Are we there yet?
Last week I spoke about the aspect of our Christian faith being “now and not yet”. The idea behind this is that we are living our Christian life in the preset and yet the fulness of the kingdom of heaven is not completely realized. We have the blessing of living “in-between” the times. It is a blessing because we have received the Spirit of God who is more that able to be our “Counsellor,” but even more than that he speaks God’s Word to us, he teaches us, he helps us to be godly witnesses and he intercedes for us… AMEN!
One of the questions I have asked myself at times is this, why do we need the Holy Spirit? I believe the answer is simple, we all need a Saviour to free us from the power of sin, self and Satan, as Paul reveals to us in Gal 1:3-4 - Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father… In the same way we need Jesus, we need the power of the Holy Spirit because we live in a broken world; we live in the present evil age - “in-between” the First and Second Coming.
Last week joked about summer holidays and travels in the car when the kids would ask “are we there yet?” Sometimes it is a great experience full of songs and games in the car. Other times the kids are bored and upset and asking “are we there yet?”
I also used a picture of the Victoria Street Bridge. The word picture behind this is clear, the bridge is under construction. The bridge has served its purpose but is now being rebuilt due to being old and rusty. At the moment it is not a bridge, some day it will be a bridge. When we apply this word picture to the church I find myself getting excited for the future. The church has a future and a purpose but there are times that things need to be rebuilt; remember Nehemiah’s vision for Jerusalem. We don’t throw out the bridge or the church, but prayerfully and patiently trust God to empower his church once again. Being under construction is a good thing; it points to God’s grace and care for our lives. The mercy of God is new every morning.
Out of Egypt
As I was praying about the “now and not yet” I believe the Spirit illuminated this thought to me. The Israelites were delivered by God out of Egypt and we being led to the Promised Land. They had experienced the “now” of deliverance by God but had “not yet” reached the Promised Land.
Between Egypt and their entrance into the Promised land of Canaan would lie a stretch of wilderness wandering lasting 40 years. The New Testament teach us that these historic episodes are for our instruction (1 Cor. 10:11). The wilderness was their “in-between” time where they grew in their relationship with God, they experienced testings, and God allowed them to know what was truly in their hearts. The main lesson can be boiled down to this - Attitude is incredibly important when we are “in-between”. I want to share with us this morning how important their attitude was as the Jews journeyed to the Promised Land.
Attitude of New life:
The Israelites had been set free from Egypt and were now living out from under bondage and on their way to the Promised Land. God delivered the children of Israel and brought them out of Egypt by grace. Now it was God’s desire for them to live with a new attitude; once having passed through the Red Sea, the people of God are on ‘resurrection ground’, so to speak. Their deliverance was an act of God’s grace, so too was their wilderness time filled with grace. However, it was a short honeymoon for the Jewish people experiencing their deliverance from their Egyptian tormentors. They are out of Egypt but Egypt is not yet out of them; Egypt symbolizes the old way of living, in sin and darkness, bondage and slavery.
The Jewish people are three days into their “in-between” wilderness journey (Ex 15:22-27) when their attitudes are first tested. They have no water to drink. The joyous songs from their deliverance are now turned into grumbling and slander. They come to some springs but the water was bitter and they confront Moses. If they had truly understood the depth of their deliverance and the new life now made available to them, they would have had a great attitude. The Lord directs Moses and the waters become sweet. The Lord even goes on to let them know that if they “listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if they pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, He will not bring on them any of the diseases He brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you”.
- If we are thirsty, the Holy Spirit is living water. John 7:37-39
- If we need healing, look at 1 Peter 2:24 - He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
After their attitude exchange at Marah, the children of Israel are led to a beautiful oasis called Elim. This is a picture of the new life for God’s people - twelve springs and seventy palms trees.
A positive “in-between” attitude is that of learning to appropriate a new life possibilities.
Attitude of generosity:
Soon after the children of Israel tested by a lack of drinkable water in the wilderness, they also ran out of food. How do you feed 600,000 men, not including their families? They people became hungry and this brought out an inappropriate attitude once again. Rather than believing God for new life and possibilities, they talk about the good-ole-days of plenty in Egypt. God’s response is one of extreme generosity, to the point of testing their hearts. He gives them quail in the evening and manna in the morning (Ex 16).
There are many people who are “in-between” and rather than trusting in God and his generosity, they tighten their belts and become self-protecting. There attitude becomes one of grumbling.
However, we are children of a new life attitude. And we have a God who is beyond generous - “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen” (Eph 3:20–21). We can be generous in our attitude towards God and each other, not stingy and selfish.
Attitude of Thankfulness:
God’s generosity carries on in Ex 17. Once again the children of Israel are thirsty. They are reluctant to admit that they are disbelieving and grumbling against God. So instead they quarrel with Moses. One of the positive attitudes that God wants us to practice in the “in-between” times is that of thanksgiving. Our God is Jehovah Jireh. Our response to his generosity is gratefulness and thankfulness.
I realize that the Scriptures in mentioned this morning highlight the Israelites negative attitudes as they began their journey into the wilderness. However, my desire this morning is not to emphasize their short-comings but God’s grace and patience with them.
Remember this word picture. The Victoria Street Bridge that is under construction and the rust and rotten metal and broken foundations are being replaced. I hope that is not what you focus on when you go look at the bridge. We must learn to look for the positive. The bridge is being rebuilt in order to restore its original function.
The same is true about our lives personally. We must look to the God of Possibilities with regards to living “in-between” the fulfillment of his promises in our life.
Let’s have an attitude of new life…
Let’s have a generous attitude…
Let’s not grumble. Let’s be grateful…
Just as with the water, quail and manna in the wilderness, we need to take the supply that Jesus offers to us and learn to feed on Him.
How do we do this:
- We do this through the Word
- Fellowship with believers
- Communing with Him in prayer
- Participating with Him in ministry.