Summary: What do Christ followers rally around? What makes the difference during discouraging times?
Rally Around Life – 03.22.09
Introduction – You’ve heard the expression “Rally Around the Flag.” It is where our national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner” comes from. Francis Scott Key, as a prisoner aboard a British ship, saw the American flag still flying over Fort McHenry in the early morning hours of September 14, 1814. Today we still use the “Rally Around” phraseology. Listen to these recent headlines:
Supporters Rally Around Property Tax Resolution
Tulsa World, March 19th
Fans Continue to Rally Around Morningside Champs
KCAU-TV, Sioux City, IA - March 18th
Neighbors Rally Around Mother After Home Invasion
NewsChannel 5, Nashville TN - March 16th
Scholars Rally Around Embattled Professor
The Jewish Daily Forward, March 11th
It seems there is always a cause or a person to rally around. And it seems like we need something special to get us to rally. My question for you this morning is this: What do you rally around when
it comes to your Christian faith? Do you rally around anything? Does it even matter? It seems as if Jesus thought so!
And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. John 3:14,15
These two verses come immediately before the most famous verse in all the Bible: God so loved the world... But most of us don’t have any idea what Jesus means when he talks about Moses lifting up the serpent. Let’s see if we can figure out what Jesus was talking about.
STORY OF MOSES AND THE SERPENT:
Read Numbers 21:4-9
After the 40 years of wandering, right before entering Promised Land
Couldn’t take direct route - had to go around
Wilderness - only food manna.
Hard way to go - impatient; spoke against God and Moses
God sent poisonous snakes, bit people, many died
People admit their sin, Moses intercedes
God: “Make Snake on a Pole.”
When people looked at it, they lived.
When we think of this story, we ask wrong question: “How is Jesus like the snake on the pole?”
Bronze snake looked like a snake, but wasn’t. No poison - Jesus looked like a sinful man, but was without sin.
Snake lifted onto a pole, Jesus lifted onto a Cross
Bronze snake provided salvation - Jesus provides salvation
The RIGHT QUESTION we should be asking is this: “How are we like the people in the wilderness?” 7 Ways We Are Like Israelites:
#1. We suffer from ___DISCOURAGEMENT____
“...They set out ... to go around the land of Edom.” Numbers 21:4a
Life often doesn’t go our way. We come up against opposition. don’t see things our way. We are delayed.
#2. We suffer from __IMPATIENCE______________________
“And the people became impatient on the way.” Numbers 21:4b
When we become discouraged, we also get impatient. We don’t want to wait. We want it now.
#3. We suffer from ____A COMPLAINING ATTITUDE____
“And the people spoke against God and against Moses.” Numbers 21:5a
We easily groan and complain. We do it consciously to our leaders (Moses), but we are doing it subconsciously (usually) to God. “Why have let this happen?” It doesn’t even have to be logical - “I’d have been better off...”
#4. We suffer from ____A WRONG PERSPECTIVE______
“For there is no food and no water and we loathe this worthless food.” Numbers 21:5b
What I used to think was pretty great, I now take for granted.
“Now the house of Israel called its name manna. It was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.” Exodus 16:31
Think graham crackers. Even graham crackers get old after 40 years! Nevertheless, it was a miracle. And it kept them alive!
HERE’S THE POINT: WITHOUT THE RIGHT THING TO RALLY AROUND, IT’S EASY TO GET DISCOURAGED, IMPATIENT, TO HAVE A COMPLAINING ATTITUDE AND A WRONG PERSPECTIVE!
#5. We face ______GOD’S JUDGMENT_____________
“Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died.” Numbers 21:6
It would be a horrific mistake on our part to believe that God is only a God of mercy, grace and not to equally consider that for those who do not seek his forgiveness and lead a life submitted to Him that there will not be consequences. We cannot read our Bibles without knowing the fearsome side of God:
“Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” Romans 2:3-5
Don’t we “presume on the riches of [God’s] kindness and forbearance and patience?” We become accustomed to our lives AND the mistakes and sins of our lives and PRESUME that God will simply look the other way. But God’s judgment is still very much present. As Paul writes, we are only “storing up wrath” for ourselves.