Summary: How should a church move into unknown territory?

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God has blessed us in so many ways. We have a beautiful place to worship that is furnished with songbooks, pews, and Sunday school rooms. God has blessed us with leaders, teachers, and workers. We have everything that a church needs to be successful for Christ. We can truthfully say that we have plenty to be thankful for, but the road to the Promised Land is a treacherous one and we should never become complacent with what the Lord has blessed us with.

Yes, we should look back at what God has given us and thank him, but we also need to keep an eye on the road ahead and be prepared for what is to come. Let’s look at what happened to the Israelites as they prepared to enter Canaan. It would be wise to examine their actions and take notice of how we can apply their situation to ours.

A. WHO IS IN CONTROL? God is. Numbers 13:1-16

In verse 2, God tells Moses to send some men to explore the land of Canaan; then he makes a statement that ensures their success in taking it over. God says, “Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites.”

Did you catch the most important word in the sentence? It’s right at the end of the verse. God was giving this land to the Israelites. The land already belonged to them; God simply wanted them to know what it looked like before they took possession.

God was in complete control of this situation. There was never a doubt in his mind that Israel would dwell in the Promised Land.

Why would God tell Moses to send out spies to explore the land if he was going to give it to them? Why didn’t he just smite those dwelling there and hand it over to the Israelites?

God was challenging the Israelites to stretch their faith. He not only wanted them to have a desire for the land, but he wanted them to take a good look at their adversaries. He wanted them to turn to Him in faith in order to conquer these powerful people.

In like manner, God challenges us in our Christian walk. I can think of at least two ways he has laid the challenge before us:

• God challenges us as individual believers. Maybe God has challenged you with a new ministry, but it seems impossible. Maybe God has challenged you to do something for your family but it seems impossible. Maybe God has challenged you to give money, time or resources you don’t have. Rise to that challenge! God will provide.

• God challenges us as corporate believers. As a church, we believe that God has challenged us to be a light in our community. If that is true, then we don’t need to be afraid. If we really believe that God has led us to this decision, then he will GIVE us everything we need to make it happen. We will have to work and sacrifice, but God will make it happen.

B. WHAT SHOULD WE DO NEXT? Explore the land. Numbers 13:17-20

God told Moses to send out spies to explore the new land. If we honestly believe that God wants us to be a light in our community, then I believe we should follow a similar pattern.

In Numbers 13:17-20 we see four things that Moses told the men to look for as they explored the land of Canaan. Let’s examine each one individually and see how they could apply to us.

1. See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many.

Most of us have lived in the same place for a very long time. We know what the land is like, but thinking in spiritual terms, what do we know about the people that live here? Within a 5-mile radius of this building there are thousands of people. What do we know about their spiritual condition? Are they strong or weak in their relationship with Jesus Christ? How many of those people go to church? How many of them know Jesus Christ at all? How many could care less?

If we are honest, we have to admit that, for the most part, this community is a community without Christ. Yes, there are some Christians living here, but not as many as there should be.

2. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad?

The word good in this passage is the Hebrew word Tov. An important meaning of this term is moral goodness. Some other definitions of the word include: pleasant, beautiful, excellent, lovely, delightful, convenient, joyful, fruitful, precious, sound, cheerful, kind, correct, and righteous.

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