Reaching Your Promised Land

Bible Reading:  Numbers 14:1-4

Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night. Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained. “Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?”

Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!”


The Bible tells us in Numbers that the Israelites murmured, or wept loudly, or complained against the LORD.  They were fearful that they would die in the wilderness.  They had seen God perform miraculous signs and wonders as he rescued them from the hands of the Egyptians, but they still allowed themselves to be fearful and complain.   

Moses, Aaron, Caleb, and Joshua were the only ones who remained in faith.  They believed the Lord would lead them into the land flowing with milk and honey.  

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Then the Lord had a conversation with Moses.  The LORD said, "How long will this wicked community grumble against me?  I have heard the complaints of these grumbling Isrealites.  So tell them, 'As surely as I live, declared the LORD, I will do to you the very thing I heard you say:  In this wilderness your bodies will fall - everyone of you twenty years old or more who was counted in the census and who has grumbled against me.  Not one of you will enter the land I swore with uplifted hand to make your home, except for Caleb and Joshua.  As for your children that you said would be taken as plunder, I will bring them in to enjoy the land you have rejected.  But as for you, your bodies will fall in the wilderness, until the last of your bodies lies in the wilderness." 


Because the Isrealites grumbled, complained, and murmured against the LORD, they never made it to their Promised Land.  They never reached the land flowing with milk and honey.   Their descendants did, but they themselves didn't.     There is power in the words that we say (and that is a whole other devotion in itself). But when we are in the midst of a battle or a fiery trial and we allow ourselves to complain and murmur and grumble - we are not staying in FAITH.    

If you haven't reached your Promised Land - your land flowing with milk and honey ----   make sure that what comes from your lips is speaking FAITH.   

Showing Mercy To Others

Bible Reading:  Matthew 18:21-35

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?”

“No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!

“Therefore, the Kingdom of Heaven can be compared to a king who decided to bring his accounts up to date with servants who had borrowed money from him. In the process, one of his debtors was brought in who owed him millions of dollars. He couldn’t pay, so his master ordered that he be sold—along with his wife, his children, and everything he owned—to pay the debt.

“But the man fell down before his master and begged him, ‘Please, be patient with me, and I will pay it all.’ Then his master was filled with pity for him, and he released him and forgave his debt.

“But when the man left the king, he went to a fellow servant who owed him a few thousand dollars. He grabbed him by the throat and demanded instant payment.

“His fellow servant fell down before him and begged for a little more time. ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay it,’ he pleaded. But his creditor wouldn’t wait. He had the man arrested and put in prison until the debt could be paid in full.

“When some of the other servants saw this, they were very upset. They went to the king and told him everything that had happened. Then the king called in the man he had forgiven and said, ‘You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.

“That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”


As a Christian our sins are forgiven.  A debt that we had no way to pay has been cancelled.  Our future destination turned from the fires of hell to the splendor of heaven awaits us.   It's unfathomable to think that Jesus Christ would go to the cross to pay for the sins of mankind.... to pay for my sin.      When we let the magnitude of that sink in —it is overwhelming.  His mercy is great!  

The parable of the unforgiving debtor tells the story of a man who owed the king millions but pleaded for mercy and received it.  However that same man when someone owed him a few thousand dollars showed no mercy at all.  Instead he had the man thrown into prison.  

When the king heard the news he called the man in and said, "You evil servant! I forgave you that tremendous debt because you pleaded with me. Shouldn’t you have mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?" Then the angry king sent the man to prison to be tortured until he had paid his entire debt.

If you have received the mercy of the heavenly father and been forgiven of your sins, the Bible tells us that you must forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.   

Is there someone that you are struggling to forgive?   Don't go another day without forgiving your brother or sister.    The risk is too great!   We have been forgiven and we must in turn forgive others.   

Ephesians 4:32  Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

We Need Each Other

Bible Reading:  Hebrews 10:24-25

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.


I have always admired the Navy SEAL's (Sea, Air, and Land).  Of all the battles they must fight to reach the title of SEAL, the first battle is the most important - the battle of mind over body. 

As they go through the grueling days of training, their mind can say things to them like, "your never going to make it".   "Your not good enough, strong enough, or smart enough to make it through".    The physical body is made to endure amazingly harsh conditions during the training and their mind must be made to ignore the pleading of the body.  On average 70% of the candidates never make it past phase I of training.   

As Christians we too have a battle of our mind over body.    This becomes apparent during a fast when our body is screaming for food, producing symptoms of nausea and ill feelings, but our mind knows that we must be stronger.      We also face the mind over body when we know what the word of God says about our health, but the doctors report or the symptoms in the body say a different thing.   

The hardest part of a SEAL's training is week IV where they endure 5 1/2 days of continuous training.    This week is nicknamed "hell week".    Something amazing happens during this week though. The candidates learn to rely on one another to keep going.   They learn to encourage each other and cheer each other on.   

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In the Christian walk, we will face times in life where we feel too weak to pray, too fearful to have hope, and too defeated to go on.   This is why we are told in Hebrews 10 not to neglect meeting together.    I have heard countless Christians tell me that they don't go to church anymore.   It can be various reasons that cause this but they continue to tell me that they can grow close to God on their own.   I'm sure they can - but what happens when the problems arise?   I can't tell you how many times a Christian friend has lifted me in prayer and been there for me to lean on.  

The truth is that we need each other and we are commanded in scripture not to neglect meeting together and to encourage each other or spur each other forward in our walk with Christ.  

Have you stepped away from church?    Do you think you are ok without finding a good place of worship?     Just like the Navy Seals learn that they need each other - so do Christians.    Make it a point to find a church that will teach you the Word of God and make friends there.     And if you already do this.... look for that person in your church who has a need or is struggling in some way and spur them forward with the encouragement of Christ!   

 

Water Walker

Bible Reading:  Matthew 14:22-33 

Jesus insisted that his disciples get back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he went the people home.  After sending them home, he went up into the hills by himself to pray.  Night fell while he was there alone. 

Meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. 

About 3:00 am Jesus came toward them, walking on water.  When the disciples saw him walking on water, they were  terrified.  In their fear, they cried out, "It's a ghost!"

But Jesus spoke to them at once.  "Don't be afraid," he said.  "Take courage. I am here!"  

Then Peter called to him, "Lord if it's really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water."  

"Yes, come," Jesus said.   

So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.  But when he saw the strong wind and the wave, he was terrified and began to sink.   "Save me, Lord!" he shouted.  

Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him.  "You have so little faith," Jesus said.  "Why did you doubt me?"   When they climbed back into the boat, the wind stopped.  Then the sickles worshipped him.  "You really are the Son of God!" they exclaimed.   


I absolutely love Peter!   He had guts.  I mean I wouldn't have stepped out of that boat onto the water - and especially considering the heavy waves the disciples were fighting against.   Peter was the only one out of the disciples who had enough faith to step over the boat and walk on water!     The Bible tells us that he did walk on the water too  - to this day this feat has never been done, but Peter did it with his eyes on Jesus.    

You can be a water walker too.  What boat is Jesus asking you to step out of.  The boat is your best hope for security, but Jesus is urging you to step out in FAITH and take a risk. 

The Bible tells us that Peter saw the strong wind and the waves and he became terrified and began to sink.    This tells us that Peter took his eyes off of Jesus.    

To be a water walker - your eyes need to be fixed on the source of power - Jesus!  With your eyes on Him, the impossible becomes possible.   

The other part about this scripture is what Jesus does when Peter messes up and sinks.  He doesn't just let him float to the bottom - no - he reached out and rescued him. He was with him all long.    He is with you too!  Whatever risk he is asking you to do: 

Step Out - Keep Your Eyes On Him - Know That He Is With You

Fear You Don't Own Me

Bible Reading:  Isaiah 43:1-3

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
 For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;


This is one of my FAVORITE scriptures!     It's a beautiful promise straight to us from God.   

We have been commanded by God 'DO NOT FEAR'.    The phrase "fear not" is used at least 80 times in the Bible. God knew that we would face a lot of things in life and have a lot of cares and worries.    He also knew that satan would use fear as the number one thing to limit us in life and cause use to be defeated. 

One time last year I had a legitimate concern.  I allowed myself to be overcome with fear to the point of tears.   I knew in my heart that what I was fearing may never even come to pass and it didn't.  Did you know that studies say that 85% of what we worry about or fear - never happens?  Furthermore, it also shows that the other 15% that does happen actually causes something positive to take place further on... like a lesson learned or personal growth.     

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We are commanded by God not to fear.   I am reminded of the scripture - Matthew 6:26, "Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Do not allow fear to steal your joy! 

 

Below is a fun song - turn up the volume and tell fear that it doesn't own you anymore!