On the Plains of Moab Blog
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August 6, 2012, 8:34 AM

To Go In or Not to Go In


I was just listening to snippets from yesterday's sermon, and I found that the way I delivered the application section may have been lost upon the ears.  You see, when you lay things out on paper (or the monitor, as is the case here), the structure is obvious.  But if you're hearing it for the first time without the benefit of the visual, ...well, it may be a tad bit confusing.

Here's what I was getting at:  The point was the failure of God's people to go in and receive the good gift of the Promised Land that God was freely giving.  They would not do it.  They thought it would be too hard.  They couldn't trust God, even though they knew far better.  As a result, they reaped the consequences of forty years of wandering in the wilderness and missing the Promised Land.

Fast forward to the here and now.  The new Moses, Jesus, has lead us out of sin and death (Red Sea-like) and is ready to march us into the Promised Land...

And we say things like:

1. Sorry, I don't believe anymore.  I've grown up.  I'm moving into the real world.  This is a real concern in the church today.  Our kids grow up and grow out of the Faith -- perhaps returning when they have their own kids to raise.  But really, how can they miss the beauty of the Savior?  How can they think passe something so incredibly awesome?  Think about it for a moment:  If you think the people of God refusing to enter into "the Land flowing with milk and honey" incredibly short-sighted, just be mindful of the sad exodus of the ones raised within the household of Faith.

2. If I accept the invitation to follow in, this means I have to witness?  That I have to share the Godd News?  Hey, wait a minute, I'm Presbyterian.  We don't do such things.  (In my more cynical moments I might say something like, "Hey, we're Presbyterians, we believe everybody gets in!)  Back on track:  I can't do that!  I won't do that!  I come to church. I give every once and a while.  I believe.  Let someone else do that kind of unpleasant work.  Besides, I don't even think I'd be any good at it.  Well, unbelief at work here.  How - Ev - Er ...As I turn through the pages of Scripture, I see God taking even more unlikely potential messengers, and giving them great moments with weak, imperfect, fumbling, stumbling, mumbling words.  Moses complained that he couldn't speak publicly.  The apostle Paul nearly killed a man with boredom as he preached on into the wee hours of the night.  What can God do with you?

3. Relationships.  Loving my neighbor as I love my very own flesh?  Loving difficult people?  Loving those who don't love me?  No thanks!  I think I'll hang out on the border of the Promised Land, but, I don't think I want to go in, thank you very much.  Oh wow.  This one complaint in particular is one that I fear may keep the Church (BIG "C") from going in for a long time. (Read:  Keep Jesus in the Green Room a bit longer.)  We are, quite frankly, stinkers when it comes to this one.  We are unforgiving people who bear long grudges.  We love the loveable.  But, have you considered that God is able to give you a tender heart?  That God is able to make forgiveness an option that's not a million-to-one odds to happen?  But, you have to desire it.  You have to really want it!

4.  Pet sins.  Besetting sins.  Can't beat them.  Don't really want to beat them.  You've tried for years.  No use.  No, I don't want to enter in becuase I'm just too comfortable now in my sins.  In this case, we always have to come back to God's basic promise of forgiveness through his Son, Jesus.  Done deal!  The wiping away of your sin(s) through faith in his atoning sacrifice (on your behalf!)  The washing "in the blood" as I used to hear quite frequently before I came home to the Presbyterian Church where we don't use such graphic language.  The giving and gifting of the Holy Spirit.  THE Mission.  THE future that God has for the world, indeed.  How big do pet sins look compared to THAT?  But I'll repeat what I said yesterday -- If you really want these besetting peccadillos et al gone ... IF you want that, then they can be!  But you have to really want it to be so.  I said it yesterday, I'll say it yet again:  This is a prayer request that God will always answer!  This is what Jesus means by asking for anything in my Name.  (That's another whole sermon, there.)

Okay, there they are. The four practical points altogether.  Four excuses that we offer today to miss God's best for us.  For us, it's not Canaanites, Amorites, Amalekites and Mosquito Bites.  For us, it's the lure of worldliness, the lack of evangelical fervor, the disbelief of and zero desire to live out the greatest commandment and, of course, the pleasures of sin.

The list of four here is by no means exhaustive!  I hope this helps in the case that there was more fog than light yesterday!    


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