June 4, 2017

Truths That Transform: Entering the Promised Land

On the cusp of attaining the long-awaited promise of God, the people gathered to hear the reports of the scouts they had sent into the Promised Land.

“The land is very productive and fruitful, just like God said, but the cities are fortified and very large. The land is inhabited by multiple different peoples, all of them powerful. We even saw giants there!”

“That’s all true, but God will be with us. We should go up and possess the land.”

“Are you kidding? We can’t attack these people – they’re way too strong for us. We seemed like grasshoppers compared to them. This isn’t going to work – we need to go back to Egypt.”

Ten of the twelve scouts sent out could see only the obstacles – walled cities, powerful people. Joshua and Caleb saw a different reality – the promises and faithfulness of God. Unfortunately, the people acted on the majority report, and lost the opportunity to enter the Promised Land.

40 years after Israel’s turning back, a new generation stood on the bank of the Jordan River, facing the same decision. This generation was determined to go forward, but God required a step of faith to get them there. When their parents had crossed the Red Sea, God had cleared a path through the sea in advance of their crossing. But this time, he told the priests to step into the flowing river carrying the Ark of the Covenant. As they stepped into the water, God stopped the flow of the river.

Are there people in your congregation looking longingly across the river at the Promised Land of financial freedom? Perhaps God is calling them to step into the river – to take that first step of faith toward financial freedom. For those who are focused on the giants in the land, you can help them by identifying those giants and focusing their vision on God. Here are some of the giants that God can defeat:

  • Budget. Do you remember the cartoons where a character would run off a cliff but not fall until he looked down? Many people think of budgeting this way – as long as they don’t look too closely, somehow they’ll be OK. They fear the truth about their financial situation. But understanding the truth is actually the first step toward freedom. The reality may be grim, but ignoring the reality – unlike in the old cartoons – won’t protect us. Meeting that reality head-on, in faith that God will provide, moves us toward financial freedom.
  • Debt. Like a huge wall surrounding a city, debt stands in the way of financial freedom. Scripture tells us that the borrower is slave to the lender – there’s no freedom there. Tearing down that wall requires planning and discipline – and, above all, faith. As we saw in the last newsletter, that faith can be bolstered by stories of God’s faithfulness in the past. Are there stories you can gather in your congregation that will help strengthen the faith of those who are intimidated by the wall?
  • Culture. Like an overflowing river, the pull of the culture sweeps us downstream, away from financial freedom. Constant advertising, pressure to keep up with neighbors or co-workers, opinions of family and close friends – these and other pressures add to our natural materialism and desire for comfort, creating a current that encourages us to spend money we don’t have to live a lifestyle we can’t afford. How can your church shine the light of God’s Word on this current, revealing the hidden assumptions and strengthening your congregation to stand firm against the pull of the culture?

Financial freedom truly is the promised land of stewardship. But, just as in Joshua’s day, the land is guarded by giants – obstacles that will discourage people from trying. As a stewardship leader, we encourage you to be a Joshua and a Caleb – encouraging your people into the promised land, with eyes focused not on the giants, but on the God of the promise.