Step Out – Get Your Feet Wet

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This month we have been going through a series called ‘Step Out’, where we’re saying that God’s word for Mavuno in 2014 is that your time has come to step out into fearlessly influencing the various zones of influence He has placed you in, including your family, your workplace and your society. In week one, we learnt from General Joshua that stepping out will require our courage, obedience and initiative.  The second week we learnt from Rahab, she of J Street, that faith is not real unless it is backed up by actions of surrender and therefore you must, ‘let God’s agenda define your agenda’. Last week, from our two agents, 001 & 002, we began to understand that to step out, we must renounce a grasshopper mentality and put on a God-centered mentality, becausewhat you focus on determines your reality’. This week we want to conclude our series with one of the most amazing stories in the whole of scripture. 

Joshua 3: 1-8, 14-17, 5:1 

They had spent their whole lives dreaming about it, longing for it and fantasizing about it. Their parents too had longed to see such a day but none of them had made it. But now, the Promised Land finally lay within their grasp. The place they had only heard about in stories, sometimes wondering if it really existed, now they could see it with their eyes! Only one problem though – between where they were and where they needed to be, there was a large river. Normally, the Jordan was only 100 feet wide at Gilgal, the place where they were crossing, and not very deep. But v.15 tells us that it was the harvest season and the Jordan was in flood. Historians tell us that today, the Jordan River contains only 3% of the water it had just 100 years ago. In essence, the flooded river that the Israelites encountered would have been a noisy, thundering, rushing torrent over a mile wide in some places! 

So there they stood, hundreds of thousands of men, women and children, with a huge barrier between them and their Promised Land. Surely, after 40 years of wandering around the desert, why couldn’t God have chosen a more convenient time for them to arrive at the Promised Land! Like the dry season, perhaps! The reality is that the majority of them probably couldn’t swim – after all they were a generation that had been born and raised in the desert. And even if some could swim across, perhaps like the spies, you can almost hear their dismayed questions over the 3 full days that they camped by the river – ‘how are we supposed to cross that with thousands of infants and expectant mothers and those who are unwell, as well as all our possessions and animals?’ 

Here’s something we need to note right away – God’s route is not always the most convenient. Sometimes we seem to think it is. We decide things for God – ‘I don’t like my job anymore so God must be asking me to move’. ‘I’m not happy in my business or enterprise; it must not be God’s will’. Or ‘this marriage isn’t going well, surely God will understand if I leave’. But we need to understand that sometimes God allows things to become impossible before they get better so that He can demonstrate to you that He is the God of the impossible. In the past you may have known God as your Provider, but now He wants you to know Him as your Deliverer. And you cannot know that unless things are so impossible, that you need to be delivered! Your tough situation may be just the platform that God is setting up to perform a miracle. Or put differently, your impossibility is God’s opportunity!

Through the years we’ve existed as a church, God has led us into some pretty impossible situations! Our coming to this place called Bellevue was a miracle. Our venue was for sale and we needed to find something fast. After much heartache, we finally got a lead on Bellevue. This property was not for lease, the owner only wanted serious buyers, but our agent lied to him that we were buyers and then lied to us that he wanted to lease. Anything to get a deal! God used that to let us in. But even after the owner agreed, we were not able to get permits to move in, because town officials demanded a bribe. We said we were a church, they said other churches had also bribed! Finally after 12 frustrating months, I went with one development team member to see the town planner. We waited 4 hours to get in but when we did, we were filled with a righteous anger! My friend told him, ‘sir, do not stand against God’s work by frustrating His church’. At that, the planner reached for his phone, made a call and asked, ‘please give this pastor what he wants’, and sent us to a certain office. We had the permit within a few minutes! The best part about it was that it gave us very high credibility in the eyes of our landlord because he could see what type of people he was dealing with! God’s route is not always the most convenient, but it is always the best! 

As the Israelites camped by those raging waters, Joshua gave them three clear instructions. I believe that these are God’s instructions to us as well, as we step out as a church into 2014. 

The first is Keep Your Eyes On God – v.3’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. Then you will know which way to go since you have never been this way before’. The Ark of the Covenant was a wooden chest overlaid with gold which represented God’s Presence. Since God was calling them to step out into the unknown, where they’d be all kinds of risks and dangers, the one thing that would keep them safe was keeping their eyes on Him. The bible is very clear that they were to keep a distance of 1000 yards between them and the ark. Why is that? How come this is the first time they’d ever gotten such an instruction in 40 years? Well, picture the scene – the whole nation is encamped on a sloping hill beside the Jordan River. The ark is 1000 yards (just under a kilometer) in front of them. It seems to me that God did not want the ones in front crowding the ark so others couldn’t see it. He wanted everyone to be able to see it for themselves. 

2014 is our year to Step Out. I believe that this year, God is calling us to do things that we have never done before and to take risks that we have never taken before in order to impact our families, our workplaces and our society like we’ve never impacted them before. But for us to step out, we must keep our eyes on Him, reading His word regularly, listening to Him keenly, and responding to Him daily. Don’t let others listen for you! I want to say this – gathering together for worship every Sunday is important – don’t just come when it’s convenient. You see that’s when we listen to God’s directions for the community of faith that we belong to. Also, your Life Group meeting is important – don’t make it optional. Why? Because that’s where we apply God’s word together and encourage one another. But none of these should be a substitute for listening to God for yourself and learning to hear His voice. If You’re Going To Do Things You’ve Never Done Before, Then You Must Do The Things That You’ve Never Done Before. That’s the main lesson I believe we’re learning today. You can’t do what you did last year and hope for a different result! For you to step out this year, you must keep your eyes on God and learn to hear Him for yourself. 

The second instruction is Cut Off The Distractions’ – v.5 ‘Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do amazing things among you’. Consecration meant that they were to purify themselves. For the Israelites, this involved rituals like washing their clothes, taking a ritual bath, and abstaining from sexual intercourse. These rituals basically represented in a physical way the spiritual act of renouncing of their sins and stripping away those things from themselves that might cause them to miss out on what God was doing. The idea was to enter into a state of spiritually alertness. You see God was planning to do some amazing things among them and He didn’t want them to miss it!

This coming week is our week of prayer. We want to fast for the week and then conclude with our worship night, preparing ourselves spiritually for the things God is going to do among us in 2014. Consecration means that we set aside the typical and put our spirits on alert so that we don’t miss out on what God desires to do in our lives. This year, I have found myself for the first time, fasting without trying – just because I know how huge a year this is for us. In a few weeks we will be leaving behind the confines of this very convenient location and moving to Hill City – our land of promise, the place from where God will raise an army of fearless influencers that will change Africa. This will be a historic year for all of us! And so I challenge you this week, don’t just miss that lunch. The idea is not to starve ourselves in order to prove how faithful we are! Instead it’s to remove distractions so we can spend time hearing God. So – take a prayer break at lunch time and walk around the place where you work. Spend some time praying for your family/workplace/role in society. Some of us need to cut off TV and even the internet as that’s your biggest distraction! Let’s prepare spiritually & mentally for what God intends to do. If You’re Going To Do Things You’ve Never Done Before, Then You Must Do The Things That You’ve Never Done Before! 

The third instruction given to the priests was the most startling – Step Into The Water’ – v.8 ‘when you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river’. That’s it! Nothing said about what was supposed to happen next. We sometimes think of these guys boldly striding towards the water. But I suspect that’s far from the truth! I can imagine what they were thinking… ‘Eh – wait a minute – what if I drown! Why cant we first get a stick and poke it in to see how deep? Why can’t we wait for a couple of months – I mean what’s the hurry? What if Joshua didn’t hear right?’ 

Don’t you sometimes wish God would show you exactly how things will work out in the future before He asks you to do something? The interesting thing in scripture is that often, God provides no solution to our problems until we take a step of faith and obedience. God is waiting for us to step out into the water before He opens the way for you. Maybe you’ve been praying for your husband or wife to change. Nagging them more this year is not going to do it! What if this year you focus becoming the best you that God created you to be? Maybe you want to have a huge impact and impact the lives of many in your generation. But what if this year you take a step of faith and start with whatever little you have? If You’re Going To Do Things You’ve Never Done Before, Then You Must Do The Things That You’ve Never Done Before! 

There are great stories in Mavuno of people who took God at His word and stepped out in faith. Daisy Waimiri, a housewife whose house-help and watchman asked her for a loan on the same day, while she was doing Mizizi… God used that incident to lead her to start Maono, a microfinance organization that is changing the lives of thousands in our slums and rural areas. There’s Ken Oloo, a young filmmaker who felt God was calling him to use his skills to train young people in Kibera to make a living. Today he runs Filamu Juani, an organization that has to date trained 91 youth who are now telling their own story and making a living in the process. There’s Daisy Busolo, a young actress who with her husband decided to start a drama company to make plays that help bring healing to marriages. Many have been challenged not to give up on their marriage because of them. Richard Njau or AStar began (CTA) – an initiative to clean up our airwaves by producing positive and inspiring music. Ann Nzilani, gifted artist, began Bawa La Tumaini that sells jewelry internationally to support women groups locally. There’s Laimani Bidali, who started the Alabastron network that is helping hundreds of women rediscover who God called them to be. All these are regular, ordinary people who have stepped out and God is using to impact our society. We call them our Frontline Initiatives. There are many, many others at Mavuno who have listened to God and stepped out to impact families, education business, media, the arts, the environment, politics and so on and this year, you will get to hear some of their stories! 

Tell your neighbor ‘step into the water!’ What are those things you’ve been praying for your family/workplace? Perhaps the next time we talk about our frontline initiatives, you will be among them! You may not think you’re qualified. None of these were. But they’re a great testimony to us of the truth, that If You’re Going To Do Things You’ve Never Done Before, Then You Must Do The Things That You’ve Never Done Before! 

So look what happened when their feet touched the water. The bible tells us that the water upstream stopped flowing. We sometimes imagine that this was like the Red Sea, a narrow passage cut into the water for them to cross. But this was a whole different level! The bible tells us the water backed up far upstream at the city of Adam. This is some 32km north of where the children of Israel were crossing. The river went dry from there all the way to the Salt Sea, or Dead Sea, which – get this – was a whole 189km away! In other words, 220km of river just dried! So think of all the people who were swimming, or fishing, or taking a bath or washing their clothes! You see, God didn’t just help Israel but He did it in a spectacular fashion! No wonder then that news about it got around pretty fast. 5:1 tells us ‘When all the Amorite kings west of the Jordan and all the Canaanite kings who lived along the Mediterranean coast heard how the LORD had dried up the Jordan River so the people of Israel could cross, they lost heart and were paralyzed with fear because of them’. This wasn’t just for the Israelites to see. God wanted to show off His power to the nations! 

Here’s the thing. I believe strongly that God will bless us this year as we step out. Like Joshua, He will raise us up in the eyes of our peers. But remember it’s not about you. In the end, the most important thing is that God will be glorified and people around you will see that He is real. God is looking for ordinary people that He can use to show off His extraordinary power to the nations. He is looking for people to demonstrate His power to our watching families, workplaces and ultimately to our society. 

But remember, it won’t just happen. If You’re Going To Do Things You’ve Never Done Before, Then You Must Do The Things That You’ve Never Done Before!

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4 Responses to “Step Out – Get Your Feet Wet”

  1. being real Says:

    thank God for this message, I had signed up to serve in one of the marathon experiences for the first time, and on Sunday after I got the facilitators manual, my first response was panic, how was I expected to accomplish all this, with people looking up to me? Then I remembered the 3 steps, Keep my eyes on God, it’s really not about me, but about what God will do thru me, and sometimes despite of me; Cut off the distractions, all that panic is just part of the distractions, and finally Step into the water, here I am Lord, use me as you will!

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  2. Robert Githinji Says:

    Inspiring. I guess it time to Do Things Never Done Before!
    * Keep Your Eyes On God
    * Cut Off The Distractions
    * ‘Step Into The Water’

    Like

  3. I bless the Lord for Step Out! God is gracious and ready to hold us, if only we realize it. 2014 is already a very phenomenal year for me! This message seems to have been my word to encourage me for I am taking very many steps out. Most of all, I am getting into marriage with the lady i love! just to mention, i started my classes for a professional course in marketing, i am doing Ndoa, and i took up the responsibility of my late sister’s daughter who is in form four. At least i am not paying for my study. But the rest are a strain on my finances, yet, my salary has not changed. We were budgeting with my fiancee and realized we are so in for it. The pressure on our finances is just overwhelming! And did i say tithing? count me in? wah!

    All of these decisions, we took them by faith. We purposed to do it and said that we shall leave God to sort us. I rem telling a friend ‘taking up Santana is God’s responsibility. i am only a helper”! I wish i could say it in Kimeru for you to feel the weight when put that way! Lydia (my fiancee) and I have never thought we would do these kind of things. Santana is in school and we thank God. More so because she loves her new school. She sits for her kcse this year and i pray and am confident she will score very well. Ndoa classes have started. Wedding planning is going on with great support from family and friends. We thank God. He did a miracle this week where Lydia got a surprise salary increment by 8gees yet this is not the time to have salaries reviewed. the review is in April and backdated! Is this chic blessed or what! (bado nangoja yangu! lol). We have paid quite an amount for our wedding and thank God for it.

    Lesson learnt is, just do it! Just STEP OUT! But why i love this series is the way you have delivered it Pastor. Many things are said about Mavuno; actually i said many things about Mavuno. But the truth is, i was analyzing from the outside. I love the way you preached the first sermon. the way you insisted on the “how to”! I love this church because it is real and takes time to insist the various traits we need to nurture to be blessed. I can never rem one sermon where any pastor came to preach about prosperity and did not give us the formula. In Maths, my teachers all through insisted on getting the formula right. I rem in high school one teacher would give you no mark if you got the answer right but did not prove how you worked the problem. I have seen a similar character in the interpretation of the Bible here. As much as there are millions of promises, we are encouraged to align ourselves with God and His will before demanding for them or sitting putt waiting for Godot!

    Thank you for allowing yourselves (the pastoral team) for teaching us alignment before ‘rejoycement’!

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