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good morning friends I’m pastor yvonne and I’m here to continue our series on change change goodness I have a love hate relationship with change there are certain days when I want to see so many things change and when they don’t I get frustrated and there are other days when I change is out of my control and I hate it and this year has been a year of so much change gosh it is november 15 2020 and we are still in a season of change it’s not going anywhere and this entire series that alex has set up for us has been a series to help us navigate through change and in the process to to experience God in that change and I hope that one thing you can take from this series is the last three weeks this general structure I think is such a gift that alex has given to us this chance to look backward and to look at how change has affected us what we’ve

lost what what emotions have been stirred out of this season of change and give yourselves time to reflect and even lament and then moving into looking up because we have a God who has gone through all of this change with us and he’s gone nowhere you know there is nothing that can separate us from his love there is no place on the planet or in the depths of our emotions that we can go that that he wouldn’t meet us there and so we can confidently look up in the midst of change knowing that we can look godward and that he is with us and we can step forward knowing okay God you are with us and we can start to ask you what do you want us to step into next and we can expect that he’s going to go with us whether we notice him or not we can we can look backward we can look upward we can look forward and I would just

give you that as a gift um today and an encouragement to use this rhythm in your life with God as you meet with him every week or and every season of life to to do this reflection every year perhaps I think that this is a beautiful gift that alex has given to us and as we step into another week on change actually two weeks on change we’re going to sort of shift gears a little bit because we’re going to have a chance to look inward and ask a question who are we and then next week we’re going to look outward who are we for this community because not only have we gone through change individually I know that I’m in a multi-tier level of change in my life right now I’ve just changed I’ve just moved I bought a new home I have new roommates um my my job has changed I have a new boss and I my church community has changed the way that

we meet together has changed our nation has changed and is changing and the globe we have global pandemic that has changed our world so I’m in a multi-tiered level phase of change but today as we gather we’re gathering as as a church and I know that many of you are gathering with us online and we’re here together to look at the change within our community and I will tell you that as alex asked me to to share and lead this message it’s a challenge to be able to say who are we as south fellowship church right now in the midst of all this change and even next week as we’re going to be in even smaller groups together and those of you who are online we are so glad that you are with us but it is hard to tell you who we are when you guys are sitting in your living rooms and we’re here in church you know God who are we as a community how has

this season changed us and who are you changing us to be God you’ve you’ve already put us in this season of change um and for those of you who may be new with us we have gone through a season of change here in our community last year we had a lead pastor say that he was taking another position and so we’ve kind of gone into a season of of wilderness in a way and now we have a new lead pastor we have a new executive pastor and and we’re excited but this is this is also still a lot of change and so today I felt like the one thing I could do is go back to a story in scripture that is a story of of a people a community that has gone through a bunch of change and perhaps their story can actually anchor us into a greater story that we are also a part of one of our values here is roots and we want to be connected to a story that is ancient and so today

we’re going to pick up the story of the tribe of israel after they have set up their their monument taking their stones out of the jordan river they’ve walked across on dry ground and they’ve worshiped the lord that he has been faithful to them and they have stepped foot in the promised land and I hope today that we can find ourselves in their story and we can find some of the attributes and and process of this community true about us today but let’s pray before we pick up the scriptures and start in joshua 5. father God king Jesus holy spirit we thank you that we can have confidence to look backward and upward and take steps forward on knowing that you are here with us and God today as we look at who we are and how our story is connected to a greater story God I pray that you would speak to us that you would highlight

something in this text that would illuminate something that we can talk to you further about this week and I pray this in your name Jesus amen amen we have this tribe of israel they have gone over one river on dry ground first in the red sea they’ve wandered in the wilderness for many many years they’ve walked across now another river on dry ground and they’re standing in the promised land joshua chapter 5 says now when all the amorite kings east of the jordan and the canaanite kings along the coast they heard that the lord had dried up the jordan before the israelites until they had crossed over their hearts melted in fear and they had no longer had any courage to face the israelites whoa this community who just walked into the promised land they had a clear identity everybody knew who they were because they were the community

and the tribe that was known for walking across rivers on dry ground and they step foot in the promised land and all of their opponents are melting okay maybe you’ve had this experience before if you are a competitor and you’ve gone up in a competition against somebody who is miles ahead of you in the process it’s like you’re up against professionals and you’re the amateur and you’re like oh I know this game is gonna end in a mercy game and we’re gonna have to call it early because there’s no way we’re gonna win against that team so here we have the other amorite kings uh the canaanite kings all of their opponents they’re freaked out they know that there’s something cool about this community of israel and they all know it so here we have israel and their job is to go take over the promised land and you would think that they

are ready to go their other opponents are freaked out but if we look at who is in this tribe and who just stepped over that river on dry ground you might not be so terrified anymore these were a whole bunch of campers that had just gone in the wilderness for years living on manna and all of their warrior men have died off so they walk across the river as sort of a bunch of misfits I don’t I don’t think they were trained for battle or war at all so why is it that all the other nations are freaking out to the point that their hearts are melted they’re discouraged they’re on the floor they’re thinking no way can that group of campers come they’re afraid of a group of campers right and we see that actually the clear identity for these people of israel was not actually because they were anybody special they were distinguishable not because of who

they were or who they brought across that river but because of whose they were and that is true of communities of faith that if we believe in Jesus and we follow him which is our mission here to walk in the way of Jesus with the heart of Jesus that means we belong to him and so this is true of our tribe here at south fellowship church we are a people of God and we belong to him we’ve just sung songs about that that it is it is God’s church here we are God’s church and that means that we are chosen to be loved by him and this is nothing that any amount of change can take away from us we are grounded in the fact that we are gods and I wonder today do you know whose you are do we know as a church whose we are I honestly think that we’ve been learning this lesson over this season of wilderness in our journey here because we had our

lead pastor leave and he said you weren’t ever following me if I was doing a good job you were following Jesus and actually he’s been your lead pastor all along amen and he will continue to be our lead pastor although we love alex and he’s gifted and he’s strong and he’s a great leader for us we are gods and that’s a part of our identity here at south I know men I know some of you that your story was that you began here because we said that that Jesus is our lead pastor it’s not any person that’s standing up here it’s him and this should make us distinct in our world this should make us stand out the other nations or the other people around us should start to know that we’re different because we’re gods so where is it that we stand out in the way of Jesus are we standing out and and shining bright or are we blending in is our our social media

posts are they blending in are they looking more like the world or are they looking more like the way of Jesus how about our conversations with our family about the holidays coming up are they looking like Jesus or are they looking like the world are we freaking out in a way that that makes us unable to stand out I think this is an invitation for us to remember that this was God’s plan all along he chose this people of israel uh out of all the nations of the world that he would bless them that he would make their name great that he would set them apart but it wasn’t just because they were super cool not because they had anything going for them but because he wanted the whole world to see that when we make God our God and when we belong to him that we start to stand out and we become magnetic for the other people the reason that the

other tribes were looking at them as they were freaking out is because they had something they had access to someone that they didn’t and that that made them feel different but in the end God wanted to use a set apart nation a chosen nation so that the whole world would know whose they could belong to as we continue this story the very next verse in joshua chapter 2 says right as they stepped into the promised land they realized that there was one way that they were not distinguishable God said to joshua make flint knives and circumcise the israelites again he stops them in the middle of their process they were probably raring to go the other nations were were discouraged and they could probably take them over easily and here God says wait a minute there’s one way that you’re not distinguished the way that I set apart for you

and that was circumcision so we’re going to have to talk about circumcision out of all the passages in joshua I chose circumcision I mean looking at the following passages I would have had to deal with massive elimination of nations and cities or perhaps the stoning of an entire family for their sin so circumcision seemed like an easier way to go and then I realized you know what if men can stand up here and talk about child bearing I think that a female can stand up here and talk about circumcision anywho circumcision was always connected to a covenant and the covenant was given of many many many many generations before and that was what I was alluding to that abraham was called out of all the other nations to be set apart and God said I’m going to bless you I’m going to make your name great I’m going to give you a whole bunch of

nations I’m going to make a special covenant with you we’re going to be in a really special relationship and I’m going to covenant to you I’m going to be your God and a part of this is that you’re gonna walk into this promised land and you’re gonna take it over you’re gonna have the whole land of canaan and this story is just a beautiful story because at the very end of I mean at 99 years old abram does not have his descendant right and out of the most impossible circumstances God shows up for him and he’s able to make this covenant with him even when there’s no sight that it could be fulfilled and God goes ahead and makes this covenant with abraham and I think that God knew that there would be some there would be some deal breakers in this covenant in this relationship he knew that they weren’t going to fulfill that and

when he set and established this covenant with abraham God put the entire weight of the covenant on his own shoulders he asked abraham to bring out sacrifices of all different different wealth statuses and he walked through all those pieces saying I am going to put this covenant on me and I’m going to be faithful because I know that you’re going to be unfaithful and that is absolutely what’s playing out in the story of joshua here but he said in this covenant I want to I want you to make this a physical sign of this beautiful spiritual relationship that we have and so I want you to undergo circumcision that would be a sign of this covenant that I’m loving you I’m choosing you you’re going to be set apart among all the other nations and I want you to have a physical sign and this is not a physical sign that’s like a tattoo on their forehead

this is a private sign where an intimate time of their love relationship with God and he said during his time with abraham he said any uncircumcised male who has not been circumcised of the flesh he will be cut off from his people because he’s broken the covenant so here we have a whole bunch of group of deal breakers and they’re standing before their faithful deal maker they’ve just stepped foot in the promised land remember that was God showing up on his promise he promised them the land of canaan and they finally their feet are on that ground they’re about to take this over but they’ve failed to continue the sign of the covenant throughout the wilderness and for whatever reason whether they thought it was unsanitary or they might have had really rational reasons for why they didn’t do that these people that were

stepping into the promised land were not carrying the sign of the covenant it’s like they they weren’t wearing their wedding ring they were they were not showing that they wanted to have covenant back with God God wanted to have covenant with them and they weren’t showing up on their end now I would imagine that when it says that all of them were not circumcised maybe some of them were maybe there were some families that that had continued this process and they wanted to have covenant with God but those of the men who were out there not uncircumcised that should have happened on day eight that should have happened when they were an infant so did they choose to be uncircumcised maybe not maybe they didn’t even know that they were breaking a covenant with God and here they are and God says guys you’ve

been breaking covenant with me and maybe they had to say wow maybe that’s true and we need to agree with God in this I think the most courageous thing happens next because I’m going to skip that joshua made the flint knives and he circumcised them he agreed with God and he said you’re right we were wrong we are the deal breakers and you are the faithful deal maker what a beautiful step of courage I think that joshua joshua realized that this was by the grace of God they didn’t deserve to step into that promised land if they had been uncircumcised on the way and they had been disobeying God’s covenant remember he said you’ll be broken off that you’re the deal breaker and yet he still showed up for them and how beautiful a grace that is and I think that that’s true of us too that even when we get it wrong as

a church as as a people of God that we are lavished with God’s grace we are a people of God’s grace we realize that we don’t deserve all the good things and the good benefits and blessings that are part of your kingdom and yet you still choose to give it to us and I think that that this is a church that I’ve seen example after example that have admitted you know what in that area we got it wrong and we’re willing to come back into alignment with you God there’s ways that that we’ve admitted you know that maybe it wasn’t what we did that was wrong but how we did it was wrong and we’re willing to to always come back into agreement with God I think that grace the um I think that confession actually is one of the biggest gifts that God can give us when he corrects us it is a grace in order to bring us back into covenant relationship with him so

do we see God’s correction as grace and where might we as individuals need to agree with God receive his grace for the sake of this community maybe there’s ways that that God is pointing out that there’s something we need to agree with him on and make it right maybe there’s a way that we just need to sit and receive his grace and truly receive his grace to believe that we are freed from that in order that this community can get stronger in the grace of God and I hope that we would continue to be a courageous community that’s willing to surrender willing to obey even when it’s painful this community of israel they they’re stopped in their tracks they could have gone out and wiped out these communities while they were discouraged and their hearts were melted and God says no I want you to somehow find flint and carve some knives

get everybody in order and perform surgery and and I want you to stop for a time so all of those that were ready to move ready to go God says wait for all of those who were okay we gotta get stronger I’m gonna go I’m gonna go work out I’m gonna go you know lift some rocks I’m gonna get stronger so we can conquer these enemies and he’s like no I want you to have surgery and I want you to heal you think that this is really disappointing and now they’re in a position of vulnerability the the jordan river just flowed back behind them and the enemy territories in front of them and now they’re they’re stuck between literally a rock and a hard place and they’re vulnerable they’re having surgery so I hope that we would become as daringly dependent as israel despite disappointing detours there are so many detours that keep coming

our way including new health restrictions and but maybe we need to posture ourselves and say God whatever you say we’re gonna obey you know that might cause more work for us by putting together three services for you all but we want to be committed to putting you all before ourselves I think we need to be a community that places a we over the me and I know there’s a whole lot of dreams that I have and a whole lot of things steps that I want to take and then God’s saying to me yvonne are you willing to surrender your own opinions and dreams and preferences in order that self can become who I want them to be we are a community and I think it’s really important in the midst of change to realize that you are not alone you are a part of God’s church you are part of a tribe of grace and there is so much joy that comes when

we connect to the story that’s greater than our individual story and when we’re able to put our own preferences on on hold for the sake of the whole we start to free ourselves to love this community to love one another to see the needs around us and to not be so navel-gazing that we get so caught up in our own journey in our own struggle in our own wrestlings in our own conflict and resistance to change that we don’t see that we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves and today I want us to to have a little ceremony in order to remember this moment and I’ve chosen three candles and I’m gonna ask three pastors to join us up front and to lead us in a whole communal surrender one one prayer that has been beneficial to me during this time this whole season of change has been the serenity prayer that there is a whole lot of things that

we can’t change but you know God also gives us the ability to change and so there are things that we can change and so I’ve tried to blend some of what we’ve been talking about today uh with the lord’s prayer and with our our points of the sermon with the serenity prayer to together proclaim that we are God’s church let’s make a memory today that we are a people of grace and that we are a people willing to surrender and put the we over the me so let me pray for us and then we’re going to do this ceremony together father God I thank you that you have knit us together as your church that you have lavished us with your grace and that you continue to walk with us every step of these discouraging and disappointing detours God continue to do your work amongst us as we just declare and affirm together our identity our grace and our surrender in Jesus name amen