The evening session on the first night is traditionally Terry Virgo and we were thrilled to see that despite giving 3 sessions to Rob Rufus - Terry hasn't backed off his key messages to the conference. I had a real fear that Terry and the team's enthusiasm for allowing the up and coming generation to get involved would mean we miss out on his father's messages by backing off. This year we were safe! Terry began by recommending two books to us. "Incomparable" by Andrew Wilson. He said; "It is totally focussed on the Person of God - so accessible, so readable". He compared it to J I Packer's "Knowing God" - so high praise indeed. Secondly the larger hardback, "The Mission of God" by Chris Wright. He said;
"It is motivational and faith imparting because it opens one's eyes to the fact that it is God who will get this thing done and we are permitted to be involved".
Terry began by noting that there is a repeated statement, a repeated feeling that God is "turning the page" for us as a family of churches. A new era - a new scene is upon us. God seems to be using every possible analogy to arrest our attention! He even noted that God showed him "new traffic signals ahead" out a window during a prayer meeting. When God says a "new thing" - we must take note! This is a remarkable phenomenon!
His text was: Joshua 1:1-9.
1. The New Initiative was God's Initiative.
Everything that represents major breakthrough in church history originates in God. "In the beginning God" - begins to speak! God spoke to Abraham (Genesis 11) and scattered Babel and sent them to the ends of the earth. He promises Abraham that through him the families of the earth would be blessed. In the Book of Luke there are flutters of prophecies - God is speaking again! God is the initator! "It's a new era My Beloved - please hear Me!". The first line of the text is startling - Moses the giant of faith is dead. This man who saw extraordinary things had gone - the man who was used to being in the shadow had found his time had come.
Moses in dying represented the end of an era. A whole generation had been wiped out through unbelief. "The law will never bring us into our inheritance". Now arise! It's time to inherit! The past is behind - it is time to press forward and the future will not be like the past!
2. Fresh Faith is Required.
Joshua is required to step into a life of faith that he is responsible for. To serve God is to require a life of faith. Elisha's ministry began with the supernatural ministry of God (Joshua 6:1). Jericho - the first city they faced - was tightly shut! But the word of God was (v2) "See I have given it into your hands". Which verse would impress him more? Faith is required! God's promise was unseen at the moment. God wants to speak supernaturally and break through.
An accumulation of information isn't enough - we need an impartation of faith. It isn't enough to fill your notebook with facts about God. We have Jordans to cross! Buildings to buy!
The heart of the matter is that God is determined to vindicate Himself. The whole deal is that we learn to trust Him. Without faith you cannot please God. The purpose is God wants us to know Him and put on a show as to how trustworthy He is. What Jordan are you crossing at the moment? People will rise in faith as we lead in faith. Cross this Jordan - come on a journey of faith! Invite the people we know and live with to come into faith with us! Let faith invade your home - your marriage - your family.
(v2) "This people". It was Joshua's privilidge to give it to them. They were a people of destiny - a people of love. They were God's miracle people on the earth. The Church is God's very special people unlike any other people - they may be hidden in a mess but they are God's own! God's delight! (Numbers 23-24) "There are no other people like this in the earth!". Prophecies that were meant to be curses turned out to be blessings! This people - God's people - cannot be cursed. Moses intercession was to remind God, "They are Your people". It is part of our leadership responsibility to take the people into their inheritance. We must look at maps and ask - does God want a church there?
3. God's Assessment of the Opposition.
(v5). God said that the opposition wouldn't be able to stand against Israel - but that statement suggested that the opposition would try. When Israel believed God they were never ever defeated. They only got defeated when they took their eyes off Him. The church so often tries to make itself more palatable to the world and it guarantees failure! God is committed to His Church! "By faith the walls of Jericho fell down". The walls yielded to a greater force - they could not stand! By faith - walls fall down! If we will keep in step with Him then nothing can stop us. Training programmes must involve more than information - they must involve the supernatural.
4. God's Way of Victory.
God's Presence (v5). "So I will be with You". We are looking for encounter with Him. At church - at home - in quiet times. Look daily for engagement with the Spirit! Enjoy fellowship with Him! Be filled up with Him! Out of that we will learn that the things He did - we will do also. Live with that word! He said it! Let's get into a land of believing Him that what He said He will do - He will do! (v8) "This book ... meditate on it". Don't be consumer driven. We will only be committed to restoration if we take His Word seriously. Too many leaders left the 70's committment and drifted away to try other things. God promised and guaranteed them prosperity if we feed on His Word. Here it is - the Word and the Spirit together. God-given morale. "Be strong". Salvation is God's great plan - look to Him for His commitment. "It's a new era" - do you believe it?