The New Year often tends to bring a time for reflection and a time for setting goals. We tend to have this daze around us about this time of year from looking forward and looking back. For the Christian, we look back and see what God has done and we look forward and try to understand where he is taking us. Unfortunately, for most of the planet, meaning friends, family, and the people we interact with in our circle, this time of year is a time of trying to make up for our indulgences.
I know for many years I hated going back to the gym around this time because for those of us who were there everyday all the people come in with there new years resolutions trying to lose that famous freshman 15, or trying to slim down from the partying, or the business man wants to get healthier from to many client meetings. Unfortunately, what really happens is they come for about two weeks and go back to there “normal” way of life.
For those of us who were consistent all this did was pose as an interruption in our routine. For those who came in to our way of life it was a promise they couldn’t keep.
Now I say all that to say this tonight. In most of our lives from the minute we are born till we die it seems we struggle for freedom. It something we fight for. However, when we finally figure out what we think freedom is like, unfortunately like those who join the gym every year, it seems like a good idea, but then often it isn’t satisfying or it hasn’t broken us of our ways and we go back to where we are comfortable.
In this case we know there is a choice to be made for us to be free, but often times we by ourselves cannot continue in that choice because that which enslaves us, like addictions, has more hold on us then does the power of our choice alone!
28 Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done.
You see there are times in our life when the right choice may be made but the application, strength, and power of our choice was hinging on the wrong thing.
There is no freedom apart from God! So the power of our choice for freedom apart from God is nothing more then a good decision lacking the power of sustainability because it’s made out of the desire of the flesh, rather then by the overcoming power of God!
A Fleshly choice, even though it is a correct choice, is like a rabbit that wants to cross the road to get to the other side. It sees the oncoming traffic but instead of crossing over to were it needs to go to be free, it goes back to where he knows it’s safe. Often times this is a lot like our Christian walk. We want to be set free but we in and of ourselves lack the power to sustain a life of victory.
So lets turn to our scripture this evening
That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud. 2 All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! 3 Why is the Lord bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4 And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”
What I want you to see out of this passage:
1. God had a victory for them – but it wasn’t something just given to them
a. it was something they had to take in faith
2. They had to believe God had their best interest in mind
a. they didn’t trust him
3. When trials come in our lives and we are seeing things from a fleshly perspective the easier route is to go back to where you feel comfortable instead of stepping out in faith to the victory God has for you!
a. These people were slaves, oppressed, and in bondage in Egypt. Yet they were more comfortable, going back to their oppressors, back to bondage to be slaves again rather than stepping out of their comfort zones and going after God’s best for their lives.
You have to realize that God has a promise land for you, but you’re going to have to take it, your going to have to trust in him, to step out in faith away from the things your comfortable with.
I want you to see something in this principle. When your going through a trial like that of the Israelites you need to do three things
1. Stay focused on God’s word rather than the situation
2. Look for the victory and let it be your focus
3. Rely on God’s power to pull you through rather than on your own strength
Zech. 4:6, 7
6Then he said, “This is God’s message to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord Almighty—you will succeed because of my Spirit, though you are few and weak.’ 7Therefore no mountain, however high, can stand before you (Zerubbabe)l! For it will flatten out before him! And Zerubbabel will finish building this Temple with mighty shouts of thanksgiving for God’s mercy, declaring that all was done by grace alone.”
The reliability of our own strength and knowledge during trials is absolutely absurd if you call yourself a Christian. But if you have God, and you stand on his word, like this one, and your relationship with him is past the belief stage and onto the relationship stage, then God Spirit is there to be a force in your life.
I Love this passage because it tells us that God will take the Mountains that are before us, those hindering things, those oppressive things, those things that hold us in bondage, that keep from God’s best, that seem so big and unmovable and he makes that mountain a plain. He says
For it will flatten out before him!
Halleluiah, Halleluiah, Halleluiah, God wants victory for you!
There is a reason why trials are necessary and why God uses them in our lives to shape us and here is the reason. God always refines the gold before he puts on display! Can you imagine going to the mall and looking through the window of the stores and you see displays that are broken, full of ugliness, that have no color, and are not working. If you saw something like that no one in this room would buy anything or want anything to do with that store.
However, in our own lives how many of us try to hide the ugliness in our hearts, those things that have no color, that keep us from working right, and yet we are trying to sell Jesus to everyone that’s around us. Unless we allow God to confront the fears and hurts in our lives no one could ever recognize the cross we have burdened for the Lord. We have to remember that after the resurrection of Jesus the disciples did not recognize Jesus by a new resurrected body, but they recognized him by the scars he bore on the cross.
In the same way that is how other will recognize the will of God in you. By what you will lay on the cross. I hate to say this but some of our crosses are a little to clean in this room tonight.
Now what is sad for me as a pastor is the claim to fame Christian proclamation! If I asked you tonight do you believe in Jesus? I would bet everyone in this room would say, “YES!” However, the bible says in Matthew 7:16 that “God will know us by our fruits” which is a pretty scary statement!
Why this is scary is because while some of us in this room proclaim to be a believer our lives evidence proves contrary to God’s principles. Why is that important? Because I know there are many here tonight that want God’s will. However, you must remember the journey is just as important as the promise land. It is the journey that molds us the vessel to be used properly.
However, if you never allow God to lead the journey of your life then you will never know what the power of the cross means. And if there is no cross evident in your life then there is no victory in your life no matter what you become, what you have, or where you’re at!
There are things in your inner man, in your heart, fears, insecurities, painful memories, deep hurts and places of bondage that oppress you. Some of you have tried on your own to set yourself apart from those things but they haunt your motives, your actions, and your trust.
They affect your relationships, your job, your school and they are keeping you from God’s best from the promise land that he has for you.
Notice Numbers 14:1
That night all the people of the community raised their voices and wept aloud.
The people were crying out, they were terrified, they were scared, they were in agony but worse then that they frozen in a place of powerlessness because they relied on their fleshly instincts rather on the principles of God.
The bondage of the past caused them not to move on to the future God had for them because they were not willing to let go all the way.
God is not asking you for some of your trust, he is asking for all of your trust. So if I am going to weep and cry out to God, I am going to make sure that my tears have worth, that the currency behind them is the cross, so that they are within his perfect will. This message tonight is about those things in our lives we need to overcome but can’t on our own. Whether you scared, whether you hurt, or someone hurt you, whether your addicted to drugs or to foods, whether your frozen by depression or by insecurities we all in this room need to exam our hearts right now.
We don’t need a New Years resolution where out of our choice we desire to do the right thing, we need to pick up our crosses, and allow Christ to crucify the ugliness in our hearts and minds will you do that tonight. Will you examine yourself tonight right here before the Lord.
Some of you need to allow Jesus to get on the journey other need to examine your hearts and give over things to Christ!