#2 in series Contrast:
Matthew 13:24-30; 36-43
24 Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
27 “The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
28 “‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
29 “‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may uproot the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’”
36 Then he left the crowd and went into the house. His disciples came to him and said, “Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.”
37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age.41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
Ambiguous: having more than one possible interpretation or meaning; difficult to understand or classify; obscure. So much of life is ambiguous - filled with situations where there are no clear or easy answers. Where taking action in one part of life may cause unintended consequences in another. Where what seems right and good may be harmful and foolish. Jesus' parables are so often ambiguous: multi-layered stories that get under our skin; make us think, challenge our beliefs and make us squirm a bit as they create ambiguity in our lives. But maybe that's the point. For the Kingdom of God is so radically different from the world we live in. So today we ponder the ’Parable of the Weeds’ as Jesus gives us a kingdom perspective on how to live and act in the face of the evil and resistance that will surround us in this life.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. Matthew 13:24
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
Leave the weed pulling to the expert. God alone knows the thoughts and actions of every single heart, for he made them all. Your calling is to simply be; be who he has created you to be in all situations; pointing others to the Son of God who gives life in all its fullness.
#1 in series: CONTRAST
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the lake. Such large crowds gathered around him that he got into a boat and sat in it, while all the people stood on the shore. Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred,sixty or thirty times what was sown. Whoever has ears, let them hear.”
The disciples came to him and asked, “Why do you speak to the people in parables?”
He replied, “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. This is why I speak to them in parables:
“Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.
In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah:
“‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
“Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
It just doesn't make any sense. A farmer turning on the seeder as soon as he gets out of the shed? It's wasteful, haphazard, indiscriminate, ineffective and a surefire way of going out of business quickly. It's a story that leaves you shaking your head. But maybe that's the point. The purpose of contrast is to amplify; it moves the thing you want to show into focus and here the spotlight is well and truly on God and the aim and scope of his kingdom work. For what seems wasteful, inefficient and unprofitable from a worldly perspective reveals a God whose love is indiscriminate, whose grace is extravagant, whose methods ensure no life, no person, no soil is left unsown and whose work produces a harvest that is out of this world. Join us as we discover this God today in the Parable of the Sower.
But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. Matthew 13:16
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
In God’s world wastefulness gives way to hope, inefficiency gives way to love, and profitability gives way to generosity. For his heart is expansive, his love is inclusive, his Word is effective and his grace is generative. For the scope and aim of his mission is clear: to sow his life in yours and the lives of all people.
When it comes to gardening are you a green thumb (everything grows) or a brown thumb (everything dies)? Why do you think this is?
What do you think the Parable of the Sower is all about?
In what ways are you nurturing or nourishing the spiritual seed scattered in your life?
#9 and final in series: Courageous Faith
BIBLE READING - Joshua 23:14-16; 24:14-15
14 “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled; not one has failed. 15 But just as all the good things the Lord your God has promised you have come to you, so he will bring on you all the evil things he has threatened, until the Lord your God has destroyed you from this good land he has given you. 16 If you violate the covenant of the Lord your God, which he commanded you, and go and serve other gods and bow down to them, the Lord’s anger will burn against you, and you will quickly perish from the good land he has given you.”
“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
Remember those multiple choice quizzes at school when you had to choose the right answer from the options given? You couldn’t sit on the fence; to not choose was to make a choice. So when in doubt, choose B right and hope for the best. But life doesn’t work that way – have a guess and hope for the best. Choosing the wrong option can have eternal consequences.
So as Joshua nears the end of his life and looks back over the years and the options on offer, he stakes his life on the God who has kept every promise he has made. Now Joshua says, it’s your time. You can’t sit on the fence. What you choose and cultivate now will make an eternal difference. So who will you serve? Who will you worship? Who will you stake your life on? To whom will you be fully devoted? It’s time to choose….today.
You know with all your heart and soul that not one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. Every promise has been fulfilled, not one has failed. Joshua 23:15
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
When in doubt or facing a decision, choose C – choose Christ. For Christ is the only sure thing in this world. Only Christ will deliver on all he promises. Only Christ can give you the courage to live fully and boldly in every situation.
FAITH TALK QUESTIONS:
1. When it comes to choosing or making a decision in your life, do you tend to be decisive or indecisive? Why?
2. What’s a really hard choice that you’ve had to make? What happened and what strategies did you use in making that decision?
3. What is one decision you are trying to make now that you are praying will glorify God?
#8 in series 'Courageous Faith' (Book of Joshua)
Then the Lord said to Joshua: “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood. When they flee to one of these cities, they are to stand in the entrance of the city gate and state their case before the elders of that city. Then the elders are to admit the fugitive into their city and provide a place to live among them. If the avenger of blood comes in pursuit, the elders must not surrender the fugitive, because the fugitive killed their neighbor unintentionally and without malice aforethought. They are to stay in that city until they have stood trial before the assembly and until the death of the high priest who is serving at that time. Then they may go back to their own home in the town from which they fled.”
So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah. East of the Jordan (on the other side from Jericho) they designated Bezer in the wilderness on the plateau in the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead in the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan in the tribe of Manasseh. Any of the Israelites or any foreigner residing among them who killed someone accidentally could flee to these designated cities and not be killed by the avenger of blood prior to standing trial before the assembly.
Life goes by at a hectic pace. It is exhausting and after a while you just want to stop, catch your breath and be still and rest for a time. Everyone has that place they love to retreat to for refuge, whether it is the beach, the mountains or even under the covers of your bed. But when many people think of rest, they are looking for refuge in a place that will provide protection and shelter from danger, trouble or unhappiness. God, who is compassionate, merciful and cares for you, gives you that place. So today we will discover a place where you can find rest even before you are weary!
The eternal God is your refuge,and underneath are the everlasting arms. Deuteronomy 33:27a
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
God cares for you! He always has and always will.
When weary and burdened by life, Jesus offers himself as the place where you can find protection, security and refuge.
Only in him will you find eternal rest that gives a courage to live.
But the Israelites were unfaithful in regard to the devoted things[a]; Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri,[b] the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, took some of them. So the Lord’s anger burned against Israel.
2 Now Joshua sent men from Jericho to Ai, which is near Beth Aven to the east of Bethel, and told them, “Go up and spy out the region.” So the men went up and spied out Ai.
3 When they returned to Joshua, they said, “Not all the army will have to go up against Ai. Send two or three thousand men to take it and do not weary the whole army, for only a few people live there.” 4 So about three thousand went up; but they were routed by the men of Ai,5 who killed about thirty-six of them. They chased the Israelites from the city gate as far as the stone quarries and struck them down on the slopes. At this the hearts of the people melted in fear and became like water.
6 Then Joshua tore his clothes and fell facedown to the ground before the ark of the Lord, remaining there till evening. The elders of Israel did the same, and sprinkled dust on their heads. 7 And Joshua said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord, why did you ever bring this people across the Jordan to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us? If only we had been content to stay on the other side of the Jordan! 8 Pardon your servant, Lord. What can I say, now that Israel has been routed by its enemies? 9 The Canaanites and the other people of the country will hear about this and they will surround us and wipe out our name from the earth. What then will you do for your own great name?”
10 The Lord said to Joshua, “Stand up! What are you doing down on your face? 11 Israel has sinned; they have violated my covenant, which I commanded them to keep. They have taken some of the devoted things; they have stolen, they have lied, they have put them with their own possessions. 12 That is why the Israelites cannot stand against their enemies; they turn their backs and run because they have been made liable to destruction. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy whatever among you is devoted to destruction.
13 “Go, consecrate the people. Tell them, ‘Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow; for this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: There are devoted things among you, Israel. You cannot stand against your enemies until you remove them.
14 “‘In the morning, present yourselves tribe by tribe. The tribe the Lord chooses shall come forward clan by clan; the clan the Lord chooses shall come forward family by family; and the family the Lord chooses shall come forward man by man. 15 Whoever is caught with the devoted things shall be destroyed by fire, along with all that belongs to him. He has violated the covenant of the Lord and has done an outrageous thing in Israel!’”
16 Early the next morning Joshua had Israel come forward by tribes, and Judah was chosen.17 The clans of Judah came forward, and the Zerahites were chosen. He had the clan of the Zerahites come forward by families, and Zimri was chosen. 18 Joshua had his family come forward man by man, and Achan son of Karmi, the son of Zimri, the son of Zerah, of the tribe of Judah, was chosen.
19 Then Joshua said to Achan, “My son, give glory to the Lord, the God of Israel, and honor him. Tell me what you have done; do not hide it from me.”
20 Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the Lord, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: 21 When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia,[c] two hundred shekels[d] of silver and a bar of gold weighing fifty shekels,[e] I coveted them and took them. They are hidden in the ground inside my tent, with the silver underneath.”
22 So Joshua sent messengers, and they ran to the tent, and there it was, hidden in his tent, with the silver underneath. 23 They took the things from the tent, brought them to Joshua and all the Israelites and spread them out before the Lord.
24 Then Joshua, together with all Israel, took Achan son of Zerah, the silver, the robe, the gold bar, his sons and daughters, his cattle, donkeys and sheep, his tent and all that he had, to the Valley of Achor. 25 Joshua said, “Why have you brought this trouble on us? The Lord will bring trouble on you today.”
Then all Israel stoned him, and after they had stoned the rest, they burned them. 26 Over Achan they heaped up a large pile of rocks, which remains to this day. Then the Lord turned from his fierce anger. Therefore that place has been called the Valley of Achor[f] ever since.
8 Then the Lord said to Joshua, “Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Take the whole army with you, and go up and attack Ai. For I have delivered into your hands the king of Ai, his people, his city and his land. 2 You shall do to Ai and its king as you did to Jericho and its king, except that you may carry off their plunder and livestock for yourselves. Set an ambush behind the city.”
This is the Word of the Lord
Thanks be to God
It's a well-known saying: 'To take one's foot off the pedal." It means to not go as hard or put in as much effort, but to slow, down, relax, and cruise for a while.
You see it with sporting teams that have strung together a lot of victories. They became complacent and over-confident, take their foot off the pedal and suffer defeat in games they should have won. The same thing can happen in our spiritual lives. When faced with large battles, it's easy trust in God and his strength but when it comes to the smaller battles, the temptation is to take the foot off the pedal, underestimate the enemy and think 'I've got this one in the bag.' So when you think you have got what it takes, look out. It can be a small little thing that will defeat you. Today we look at Courageous faith when you sin; it's a faith that keeps the foot on the pedal - focused, prayerful and dependent on God in all things.
…each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death. James 1:14-15
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
A sin problem is first and foremost a worship problem.
You can't cling to God if you are holding on to something else. The victory you have today is not enough for tomorrow. So confess your sin, give it up each day and live with a courageous faith in Christ who alone will give you the victory over every obstacle you face, big or small
#3 IN SERIES COURAGEOUS FAITH
READING: Joshua 4:1-24
When the whole nation had finished crossing the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua,2 “Choose twelve men from among the people, one from each tribe, 3 and tell them to take up twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, from right where the priests are standing, and carry them over with you and put them down at the place where you stay tonight.”
4 So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5 and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”
8 So the Israelites did as Joshua commanded them. They took twelve stones from the middle of the Jordan, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, as the Lord had told Joshua; and they carried them over with them to their camp, where they put them down.9 Joshua set up the twelve stones that had been[a] in the middle of the Jordan at the spot where the priests who carried the ark of the covenant had stood. And they are there to this day.
10 Now the priests who carried the ark remained standing in the middle of the Jordan until everything the Lord had commanded Joshua was done by the people, just as Moses had directed Joshua. The people hurried over, 11 and as soon as all of them had crossed, the ark of the Lord and the priests came to the other side while the people watched. 12 The men of Reuben, Gad and the half-tribe of Manasseh crossed over, ready for battle, in front of the Israelites, as Moses had directed them. 13 About forty thousand armed for battle crossed over before the Lord to the plains of Jericho for war.
14 That day the Lord exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they stood in awe of him all the days of his life, just as they had stood in awe of Moses.
15 Then the Lord said to Joshua, 16 “Command the priests carrying the ark of the covenant law to come up out of the Jordan.”
17 So Joshua commanded the priests, “Come up out of the Jordan.”
18 And the priests came up out of the river carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord. No sooner had they set their feet on the dry ground than the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and ran at flood stage as before.
19 On the tenth day of the first month the people went up from the Jordan and camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. 20 And Joshua set up at Gilgal the twelve stones they had taken out of the Jordan. 21 He said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 22 tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ 23 For the Lord your God dried up the Jordan before you until you had crossed over. The Lord your God did to the Jordan what he had done to the Red Sea[b] when he dried it up before us until we had crossed over. 24 He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”
Souvenirs. Momentos. Keepsakes. From that Opera House snow-globe to your kids’ baby teeth, footprints & haircut clippings…we all keep them. We fill albums and digital libraries with photos. Clutter our shelves with knicknacks & trinkets, so that we can remember. So moments are firmly implanted in our memories.
They connect us across generations, prompting us to share the story: ’Remember when…”.
God knows how quickly his people are prone to forget. To forget his love, his mercy, his grace, and their place in his story. So throughout history, he gave his people markers to jog their memory, to enable them to pass on the story of his faithfulness to the next generation so that they wouldn’t forget who God is, who they were, where they have come from and where they were going. God has also given you visual reminders today so that you might know your story, pass on your story and never forget your place in his story.
Joshua said to the Israelites, “In the future when your descendants ask their parents, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them, ‘Israel crossed the Jordan on dry ground.’ He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.” Joshua 4:21-22, 24
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
Your life is worthy of a novel for you are a unique stone in the mosaic of God's story in this world. Share your story, listen to other's stories, for as you do God reveals his presence in the past and his power for the present. This gives certainty and hope for the future, no matter how many twists and turns the plot of your life takes. For God is faithful and he is able...always.
1 What story do you remember your mum or dad reading to you or telling you as a child?
2 What is a momument/symbol/memory/day in your faith journey that reminds you of what God has done for you and means the most to you? Why?
#2 in series:
Joshua 1:1-11; 16-18 3:5-17
After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses’ aide: 2 “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. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 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. 5 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.6 Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.
7 “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.8 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.9 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.’”
16 Then they answered Joshua, “Whatever you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we fully obeyed Moses, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you as he was with Moses. 18 Whoever rebels against your word and does not obey it, whatever you may command them, will be put to death. Only be strong and courageous!”
5 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.’”
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.
Liminality – the door between one season and the next, between a known past and an undefined future. It’s the state of ambiguity and disorientation that occurs in transitory situations. It is often a period of discomfort and of transformation; when you are on the threshold of great things but not quite there. The people of God were in that liminal state. Their great leader Moses has died and they are stalled, stuck on the wrong side of God’s promises. It’s here that God tells them to arise, move forward, and crossover into new territory. God is also calling us as a new generation of his people to crossover and inherit the future he has for us, the blessings he has prepared for us. So are you willing to move forward and take that step? Yes it’s risky, yes it’s scary but move forward….just one step and see what only God can do. For his call will only take us where his power and promises will sustain us
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.” Joshua 1:9
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
Whatever is standing between you and the fullness of all God has for you is over. The journey of trying to please God is over forever.
The joy of living with God and in the fullness of his blessing has begun.
So arise, move forward and become a cross over people.
#1 in series 'Courageous Faith' in the book of Joshua
16 These are the names of the men Moses sent to explore the land. (Moses gave Hoshea son of Nun the name Joshua.)
17 When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, “Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. 18 See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. 19 What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? 20 How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees in it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land.” (It was the season for the first ripe grapes.)
21 So they went up and explored the land from the Desert of Zin as far as Rehob, toward Lebo Hamath. 22 They went up through the Negev and came to Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai and Talmai, the descendants of Anak, lived. (Hebron had been built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 When they reached the Valley of Eshkol,[a] they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs. 24 That place was called the Valley of Eshkol because of the cluster of grapes the Israelites cut off there. 25 At the end of forty days they returned from exploring the land.
26 They came back to Moses and Aaron and the whole Israelite community at Kadesh in the Desert of Paran. There they reported to them and to the whole assembly and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 They gave Moses this account: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anakthere. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev; the Hittites, Jebusites and Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live near the sea and along the Jordan.”
30 Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
31 But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” 32 And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. 33 We saw the Nephilim there (the descendants of Anak come from the Nephilim). We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.”
That night all the members of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this wilderness! 3 Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
5 Then Moses and Aaron fell face down in front of the whole Israelite assembly gathered there.6 Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had explored the land, tore their clothes 7 and said to the entire Israelite assembly, “The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. 8 If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. 9 Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.”
What do you do when you face obstacles, or the uncertainty of tomorrow? Are you inclined to think only in terms of the worst-case scenario? Do you tend to exaggerate the obstacles, overstate the problems, and magnify the difficulties you expect to encounter? Do you tend to overthink everything and then get paralysed into doing nothing! The people of God faced that exact situation.
They were literally knocking on the door of the Promised Land when their courage collapses. Today we will discover that it’s when the pressure is on, that we have the greatest opportunity to trust God and receive a power that comes living from the Promise. It will give you all the courage you need for every decision you face.
Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” Numbers 13:30
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
Fear nothing. Trust God for everything. When we trust the Lord and believe His promises, we have nothing to fear as we courageously live and move forward in obedience. For God will always come through.
READING: Acts 8:2-8
Sorry - no recording this week as technology failed. A printed copy of the sermon is attached
“On the run”. That’s the situation for nearly 19 African athletes and officials who failed to return home after the recent Commonwealth Games in Qld. They are on the run and in hiding, living in fear of being caught and deported. How different from the early Church. They too were on the run, forced out by the persecution Jesus promised would happen and scattered to all parts of the globe. They were under fire…under threat…living in a world that was against them. But rather than go to ground and keep a low profile, the early church had another plan. They carried with them an urgency to live out what Jesus had commanded with their first breath of the day and the last breath of the night knowing that somewhere in between might be their last moment on earth. Today, Jesus wants the Church to have that same urgency; to be a Church on the run preaching the good news wherever we are scattered.
Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Acts 8:4
REMEMBER THIS WEEK
The church on the run is at its absolute best not because it runs fast but because it moves faithful to Christ’s call to share with every living soul the good news he brings. In a hostile world, Jesus is still with us, scattering us throughout the marketplace of the world to be witnesses of his love, grace, compassion, mercy and the joy of new life in him that no threat on earth can ever take away.