The Story - Chapter 6 - Wandering
Offering Emphasis – My name is _______ _______ and I’m an elder at Westerville Christian. Just as Greg has asked you to give to God I am also challenging you to walk through the door of blessing by giving. Trust God by giving Him a percentage of your income. Let me now pray for our offering…
How many of you like to travel? Suitcases, passports and airports! Speaking of trips, TEAM HAITI returns today. Trips are exciting - at least when you are sitting in the driveway or at the airport. I remember back in the early 70’s when my parents decided to take a vacation to Florida. How would we get there? We’d ride in my Dad’s station wagon. Looked like the Clark Griswald machine. Ultimately that trip was good but it took forever to get there. There were five of us. My parents, my older sister Cheryl, myself and my younger brother David. David could not have been more than 3 or 4 at the time. My sister and I were always vying for more space so we would send our brother up to our Mom. Actually we convinced him to ride the bench seat upfront just so we could get rid of him. No one wore a seat belt! And this was the day and age of no electronic devices. You had to entertain yourself. We played the Alphabet License game, looked out the window, but most times my sister and I ended up poking each other,. We traveled with five total people and at times got on each other’s nerves. Can you imagine travelling with a group of 2 million+ – on foot no less? Open up your Bible to one of the most amazing trips today found in Numbers chapter 10! Do you need a Bible? Just raise your hand if you do? Please fill out your Connect Card in the Handout. If you are a guest, fill this out and turn it into the Welcome Center and they’ll give you a brand new copy of The Story. WGMMTB!
I want to thank you for your generosity! WCC gave to WARM 113 containers of hot chocolate, 51 boxes of tea, and 33 canisters of coffee. THANK YOU! Would you be generous again? This time we have 28 children who need winter coats. For the next two weeks there is a Giving Tree set up for LaVista. Simply go to the tree in our lobby pick the size and gender of coat needed, purchase one and bring it back to WCC. Obviously, the weather is getting colder so the kids at LaVista need these sooner than later. Thanks again for being generous. It’s time for the Israelites to go on a trip! Chapter 6 of The Story takes us through most of Numbers and Deuteronomy. Look at Numbers 10:11! It has taken two years to get to this point. They are excited to get moving! (Read 12-13) Look at this map! Chapter 10 shows us the Israelites are organized into 12 divisions based on the 12 tribes of Israel or the 12 sons of Jacob. Go to verse 33 in Numbers 10! Read 33-36. Everything was great until…
The English language is both amazing and on occasions – confusing. Here’s an example. A fourth-year medical student asked this question. I am wondering if there is any way to remember the difference between “prostrate” and “prostate.” Comedian Dave Barry got a hold of that question and said. We contacted the Mayo Clinic, which informs us that surgeons there use this simple poem: If two R’s are found, it is down on the ground – “prostrate”/ If one R’s on hand, then it is a gland-“prostate”[i] One letter makes all the difference between PROSTRATE AND PROSTATE! That’s also true of these two words. WONDER & WANDER! Wander is defined as “to move from place to place, either without a purpose or without a known destination.” Wonder is defined as “amazed admiration for something beautiful or new.”
The Upper Story of God is that He made us. He made the world. He made worlds beyond our world and we look at Him with wonder. The Lower Story – the human story is God’s WONDER starts to wear off and we start to wander away from Him. We forget that He’s great! As I read through Chapter 6 of the Story. As I read through sections of Numbers and Deuteronomy God reminded me of how easy it is for we human being to wander away from Him. Why are we so prone to wander? Whether it’s the Israelites in 1446 BC[ii] or 21st century Americans? What lures us away from God? What entices us to wander away from God? Go to Numbers 11:1. First, it’s a Complaining Spirit! Read 1-3. It’s one thing to complain every now and then, but it’s altogether different to be a chronic complainer. Rabbi Joseph Telushkin wrote a book called Words that Heal, Words that Hurt. He asked, Can you go 24 hours w/o saying an unkind word? If you can’t go 24 hours w/o a drink, you are an alcoholic. If you cannot go 24 hours with a cigarette, you are addicted to nicotine. If you can’t go 24 hours without saying a unkind word, you are no longer in control of your tongue. I have to ask myself, “Am I a big fat complainer?” Do you find yourself complaining about practically everything? Traffic, work, school, people, your kids, your church, your spouse – GOD? A complainer is typically ungrateful. We gripe because we’re not grateful. We often forget how good we have it. Watch this! (Typewriter video) I once used a typewriter, but computers are so much better! The Israelites will complain seven times between chapters 11 through 21.[iii] Truthfully, I can’t blame them in chapter 11. Go back to verse 1. None of us LIKE hardships! These people will have to walk to the Promise Land! The heat would be grueling. There’s not a Wendy’s or McDonald’s every other mile! I don’t know what you would qualify as a hardship, but for them it was often the basics like food and water. Find verse 4 in Numbers 11. (Read 4-6) Manna is described in verse 7. Manna looks like “small round grains or flakes or wafers which were ground and baked into cakes or boiled.”[iv] Imagine a doughy substance that would fill you up!
Now God is not happy and neither is Moses. The food is one thing. The bigger problem is that they wanted to go back to Egypt for food. The late Keith Green sang a song called, So you wanna go back to Egypt… Listen to these words. “So you wanna go back to Egypt, where it's warm and secure. Are you sorry you bought the one-way ticket when you thought you were sure? Well there's nothing to do but travel, and we sure travel a lot. 'Cause it's hard to keep your feet from moving when the sand gets so hot. And in the morning it's manna hotcakes. We snack on manna all day. And they sure had a winner last night for dinner, flaming manna soufflé.”[v]
When we complain – we forget! How could they want to go back to Egypt? They were slaves in Egypt. They were oppressed in Egypt. When we complain we literally get amnesia. We forget about the goodness of God. Complaining entices us to wander and so does a disobedient heart. Turn to Numbers 13:27. Let me set this up. The children of Israel are on the southern tip of the Promise Land. God tells Moses in Numbers 13:1 to send 12 men to explore the land. Do you remember the song? /Twelve men went to spy on Canaan, Ten were bad and two were good. What did they see when they spied on Canaan? Ten were bad and two were good. Some saw the giants big and tall. Some saw grapes in clusters fall. Some saw God ruled over all. Ten were bad and two were good.[vi]/
Find verse 27. Read 27-28. Drop to verse 30. Read 30-31. 10 were bad. What made them bad? They forgot God. What made Caleb and Joshua good? They remembered God. Our complaining and our choices eventually shout to God whether or not we really trust Him.
May we all realize what a single choice can do in your life and in the lives of others! If you text and drive – you could kill yourself or someone else. If you fool around sexually; you could have a baby at 16. I have almost always worn a watch. There are some pretty cool watches out there. This one is funny. This one is a sophisticated video phone watch. This one is bazaar. It’s called the Tikker. The Tikker was created by Swedish inventor Fredrik Colting and has been dubbed the Death Watch. Users fill out a questionnaire about their medical history before subtracting their age from the results to get their death score. This score is entered into the watch and the countdown begins.[vii] The countdown to your death! Would you like to wear “The Tikker?”
Many of the Israelite men are now wearing Tikkers! They are counting down 40 years until their deaths! Turn to Numbers 14:29. (Read 29-32) 10 are griped with fear and their one decision means they will never enter the Promise Land and their kids will have to wander for 40 years! A trip that should have taken weeks now will take decades! Complaining and disobedience steer us away from God. What enables us to grow close to God? Trust! Faith! Taking God at his word!
Would you ride an elevator if the door opened up to this - or THIS - or THIS?[viii] Would you get in the water if you knew this was lurking below? Pete Thomas said, “Beachgoers in the Spanish community of Cantabria were astonished when they stumbled onto the carcass of a giant squid that had washed ashore almost fully intact. The deep-sea denizen measured 30 feet and weighed nearly 400 pounds.[ix]
We get in the water. We trust elevators & airplanes. We ride in cars with people who might not even be that good of drivers. We often trust in the imperfect! May I challenge you to place your trust in the ONE who is perfect! Trust God! The ONE who made you and saved you! HOW? Trust God by turning complaints into prayers! Whatever you are tempted to complain about – just flip it into a prayer! If you are a complainer people will not want what you have! Trust God by turning a hardship into a testimony! A hardship is simply some type of trouble. It might be small. Look at this man’s tattoo! It might be someone who’s sick! This is Presley. Pray for this little girl. It might be the unthinkable. Watch this - GloriFive video!
When you go on a trip what two questions does every kid ask – Can I go to the bathroom & Are we there yet? This world shouts - we are not there yet! So – in the meantime! Trust God Today! Come pray this prayer, “God, when it comes to _________ – I need to trust you!”
[ii] The Story, page 71
[iii] LABN, Israel’s Complaining, page 281
[iv] Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Manna