Crossing Over, Preparation, Study Guide

Crossing Over

Newbreak’s Sermon Study Guide is an in-house resource that serves sermon-based Life Groups and/or individuals who want to reflect further on how the message contributes to their spiritual formation. In this week’s study, we celebrate our long journey in fueling and funding translators who have brought the New Testament into the Enga language for the first time, comparing how this journey is like that of the Israelites crossing the Jordan River.

Icebreakers for Life Groups

  • If you had an unlimited supply of one thing, what would it be? Why?
  • Have you ever had a frightful experience with water? Whether having to drive through a large amount or swim or getting caught in a riptide at the beach?

Point 1 – Take the first step of faith, even when I can’t see what’s next.

Read Joshua 3:6–17

How do I get to be part of a really big story?

Give this command to the priests who carry the Ark of the Covenant: ‘When you reach the banks of the Jordan River, take a few steps into the river and stop there.’ (Joshua 3:8, NLT)

It’s easy to look back at something, knowing how the story goes, and expect the courage to live by faith to be easy. What do we mean? For the Israelites, crossing the Jordan River was no easy feat. If you are picturing a small, babbling brook, get that picture out of your head! This is a raging river that was overflowing on the banks and probably ten to twelve feet deep (see Joshua 3:15). Also, the Israelites didn’t have all the technology that we have. The only way to the other side was through the river. You have men, women, children, cattle, supplies, etc. It is not easy to get all of that over safely. There was actually a valid concern.

And instead of making it easier, God set it up to make it even more difficult. God has them cross the Jordan during the time of the year when it was most dangerous. Rivers don’t flow the same year-round, and the Jordan was no exception. Springtime meant the flooding and raging of the river. He tells them to cross when it was most dangerous to cross. He puts them upfront, “in the splash zone,” at a time when the Jordan would have been overflowing on the banks.

What we see here is that God often leads us to the banks of life’s rivers–exciting things lie on the other side–but the waters are raging and it can feel uncertain. But if God led you to that bank, and if He is calling you to the other side, then He will make a way! In this case, before the waters are upheld, God asks the priests to take the first steps into the water. The raging waters weren’t brought to a halt by God until they took that first step into the water (Joshua 3:15–16). Sometimes God wants us to take the first step before He shows up in the power that He promised to provide.

"God often provides a vision and a next step but hardly ever reveals the whole path. It’s like being surrounded by darkness. You are able to see the lighthouse you are trying to get to and have a lamp in hand showing you the footing for the next step, but the rest of the pathway remains a mystery until you edge forward with each step of light."

As a church, we have been upfront and in the action of fueling and funding the translation of the Bible for the Enga tribes in Papua New Guinea. It has not been without its obstacles, but because of the perseverance of all involved, for the first time ever the tribes there will have the New Testament in their own language! And if that is not amazing enough, get this: These tribes didn’t even have a concept for forgiveness. So, not only are we introducing the gospel to them in their native tongue, we are introducing the life-changing power of gospel truths, such as forgiveness.

Questions for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

  • Try to picture the Israelites’ situation. What would it feel like to be in their shoes? What verse from Joshua 3:6–17 grips your attention? Why?
  • When we talk about taking steps of faith, we are referring to the context of those steps of faith where God is leading you. Take a moment to reflect if needed. Where do you see God leading you? What steps of faith are required in which you can’t see the outcome?

Point 2 – Create memorials to celebrate milestone moments.

Read Joshua 4:1–10

We create memorials in our daily lives for all sorts of things. We take pictures to capture the first time our children do almost anything. We keep a menu from a first date. We buy a shirt at our first concert, and every concert thereafter. We buy our sport’s teams jerseys and hats. We want to remember the important things in our lives. This is easier to do when we have little reminders all around us. We put these items around our houses, or in our offices, not just as reminders for us, but so we can tell the story associated with the items, or pictures, when someone asks. All of these are memorials we set up.

God wants us to do the same thing with memories when He works in our lives. He wants us to make a point of recognizing the miracles He does for us and He wants us to share those stories with the next generation. Do we have pictures hanging up of when we got baptized? What about when our friend, or family member, decided to give their lives to Christ? Do we keep mementos of when God answered a long term prayer in our lives? Do we celebrate the day we got saved the same way we celebrate a birthday?

To serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever (‭‭Joshua‬ ‭4:6–7,‬ ‭NIV‬‬). We want to set our lives up in such a way that the people around us have opportunities to ask questions that lead to us being able to share what God has done, and is doing, in our lives. We want to do this to leave lasting legacies, eternal legacies, for future generations.

Questions for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

  • What has God done in your life that you could memorialize with a memento, or a picture? What story could you share with friends, or loved ones, about this memory?
  • What memories do you have about becoming a Christ-follower? Is this story easy to relate? Why, or why not? Do you get excited when you think of it? Who can you share this memory with? Friends, co-workers, family, kids?

Point 3 – Lasting legacy isn’t just about how history will be told, but how the future will be lived.

Red Joshua 4:21-24

As humans, we all have a deep desire to be remembered. We want our lives to have mattered, to have made an impact in the world. The greatest impact we can have is when we do something that not only leads to being remembered, but also leads to future generations living better lives because of what we have done with our lives. He did this so all the nations of the earth might know that the Lord’s hand is powerful, and so you might fear the Lord your God forever (‭‭Joshua‬ ‭4:24,‬ ‭NLT‬‬). We still talk about what God did in the lives of the Israelites thousands of years later because they took steps of obedience and God did a great miracle among them. They made sure to tell their children, and their children’s children, for generations so we would have an example of God’s people literally stepping out in faith and seeing God’s miracles follow.

We have great opportunities today to see God do miraculous work in the world around us. We just need to take that first step of faith. That’s it. It’s hard to take that first step, but we have the examples of those who have gone before us to strengthen our resolve. The Israelites had the example of crossing the Red Sea before they stepped into the Jordan. Not only do we have all of the stories in the Bible to give us the courage to take that first step of faith, but we have all of the times God has been faithful to His promises to us and to the other believers around us. Let’s share those stories with each other, to build each other up, to strengthen each other, so that more and more we can take hold of all that God has for us. We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders (‭‭Psalms‬ ‭78:4‬, ‭NLT‬‬).

Questions for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection

  • What kind of lasting legacy would you like to leave behind for those who come after you? Is there a first step you think God is leading you to take? What is it?
  • What ways has God shown His faithfulness to you, or those you know, that can build your faith today?
  • What part of this story in Joshua builds your faith the most? Why?

Final Challenge Questions

  • How are you going to think differently in light of what you have read, heard, and discussed this week?
  • What is one thing you are going to change in your life in light of the sermon?
  • BONUS: For those of you with kids or around kids: What is one truth from this message that you can share with your kids?

About the "Made for More" Sermon Series

The start of a new year is a natural time of reflection and planning for the future. What we often find as humans is that we like to dream big, but breaking out of our comfort zones can be easier said than done. We even find ourselves struggling to break out of our comfort zone when it comes to things God is calling us to. God reminds us that we are made for more - join us as we discover how to step into that!

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