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Parting Words

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Parting Words

Scripture – Deuteronomy 8

INTRO:  Moses last words to the children of Israel prior to their crossing the Jordan.  They represented the most important thoughts that he had from his rich years of experience when it came to following God. 

There are some things that are worth remembering and there are many things best forgotten .   The wisdom relative to timeless principles is always best remembered.  Mistakes, past failures, offenses are among those best forgotten.

SENILITY PRAYER

God grant me the senility to forget the people I never liked anyway, the good fortune to run into the ones I do, and the eyesight to tell the difference.

There are certain things that the past has no right to teach us and we are fools to listen to it in those regards.  The past can never teach you that something cannot be done – only that it has not been done.  It’s a good thing that Noah didn’t listen to his critics as he followed God’s direction to build the ark.

Everything I really need to know I learned from Noah's Ark:

1. Plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah build the ark.

2. Stay fit. When you're 600 years old, someone might ask you to do something Really big.

3. Don't listen to critics.  Do what has to be done.

4. Build on the high ground.

5. For safety's sake, travel in pairs.

6. Two heads are better than one.

7. Speed isn't always an advantage. The cheetahs were on board, but so was the snails.

8. If you can't fight or flee--float.

9. Take care of your animals as if they were the last ones on earth.

10. Don't forget that we're all in the same boat.

11. When the doo-doo gets really deep, don't sit there and complain--shovel!

12. Stay below deck during the storm.

13. Remember that the ark was built by amateurs & the Titanic was built by professionals.

14. If you have to start over, have a friend by your side.

16. Remember that the woodpeckers INSIDE are often a bigger threat than the storm outside.

17. No matter how bleak it looks, there's always a rainbow on the other side.

18. DON'T MISS THE BOAT !!!!

Often we are impacted as much by a person’s memory as we are by their presence – in some cases more so by that memory. Emerson wrote, "The best effect of fine persons is felt after we have left their presence."  What effect has your presence left on the lives of others?  In Deuteronomy 8 Moses is communicating the most important things that he has learned over the space of his life.  They are worth the hearing.

1.      Some of the most trying times of life hold the greatest blessings.  (8:2 – Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way.)

  1. to humble – “If you had gone up the way you came down, you would have come down the way you went up.”  God has to humble us before he can use us effectively.  Look at verse 3 in the chapter.   “He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. [4] Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. [5] Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the LORD your God disciplines you.  I believe that one of the great lessons that God teaches us is to depend on Him and often the only way that He can teach us that is to remove the options.  It seems like whenever we have the option, we relay on ourselves, our own ingenuity, cleverness, resources and when God blesses us we begin to believe that we are actually responsible for it.

  1. to test you – What is faith without a test.  You know I am sure that there are a host of products in this world that we might purchase with less money if they were untested.  Imagine the cars that are beaten up at the company’s expense initially in order to produce something reliable.  Ultimately the consumer bears that expense but it is one that we would not want to circumvent.  Whatever is untested is unreliable.  Prior to coming to Christ, there is no faith to test.  Often after receiving Him there are great tests in a person’s faith.  You can thank God for that too because an untested faith could leave you stranded short of your eternal destination.  You see, if you cannot trust God in this life you do not trust Him for the next.  There are many who lament in the middle of distress as did the children of Israel, that God is not hearing or acting on their behalf.  I believe that before we can trust Him for a “YES” we must trust Him with the “NO” of the “NOT NOW”.  If we don not then we are not asking God but telling Him to deliver the goods or we will not believe and He knows the difference brothers, sisters – He knows what is in your hearts. [2] Remember how the LORD your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.  The ultimate mark of the faithful Christian is to obey when there seems to be no reason to obey and no reward for it.

2.     There is great danger in complacency.  Our comfort zones can ruin us for service in God’s kingdom.  See verses 6-14

Comfort is often the nemesis of faith.  It lulls us into a sense of false security and it is absolutely addictive in it’s allure.  

What should we pray about?  Take a look at an excerpt from the prayers of Samuel Logan Brengle, an evangelist of the Salvation Army at the beginning of our century:

   "Keep me, O Lord, from waxing mentally and spiritually dull and stupid.  Help me to keep the physical, mental, and spiritual fiber of the athlete, of the man who denies himself daily and takes up his cross and follows Thee.  Give me good success in my work, but hide pride from me.  Save me from the self-complacency that so frequently accompanies success and prosperity.  Save me from the spirit of sloth, of self-indulgence, as physical infirmities and decay creep upon me."

In the midst of this great coldness toward God there are some, I rejoice to acknowledge, who will not be content with shallow logic. They will admit the force of the argument, and then turn away with tears to hunt some lonely place and pray, "O God, show me thy glory." They want to taste, to touch with their hearts, to see with their inner eyes the wonder that is God.  I want deliberately to encourage this mighty longing after God. The lack of it has brought us to our present low estate.  The stiff and wooden quality about our religious lives is a result of our lack of holy desire.  Complacency is a deadly foe of all spiritual growth. Acute desire must be present or there will be no manifestation of Christ to His people.  He waits to be wanted.  Too bad that with many of us He waits so long, so very long, in vain.

A friend of Vance Havner coined a word by combining the words squelch and quench.  He used to say, "Don't 'squench' the Spirit." Havner though it was so descriptive that he often used it in his preaching.  Havner said, "We 'squench' the Spirit in more ways than we suspect.  We do so when we stifle the desire to speak or act for the Lord.  When we criticize or discourage others by an unspiritual attitude, we 'throw cold water' on their inner fire.  We have the Holy Spirit as an honored Guest in every Christian gathering, and He can be grieved very easily.  A frivolous attitude, a rebellious frame of mind, or a fed-up complacency will do it."

3.       God is the source of all blessing.  We owe everything that we have to Him.  See verses 15-18. [17] You may say to yourself, "My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me." [18] But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your forefathers, as it is today.

God cannot bless the self-sufficient person nor can he bless the one who expects or feels that he deserves or is entitled to something.  The pursuit of our own interests will never satisfy – it only leads to further pursuit.  The generation and the society of our today heralds and applauds this pursuit.  We see the continual quest for more and the refusal to stop as a noble thing.  There are many noble elements about it and there is never anything that is out of order with trying harder but it needs to be yoked equally with the notion that we ultimately depend on God and sometimes we may have to accept “NO” as the answer.

4.       How do we restore our passion for God and regain a sense of thankfulness

  1. we submit – the issue of our will

  1. we serve

  1. we give

  1. we inconvenience ourselves for a greater cause

  1. we put ourselves in a position of dependence on God

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