One of the first things I want you to notice about Matthew’s gospel is the fact that it’s anonymous. Nowhere in the text does it clearly say who wrote it, but there is no need to worry about the authorship of the first gospel since the early church and scholars all agree that it was Matthew, the apostle. Continue reading “The Gospel of Matthew.”
In Numbers 17, we have an interesting and perplexing story of God using the walking staffs of the elders of Israel to convey His will. In one sense, Numbers 17 is meant to end the rebellion and complaining of the children of Israel. Continue reading “Almonds from a walking staff.”
Hopefully, each book we have covered so far has given us special insights into our God and his desire to draw us near to himself. Deuteronomy is no different. It recounts the history of the nation, its highs, and lows, to a new generation of Israelites who were not there to witness the miracles of God.
Last week, we talked about the three and a half tribes of Israel that wanted to settle in the land of Jazer and Gilead. At first glance, it seemed like a reasonable request. They had lots of livestock and the land was perfect for them. In spite of the obvious, Moses was seriously upset with them. Why wouldn’t he be? Especially after God’s reaction to those who chose to not go into the land (Num. 13) that resulted in 40 years of punishment and death. He was afraid that just like before the people would be discouraged and God would punish them. Upon hearing the seriousness of their choice these three and a half tribes quickly resolved to go in with the nation and help them secure their inheritance, as long as they could then come back to their inheritance. They didn’t want to be the ones causing the Lord’s people to suffer, struggle, and ultimately fail.
Yet, there is another reason why these three and a half tribes should have chosen to stick with their people (church). By choosing to live on the other side of the Jordan they are choosing to separate themselves from the people of God and from the promises and blessings of God. In Numbers 32:22, Moses says that after they have fulfilled their responsibilities to the Lord and Israel they can leave and be free from obligation to the Lord and Israel.
That should have been enough to motivate them to withdraw their idea of an inheritance in Gilead instead of the Promised Land. Hearing Moses tell them that they would be free from God and from their family should have caused them to ache in their souls.
What is most scary to me is that many Christians are also choosing to live outside of God’s blessings and as strangers to their church family. The church is supposed to be our family; brothers and sisters in the Lord, and yet, many just want to be free from any real obligations to Jesus or His church. When that is where our heart is at you can rest assured that God is not going to bless your life or faith. It’s going to hurt the church that has to go to battle without you but it’s going to hurt your family and faith more than anyone else.
Choosing to live a life outside of the Lord and His church is choosing to separate yourself from both. You cannot be in Christ, in the kingdom of Jesus with all its blessings (Eph. 1:3), and separate; free from any obligations. You must choose one or the other but you cannot have both.
Another serious problem here is that many Christians are living outside the blessings and promises of Jesus but are not aware of the choice they have made. All they can see is that life is hard, faith is hard, going to church is hard, and they wonder why everyone else seems to be blessed with an easier life. They wonder why everyone else is so committed and faithful. How can they manage to be there every week especially at every service of the church?
Let me tell you why it seems easier for them? Honestly, it is easier for them and I am going to tell you why. I’m not going to hold back, I hope it doesn’t hurt you, and I hope it helps fix your situation. They have chosen to live their life in the blessings and promises of God. You can choose it too! It’s not too late. Make the good decision to commit yourself entirely to Jesus and live your life in his blessings and church.
“Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.”
(Galatians 6:7, ESV)
When you commit to investing into God and faith, He will make sure to bless you for the effort.
Success in any endeavor is almost always attributed to the team. No one person can secure the win, the victory; success, without the help and support of the entire team. Could a football team win a game without its defensive line? Could it succeed without the receivers? We all agree that no team has a shot at winning a game if the entire team doesn’t work together.
Success is always a matter of teamwork.
In Numbers 32, we have an important story of Reuben and Gad. As Israel traveled to the promised land and was winning battles against other nations; they reached a place where the land was perfect. It was everything these two tribes could have hoped for; a great place to live and a great place for all of their livestock. Looking around they decided that this was the place they wanted to settle and make homes. So, they approached Moses and said this land is perfect for us, we have lots of livestock, and this place is perfect for it. They wanted to settle in the land of Gilead, build their homes, and not cross the Jordan into the promised land.
Moses response was serious. He was outraged that these two tribes wanted to stop traveling and fighting with Israel and settle in this land. He said, how could you seriously sit here comfortable and safe while the rest of us have to march to war. He said that doing so would incur God’s wrath but also discourage the rest of the people. Two parts of God’s people wanted to quit the game, sit on the sidelines, and let everyone else do all the hard work. Never mind the fact that they were choosing to settle outside of God’s blessings they were abandoning the rest of God’s people.
Alone, they would have surely failed.
We need to be reminded that success for the Lord’s church is a matter of God’s power and the teamwork of the entire group. No one person should be able to sit on the sidelines and watch as the team keeps playing. Winning the game is almost impossible at this point. Not only do they get tired, face losses, but it is also extremely discouraging. The team that continues to fight, just to keep going, has to deal with the increased workload of those who are sitting and watching as time after time they either barely make it or fail.
Church, your team needs you. They need you to step up and get back in the game. They need you to get involved and help win some games. Once Reuben and Gad were aware of how much the nation needed them they quickly agreed to march with them to victory. They didn’t want to be the ones responsible for the failure of the entire team.
I hope this has encouraged everyone to get involved in the work and fellowship of the church. I hope it has encouraged those who are still in the game to keep trying but also that it will encourage all of us to get involved. When you sit down and let everyone else do all the work it discourages everyone and it becomes a self-propagating problem. As more people sit down, discourage and failures rise, as failures and discouragement rises, more people want to quit.
We need you. Our success is dependent on your willingness to get back in the game and fight with us.