“Then the peoples around them set out to discourage the people of Judah and make them afraid to go on building” (Ezra 4:4).
Whenever we set out to build something great for the Kingdom, we can expect the people around us to attempt to discourage us. They just don’t have the same vision or desire to see the same result. So they discourage us from the task the Lord has assigned.
I’ve been to those places where I have attempted to gather excitement and it appears no one wants to respond. I’ve told the Lord before, “I just don’t want to do this anymore. You’ve called me to lead, but no one wants follow”. Discouragement can come in many forms. It is discouraging when others won’t participate or even believe in the call. Its discouraging when someone pushes you onward, but then bail out when the going gets tough. Ever been there? Never let other people dictate what God will do in your life.
Your purpose as a Christian is to build some part of the Kingdom of God. Stay at it and don’t become discouraged or afraid.
“When Moses sent them to explore Canaan, he said, ‘Go up through the Negev and on into the hill country. See what the land is like and whether the people who live there are strong or weak, few or many. What kind of land do they live in? Is it good or bad? What kind of towns do they live in? Are they unwalled or fortified? How is the soil? Is it fertile or poor? Are there trees on it or not? Do your best to bring back some of the fruit of the land’” (Numbers 13:17-20).
Moses sent the twelve spies out to check out the land the Lord had promised. He was not asking for their analysis, just their eye witness report. He was asking for their report or assessment of the demographics of the territory and the people who lived therein. This understanding of the demographics would give Israel a bit of an understanding of what (who) they were up against once they entered the land. Understanding the demographics can help us in our battles, as well.
Many churches are trying to reach a new generation using the same demographic approach that was used 100 years ago. The world has changed. US Census records ask all sorts of demographic questions these days. The government wants to know what kind of people live where. Demographics are the details that Moses was asking the spies to gather.
It would be good if each local church studied the demographics of its own area. What was once agricultural, might now be industrial. What was once residential might now be commercial. Keeping up with the changing demographics helps the church strategize how to reach the neighborhood around it.
In the Wednesday night Adult Bible Fellowship, we’ve been studying the Book of Revelation. In our discussion last week, it was noted that there is no clear reference to the United States in all these end-time events. Since national Israel is so dependent upon the United States, it appears that something must change to remove the US from its influential position in world politics for the Antichrist to come to a world power position.
Someone else asked me later what I thought of that idea. How could the United States be not a major player in these world events? My answer: If the armed forces of the United States returns to pre-World War 2 levels, as President Obama desires, that would do it. There’s not enough money to do everything everyone wants. If we’re going to carry all the unemployed people with benefits to sustain them, we cannot continue to have a huge military presence all over the globe. If America turns inward, it cannot also sustain a global presence and be prepared to rescue our allies on all fronts.
There are two foreign policy extremes: Have such an overwhelming military that no one dares stand up to us, and the second is to assume that everyone else is the good guys, and if we’re nice to them, they’ll be nice to us. Conservatives lean toward the first, Liberals lean toward the second. And when the US becomes isolationist (take care of me first) we don’t impress anybody. Bullies are emboldened when faced with nice guys.
What do you think? Why isn’t the United States described in the line-up of end-time events?
We see some interesting observations from Isaac and Rebekah’s family: “When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob…The boys grew up, and Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country, while Jacob was a quiet man, staying among the tents. Isaac, who had a taste for wild game, loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob” (Genesis 25:24-28).
Have you noticed the unique differences in your own children or the kids around church? There are no two alike. As a matter of fact, they can be exact opposites. These two brothers may have been twins at birth, but that’s where the likeness ceased. They were as different as night and day, yet they were brothers, both sons of the promise.
We must remember that the church of Jesus Christ is to be like this. We are expected to not all be the same. We have different gifts, temperaments, and experiences. God is unique to each of us, yet we are all in the same body together. I must learn to get along with my brothers and sisters, even when they don’t think like me. God made them different from birth. So, its me that needs to change. Different is OK; it’s God inspired.
Anita and I went to Nashville, Tennessee, on a brief 3-day trip to attend our grandchildren’s Worship Arts program at their school. They both participated in a group dance that was fun to watch. It was worth the whirlwind trip.
We’ve been breaking in a new computer, which locked me out of my Word Press blog site. So, I couldn’t get in to post yesterday’s blog. I don’t like being locked out of something that is my own. I’ve been locked out of our house before, and even locked out of my car. And there have been once or twice I’ve had to call someone to rescue me because I locked myself out of the office. Being locked out is a frustrated thing.
But, I’ve never been locked out of God. He is literally always beside me. And, although I get frustrated because I don’t understand what He’s doing, He’s never let me down. Eventually He lets me in on the secret, so I’ve learned to trust Him, even when He’s silent.
What is your locked out story?
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Genesis 1:1-2).
Everything has a beginning. Genesis means ‘beginning’. It is the story of creation as we know it. God is this eternal Being Who was before creation. He always was. He it was that created all matter in the universe.
But it says that the earth was formless and empty. And darkness covered the surface. This statement reminds me of me prior to my conversion. I was there, but my life had no meaning or purpose. My heart was empty and void. And talk about darkness; I was the example of broken darkness. No light could penetrate the dark cloud that seemed to follow me around.
But the Spirit of God was hovering over this formless, empty and dark world and brought life to it, just as the rest of chapters 1&2 describe. And this also reminds me of me. In my darkness I rejected the light that was all around me. But the Spirit of God, sometimes called “the hound of heaven”, was always hovering over me. I can recall several ‘close encounters’ when the Spirit was attempting to pull me over, but my stubbornness refused to relent. But the Spirit of God was even more stubborn than I. He finally arrested me and set me free. Thank God for the light of heaven that always breaks through the darkness.
“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said:
‘Wake up, O sleeper,
rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you’” (Ephesians 5:13-14).
In Ephesians chapters 4&5 Paul talks a lot about light and its effect on us, relating light to spiritual revelation. When I accepted Christ as my Savior, it was like a light came on in my understanding. At first the light was so bright that I had to cover my eyes, but I slowly woke up to the reality of what I had experienced. It was like I had been sleeping. So Paul quoted some unidentified proverb about waking from our sleep is like one rising from the dead.
And when we rise from the old dead life, Christ will shine on us. The longer He shines light on us, the more experienced we become in following His lead, like the sun leaves its mark of tan on our bodies. Now that we are risen, we should expect more and more light to influence our lives.
He concludes that thought with verse 15: “Be very careful, then, how you live.“