Shake it Up
De 1:6 "The LORD our God spoke to us at Horeb, saying, 'You have stayed long enough at this mountain.
De 1:7 'Turn and set your journey, and go to the hill country of the Amorites, and to all their neighbors in the Arabah, in the hill country and in the lowland and in the Negev and by the seacoast, the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates.
De 1:8 'See, I have placed the land before you; go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to them and their descendants after them.'
Meanings of the word mountain:
Moses is preparing them to enter the promised land, and in so doing he recounts a specific incident in their past which also has relevance to their present situation. You have stayed at this mountain long enough. It's time to move on. In like manner he is telling them the 40 years in the wilderness has come to an end, you have circled this wilderness long enough it is time to move on.
I want to use that idea to talk about the need for growth and change in our lives. We will also look at a couple other passages and discuss the need for God to shake things up. Particularly the need to get out of ruts. Spiritual ruts, personal ruts, relational ruts. We have today an illness in and among Christians that I call "Tread Mill Christianity." Sure we are moving about; involved in a number of things, but all we are really doing is going nowhere.
So in the text before us God tells them it was time to leave the mountain. They had spent a year getting instructions on the law, and how to build a tabernacle for God to dwell in. It was time to move on there are other lessons to be learned. Some Christians never leave this first mountain, because they keep falling into the same sin, it is time to leave that mountain.
There are two basic meanings of mountains in scripture the first is:
An obstacle, A hindrance, A challenge, A situation of impossibility, Difficulties, Problems
You have been living in fear too long
You have been struggling with anger too long
You have been depressed too long
You have been unemployed too long (market conditions or stronghold*)
Some unemployment is a reflection of market conditions some is because a person has given up
in defeat and now won't even try. Every possibility is shot down before it is explored, because, "I already tried that." You need to get out of that rut and leave that mountain.
You have been bound by a sin too long
You have been discouraged too long
You have been prayerless too long.
Does It seem that you are not making any true progress.
In fact, if you were totally honest with yourself could you say you are pretty much where you were five years ago?
It would be really tragic to look back over the past five years and realize that you are in fact not as far along as you were five years ago. You have actually gone backward.
Some people's lives seem to be going nowhere, they are in a rut. Life has become routine.
It is sad to watch someone who is going nowhere.
For almost 40 years the children of Israel were circling the same wilderness. They were moving, the only problem, they were moving in circles.
Finally the Lord spoke to Moses and declared, "You have circled this mountain long enough."
It is time to move on.
I want to help you with that today.
Before we get to that I want to talk about the other meaning of mountain in the scripture, and talk briefly how people have been living at that mountain too long also.
The first meaning was obstical or problem, the other meaning of mountain is a special place of communion with God.
Moses face glowed on the mountain. Jesus was transfigured on the mountain.
He will make my feet like hinds feet and cause me to walk on my high places. (Habakkuk, one of my favorite scriptures talking about high places of fellowship with God)
God took Moses up to a Mountain and showed him all of the promised land and His vision for the Jewish nation. Mountains are a place of revelation and communication from God.
So mountains speak of places that are especially blessed.
The Jews in their wilderness wanderings came to a place called Elim, which was not a mountain, per se, but what we would call a place of mountain top experience. There was an abundance of food and water there.
It is much more difficult to break camp when you're in Elim--there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees I'm convinced that Elim is the most dangerous place in our journey. It is so easy to mistake it for the Promised Land. We can become comfortable there. We don't want to leave! So we settle down when God wants us to break camp and move to the next place. Problem is there is a hike between here and there, and it usually is an uphill hike. So rather that make that uphill hike, we settle for the comfortable and the familiar.
PPT 3 Pilgrim at Pleasant arbor
In Pilgrims Progress there is a scene at a place called the hill difficulty, and Pilgrim is plowing his way upward. In the middle of the hill, was a small grotto off the side, called the pleasant arbor. It was put there by God for the refreshment of weary travelers. Pilgrim stops trekking up the steep hill, stopping for a few moments to refresh himself, but wound up sleeping there way longer than he expected to.
That describes far too many people in the kingdom. Paul describes them thus, you did run well who did hinder you. You see the Christian walk is an uphill journey, and everyone at some point feels the need to take a break in the Pleasant Arbor. They were helping out in children's church and needed a break. They use to be ushers, but it was time to let someone else do it for a while. They were faithful in coming to midweek services, but needed a little break because of the weather. Now the little break has turned into years of lethargy. It is one thing to take a break, but God never authorized a 5 year lunch hour!
So let's switch gears a little bit, I want to illustrate the need for change, and then we will give you some advice from the Apostle Paul on getting out of a rut.
The need for change illustrated.
Found in two warnings from God:
PPT 4 Text
Zep 1:12 "And it will come about at that time That I will search Jerusalem with lamps, And I will punish the men Who are stagnant in spirit, Who say in their hearts, 'The LORD will not do good or evil!'
Let me read this in the message version.
PPT 5 Text
Zep 1:12 On Judgment Day, I'll search through every closet and alley in Jerusalem. I'll find and punish those who are sitting it out, fat and lazy, amusing themselves and taking it easy, Who think, 'GOD doesn't do anything, good or bad. He isn't involved, so neither are we.'
In other words, I'm waiting on God and he ain't doing anything, so neither am I. God may provide breaks, but He never authorized a 5 year lunch hour where all you do is go to conferences, for spiritual expresso's or you sit at home and do nothing, waiting for Him to somehow move you. Get off the couch!
Here is the second warning:
PPT 6 Text
Jer 48:11 "Moab has been at ease since his youth; He has also been undisturbed on his lees, Neither has he been emptied from vessel to vessel, Nor has he gone into exile. Therefore he retains his flavor, And his aroma has not changed.
The idea is that without change we are not as flavorful as we could be. (Decanting improves flavor)
The only place in this world where nothing ever changes is a cemetery.
Stagnant water is the breeding ground of mosquitoes, and mosquitoes breed disease. In other words spiritual maladies often develop in the lives of those who are doing little or nothing but the minimum.
From an article on decanting wine:
Why do we decant?
Obviously, it's not the mere act of shifting liquid from one container to another that accounts for the magic of decanting. Rather, when you decant a bottle of wine, two things happen. First, slow and careful decanting allows wine (particularly older wine) to separate from its sediment, which, if left mixed in with the wine, will impart a very noticeable bitter, astringent flavor. Second, when you pour wine into a decanter, the resulting agitation causes the wine to mix with oxygen, enabling it to develop and come to life at an accelerated pace (this is particularly important for younger wine).
So how to get out of a rut?:
First with the idea of decanting fresh in our minds we need to say, "Lord, I give you permission to shake things up." "Get this old sediment out of my life."
Let's look at what Jesus said about the Christian life, as a way of putting the right context on Paul's admonition to move forward.
No man having put his hand to the plow. The Christian life, is not simply a life on enjoying ease but one of work. Hand to the plow. In Jesus day, that was hard work.
Php 3:13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of [it] yet; but one thing [I do]: forgetting what [lies] behind and reaching forward to what [lies] ahead,
Php 3:14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Php 3:15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;
Php 3:16 however, let us keep living by that same [standard] to which we have attained.
How to move forward in life from Philippians 3
Recognize there is more ahead
Paul wrote to the Philippians and declared that he had not reached the goal, which he understood to be an ever moving forward target.
He is saying that he has not yet arrived.
It is important to realize that God has much more for us. We have not yet attained to the full measure of that which God has for us.
Paul said: "This is what I do."
I press on - take responsibility for your life.
Forgetting those things which are behind.
Not trying to live on past laurels or accomplishments.
Not trying to live on past experiences.
It is a quirky part of human nature that we always tend to see ourselves at our best. (For example we tend to remember how we looked in our 20's not how we look now.) The past was good, but you don't live there anymore. What do you look like now?
Paul said I press toward the mark.
Press in the Greek is deooko and it means: to run swiftly in order to catch a person or thing, to run after.
I am pressing toward the finish line. Not everyone who runs in the race wins a prize. Have you ever thought about that verse? Everybody gets a ribbon for showing upin some race, but not in the Olympics, and not on the Christian journey. Our works can be burned up at the judgment seat of Christ. I run so as to win.
The closer you get to the end of the race, the harder you should pursue the prize.
You do not slacken as you approach the finish line, but you put everything into it. (Though in actuality it may be your slowest lap)
Paul wrote that he was running for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Going upward and forward is a prize in itself. It is hard to explain, but Paul means that just going forward is a prize. He calls the upward call a prize. He isn't talking about the finish line, but the journey forward is reward all by itself.
In verse 15 Paul says everyone who has their stuff squared away thinks like this. And finally in vs. 16 he says no matter what, don't ever go backwards.
Close: Lord get me moving. Lord keep me from being a rocky soil Christian. Lord, I give you permission to shake things up by pouring me out. Lord, I need to put my hand back on the plow and leave the pleasant arbor.