6) A Faith to Take this Mountain
We have been learning about what it means to be men and women of faith. The Title of this weeks conference is ì2001 - a Faith Odysseyî Now an odyssey is an exciting journey and a faith spelled out is ìFabulous Adventures in Trusting Himî. This is our last session together but it is only the beginning of the journey. From here you will go out and take on this world for Christ.
And we are not the first to conquest under the banner of God. Several thousand years ago God called His people to go in and take over the promised land. God had promised it to then, now they had to claim it.
So up they came from Egypt by the power of God, His presence with them by day in a cloud and by fire at night. Sustained by His miraculous Hand.
And so they came to the border of the promised land. Chose 12 men to go in and explore the land. And there is a famous song we used to sing as kids, ìTwelve Men went to Spy on Canaanî. So these 12 spies went in to see what they were up against and how wonderful this place God had promised was.
40 days they wandered through the land and at last they came back to the people. It took 2 of them just to carry one cluster of grapes for indeed the land was flowing with milk and honey. And as we learnt from the old milk and wheeties commercials if a young men drink their milk they will grow up strong and powerful. And that is what these men were, giants. We felt like grasshoppers in their eyes and they saw us as grasshoppers too.
So what do you do when God promises something too hard to take?
Well a man named Caleb knew what to do. Let us turn to Numbers chapter 13:30
ìWe should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.î
What was the difference between Calebís point of view and the view of the rest of them who were with him?
The bad spies saw through the eyes of man (13:33 ñ in our eyes)
The good ones saw through the eyes of God (14:8-9)
He saw things in the eyes of God and that changed everything. But the others struggled with the same problems we face today.
Fear of the unknown
Fear of failure
They knew the good they ought to do but were too afraid or too lazy to do it. For us it might be
Fear of telling a friend about Christ because they might be offended.
Fear of talking about God lest one might think we are fanatical
Fear of being enthusiastic for Christ and getting out there and doing it because we are either too concerned of our comfort and reputation or too lazy to count the cost pick the armaments of Christ and declare a holy war on the darkness blinding our neighbourhood. And as you can see ñ the goal of this message is to get out their and share Christ.
And so they wanted to go back to Egypt, to keep status-quo, to give in, to let the Devil win. They found it easier to trust in comfort then a God who challenged them to get up and make a difference in this world.
So opposed where they that they even talked of stoning them and the glory of God Himself appeared. (14:11-24,34)
(And here we have an excellent example of intercession, of praying for a people and God changing His heart even as we should pray for our community and see God turn towards it)
Let us take this as a warning friends? Because of their unfaithfulness they did not get what God was promising them but it was handed down to the next generation and none of them saw it but Caleb and Joshua who alone were faithful.
How about you? Are you going to see the work of God reaching your neighbourhood or are you going to let it pass you by? Do you know that many of the people in your neighbourhood are going to hell in darkness. I have struggled deeply with the topic of hell, every now and again it bothers me and it should bother me. Millions of people are going to hell and what bothers me the most is I stay quiet and it bothers me that they donít care. But some people do care. I was down a Wendyís with one of the youth and one of the employees there had recently become a Muslim. She saw us reading and she started to talk and ask us about it. She would talk a bit and then be called back to work. Looking for an excuse to talk about God she cleaned those chairs and tables better than they have ever been before. But she really wanted to hear. Then she said, ìI am sorry, I do not mean to offend you by talking about it.î I replied, ìDo not worry, you did not offend me by talking about Mohammed. In fact, if you truly loved me you would talk to me, because where do you believe I am going if I die?î She said, ìWell if you donít believe Allah is God then you are not going to be in paradiseî Now if you truly love me, I said, you will do everything you can to convince me. Now, I believe beyond a shadow of doubt that there is a God, and that you can only go to Heaven through the work of Christ, by faith and not by works. Then she asked me one of the hardest questions a person could ask, ìDo you believe I am going to hell?î I paused for a moment, wanting desperately not to offend her but knowing that she will be far more offended to find out later if I never told her, ìYes, if do not believe in Jesus Christ.î She was a little taken back and then I explained a bit about how that is, ìAnyone who trusts in their own works is actually rejecting God and saying they will do it in their own power and strength.î And if I love you I will do everything I can to help you see that Jesus is God, and that you cannot save yourself but God offers you the most wonderful gift, salvation by faith, if only you will stop struggling to earn it but simply receive it.î
But this thought makes us very uncomfortable but do we understand that our neighbours are going to a real place called hell? I think one of the greatest reasons we do not go out there and take on this world for Christ is that we have not taken God seriously about such things as Heaven and hell and salvation in Him alone. Instead we are too often silent, not wanting to offend anyone and in so doing we let them go to hell because we do not truly believe. But God hates hell! Hell was prepared for the Devil and all the angels who rebelled with him. He does not want anyone to perish but for everyone to be saved. And He has called you and me to join with Him to seek and to save the lost.
You have within you the really good news that God has brought salvation and you have all the resources of Heaven available and at your disposal to accomplish the tasks God has set out for you. Nothing is impossible for you with God. Fear not, God shall go before you but friend do not let these days pass into darkness or God shall let another take your place and blessing. The work of God shall be accomplished, the question of will it be through us and will it be in our day?
Through whose eyes do you see this battle ñ Godís or your own? You see we too stand on the edge of the promised land. And what are some of the signs that lead me to this conclusion? Never before in my life have a I found people so open to spirituality than I have in these past few years. Bookshelves are full of books about angels, spirits, meditation, inner healing and Cosco even carries the NIV study Bible. I am constantly bumping into people who are seeking God in some way or another. I was walking through the park and I came across a young lady my age who was exploring Buddhism. She sensed an emptiness within her and wanted it filled. I was painting a fence with another lady and I asked her if she had a spiritual belief, she replied, ìYes, I think I am spiritual but it is not the kind that is organized by a religionî. Wherever I go it seems more and more people are sensing an emptiness within them and seeking out for God. I find that todayís youth are far less interested in playing games as they are in experiencing God. So they sing with all their hearts the latest worship songs, they travel around the world sharing the Gospel, they look for ways to be involved in making a difference in this world - they are tired of seeing God from a far and want to come up into that holiest of holy places and touch God and be touched by Him.
So we stand at the edge of the promised land, what shall our response be?
Let us turn to Joshua chapter 14 to read the next part of Calebís story who after 40 years came back and speaks, (Joshua 14:6-13 ) He knew what Godís plans were and Godís intention and he was going to do it. His request was, ìGive me this mountainî
And like Caleb we stand on the bank of the promises land and we say, ìGive us this mountain.î We declare war on the darkness blinding peopleís lives, on Satan, on apathy and fear. We are not afraid but stand in the power of God. Are you ready to take on your school for Christ, to see the lost saved, the blind see, the bound released. Will you take up the mantle and fight for Christ? Are you ready to swallow your fear and speak up about Christ. What about your neighbor? Your co-worker? Your friend?
We stand again on the banks of the promised land and in the spirit of Caleb we fix our eyes not on our fear or comfort but on God and His Kingdom praying, ìOh God, give us this mountainî and we go out and do it in the power of God for the very gates of hell shall not prevail against us!