Usually I post my Sunday message scripts, but here is from yesterday’s message, via Facebook Live:
I’m doing my Sunday message live on Facebook. I invite anyone who would like, to join us. And I would appreciate any prayers you would offer on my behalf. This soon to be 64 year old man is doing yet another first. Join me at https://www.facebook.com/randy.burbank
We are continuing to look at The Boldest Statements Jesus Ever Made. We are looking at some of those rich and powerful moments when Jesus said: “I Am.” Remember that Jesus never said “I Am” because He didn’t speak English. He would have spoken Hebrew and the word he would have used was Yahweh. Yahweh is the name God revealed to Moses.
It Is God’s Eternal Name, His Name For All Generations To Remember. Jesus uses that Name at Mission Critical Moments. He doesn’t just claim to be Yahweh; He backs it up with truth and Kingdom Principles. Let’s look at John 6:32-51 (The Message)
32-33 Jesus responded, “The real significance of that Scripture is not that Moses gave you bread from heaven but that my Father is right now offering you bread from heaven, the real bread. The Bread of God came down out of heaven and is giving life to the world.”
34 They jumped at that: “Master, give us this bread, now and forever!” 35-38 Jesus said, “I Am The Bread Of Life. The person who aligns with me hungers no more and thirsts no more, ever. I have told you this explicitly because even though you have seen me in action, you don’t really believe me.
Every person the Father gives me eventually comes running to me. And once that person is with me, I hold on and don’t let go. I came down from heaven not to follow my own whim but to accomplish the will of the One who sent me.
39-40 “This, in a nutshell, is that will: that everything handed over to me by the Father be completed—not a single detail missed—and at the wrap-up of time I have everything and everyone put together, upright and whole. This is what my Father wants: that anyone who sees the Son and trusts who he is and what he does and then Aligns With Him will enter real life, eternal life. My part is to put them on their feet alive and whole at the completion of time.”
41-42 At this, because he said, “I Am The Bread that came down from heaven,” the Jews started arguing over him: “Isn’t this the son of Joseph? Don’t we know his father? Don’t we know his mother? How can he now say, ‘I came down out of heaven’ and expect anyone to believe him?”
43-46 Jesus said, “Don’t bicker among yourselves over me. You’re not in charge here. The Father who sent me is in charge. He draws people to me—that’s the only way you’ll ever come.
Only then do I do my work, putting people together, setting them on their feet, ready for the End. This is what the prophets meant when they wrote, ‘And then they will all be personally taught by God.’
Anyone who has spent any time at all listening to the Father, really listening and therefore learning, comes to me to be taught personally—to see it with his own eyes, hear it with his own ears, from me, since I have it firsthand from the Father. No one has seen the Father except the One who has his Being alongside the Father—and you can see Me.
47-51 “I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. I Am The Bread Of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died. But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever. I Am The Bread—Living Bread!—who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live—and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self.”
Have you ever thought about how images of bread are used in our ordinary day to day life? “That’s the best thing since sliced bread. He’s rolling in the dough (meaning money). Their bread isn’t buttered on both sides (meaning they lack common sense). Man, he’s toast.” In Middle Eastern culture, and Mediterranean culture, eating bread together is a sign of friendship and connection. Bread is a symbol for life.
When It Comes To People’s Spiritual Lives, They Will Be Living Either The Manna Life Or The Living Bread Life. There is a sharp distinction between the two. There is no confusion about which life we are choosing to live. And make no mistake about it; it is our choice whether we live The Manna Life Or The Living Bread Life.
Let’s find something we can all agree on: We have no control over some things that come our way in life. There are some things that happen to us that are absolutely beyond our control. Does everyone agree with this? I didn’t say we liked it; just that it happens.
Now, my next point is something that you may dislike even disagree with, but it’s the truth: We Do Have Control Over How We React To Those Times. How we live each day and our reactions to life as it happens is the result of what we feed upon each day. If you can remember only One Thing today, then remember this:
Your Heart, Life, And Mind Are Being Fed By Either The Manna Life Or Living Bread Life. One life never satisfies and the other will always satisfy and see us through anything that life throws our way. Let’s see the difference by setting up today’s passage. The day before Jesus had fed a large group of people with a young boy’s sack lunch of 5 barley loaves and 2 fish. Now Jesus and the 12 are on the other side of the lake, and the people have come to Jesus again. This time they are seeking a sign. They wanted a sign from Jesus before they would accept Him as Messiah. They pointed out that Moses had given them Manna as a sign that God was with them. Now they want Jesus to give a sign that God was with Him.
OK, excuse me, but He has turned dirty water into the most extraordinary wine, healed every disease put before Him, cast out demons, opened eyes and ears, and gave voice to those who could not talk. And added to all that, He taught the Kingdom principles with authority, like no one else ever had. And Now, they want a sign? Jesus doesn’t waste His time or their time. More Than A Sign, Jesus Talks About Life Through The Images Of Manna Life And Living Bread Life. Think about the differences.
1. First, Look At The Manna Life.
What does this life feel like? Let’s go back to the time when God gave them Manna. It appeared every morning on the ground. Each family could pick up enough for just 1 day, and no more—except on Friday. Then they could pick up enough for 2 days. It never lasted longer than that. Every meal was the same. The husband or kids never asked, “What’s for supper?” It would be manna casserole, manna pot pie, manna sandwiches, manna stew, manna soup—and for dessert it was always manna cake. I mean, there was not a whole lot of variety to their meals. And they had to do nothing to do to get it. They didn’t have to trade or buy or barter for it. Every morning, day after day after day, there it was. And here was where the problems started. It produces the same problems today:
- They Believed They Were Entitled To It. They did not have to buy it and it was always there every morning. They begin to feel like they were entitled to it. Few things are worse than living every day with a sense of entitlement—that life owes you something simply because you are breathing and alive. Living With That Evil Spirit Of Entitlement Will Remove From Your Heart Any Sense Of Gratitude. Oh, for sure, at first they were grateful. But after only a few weeks of it, things changed. First, they always expected it to be there.
- They Got Tired Of It. But can you blame them? The same meal day after day after day is enough to make them want something else. This is what the Manna Life is like. It’s waking up every morning to the same routine.
- There Is No Sense Of Excitement In The Manna Life.
- There Are No Adventures To Explore in the Manna Life.
- There Is No Anticipation For Anything Different To Happen In The Manna Life.
- It’s The Dull Life. Nothing to inspire the mind or stir up the heart.
- It’s The Life That Is Afraid To Get Out Of That Comfort Zone. It produces its own kind of Comfort that becomes more important than Purpose.
- It’s The Life That Is Unwilling To Take The Risk. Playing it safe is the key to survival for them.
- It’s The Life Spent In Waiting And Then Wondering Why They Never Experience The Great Victories In Life. Now mind you, they haven’t sought great victories, they’ve never engaged in the battle—but they expect great victories and are disappointed.
- And For Church People, It’s The Life Sitting In The Pew Sunday After Sunday, Who At Best Think It Is Enough, And At Worst Think This Is All There Is To It. They never get to experience the surprises of God’s presence, God’s grace, and God’s activities. And sadly, they never experience the joyful surprise of being used by God to touch another life and watch God change that life.
It’s routine life, nothing is more unfulfilling, and few things make a life more ungrateful, than the Manna Life. These people around Jesus thought they wanted the Manna Life. But Jesus did not come to bring the Manna Life, but something so much better. He came to bring them and us the Living Bread Life. Jesus is much more than a free lunch or a vending machine dispensing what we want.
2. Now Look At The Living Bread Life.
What does it feel like? Look like? Allow me to sum it up for you.
- It Is The Life That Is Deeply And Intimately Connected To Our Heavenly Father Through Christ Living In Us. It is living your life with the assurance and confidence that Jesus actually lives in your heart as more than just a presence—He lives in you so that you can grow to become all God sees in you!
- It’s A Life That Is Abundant In Power, Love And Grace. There is more than enough of Jesus living in the heart of every believer to accomplish everything that God wants. It’s more than enough for today. It’s more than enough for tomorrow, and the next day and the next, all the way to eternity. There is more than enough grace, more than enough mercy, and more than enough love to lead us right up to the very throne of God.
- It’s The Life Of Adventure. Living Bread Life calls us into an adventure where we trust in Him to provide what we Cannot See Or Even Imagine. God wants to take you on an adventure in life where nothing is bland or dull. It’s the life of excitement knowing that Jesus lives in you, and that He is going to use you in ways you never imagined.
- It’s The Life Of Exploration. It’s exciting to be a part of what God wants done. God is anything but predictable when it comes to how He works in this world. It’s going down different paths, trying new things. The only thing we know about the future of this life in grace is that one day, we will end in His eternal presence.
- It Is The Life Of Contentment. There will be times of abundance in our life. And there will be times of scarcity. There will be times when all of our ducks are in a perfect row. And there will be times when the ducks will scatter in all directions. There will be times when the sailing is smooth as silk. And there will be times when it will feel like we are on a monster roller coaster. But the one thing about the Living Bread Life is that in every condition and situation, we learn to be content—that we are at peace with God, self and the world.
The only source of life for all of this—comes through the only thing—rather the only ONE—who will be present in both extremes and every point between them. I’m talking about Jesus living in your heart. You know He is the one who blesses us far more than we deserve. And you know He is the ONLY one who will stand with us to strengthen us and guide through the rough waters and over the steep mountains.
We can choose to accept the Manna Life with all its Hollowness. Or we can choose to accept The Living Bread Life with all its Hallowedness—by inviting Jesus, The Living Bread, into our hearts. For someone here today, this may be the very first time for you to invite Jesus into your heart.
For the rest of us, it’s our time to renew our decision by inviting Jesus to go deeper into our hearts. Just bread on the table will leave us hungry again. But the ONE who dares to call Himself Yahweh! Living Bread, can and will satisfy our deepest hunger and deepest thirst. Since you can’t follow Jesus and stay where you are, here’s a Next Step:
Select A Verse Or Passage That Speaks About God And Your Relationship With Him—Then Read That Verse First Thing Every Morning And Make It The Last Thing You Read At Night.
Change the verse or passage every Sunday. Here’s mine for this week: Isaiah 55:10-11
10 “The rain and snow come down from the heavens
and stay on the ground to water the earth.
They cause the grain to grow,
producing seed for the farmer
and bread for the hungry.
11 It is the same with My Word.
I send it out, and it always produces fruit.
It will accomplish all I want it to,
and it will prosper everywhere I send it.
The Deepest Longing Of Every Human Heart Is To Be Near To God!
For this Lenten Journey, I want us to look at the most profound statement ever made by Jesus while He was here in our human form. We are going to be in John’s Gospel looking some of the “I-Am” sayings of Jesus—those moments and situations where He identifies Himself in a very specific way.
Let’s lay the groundwork for today’s passage before I read it to you. Moses had this unbelievable encounter with God. We call it “The Burning Bush” story. God tells Moses to go back to Egypt and inform them that God has appointed him to lead them to the Promised Land.
But before Moses agrees, he wants to know who it is that is sending him. They will want to know who has sent him, so Moses poses the question: “Who shall I tell them sent me?” And in that moment God reveals His true Name: I Am Who I Am! In Hebrew, the word is Yahweh! And God goes further with this statement:
This Is My Eternal Name, My Name To Remember For All Generations.
Why am I telling you all this? Because without this knowledge, nothing that we look at this season will be really understood. The first one we need to look at is from John 4:4-26 (N.L.T.).
He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?” Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.” “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied. Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband—for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”
Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”
We need be begin our journey with boldest statement ever made by a human being. Jesus tells her: I AM! For what I am about to say, some would want to tar and feather me and run me out of town, but I’m going to say it. Jesus did not say “I Am”. Now, you look confused. “Preacher, you just read that Jesus said I Am.”
But Jesus did NOT say I Am—because He did not speak English. Jesus spoke in both Aramaic and Hebrew. So when He identifies himself to her, the word He used is Yahweh! The Eternal Name of God that everyone is to remember! Can you imagine the shock on this woman’s face when Jesus identified Himself as Yahweh? It was a name so sacred that Law prohibited its use in public. No human being since Moses was allowed to use that name.
And no one dare named their child Yahweh! Yet this is the name Jesus calls Himself. What were the first thoughts running through her mind? “Is he crazy? Has he been out in the sun too long? Is he playing mind games with me? Is he mocking me because I’m a Samaritan?” Whatever her first thoughts might have been, they didn’t stay long.
Somehow she knows His words ring true, so she runs back into Sychar with the news, telling everyone she can find: “I’ve found Him! I’ve found Him!” And the people may have laughed, “Who, husband number 6?” She catches her breath, “No, no, I think I’ve found Messiah! I just know He must be Messiah!”
I know it says she asked a question: “Could He be the Messiah?”, but it’s not a question of doubt. Hers is the question of hope. And here’s the One Thing you need to remember today:
The Deepest Longing Of Every Human Heart Is To Be Near To God!
Hers may have been a tarnished hope, or it may have been a secret hope that no one could see in her life. But somehow, deep down in her heart, there must have been that hope that God would come near to her to satisfy the deepest longings of her heart. As we make our Lenten Journey, we need to know that we are going to find that same longing in our heart—to see and experience the nearness of the One, True and Living God. And we can count on Jesus being that just for us, as He was for her! And it is all because of The Name: Yahweh! Jesus is Yahweh and here’s why:
1. He Is Yahweh Because He Looks For Us
Jacob’s Well was the place ordained by God for this woman. He Has A Place Ordained For You, To Meet Him Face To Face, For You To Surrender Your Life To Him. And Jesus planned it out for that moment when she would be coming to draw water. As Jesus and his entourage arrives at Jacob’s Well, Jesus announces, “Guys, I need to stop and rest; besides it lunch time. Tell you what, go into town to McDavid’s and get you something to eat, and bring me back a #7 combo. I’ll just wait right here. Now, go on guys.”
Have you ever wondered why Jesus sent them ahead while He stayed behind? Well, I have and I’ve come to this conclusion. If there had been several of them with Jesus, that woman probably would have stayed away. But just one man there, it’s not as threatening to her. Jesus wanted this moment with her. He had been looking for her and the time was right.
And He looks for us. There are God-ordained moments where He is looking for us. He is looking for us to have this special relationship with Him. God wants us to have more than a mental knowledge about Him. He longs for us to give Him our hearts. But God-ordained moments go further than for us to become a Christian. There are God-ordained moments to comfort us, encourage us, strengthen us, and to take us deeper into this relationship with Him. And you never know when they will appear. This woman came in the middle of the day; not the usual time to draw water. And God may surprise you with ordained moments because He is always looking for us.
2. He Is Yahweh Because He Knows Us
Everyone in Sychar must have known this woman. Five divorces and shacking up with another man. They looked at her and saw someone who couldn’t keep commitments. They saw someone who had no morals. They saw someone whose only contribution to the community was to keep the gossip lines hot. They saw her as dirtied and all messed up. They saw everything that was wrong with her. They thought they knew her. But there was so much about her they could not see because they had made up their minds about her. But Jesus knew there was more to her than what was on the surface.
Only God, Only The One Whose Eternal Name Is YAHWEH Can See Into The Deepest Recesses Of The Human Heart.
He sees the secret sins we hide from others. He knows the dark secrets we keep pushed down deep. But He knows more, much more. He knew what she was truly longing for, and He knows what we are longing for. This woman wasn’t ignorant of God’s promises. She knew one day Messiah would come. Though it may have been a weak hope, there was the hope that Messiah would come to save her. Listen to your heart; your heart knows it wants to be known deeply and intimately by God.
3. He Is Yahweh Because He Offers Us Life
At Jacob’s Well this God-Ordained moment was for one single purpose: To Bring Real Life To This Dirty, Broken Woman! It wasn’t an accident Jesus was there. It didn’t just so happen that this woman appeared. She needed life and Life is what Jesus has to offer. Nothing Can Give Us The Life We Long For, Only Jesus.
Some people settle for a life of thrills, but there are never enough thrills. Some settle for a life of wealth; but there’s never enough. Some settle for a life of respectability—but they are hollow and empty inside. This woman was looking for life through one relationship after another. But none of them satisfied the cravings of her heart.
Nothing in this world can give you real, abundant, lasting, eternal life. This is something only God has—Jesus is Yahweh because only HE has the life that we hunger for. Only He Has The Life That Will Survive The Ups And Downs Of Life Here On Earth. Only Yahweh can offer us this kind of life—and He does it as The Gift. He and only He paid the price necessary to take away the dead things of our life, and put in their place Life. It’s not just any ordinary life, but the most extraordinary life of all—His Very Own Life.
It is His Eternal Name, Yahweh and He is looking, looking for you because He knows you. He knows you need more than an ordinary life—but the most extraordinary life of all. Only Yahweh, only The Great I Am can put the life of Christ in you. Since you can’t follow Jesus and stay where you are, here are your Next Steps:
- Identity Anything That May Have Robbed You Of Hope. The news; This controversy going on in our Tribe; Guilt; Some fear, named or unnamed; Crushing grief that you keep holding on to, that you never completely give over to Jesus; Feelings of inadequacy. It’s the thing that is limiting your potential. Once you identify it—
- Give It Up To Jesus. Make it your offering to Him. He’s not looking for only the good things to offer Him, He wants the pain, the burdens that you carry to be given over to Him. You don’t have to keep carrying them because He carried that weight, while on that Cross!
Actions, Not Intentions, Produce The Right Outcomes.
This is the second and last of the series Getting The Word In Our Feet. We need, more than anything else in these times of chaos and fear is Direction. Not just any direction; but a New And Different Direction. Choosing a direction is not enough. Choices without action are worthless.
Last week we learned that Any Choice That Doesn’t Come With Action Is Just Wishing And Useless. That’s what the Old Testament illustration of the Hebrews at the edge of the Promised Land teaches us. All those over 20, except Caleb and Joshua, never got to live within God’s promise. Their direction was cemeteries scattered throughout the wilderness. Now we look at a New Testament story about a single cemetery that illustrates the need for Both Direction And Action. Turn to John 20:1-9 (N.L.T.)
Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, while the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed—for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead.
Decades ago, before radar and computer flying, an airplane was somewhere over the Rockies in a fog that went from the ground to way above the clouds. The pilot came over P.A. and announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, I have some good new and some bad news. First, the bad news: we’re lost! But the good news is, we’re 2 hours ahead of schedule.” This describes the culture we live it; it describes people all around us—2 hours ahead of schedule but lost.
When times seem to be the darkest, people struggle to find the right direction and the subsequent actions that will bring them out of the darkness. And here is the One Thing you need to remember today and it’s a principle that will always work: Actions, Not Intentions, Produce The Right Outcomes. The Good News Of God’s Kingdom isn’t about changing our intentions—it is about changing our actions. It’s not all that complicated. Intentions cannot produce faith. Cannot manufacture hope nor deliver us from our fear and despair.
I can intend to do something all day long and will accomplish nothing. If you don’t believe this, just trust me on this because I’ve done it enough to be an expert. Just suppose Debbie asks me to do something before the day is done, I’ll say, “OK, dear, I’ll do it.” Well, I intend to get that done. But come the evening, if I haven’t done that, she’s going to get upset at me.
But why? I mean I intended to do what she asked. I intended to do it better than she thought I could do it. Why is she so upset? I intended to do it. It’s just unbelievable that she would get upset that I didn’t do that—even when I intended to do it. Are you starting to get the picture here?
Let’s bring this down to this principle and the passage behind it. Easter Morning. I don’t know what went through your minds then I read the text. Maybe you thought that Easter’s not here yet. Lent doesn’t even start until Wednesday. I still have a couple of days of indulgence left.
When I read this, I focused on what was happening to the people. Mary Magdalene RAN to tell the disciples. The disciples RAN to the tomb. These folks were RUNNING! There was motion and movement by these people. The Resurrection got the disciples involved with direction, motion and movement. They no longer stood still! Christians are people who Run! The question for us here and every church is this: How Can We Get The Word In Our Feet So That We Can Get Motion And Movement On Our Part Into God’s Promises?
Well you have to understand that there are Sitters and there are Runners. One of the ways you can sort out people in church is to say they come in 2 types: Sitters and Runners. OK, let’s look at each.
1. First, Let’s Look At The Sitters.
The best way to describe sitters is to image them in a rocking chair, rocking and watching the world go by. Sitters Are Those Who Are Content With Motion Without Movement And Momentum. They Have Been Deceived Into Thinking Motion Is Movement When It’s Clearly Not Producing Momentum.
Well, here, let me show you with this rocking chair. There’s motion, but nothing is really changing. If you’re not prone to motion sickness, rocking really is relaxing—if you’re into that sort of thing. There’s activity and motion, but look—this rocking chair is still here. Am I right? I’m moving; I’m just not going anywhere. If I turn the rocking chair around, nothing’s really changed—I’m just looking in a different direction. OK, I’ve changed direction, but I still in the same place. The only thing that has changed is my view. I’m not in a different place—I’m in the same place, just a different view. And nothing has really changed.
Sitters Are Those Who Are Deceived Into Believing That Because They Are Rocking—There’s Motion—That This Motion Is Enough. While rocking in a chair may be relaxing and enjoyable it is not accomplishing anything—other than make us feel better about ourselves.
2. Now, Let’s Look At Runners.
Runners are different! They don’t stay in the same place. And their view is always changing. Runners have direction and motion—just like the sitters—but runners add the all important element of forward movement. It Is Movement Not Motion That Always Creates Momentum. Movement and momentum described what was happening in that cemetery just outside of Jerusalem. Transformation began when they started running. Running Produced Movement And That Movement Starting Producing Momentum.
Churches Are Dying Today. It’s Not Because Of A Lack Of Direction. Everyone is pointed in some direction. It’s Not Because Of A Lack Of Motion. Ever heard the phrase “Going through the motions”? It’s Because They Have Lost Movement And Without Movement There Is No Momentum. Remember the rocking chair. There is always motion—but no real movement or momentum.
There was a runner by the name of Saul of Tarsus, running as hard as anyone against Jesus. But God grabbed him on the Damascus Road, turned him around, and he kept right on running, this time as Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles! Give me a church full of runners every time; even if like Saul, they are running in the wrong direction.
Because when you get runners going in the right direction, things happen! Communities change for the better. Families become stronger. People quit complaining and whining so much. People meet and follow the real Jesus. And The Very Foundations Of Hell Tremble And Shake In Fear! God Wants Runners!
We need to get the Word in our feet and start running! How? Well, the Nike commercial says it best: Just Do It! Don’t talk about it, plunge in with both feet. The problem with a lot of congregations is that they want a pastor to be successful for them—to do the praying, serving, witnessing and get more members. But this is not what God has called the pastor to do.
The pastor is one called out of the life of the church, trained and approved to help you, the lay people do your ministry. The pastor is not to be a busy body, his job is to get the body busy! Now, I can back this up with scripture, Eph. 4:11-12—“These were his gifts: some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers for the building up of the body of Christ!”
Who is the body of Christ? Those outside waiting to be saved? NO! You are! How do we become Runners rather than Sitters? Allow me to give you a few principles:
- Begin By Being Still. We can’t be running in just any and every direction. We need focus. Being still before God gives us the direction to begin running. Think about Elijah in that cave at Mt. Horeb. He was running in the wrong direction. But when he stood still before God, and listened, he found that new direction—and that new direction created Movement And Momentum.
- Don’t Question Or Think About The Direction, Just Run. Try to do a cost or risk analysis on the direction—and Satan will convince you it won’t work. Think about that day Jesus told the disciples to find something to feed that crowd. They found a boy’s small sack lunch. They should have been ready to run—but they did the cost/risk analysis and concluded it wasn’t enough. If Jesus sends you to do something, then He knows what’s out there and He knows it will be more than enough.
- Build Upon Even Small Successes. Your running doesn’t have to produce things worthy of a page in Guide Posts. Think about Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. After discussing buckets and wells, Jesus led her to thinking about the Messiah. In the world’s economy it was a small success. When He had her thinking about the Messiah He was able to get her thinking about herself. And when He got her thinking about herself and The Messiah, she went and told her whole village about Jesus.
- Sustain Momentum. Keep on praying. Keep on studying The Word. Keep up the pace. Keep on living this Life In Grace. Don’t ever settle in one place of success. Think about those Disciples after Pentecost. About 3,000 people were saved. Hey, that’s a lot. Time to rest, right? Wrong! They kept it up—sharing life together in meals, Holy Communion, praying and growing in maturity.
And since you can’t follow Jesus and stay where you are, here’s your Next Step:
Decide Right Now If You Are Going To Be A Sitter Or A Runner!
Years ago, someone gave me this poem, called “Sitting By The Fire” and it’s on the back of your sermon notes page:
Sitting By The Fire
He wasn’t much for moving about, it wasn’t his desire,
No matter how hard the others work, HE WAS SITTING BY THE FIRE!
This went on from day to day, he never seemed to tire,
when others were working so hard in the church, HE WAS SITTING BY THE FIRE!
He died one day as all must do, and some say he went up higher,
but if he’s doing what he’s always done, HE IS SITTING BY THE FIRE
Are you a Sitter? Or will you become a Runner?
What we need, more than anything else in these times of chaos and fear is Direction. Not just any direction; but a New And Different Direction. Choosing a direction is not enough. Choices without action are worthless.
And here is the One Thing you need to remember this morning: Any Choice That Doesn’t Come With Action Is Just Wishing And Useless. So, for the next two Sundays we’re going to focus on Getting The Word In Our Feet. It’s about learning to take action. We are going to look at two stories: one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament.
This week it is from Numbers 13. This is a time when the Hebrew children thought they were lost—feeling unsure and uncertain about the future. They were wandering in the wilderness, looking for a better land which God had promised them. But somehow, just like our world, they feel lost, unsure of the future. I would encourage you this week to read chapters 13 and 14, but for now let’s look at a few verses:
Vs. 1-2—“The Lord now said to Moses, “Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes.”
As you may know, this is the story of the 12 spies.
Vs. 17-20—“Moses gave the men these instructions as he sent them out to explore the land: “Go north through the Negev into the hill country. See what the land is like, and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. See what kind of land they live in. Is it good or bad? Do their towns have walls, or are they unprotected like open camps? Is the soil fertile or poor? Are there many trees? Do your best to bring back samples of the crops you see.” (It happened to be the season for harvesting the first ripe grapes.)
The 12 spies go out and Moses tells them what to look for. They spend some time there, and then we find in vs. 25-28—
“After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land. This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces. But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak!”
Now, that word doesn’t mean much to us, but to that crowd of Hebrews it struck terror in their hearts. Now the people are not only uncertain, but now they’re terrified and angry! “What in the world are we going to do?”
Vs. 30-33—“But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”
These 12 spies go out, spend 40 days checking everything out, trying to decide if this is where they would like to live—And Forgot What God Said—and they come back with a majority report and a minority report. The vote is 10-2.
All 12 agree that the land is good, that it’s fruitful, and that it would be a great place to live. All 12 agree that the cities are strong and well fortified and that the people who live there were like giants. But 10 Of The Spies Drew A Conclusion That Wasn’t Theirs To Draw—they went beyond what God wanted them to do.
They said, “We’re whipped! We can’t do it! We can’t go forward! They’ll do us in!” But Joshua and Caleb presents the minority report and says: “Oh yes we can! Let’s go forward. We can occupy this land because God said so!” So, how do you think the crowd voted?
With the majority and Number 14 opens that way. I won’t read on, I’ll just tell you what happens in case you forgot. God gets disgusted with the whole crowd and decided that a people who have so little faith don’t deserve what He’s giving to them.
So God says he’s going to let them have it—just give up on them and start with a different people. Well, this upsets Moses, so he goes into his tent and prays all night, telling God that He is a gracious, loving and generous God. He also has a little private prayer I call a Public Relations Prayer. Moses says to God, “If you destroy this people and start all over, others will hear about it and they’re not going to think much of you.” Then Moses prays for God to forgive them, and God does forgive them.
Then God does something very interesting. He sets up the first generation gap in the Bible. God declared, “Everyone over 20, except Joshua and Caleb, I condemn to wondering in this desert for 40 years, there to die. Everyone under 20, along with Joshua and Caleb, may inherit this land after those 40 years.” Let’s learn something about Getting The Word In Our Feet When We Are In The Wilderness:
1. First, Let’s Look At The Minority Report!
The Minority Report can teach us some obvious lessons for the church today and for you here this morning.
Lesson 1: The People Of God Are Supposed To Live By Faith! It doesn’t matter if they are in the wilderness or the Promised Land. It doesn’t matter whether everything is going well and growing, or whether we find ourselves in adversity and hard times. Whatever the environment may be that surrounds us, WE are to live by faith.
Lesson 2: The People Of God, Those Who Live By Faith, Somehow Manage To Win In The End, Even If It Takes A Miracle! God’s people will always manage to win! Why? Because the Lord is with them! No matter how tough the problem, if we will follow God’s directions and trust God’s plan and timing, we can’t help but win!
Lesson 3: We Can Expect To Find Some Disagreements, Even Among The People Of God. It shouldn’t surprise us that there is a majority report and a minority report. This is quite often the way the people of God operate. We respond differently to the situations life brings us. But I really like what is said in Chapter 14:24—
“But my servant Caleb has a different attitude than the others have. He has remained loyal to me, so I will bring him into the land he explored. His descendants will possess their full share of that land.”
What Marks The Difference In The People Of God Is Not What Life Brings And Puts In Their Hands, But What We Bring To Life In Our Spirit And Attitude.
You’ve seen it. 2 people go through similar tragedies, one comes through victorious, the other bitter and defeated. People Of Faith are to bring into those difficult situations courage, commitment, joy, hope, confidence, trust and love. Indeed, this is a different spirit and that different spirit enables us to go forward against all odds.
2. Next, Let’s Look At The Spirit Of The Majority Report.
The spirit of the people in the Majority Report is both simple and sad: “Oh, No! We Can’t Make It! It’s Better If We Go Back To Egypt!” The way this type of attitude is expressed today is usually when someone says: “That’s not the way we did it back then!” Or, “We’ve never done it that way before!”
There are 2 ways to learn Great Lessons: Experience And Observation. Allow me to share nearly 46 years of Experience And Observation as a pastor: Most local churches have a Back To Egypt Committee. It may be a large committee or a committee of one. They may be vocal, or they may sit silently waiting for the right moment to pounce.
But whenever there is a proposal to go forward in ministry, forward in outreach, inevitably the Back To Egypt Committee stands up and says “Oh, no! We can’t do that!”
But you can look forward to the future with confidence and say with Joshua and Caleb, “Because The Lord Is With Us, We CAN Go Forward.” And I thank God, and thank Him often, for those of you who will rise up even as a minority report and say, “Oh Yes We Can Because The Lord Is Us With!”
Our issues today are rather clear. Let’s talk first about the Elephant In The Room, General Conference 2020. Many wonder what’s going to happen. Some wonder if anything will happen. What will we look like after May 2020? But there are more issues and they are just as important.
One issue is our resources, to use our resources to move forward toward God’s Promised Land. What are our resources? We have the Gospel and all its power, and that’s a lot. We have our physical resources of money, talents, and building. We have the Holy Spirit. We have each other. Your faith, commitment, leadership, spiritual service and prayers are resources for this church and should be talked about more than our physical resources.
Another issue is strategy—making decisions on how we will use our resources. Will we recognize their value or will we go out and bury them? Once we recognize their value, how and where will we use them for God’s kingdom and His glory? At this point, this is usually where we disagree. Now, I believe it’s OK to disagree with each other at this point IF we agree that we are all God’s people and that if we trust God and follow Him, we can overcome any obstacle, and that our main purpose as a church is to make more disciples for Jesus!
For these Hebrews their Canaan, their land of promise, was physical land. Our Canaan, our land of promise, is Spiritual. Our Canaan is relating people to Jesus Christ. What are we doing to bring people into that relationship?
So what do we do? Do we listen to the Back To Egypt Committee and give up? Or do we listen to the Joshua and Caleb Committee and say, “God Is With Us, So Let’s Go Forward!”? The real issue we are facing is not survival but Mission! Think about this: If we focus on survival, we won’t survive. The Majority Report was about Survival. The Minority Report was about Mission! Which Report worked?
Is the Word in your feet? Getting the word in your feet is a matter of deciding that the Lord is with us and because the Lord is with us, we can more forward, even in the face of giants, because God is the ultimate Giant Killer!
Because you can’t follow Jesus and stay where you are, here is your Next Step: Make Up Your Mind If You Want To Go Back To Egypt, Or Move Forward Into The Promised Land.
If you long for the good old days when it was simpler, then you are Heading Back To Egypt. But, even if it scares the living daylights out you, if your desire is to see The Kingdom On Earth, then make up your mind with Joshua and Caleb: “Oh Yes We Can Because The Lord Is Us With!” Then the word is in your feet!