Spying Out the Land

I had the opportunity to eat lunch yesterday with some folks representing vital partnerships in our upcoming church plant.  We will work closely with the Shelby Baptist Association and Alabama State Board of Missions along with Westwood Baptist Church as we share the Gospel with people in Shelby County.  I was told a story about a woman who lives in the area that I have felt lead to plant the church.  She recently called the Shelby Baptist Association office to ask when someone would plant a church in her community!  Isn’t it amazing how God drops clues for us to discover?  He is already at work around us.  It’s just a matter of joining Him in what He is doing.
I’m beginning the process of scoping out the potential area for the new church. There are so many unknowns.  What will happen next?  Will the community be receptive to a new church?   Will I be able to lead a chruch?  Sometimes I feel like the Israelites when they sent out spies to check out the Promised Land:

 

"Then the Lord spoke to Moses saying, “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes, every one a leader among them.” So Moses sent them from the wilderness of Paran at the command of the Lord, all of them men who were heads of the sons of Israel. " (Numbers 13:1-3, NASB95)

Isn’t it interesting that God allowed Moses to send the spies, yet He had already promised to give the land to Israel?  Why did they need spies if they knew that God was going to win the battle?  Moses writes in Deuteronomy that this plan was the idea of the people:

"“I said to you, ‘You have come to the hill country of the Amorites which the Lord our God is about to give us. ‘See, the Lord your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear or be dismayed.’ “Then all of you approached me and said, ‘Let us send men before us, that they may search out the land for us, and bring back to us word of the way by which we should go up and the cities which we shall enter.’ “The thing pleased me and I took twelve of your men, one man for each tribe. " (Deuteronomy 1:20-23, NASB95)

God allowed the Israelites to discover their true feelings.  They still doubted God even though He had led them out of Egypt, parted the Red Sea, fed them miraculously in the wilderness, and brought water from a stone.  There are so many examples of God’s providence in the Bible.  The same is true for my life.  And I still doubt…

I must remember that God is in control.  He has promised that He will never forsake us.  He desires for the lost to be found.  He has promised to build His church.  Thank God I can move into uncharted territory knowing that He has gone before me to prepare the way.  I must trust that God will provide in my life.  Will you do the same?

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Del.icio.us

I’m tired of keeping up with internet favorites!  I run across web sites every day that I find useful and want to find again later.  The trouble is in keeping my home and office computers synchronized so that I can find a site I discovered at work while I’m at home.  Now I’ve discovered del.icio.us.  What is del.icio.us?

del.icio.us is a collection of favorites – yours and everyone else’s. Use del.icio.us to:

  • Keep links to your favorite articles, blogs, music, restaurant reviews, and more on del.icio.us and access them from any computer on the web.
  • Share favorites with friends, family, and colleagues.
  • Discover new things. Everything on del.icio.us is someone’s favorite – they’ve already done the work of finding it. Explore and enjoy.
I’ve been hooked every since I posted my first bookmark.  You can automatically import your Internet Explorer or Firefox bookmarks into del.icio.us.  I can keep up with my own favorite web sites and discover other popular sites.  It’s easy to signup and start adding bookmarks.  You can find my list of favorites at http://del.icio.us/gbhicks55  Enjoy!

Forgiven

Have you ever experienced a falling out with a close friend?   I’m not talking about a disagreement over where to eat lunch.  I mean the kind of heart-wrenching situation that causes a relationship to be broken.  You know the feelings of hurt and disappointment that come from losing someone who is dear to you.  You miss being able to talk to that friend and to spend time with them.  The Bible says that when we sin, we impact our relationship with God.  The fellowship we have with Him is broken.  The Bible says that we have all sinned.  Romans 3:23 says, “for all ´╗┐´╗┐have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  The only thing that can restore that relationship is forgiveness.  Thankfully, God is eager to forgive.  He desires for us to return to Him so that He can bless us with His forgiveness.
David is a great example of someone who was trapped by sin and experienced the forgiveness of God.  David had an adulterous relationship with a woman married to one of his soldiers (Read the whole story in 2 Samuel 11).  A string of bad decisions resulted in David’s involvement in adultery, deception, and murder.  David was guilty of crimes punishable by death, but God had mercy on David because of his sincere repentace (see Psalm 51).  We can learn some valuable lessons from David’s testimony of the forgiveness he received from God found in Psalm 32:
  1. We are blessed when we experience the forgiveness of God. (Psalm 32:1-2).
  2. Trying to hide our sin costs us greatly (Psalm 32:3-5).
  3. We must acknowledge our sin to God without delay (Psalm 32:6-7).
  4. God wants to teach us to avoid sin (Psalm 32:8-9).
  5. We should rejoice when we experience forgiveness and teach others about our mistakes (Psalm 32:10-11)

Everyone struggles daily with sin in his or her life.  The apostle Paul said that he struggled to do the things he should while doing the things he should not.  The Bible says that we are not slaves to sin as Christians, yet we continue to allow it into our lives.  I want to encourage you today to acknowledge the sin in you life.  Pray as David did in Psalm 51:2-4: 

"Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity And cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge."

Hold out your sin to God and acknowledge that you have done wrong in His sight.  Then throw it on the ground and ask God to help you to resist that temptation when it comes again.  Keep short lists with God and confess your sin as soon as you are aware of it.  Ask God daily to reveal the sin in your life that you aren’t even aware exists in your heart.

Once you’ve experienced the blessing of forgiveness, I encourage you to have an attitude of joy and thanksgiving for the grace God has bestowed on you.  Use that experience to teach others about God’s forgiveness and love.  Submit to the teaching of the Lord and don’t ever forget that you’re forgiven!