second thing if we want to be used by God is to
Even at the beginning God reminds Joshua of the promise He made.
“Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given you, as I said to Moses.” (Joshua 1:3 NKJV)
When God makes a promise He keeps it. If He says He’s going to use us, then He’ll use us. If he says He’ll bless us, then He’ll bless us. God keeps Him promises and His word.
Even at the end of his life Joshua confirmed this reality.
“You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the LORD your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed.” (Joshua 23:14 NIV)
If you want to be used by God, believe in His promises. The place you find His promises is in the Bible. If we’re going to grow in our faith, we’ve got to build our faith on God’s word.
To Joshua God promised three things.
If you want to get God’s promises for you life, get into the Bible. This is what God told Joshua.
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8 NKJV)
Notice the order of the wording. Success doesn’t’ happen until there’s obedience. Success is not based on our ability; rather its’ based on our commitment to God’s word.
And so first we need to dump our doubts, and then believe in God’s promises.
To lean means you have to depend on whatever you are leaning upon. If you lean on a wall, you are trusting the wall will hold you up. And that’s what God is asking for us to do.
To Joshua God said,
“No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life; as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5 NKJV)
God is saying, “Joshua, lean on Me.” And that’s what Joshua did. When Joshua leaned on God he was undefeatable. But when he stopped and leaned upon his own understanding, then he failed.
After defeating Jericho and Ai Joshua and the elders were feeling pretty confident. When a group of men came into camp seeking a treaty because they were from a far away land, Joshua and the elders looked at their clothing and supplies an made the treaty. Only later did they realize they lived right next-door and they weren’t then able to attack nor possess their land.
Joshua forgot to inquire of God first; he leaned upon his own understanding and didn’t look to get God’s take.
The Bible says,
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJV)
Who or what are we leaning upon for strength? Is it other people, possessions, or power? These are shaky ground that will let us down in the end. We can’t even lean upon ourselves, and that’s because we make promises we can’t keep.
But having a faith that works is having faith that God will hold us up and keep His promises.
There comes a time when we have to stop discussing what God has called us to do and do it. We have to step out by faith. If God tells us then lets’ stop praying about it and do it.
We have to step out in spite of our feelings, fears, and doubts. There’s a time when we have to get off our blessed assurances and get it in gear.
This is what Joshua did.
“Then Joshua commanded the officers of the people.” (Joshua 1:10 NKJV)
The moment had come. God commanded they move. So they had to finally go for it. They had to cross the Jordan River, which at any other time would haven’t been a problem, but now the river was big and scary. It was the flood season and there were no bridges.
They had to step out in faith, which is what they literally did. The priest carried the Ark of the Covenant in front and literally stepped into the water. Here they were with water up to their waist. But they believed God’s promises and stepped out in faith, and God stopped the waters several miles up. And the people crossed over.
So the question becomes, what is your Jordan? What is that barrier that stops you from being used by God? Whatever it is, step out in faith. And understand the first step is always the hardest, but we have to move forward by faith.
Those first two priests had to step into a raging river before God would stop the water flow, and there they had to stand with rushing water up to their waist the river receded.
God said to Joshua, “Be strong and very courageous.” Courage isn’t the absence of fear; rather it’s moving forward in spite of our fear. God’s miracle and purpose is waiting ahead of us, not behind us.
Some say, “I’m too old for this stepping out business.” But Joshua was about 80 years old at the time.
Others say, “Now isn’t a good time.” But look at what Solomon says,
“He who observes the wind will not sow, and he who regards the clouds will not reap.” (Ecclesiastes 11:4 NKJV)
Solomon was saying that if we’re waiting for the right time or perfect conditions, then we’ll never get anything done.
Can you imagine what God wants to do in your life? There’s no greater thrill than being used by God.
And if God isn’t using us, then we’re wasting the life He has so graciously given.
So let’s dump our doubts, believe in God’s promises, lean upon the Lord, and step out by faith in the purposes and will of God.
Begin living God’s dream for you life.
Wednesday Evening Bible Study