- Sermon Notes
A leap of faith…of sorts.
There are many times in life one must decide between right and wrong, good or bad and true fear or faith. Stepping out of comfort and into faith can be difficult, but, the faith God calls us to, requires our all.
In the book of Numbers chapter 13 Israel had come to a place called Kadesh Barnea in the wilderness of Zin. They had just been brought out of slavery in Egypt and were on the brink of entering into the Promised Land.
God instructed Moses to send 12 spies into the land He had promised, the land of Canaan. The 12 (one from each tribe) were to see what the land was like, and whether the people who lived in it were strong or weak, few or many. They were also asked to bring some samples of the fruit of the land.
As they return, there is disagreement amongst the 12 spies as to what the next steps of the Israelites should be.
Read Numbers 13:26-14:11
Moses sent out twelve spies, of the twelve, ten of them bring back a faithless report of what the land and the people who live in it are like. Two of them, Caleb and Joshua, bring back a favorable report, challenging the Israelites to enter in to the Promised Land and possess it, for God would surely give it to them.
While all of the 12 spies recognized that the land of Canaan was a good land, there were 10 spies who only saw defeat, fortified cities and the giant sons of Anak. Two of the spies, Caleb and Joshua, saw a good land despite the obstacles.
It was 10 versus 2, 10 seeing fortified cities and 2 calling the people to fortify their faith.
There are circumstances in life where fear of men and failure can keep you from walking with faith in pursuit of what God is calling you to.
I. Lean Not on Your Own Understanding
- God did not want Israel to stay in the wilderness. He had brought them out of Egypt so that they could enter into the land of promise.
- The scripture tells us Israel was an example for us and we should not follow after them in their disbelief because many of them were destroyed in the wilderness.
- The 10 spies were leaning upon their fear, upon their own understanding of what the outcome would be.
Illus. Selling retail store extended warranties.
- Often we lean on assumptions regarding the outcome of our personal journey, instead of leaning on the Lord.
- With the exception of Caleb and Joshua, the spies saw only fortified cities and giants. To these other spies, giants meant defeat.
- In order to strengthen your faith, it is important that you seek God’s truth in all things.
Proverbs 3:3, 5-6, Do not let kindness and truth leave you; Bind them around your neck, Write them on the tablet of your heart…Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
- The Israelites only trusted in their own understanding, the result was circles in the wilderness rather than a straight path.
- The Lord had given promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was still going to allow the Israelites to enter into the Promised Land despite their complaining as soon as they left Egypt.
- They were afraid to go where God was calling and operated in fear rather than faith.
A. Feeding fear will starve your faith
- The Israelites had been in Egypt. They knew what it was like to be treated poorly, as slaves. They knew what being defeated felt like.
- All 12 spies agreed that the land of Canaan was a land flowing with milk and honey, but in verse 28 there is a powerful word – -nevertheless. Which means, in spite of all of this…
- In other words, in spite of the fact that it is everything that God said it would be, there are obstacles in the form of giants throughout the land.
- Picture this… Scripture says in vs. 23, It took two men with a pole between them to carry a single cluster of grapes, it was fruitful land, it was a land flowing with milk and honey, nevertheless…
- The Israelites were keeping their problems and difficulties before their eyes and not seeing that God Himself was in their midst and that He had already done so much to prove His power and His love for them.
App – This is the process of discipleship in the life of the believer. There are many who come to faith in Jesus Christ but do not obtain the promises that God has for them and therefore they do not experience the “life to the full” that Jesus promised them.
- We need to grow in our faith so that the cares, concerns, trials and difficulties of our lives do not prevent us from experiencing the promises of victory that God has already given us.
2 Timothy 1:7, For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
Hebrews 4:1-2, Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.
Illus – There are ways to feed fear and ways to feed faith, they starve each other… Sitting down with the CFO upon my decision to enter ministry full time.
- There are often “what if’s” But we must operate in faith, knowing that no matter happens, God will see it through. Fear keeps you from getting all the way to where God wants you.
- God did not give us assurances that there would be no trouble, but he did give us assurance that He would be with us…
Isaiah 43:2, When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you.
- God is with you, always, therefore…
B. Don’t be pardoned, but powerless
- This is a state where we have been pardoned because of the blood of Jesus Christ, but just keep wandering in the wilderness, never experiencing the life of victory and the power that God intended for us.
- This is what happened to the sons of Israel when they refused to obey God and would not enter into his promises.
Numbers 14:20-24… pardoned, but not possessing
- When Israel rejected God, they then spent forty years wandering in circles, never experiencing the victory and the promises.
- They persisted in independence and rebellion toward His direction.
- After God said that they would stay in the desert for forty years, they then essentially said, “Okay, fine, we’ll go up!”
- They tried to make up for it, but it didn’t go well. It was still because of hardness and rebellion that they were going.
- The wilderness wasn’t going to be comfortable… Well, the land was “flowing with milk and honey guys, maybe God is on to something….” Too late…
Illus – It was almost as if after their time in Egypt they had the right to complain because of what they endured in Egypt…
- The Red Sea parted, manna from heaven daily and the hand of God in removing them from Egypt…In the midst of the plagues, they had to know that God was at work and he was for them.
- They were pardoned from Egypt, but when standing on the very border of the Promised Land, fear overwhelmed them to the point where they would prefer being back in slavery.
Numbers 14:4 “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.”
- God was inviting them to the Promised Land, but that invitation was their last resort.
- Sometimes we are willing to wander, or remain enslaved; rather than “fight the good fight of faith (1 Timothy 6:12)” that God is calling us to.
II. Turn Towards God’s Promises
- In Deuteronomy chapters 1 and 2, Moses begins to recount the journey of the Israelites.
- In the eleventh month of the fortieth year, God speaks to Moses in Deuteronomy 2 and said, “You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north.”
- The time had come for the Israelites to stop wandering. Interestingly, God was sending them north, back to Canaan.
A. What God starts, He finishes
- Israel trusted God to get them out of Egypt, but lacked the faith to obtain the promises of the land of Palestine.
- God is faithful to complete what He began and at the end of their wandering, God leads them back to the place He had called them 40 years earlier.
- Hebrews 12:2 Jesus is the “author and perfecter of faith.” This means completer or finisher.
Philippians 1:6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
- God finishes what he starts and when He leads us, He also meets our needs.
- The struggle then comes in our ability to trust that not only is God a good God, but that He is doing a good work, even when all we see are giants.
Illus. – Help with my room as a child.
- Perhaps you have come to a place where you have been feeling like your situation is beyond your ability… Would you allow God to help?
- In verse 33, the spies said that they were but grasshoppers in their own sight, and so we were in their sight.
- While they may have felt that way, it wasn’t truth, God was going to finish what he started.
- God knows just how fruitful the land in which he is calling you to is. Just as he knew where he was calling the Israelites, he knows where he is calling you. If you could only see the fruit…
Illus. – If I just knew what God was up to…
- They saw the fruit, it didn’t work!
B. Wander no more
- In order to fortify your faith, going where God is calling is necessary.
- We see this story and it might be all too familiar.
- You may have been hoping for a change, for victory and it seems like an uphill battle.
App – I find it interesting that the Lord took the Israelites back the land he had promised 40 years earlier. Certainly that is a long time, but the Lord wanted to give them that land.
- There is territory in your life that the Lord has in store for you, but it will require faith.
- The giants you face today may not look like Canaanite giants, but they are just as convincing. This is why it is important to have faith in God at every turn, remembering that he is our God and he is good.
- You may find yourself at a crossroads between fear and fortifying your faith. A lie would say to continue away from God, truth is, God wants your heart.
In the year to come, I encourage you to pursue God’s promises. For some, this may mean turning toward God and out the place of wandering. You have circled that mountain long enough, turn away, and pursue his best, walk by faith not by sight.
Numbers 13:26-14:11 NASB
26 they proceeded to come to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the sons of Israel in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; and they brought back word to them and to all the congregation and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 Thus they told him, and said, “We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 Amalek is living in the land of the Negev and the Hittites and the Jebusites and the Amorites are living in the hill country, and the Canaanites are living by the sea and by the side of the Jordan.”