A young couple, very much in love, were getting married in church. However, the bride was very nervous about the big occasion and so the preacher chose one verse that he felt would be a great encouragement to them. The verse was 1 John 4:18 which says:
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear
The preacher asked the best man to read it during the ceremony. The preacher did not know the best man was not a regular churchgoer and did not know the difference between the Gospel of John and the First Letter of John. During the service the best man introduced the reading by saying that the preacher felt this was a very good verse for the bride and that he would say more about it later in the service and then read John 4:18, which says
The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.
The preacher wanted to encourage the couple. His attempt went very wrong.
We can use all the events of the children of Israel reaching the Promised Land as an illustration of the work of Christ.
Christ is the Passover Lamb, sacrificed for his people. 1 Corinthians 5:7: Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
Our baptism into Christ is like Israel’s passage through the Red Sea. 1 Corinthians 10:1-2: our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
Our feeding on Jesus Christ by faith is like the children of Israel feeding on the manna. John 6:48-51: I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.
Our drinking the living water from Jesus Christ is like the Israelites drinking the water from the rock. 1 Corinthians 10:3-4: They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.
We long for heaven, our Promised Land, in much the same way that the Israelites longed for their earthly Canaan, the Promised Land. Hymn: On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand, And cast a wishful eye To Canaan’s fair and happy land, Where my possessions lie. I am bound for the Promised Land, I am bound for the Promised Land; O who will come and go with me? I am bound for the Promised Land.
When we know the whole story, we don’t need to follow their examples of disobedience. 1 Corinthians 10:11: These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us. 1 Corinthians 10:5: God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.
There is a quote from Psalm 95 here to warn us of unbelief. The main event that is talked is in Numbers 13 and 14 (the rebellion). God brought them to Kadesh and told Moses to send out 12 spies, one spy from each tribe of Israel. Read Numbers 13:26 to Numbers 14:11. Then the Lord wants to destroy the whole nation and make another nation out of Moses. Moses pleads with the Lord not to do this. Read Numbers 14:20-24.
Can we imagine Caleb’s reaction to this? Imagine Caleb’s life after this? Caleb had to go back to his life as one of the people. Joshua is an insider while Caleb is not.
Later on at the age of 85 we see Caleb taking Hebron as his own. Last of generation.
Joshua was from the tribe of Ephraim- leading tribe in the North. Caleb was from the tribe of Judah- leading tribe in the South. With their faith, we can see why.
We need more Caleb’s and Joshua’s. Can do attitude- characterized by enthusiasm and confidence in taking on tasks or challenges. Numbers 13:30
What was the Israelites problem? They have seen the miracles (Plagues, Red Sea) but they still don’t believe. Vs. 22 mentions 10 times. Here are some of their testings: Bad water (made sweet) or no water (struck rock) , no food (manna), want different food (quail), complained about leadership of Moses, want different God (golden calf), etc.
They were nothing but a bunch of whiners, complainers, and cynics. To be cynical is to be doubtful as to whether something will happen or whether it is worthwhile. If left unchecked a cynical attitude will lead to unbelief. Unbelief will lead to disobedience. Unbelief and disobedience against God leads to death.
This is what Hebrews is telling us. To begin well is good, but it is not enough. It is only those who stay the course and finish the race that have any hope of gaining the prize. The Israelites made a good beginning when they crossed the Red Sea and praised God for their deliverance; but the good beginning does not cancel out their cynical, unbelieving and disobedient hearts.
The Hebrew Christians had experienced the redeeming power of God; they had the promise of heaven; but one thing could prevent them from realizing that promise, just as it had prevented that generation of Israelites who left Egypt from entering Canaan- and that was unbelief.
Belief is a life-changing commodity. We “DO” what we believe, the rest is “TALK.”
Mark 9:22-24: But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”
Thesis: To overcome our unbelief we need to hold on to 3 beliefs.
The church is deserving
sadly, this is one of the area’s in America that is found lacking. consider how Jesus viewed the church. Ephesians 5:25: Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. We need to discover three things of which the church is deserving.
Our love- Too often, we see the church as deserving of our leftovers and not our priority. When we love someone or something, we give them our best, we give them our first, and we give them our all. We should do that for Jesus but also for our brothers and sisters.
Hebrews 3:13- With each passing generation, one of the harder things to do is get involved in the lives of other people. Maybe it is because we hear more about staying out of other peoples business than at any other time. Maybe it is because we live in a more permissive age, or maybe, and more likely, we are too wrapped up in our own lives.
the writer says, "encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness." There is a deep sense of urgency in this passage. The NKJV used a stronger word for encourage – exhort which denotes necessity, seriousness and crisis. Then he says, in simple terms, do it TODAY
Fellowship is serious business. It is the protection of your souls. Strength in numbers. Fire grows hotter among those on fire for the Lord.
Our loyalty- Think about the word loyalty and consider the practical ways in our lives that we are loyal. It could be to a sports team, it could be to our pet, it could be to our community, or at any of a number of other things; our loyalty is controlled by our love. Find a local church to love and love it with all of our hearts. Church hopping
Our life- The local church is still the hope of the world, all people still matter to God, and the Bible is still our guidebook; it is through the church that the gospel is given.
God is able
Written across the pages of the Bible are the truths that God can do anything, He is able! He is able to part the water, bring water from a rock, and He is able to flood the earth with water. He is able to hang a fiery cloud in the sky to lead His people, to send a fiery chariot to retrieve Elijah, and to raise Jesus Christ from the dead. On top of this we need to believe that God is able to:
Convict- It was in the upper room where Jesus made it clear that the Holy Spirit would come to convict. John 16:8: When he comes, he will convict the world. In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit comes, and at the conclusion of Peter’s message, the scripture records, “They were pricked (pierced, or cut) in the heart.” They were convicted by the Holy Spirit about their need for Jesus. Brothers, what shall we do? Acts 2:38. They were convicted and convinced of their need and those who accepted the message & believed were baptized. Since the Holy Spirit is still here, we need to believe that He will continue to convict.
Change- God never comes in and leaves things as they are. Our God is able to change things, these things include YOU. IF God has a place in my life, then my life will be changed. Scripture says, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a NEW CREATION.” A new creation is different than the old one. God has the ability to change your life, your heart, your desires, your likes & dislikes. He can take the worst situation you face and turn it into something good.
We need more Joshua’s and Caleb’s who believe that God is able.
Church, do we believe that God is able? If we don't, we won't be here long.
Faith is not believing that God can, faith is knowing that God will.
God is willing
Many of God’s promises are conditional.
The Lord had done many things for the Israelites. However, he wasn’t going to do it all for them. They need to go up and claim the land. They were unwilling because of their unbelief.
Mark 1:40-42: A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Filled with compassion, Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cured.
Through Jesus Christ, God is willing to make us clean. Plan of salvation.
Who will come and go with me, I am bound for the Promised Land? Make yourself available.