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JOSHUA 3:1-17

Scripture reference post for “THAT FIRST STEP INTO A FLOODING RIVER.”

Joshua 3:1-17 (NIV)
Early in the morning Joshua and all the Israelites set out from Shittim and went to the Jordan, where they camped before crossing over. 2 After three days the officers went throughout the camp, 3 giving orders to the people: “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, and the priests, who are Levites, carrying it, you are to move out from your positions and follow it. 4 Then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before. But keep a distance of about a thousand yards between you and the ark; do not go near it.”

5 Joshua told the people, “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do amazing things among you.”

6 Joshua said to the priests, “Take up the ark of the covenant and pass on ahead of the people.” So they took it up and went ahead of them.

7 And the Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses. 8 Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river.’ ”

9 Joshua said to the Israelites, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God. 10 This is how you will know that the living God is among you and that he will certainly drive out before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites and Jebusites. 11 See, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth will go into the Jordan ahead of you. 12 Now then, choose twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. 13 And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the Lord—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”

14 So when the people broke camp to cross the Jordan, the priests carrying the ark of the covenant went ahead of them. 15 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, 16 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 (the Salt Sea) was completely cut off. So the people crossed over opposite Jericho. 17 The priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firm on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. electronic ed. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

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Yep!  It really is “National Marriage Week!”  Bet you didn’t even know that one existed!  But, the week of February 7-14 is set aside in our nation to invest in the fundamental building block of healthy families—good marriages.

Although there’s plenty of research that shows marriage does indeed help people become healthy, wealthy, and wise (see http://www.nationalmarriageweekusa.org/Marriage-Provides-Better-Health.htm for the statistics), by far the best case to be made for marriage is that it was God’s idea.  His ideas are quite unlike mine.  While I might have a good idea every so often (my wife says usually 1 out of 3), ALL of His ideas are good.  Every single one.  He never misses.  And if marriage was dreamed up in the heart of God, you can rest assured that it not only CAN work, but can work BEAUTIFULLY.

This week, I encourage you to check out the following resources to invest in your own marriage.  If you’re not married yourself, then pray for the marriages of the people in your life and consider sharing the info with them.  We need healthy marriages in our church family and in our city.  Let’s do what it takes to see them built!

Marriage Links

Podcast

“What Snuck In Through the Garden Door,” Pastor Eric’s message from February 2nd, will be available online soon!

On the Radar

Emmanuel Fellowship is now in TWO SERVICES. Our Sunday morning worship times are 9:00 and 11:00.  A pre-school nursery only is available during the 9:00 service, and full children’s ministry is offered in the 11:00 service.

Night of Worship – After being postponed last week due to weather, we’re starting Family Foundations month off with a bang this Wednesday, February 9th, with an object lesson, fun activities, and of course, food!  Parents, make sure you’re ready to party with your kids this week and come join us.

Sermon Series – Each Sunday, during the month of February, we will be looking at different aspects of healthy Family Foundations.  From marriage to parenting to grandparenting, there’s something for everyone.

Valentine’s Couple Dessert – We’re going to have an evening to remember at the church this Sunday, February 13th, at 7 pm.  Join us as we learn how to “Keep the Sweet in Sweethearts.”  Tickets are $5 per couple and are on sale now in the church foyer!  Childcare will be provided.

Youth Led Service – Our youth are going to get in on the action by blessing us with leading every aspect of our Sunday morning services on Sunday, February 20th.  You won’t want to miss this special time.

Kingdom Principles for Raising Children Seminar – All parents are invited to attend our parenting seminar, Sunday, February 27 at 6 pm and Monday, February 28 at 7 pm. Session 1 will cover how to discipline effectively and speak your child’s love language.  Session 2 will cover how to impart Godly principles into your child’s life.

Family Connection

Check out these resources to connect with our ministry to children and youth.

You Heard it at EFC

Been trying to remember one of those awesome songs we sang?  Here is our worship list from yesterday for those of you who just absolutely need a copy for yourself.  You can usually find them for purchase on itunes.com.

  1. “Blessed Be The Name” by Matt Redmand
  2. “Mighty to Save” by Chris Tomlin and Matt Redmand
  3. “Fire Fall Down” by Hillsong

(This song is our theme song for the month as we pray for God to come and fix the broken places in our families.  Take a listen to it.)

Sunday Preview

Join us next Sunday as we continue our Family Foundations Series!

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I’ve never been short of new ideas.  In fact, Mindy and I joke that about one out of three of my ideas might actually have some potential.  So, I come up with lots of ideas in order to get to that third one faster!

  • “Wouldn’t it be great if…”
  • “What if we…”
  • “Has anyone ever…”
  • “Just imagine…”

These are some of the phrases you’ll hear around our house or in a staff meeting at church.

One time I had the great idea of designing the entire theme of our church around an “Under Construction” concept.  Some of the highlights of this grand thought included giving a pair of gloves embroidered with an EFC logo to all church members.  I thought we could follow that up by placing every family’s name on a hammer and hanging them up in the church as a demonstration of our common purpose to build together.

I know some of you are wondering why we haven’t implemented such an amazing idea already, but, apparently, some ideas don’t play out in the implementation phase as well as they do in the brainstorm phase.  (Which basically means they don’t pass my wife’s décor standards.)

The point behind the hammer and gloves was to communicate the value of each individual to the vision and ministry of Emmanuel Fellowship.  There is work to do around here — and your hands fit the gloves.

As we continue to grow as a congregation and reach out to our community with the message of the gospel, it is my sincere desire that every member of EFC discovers how their unique gifts connect them to the ministry of the Body of Christ.  And, maybe someday, you’ll have a hammer with your name on it!

Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.  Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.  Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.  –1 Peter 4:8-10

 

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Yesterday, we lit the “Bethlehem” candle for the second week of Advent.  It’s the week we remember the faith of Mary and Joseph—and what faith that was!  Is easy for us to forget how impossible the word was they were asked to believe.  And not just believe, but act on.  And not just act on, but be ridiculed for.  After all, no one was really prepared for God’s plan.  No one expected an unwed teen girl to give birth to the Messiah.  No one expected the Savior’s earthly caregiver would be a poor carpenter.  No one expected the King of Kings to be born in a stable amongst the barn animals.  And no one expected the Lord of Lord’s welcoming committee to be a group of rag-tag shepherds.

But, Mary and Joseph heard the word of the Lord.  They took it in, let it change them, and obeyed it– even at great personal cost.  And the beautiful thing is it was their very obedience that paved the way for their own salvation.  The manger made the resurrection possible.

God hasn’t asked you to give birth to the Christ in a stable, but He’s definitely asked you to do something.  And it’s probably something you weren’t expecting.  How do I know?  Because He’s not a tame God.  His ideas are wild, adventurous, and beautiful.

How will you respond to His word over your life?  Will you take it in, let it change you, and obey?  One thing’s for sure.  You’ll never experience the glory of resurrection in your life if you’re not willing to undertake some manger experiences.

 

 

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The Bible is the foundation of the Christian faith.  It is our compass, our map, and our flashlight as we navigate the narrow path of life.  The Bible is the plumb line by which we discern truth and comprehend the will of God.

The Bible points us to the heart of God, yet for all of its value, many Bibles find themselves collecting more dust than fingerprints.

There are many reasons our Bibles can find themselves neglected, but I believe every follower of Jesus carries a genuine desire to grow in their knowledge of the Word of God.  The following are some personal and practical thoughts on developing a living relationship with God’s word.

DEALING WITH THE “DON’T WANT TO” – For one reason or another many people find themselves at a place of spiritual depression where they lack desire to engage the Word of God.  Two tools to dealing with the “don’t want to” attitude are:

  1. Evict the manipulating thoughts that steal the authentic joy of reading the Word.  This includes the end of accusers such as “ought,” “should,” and “more” in regard to Bible reading.
  2. Recognize this backward principle of God’s Kingdom: when it comes to Bible reading, the less you eat the less hungry you become, BUT the more you eat, the more hungry you become!  If your hunger has diminished through neglect, make the decision to force-feed yourself from the Word, and you will develop a hunger for more of God’s Word.

DIGGING IN – So you have an open Bible in your lap, what next?  Here are 5 simple tools I personally use to bring my Bible study to life.

  1. Read for the joy of encountering God’s truth.  Attitude is essential.  I choose to believe the promise of Psalm 16:11 when I encounter the Word of God, “You fill me with joy in Your presence.”
  2. Pray this simple prayer every time you open your Bible.  “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law” (Psalm 119:18).
  3. Read with your friends.  My best Bible-reading friends are a highlighter and at least three different colors of pens.  Turn your Bible into a rainbow of your response and interaction with God’s Word.  I mark my Bible as if I were leaving a treasure map for my grandchildren to discover my heart through my interaction with God’s Word.
  4. Digest what you read.  Digesting is just as important as reading; it is how the nutrients of God’s Word begin to strengthen our hearts.  Pray over and consider what you have read.  I strongly encourage you to journal your response and your wrestling matches with Scripture.
  5. Talk about it.  Bring what God has taught you in secret out to the public.  You will be amazed at how what you just read this morning applies to what someone is going through this afternoon.  Talk about the Scriptures with your family, with your friends, and with your co-workers.  This is not about bragging on your devotional life, but a time to minister out of the overflow of God’s activity in your life.

DIGGING DEEPER – Along with the daily choice to dig in to God’s Word, you will develop a desire to dig deeper into specific subjects, teachings, and truths found in the Bible.

  1. View the Bible as a mine full of precious gems that reveal the heart of God.
  2. Seek to understand the context of the Scriptures you read.  Recognize the Bible was written by over 40 authors over the span of almost 2,000 years.  Begin to understand the various geographical, political, and social contexts of the Bible.  The Blue Letter Bible and Follow the Rabbi are two wonderful online sources for digging deeper into Scripture.
  3. Follow a thread.  Once an idea from the Bible grabs your attention, continue to chase after it!  Personal study of a fascinating topic can be one of the most invigorating tools to getting into the Word.  My father-in-law once spent two years preaching through the book of Ephesians.  I have found great joy in following threads such as: Pictures of Jesus in the Bible, Names of Jesus, Bible Verses About the Father, verses that include the phrase “But God,” Questions Jesus Asked, One Anothers in the Bible, and even The Begots of the BibleBeauty of the Bible by Peter Lopez is another great site for fascinating Biblical exploration.
  4. Take a Drink from the Firehose!  A wonderful way to dig deeper into the Word of God is to remove yourself from all time limits and distraction and enjoy huge chunks of the Scripture.  Taking a Saturday morning to read through the story of the Patriarchs or reading through the book of Revelation in one sitting are amazing ways of grasping hold of some of the bigger pictures that are often missed when we take small bites of the Bible.

The Bible is alive and the Holy Spirit is ready and willing to breathe life into your study of the Scripture.  Now go dig in!

 

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It’s been a wild few weeks around EFC!

Between the Take Everything Tour, A Night With The King, the coming Light the Night and Spiritual Freedom Retreat, there is a little (or a lot of) something for everyone to do. I hope everyone is finding ways to participate, enjoy and help out. More on the helping out part later.

I want to give a special thanks to the Burke’s for the terrific messages they shared yesterday. They were very encouraging and motivational.

Podcast

If you missed the Burke’s messages, I think you will be able to listen to them online when the link becomes active.  Click to listen.

On the Radar

Light the Night: Next Sunday evening from 6-8 pm EFC will have the Light the Night fall festival. Kids of all ages are welcome to join us for games, food, jumping castles, and prizes! It’s going to be loads of fun, and friendly costumes are welcome.  A concession stand will also be open. For more information or to volunteer to help, contact Pastor Lolo. We still need:

  • Volunteers to man stations, and
  • Candy donations.

Spiritual Freedom Retreat: The Spiritual Freedom Retreat is November 5 & 6. If you have never attended, please prayerfully consider doing so. Even if you have and you need refreshing, join us again. Childcare will be provided and so will lunch on Saturday. You can register online.

Lifegroups: Lifegroups continue this Wednesday. If you haven’t joined a Lifegroup, there is one tailor made just for you:

  • Family Lifegroup-led by Cliff and Carolyn Lotzenhiser’s and Ray and Deb Doak meets @ the Lotzenhiser’s.
  • Ladies Lifegroup-led by Jay Neal meets in the Prayer Center.
  • Bible Study-(and, honestly, probably the coolest Lifegroup ever) led by yours truly meets @ EFC in the fishy room.
  • New Members-led by and meets @ the von Atzigen’s.

Revelation Bible Study continues Tuesdays, 12-1 pm.  Bring your lunch and join in the discussion!

Election Day is November 2: We are privileged to be able to participate in our government by electing our public servants. I encourage everyone to exercise this right on election day.

Stay Connected

You can stay connected to the EFC happenings on facebook or any of these websites and blogs:

Shameless Self Promotion

I can’t let you get away without plugging my very own Bible blog, Beauty of the Bible. It’s got an all new look and feel, so if you haven’t checked it out in a while, click on over.

Sunday Preview

Next Sunday, October 31, we will continue with the sermon series “The Children’s Bread: Exploring what the Bible Teaches about Healing.”

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I am overwhelmed, my friends, overwhelmed by love.

Every once in a while it hits me.  It sneaks right up in the middle of busyness, interrupts my “to do” list and punches me right in the gut.  I am amazed by how much I love you.

It is a privilege and a joy to pastor and love the people of Emmanuel Fellowship Church and the city of Sweetwater, Texas.  Your faces and your stories each have a special place in my heart.

My heart overflows with thanksgiving as I consider the miracles of grace God has done among us.  I rejoice over the marriages that have been healed and the salvations that have occurred.  It is a tremendous joy to know that among us the lost are being saved and the broken healed.

In the midst of the joy, I am also painfully aware of those among us who are hurting right now.  I know there are hearts wrestling with disappointment, loss, and grief.  I know there are those among us who show up smiling on Sunday morning attempting to mask loneliness and frustration.

My friends, I love you.  I care about the things that matter to you.  Your problems are not too small or too big to talk about, and I am not too busy to spend time with you.

You are loved, and I pray as you read this message, the love of God will overwhelm you.  May you be overwhelmed by love from God and love for God.  May you be overwhelmed by love from your church and love for your church.  May love replace lies with truth in your heart.  May love shine light on darkness.  May love win in your heart, in your mind, in your life today.  May love win!

 

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