Say no to no man’s land

Say no to no man’s land

Say no to no man’s land

Say no to no man’s land

January 28, 2020

January 28, 2020

January 28, 2020

January 28, 2020









Say no to no man’s land

Happy New Year (Take 2)

Happy New Year, take 2... that’s one of the many great things about living in KL, 21 public holidays. At lease three of which celebrating New Year... meaning we get a second chance at making a change!


New Year is traditionally seen as a time to try and make changes.

A recent survey showed that 11% of people made the resolution to do dry January - 30% of which admit to failing... in the first week. 

But in KL, no bother, it’s New Years again. New start take two... 

Wish Tree

Just at the bottom of the lift outside Lot 10, there is a tree where people are writing their hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Here were some of my favourite: 


  • GPA 4.0 / Get distinction in all music examination / something in Chinese (together with you a long long time?)

  • This year I am a millionaire with abundance of wealth, good health, and prosperity...

  • I wish for more steps to prevent global warming... and hugs (Love)

But along with these there were lots of hopes and dreams not just for themselves but also for others. And what I want us to look at this morning is how we lead others into what God has for them. 

Help Others

The author and managment coach, Simon Sinek, when he spoke at the Leadership Conference a few year back, said that the challenge is that you go into our bookshops and there are hundreds of books on ‘Self-Help’ but there are hardly any books on ‘Help Others’. 

Victorious Living & Leading

But the great news is that there is one in the Bible. It’s called the book of Joshua. And really the book of Joshua is a manual for victorious Christian living and victorious Christian leading.

It shows his how God works with us, but also how he invites us to work with others - how we can help other people take hold of what God has for them. In other words this is the way Jesus leads us and its the way he wants us to lead others.


I’m Not A Leader

You might not think of yourself as a leader, but you should! Everyone of us is a leader because leadership is simply about influence and all of us have influence over others. It might be widespread over a lot of people say working at a reception counter or leading a team, or it might be focused say when looking after a child. 

I Can’t Lead From Here

Or you might be thinking I’m not in a great place to lead from, and again that doesn’t matter because as we’ll see - when God calls Joshua to lead, he doesn’t do so from a place of victory - in fact its pretty much the opposite... 



Here’s the back story - the people of God were in slavery in Egypt. And God sent a leader, Moses, to lead them out of slavery and into his promised land - a place where they could enjoy life. 

So by miracle after miracle Moses leads them out of slavery and they get the edge of the promised land and then the people get cold feet - they get worried because they look at the promise and they see that it comes with challenges, and say we’ll go back to Egypt (which isn’t an option)

So what should have been a 12 day journey becomes a 40 year wandering around the desert - God having said I’ll honour your decision, those who said “No” will die in the wilderness and then we’ll go in. 

Basically a very awkward family trip... the kids saying: “Are we nearly there yet?!” And others saying: “Nearly, just waiting for old uncle Jimmy to you know...” And eventually that generation passes away, including their leader Moses, who had also disobeyed God. 


So now the people of God find themselves in NO-MAN’S-LAND, at a loss, without a leader in a location, somewhat appropriately named: Shittim. 


And yeah maybe today, you feel like you’re in Shittim... 

Maybe the situation at work looks a bit like Shittim...

My wife has been potty training our twins this week so that definitely felt like Shittim... 


Then Joshua rose early in the morning and they set out from Shittim. - Joshua 3:1


Well the good news is that is the place where God meets his people. 

And that is the place where he provides what they need. And it’s interesting what he gives them, they are about to enter battles and what he gives them is not a fancy weapon, not a strategy, but a leader, he doesn’t give them a plan he gives them a person. 

And that is what he wants to do for each and everyone of us no matter what we are facing, he wants to give us his presence, but then out of the overflow of what he gives us he wants us to do the same for others. To be present with them and lead them into what God has for them. 



After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: “Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 

Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.

“Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

10 So Joshua ordered the officers of the people: 11 “Go through the camp and tell the people, ‘Get your provisions ready. Three days from now you will cross the Jordan here to go in and take possession of the land the Lord your God is giving you for your own.’”




Say “No” to No-Man’s-Land

I titled todays talk, say “NO” to no-man’s-land. Because the purpose of Joshua’s leadership is to get people out of the in-between places and into the promise of God. And I believe that one of the things we are called to do is help others leave the no-man’s-land of indecision and receive what God has done for them. 

And to do that like Joshua, God says to us: Don’t Look Back, but look down, look around, and look forwards. 


He Dead One Ah

Don’t Look back. It’s quite strange how God starts this conversation with Joshua. This is the second thing he’s ever said to him and he opens with:

“Moses My Servant is Dead.”

That is not a great opening to the job interviews is it? Not even a ‘nice to meat you... just: “your predecessor he dead one ah...”

It’s very direct.

Don’t Look Back 

But the reason God opens with this because the temptation in any 

situation is to look back over our shoulder, to focus on, and long for the past. 

And we are tempted to do that even when the past was bad. 


Bad Past: Zucchinis

One of the biggest problems Moses has to face where leading the people is that they keep wanting to go back to Egypt. 

And you think that’s nuts. Ad you’d be right - they were slaves, but one of the reasons they keep giving for wanting to go back is MAKAN... 

“If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost - also the cucumbers.” - Number 11:5

And also the cucumbers! never forget that the human heart will seriously contemplate trading in all the promises of God for a half descent zucchini.

And its nuts but I’ve seen people do that, throw away a family for a fling, fall out with friends over finances, walk away from positions because of their pride. 

It’s in each and everyone of our hearts - the known slavery of the past can often seem more attractive than the unknown freedom of the future. 

Good Past: Moses

So if that’s true for the bad, then how much more are we tempted to long for the past when it was good. 

Moses had been this incredible leader, he’s a leader who’s life still has impact on the world today. I don’t think its possible to imagine how momentous his death would have been to them; like the loss of Martin Luther King, Li Quan Yew, Tony Stark - it would have rocked them to the core. 

And I can’t imagine how hard it would have been for Joshua to step up to the plate at this moment. 

But the problem is that whilst we must be grateful for the past, whilst we must learn from the past, we mustn't ’yearn for the past. (In the words of Abel a few weeks back, the past is for learning not for yearning.)

God is so direct with us because he wants us to be present in the moment of what he is calling us to do, not worrying about our bad form in the past, or others great accomplishments. 

‘Moses my servant is dead.’

If you are in Christ: You’re old self is dead. 

The past is gone don’t look back, but instead: 

Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them - to the Israelites. 

In other words: Don’t look back, but: Look Down, Look Around, Look Forwards. 



Firstly look Down: 

“Now then YOU...”

Leading others starts with leading ourselves, and recognising the fact that God has called you. That if you are here today God is calling you to follow him, and lead and serve others. And he wants to use you, where you are: 

“I will give you ever place where you set your foot...”

Wherever you are now, wherever you are this week God wants to use you to bring his kingdom on earth as it is in heaven. That wherever you tread would be Love, Joy, Peace, Patience... all the fruit of the Spirit. 

And how can we be sure? Because its not based on us. God says I’ve won the victory you just need to take hold of it. You have to posses your possessions but It its not about us. 

John Terry

I was thinking its a bit like John Terry. Back in 2012 Champions League Football Final, Chelsea Captain John Terry ...


...was not allowed to play in the match, as a punishment for having been sent off in the previous match. He had to watch from the stands...


Miraculously his team mates beat the favourites Bayern Munich and got to raise the trophy, but at that moment when the team went to receive it suddenly there was John Terry, in full kit, including shin pads, (despite the fact that he’d been spectating in the stands in a suit)....


....lifting up the cup as if he’d played every minute of the match even though he’d been sat in the stands. 

The internet obviously thought this was a great opportunity to troll him and joined in his other great victories such as landing on the moon, Royal Wedding, and the last Supper. 

[IMAGE] x3

God’s said I’ve won the victory, I’ve done the work, you just step up to the podium and posses it. 

We tend to want it to be the other way around, you defeat the enemy then I’ll show up...

This is the life of faith trusting that as we step in he will give us the victory...

  • You speak to your friend about your faith and then I’ll move.

  • You decide to forgive and then I’ll restore the relationship. 

  • You reach out to the struggling co-worker and I’ll manage the burden.

  • you stand up against injustice and he’ll bring about the change...

Every place you place your foot I will give you victory. 

Size of the land

And this is the challenge, God says to them:

“Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates - all the Hittite country - to the Mediterranean Sea in the west.” - v4

When you add that all up it’s 300,000 square miles, but even at the height of King David’s reign they only ever possessed 30,000 square miles, they only ever take hold of 1/10th of what God had promised them! 

I wander what things has God promised us, that he waiting for us to posses - what freedom in Christ is God longing to give you, what fruit of his spirit is seeking to grow to bursting in your life, love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, self control... what friends is he wanting to add to his family as we share the news of what he’s done for us. 

We lead others by first looking down, and accepting that he has called us, and...



Then it’s LOOK AROUND.

He starts by saying: 

You and all these people... get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them... - verse 2

I’m calling you but it’s not Only about you.

But he also rounds off this section saying: 

Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people, to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them. - Verse 6

Again its this idea that God has picked us to bless others. And this lands in the last bit of the reading. Joshua goes to the people and says this is what we are doing we are going to cross the river and take the land.

But three of the tribes already have their land,  Reubenites, the Gadites and Manasseh, they already have what has been promised to them, the land of the East, so he says to them: your wives and kids can stay here, but...

‘you are to help them, until the Lord gives them rest, as he has done for you, and until they too have taken possession of the Land the Lord your God is giving them.’  - v16

He’s saying to them, and says to us, you’ve got what God promised you - now you need to help others receive what God has promised them. 

In fact here it’s those who received first are the ones who are told to give first. To those who much is given much is expected.

Our prayer is we look around and say God: we want every blessing for every person. We don’t just want to settle for what we have. 


That’s why we invite our friends to Alpha - because we’ve encountered a love like no other, and we want to give others the opportunity to encounter that love. 

Connect Groups

It’s why we build connect groups - communities where we go to bless others, to support and pray for others, where we can practice loving our neighbour as ourselves.

And its a beautifully ambitious challenge to the people of God. He says this:

After that, you may go back and occupy your own land, which Moses the servant of the Lord gave you east of the Jordan towards the sunrise.” 

- v16

In other words, you’ve got the land in the East, the land of the sunrise, lets keep going till we’ve got the land of the sunset. We’ve got the first rays of light but let’s keep going till the whole country has seen the light.

Let’s keep going till every part of our lives is obedient to Christ.

Let’s keep going till everyone has had the chance to encounter what God has promised them. 

Let’s keep praying till his kingdom is on earth as it is in heaven.

Look Down - God has called You

Look Around - He has called us to serve our neighbour 

Look around at who God is calling you to serve.



Finally: Look forwards. 

He says: 

Get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them - to the Israelites. 

And the thing to keep in mind here is that whilst God has given them this big big vision. He speaks to them just about the moment they are in.  

Focused on the Present

He just says: 

“Get ready to cross the Jordan River.”

I don’t know about you, but I can so often be worried about what’s going on in other places, or worried about what may happen tomorrow, and God simply speaks to us about what we are to do today. 

Notice he doesn’t speak to Joshua about the challenges: the 13 big battles, the one pretty major defeat, the betrayal by a leader, the deception by their enemies, nor that once they crossed the river he asks them to get circumcised (yup kept that one quiet...) 

Nor even the victories, the battles they win, or the people who join the family of God. 

He simply speaks to them about their obedience to today. And today it’s get ready.


It’s a key reminder and it lands in with the resolution we’d encourage everyone of us to make our own which is to do the Bible in One Year, it breaks down a mammoth task into manageable chunks, and it comes with a promise: 

“Keep this book of the law always on your lips, meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.” - verse 8 

In a world that constantly tells us who we are and what we should be doing, God’s word speaks right to our hearts it keeps us grounded to what he wants from us now but also who we are now. And who those we are serving are now. The word of God is important because as we serve others it’s hard not to get heard hearted, but he keeps reminding us who they are and who we are, loved children of God.

Focused on his Presence 

We look forward by being focused on the present, but also by focusing on his presence, the major promise all the way through this passage is that God will be with us. 

“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” - verse 5

What God is asking Joshua to do, what he is asking us to do, takes courage but fortunately courage is contagious, we get it from the company that we keep. 


Emotional Support Animals 

A friend of mine was slightly surprised the other week when travelling on a plane to find that the guy on the same row as him had a Kestrel on his shoulder. Even more surprising was that no one else seemed to think it was out of the ordinary, which meant for a moment he thought he might be hallucinating.... 

But this is actually permitted by many airlines, they are called Emotional Support Pets - and the idea was to for example accommodate blind people who needed the help of a guide dog, but obviously is now being used be people to try and scam airlines into a free pass for their pets. 

People have brought with them, emotional support: cats, dogs, rabbits, pigs, snakes, a tarantula and my favourite was the person who tried to board the plane with their emotional support peacock...

I mean that’s big before it opens its tail....


One air steward said: “it’s like Noah’s ark up here.”

Fortunately for us, for emotional support he has promised us not a pet but his presence. He asks us to go, but he never asks us to do anything he is not willing to do himself. Wherever we are present he is present. - and where he is present anything can happen.


One story to finish: 

Dave Hill, is a student at St Paul’s Theological College in London, (the college SPTC here is a satellite of), and as well as training to be a pastor his regular job is as a fireman. And he recently shared how one night he came across these remixes of Steven Furtick, he’s a pastor from the states, and they have remixed his sermons, and put them to motivational workout music. 

They are beyond EPIC: I’ve got a promise, turning back is not an option, I’ve got a calling on my life, for this I was chosen... 

It’s brilliant - though it wouldn’t quite work with an English preacher: “If you don’t mind, I would like to share with you about what the Lord says in the book of Joshua... bottle can?”

Anyway Dave was finishing his shift, and was listening to this so that he could fill his mind with scripture, and as he lay down he had this line going around his head this line from the track: 

“A miracle can happen now, for the Spirit of the Lord is here, the evidence is all around that, the Spirit of the Lord is here.”

And just as he went to sleep a call came in for them all to respond to an incident, whilst they were on the way there was a lot of radio traffic, this was going to be a bad fire - and it turned out to be what is now known as the Grenfell Tower fire, which You may have heard of.

When he arrived 50% of this residential tower block was on fire, 

Again he had that line: “A miracle can happen now for the Spirit of the Lord is here, the evidence is all around that the Spirit of the Lord is here.”

But it sure didn’t look like it, it looked like Chaos. He and his team were sent to look for people on the 12th floor. On the way up he got separated from his team, but still had that line going around his head:

“A miracle can happen now for the Spirit of the Lord is here,...

And so he kept on going, eventually reaching the 12th floor and banging on a door which was answered by a family of four: Mum, Dad, and two daughters. 

He started to lead them out, With zero visibility and having to share his oxygen with them, and eventually having to carry them one by one down - but then he lost them in the crowds outside and didn’t see if they all made it out. 

Over the next few weeks he searched the hospitals trying to find the family, to see if they all made it but couldn’t find them - and then just recently, he found out what happened, amazingly they had all survived. 

But also they told him what happened: 

That night, the father had called his sister from the burning building to say that he and the family were trapped and couldn’t make it out, and were going to die.  

And as he finished the call he heard a voice saying: ‘It’s not your time, you can get out of this.’ He then went to his family and said do you trust me? We can make it out of here, they followed him to the door and that was the moment that David arrived, and led them all to safety. 

There may be times when you look around and the evidence is not that encouraging, but as we look down at the call God has for us now, as we look around at those he’s called us to lead and as we look Forwards at what he is asking us to do now, knowing his presence is with us, and in us, and working through us - he has promised to use us to lead many into what he has for them.