When Big Change Comes My Way :: YouVersion Event
Church Requel
When Big Change Comes My Way
Life is full of changes. Most of the time the changes are small or expected. But every now and again big change comes our way - unexpected, sudden, life changing. What do we do then?
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  • Church Requel
    2 Marion Ave, Mansfield, OH 44903, USA
    Sunday 11:00 AM
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Here at Church Requel we want to celebrate the good news of Jesus in a way that makes sense and relates to every day people. From the songs we sing (contemporary) to the clothes we wear (casual) to the language we use (understandable) we want to be “requel” in our approach. We want to retell the story that has been around for more than 2,000 years in a new, fresh way with a message each week that is straight from the Bible. We invite you to join us as we sing, pray, celebrate and learn from the Word of God.

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When Big Change Comes My Way

Life is full of changes. Most of the time the changes are small or expected. We become accustomed to small changes and learn to adapt. But every now and again, big change comes our way - unexpected, sudden… life changing! A lost job. Relocation. A baby. Breakup in a relationship. A loss of a loved one. What do we do when life throws a big change our way? How do we handle it?

Today I’d like to turn your attention to Joshua 1, where big change is coming to the Israelite nation. For 40 years the Israelites had been a nomadic people. Since they’d escaped slavery, they had grown accustomed to wandering in the desert. Most of them by now never had know any other life. At least two full generations had been born as wandering nomads.

These Israelites knew two things for sure, two pillars of normalcy they could count upon: (1) Moses was their leader, and (2) the Jordan River was their boundary. Then, suddenly big change came!

“After the death of Moses…” Joshua 1:1
“…Get ready to cross the Jordan River.” Joshua 1:2

I don’t know if we can fully fathom just how big these two changes were. First off, how can you compare anyone to Moses? He was their leader! They couldn’t even imagine following anyone else. Here was the man who spoke to God and God spoke to him! This was the man that went up the mountain and came back down with the Ten Commandments! When Moses said to move, they moved. When Moses said to stop, they stopped. He was their president, their law giver, their judge, their priest. No one else was like Moses or ever would be!

Second, one place Moses NEVER led them to was across the Jordan River. There was a time in history - two generations back - when they had considered crossing the Jordan - but it was too dangerous. That was where the giants lived. Death waited across the Jordan!

And now Moses was dead. And they were going to cross the Jordan! Joshua chapter 1 is the Bible’s chapter of big change. We discover 3 lessons about how we handle big change when it comes our way.

#1 - ASK: What’s my FOCUS?

When big change comes our way, we have to stop and ask ourselves what we are focused on? In the 1960s when the United States was developing its astronaut program, they invented machines that would spin the astronauts around so violently at such high velocities and with such great G-forces that the potential astronauts would wipe out of the program right then and there. Talk about change! Up is down. In is out. As in your lunch was in and now it’s out! Those that made the cut were able to find one point to focus upon while everything else was changing their perspective so dramatically. Focus on one point… the right point… and you could move on to the next test in the training.

The same is true for us as Christ-followers when big change comes our way. What are we focused on?

People? - We get used to certain people being the rock of our lives and when they are suddenly gone, it feels as if our foundation is gone too! People who are our leaders, our pastors, our loved ones. We just can’t imagine life without them. Yet we must acknowledge that people come and people go. Even people who we have known for 40 years or more!

Place? - One of the really nice things about living in a town like Mansfield is that a lot people stay here, raise their families here. For some of us, we’ve never known any other place. Yet, things change. 15 years ago many of us saw our lives move upside down as the largest employer, GM, closed down, sending families scrambling to other places. No matter how long we’ve been “here”, here can change!

Position? - Maybe I’ve had one job for a super long time. I’m good at what I do. When I think of who I am, I cannot separate myself from what I do. Then big change comes. The business closes or moves. Or I reach the age of retirement. Or my job becomes obsolete. Positions change, whether I want them to or not.

Power? - Power comes in many forms. Power of authority over others. Power of wealth and all that money can buy. Power of health and the feeling that our bodies can handle anything that comes our way. But power is fleeting - whether it be authority, wealth or health.

Politics? - The attitudes and expectations of our society are so very different than they were 40 years ago. Socialism used to be a dirty word. Self-reliance used to be a good thing. No doubt 40 years from now our expectations will change again. We never can count on which way the political winds will blow.

Pleasure? - When we find ourselves without focus on anything else, sometimes we try to focus on pleasure. Live and let live. I do my thing and you do your thing. But after awhile we find that even pleasure is fickle. What once thrilled us becomes old and the same.

Purpose! - Purpose that is God-focused works for us! It is how God designed us, to be focused upon Him. When we want to please the Lord Jesus, when we want to follow the Lord Jesus, when we concentrate our lives around God’s will for our lives, then we can have the focus of the One thing, the One Person Who does not change!

“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5

#2 - Focus not on the change but on the CHANGELESS ONE.

When Joshua and his fellow Israelites thought about these two huge changes, (1) no more Moses and (2) crossing the Jordan, they were numb with fear and apprehension. How can we do anything without Moses, let alone cross the Jordan River? Yet God reminds them that it wasn’t Moses who led them. It was God! The same God who led Moses would now lead Joshua. Yes, things would be very different with Joshua, but the same God would lead him.

God says the same thing to us today. Whatever it is that is changing in your life - people, place, position, power, politics, pleasure - the one thing that you can count on that will never change is your Lord!

“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8

So focus on Him. Yes, your life as you know it may be changing, but that could be a good thing. Even if life here is ending for us, we have the promise of life eternal in Heaven! No matter what our change is or how much we wish to avoid it, God will be there with us just like He has always been!

So then, what should we do when big life change comes our way? How do we keep our focus upon our Lord and not on the big changes in our lives? God gives Joshua (and I believe us as well) the circle of courage!

#3 - Enter into God’s CIRCLE OF COURAGE.

What is a circle? It’s when one thing naturally leads to another and then naturally to another and there’s really no starting point or stopping point. It’s not about “a point” at all. Rather it’s a “circle of points.”

Where then to start? God is the beginning and the end of the circle. Actually with God there is no beginning and there is no end. It’s God. Always and everywhere. God will be with us ALWAYS!!!

“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5b

Just so you don’t think this is specifically applied to Joshua and not to you and me, consider that this promise of God to be with us always, to never leave us and to never forsake us, is repeated often throughout the Scriptures. It’s like this is the theme of God’s Word to us as His children.

Genesis 28:15 - “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will never leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

Exodus 33:14 - “My Presence will go with you and I will give you rest.”

Deut, 31:6 - “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear… for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Deut. 31:8 - “Do not be afraid of discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Isaiah 41:13 - “For I am the LORD you God Who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.”

Isaiah 43:2 - “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you.”

Psalm 23:4 - “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

Psalm 27:1 - “The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?”

Psalm 29:11 - “May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace.”

Jeremiah 31:25 - “For I will satisfy the weary souls, and every languishing soul I will replenish.”

Matthew 28:20b - [JESUS] “And behold I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Hebrews 13:5 - “For [God] has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Do you begin to get the picture? God is with us - each one of His children ALWAYS! He NEVER leaves us! We discover real courage, real strength - the kind of God-courage, the kind of God-strength - we need when Big Change comes our way. So how do we enter and stay in God’s Circle of Courage? - 3 ways, 3 A B Cs:

A. ABIDE In God’s Strength & Courage.

“Be strong and courageous… Be strong and very courageous… Be strong and courageous.” Joshua 1:6a, 7a, 9b

Are you seeing a theme here? To live the God-life requires strength and courage. This is not the life for weaklings and the fearful. God says to the Israelites (and to us), if you’re going to follow Me, if you want to be on My Team, if you want to be a Christ-follower… you MUST BE strong and courageous. Forty years before God wanted to give the people of Israel all the beautiful land on the other side of the Jordan, but they were afraid! The consequence of their fear was to live outside of God’s will - they wandered and wandered for two generations!

Which leads us to an important principle - your lack of courage, your lack of strength could be not only consequential against you but also against those who follow you - children, grandchildren, church friends, work associates, classmates!

You may respond - but I can’t help it! I’m scared! I’m afraid of Big Change. I don’t know what’s on the other side. I’m worried. I’m just not a strong person. I’m just not courageous. Well I have good news for you! Good! Because your strength isn’t strong enough. Your courage isn’t courageous enough! You need God’s strength and courage! How?

B. BE RULED BY God’s Word.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.” Joshua 1:7

The connection between God’s strength and courage and you is in obedience to God’s Word. Be strong and courageous! How? Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you. What are we talking about here? By this early point in history the law Moses gave was the first 5 books of our Bible… what is also known as the Torah. We now have the rest of the Scriptures - not only the Torah (the Law) but also the Prophets and the New Testament. All contain the inspired Word of God to us.

Another word for Bible or God’s Word is “Canon.” The books of the Bible have authority as Scripture. The word canon comes from the Greek word meaning “ruler” or “measuring rod.” So these writings in the Bible are accepted as Scripture… are considered canonical.
So we should be “ruled by” the “ruler” of God’s Word. We measure ourselves against God’s ruler. “Do not turn to the right or to the left.” And what is the result? “… that you may be successful wherever you go.” There is a boldness, a feeling of rightness, a strength and a courage when we live our lives accord to God’s Word.

So how do we get God’s Word into us? How will we “be ruled” by it?

C. CONCENTRATE UPON God’s Word.

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” Joshua 1:8

These are instructions not just for Joshua, but for all of God’s people. And that includes you and me. God’s Word is not something we read once and say, we got it. I’m good to go. No! It’s a life-long concentration. Always reading. Always thinking. Always speaking. Always meditating. This is what it takes for us to “be careful to do everything written in it.” Do you see the promise that goes with it? “Then you will be prosperous and successful!”

Conclusion: If you find yourself struggling with your courage or your strength, there’s probably nothing at all wrong with you or your courage or your strength. Life hands us big change all the time! Unexpected. Unimagined. Unwelcome even. It’s been said that the only thing that doesn’t change is change itself. Today we have learned that isn’t true. The only thing that doesn’t change is God! And He promises over and over again to be with you, to be your strength, to be your courage! Remember this - the time to prepare for the big change that is sure to come your way is before it happens. Be living in… existing in… comfortable in… God’s circle of courage BEFORE big change comes your way. If you do that, here is what God Almighty Himself promises:

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever go.” Joshua 1:9