Summary: Maybe you have stayed too long for your ministry and God wanted you to move on in other direction or advance into a better one. This message is dedicated for you!
(I Shared this message during Central Bible College Chapel Service, Oct. 8, 2004)
Brethren, Did you know that the number one problem of the Christian churches in the Philippines today is contentment? Being contented in your life according to Apostle Paul is good but when it comes to church growth, contentment is not a good reason.
The result of nationwide statistical survey conducted by Dr. Baby Ruth Santos-Hablo for the evangelical churches in the Philippines, the average church membership during their regular worship services attendance is ranging only from 50 to 80 believers. The real reason according to her is not the limitation of the growth expansion of churches but the contentment of church workers in maintaining this average number of attendance. Leaders are not focusing their attention in evangelization but by maintaining their regular programs as it is. (The Church Growth of Philippine Missionary Fellowship)
Tozer said that if most churches were asked, “What is the worst enemy the church faces today?” most would come up with the wrong answer. He says that many would say that the worst enemy of the church is liberalism.
Tozer goes on to say that, “The treacherous enemy facing the church of Jesus Christ today is the dictatorship of the routine, when the routine becomes ‘lord’ in the life of the church. Programs are organized and the prevailing conditions are accepted as normal.
This is what had happen to the Israelites. In our passage this morning, the Israelites have taken an 11 day journey from Egypt to the Promised Land and it turned it into a 40 year experience in the desert. Normally it takes only 11 days to travel from Mt. Sinai to Kadesh-barnea. Kadesh-barnea was the threshold of promise. It was the desert entry point to the promised land. It was the place from where they sent the 12 spies to spy out the land. They had been held back and detained by God Himself. But one day, God said to them, you have stayed too long in this place. It is time to move out and move forward.
And I know that this phrase will also speaks to us right now. Maybe we have stayed too long for our ministry and God wanted us to move in other direction or advance into a better one.
[This statement was spoken because God wanted them:]
I. TO WITHSTAND THE CHALLENGES OF LIFE (vs.1-6)
[Why?] If we observe, there are many hindrances for the Israelites to withstand the challenges of life. And one of the greatest hindrances for them to move on is the:
A. Tendency to live for the past.
The past, both the good and the bad tend to keep us stuck in the present. If we have failed in the past then we may allow the past to tell us that we can or cannot be. We allow the past to destroy what God has for us in the present. But later on God will tell us also: "You have stayed too long in this place.”
Num. 13 – Their forefathers explored the Canaan but fail to enter with it because of lack of faith, instead they had been held back and detained by God Himself. Until now, they never forget it.
We are special beings in that God has given us the ability to remember. Your memory may be your friend or your enemy. Negative things or positive!
Most of the times we dwell upon the negative and begin to feel sorry for ourselves. Some leaders do not want to lead because of their previous failures. They do not want their failures to happen again. While others do not try because of the failures they see from others.
But not only the negative things, even some very pleasant things hinders us to move on …
-Israelites in the wilderness (Numbers 14:3b-4)
“Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt? And they said to each other, we should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” [Because Egypt is a good place to live on]
You see, those things can cripple us & hold us in bondage to the past.
So what shall we do to our past?
Let’s consult Apostle Paul for this particular problem.
In Phil. 3:13, Paul said, "I forget about what lies behind and reaching forward to those thins which are ahead."
So, the first things you should do according to Apostle Paul is to-
1. Forget the past
In a Nike advertisement some years ago, a voice came over the television saying, "I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed." Those words were spoken by Michael Jordan, by most standards the greatest basketball player ever to play the game.