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Preparing For a Movement

Preparing For a Movement

When you think about your aspirations for the future, what is it that you want most? What are the results you want to see most? What are you doing to make those results more likely?

How are you dedicating yourself to what you say you want most?

If you most want to double your salary this year, how are you dedicating yourself to making that happen?

If you most want to help your 4 year old get into a coveted San Francisco preschool, how are you dedicating yourself to seeing that take place?

If you most want a physically fit body this year, how are you dedicating yourself to doing all you can so that becomes your reality?

It seems like there are obvious things we should do to attain what we’re after. But what if what we wanted most was to see a movement of God in our lives, our church, and this city? Experiencing an unusual outpouring of His Spirit, seeing those far from God place their faith in Jesus, and witnessing miracles we used to assume were impossible.

If we really want to see a movement of God here, what kinds of things should we dedicate ourselves to?

This is what I want to talk about today in a message I’m calling, “Preparing For a Movement”. Our teaching text is Joshua 3. God used Moses to free the Israelites from their slavery in Egypt and lead them into the promised land. Joshua had been an assistant to Moses. But now Moses is dead and God calls Joshua into a new realm of leadership. God tells him to get the people ready to cross the Jordan River and step into the land He’s about to give them. God tells Joshua, “I will give you every place where you set your foot. Be strong and courageous; don’t be afraid.”

Joshua 3:1-5 Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. After three days the officers went throughout the camp, giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, and the Levitical priests carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.” Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you.”

It has been God’s intention to lead His people into this new land. Because of their unwillingness and disobedience, they have so far missed out on the very thing God wanted to do for them.

There is more God has for us than most of us are experiencing right now.

Hear this as an invitation, not a statement to make you feel guilty.

They were told to follow the ark of the covenant. The ark of the covenant was a rectangular box made of acacia wood. It was covered with gold and was carried on poles inserted in rings at the lower corners. It represented the divine presence guiding his people.

They were told to keep their distance from the ark; “do not go near it.” There are two great realities to God’s presence and it’s so easy for us to emphasize only one of them. God is with us; He intends to have intimacy with us. But God is also holy. He’s something beyond anything else. He is the most SET APART BEING in the universe. We read in other places in Scripture where anyone who touched the ark of the covenant died. Does God still care about holiness?

1 Peter 1:13-16 Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming. As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Take note that we don’t gain a right standing with God by being holy. We have set our hope on the grace of Jesus. But as people who now belong to Jesus, we want to be holy like He is holy.

They were to follow the ark. And here’s the reason – “then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before.”

If God wants to take us where we’ve never been before, who is the leader and who is the follower?

Sometimes we ask God for direction and guidance. And here’s what we tend to mean: God, if you’ll just point me in the general direction – I can come up with the specifics. Or God, if you’ll just give me what I want…I already know how to do the rest. Do we really want God just to show up once a year or once a month and give us the general direction, when He’s offering to be with us and guide us moment-by-moment? What He once did by this ark, He now does by His Spirit that lives within us.

Consecration is how we posture our lives for a movement of God. We’re not saying, “God, if we do this thing, you have to do this other thing.”

Consecration is not so much us making a deal with God; it is more us preparing the way for God and preparing ourselves for God’s ways.

It’s us saying, “God, we want to set ourselves apart. We want to be used by you and for you.” Consecration involves separating ourselves from what is unclean and dedicating ourselves to God.

What we do today paves the way for what comes tomorrow.

This is the principle of sowing and reaping that God has woven into the very fabric of the universe.

Galatians 6:7-8 Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

“The things we do, do something to us. They shape the people we become.”

This story with Joshua and the Israelites gets even crazier.

Joshua 3:14-17 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest. Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the water’s edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing. It piled up in a heap a great distance away, at a town called Adam in the vicinity of Zarethan, while the water flowing down to the Sea of the Arabah (that is, the Dead Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

They stepped in and the river stopped flowing. But they had to take a step. What might we see God do as we take a step? You read stories like this and you wonder, “This is a great Old Testament story about consecration and movement. Is there still a correlation between these things?

2 Timothy 2:20-21 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

I think there’s still a correlation between consecration and how God moves.

How Consecration Prepares Us

• We become instruments for special purposes.

• We are made holy.

• We become useful to the Master.

• We are prepared to do any good work God calls us into.

Dedication as Preparation. Preparation Matters.

We don’t have to know all of God’s plans for the future in order to prepare for that future.

What if God’s commitment to a movement will mirror our commitment to consecration?

How will you consecrate your use of time? Your mind? Your body? Your use of money? Your use of words? This is all about attachments and detachments. We are detaching ourselves from the things that don’t help us orient our lives around Jesus and we are attaching ourselves to the things that help us orient our lives around Jesus. There are things to start doing and things to stop doing. There are other things we should just do less of and of course some we are doing already that we should do more of.

Who knows what God will do on the other side of our consecration? Will consecration be something we give ourselves to on this side of a movement of God?

What is God asking us as a church to step into? Prayer movement. Living our faith. Sharing our faith. Serving. Moving from barely being generous to overflowing with generosity? Consecrating 414 Brannan that it might become a beacon.

How do we respond:

Cleansing – What in your life is not of God? Confession/Repentance/Leave it Behind

Dedicating Yourself in a Fresh Way

Maybe you’ve called yourself a Christian, but here’s the reality – there is no evidence in your life that the Spirit of God lives in you. Today there’s an invitation to receive what Jesus has done, to offer your whole life to Him. Remember it’s by grace not by earning.

Altar: Consecrating ourselves. Symbolizing our Surrender to God and His ways.

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