Today I was really blessed that I got to participate with the worship team. I am at heart, a musician and as any other musician will tell you, there is something special about the worship experience when you get to play your instrument. It is for that reason, that I appreciate Brian Hickey and Chris Atherton allowing me to play along today. That said, let’s all think about the words and music in today’s worship time. Join in, sing along, or simply put on the head phones, or turn up the volume and enjoy.
Trading my Sorrows
Sometimes I think of how much love I need? I think we are all at that point and we need to realize, I need to realize, that as long as I depend on people I will never have enough, when I depend on God though, my attitude changes.
I know when I hear from others, especially in regards to the struggles I have gone through that God uses you to share your love with me. I know that in reality, this is how we show God that we love him. God loves us through the hands and arms of others. Of course his love is far more perfect than we are, but it is a place where God wants us to be, that is, being his arms, feet, voice, and love.
Love is Here
God is an incredible God, we don’t really stop enough to ponder his love for us. Use this song to move you in that direction.
God of Wonders
Let’s pray, Father God, you are enough, you are a God of wonders who has shown each of us how much you love us. Father, let us be instruments of love to show others how much you love them. Thank you for loving us enough to want to use us, let us be satisfied in what you want for us dear God. Thank you for all you have done in my life, in our life, be with us and let us all be grateful for what you have done for us, and what you are going to do through us. In Jesus name I pray, Amen!
Now let’s take that infamous Virtual Pew Coffee Break. Take some time, get a cookie a cup of coffee, and then do what you ought to be doing anyway, give someone a call, tell them you love them. Take some time to let those around you know that you are different in how you live your life, how you live your faith. Then I also want you to remember the need to support some ministry, whether it is a church you belong to, or a ministry that blesses you in one way or another. Then step back up into your pew seat and enjoy the rest of the service.
Welcome back! I hope that cup of coffee, or beverage of your choice was good. Some have seen the movie The Water Boy with Adam Sandler. While you may or may not like this movie, you can’t deny the contribution it has made to American Language. In fact there is one saying in the movie that is used in virtually every movie made by Sandler since then. The saying is even in the new movie Bedtime Stories. How many can remember the phrase famous from the movie The Water Boy?
There is a little bit of a difference in the new movie Bedtime Stories, instead of You Can Do It! We hear the phrase from Rob Schneider, “I Can Do It.”
As I look at the message today, I am reminded of the making sure I understand the vision of The Virtual Pew and Mosaic. There has to be a difference in the world view which we have in comparison to other churches, for example last weeks message at Mosaic by Nicholas St. John where he asked the question about the church being a church that sees her people as people made in the image of God, loved by God, and once coming to God, as Saints with freedom and liberty given by God. The Church is a church in reality, seen as saints as opposed to being seen as sinners. It is an attitude thing, an attitude in the reality of what God has made those who choose to follow after Christ.
Mosaic and The Virtual Pew muse see itself as a church that realizes the importance of prayer, not just individual but corporate. It is for certain, that all churches, all Christians, all who have a relationship with Christ will want to build on and grow in their relationship with God, that starts and in some ways, ends with prayer.
Mosaic and The Virtual Pew must see themselves as a church that sees value in getting to know, care for, and love each other. So many churches, so many people who say they are Christians do such a wonderful job of talking about their need for love, yet few actually do a good job of showing love. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it when people show me love, not just tell me about it. In fact, I am kind of tired of all of those, Christian or not, who talk about love, who talk about a God type relationship, but in reality, do nothing to live out the concept. We all struggle with this at times, but realizing that we struggle with this, and then taking the step to be better than this and then actually try to love others by our words and actions is an important step for those who say they love Jesus, want to follow him, and then have relationship with one another.
The Virtual Pew and Mosaic must be a church that understands the value of serving the community in areas of service, justice and power of God. This is an area that we seem to neglect, and then wonder why it is that so few want anything to do with this thing we call church. When we show we care about the struggles others are going through, when we care about social justice and serving the “least of these” then they will know we really do care about them. In fact when we do these things, Jesus went so far as to say it was as if we did it directly “unto me,” Jesus speaking of him. When the church goes out of its way to do these things, then the church is doing what it is supposed to be and followers of Jesus are living the way Christ has commanded them to live.
Mosaic and The Virtual Pew must realize we are a church that realizes we are involved in a war with real consequences, victories, and yes losses. The Bible talks about this being a spiritual war we are involved in. We have to see these daily battles, these daily struggles as battles in that war. We have to realize that there are spiritual things going on around us that are having an impact. If we truly realize the implications of the battles we are involved n then we will desire to not loose any of those battles to Satan and instead want to win them all for God.
Now I realize many won’t like what I am going to say now, but I have found it to be truth. When we recognize the above areas, begin to apply them in our life, we will see Satan attacking our individual lives, the church, our families, and trying to tear the church apart. Satan will have issues with us as followers of Jesus, both as individuals and as a corporate body taken on the causes of Christ. He will attack us, there is no doubt about it but we have to remember, war is not easy, war is not fun, but this war is necessary.
How have you been looking at the difficulties in your life, in the local church, or in the larger Universal Church? When life gets tough, when you don’t think you or the church can do it anymore, remember:
Today I have a long passage from the Bible I want us to look at, it is actually 2 chapters. I want you to take the time to read it, think about the story it is telling and then let’s get ready to move on from there.
Numbers 13, 14
(1) The LORD said to Moses, (2) " Choose a leader from each tribe and send them into Canaan to explore the land I am giving you."
(3) So Moses sent twelve tribal leaders from Israel's camp in the Paran Desert (4 -16) with orders to explore the land of Canaan. And here are their names: Shammua son of Zaccur from Reuben, Shaphat son of Hori from Simeon, Caleb son of Jephunneh from Judah, Igal son of Joseph from Issachar, Joshua son of Nun from Ephraim, Palti son of Raphu from Benjamin, Gaddiel son of Sodi from Zebulun, Gaddi son of Susi from Manasseh, Ammiel son of Gemalli from Dan, Sethur son of Michael from Asher, Nahbi son of Vophsi from Naphtali, and Geuel son of Machi from Gad.
(17) Before Moses sent them into Canaan, he said: After you go through the Southern Desert of Canaan, continue north into the hill country (18) and find out what those regions are like. Be sure to remember how many people live there, how strong they are, (19 -20) and if they live in open towns or walled cities. See if the land is good for growing crops and find out what kinds of trees grow there. It's time for grapes to ripen, so try to bring back some of the fruit that grows there.
(21) The twelve men left to explore Canaan from the Zin Desert in the south all the way to the town of Rehob near Lebo-Hamath in the north. (22) As they went through the Southern Desert, they came to the town of Hebron, which was seven years older than the Egyptian town of Zoan. In Hebron, they saw the three Anakim clans of Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai. (23 -24) When they got to Bunch Valley, they cut off a branch with such a huge bunch of grapes, that it took two men to carry it on a pole. That's why the place was called Bunch Valley. Along with the grapes, they also took back pomegranates and figs.
(25) After exploring the land of Canaan forty days, (26) the twelve men returned to Kadesh in the Paran Desert and told Moses, Aaron, and the people what they had seen. They showed them the fruit (27) and said: Look at this fruit! The land we explored is rich with milk and honey. (28) But the people who live there are strong, and their cities are large and walled. We even saw the three Anakim clans. (29) Besides that, the Amalekites live in the Southern Desert; the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites are in the hill country; and the Canaanites live along the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. (30) Caleb calmed down the crowd and said, “Let’s go and take the land. I know we can do it!"
(31) But the other men replied, “Those people are much too strong for us." (32) Then they started spreading rumors and saying, “We won't be able to grow anything in that soil. And the people are like giants. (33) In fact, we saw the Nephilim who are the ancestors of the Anakim. They were so big that we felt as small as grasshoppers."
(1) After the Israelites heard the report from the twelve men who had explored Canaan, the people cried all night (2) and complained to Moses and Aaron, “We wish we had died in Egypt or somewhere out here in the desert! (3) Is the LORD leading us into Canaan, just to have us killed and our women and children captured? We'd be better off in Egypt." (4) Then they said to one another, “Let’s choose our own leader and go back."
(5) Moses and Aaron bowed down to pray in front of the crowd. (6) Joshua and Caleb tore their clothes in sorrow (7) and said: We saw the land ourselves, and it's very good. (8) If we obey the LORD, he will surely give us that land rich with milk and honey. (9) So don't rebel. We have no reason to be afraid of the people who live there. The LORD is on our side, and they won't stand a chance against us!
(10) The crowd threatened to stone Moses and Aaron to death. But just then, the LORD appeared in a cloud at the sacred tent.
(11) The LORD said to Moses, “I have done great things for these people, and they still reject me by refusing to believe in my power. (12) So they will no longer be my people. I will destroy them, but I will make you the ancestor of a nation even stronger than theirs."
(13 -16) Moses replied: With your mighty power you rescued your people from Egypt, so please don't destroy us here in the desert. If you do, the Egyptians will hear about it and tell the people of Canaan. Those Canaanites already know that we are your people, and that we see you face to face. And they have heard how you lead us with a thick cloud during the day and flaming fire at night. But if you kill us, they will claim it was because you weren't powerful enough to lead us into Canaan as you promised.
(17) Show us your great power, LORD. You promised (18) that you love to show mercy and kindness. And you said that you are very patient, but that you will punish everyone guilty of doing wrong--not only them but their children and grandchildren as well.
(19) You are merciful, and you treat people better than they deserve. So please forgive these people, just as you have forgiven them ever since they left Egypt.
(20) Then the LORD said to Moses: In answer to your prayer, I do forgive them. (21) But as surely as I live and my power has no limit, (22 -23) I swear that not one of these Israelites will enter the land I promised to give their ancestors. These people have seen my power in Egypt and in the desert, but they will never see Canaan. They have disobeyed and tested me too many times.
(24) But my servant Caleb isn't like the others. So because he has faith in me, I will allow him to cross into Canaan, and his descendants will settle there.
(25) Now listen, Moses! The Amalekites and the Canaanites live in the valleys of Canaan. And tomorrow morning, you'll need to turn around and head back into the desert toward the Red Sea.
(26) The LORD told Moses and Aaron (27 -28) to give this message to the people of Israel: You sinful people have complained against me too many times! Now I swear by my own life that I will give you exactly what you wanted. (29) You will die right here in the desert, and your dead bodies will cover the ground. You have insulted me, and none of you men who are over twenty years old (30) will enter the land that I solemnly promised to give you as your own--only Caleb and Joshua will go in. (31) You were worried that your own children would be captured. But I, the LORD, will let them enter the land you have rejected. (32) You will die here in the desert! (33) Your children will wander around in this desert forty years, suffering because of your sins, until all of you are dead. (34) I will cruelly punish you every day for the next forty years--one year for each day that the land was explored. (35) You sinful people who ganged up against me will die here in the desert.
(36) Ten of the men sent to explore the land had brought back bad news and had made the people complain against the LORD. (37) So he sent a deadly disease that killed those men, (38) but he let Joshua and Caleb live.
(39) The people of Israel were very sad after Moses gave them the Lord’s message. (40) So they got up early the next morning and got ready to head toward the hill country of Canaan. They said, “We were wrong to complain about the LORD. Let's go into the land that he promised us."
(41) But Moses replied, “You’re disobeying the LORD! Your plan won't work, (42 -43) so don't even try it. The LORD refuses to help you, because you turned your backs on him. The Amalekites and the Canaanites are your enemies, and they will attack and defeat you."
(44) But the Israelites ignored Moses and marched toward the hill country, even though the sacred chest and Moses did not go with them. (45) The Amalekites and the Canaanites came down from the hill country, defeated the Israelites, and chased them as far as the town of Hormah.
One of the sad things about this story, is the people didn’t remember that when it came to God, their response should have been:
Many, estimate that millions had gone on the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. They all had the chance to see the Promised Land, however, only 2 got to go into the land to live. Imagine going on the greatest vacation ever and you only get to look in through the gates. You don’t spend time there, you don’t realize what lays ahead for you, you only take a quick glance.
There were respected leaders selected to scout out the territory in the Bible story above, 12 in all. All of the leaders, plus Moses got to see the Promised Land but didn’t get to go in. Only two, Joshua and Caleb got to go into the Promised Land. They all saw the potential harvest, and the large amount of fruit, but most focused on the obstacles more than they did the potential. Are we like that? I know that I often am, I have to remind myself of the very thing Joshua and Caleb knew:
How do we see things, do we see the positive and potential or do we see the negative and hazards? We have to realize that with God living within us, all things are possible, we have to remember, that greater is he who is in us, than he who is in the world. We have to also remember, that with God, all things are possible. Are we taking what we should know from what the Bible tells us and applying it in our lives? Or are we living in the same ol defeated, making excuses life that provides nothing but misery and heartache? If we want things to be different, we have to act different, a good place to start for those that love Jesus is to realize that because of God living in us, “We can do it!”
Often: when we see or experience the negative we blame people. Remember Satan is our enemy, not people. We tend to get angry, become upset at people, I know it is easy to do, but while those people are responsible for their actions, Satan is enemy, not them, in fact, they are people Jesus loves and wants to provide hope and salvation for.
In the above story out of the Bible notice how Moses, Joshua and Caleb call the people to prayer and then they pray. It was easy to be repentant at the time, but did you notice how the people responded initially when called to prayer? They wanted to stone Moses, Joshua and Caleb. They were not receptive to what these three men of God had to say.
In the process we can see that the Lord honored those who honored him, those who had confidence in him, those who trusted him, despite the difficulties that lay ahead at the time. The nature of God doesn’t change. God wants people to quit making excuses, he wants people to follow through with the vision and purpose he has, that is true for Mosaic, and The Virtual Pew. It is even more importantly true in the lives of the people hearing this, or reading this. God don’t want you giving up on him! He doesn’t want you making excuses, finding fault, quitting on the very thing he has brought into existence. The truth is, sometimes we try to make spiritual excuses to quit the things God has lead us to, we have all been taken to the place God wanted us in a church, in a fellowship or in the life of another, and then backed out, quit at times not realizing the full potential of what God was going to do, we have even been critical of those who led us on the journey, the ones God has given vision and hope to.
Remember as I stated above, the nature of God don’t change. The Lord becomes angry at those that have forgotten what he has done for them. I don’t think God appreciates quitters because quitting shows that there is a lack of faith in the ability of God to do exactly what he said he was going to do. Too many of us quit on loving people, we quit on churches that we think we need to move from, we quit on the heart of being different than the institutional church because we find it easier to join a bigger mega church where we can hide, we can go on and on why we haven’t fulfilled the mission and calling God has on us, but the nature of God don’t change. We should never forget what God has done for us, and what he wants to do through us. Any church, any group that allows one to hide behind the numbers in the sanctuary has forgotten about the fact that God chooses to use people go grow churches, to grow people in their faith. On this point, I don’t hold that God always gets what he wants here, it is a theology that can be quite dangerous, to assume that theology is correct would be to assume that God desires abortions to take place, that God desires for innocent children to be killed by drunk drivers, or deranged husbands. It has to simply be understood, things happen that God don’t desire, we are the instruments of that in that he has given us a free-will to make stupid decisions. Just like those in the story above. There were 12 who went in, 10 who lacked faith in the ability of God to deliver, although they had seen God deliver them time, and time again.
God wants us to know this about him:
We need to get rid of Murphy’s Law, you know where we are told that something will inevitably go wrong. The law should be for the person who professes faith in Jesus Christ that there is nothing too difficult with Christ.
One of the things to realize is that how we ask a question makes a difference in the results we see, are we asking negatively or positively. Not just in the questions related to what God can do through us, but in the things God wants to do for us. A Recent Army kitchen survey showed that when serving apricots in the military mess hall, that when asking: Wouldn’t want a bowl of apricots would you? 40% said yes. Then when asking the question: Would you like a bowl of apricots? 50% said yes. Notice the improvement with the slightest of change, but then notice that when asked the question: Would you like 1 bowl or 2 bowls of apricots? 50% said 1 bowl, 40% stated 2 bowls only 10% with none. It’s how we ask the question, see the issue. Our attitude, and heart makes a difference. Not only do we have to ask things differently of others, we have to live differently. Some think this is not possible, I say:
We are the ones that determine how we look at things; no one can make us look at things in a negative light if we realize that Christ is the one that can do all things, or even yet, that we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength. When we quit, when we lack faith in God’s ability, we don’t look like we believe these things, our lives show it, and those that are looking to us for answers see it. What is really sad is the actions we take when we do realize it, it isn’t that much different than those in the story involving Joshua and Caleb. We don’t have the attitude of:
Asking the right questions and responding to what we think is the right answer has to still be done God’s way. I remember a guy who moved into my house in Oklahoma. He was one of three Christians that forgot about Christian obligation while living in that house. He signed a one year lease, and after being there for a short period of time contacted me to tell me that God had called him to another ministry location so would I let him out of the lease agreement. I reminded him, in a loving way of course, that if God had called him to his present job, had moved him to sign a one-year-lease and then called him to another church, that God would provide a way to maintain his financial obligation to pay the rent on the house until the house was rented out to someone else. He didn’t like it, but the truth is, God don’t call people to churches, don’t call them to ministry, don’t call them to be involved with people he loves so much, and then suddenly change his mind and call people someplace else. God delivers, he takes to the place he wants, it is up to us and our response if we enter into the Promised Land.
Notice the people’s response in this story though. After they were confronted in their sin, they want to jump up and do things their way instead of God’s way. They still held on to their selfish desire without listening to and doing the very things God told them. They decided to not listen to Moses in his directives here. We as well have to realize that a good heart, good intent, don’t make things right. We still have to listen to God and a part of listening to God is doing things God’s way. When we make mistakes, we are often given the opportunity to go back and make things right. It has amazed me for a number of years at the churches and people who say they love Jesus are so filled with pride that they won’t do this. They keep on doing things their way and then wonder why it is that it appears as if God is an angry God. God allows us to make mistakes, what ticks him off though is that when we go on in life doing things our way instead of God’s way. On this point, Frank Sinatra was a wonderful singer, but the truth is, the song “I Did It My Way,” is horrible teaching. God only wants us to do it our way, when our way is his way. Being disobedient, not having the faith God wants us to have is not doing it God’s way. When times get tough, when we don’t think we can, when we are having issue we have to address our problems with the attitude.
Now is the place where continued teachings and discussion can take place. Express your thoughts, make your comments, and post your questions and concerns. It was wonderful to hear all of the questions and comments that came about from this, there was a lot of insight from those in the congregation discussion.
I encourage you to really bless God for what he has done with your praise and with your life. Remember that how we live our lives are an ultimate act of worship.
Blessed Be Your Name
Today in closing, I joy in the opportunity to pray for you.
Dear Lord, thank you for being patient with me. I ask that I can be more faithful, that I will realize I need to stick it out in the things you have called me to. Father forgive me when I fail you, forgive me when I quit or give up, help me, help us all in this area. Now Father God, Creator of the universe, I ask you to bless each of those who have participated in this message. May your Spirit bless and protect them. May your Spirit cause them to ponder this message, apply it and live it. Then God, I also ask that where we have failed, where I have failed, help me get back on track and do the things you would have me do in my walk to serve you. Thank you God, thank you for your love, now be with each of us for the duration of this week, for it is in the name of Jesus I pray, Amen!
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