This was such an odd title for a sermon! “Don’t stop on six!” he exclaimed. What???
Hebrews 10:36 “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.”
Another translation uses the word “persevere” instead of “endure.” God calls us to PERSEVERE. He does not call us to an easy life. He does not instantly grant all of our wishes and desires. God’s work in our lives is that of a life time. Covered by the blood of Jesus, our hearts and souls are made pure in a moment, but our human nature takes a life time to overcome. In Isaiah 55, God tells us, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” We don’t understand the here and now, or the experiences we have. We may never understand. But in the midst of them, He whispers to us, “Press on, my child. Persevere. In your weakness, my power is made perfect. I will be your strength. Trust in ME.”
Pastor Steven Furtick takes us through the passage of scripture that brings us with Joshua to the fortified town of Jericho. (Joshua 6) The Israelites had waited over 40 years to take this city and move into the promised land! And God tells Joshua to walk around the city once a day for six days, then to walk around seven more times on the seventh day. All the while, the priests are carrying the Ark of the Lord and blowing their trumpets. I guess it took about an hour a day to walk around that city. That’s it! One hour. Can you imagine what the Israelites were thinking? How about the citizens of Jericho? I picture the French Peas from Veggie Tales: “You silly cucumber! You’ll never knock down our walls!” (Josh and the Big Wall). The laughter and mocking from those within the walls…the doubt spreading amongst the Israeli warriors…what was God going to do?
These thoughts and experiences lead to the three points as to why we tend to stop short of where God wants us to be:
1. Our perspective gets blocked. In the case of the Iraelites, the wall of Jericho blocked them from their goal of taking over the city.
2. Our process isn’t always obvious. Nothing happened after walking around the city! Not even one brick or rock trembled to show that something was working! Not until the army completed their instructions when they shouted with the trumpets after the end of the seventh lap on the seventh day did God show His mighty power to those who obeyed Him. It took 13 laps around that wall! I wonder how much doubt and fear fluttered through the hearts and minds of the soldiers, and what hope shone through to enable them to persevere?
3. The process is open-ended. We don’t always see the end. Joshua knew how many times they would march around the town of Jericho. But he did not share that with his soldiers. He told them to march. And they marched in faith. Each day, they did it again. And again. And again…until Joshua finally told them to shout and the wall fell down! We don’t understand the path we take. Sometimes it takes years for us to be able to look back and see that God was and is present through even the darkest of moments in our lives. The process prepares us for even greater perseverance down the road. The process seems to break us, but God gives us His strength. He alone increases our faith so that we may trust Him even though we don’t know or understand where He is leading us.
So don’t stop on six! Press on. Endure. Follow Him. His promises are true! “What we see in our lives does not always match what God is telling us. He is greater! Revelation does not match reality,” is what Pastor Furtick tells us. Remember that God’s truth transcends this society. His treasures are greater than anything of this world.
You can watch Pastor Steven Furtick give his message here: Don’t Stop.