Summary: First step to experiencing the spiritual renewal that overcomes apathy - involvement in a small group.
Jesus quoted the book of Deuteronomy more than any other source. Over eighty times he referred to its pages. Three times during His temptation in the wilderness He quoted from this book. That in itself should arouse our curiosity about the spiritual wisdom in its pages.
When you read the first chapter of Deuteronomy you realize it is a book about renewal. The Hebrews were renewing their covenant with God before they took possession of the Promised Land.
They had become apathetic while wandering around in the wilderness for forty years. Actually, you could take the "a" off the word; they weren’t just apathetic, they were pathetic. There didn’t seem to be any excitement in their lives. They were dry and indifferent and spiritually shallow. So God gave them some instructions to follow in order to renew their enthusiasm and rid them of their apathy.
Some of you here today may be feeling a little apathetic. You’ve been wandering around in your own little wilderness for one reason or another. But you sense the need for renewal. You crave renewal. You long for fresh energy. You’re looking for a way to get out of your rut. I’m glad you came today because the Word of God has good news for you!
In fact, for four Sundays, beginning today, we’re going to look at various actions you can take to jump-start your enthusiasm for life! The title of this series is, "Who Cares About Apathy?", and I want to tell you right up front that God cares about apathy and He cares about you! So He gave us instructions in His Word on overcoming it.
"You have stayed long enough at this mountain", God told the Israelites in verse 6. Its like God is saying, "It’s time to get motivated." Some of you can identify with that. You’ve been in a slump long enough and its time to break out.
"How do I do it?", you might ask.
Today we’re going to deal with the first step God gave His people in Deuteronomy chapter one. Its found in verses 9 through 18.
Moses said to the people in verse 9 - At that time I said to you, "You are too heavy a burden for me to carry alone. (10) The LORD your God has increased your numbers so that today you are as many as the stars in the sky. (11) May the LORD, the God of your fathers, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised! (12) But how can I bear your problems and your burdens and your disputes all by myself? (13) Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you."
(14) You answered me, "What you propose to do is good."
(15) So I took the leading men of your tribes, wise and respected men, and appointed them to have authority over you - as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens and as tribal officials. (16) And I charged your judges at that time: Hear the disputes between your brothers and judge fairly, whether the case is between brother Israelites or between one of them and an alien.
The first step to your renewal is involvement in a small group.
Moses appointed leaders all the way down to groups of only 10 people in size. this was the only way their individual needs could be accomodated. There were simply too many people for him to interact with on a personal relationship basis.
Why are small groups helpful to your spiritual renewal?
1. You need a small group to maintain closeness.
Your small group might take the form of a Sunday school class, or it might be a youth group, a prayer group, or a home Bible study group. The point is, the smaller size will enable you to better know one another’s needs, know what to pray about, how to be an encouragement and what’s going on in each other’s lives.
You’ll have someone with whom to share your hopes and dreams as well as your hurts and pains. Involvement in a small group is one of the ways you can help keep yourself from burning out as a believer.
Large group meetings, like when the church comes together for corporate worship, are needed too. But large gatherings can’t do everything that small gatherings can do. Small groups create an even greater sense of caring and belonging.
One of the primary reasons that Alcoholics Anonymous is so successful in helping people is because it utilizes the small group approach. Bill Wilson, one of the founders of AA, and his friends found out that when they met regularly to talk about their weaknesses, downfalls, and near-downfalls, that it gave them a sense of strength to overcome their temptation to drink.