Monday, 16 September 2013

God’s Autocorrect - Faith for Despair

The main passage: Numbers 13:25-14:45
Other passages to consider: Matthew 12:30-37 and 25:14-30

Imagine you are one of the Israelites awaiting the return of the twelve spies who have gone into the promised land on a military reconnaissance mission. Maybe you are a wife of one of the men will have to fight; or maybe you are one of the men who will go into war. The news you are likely hoping for from the spies is this: “The people in the Promised Land are not well organized and should be easy to defeat and the land is quite beautiful and fruitful. We will be able to take the land, The morning after the spies come back into camp, you quickly grab the newspaper and read the front page. You are anxious to read the report of the spies. Yet, you are shocked to read that there are two reports!

Report #1: “Indeed, the land is plentiful, just as God has promised. But there is no possible way by which we can defeat the peoples there, as they are huge, well organized, and have fortified cities!Signed: Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sether, Nahbi, Geuel

Report #2: “Having spied out the land, we have determined that we will surely overcome those living in the land; by all means, we should mount an attack as Signed: Caleb, JoshuaAnd inside yourself you hear two voices. (1) There is one voice that echoes the frightened voice of the first report: “There’s no way that we can go into the land, it just doesn’t make sense! And we’ll get slaughtered! Besides, these are ten great leaders within Israel - who am I to question their assessment!” (2) But there is a second voice: “Why would God lead us to the edge of this land and then kill us?! Surely Joshua and Caleb are right, for we’ve seen how God works miracles and often saves us and so we can trust Him to give us the land.” With these two voices echoing in your mind as your head hits the pillow, you fall into an uneasy sleep.You wake up the next morning to another report, written by those who wrote the

Report #3: “We repeat, there is no way that we can take this land! Do not even consider the report of Caleb and Joshua. In fact, even our own report was too optimistic. It is not just that the people in the land are big, it is that they are huge. If we battle with these people, it will be as if grasshoppers were trying to topple a human being! As well, although we initially reported the fruitfulness of the land, we now revise our statement: the land is not even worth it! The land itself will starve us and kill us!Signed: Shammua, Shaphat, Igal, Palti, Gaddiel, Gaddi, Ammiel, Sether, Nahbi, GeuelTaken aback by this third report, you gather with a group of friends to discuss:


1) Given these two voices as shown in the three reports, which voice do you and your family support? Why? (Here we are still imagining that we are Israelites.)

2) What is a situation that you have faced where there were two contrary voices calling for your support? What did you do?

3) In my reckoning, at the heart of Bill’s message was the fact that there are two voices echoing inside the Christian. (1) One of these voices calculates in terms of human ability without listening to God’s promise; or, perhaps there is a rejection of God’s goodness or ability to provide. (2) The second voice is really that of the Holy Spirit inside, Who tells you to trust in God’s promises. Have you ever had this experience where two voices issued reports about what you should do or feel? Give an example if you can.

4) As Bill said, the words that we find ourselves agreeing with and that we reinforce with our very own words and emotions (either fear/unbelief or confidence/faith) reflect our view of God and His character. Read Matthew 25:14-30.

5) Without drawing an analogy of what a “talent” might mean for us, and without getting hung up over the the man taking the talent from the wicked slave and giving them to the others, and without being frightened by this harsh judgement, first ask yourself whether or not you think that Christ is good and loving. And if Christ is good and loving, what is the Gospel? That is, what is the Good News - the Good Report that comes with Christ, just as a good report came from Joshua and Caleb?

• {If you are struggling to answer this question, see Romans 5:6-11}

6) How do you find God encouraging you with this Good Report on a daily basis? Do you find that the Spirit warms your heart? Do you find that you are more at peace?

7) How does the Good Report effect how you speak to and with others?

8) What are some ways we can dispel the doubting voice, which tells us to bury and not believe in the Gospel and God’s goodness and salvation?

• {Possible answers if the group is struggling to come up with some: Read the Scriptures; give thanks daily; pray; allow others to encourage you; sing hymns}