Stage 3 – Direction Driven by Faith not Fear
Deuteronomy 1:29 – 36
26 But you were unwilling to go up; you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God. 27 You grumbled in your tents and said, "The LORD hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us. 28 Where can we go? Our brothers have made us lose heart. They say, ‘The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there.’ "
29 Then I said to you, "Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. 30 The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, 31 and in the desert. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place."
32 In spite of this, you did not trust in the LORD your God, 33 who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.
34 When the LORD heard what you said, he was angry and solemnly swore: 35 "Not a man of this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your forefathers, 36 except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the LORD wholeheartedly."
Joshua 1:6 – 9
6 "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go."
A fundamental question that any disciple or any leadership must ask themselves is; “What is my primary motivation?” Is it faith or is it fear? Many churches are guided by a desire to not get anyone upset. These churches will be directed by those with the loudest voice and the least faith. Some one once observed that, “The path of least resistance makes rivers and men crooked.” The opposite of this is to be guided by a faithful vision of what God calls us to do. The Israelites entry into the Promised Land was a dramatic illustration that was recorded for all time. The same land, the same obstacles, the same nation, but remarkably different outcomes. The first time the fear of failure dominated the decision which resulted in death and defeat. Forty years later, with a leadership guided by faith they victoriously entered the Promised Land! Which of those two best describes your current situation?
Baltimore’s board of directors decided to step out on faith and approve a deficit budget in 2005 in order to hire the Doug and Jennifer Lambert for the teen ministry. They had a sizable surplus in the bank, but it still required great faith to present to the church a budget with a thirty-five thousand dollar deficit. God responded to their faith by moving someone totally unexpected in the congregation to give a gift of more than $28,000 two hours before the presentation to the church. That gift combined with the excess giving in the previous few weeks erased the deficit before it was even presented to the congregation. When is the last time you stepped out on faith and put yourself in a position to really depend on God? The Lamberts now lead the entire congregation as God has continued to affirm the leadership’s faith.
Signs of Living by Faith
- Dreaming About What is Possible – “Our best days are ahead of us”
- 1 Samuel 14:6 “Perhaps the LORD will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few."
- Willingness to See People Leave
- John 6:66-67 – Do you want to go too?
- Mark 10:17-23 – Rich young ruler
The current goal for the Baltimore congregation is to be their “best ever”. That church will soon have the largest membership, largest contribution and the warmest fellowship in their 10 year history. It is inspiring to think of that kind of goal for all of us. Clearly God blesses leadership which is focused on faith.
It seems odd to consider a willingness to see people leave as a sign of living by faith. In our sinful nature most of us really want to be liked by everyone. Jesus called us to a radical message that he promised would cause division if we preached it correctly (Mt 10:34-39). In this age of political correctness many disciples are drawn into the false notion that if we are loving enough, everyone will accept us and our message. Their fear of rejection replaces a faith in God to sift the hearts of all men.
Solutions – Courageous Leadership & Courageous Congregations
- Joshua 1:6-9,18 Joshua’s primary expectation by both God and the nation of Israel to be strong and very courageous
- Joshua 1:16-18 The Israelites promise to follow wholeheartedly and to deal with dissention aggressively. Courage cannot be restricted to the leaders but is a requirement for every disciple.