July 2021

How To Get Where I Want to Be (Fear or Faith?) pt.1

All Scripture taken from the New Living Translation

We are starting a new series today titled, “How to get where I want to be.” 

This is only a two-part series, but the goal is to help us carry out the vision we have in life in a way to bring success and not setbacks.

We all have goals in life we want to accomplish, and these are good things to aim for…However, each of us also have a higher calling that we need to be aware of…

Before we were born…every one of us…God saw the people He created us to be and the path He carved out for each one of us…Many passages point this out!

There’s a story in the book of Acts chapter 26 where Paul (Who wrote most of the New Testament) was telling a Roman king his story…

Paul was a Jewish religious leader who was once out to kill every believer in Jesus He could…He hated Jesus and everyone who believed in Him…And Paul thought he was doing this on behalf of God…Crazy right?

Well, one day, Jesus Himself visits Paul in a vision and Paul instantly becomes a believer in Jesus and begins preaching the Gospel of the Good News of Jesus…

Something He says to king Agrippa means a lot to me personally…You have to remember that it was crazy for Paul to switch his allegiance from a persecutor of Christians to a very believer himself…

But Paul said, “I obeyed that vision from heaven…”

Paul knew that vision was from heaven, and he now has a new path in life carved out for him to walk out…A path God had all along intended Paul to walk out!

Each one of us have a God-intended path we are to be walking in…The question begs to be asked, “Are we?”

What we’re going to be looking at today is whether or not we see our future through the eyes of fear or faith?

We’re going to look at a story that involves a guy by the name of Moses, and the Israelites…At this time the Israelites had been slaves to the Egyptians for 400 years and God calls Moses to be the guy to lead his people, the Israelites, out from under the oppression of Egypt…

God says, “I’m going to set you free from Egypt, and Moses is going to lead the people…And I have a place for you to call your own, it is your inheritance from Me that I want you to enjoy. It is a plentiful land full of everything you could ever need, and it is called the Promised Land…This Promised Land is currently the nation of Israel.”

So, Moses chooses a representative from each of the 12 tribes of Israel to go and spy out the new land.

Numbers 13:1-3, 17-20, 23: 1 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.” So Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He sent out twelve men, all tribal leaders of Israel, from their camp in the wilderness of Paran. 17 Moses gave the men these instructions as he sent them out to explore the land: “Go north through the Negev into the hill country. 18 See what the land is like, and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many. 19 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? 20 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.) 23 When they came to the valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it on a pole between them! They also brought back samples of the pomegranates and figs.

Can you imagine the size of those grapes?

Why do you think Moses sent out the spies? Because he understood leadership!

Before we can succeed with a goal, we have to see the goal…We can only accomplish the impossible if we first see it in our minds…Plan it out!

Everything that’s ever been accomplished in history first started out as an idea…We have to imagine it and then see it being played out…

We cannot walk out the plans God has for us if we are not listening to Him, seeking Him, and looking for Him in our daily routines…Reading the Bible is the beginning, middle, and end of walking out the plans God has for us!!

What we just read about the spies and the promised land sounds very promising, but there is a slight problem with the team and the report they brought back…

READ Numbers 13: 25-33: 25 After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned 26 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. 27 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. 28 But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea[a] and along the Jordan Valley.” 30 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!” 31 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!” 32 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. 33 We even saw giants[b] there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”

Looks like we’re working with a vision rooted in fear and not faith. What we will find out later on is that not everyone had a vision of fear (Especially Caleb and another guy by the name of Joshua) …

But isn’t it interesting how we feel like we can conquer the world, but all it takes is a little set back, a little bad news to bring feelings of defeat…

And feelings of defeat always seem to outweigh anything positive! Why is that?

I think sometimes we often find it easier to complain why we’re not succeeding rather than dig deep and make the success happen…

These spies were underestimating the vision God had given Moses for the Israelites.

When we see our future through the eyes of fear it causes us to lose sight of the talents and resources God provides.

Out of the 12 spies, 2 of them had a vision of faith and 10 had a vision of fear.

When Caleb stood up and said, “We can do this!”

He was met with the words, “We can’t…” by 10 other men…

I remember a little saying Henry DiYanni once said, “You take the T off of can’t…And you can.”

Did you know that people who always say, “I can’t” and people who always say, “I can” ARE BOTH RIGHT!!

These two little words are self-fulfilling prophetic words that we speak over ourselves, and they will direct the steps of a person’s life…

You either can’t or you can…You either will or you won’t…

How do you see yourself in life? Do you see yourself as inadequate or do you see yourself as adequate…Able to do anything you set your mind to?

Do you see yourself as incapable, or capable to conquer anything in your path?

READ verse 33 again…

Next to them we felt like grasshoppers and that’s what they thought too!

This is what fear does…It causes us to project how we feel about ourselves onto everybody else.

If we think we look a certain way, then we think everyone else sees us that way too…..And this simply is not true!!

If they were spies how did the Anakites see them as grasshoppers too???

Fear is contagious! Earlier we read that the 10 fearful spies spread their fears throughout all the Israelites (A few million people!!)

In Numbers 14:1-4 1Then 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!”

Look how quickly the fearful negative report spread throughout the entire nation!

They cried all night, complained and then turned on their leaders…

It’s much easier to criticize and complain than it is to grab hold of a vision that has challenges.

2 men knew that with God all things are possible…

In Numbers 14:6-10aTwo of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing. They said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land! And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey. Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!” 10 But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle.[a]

These two guys were standing on the promises of God!! 

“If the Lord is pleased with us He will bring us safely in that land and give it to us…Those people have not protection…The Lord is with us…Don’t be afraid!”

Unfortunately, the entire nation of Israel rebelled against God and would not carry out the vision God gave Moses for the Promised Land.

So, God said, “Nobody from this generation will see the Promised Land and you will wander in the desert until the next generation of people are raised up.”

And they were led by Joshua and Caleb!

When this story is re-told in the New Testament one of the saddest verses can be read in the book of Hebrews…

Hebrews 3:19“…Because of their unbelief they were not able to enter His rest.”

Unbelief in what God can do for us causes us to miss out on the promises He has for us, and we are not able to enter into the rest He has set aside for us.

There’s no rest in worry…There’s no rest in fear…There’s no rest in not believing God has everything under control…There’s no rest in unbelief!

I’ll wrap this up with these words…

In order to walk out the vision we have for our futures and the vision God has laid out before us…

We need to stand strong and move against our fears…

And a good way to do this is to keep the Scriptures in our sights at all times…

This is how we keep the promises of God in our hearts and able to conquer any challenge that crosses our path.

Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you…They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Before each one of us was born these are the words God spoke over us!

How to Get Where I Want to Be (A Fresh Start) pt.2

All Scripture taken from the New Living Translation

Last Sunday we started this two-part series on how to see a vision through with success…

We all have goals we are aiming for it takes a vision to see it through…

But above that we all have a higher calling that God spoke over us before we were born, but it’s up to us if we want to walk that calling out…

Last Sunday we looked at a story from Moses and the Israelites and how Moses sent out 12 spies to check out the land God was giving them as an inheritance…

10 of the spies came back with a negative report while only 2 had to faith to see God’s plan through…

Today we are going to look at something we all need when we feel like we’ve exhausted all our resources….

And that is a “FRESH START.”

We’re going to spend some time today looking at several examples and passages on what to lean on, in the Scriptures, when we want to get somewhere in life, wen we want to advance what we’re doing, or where we’re at in life…

Sometimes when we try to advance in life, we may not feel like we have what we need…Resources, time, talent, wisdom, help, etc.

For instance; How many times have you said to yourself, “I sure could use a fresh start…A new beginning…I sure could use a do-over!”

Well, you’re in good company!! Maybe you haven’t fallen away from God, but the Israelites had a bad habit of falling away from God because of wicked behavior and coming back to God and being restored again.

Zechariah 10:6 – “I will strengthen Judah and Israel; I will restore them because of My compassion. It will be as though I had never rejected them, for I am the Lord their God, who will hear their cries.”

I will restore them…. This sounds like a fresh start to me!

You see, no matter what happens, no matter how much we mess up, God will restore our lives as if it never happened…This is one of the many benefits of putting our trust in Jesus…He never, ever, ever gives up on us!!

Psalm 145:14 –The Lord helps the fallen and lifts those bent beneath their loads.

Are you going through a rough season…Is life weighing you down…Do you need a fresh start?

This verse in the Psalms tells us that God will help get us back up and going when times are tough…Don’t ever give up, because God never gives up on us!!

When life becomes too heavy to bear, I can lean into this verse in Psalms 145 as it gives me a picture of Jesus reaching out with a helping hand to get us through the tough time!!

When we feel as if we’ve come to a dead end with the vision we have for ourselves, or maybe we don’t feel like we’ll ever conquer the dreams we feel God has given us…What do we do???

Read the story of Moses in the OT, the prophet Jeremiah, or even Gideon…

God gave these guys a vision for a job to do and they all felt under qualified with feelings of insecurity, lack of resources…Even feelings of being a failure.

The story of Gideon is great example of this from Judges chapter 6…God calls Gideon to free the Israelites from some enemy nations and Gideon responds with excuses as to why he can’t do it…

He says (Judges 6:15), “My family is the weakest in our entire tribe, and I am the least in my entire family!”

And God’s response is, “I will be with you, and you will destroy your enemy…”

With the smallest army ever, Gideon went out and defeated their enemies!!

This reminds me of Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”

When we feel like we don’t have what it takes…When we’re dealing with feelings of insecurity or lack of resources…The “I can’t do this mindset.”

God’s word tells us that He is with us, that we are not doing it on our own…He is our security…He provides our resources, our protection…

He holds all the promises that we ever need in knowing there is nothing to worry about when our trust is in Him!

How about this one — Often times we feel like we are unworthy of a fresh start because of our past.

Have you ever heard the saying, “You are a product of your past.”

We often say that we are not a product of our past…Well, when we say it like this, I think we are fooling ourselves into thinking those things we’ve done, whether good or bad, did not shape who we are…We want to separate ourselves from our past…

Who we were in the past may not be who we are now, but it is the past that shapes who we are…

We most definitely are a product of our past, but let’s not turn ourselves into prisoners of our past!

Do you see the difference? The past can haunt us and therefore we become bound to those things we’ve done.

But if we accept what we’ve done and learn from it we can be better people because of it…

And the some of the answer to this can be found in the Proverbs…

In Proverbs 28:13 – “People who conceal their sins will not prosper, but if they confess and turn from them, they will receive mercy.”

Confessing our sins and receiving mercy from God is a fresh start! It’s a do-over!!

It means my past no longer controls me and I am free from the things I’ve once done; from the person I once was.

When we allow ourselves to learn from our past, we are not hiding from it, we are learning from it…

Therefore, we have a better opportunity to allow God to use us as an influence for His Kingdom to those around us.

Don’t ever think that you cannot advance because of your past…

In  Jeremiah 18:1-6: 1The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over. Then the Lord gave me this message: “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.

The Israelites were no different than a lot of us…They slipped into sinful ways, repented, asked for forgiveness and came back to God…

This was a cycle they never seemed to get right, and we read about them and think, “How could they not understand the goodness of God’s grace?”

Well, a lot of us are the same way, right? We fall away, we come back we fall away, and we come back to Jesus…

What I think happens a lot with this is feelings of guilt and eventually we feel like failures, and we end up not confessing our sins, but concealing them like the Proverb we just read says.

We need to get into the mindset that what we think are failures can actually become learning moments that God will use…

Not matter how many times it takes, God is the potter who will continue to work with the clay, that’s us, until the final outcome is as God intended!

Just like the nation of Israel allowed God to shape them into the people, into the nation He intended for them to be…

We need to be available for Him to shape and mold us into the person He created us to be.

It’s all about a learning experience…Failures and setbacks are things we use to help us learn…

All the while God is shaping and re-shaping us to be who He originally intended for us to be…And this is what fresh starts are all about!!

Too often we try to play the potter with our own lives, and we think, “If I could just do this, or stop doing that, my life will be better…If I could change who I am life would be better…”

We cannot play the potter’s role with ourselves…It’s important that we get close to God, submit to His ways, His values, trust who He is, and allow Him to shape and mold us out of the mess we got ourselves in so we will be better for it…

Sometimes I wonder if people are afraid to allow God to have access because of a couple things…One, we have to let go and allow Him to have control!

Two, we are afraid that God will change who we are…Jesus doesn’t throw out our personality when he reshapes who we are…We are still the same clay, just shaped into who Jesus sees us as…

He takes the good, the bad, and the ugly, all the experiences that shape who we are, and He gently, and lovingly applies pressure in the areas that need it as He shapes and molds us into a beautiful, priceless piece of art…A masterpiece!!

One that reflects His glory…This is what life with Jesus is all about…

2 Corinthians 5:17 tells us, “Anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; A new life has begun!”

This is what a fresh start is!! And God will work with us every time we need it!!

Closing:

When it comes to needing a fresh start, we have to trust that God knows what He’s doing. Trust can be a big deal sometimes…It means we have to let go!

We have to understand that God is always working in the background on our behalf, and that He knows what He’s doing (Have I said that already?). We may not always understand what is going on, or why it’s happening. But God always has a plan, and He always has a way out.

His intentions for our lives are always good. And when He’s preparing us for a fresh start it may just be that we are on the Potter’s wheel getting shaped for the next adventure in life!!

The Cracked Pot

A water bearer in India had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole that he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.

At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full. For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to his house.

Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream. “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you. I have been able to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers on your side of the path but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path. Every day while we walk back, you’ve watered them. For two years, I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”