we have been teaching our kids about about determination this month. this is what we are teaching them this coming sunday. i was so convicted/challenged/encouraged by it, that i wanted to share it with you. this is part of the email i sent out to my volunteers in preparation for sunday.
determination - setting your mind to do what god has asked you to do.
bible story: desert blues (40 years in the wilderness) • numbers 14:1-39
bottom line: keep doing what you should do so you don’t miss something really good.
this is a familiar passage of scripture. in fact i am pretty sure we studied this not too long ago. but it still has lots to teach us. i really want to encourage you to read through this and study it for yourself before you think about what we are teaching the kids. joshua, caleb and the other spies have come back to report about the land that god has promised them. all the spies, with the exception of joshua and caleb report back that the people are too big and that this feat will surely be impossible. all of the israelites wept at this news that night. they lost hope. moses, aaron, joshua, and caleb all called out to the israelites to put their trust in the lord. they plead with them to obey the lord and to not be afraid, but all the israelites did was threaten their lives. then the glory of the lord appears. i’m sorry, did you catch that?!?!? read numbers 14:10. everyone saw his glory there. you’d think that would inspire some confidence, but nope. nothing. the lord is pretty angry and even thinks about striking them all with a plague. but moses intervenes and asks that the lord spare them. (i am pretty sure if people were threatening my life, i would have let the lord just take them. start with a clean slate, you know what i mean. clearly moses is a better leader than me and truly cares for his flock more than he cares for himself. a great leader.)
so the lord does spare them, but he does not just let it slide. he rips into the israelites for their disobedience. he disciplines them for their disobedience. he repeatedly tells them that they will die and suffer as a consequence and that this suffering is not short lived, but will essentially be for the rest of their lives. wow! does this seem a little harsh? perhaps, but he is punishing more than just a mere act of disobedience; he is disciplining them for their lack of trust in Him. they are trusting in themselves. he wants to rid them of this idol, so (like jeff preached about) he breaks them for their good. they are greatly saddened by this discipline and they admit that they have sinned, but then they try to fix things in their own strength (keep reading the rest of chapter 14). They trust in themselves again. they think they have some control. moses warns them, but they do not listen and they are or course defeated.
wow! so what do we have to learn from this? if your trust is in anything other than jesus, you won’t make it. the lord loves you so much that he will discipline you, even severely and for a long period of time, to sever you from all things you trust in. over the next 40 years of wondering, the israelites had the opportunity to trust the lord as they lived only by the bread and water he provided daily. and just to clarify, this godly discipline was not removed by the grace that came when jesus died on the cross. god’s unbearable wrath was removed by grace, but godly corrective discipline like this is still how god works.
so as we teach the kids the bottom line, i want to make sure that we hit on a few things. we will miss out on something good if we do not do what god asks, but more than a reward (such as the promised land), we miss out on living a life that trusts in him and is not enslaved to things here on this earth. god will discipline us and even withhold something good to teach us to love him more. don’t be afraid to tell the kids that there are consequences for disobeying god. but be sure and tell them that when we disobey him, it is usually a sign that we love something or trust something more than him. and he wants to remove all of those things from our lives, so he will discipline us (hebrews 12). if we find ourselves having trouble enduring or obeying, we should really be looking to see what it is that we love/trust more than god. sorry for the mini sermon, but this is a great opportunity to allow the spirit to expose what we and the kids trust in more than him.