Summary: At first glance the book of Numbers reads a bit like an operations manual. It’s got numbers of soldiers, lists of names, and a bit of repetition. Tucked between those lists and numbers are some stories of real people, dealing with real issues of faith!
BETWEEN THE NUMBERS
CONFORMED OR TRANSFORMED?
***This message tagteam preached with Doug (layperson in our church)
-Louis Zamperini was a WW2 pilot who flew a B-24 bomber.
-Because of a mechanical failure his plane crashed over the ocean in enemy territory.
-He and a co-pilot survived on a raft for 47 days at sea before they were captured by the Japanese navy.
-Zamperini spent two years in a prison camp where he was beaten, starved and mistreated until he was released at the end of the war.
-When he returned home he immediately began having trouble with PTSD and alcohol.
-He was hanging out at bars, chasing women, and struggling with horrible nightmares from his prison camp abuse.
-His life had begun to spiral downward...his wife was threatening to divorce him...
-Then one night his wife Cynthia went to hear a young preacher named Billy Graham.
-When she returned Louis knew instantly that something had changed.
-She invited him to go back the next night and he didn’t want to but he was compelled by this sudden change in his wife.
-He went and listened and when Billy Graham asked everyone to close their eyes and pray...Zamperini got up and bolted from the meeting.
-But he went back the second night and listened to the message, and when it came time to pray he started to bolt again but he stopped when he heard Billy Graham mention people “at the end of their rope.”
-That night he gave his life to Jesus Christ.
-This man went on to lead an amazing life as a missionary...great story. But what caught my attention is the immediate radical obedience that followed his conversion.
-Immediately he gave up alcohol, cigarettes, pornography, and miraculously he said all of his nightmares about prison camp stopped.
-When people give their lives to Jesus the process of transformation begins.
-We begin walking a different path than the people around us.
-We are immediately added to the family of God, but we begin the process of changing into the men and women that God has called us to be.
-Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
-In our Numbers series today we’re going to see a contrast between two groups of people.
-There were 10 spies who gave a negative report about the Promised Land and the crowds immediately joined right in, and all of Israel was weeping and whining that they were going to die.
-But two men did not conform. They didn’t care what the crowds was doing or saying.
-These two men, Joshua and Caleb, had been delivered from Egypt.
-They had been helpless slaves, but by God’s grace had become mighty men of faith.
-While some were forsaking God and calling for a return for Egypt...these men were ready to follow God wherever it lead.
-They had experienced the power of God in their lives and they were ready to follow God whatever the cost.
VERSES 26-30 (Doug)
-How many of us have ever given into complaining when things haven’t gone our way or when we see things in the world we don’t like?
-Raise your hand (notice my hand is up as well!) if you’ve been a complainer or whiner about the way you’ve been treated, or when work wasn’t going well, or when you didn’t like a political leader, or when you didn’t get something you wanted!
-That’s what the people of Israel were doing: In verses 26 & 27 we see that
26 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 27 “How long will this wicked community grumble against me? I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Israelites.
-Unfortunately, one of the hallmarks of being human seems to be that we often are guilty of whining or complaining about the way our lives or our world is going.
-What is also the case is that we are often influenced so much by people around us, that if others are complaining, it’s very easy for us to fall into that same attitude.
-Most of you know that I taught high school for 31 years, and I have to admit that teachers can be just as whiny as any other group of people!
-A lot of times when I went into the faculty room to eat lunch, I heard my fellow teachers whining about all sorts of things, ranging from too many meetings, to students who were not doing their homework, to the terrible decisions made by administrators.
-And I’ve got to confess that I would often find myself joining in this pity party along with everyone else.
-However, it got to the point that several of my friends and I decided this just wasn’t what we wanted to be part of, and we jumped ship and began eating in another room, essentially starting a no-whining at lunch club!