Resume My Journey God Has For Me
God has spoken to me. I have stayed at this mountain long enough. I need to resume my journey and go forward to my neighbors. See, God has set a mission before me. Enter and take possession of that mission. (Deuteronomy 1:6-8) – Personal Bible Verse for 2019
A vision without a task is but a dream; a task without a vision is drudgery; a vision and a task is the hope of the world. —A church in Sussex, England, around 17301
Helen Keller was once asked, “What would be worse than being born blind?” She replied, “To have sight with no vision.”
Reflecting on that statement, I realize that the consequences of having sight without vision are much more severe for a leader. For when a leader has no vision, his followers have no direction. Vision is not just an advantage for great spiritual leadership—it’s a prerequisite.
William Carey, a pioneer missionary, was able to envision the needs of the whole world, while his fellow preachers were preoccupied with their own little parishes. Vision has a wide-angle lens.
Henry Martyn saw India, Persia, and Ardia (a vision of the Muslim world), while the church at home was engrossed in its petty theological squabbles. Vision sees needs and is not thwarted by problems.
The contemporaries of A. B. Simpson said that his life work seemed to “push him on alone, while his fellows had nothing to explore.” Vision is compelling.
David Livingstone exclaimed, “I will go anywhere provided it is forward.” Vision instigates positive action.
Those who have most powerfully and permanently influenced their generation have been “seers.” Men and women of caution have never advanced the kingdom of God. People of vision are willing to take risks, knowing that they are attached to God’s rope of security.
Moses was a man with great vision. His name is in the Bible “hall of fame.” He was compelled to realize his vision. Hebrews 11:27 states, “By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king. for he endured as seeing Him who is invisible.”
The emphasis on “land” is unusually strong in Deuteronomy. The word occurs almost two hundred times. This passage of Scripture gives two conditions necessary in order for the land to be seen.
The first condition is the faithfulness of the Lord to provide. Moses begins his message, “The Lord our God spoke to us in Horeb” He immediately introduces the Lord’s interaction with His people. It began with the covenant promise made to Abraham and continues to this point in Israel’s life. What God has done in the past He is able to continue in the future. Deuteronomy repeatedly says, “God who is faithful demands that His people also be faithful.” It is on this basis that the covenant will be renewed. God wants people to see more than geographical boundaries. He wants His people to see possibilities.
The second condition necessary for the land to be seen is the willingness of the people to move. “You have dwelt long enough at this mountain” It’s time to move. The formation of the covenant has made of the Israelites a potential nation. Now they must go and possess the land to make it a reality. The dimensions of this land, described in verse 7, are enormous. All of Palestine and Syria are included in this geographical description. This is a larger area than Israel ever possessed, even during the reigns of David and Solomon.2 The point is that we must be willing to move into this task that is very large. The mission is bigger than me, it’s bigger than you, and it’s bigger than this church.
I have shared with you this verse this morning to set for you a vision for the year. In essence, I want to remind ourselves that we need to resume the journey God has for you and me. Even after a pause in my life, I need to resume my journey in following God and His ways for my life. You and I need to re-see God’s vision for ourselves and for this church. Christ is always looking forward. He is always pointing me forward to follow God. Just like these Israelites, we must decide to follow God’s direction, even after a pause.
Moses wrote Deuteronomy for the people of Israel who left the Promised Land. By this time, the older generation was dying out and Moses was in the process of transition of leading the new generation. The people had wandered in the desert for forty years. People had died and a new generation had been raised up. It was now time for the new generation to be obedient and follow God into His promises. Just like the Israelites, there are times in life when we need to resume what God has told us to do. We may have stopped for different reasons. Yet. at certain points, God calls us back to following Him.
The people of Israel had been waiting in a holding pattern after God delivered them from Egypt. There were changes and challenges along the way. Yet, because of the disobedience of the original pilgrims, that generation died off. A new generation was told to resume the journey into the Promised Land.
Each successive church generation can never rest for long. They need to resume the work that God shows them to do. God has moved ahead of us and has prepared everything that we need to do. He is always ready for us to follow Him.
In this case, God has shown Moses what He expects the people to do. He has cast the vision. Moses has seen what God has seen. This brings me to two questions to ask myself while we are on the mountain:
What do I need to leave behind on the mountain?
What do I need to do to move forward from the mountain?
As a church, what do we need to behind on this mountain? What do we need to do to move forward from this mountain as a church?
The church has been at the same place for some time. We may feel that there are people who are ready to rejoin us. We may sense that it is time to move on from the past. We need to resume the journey. As I speak about the church today, you may also see a personal application here as well. I encourage you to focus on what God wants to show you this morning.
What does that journey look like?
FOUR STEPS TO RESUME MY JOURNEY
Watch and listen to God as He speaks in worship
““The Lord our God spoke to us at Horeb: ‘You have stayed at this mountain long enough.” (Deuteronomy 1:6, CSB)
Look forward to what God is doing to do based on what He has spoken to you. This is why we worship as a church. We spend time listening to God in song, in praise, by testimony, and through the Word. But now it is time to move on. We move out of the fellowship of Sunday morning and move on to the mission that God has for us. Sundays are times of celebration and reflection, but they should also be times that we re-center ourselves so that we may go back into the mission that God has provided for us.
Often in life, we have to make decisions to move away from where we are and travel in another direction. When the time to do that has come, we cannot delay. We have to “break camp,” say good-bye to the things and people we are comfortable with, and decisively move forward. In this process, we need to be very sensitive to God so that we sense what his mind is on this launch forward. Often he gives us a sense that the time is ripe for us to move.3
Resume my journey as I grow up with God
“Resume your journey…” (Deuteronomy 1:7, CSB)
What does it mean to resume? Moving in the Old Testament meant moving forward, never moving backward. If there is anything we need to be reminded this morning, it is that God is always moving forward. He calls us to resume the journey He started with us.
For some of us this morning, it means resuming the personal journey with God. A day-by-day walk that has been curtailed or stopped by the busyness or interruptions in life. For others, it may be that we need to resume the friendships that we stopped for a variety of reasons. We need to re-engage. We need to re-start. In some ways, we need to re-grow our hearts.
Benefit the people around me as I serve the community God has sent me
“…go to the hill country of the Amorites and their neighbors in the Arabah, the hill country, the Judean foothills, the Negev and the sea coast—to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon as far as the great river, the Euphrates River.” (Deuteronomy 1:7, CSB)
God has placed you in a certain community of people. That community is your circle of influence. God placed people around you. They may be your neighbors by land, neighbors by work environment, neighbors by kinship, neighbors by interest, but they are all your neighbors by influence. God placed you in certain circles, that stretch for miles and years. God has placed you in a certain place with certain people for God’s purposes. This is why He says to “go.” You and I are sent to benefit the people around me. I go to them, and I don’t wait for them to come to me. I reach out to them because God has reached out to me.
For many here, it may take a step of growth to reach out to others. Building friendships are not easy. Making new friends can be hard, especially because it takes time and investment in people’s lives. Many people don’t want to spend time with others simply because that takes work. I have to spend my energy on other people and those other people may not spend their energy benefiting me. That’s the risk.
I build a friendship and they betray me.
I help a person and don’t return the favor.
I spend money on someone and I don’t get a thank-you.
I pray and invite someone to church, only for them to decide that this church isn’t friendly enough for them.
You can see where it may feel hard for you and me to re-engage with the culture around us when these are the responses we receive. But the fact of the matter is that God told us to go. We are a sent people. We are not supposed to sit idly by.
Enter the mission field that God has sent me to
“See, I have set the land before you. Enter…’” (Deuteronomy 1:8, CSB)
Once I have recaptured the vision that God has shown me, I need to take steps to follow through on my part in that vision. God has shown me and you that we need to re-engage with the people around us. How will that look for you? Let’s ask some questions:
Who are the people God has shown in your life with whom you need to re-engage? Who are the neighbors and friends with whom you need to strike up a conversation? What relationships do you need to enter and repair?
God has sent everyone on a mission. He has given everyone a mission field. He has appointed a piece of land that He wants you to occupy. But you won’t occupy that land sitting at home watching Netflix. You have to spend time with people. You have to build relationships.
During the Civil War, the Confederate Army was approaching the lines of battle. Night fell, stopping them just a short way from their destination. Quickly they began setting up their tents, preparing for a night’s rest. Walking among his soldiers, the commanding officer continually exhorted them, saying, “Don’t drive those stakes too deep; we’re moving up in the morning.” That is what God is saying to Israel. He is telling them not to get comfortable. We could apply this advice to our spiritual lives today. It’s too easy to become complacent in our personal journeys with the Lord. It’s too easy to settle for less than His best. Like Israel, we need to “see … the land” and not forget God’s plan for us and the potential within us.4
1 Roy B. Zuck, The Speaker’s Quote Book: Over 4,500 Illustrations and Quotations for All Occasions (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1997), 405.
2 John C. Maxwell and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Deuteronomy, vol. 5, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1987), 30–31.
3 Hughes Kent R., “A Word to Those Who Preach the Word,” in Preaching the Word: Deuteronomy—Loving Obedience to a Loving God, ed. R. Kent Hughes (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012), 40.
4 John C. Maxwell and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, Deuteronomy, vol. 5, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1987), 31.