Then the Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have delivered Jericho into your hands, along with its king and its fighting men. March around the city once with all the armed men. Do this for six days. Have seven priests carry trumpets of rams’ horns in front of the ark. On the seventh day, march around the city seven times, with the priests blowing the trumpets. When you hear them sound a long blast on the trumpets, have all the people give a loud shout; then the wall of the city will collapse and the people will go up, every man straight in.”

Joshua 6:2-5

Oh, for a faith that trusts that the Lord will make good his promises. Would you take a leap of faith today and build a brand new church if…1) There were already more than enough congregations in the area, 2) If our nation was entering into World War 3, 3) If, because of the war, we had to financially cut corners in our personal lives, ration our steel, sugar, and gas, 4) If there was no certainty of the future for the ministry for the next 5 to 10 years, let alone the first, 5) If the task looked tough and the challenge insurmountable?

I think we would all answer NO!!! Then how is it that First Evangelical Lutheran Church, La Crescent is here today? The Christians who started this ministry had the very scenario before them as they simply trusted the Lord and took what probably seemed to most as a “leap of faith”. I think our lesson helps answer the question of how they could do that. Joshua and the Israelites had a tough task, an insurmountable challenge. The Lord said go into the Promised Land and I will give it to you. He even gave the marching orders. The problem was the marching orders didn’t seem logical, but foolish. Certainly that plan would fail. And it would have if the Israelites went with their “gut” feeling, their sinful nature that didn’t trust the Lord.

Their “gut” reaction was to go back into the bondage of Egypt instead of trust the Lord and take up the land he had promised them. Led by Christ, the commander of the army of the Lord, they simply trusted that the Lord would keep his promises to his people. Without trust in the Lord, without relying on the Lord to strengthen us to be and live as his own, we too look only to the “gut” reaction of our sinful nature. Our sinful nature would have us look only to ourselves and our abilities to accomplish anything. Our sinful nature would keep us from succeeding in anything. Our sinful nature would take us right back to the bondage to sin and eternal death and hell that was ours before we knew Christ Jesus.

Instead, God reminds us that we are not under the bondage of sin and its attitudes and actions. We are not going back to the way we were before believing in Jesus. Nor should we listen to a sinful nature that relies on our strengths and abilities to accomplish the work of the Lord, the saving of souls through the proclamation of the Gospel. Oh, for a faith like that of Joshua who was not afraid to simply trust that the Lord keeps his promises and will bless the marching orders that he provided for his people. This is our faith! We trust the Word of our God who made what seemed impossible, possible. Jesus destroyed the power of sin and death and gave us new life as he gave us faith. The Word of God speaks us righteous through faith in Christ Jesus and strengthens us to rely solely on the Lord’s promises.

Would you walk around a city wall trusting that it will fall down and the enemy be taken simply because you have the promise of victory? Would you build today onto a gospel ministry even though…1) There are already more than enough congregations and child care programs in the area, 2) our nation is on the brink of war in the Middle East and North Korea and Russia, 3) When times are financially difficult, 4) When there is no certainty of the future for the ministry for the next 5 to 10 years, let alone the first, 5) When the task looks tough and the challenge insurmountable?

Would you build today onto a gospel ministry where the Lord has given you 75 years of proof that he is with you and will bless His means of grace? Oh for a faith that is no “leap of faith” at all. Oh for a faith that simply trusts that the Lord that will make good promises. Lord give us this faith as we Keep Christ First in our Hearts and Lives!

Keep Christ First,

Pastor Chris Christenson