In God's plans for Israel, we find much encouragement and insight into how God works in our lives in His way and His timing.
As we pick up our study of the Book of Exodus, the Israelites have been miraculously delivered from slavery in Egypt and are now camped in the wilderness at the base of Mount Sinai, where God is at work, turning them from a nation of slaves into a nation of God's children, his special people.
And to that end, God has given them the foundations of the society he wants them to build through the Ten Commandments and the Book of the Covenant. And it's right after that that we pick up today's study in Exodus, chapter 23, verse 20. So turn there if you're not there and we're just going to jump right in the Lord, continue speaking to Moses and says, behold, I send an angel.
Now, would you underline that word, angel in your Bibles, some of your Bibles will have the EI of Angel capitalized. And that's because this angel, without question, is in fact Jesus, the one sometimes referred to in the Old Testament as the angel of the Lord.
Behold, I send an angel before you to keep you in the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.
Beware of him and obey his voice. Do not provoke him, for he will not pardon your transgressions for and then underline this. My name is in the hymn. My name is in him.
Now we've got a few things to unpack here. And don't worry, I think I'm going to get to all of the questions that might have popped up in your head.
But we'll start with this. The key idea in this passage is that God's name, the name of your way is in this angel, not on this angel, but but in this angel. When Jesus was on the Earth during the incarnation as a man, Jesus was not God's messenger. He was God in the flesh.
And the idea here is that this angel is not God's messenger. He is God. God's name is in the him.
And the idea of God's name being in Jesus is probably best captured in the famous messianic prophecy of Isaiah nine six. We read it every Christmas season and it says this. It's on your outlands.
Get ready to take note of the things that are underlined for unto us.
A child is born unto us. A son is given.
That's very clearly speaking about Jesus when he came to the Earth as a baby boy and the government will be upon his shoulder and his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
The name of the one who came as the babe of Bethlehem is not only Jesus, it's also mighty God and everlasting father. Why?
How is that possible? Because of the doctrine of the Trinity. Jesus is a separate individual from God, the father, but he is also one with God, the father. The father's name is in the son. And if you want to get into a deeper discussion of the complexities of the doctrine of the Trinity, that's a great subject for your home group.
This week we talked about this this concept in detail back in Exodus Chapter three, which details the famous burning Bush incident.
I put the link to that message on your outline.
If you'd like to go back and watch or listen to it, where we sort of dive deep into this topic a little bit more.
The left, some English Bible provides the most direct translation of Genesis. Forty eight verses 15 and 16. And the scene we find there is Israel, the man known as Jacob earlier in his life, speaking a blessing over his son Joseph.
And we read this and he bless Joseph and said, the God before whom my fathers, Abraham and Isaac walked the God who shepherded me all of my life until this day, the angel who redeemed me from all evil.
May he. He.
Bless the boys and through them, let my name be perpetuated and the name of my fathers, Abraham and Isaac, and let them multiply into many in the midst of the earth in the original language, the word he is singular, it's singular, even though it's being applied to the terms God, then God again.
And then finally to the phrase the angel. All of those are addressed by the singular version of the word he. In other words, Israel or Jacob refers to the angel as God, making it clear that he viewed the angel as also being Yahweh one in the same.
And finally for this message, check out judges chapter two verses one to three. All of these are in your outline.
It says, Then the angel of the Lord came up from Gilgo to Bohème and said, I led you up from Egypt and brought you to the land of which I swore to your father's.
And I said, I will never break my covenant with you and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land. You shall tear down their altars. But you have not obeyed my voice. Why have you done this? Therefore, I also said I will not drive them out before you. But they shall be thorns in your side and their gods shall be a snare to you.
In other words, that's the Angel of the Lord Jesus, saying that it was him who brought Israel out of Egypt. It was him who brought them into the promised land. Scripture makes it absolutely clear that the Old Testament Angel of the Lord is in fact Jesus.
Now, when you look at verse twenty one, perhaps you found it odd that your way God, the father was saying of Jesus here, appearing as the angel of the Lord, he will not pardon your transgressions because maybe you're thinking understandably isn't forgiving sin kind of Jesus's thing?
I mean, isn't that his deal? Isn't that what he does? Well, the original Hebrew word that's translated transgressions is the word Pasha, and it's used elsewhere in scripture to indicate a violation of the covenant between God and his people. And that's how the word is used here.
It's not talking about the issue of self salvation.
It's talking about the covenant between God and his people. That is one of the central themes of Israel's time at Mount Sinai in the Book of Exodus and verse twenty one reiterates that by presenting the way that covenant applies to this situation, if Israel will listen to Jesus, obey Jesus and not provoke Jesus by rebelling against God's law, then God would supernaturally be with Israel, fight with Israel and give them the immense territory of the promised land. That is what is going on.
So when God says of Jesus, when God says of the angel, he will not pardon your transgressions. God is saying, if you guys break your covenant with me, if you don't do what Jesus the angel says, then this offer is off the table.
This is a conditional promise.
He's not going to give you a second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth chance when it comes to this. If you want to take all of the promised land, if you want me to go before you every time and defeat every one of your enemies, then you have to obey and listen to the angel of the Lord who is Jesus.
That's what God is saying here. He's not talking about transgressions in terms of salvation. He's talking about transgressions in terms of how their rebellion or obedience would affect their military conquest of the promised land verse twenty two.
But if you indeed obey his voice and do all that I speak, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.
For my angel, underline that my angel will go before you and bring you in to the Emirates and they Hittites and the parasites and the Canaanites and the headlights and the lights.
And I will cut them off. I will cut them off. The literal phrase there is annihilate them. We'll talk about that in a minute.
The people groups listed in verse twenty three.
Are some of the different groups that were inhabiting the promised land at this time, and I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that this Verse 8 23 brushes up against one of the most frequently raised questions about the Bible.
One of the most frequent objections that is used as the basis to claim that the God of the Bible is immoral. Because if I'm remembering correctly, this is the first time God clearly declares that his plan for Israel is not to have them cohabitate the promised land with these pagan people groups. His plan is to annihilate these pagan groups, to wipe them out. And while Israel is going to be God's instrument, Verse 8, 23, tells us clearly that God himself is taking on the task through Israel of annihilating these people groups.
And you can see why some people might have a problem with that. They claim that the Bible reveals a genocidal God, a mass murderer, an ethnic cleanser.
We're going to have to tackle this issue several more times in the coming months and years, and so I don't want to get into an exhaustive study here and now, but I will give you two big things to consider that you can look into some more in your own time if you'd like to.
Two big things to consider when you're evaluating the morality of God's plan for these pagan people groups. Firstly, all of these peoples had been in the promised land for multiple centuries and had not repented.
And that's significant because history and archaeology has revealed to the world that these specific pagan cultures were wicked, depraved, cruel and evil to an absolutely shocking degree.
I don't want to get into details, but. But they're horrifying. They are horrifying.
These cultures were in this context, beyond redemption. And they did not want redemption. They had no interest in it. That's the first thing to keep in mind. The second thing is that all of the people, groups that God will have Israel annihilate will have a genetic heritage, a genetic connection to abnormally tall men, to giants. And the reason that is significant is because of what we learn about the Nephilim back in Genesis Chapter six, if you don't know what I'm talking about.
Let me be blunt. I cannot summarize it for you.
It cannot be summarized.
You need to go to the website, watch or listen to Bible study that I mentioned on your outline. Then you'll understand that there's much more going on, that when God gives the command to eradicate these people groups than first meets the eye. So think on those two things. Look into those two things. There's some other very good reasons to consider, but we'll talk about the more in the future as Israel begins to actually battle and war against these people groups.
We'll talk about it at that time.
Verse 8 24. You shall not bow down to their gods nor serve them, nor do according to their works. But you shall utterly overthrow them and completely break down their sacred pillars.
So remember, Israel's time in the wilderness and their coming conquest of Canaan is the process through which God is forming their identity as his own special people.
A peculiar people, a people who belong to God. He's giving them that new identity. And part of that means building a nation and society upon God's ways that will produce healthy, godly, happy generations in the future.
And what we hear God saying here in verse 24 is if you want to follow me, if you want to be my people, then you need to know that there is no room for any other gods in the family of God. There is no room for worshipping anyone or anything else. And anything that might tempt you to do that needs to be dealt with and removed. This is not an Old Testament Old Covenant concept, this is a timeless following God concept.
It's what Jesus was getting at in Matthew five when he said, if you're right, it causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you forward is more profitable for you that one of your members perish than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you.
For it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
God still expects you and I to make up our mind. And if we're going to follow him, if we're going to be his people. It means we have to agree with him that every other God, every other false God in our lives has to go, has to go, it means we have to deal decisively with anything that might steal our worship and devotion from God. We have to agree with God that that's what needs to happen if we want to be as people.
We all know that the man who says I'm quitting alcohol without emptying his liquor cabinet. Is not serious. The Lord says the one who says, I'm following your way alone without tearing down the pagan places of worship in his life. Is not serious. The Lord does not expect us to cohabitate with false gods. He does not expect us to make peace treaties with them. He expects us to the best of our ability in the power of the Holy Spirit to tear down the things in our lives that are false gods stealing our devotion and worship from the Lord.
And when we truly love the Lord. Will say Amen. That's what I want to do it, Lord, help me do it, Lord. So would you make a note of this part of being a Christian is agreeing with God that false gods have no place in our lives, part of being a Christian is agreeing with God that false gods have no place in our lives.
Verse 8 25, so you shall serve the Lord, your God, and he will bless your bread and your water, and I will take sickness away from the midst of you, no one shall suffer miscarriage or be buried in your land. I will fulfill the number of your days. Then what an offer. What an offer. The Lord promises Israel that if she will walk faithfully with him, he will bless her health and her birth rates so that everyone will live to a ripe old age.
Nobody will get sick. Nobody will struggle to get pregnant. Israel will be able to hold this vast area of land because God will bless their population and they will explode.
It's an incredible offer, Verse 8 27. I will send my fear before you, I will cause confusion among all the people to whom you come and will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. And I will send Hornets before you, which shall drive out the heavyweight, the Canaanite and the Hittite from before you Gas is, I'm going to go ahead of you and I'm going to fill the minds and hearts of your enemies with confusion and fear.
OK, but what's up with these Hornets Hornets, really? Well, let's talk about this, could could these be perhaps literal insect swarms, is that what God is saying? No, I'm going to send literal giant hordes of hornets to freak out your enemies before you get there. Well, do we read in scripture anywhere of that happening as Israel conquers the promised land?
No, we don't. So I think we can cross that one out.
Could this be referring to a plague or a disease? Well, do we ever read about that striking the enemies of God during their conquest of the Promised Land?
No, we don't. Could it perhaps be a metaphor for human armies? I mean, after all, armies are called scorpions a couple of times in the Old Testament, they're called the swarming locusts in the book of Joel. But let me show you why that's not the case here. Take a look at Joshua Tree for 12. It's on your outlines which records these words being spoken by the Lord after listing the different people groups Israel would encounter as enemies in the promised land.
This is what God says. He says, I sent this is after the fact. Looking back, I sent the Hornet before you, which drove them out from before you.
Also the kings of the Emirates, but not with your sword or with your bow.
So God says, listen, the victories that you had in the Promised Land, this is in the future, looking back, were not with your sword or with your bow, which means that the Hornets of Exodus 23 and Joshua, 24, cannot be a reference to Israel's fighting men.
Can't be that. The most likely explanation is that Verse 8 28, is simply an expansion of Verse 8 27 and the idea that God is going to cause confusion among the enemies of Israel, striking them psychologically with irrational panic and fear, leading them to behave as people do when they're being attacked by a swarm of hornets running around in a panic in chaos.
It's most likely simple imagery and visual language.
Verse 8 twenty eight is an expansion of verse 27.
That's all that's going on. Verse twenty nine.
I will not drive them out from before you. In one year less, the land become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. Now underline this right here. Little by little, I will drive them out from before you. Until you have increased and you inherit the land and I will set your bounds, your boundaries from the Red Sea to the sea, Felicio and from the desert to the river, that's the Euphrates River, for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand and you shall drive them out before you.
There are some just wonderful application for you and I and these verse is as we read about God's plans for his people and how he plans to give them victory in the promised land and lead them into this moment, this time when they inherit the promised land.
I know that the Promised Land is often referred to by preachers and pastors as being a type of heaven, a picture, a metaphor, an allegory.
But I think it's better viewed as a type of our earthly lives. And I'll tell you why. When Israel reaches the promised land, when they cross the Jordan River later on in the story, can they immediately kick off their shoes, sit back, enjoy the land flowing with milk and honey and chill because they're now in the place of rest and there's no more work that needs to be done?
Can they do that as we will be able to do in heaven? Is that what the Promised Land was like? No. No. When Israel enters the promised land, is their struggle with sin over? Are they now able to finally be faithful to God? Is temptation done with? Are they walking consistently with the Lord and enjoying that rest because they're in the promised land? No, not even close.
Israel's time in the promised land is marked by them immediately being thrust into battle at Jericho, there's evil all over the promised land that needs to be dealt with. There's resistance, there's temptation, there's false gods everywhere. There's sexual immorality that they get tangled up in that this is not the language of heaven. The promised land is not heaven. It's freedom from Egypt, it's deliverance from death and sin, but it's not the end of the journey, it's not the place of rest, it's not the place of inheritance yet simply by stepping foot into the promised land.
And when you and I experience God's salvation, when we're saved and freed from the power of sin and death, we enter the promised land.
And God says, OK, now let's get to work. The Christian life begins. And what do we do, we say, great Lord, I'm all in this shouldn't take long at all.
Whatever work we got to do now that I'm saved should be done in, what, three months, six months, a year at the most. That should be enough time, Lord, more than enough time for you to fix everything that's wrong with my life, clean up all the messes I've made and change me into the wonderful version of me that I'm obviously destined to be.
I can't wait, Lord. Now, wouldn't it be great if that was true, wouldn't it be great if that's how it worked? If you're a Christian and you don't know this yet. You need to listen to me here. I truly, genuinely believe that God wants you and I to be healthy, wealthy and happy. And I know many of you are like, oh, here it comes, he's going to ask us to start supporting him at twenty dollars a month at the young eagle level.
And then he's going to tell us that if we support him for a hundred dollars a month, he's going to send us a special cloth that he's prayed over. Jeffares turn.
That's not where I'm going. Listen to me, though. I believe that your Heavenly Father wants you to be healthy, wealthy and happy.
That's the heart of a father for his kid. He wants his children to prosper. I say that also because what's the alternative?
You believe in a God that wants you to be sick, poor and miserable. I don't think that's the heavenly father of the Bible. Here's the rub, though. The issue is that there's something God wants for us even more. Then our health, wealth or happiness? He wants us to become more like his son, Jesus. Because the more like Jesus we become. The more joy and peace and fulfillment will have in this life, the more real experience, the best version of this life we could possibly have, the more we become like Jesus, the more ready we will be to rule and reign with him in eternity.
The more responsibility we'll be able to handle. The more we become like Jesus, the more we will live for him in a way that is profitable in this life, in a way that we will be rewarded for in eternity.
Yes, your heavenly father wants you to be healthy, wealthy and happy. He does. But more than that, he wants what is truly best for you. And that is for you to become more like Jesus. Because that will benefit you for all eternity. Being healthy, wealthy and happy here will benefit you for a few decades at the most. God says, I'm going to do what's best for you in eternity, where you'll enjoy it forever.
So would you write this down? We're going to talk about it some more. Our Heavenly Father's greatest desire for us is that we become more like Jesus.
Our heavenly father's greatest desire for us is that we become more like Jesus. And if you've heard me teach for a while, you've heard me talk about this a lot, but this is one of those things we just need a regular reminder of when we're disappointed with the Lord, when we feel like the Lord isn't answering our prayers. We need to stop and ask ourselves, have I begun to believe that God's greatest concern for my life should be my happiness right now?
Have I begun to believe that?
Have I begun to believe that God's greatest concern for my life should be my financial status right now?
Have I bought into the idea that God's greatest concern should be my health on Earth? Because none of those things are true, they're not what is best for us above all of them, God is concerned about us becoming more like Jesus and a lot of the time.
Our health, wealth and happiness actually get in the way of us becoming more like Jesus, because when we're comfortable and things are easy, I don't know if you've noticed this, but we don't tend to say, oh, man, in this time of rest, when everything's going well, this is the time for me to really buckle down and focus on growing and becoming more like Jesus and listening to his spirit and letting him work in me in a radical way, man.
Wouldn't it be great if we actually behave that way? But but we don't.
We don't. Most of the time, the way that we grow is kicking and screaming because circumstances are thrust into our lives against our will. And we have to trust God and we have to grow and we have to let them change us. I've shared this before, how many of you, if you're honest, would admit that if you won 50 million dollars tomorrow, it would probably damage your spiritual growth, it would derail your sanctification because you would start looking to your bank account for peace and reassurance rather than your heavenly father.
When you got stress or anxiety, you would look at your bank account and say, oh, you know what?
But everything's going to be OK. Not because I'm a child of God and he never leaves me nor forsakes me. Everything's going to be OK because I've still got forty eight point eight five million left.
OK, my soul is at rest. Can I tell you that I really believe if that were not the case, that God would make all of us ludicrously wealthy, you might disagree with me, but I really believe that I think God would make us all billionaires like that. If if. It wouldn't derail our spiritual growth or even worse, actually lead us actively into sin. But it would it would how many of us, if we're honest, can say it's in the times of crisis?
That I've prayed like I've never prayed. Walked with the Lord like I've never walked before and learned to trust him in a deeper way than I ever had before. How many of us have that testimony? Most of us. And so the Lord looks upon you and I and and he sees all our issues and he sees the obstacles and he sees the things in our lives that are getting in the way of us becoming more like Jesus. He sees our sins, struggles and the issues we have with our thinking.
And he says we're going to work on those things together. Little by little, I will drive them out before you. The Lord knows how much we can deal with right now, and the Lord is working in each of our lives as fast as he can. Do you know that God is not the bottleneck in your spiritual growth and development? We are where the bottleneck, where the limiting factor, we limit the speed that God can work in our lives because we often just resist him, don't we?
Or we'd be overwhelmed if he tackled all of our issues at the same time, even when God works on one issue at a time, some of us have issues that we're flat out not even willing to deal with yet.
We're not even willing to admit that there are issues. The wonderful news is that our heavenly father is so patient, man, he is so gracious, and if we allow him to work on any area of our lives, he will.
Isaiah prophesied about what Messiah Jesus would be like, and he said, a crushed reed he will not break and a fading candle he won't snuff out. The idea is this how however weak and broken and fragile we are when we come to God. He'll start working in us and he'll be faithful to keep working in us for the rest of our earthly lives if we come to God or come back to him like a candle that barely has any wick left and is right about to go out, God is going to blow it out and say, pathetic.
I was going to put his hand around that flame and he's going to expand it. He's going to fan it. And he's going to work with where you are, that's the heart of God, you know, we often have a hard time with how slowly it happens, don't we? Little by little, God, can we speed this thing up and God's like you tell me, can we? Can we? God is not the bottleneck we are, and sometimes his speed in our lives is hindered by our resistance, our stubbornness.
And our unreadiness to confront some of our issues, and that's why God says you're going to need to leave the timing in my hands. I see things and I know things that you do not see and you do not know. I know you better than you know yourself. So trust me with the timing in this passage, God says I will not drive them out from before you.
In one year less, the land become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you.
So God says, listen, if I give you guys instant victory over the Promised Land, if I let you win every battle so fast that you go through the whole land blitzkrieg and wipe out all of the enemies in one year.
There's going to be a problem, there's going to be all these unpopulated towns and land and ruins and they're going to be overtaken by wild animals, and then you're not going to be able to get that territory back.
You're going to be shredded by lions. You're not going to be able to build homes and farm there.
It's going to be bad. So I'm going to do this at a speed that will work. I'm going to let you take the promised land at a speed where you can actually begin to inhabit it as you conquer new land so that it's not overrun by these animals.
Now, do you think any of the Israelites had that issue on their radar?
Do you think when the army of Israel is gathered together, there's someone in the back saying, hey, guys, I've run the numbers, I've charted this out, and I'm concerned that we might not be considering the harm we're going to have on the ecosystem toward ourselves. The ecosystems are actually going to thrive. There's going to be sort of a biological rebirth and the animals are going to repopulate at an incredible speed. And there's going to be a price for this because the birthrate of dangerous animals can be very exponential.
You think anyone in the army of Israel is saying that if someone was, they would have been like, shut up, man, we're going to go kill some people? No, nobody was thinking about that. Nobody was thinking about it. But God was. Godsell. God knew. And in the Book of Judges, we find another reason for the drawing out of the conquest of the Promised Land, we find more reasons that nobody was thinking about in judges to God speaks about the enemies in the promised land.
And he says so that through them, I may test Israel whether they will keep the ways of the Lord to walk in them as their fathers kept them or not.
Therefore, the Lord left those nations without driving them out immediately, nor did he deliver them into the hand of Joshua.
So God says, listen, the future generations are going to need to have their faith tested to see if it's real. And then the judges three, we read this now. These are the nations which the Lord left, that he might test Israel by them. That is all who had not known any of the wars in Canaan. This was only so that the generations of the children of Israel might be taught to know war, at least those who had not formally known it, namely five lords of the Philistines, all of the Canaanites, the sides, unions and the heavyweights who dwelt in Mount Lebanon from Mount Ball Herman to the entrance of Hamas.
And they were left that he might test Israel by them to know whether they would obey the commandments of the Lord, which he had commanded their fathers by the hand of Moses.
So not only would future generations need to have their faith tested, but they would also need to fight some of their own battles because that's where faith is forged in the battles. You see, nobody in Israel at this time was thinking that way.
Nobody was thinking about the future that far down the road. But God was God was thinking about their children and their children's children and their children's children. And he was concerned about their spiritual development.
God sees things that we do not see. He knows things that we do not know, we don't even know what we don't know. We say little by little, I come on, I'm ready now, I want it now and God says. I'll give it to you when you're ready. If I give it to you too soon. It's going to be a mess, it's going to all fall apart. I'll give you that spouse you're praying for when you're ready, when we've worked through some issues so that you don't get married and then get divorced one year later.
I want your future marriage to be blessed and to prosper, says the Lord. Hey, listen, I know I know you want your child to return to the Lord, and I'm working on them and you want it to happen, right, right now. But I'm looking ahead at their whole life. I'm looking at their whole life here. And I'm working on a much bigger scale than you're seeing right now. I know you're tired of the battle.
I know the fight is wearing you down, but I'm doing something in you, I'm bringing you to the place of surrender and dependence on me so that your spiritual maturity can go to a whole nother level. And I'm not going to stop until we get you there. God says the way that I choose to do things might seem strange to you Hornets what? But I will go before you. I will be with you. And I will set the timeline because I know what's best for you, I alone know.
What's best for you? I see what you cannot see. I know what you do not know, and so we're called to trust in what we do know in what we can. No. That our heavenly father is good and he's always doing good as fast as he can for our good and for his glory. We can know that we can trust that we can rest in that we can hold on to that. And if you've been walking with the Lord for a while, you should be able to look back on your life and say, listen, I know this.
The Lord is faithful. The Lord is faithful. And right now. That's all I really need to know. So I can have peace leaving everything else in his hands. Would you write this down, the speed at which God works in our lives is based on his complete knowledge of us and our circumstances and his unwavering commitment to do what is best for us?
Let me say it again.
The speed at which God works in our lives is based on his complete knowledge of us and our circumstances and his unwavering commitment to do what is best for us.
God also determines the borders, he determines what our future should look like, he determines the specifics, he sets the agenda, he makes the plan, and you'll either find great peace and comfort in that truth. Or you will find frustration and you decide, because God is going to do what is best for you, whether you like it or not. Let me encourage you, therefore, because I love you. To not fight what the Lord is doing in your life.
But to embrace it. To find peace in it by knowing he's still got in the middle of the storm. And I know that can be hard to do because it requires confronting our pride. Because it means there's a reason for my answered prayers. But there also might be a reason for my unanswered prayers. And I have to learn to humbly accept the possibility that I might not be ready for all the things that I think I'm ready for. Are all the things that I long for.
Let me be real honest and share something here I've shared before as I've walked with the Lord over the years, I've shared many times have grown, in my view, of just how great the grace of God is, but also how awful my own sinfulness is in comparison.
I don't say things anymore. Like, well, I would never blank I would never do that because I've come to realize how sinful my own heart is.
And I think that if the right circumstances came together, pretty much all of us are capable of sinning in a much worse way than we might ever think we could. I love teaching God's word and I love the church, and so I want as many people as possible to hear the word of God.
I want to be part of a church that runs out of seats every week because so many people want to be together as the church.
And I've prayed for that. I've prayed for for greater influence and a greater platform from which to teach God's word and reach more people with its truth. And I think my motives are right.
I think they're good. But when my prayers and answered. Or it's not answered yet. I have to be humble enough to at least consider the possibility. That the reason the bottleneck might be me. Because God knows what I don't know, and he sees what I don't see. And what if God knows, if I got a platform that was too big, too soon, it would all go to my head. What if God knows that? I get such a huge ego that that I'd fall into some sin that would ruin my life.
What if God knows he's got some other pastors and leaders on the way who are going to come alongside me and sharpen me and hold me accountable and help protect me from those temptations, and then I'll be able to handle greater responsibility or maybe I will get there in this life.
You know, it's not fun to consider those kind of possibilities, but they're possible. Here's what I know for sure, though. I know that God's doing good in my life, I know that he's making me more like Jesus every day as much as I will let a.
I mean, that's enough, that's enough, I'm just happy to be part of what he's doing on the Earth. That is enough.
And I'll tell you this, if God were to walk into the room right now in front of all of you and say, hey, Jeff, would you like to know?
Why, I haven't answered some of those prayers yet, I'm pretty sure I'd be like, nope, nope, I'm good. I'm good Lord with just trusting you. I'm good with that. That's enough for me.
Little by little in God's way and God's timing. And let me encourage you with this, if you'll trust the Lord with your life. The day will arrive, I guarantee you this, the day will arrive when you will look around, you will take stock of your life and you will say, my goodness.
Look what the Lord has done. Look what he has done, little by little, little by little. But you have to let God determine the method, the timeline and the borders if you try to rush it. It's not going to go well, you're going to find yourself in battles that you can't win, you're going to find yourself beaten and bloodied and losing. Victory is found in letting the Lord go before you and then following wherever he leads. Look real quick at the final sentence, In verses 31.
The Lord says, for I will deliver the inhabitants of the land into your hand and you shall drive them out before you.
Did you catch that? God sets the agenda, God gives the plan. God determines the timing. God sets the borders, God chooses the method, God does all that. But then the moment comes when God goes out before us and he says, OK, now follow me. It's your time to go. I've gone before you. Now I'm calling you to go your time to enter the battle, to step out in faith, believing and trusting in me and some of us.
Are refusing to take that step of faith in certain areas in our lives, we say, yes, Amen I see what God's word says yes, I see the promises of his word. God says, OK, now step out and trust me in that area. And we say, no, not going to do that.
I don't want to. Not ready, it's too scary. All I want to say about that is this. We receive salvation by saying yes to God. We receive the Holy Spirit by saying yes to God, can I tell you that we receive the blessings of God the same way God's blessings come in many different forms.
But most of the time we have to say yes to the Lord in order to receive them.
And the way that we say yes to the Lord is by agreeing with his word. Amos three three. If you don't know it, memorize it. Can to walk together unless they are agreed, you can't walk with the Lord unless you agree with the Lord, you can't walk with the Lord in your marriage. And the less you agree with God's plan for your marriage, you can't walk with the Lord in parenting unless you agree with God's plan for parenting.
You can't walk with the Lord in your finances unless you agree with God's plan for your finances, for work, for all relationships, for rest, for all of these things.
Say yes to the Lord. And one way or another, you will find yourself being blessed in that area of your life. The final two verses of the chapter really reiterate the theme of verse 24, God says in verse 32, you shall make no covenant. That's no treaty with them, nor with their gods. They shall not dwell in your land lest they make you sin against me.
For if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you. God says, listen, I know the pagan practices look attractive. I know they seem fun and seductive and full of pleasure, but they're a snare. There were trap. Because they are going to cause you to miss out on the good things that I desire to give you, they're going to cause you to miss out on the blessings. That I want to pour into your life.
Do you know that at her height? Israel would only possess 10 percent of the land that God gave them. If you map it out, they only ever possessed 10 percent. This is why. Sadly, Israel would go on to get distracted, they would willingly ensnare themselves.
By following false gods and allowing themselves to be seduced, they would trade the blessings of God for the empty temporary pleasures of the flesh even in this life, and they would miss out on so much that the Lord wanted to bless them with.
Going to wrap up with this. I hope you know that your heavenly father loves you. And his heart is to bless you as lavishly, as abundantly and as expediently. As you will allow him to. If you'll agree with his word and say yes to his plans for your life, you will find yourself being blessed and I don't know about you.
But I want to surrender more and more of my life to the Lord, I want to learn to say yes to his word and to his spirit faster and faster and faster, because let me be blunt. I want all I want all of the blessings of God that I can get. I want all of them, I want as many as I can get, and I want the Lord to use me for his glory as much as he can during my years on this Earth.
I want to be used by God as much as I can. And I want to be blessed by God as much as I can.
And so with that heart and that desire, would you just buy your head, close your eyes and and pray with me?
Father, we do.
Lord, we desire to be blessed by you because there's there's nothing there's nothing like being blessed by you. There's nothing that satisfies more than you. There's nothing that brings greater peace or fulfillment or joy or rest. Then you. And Lord, we don't want to miss out on any blessings because we're not agreeing with you, so so we ask Lord, would you read our lives of every false God?
Would you shine a light on any any altars or idols in our lives that are are not of use so that we can tear them down?
Lord, help us not to make peace with the things in our lives that are stealing devotion and worship from you.
Help us to surrender to you, to your ways, your timeline and your goals. Lord, help us to say yes to you. Quickly, Lord, quickly. Father, we pray for your peace, we ask for your rest and we ask for your comfort. As we surrender to your agenda for our lives, make us more like you, Jesus. Fill us with your peace. Thank you that you're always doing good in us, Lord, always, always, always we love you, Lord.
You're so good in your name. We pray Amen.