Getting Out of Your Wilderness into God’s Promise Land
(Replacing a Doubting Attitude)
I began a series of messages last week about what kept Israel from getting into the promise land. The short answer is unbelief. But unbelief is the deep hidden root that bears many different kinds of fruits. Last week we saw one of the fruits of unbelief is coveting things that God is not willing to give us. The opposite attitude that we must cultivate intentionally in our lives is contentment with what God has provided.
We saw last Sunday that Israel craved the foods they use to eat back in Egypt. It got so bad they were saying that they should turn around and go back to Egypt. How quick we forget how bad those old party days really were!
Today we will see another wilderness attitude that must change if we are ever to reach our purpose and God’s promise land for us. The root is unbelief but the fruit is Wilderness attitude #2 - doubt.
Doubt is a lack of confidence that God will keep His promise.
We see it manifested in Thomas the disciple after hearing of Jesus’ resurrection. “I am not going to believe unless I see it for myself.”
We see doubt in Jonah the prophet. He had such a hatred and prejudice for the people of Nineveh. He said, “I don’t know and I don’t really care enough about the people of Nineveh and nobody can change my mind about that!”
After taking a little 3-day cruise in a fishes’ belly – he changed his mind
Contrary to popular opinion, pastors struggle with doubt too.
1. I struggle at times waiting on God to bring justice to a situation I have committed to Him. Ill. Times where I have experienced harsh treatment from someone and holding my tongue because I know HS is saying to me to give it to Him and He will handle it. I want to lash out but I know not to. I start to doubt He is handling it.
2. I find I doubt God with my children or grandchildren. I get anxious and try to fix everything instead of giving them to Him. I don’t see any good changes and start to doubt God is on it.
3. I get disappointed with Xns – not keeping their commitments, not being faithful in attendance and tithes. I see Xns get mad over silly things and leave the church they swore God called them to!
Pastors and ministers are burning out at a faster rate than ever before. 1500 pastors leave their calling each month. 80% pastors and wives are discouraged or are dealing with depression. California Psychiatrist Richard Blackmon said, “Pastors are the single most occupationally frustrated group in America.
Bottom line: I see too many people and need to get my eyes back on the Lord!
I think all doubt begins from disappointment.
God has promised He would provide for us – Phil. 4:19 quote.
Then the provision does not come like we expected – disappointment and then on to doubt.
God has promised to protect us – Isaiah 54:17 “No weapon. . .”
Things happen we did not expect – disappointment to doubt.
God has promised to heal – then it does not happen like we expect.
Disappointment to doubt to despair to defeat.
Today find some principles that reveal how God deals with our doubts.
Principle 1: Tests of faith are an essential part of my life.
These test are not for our failure but for our success!
Ill. Israel finally reaches border of Promise land that God has promised was flowing with milk and honey. The problem was the land is not vacant. There are people already living there! I think God knew this, don’t you? Plan 1 was God expected them to march in there and take possession. They quickly realized in order to take this land there is going to have to be some war, some conflict, some hardship.
The test: Will we trust and conquer, or will we doubt and despair and be defeated?
In Deut. 1 God Himself recalls what happened.
The Lord said, “See the Lord God has set the land before you. Go up and possess it, just as the Lord has spoken to you. Do not fear or be discouraged.” Deut. 1:21
In other words, God is saying, “Don’t be discouraged by what you see. Don’t doubt. You will win the battles. You will have the victory. Trust Me and go do what I told you!”
“Yet, you were not willing, but rebelled against the command of the Lord. But for all this, you did not trust the Lord your God.” Vs 26,32
They failed the test because they would not trust God.
What is God going to do now? Will He destroy them? No. See how gracious God is their weakness. He tells them to send 12 spies (like recon team) to spy out the land and return with a scouting report.
You know what happened? 10 reported we can’t take it and 2 said let’s go. Now at cross roads again.
Am I going to trust God – or doubt God?
It is really a choice we have to make. Even if you have trusted Christ for salvation there are other areas you will be tested in. If you can’t trust God and lay hold of His promises, then expect a lot of defeat.
Ill. You can’t tell by looking at someone on Sunday whether or not they have faith and truly trust God or not.
Pic of bucket
Faith inside people is like water inside a bucket. You find out what is inside when you bump it!
- Bad circumstances bump you, then you spill what you are full of!
A bump is a test. What spilled? Doubt or faith?
Bumps are going to happen. The bumps are not just to reveal your faith but to refine your faith. God already knows but he wants you to know.
Principle 2: Faith shrinks or stretches.
Why did 10 spies doubt and only 2 had faith? We can only speculate, but it has to do with passing or failing their previous tests of faith.
God regularly places tests of faith in our path. Probably not a day goes by w/o some kind of test of your faith from God. Ill. If we would remember this, then we would handle unexpected disappointments different. I think we need to kindly remind one another when we hear of a brother going through a difficult moment. An alarm should go off. Remember the old test patterns that use to come on TV?
Pic of test pattern
· "This is a test. For the next sixty (or thirty) seconds, this station will conduct a test of the Emergency Broadcast System. This is only a test."
“This is a test of the heavenly broadcast system. Look to the Holy Spirit for help to pass this test and you will do well. This is only a test.” Jesus
“This is a test of the hell broadcast system. Don’t just stand there. Panic or do something!” Satan
God’s principles for overcoming doubt. Principle 1:Tests of faith are an essential part of my life. Principle 2: Faith either shrinks or stretches.
Principle 3: Doubt sees obstacles – faith sees opportunities
So often we hear God’s faith from His words.
Ill. “See I have given you the land.” “See I have given you the city.”
“Go in and possess the land.”
Taking possession of the land would require faith and action. God does His part and we do our part. We can’t do His part. We can’t heal anyone. But we can lay our hands on them like He said and He heals through us. We can’t save anyone, but we can give them the gospel. By doing our part we are actively possessing what God has told us to do. Each act of obedience in a step in the right direction. We must keep doing this until we fully possess the land.
God may be setting you up. He wants you to start seeing things like He sees them – with faith in Him. Faith sees an opportunity; doubt sees an obstacle. Which way do you want to live the rest of your life?
Principle 4 for overcoming doubt: Doubt never stands still. Doubt quickly leads to despair.
Doubters are easier to find in the church than friends of faith!
“The whole congregation said to them, ‘Would that we had died in Egypt, or that we had died in the wilderness! So they said to one another, ‘Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.” Numbers 14:2-4
This is insane thinking!
1. They forgot the amazing miracles of God in this journey.
2. If they did turn around to go back to Egypt – did they think God would still provide the manna in the desert?
3. If they made it back to Egypt did they think the Egyptian people would welcome them back?
“Sorry about our God destroying your whole army and Pharaoh.
Point: It is a short journey from doubt to despair. They are just giving up.
What if you are a doubting person? How can you change this?
1. Realize it is costing you’re your life destiny with God.
2. Are you reaping the consequences of doubting God?
3. Are you willing to repent of doubting God?
Concl: Jesus said,
“If you will believe, you will see the glory of God.” John 11:40
With God it is not I’ll believe it when I see it. Instead it is I believe You and then I will see it.
Ill. That is how we came to Christ. It is how you can come to experience salvation today. We trust what God says.
- He says – All men are sinners separated from God.
- “wages of sin are death” separated
- But God loves us even while we are sinners so much He sent His Son Jesus to take our place and pay our sin debt.
- The question now is this? Do you believe what God has said? Yes, or no. If you do, then the next step is plain.
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Jesus from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9-10
Jesus did all the hard work. All He is telling you to do now is believe Him enough to go in a take possession of what He is giving you.
This is your first step of faith and trust in God. Quit doubting and believe God!
Faith is believing God’s Word and acting upon it, regardless of how I feel.
It comes down to this. Are you going to trust God and start moving in His direction for your life or not?
Prayer and invitation.