How To See God Do Amazing Things

June 19, 2022

David Sorn

The Israelites get to see God do an amazing thing, but they first must follow 3 steps.

How To See God Do Amazing Things

June 19, 2022

David Sorn

The Israelites get to see God do an amazing thing, but they first must follow 3 steps.



(Renovation Logo)

Morning. Happy Father’s Day. David Sorn. Lead Pastor of Renovation Church.

Before we get into our message on Joshua this morning, I want to give you an update on something

Last summer we mentioned to you that we had stopped publicly promoting our church’s online, livestream, but it would still be available on YouTube if people needed it.

After continued discussion and prayer, we have decided to officially stop our Sunday morning livestream, so Renovation Church services won’t be live online anymore after next week, but the messages will still be posted online by Sunday afternoons.

This was not an easy decision, and not one we’re making lightly.

I know that 99% of churches are still doing it…

I know that here are positives to having a livestream.

It allows you to access church from anywhere…vacation, if you’re home sick.

It’s a way for people to try out our church, and hear the Gospel.

And as someone with an evangelist’s heart, trust me, I LOVE that!

However, the reasons for discontinuing our livestream far outweigh the reasons to continue.

When you watch from home, there are many things that are essential for you to do (and participate in) as a believer in Jesus…that you just simply cannot do from home.

5 Reasons why we are stopping our online services:

#1: You miss out on the power of corporate worship (and prayer!) at home

It’s not the same.

Listening to the worship while you’re always washing the dishes at home…is not the same as being in this room with the gathered body, praising him corporately

#2: You can’t serve from home

When we just watch online, church ends up being just about you being served, and not a place where you come to serve

In the New Testament, serving the body of Christ is such an important part of a Biblical church

At the end of the day, church (as described in the Bible), church is not a podcast.

It cannot be reduced down to just content that you consume on your own.

#3: Church online eventually leads to isolation, which is a danger to your spiritual growth

If you don’t show up here for 6 months…

…you don’t see friends in the lobby, you don’t serve with friends in the café or on the greeting team…

You’ll be more and more isolated.

One of our Core Values is: “Our faith thrives in community, but struggles without it.”

#4: Church online is a major obstacle to the spiritual growth of children

The longer this goes on, the more and more we see how absolutely spiritually devastating this model is for the long-term spiritual health of children.

Kids just simply do not grow through the livestreaming model.

If you’ve ever tried to livestream at home with something like a 4 and 2-year-old, you know what I mean.

#5: Churches can still do digital evangelism without livestreaming their Sunday morning gatherings.

Let me tell you that there are MANY church leaders in America who want to cancel their livestream (for the reasons we mentioned), but they don’t because they don’t want to miss out on evangelistic opportunities online.

But I always tell pastors, listen, unchurched people are not watching your services at 9:00am on a Sunday morning.

That’s churched people.

Unchurched people are checking churches out at 2am on a Thursday when they googled, “Is God real?”

And so this what we’re going to do as a church that is serious about discipleship but also has a HUGE heart for evangelism:

We’ll be ending our livestream next week because we believe the benefits are far greater when church GATHERS TOGETHER as the Bible instructs us to;

However, we are more committed than ever to share the Gospel online.

In fact, we’ve budgeted for it, we’re hiring staff for it even.

Over the next few years, we want to be one of the best churches in MN at sharing Gospel content online.

And by that, I mean sharing testimony clips, creative videos that explain the gospel, message clips, etc.

We want to be in the space where nonbelievers are.

But we don’t believe we have struggle through all of these other unintended consequences just to turn our church gathering into an online service.

If you are watching online right now, and you are a part of our church… come back…now’s the time.

If you watch this from far away…I cannot encourage you enough to get involved with a local church where you can be known and discipled.

All right, thanks for hearing me out.

Let us know if you have any questions


(Joshua Series Slide)

All right. Let’s get into our message for today.

As a church, we are studying the Book of Joshua in the Old Testament for our Summer teaching series.

If you’re new around here, first of all, that’s awesome (welcome!)…

Let me catch you up to speed on where we are in the Bible

While I do that, everybody grab a Bible.

(Joshua 3:1-4)

(Page 147)

God has promised the land of Canaan to the Israelites.

They were previously enslaved in Egypt, but God delivered them with 10 plagues, led them through the Red Sea, and they were in the desert of the Sinai Peninsula for 40 years.

But now, their leader Moses has died and his apprentice, Joshua, is going to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land.

But first, they’re going to have to find a way to get a whole lot of people across the Jordan River which is border to the Promised Land.

(Joshua 3:1-4) – 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 Levitical priests 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 two thousand cubits between you and the ark; do not go near it.”

Let me start by explaining a few things that might feel a bit new to you or foggy to you.

Firstly, what is the “ark of the covenant” that the priests are carrying?

Let me show you a picture, a rendering, of what it looked like.

(Show Ark of the Covenant Picture)

The Ark was constructed 40 years before this, and was a gold-covered box.

It represented God’s special presence with the people

Inside of it where the 10 commandments, a sample of manna (food that God provided in the wilderness), and a portion of Aaron’s (That’s moses’ brother) staff that miraculously budded

The ark was also involved in an important ritual where once a year the high priest would sprinkle blood to pay (or atone) for the sins of the people on the Day of Atonement (or Yom Kippur as you might recognize from your iPhone calendar)

So the Ark, in this passage (and in the Bible) is the symbol of God’s presence.

It’s as physical sign that God is leading them

That theme is so important that the ark is mentioned not once, but NINE times in this chapter!

Okay, knowing that, we can begin to frame what’s going to happen in our chapter today.

God is going to do something amazing.

In fact, we’re going to see God use that exact word later on.

And within this chapter we see a pattern for how God’s people (that’s now us) can see God do amazing things in our day.

We get step #1 in this first section

How to see God do amazing things:

#1: Let God Lead. You Follow.

The Israelites have to follow God here.

They don’t know how to get across the Jordan River.

There is a major obstacle in front of them in their life.

You ever feel like that?

Maybe you’re there right now.

So what do we see in the passage?

Joshua is going to need to follow God’s lead.

Joshua is not going to be able to invent a way to get a huge group of people, with all of their possessions, and all of their children, across the Jordan River.

At this season, the Jordan was 100 feet across and 10 feet deep.

So God gives direction to Joshua.

Look at verse 4

They tell the people, “(Follow the ark), then you will know which way to go, since you have never been this way before”

It’s not that the people don’t know which direction the Promised Land is.

They’re just not exactly sure how this is going to work.

So they’re going to need to listen…and follow.

Let God lead. You follow.

Most of us get that backwards by the way.

Our spiritual lives look more like: “We lead, and ask God to follow” and bless us along the way.

I know many people who go through significant transitions (getting a new job, new relationship, moving)

And they are making big decisions based on their own wisdom and just asking God to bless it

That’s backwards.

Let God lead. You follow.

He’s a better leader than we are.

I feel like this backwards thinking is a good indictment of my own prayer life sometimes.

It’s easy to close your eyes and say, “Lord, I need this to work out, and fix that, and make that better, and give me one of those!”

I’ve noticed that, in prayer, I tend to make more requests than I ask questions.

And sometimes I wonder if our spiritual lives would be in a better place if we asked more questions instead

If instead of “Make this work,” we said, “Where do you want me to go?”

If instead of “Fix this problem,” we said, “What is your will?”

Let God Lead. You follow.

(How to see God do Amazing Things Title Slide)

Often where God leads isn’t where you would’ve went anyway.

I’m sure most of the Israelites who didn’t know the Jordan River THAT well, were probably thinking, “Let’s just keep heading north or south, I’m sure there’s a place to cross of where the river ends”

And what does God say?”

In a second, we’ll see he says, “Nope, straight ahead”

And Joshua wants to make sure they all see the ark and can follow God’s lead.

Look at the end of verse 4.

They are to stay 2,000 cubits back from the ark.

That’s about 1,000 yards (10 football fields) or, a half a mile.

You can see a half a mile, but it’s far enough away that everyone can see it, watch what happens, and follow.

But there’s another truth about God embedded in this verse as well.

God is holy.

In 2 Samuel 6, a man named Uzzah touched the ark, and died instantly.

There’s this tension in the Bible that we must always hold.

Yes, God loves us, Jesus calls us “friend”

And yet…“God is not our equal.”

We must follow Him with Respect…and Let Him lead.

Is that true of your life right now?

As you’re making decisions, are you acting as if your wisdom is equal or even superior to His?

Who’s leading?


Okay, let’s keep reading as this next verse expands on this thought of holiness

(Joshua 3:5-8)

(Page 147)

(Joshua 3:5-8) - NIV

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.’”

So look again at verse 5.

What’s the important step that Joshua tells the people that they must do before they see God do amazing things among them?

Consecrate themselves.

That’s Step #2:

How to see God do amazing things:

#1: Let God Lead. You Follow.

#2: Consecrate yourself

I know what you’re thinking: What does that even mean?!? ☺

To consecrate means to set apart as holy.

To consecrate yourself is to prepare yourself for God to move by cleansing yourself from sin and seeking God anew.

In the New Testament, Paul explains elaborates on this concept this way:

(2 Timothy 2:20-22) – NIV

20 In a large house there are articles not only of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay; some are for special purposes and some for common use. 21 Those who cleanse themselves from the latter will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.

22 Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.

Paul is saying, “If you want to be USEFUL to the Master, you’ve got to cleanse yourself from the sin you’re holding on to in your heart and pursue holiness instead”

So, for example, this Friday, we’re sending a team to Tanzania, in Eastern Africa, and our team is going to share the Gospel with thousands upon thousands of people

(How to see God do Amazing Things Title Slide)

And Sammy Wanyonyi, a longtime friend of our church, and international evangelist who is leading our trip…has told us to prepare ourselves.

To consecrate ourselves to God for the mission.

To fast, to make sure we’re seriously seeking God every day leading up to the trip.

To fight anew any lingering sin.

We want to be spiritually hot (not lukewarm), hot, going into the trip!


This is where I think the American church could benefit from reading the Old Testament more.

In the OT, you see this consistent pattern of the God telling the people that He is sick of their “fake spirituality” and their insincere prayers and burnt offerings…

…because their hearts aren’t really right…nor are they truly seeking Him…they’re just seeking His hand.

And too often that is us.

We don’t really want Him.

We just want Him to do something for us.

What God wanted was for Israelites along the Jordan River to get serious about following Him again…to get serious about holiness again…

Because when they cleanse themselves of worldly sin (like Paul said in 2 Timothy), what’s left is eyes that are expectingly looking to God (not the world, not sin) to do amazing things.

We need more teaching on this too.

We don’t understand holiness like the American church of long ago

See, the truth is, you can be saved, but that doesn’t mean you’ll always walking in God’s blessing.

Remember the book of Joshua is meant to teach us what life can be like when you truly WALK with God

And it’s foolish on our part to think that we can be living in disobedience to God and yet expect Him to always do amazing things for us at the same time.

God is our father.

Let me ask the fathers on Father’s Day…

If your kids are living in consistent disobedience, do you say, “And here’s another GOOD thing!”

No, you desire for them to get right their hearts right again.

And God is more concerned about your heart than He is your comfort.

And so before the Jordan River parts…He says, “Consecrate yourselves.”

Come back to me.

Put away sin, seek holiness again.

Put your eyes on me!

And to many of you He is saying the same thing to you this morning.

Seek me first.

Consecrate yourself.


And then, there’s a 3rd part.

Let’s keep reading.

(Joshua 3:9-17)

(Page 147)

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 (that is, the Dead 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 stopped in the middle of the Jordan and stood on dry ground, while all Israel passed by until the whole nation had completed the crossing on dry ground.

Pretty amazing.

They let God lead.

They consecrate themselves

And then, step #3:

How to see God do amazing things:

#1: Let God Lead. You Follow.

#2: Consecrate yourself

#3: Step out in faith

God doesn’t say from the sky, “Everybody! Look over here and watch me do my work! Shazam! (and the river parts)

No, what does He tell them to do?

He tells the priests holding the ark to walk into the river first.

This is important.

Don’t miss this…because this is A main reason that many American Christians have a dull and boring faith.

God is nudging Christians (all the time today!) to step into the river, and they’re going, “No way. That’s…that’s crazy”.

He’s prompting them, but they say:

“I’m not going to Africa”

“I’m not going to start fasting once a week

“Or start praying 30 minutes a day

“or sharing my faith with someone once a month”

“God what are you doing? That’s no…that’s….no”

And by saying “no,” we’re constantly missing out on seeing God do amazing things…

And because we won’t put our feet into the river…we’re left with this boring and dull faith that never really grows

Most of us just usually prefer the riverbed to be dry before God tells us to walk in.

Sometimes we even get mad at Him for not making it dry fist.

We say, “What are you doing God?! I’ve been asking for you to clear the way and make a path, but you haven’t!”

And I believe God would say, “Listen, anyone can trust me on dry ground. That’s not going to really grow your faith at all”

“Listen to me, just keep your eyes on me, consecrate yourself, and just start walking”

That’s the pathway to seeing God move in amazing ways.

Interestingly enough, the Israelite’s forefather Abraham (who was the first to be led to the Promised Land, centuries before), came in a similar way.

The Hall of Faith chapter in Hebrews 11 says this about Abraham:

(Hebrews 11:8) – NIV

8 By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.

But what did He do?

He just started walking.

And the Israelite leaders too, just started walking.

They walked right into the river…unsure how it was exactly going to go down, but they went, because God called.

And what do they get to see???

The glory of God!

(How to see God do Amazing Things Title Slide)

And so some of you today…you just got to trust…and start walking.

God is calling, you’re nervous and scared.

He says “Be Strong and Courageous, I am with you.”

And work the steps.

Remember, God did a miracle AFTER they obeyed His will, consecrated themselves, and stepped out in faith

Don’t just try and skip right to the miracle.

And listen, we can’t manipulate God.

This is the great irony of this teaching.

If you’re just seeking “amazing” for your own sake, you’ll probably never see it.

But if you’re seeking God for His sake, you’ll probably see it often.

Start walking.


And know that if you’re just getting started in seeking God out…that He makes a way for you TOO to know Him.

Did you see in verse 17 where it says that the priests stopped in the middle of the Jordan (w/ the ark) and stood on the dry ground while all of the people crossed over?

The Old Testament, the first part of the Bible is always whispering clues about Jesus.

See, similarly, Jesus, God’s Son was a bridge for you to cross over to God.

Our sin separates us from God because He is holy


It looks like this.

We are unable to reach God, to know Him, to go to heaven, because of the justice we deserve for our sin.

But Jesus came to die for sins, to take the punishment for us.


And thus, He is like a bridge, allowing you to cross to God.

To be forgiven, to have eternal life in heaven, and to be in a relationship with God.

But you have to have the faith to cross over.

Just like the ark stayed in place for the Israelites to cross over, the Israelites still had to step out in faith and walk over.

And so you need to, in faith, say, “I believe He is my Savior, and I want to follow Him”

If you need to do that today, talk with our follow-up team in the front right after the service.


(Tanzania Team Slide)

All right, before we end the service today, we want to pray over our team of 12 that is headed to Tanzania on Friday.

I want to call them on stage right now

Nina Solberg

Josh Pollard

Rene Louthan

Tony Wesp

Anna Rauscher

Gabriel Hanschen

Hannah Sommer (at camp w/ our youth group)

John McCormick

Abby Dery

Jacob Wilson (who is out of state today)

Jen Norman

(Ana from SHINE is here with us at this service)

And I will be going as well.

We leave on Friday, when we will begin what is, door-to-door a 31-hour period of flights and layovers until we arrive in Tanzania Sunday morning.

Then over 8 days, we will be working with Sammy Wanyonyi and Shine where we will be sharing the Gospel everywhere we go.

In Churches, in schools, universities…

We work with local churches who put on pop-up outreaches in neighborhood parks where 400-500 people wander over…and we share our testimonies and the Gospel.

And we’ll be doing a massive crusade where tens of thousands are expected.

It’s a big deal.

Please, please pray for us!

We go. You Pray. We do this mission together.

At this point, the team members can step down in front of the stage now

If you’re a friend or family member, would you come up, and lay your hands on us in prayer.

That’s a way of commissioning people in missions that we see in the book of Acts in the Bible.

I’m going to ask (9:00-Steve; 10:15-Steve; 11:30-Alex who is one of our elders to come and pray for our team

(Elder PRAYS)

FINAL THOUGHTS: Thank you for your prayer. Have a great week. Renovation Rundown.

Copyright: David Sorn
Renovation Church in Blaine, MN

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