Today, we wrap up this series (“Let’s Conquer the Land!”) which leads up to our vote this Tuesday. As we wrap up the story, we want to learn from the critical mistakes made by the Israelites.
"You must learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t possibly live long enough to make them all yourself." (Sam Levenson)
Numbers 14.26-45 begins with a message of God’s judgment on God’s people who have rebelled and rejected God’s call. God says, "How long will this wicked nation complain about me? I have heard everything the Israelites have been saying." (14.27)
Some other statements in God’s message stand out to me as well …
- "I will give you exactly what you wanted. You will die right here in the desert …" (14.28-29)
- "You sinful people who ganged up against me will die here in the desert." (14.35)
- "But I, the LORD, will let them enter the land you have rejected." (14.31)
Well, after the ten scouts who “incited rebellion” died as a result of their disobedience, the people felt guilty or scared, and they decide they had better go. But it was too late! Moses tells them, “You’re disobeying the LORD! Your plan won’t work, so don’t even try it. The LORD refuses to help you, because you turned your backs on him." (14.41-43)
Well, this has been a great story for us to look at. But, personally, I’m hoping that our result will be different. I hope and pray that our response will be a courageous one, one that honors God!
God is doing a new thing!
“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do a brand-new thing. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?” (Isaiah 43.18-19)
What is the “new thing” that God is doing among us? Do you see it?
The “scouts” (Exploratory Team) have reported to us that they believe God is calling us to unite and become one. Why? The scouts have reported that they believe we’re better together, and that we’ll have more resources. And that we’ll be better stewards!
Will this new direction involve risk? Absolutely! Will it require change? Definitely! But change and risk are always part of being the church!
Jesus had a couple interesting encounters with some would-be followers. They both said, “I will follow you, but …" (Luke 9.59-62)
Jesus says to one, "Come, be my disciple." The would-be disciple says, "Lord, first let me return home and bury my father." Jesus responds, "Let those who are spiritually dead care for their own dead. Your duty is to go and preach the coming of the Kingdom of God.
Jesus invites another to follow. That person says, "Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family." But again, Jesus responds, "Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God."
Someone has said that there’s good reason that the windshield is larger than the rearview mirror. While we must occasionally glance at the rearview mirror, we must not focus on it. We must give attention to the future, where God is calling us!
One of the challenges we face in becoming one is letting go of our buildings. You know, buildings use to matter! In the Old Testament, religious life was centered around the Temple in Jerusalem.
But interestingly, even back then, Jesus had a conversation with “the woman at the well” (John 4), who talked about the right place to worship God. Jesus says, "Believe me, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father here or in Jerusalem."
And on another occasion Jesus’ disciples are mesmerized by the Temple. They say, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
Quite simply, buildings are tools for ministry. Nothing more.
Well, this decision will affect you, but it will also affect others. I want to leave you with a few questions to reflect on in the next two days …
>> What is God calling us to do?
>> How will this decision affect others?
>> What’s keeping us from becoming one?
>> How can we honor those who have gone before us?
Our History > Our Future: Appointments on the large Huntingdon circuit began in Petersburg about 1812 and in Alexandria about 1820. Over the years this large circuit gave birth to many smaller charges.
Giving birth is painful! (so I’m told!)
>> What are we giving birth to?
>> What will our legacy be? What will people 50 years from now say about 2006?
Because this *will* be part of our historical record! Will future generations say, “Wow! They demonstrated great courage!” Or, will they say, “Boy! They sure missed it!”
I remember the report of the Exploratory Team at last year’s charge conference where Karl told us that the team was unified in its belief that becoming one was in the best interests for our churches and our communities. In that meeting, Karl said we need to "Lead, follow, or, get out of the way!"
That’s where we’re at right now. And I want to leave you with my personal opinion (for whatever it’s worth).
I believe this is probably our last chance at becoming a missional church! I believe that “no" vote will be the beginning of the end!
But I also believe that there WILL be a missional church in the Valley! If not us, God will raise someone else up to do kingdom work. But it may very well be some of you! There will be a missional people in the Valley!
"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life." (Psalm 139.23-24)
The Disciple’s Prayer
Our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours now and for ever. Amen.