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Summary: Our problem is not that there are giants in the land; our problem is that there are giants like fear and unbelief in our hearts.

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God Uses Ordinary People: Caleb

Numbers 13-14

Rev. Brian Bill

8/24/08

There are some things that just stick with us over the years. I remember a jingle called “Conjunction Junction” from Schoolhouse Rock that I can’t get out of my head. Some of you could sing it with me. The song goes like this: “Conjunction Junction, what’s your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses…I got ‘and,’ ‘but,’ and ‘or,’ they’ll get you pretty far.

* ‘And,’ that’s an additive, like ‘this and that.’

* ‘But,’ that’s sort of the opposite, ‘not this but that.’

* And then there’s ‘or,’ O-R, when you have a choice like ‘this or that.’”

It strikes me that each of our summer missionaries had choices to make – they could go and serve or they could have done something else. They told you some significant stories but they all could use the conjunction and to tell you more. And no doubt they faced obstacles, challenges and difficulties but God met their needs.

These six servants represent our Mexico and Nashville teams but we’re also grateful for what Michelle Anderson, Devyn Woodburn and Lydia Bill did through our five-day clubs, for Kathy Marley and Sue Shavers’ meaningful ministry in Kenya, for what Masha Wilkinson accomplished in Belize, for Emily Bill’s internship in the Dominican and for Katie Vietti’s serving in South Korea and China (we’ll hear from Katie next Sunday).

I want to wrap up our morning with some brief thoughts concerning a courageous man named Caleb who knew how to use conjunctions correctly.

We won’t take the time to study Numbers 13 in great detail but I urge you to do it on your own because what happens here explains why Israel had to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. The Israelites are very near the land of promise and so 12 spies are sent out and are gone for 40 days. When they return they report what they saw in verse 27: “We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit.”

There were no faucets with milk coming out and no jars of honey lying on the ground but rather the land was filled with pastures for cows and goats that make milk and there was so much produce that the bees were able to make a huge amount of honey. To go from marching through a dry dessert to lush pastures and limitless produce had to be very exciting. In fact, there is so much fruit that the grapes are brought back on a pole carried by two men.

Before we look at what happens next, remember that these men were supposed to do a survey and report their findings. Period. God has already given them this land. But look at the conjunction they use in verse 28: “But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there…” They come to conjunction junction again in verse 31: “But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.’”

And then they go from intimidation to exaggeration in verses 32-33: “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size. We saw the Nephilim there…We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” They felt like little insects that were about to squashed on Anak’s windshield.

Whenever you hear yourself saying in response to one of God’s promises, “But…” you are probably being controlled by fear not faith.

* I would come to church more, but…

* I would give more, but…

* I want to go through that open door, but…

* I know I should forgive that person, but…

* I know God is with me, but…

Ten of the spies bring back a bad report and the people get really discouraged. Instead of moving forward in faith they become filleted by fear. Caleb and Joshua try to dissuade the discouragers to no avail. Verse 30 says that Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.” He was simply taking God at His word for in verse 2 God said He was giving the land to the Israelites.

Instead of going forward, all the people grumble against Moses and Aaron and start weeping aloud. They then talk about wanting to go back to Egypt. Imagine that! They’d rather go back to bondage than to take God at His Word. They chose instant gratification instead of the cultivation of their character. That still happens today. Even though sin and bondage and disobedience is not a place to be, for some it’s comfortable and predictable and they’d rather stay there than move into the unknown.

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