We’re into Week 7, but before we finish, here are my notes on Week 6. This week was the week! The Israelites got to the Promised Land, and the Lord told them to go and take what He was giving them! Moses sent spies to check out this “great gift,” and they returned confirming the splendor of the land. Yet, ten of those twelve spies talked a whole nation into forfeiting the gift God was giving them, all because there were giants in the land and walls that seemed too high and strong to overcome. Two men, Caleb and Joshua, against ten, and all was lost…for 40 years. It is their story…it is ours. How often have I let a gift from Father lay waste at my feet because just the stooping to pick it up and unwrapping it seemed too hard? Too uncomfortable? Too inconvenient? Too scary? Too much? Maybe most of us live the life of the Israelite…wandering…instead of taking hold of what God has offered. Maybe, that’s why we really hunger, thirst, and long for more, because we’re not where He intended us to be. How long will I choose the desert over the promises of God? You?
Chapter 6…Sunday and Wednesday of week 6:
Going to the Promised Land…A Road Trip
God said you will live in a land flowing with milk and honey: two “supplies” that would mean safety/having basic needs met and contentment/a place that never spoils
So let’s jump in the van and get going! We begin with 1) Excitement over the beginning of the trip…for about three days.
Then, all too quickly, we get mired and jaded and consumed in the Lower Story
We complain about what kind of “food” we have and how much “food” we have and about the way the “need” was met – we are a spoiled lot!
We can rise above the Lower Story; we can seek the Upper Story perspective here…contentment. A life that doesn’t seek to have, but seeks to live and give and just be in His presence! A life that doesn’t spoil, but preserves!
Next on our journey, 2) The Destination
It seems too hard, too large, too much work, too big a thing for us! And it is. God rarely asks us to do things that we can do simply because this life isn’t about our decisions and accomplishments pointing to us. It is all about Him, gathering people to Him, offering the gift of Life to others. How would other nations have heard of the glory of God if the Israelites could do it on their own? It was never about becoming an Israelite – it was always about becoming God’s child!
If we will keep the Upper Story perspective, we will keep the destination in mind. Heaven will be worth it all! Do I live like I believe that? You?
If we’re the kids in the back, we have one question always ready on our lips, “Are we there yet?” 3) The Length of the Trip
Lest we give the Israelites credit due to the fact that they were traveling through a desert, let us not forget their whining began about three days in! It doesn’t take much of God tampering with our schedules or inconveniencing our comfortable lifestyles before we dig our heels in and say, “Enough!” And that is the way we treat God, as if He is violating our rights. I mean doesn’t He owe us something? Here is where we wander…in this selfish, me-oriented wilderness. If only we would step up to the Upper Story, we could see that this life on the third rock from the sun, is not all there is!
If we are not whining about length, then we are trying to take hold of the wheel and become 4) backseat drivers.
We can ruin a trip or affect the destination.
Miriam and Aaron grumbled against Moses…they didn’t want to go where God was going.
Moses dishonored God in front of the people…he felt he deserved to show his anger too…
Sometimes, though, the best leading we can do, is as a follower. Be a lead-follower and be a leader in the Kingdom of God. For the Kingdom of God is upside down…we bend down to be lifted up in His arms. We go lower to take the higher ground. It is pride that causes us to fall and humility that helps us to stand.
Along the journey, it will be 5) your actions that affect others.
The ten spies, ten out of thousands, caused a whole nation to wander for 40 years. They caused a whole generation to die off – a people who would not make it to the destination after all.
If we live in the Upper Story, we’re going to realize our life is not all about us! (Nor was it ever meant to be! We were meant to affect those around us…even future generations!) Our actions have far greater effects than we see, and we would do well to heed Philippians 2! We would do well to learn from our “ancestors” – the Israelites – to listen to Moses, and to “Choose Life!” How will others’ journeys be affected by me? Will I cause them to stumble or give up along the way, or will I make the way smooth and straight, as far as it depends on me? Will others who see me traveling want to jump in or out of my van?
The Road Trip continued…Wednesday Night
God is the GPS, we are the kids in the backseat, and the driver is the leader God has placed in your life.
If we’re on a trip and the kids are misbehaving in the backseat, we discipline. It’s not just to cease a behavior but to enhance the experience. We really do want the kids – the whole family – to enjoy the journey!
If the behavior does persist, there is always the option no one likes – turning around and going back!
In the case of the Israelites, God does eventually have to “turn the car around.”
Moses’ final message shows what he has learned from God’s leading as Father
1) God has been trying to bless you! Even during the discipline – especially during the discipline – He has been trying to bless you!
5 And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said,
“My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline,
and don’t give up when he corrects you.
6 For the Lord disciplines those he loves,
and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.”
7 As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? 8 If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. 9 Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever?
10 For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness.11 No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.
12 So take a new grip with your tired hands and strengthen your weak knees. 13 Mark out a straight path for your feet so that those who are weak and lame will not fall but become strong. Hebrews 12 NLT
2) God is ALWAYS with and for you!
Even Moses, though not allowed to enter the Promised Land, did get to see it AND was given a high honor – he was buried by God Himself!
Israel kept forgetting that God keeps His promises! I keep forgetting that God keeps His promises! You?
3) God was trying to draw the Israelites and others to Him!
This trip wasn’t just about a nation called Israel; it was about a Kingdom called Eternal – God’s! It was about Eden…it was about making a way for all to come home!
Moses could now see that God was about more than giving the Israelites comfort and happiness – a Lower Story life-goal.
God was and is trying to build a special and different “nation” – one to reflect Him to draw others to Him. A “nation” to lead a lost world back home!
“Other Nations” are discontent, jealous, and complain – a perfect reflection of the Lower Story.
“God’s Nation” is made up of people who are content – satisfied, not jealous – peace-full, and do not complain – give thanks!
WE MUST LOOK DIFFERENT!
Our Father wants us to reach the destination AND enjoy the trip! Am I? You?