When God set up the Promised Land for the Israelites, He set down rules and regulations for the people to follow. One of them had to do with the land itself. If you know about the Middle East, there isn’t much arable land to use for farming. It fact most of it is deserts. So land usage is an important part of life. When the Jewish people came back into the Promised Land, an almond grove from biblical times was discovered in the Negev desert. Each tree was surrounded on 3 sides by a small wall of stones to capture the rain. All the walls were facing one way. The Negev’s annual rain fall is about 8 inches. 8 inches of water a year isn’t enough to take a bath in. The almond crop in California uses 10% of all water used for crops and people. So water usage was of upmost important. The land in Israel was given as God inheritance. Not everybody is a farmer. Those that chose to sell their land could do so for 7 years. Then it was to be returned to the original owner. This way no one could lose their inheritance. On the same 7 year cycle, each person was to farm the land for 6 years and let the land rest on the 7th year. Most farmers do that today to allow the land to recuperate from farming. But people became greedy and wouldn’t give the land back after 7 years. Nor would they let the land rest on the 7th year. The bible says that the land sprued the people out because of the sin of the people was heavy upon the land. For 490 years, the Israelites wouldn’t follow God’s word. So the Israelites went into captivity for 70 years. And no one farmed the Promised Land for 70 years. God gave the land rest. The bible says in Romans 8:22-23 “Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.” Have you ever seen the earth groan and travail? If you haven’t just look around. It is happening now.
We always hope that our parents will leave us an inheritance. Something substantial, like land or money, but it is not always so. An inheritance can be something else. Some people are just not rich in their life, so they leave what they can like a good name, understanding or knowledge. Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.” Give a person a fish and you feed him for the day. Teach him to fish and you feed him for his lifetime. The Israelites are made up of 12 tribes. God promised them a Promise Land, flowing with milk and honey. All the tribes had an inheritance in the land, except the Levites. Moses and Aaron were Levites. When they were in Egypt, they were the teachers of God’s law to the Israelites. God gave them an inheritance in Him. God divided them into three families. Each one had a job in the temple and they were to share in all that was collected at the temple or Tent of Meeting. This is how they made their living. God provided for them. About the time that Jesus was born, the Levites were pushed out of the temple by Sadducees. The Levites formed monasteries to be able to live. This is where the Dead Sea Scrolls came from. God’s inheritance is not just food or shelter. An important part of His inheritance are our children. That is why children are so important in our lives. My parents left my brothers and I an inheritance of money. But more than that they left us the knowledge of God. What will you leave to your children?
My son’s dog Olivia was raised in our home. While my son was in college, this was her home. Olivia came to identify our home as hers. No other animal could came into our home except Olivia approved. We have had cats in our home also. But as is Olivia’s right as head mistress, she decided if they could live here. The last animal in our home was a calico cat, named Calli. This cat was taken in as a kitten. It was a rescue cat that we found on the side of the road. She had been beaten up pretty badly. When Olivia first saw Calli, she knew that there was something wrong. Olivia began to clean the kitten as if it was her puppy. The kitten bonded to Olivia and followed her around. She became her mom. The kitten would sleep with Olivia. Calli also played with Olivia. The strangest thing happened, Olivia taught Calli how to be a cat. She taught the kitten how to hunt and pounce on prey. Olivia was always the prey. She didn’t mind and played with the cat and still does. My son has moved away and Olivia lives with him. Our beautiful calico cat Calli lives with us. She is now mistress of the house, until Olivia comes for a visit. Calli want us to pet and play with her, but still will not let us hold her. Calli takes all the best spots in the house unless Olivia is here. Her mom can have the best of everything. God showed us this relationship for a reason. The bond is strong between Olivia and Calli. It isn’t broken just because of time and distance. It will always be there for each other. Just as the bond God makes with us. No matter the road we travel, the bond between our Father and us will not be broken. The opportunity to build a relationship with God is open to anyone who will come. All you have to do is ask and you shall receive, seek and your will find, and knock and it shall be open to you. God is ready and present for you.
There were 150 people in the Upper Room that received the baptism of the Holy Ghost some 2000 years ago. When the zealots caused so much trouble in Jerusalem, the Roman army marched into Israel to put down the rebellion. This caused the church to scatter to the world. It’s funny how people don’t like to do something hard unless there is a more difficult reason that will prompt us to. The church scatter to the world. Saul, the apostle Paul, had already traveled to Europe. James, the brother of John, had gone to Spain and returned when Herod killed him. Doubting Thomas went to India. When there is still a church in his name today. But most of the church nobody knows where they went or what happen to them. There is a real reason why. Because it wasn’t about the individual Christian. It was about spreading the gospel to the rest of the world. God knew where each person was and took care of each one. But it wasn’t about them. It was about Him, Jesus. Guess what happen to the world. It was turned upside down. With all the efforts the Romans put into finding and killing Christians, they couldn’t stop them from doing what God sent them to do. When the Romans would kill Christians in the arena in Rome, more people would join them from the stands. Eventually the Romans had to stop killing Christians in the arena. No man is a match to God and His efforts. When God’s plan is in play, all man can do is get out of the way. Jesus gave all disciples the commission. He said in Mark16:15-16 “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Let’s hope that God doesn’t have to send an invading army to scatter us the world.
The question is as old as man. I have filled my life with things that I wanted. I always went that way. I like to cook and eat good food. Is that who I am? I have an education with some college. Is that who I am? I have been on this journey for a long time trying to make the right decisions all along the way. I have made real whoppers that took years of prayer to undo. I have made some good ones that I know helped people in their life here on this earth. Is that who I am? I love music and was a music director for a Christian radio station. What music I like best is Adult Contemporary. Does that make me who I am? I have always been concerned about who I am. I never wanted to be the odd man out. I wanted to fit into society. Is that who I am? I married and had 4 sons. My wife and I raised them as best we could. We wanted them to grow up to be good men. Is that the answer? I am a fairly gentle soul. I don’t wish harm to anyone. I have become angry with a few people in my life. I have never willfully harm anyone. Though I wanted to. Is that who I am? My perception of this world has been shaped by what I have done. All the years of walking through this world. I have seen things that would amaze you. And I have seen things that would repulse you. But I am still here. And I am still walking through. I life has always been filled with struggle. At first I thought that is my fault. But as I kept walking in this world, I wasn’t alone. It seemed that everybody else struggled right along with me. Is that who I am? Answering that question was a driving force in my life. As it is in everyone’s life. That question was answered for me so long ago. I know who I am. Do you know who you are and what is your purpose on this earth? I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. I am more than a conqueror through Him who strengthens me. I am healed by His stripes. I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power unto eternal life. And that is who I am.
How long have people longed to come to these shores? It has been a least a 1000 years. What did they see or dream about? Can you imagine what America looked like 1000 years ago? It was filled with trees and wildlife. It had beautiful pristine rivers and lakes. It was filled with everything people dream about and want in their lives. So many people came to these shores that no one will ever know about. They lived and died here on this land. And I am not talking about 500 years ago. Only 200 years ago, people came and moved west only to die of violence by man or animal or by sickness. And no one knows who they are except God. Yet people kept coming. They wouldn’t stop. America has always been referred to as the promise land, a land flowing with milk and honey. People saw a chance to improve their lives and their families. So they sold everything they had and came to America. Most of those people died within a year of coming. Those that survived carved out a piece of America for themselves. First it was the people of Siberia. Then the Vikings came. Then the people of Europe came. Then the Africans. Poor people from almost every nation. Our country is called the melting pot of the world. If you look at our language you will find words from every nation. One things has always been true, when we are threaten our people come together as one. We have lived through many wars. I have lived through 5 wars just in my lifetime. And still today, people from everywhere still want to come to America, the Promised Land.
I have a friend that went with my son to Iraq in 2004 during the shooting war. They were based in Bagdad. During a mission in 2005 their tank rolled across an IED. It exploded and the tank commander was killed along with a trooper in the back. The rest of the squad was injured in some way. My friend had fractured his back and nobody knew. He tried to help everybody out of the tank but passed out for pain. After two days in the hospital, his captain went looking for him. The medics didn’t see any physical wounds so they didn’t treat him. But he couldn’t walk. The captain immediately got him help and he was evacuated to Germany. There he began to recover. By a miracle of God, they got him on his feet. And with assistance he shuffled a few feet. But the prognosis was not good. They said he would never walk again. They moved him to Walter Reed Hospital for further testing and therapy. Before he left there he was walking with assistance. They moved him to San Antonio for the rest of his recovery. We wrote letters to each other and I could tell he was getting despondent. He has a wife and two children. He told before he left for Iraq that God had called him into the ministry. All of that was on hold. His wife wrote saying she didn’t know what to do. When a person needs to hear the truth to help them, you do it in love. I wrote to my friend that God had called him into the ministry. God didn’t call his legs into ministry, but him. If he never walked again in his life, it still didn’t negate his call into the ministry. I told him he could function just as well without legs in the ministry. He saw the truth, he needed to go on with his life. Today after ten years, he walks just fine. He also went to bible school. The truth will set you free and if you are free, you are free indeed.
My wife and I were at my brother’s house this weekend watching football. He and his wife live in an area of the city that is known for drive by shootings. They bought this old house in an area that wasn’t bad at first. But has become terrible lately. They have two big mixed breed German Sheppard dogs. If the dogs got upset with you they could do some damage. I was going out to the car to get something. As I opened the door, I walked out first then came the dogs. My brother followed and looked at me and said, you let the dogs go first, always. He was genuinely concerned for me. I saw the fear in his eyes for me. My wife and I live about 20 miles away in a small community. It is relatively safe to live there. I don’t know if I could live in an area where I had to be concerned for my life all the time. I have served in the military but not in combat. 3 of my 4 sons have fought in combat. My father fought in combat in WWII. I have had friends that didn’t come back from war. Life is tenuis at best. No one knows when, where or how we will die. My young friend walked over a mine, while the soldier behind him stood on top. My friend was 5 feet past the mine when it blew up and was killed. The soldier on top of mine was only scratched. God knows the exact time we will go home. God doesn’t guarantee tomorrow for us. All God gives us is now. Now is the time and today is the day of salvation. This is all of God’s promise. God wants us to see who we are and what we have in Him. So the time is now. What are you going to do with your time? What will you do with now?
I can remember commercials on television or newspaper hawking products that would make you handsome or tall. You look back at this and laugh. Because it was so ridicules that you wonder how people could believe it in the first place. People have always wanted conveniences that would help them in their daily life. Look at the simple things we have. How would you like to live on a dirt road that washes out every time it rains. Or how would you like to go to an outhouse in the dead of winter. Having flowing water in the house is a relatively new convenience. Or having a telephone on a party line where you could only talk every so often. Or having to saddle a horse to go to the store 10 miles away. The industrial revolution has created many things that we take for granted. There are very few department stores that are over 50 years old. When my parents talked about walking to school they weren’t kidding. My mother lived 5 miles down a gravel road from her school. By the time she was ready to go to school, her father was in the cotton field working with the only horses they had. Yet today that is considered old fashion and out of date. Yet being self-sufficient never get old. There are many commercials about planning for retirement. And they ask pertinent questions about our future. What happens to us if the infrastructure fails and it did after Hurricane Katrina? That storm moved a 1.5 million people and shut down a city which is still struggling to come after 10 years. As God says, “but seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
What is your comfort zone? How far can you go without being put into a situation that becomes uncomfortable? Why do we have to be uncomfortable anyway? Our comfort zone is a place where we like to be. It is free from conflict and any activity that we don’t want. I like to camp, but I don’t like wilderness camping. I don’t have to have a cellphone, but I don’t like to live off the land. I like sleeping in a sleeping bag. Waking up at the break of dawn to watch a sunrise in the woods is exciting to me. Preparing food and drink over a campfire is fun. This is my comfort zone. I like animals. Most domestic ones, cats and dogs, even gerbils are interesting. I don’t like snakes. I can be at home with most any animal. Some people take me out of my comfort zone. I don’t mind talking to most any stranger. It has always been interesting to me to find out about people. So why do we have a comfort zone? What is that all about? How many times you have wanted to accomplish a goal? And you knew that you couldn’t do this inside your comfort zone. You had to go until the task was completed. And where it took you, you would never normally go. It meant that you had to go through every emotion in the book. I hate to be embarrassed, because I feel like a fool. But I know that many times the only way to accomplish my goals is through it. Each time that things happen to me I grow. This is the only way I can move forward in my life. God says that we go through temptations all of our life. And with each different temptation God always makes a way of escape. He does this so we are able to bear the temptation in our lives. So press through your comfort zone and find out what is out there for you.