“Are We There Yet?”
Hello and welcome to “Key to the Kingdom.” My name is Bret McCasland. Sometimes the road of life seems oh so long. The struggles and obstacles we encounter along the way are trying and difficult. The ups and downs, the peaks and valleys, the good times and bad, weigh heavily upon us. Yes, life is hard and it doesn't seem to be getting any easier. But the Lord never promised the road would be easy. He just promised He would be our constant companion as we journey through life. Today on “Key to the Kingdom,” we will spend some time thinking about how we can make the most of our life's journey. We will identify some attitudes and actions that can help us as we look forward to our final destination. I invite you now to listen to what Moses told the Israelites long ago, as they traveled to the Promised Land; and then think about what that means for us today.
Do you remember those times when taking a trip in the car and hearing those never ending questions, from the backseat or perhaps even from the front seat: are we there yet, how much longer will it be, and, when will we get there? Oh, for the most part, we are impatient people; always ready to get somewhere else and not really happy with where we are right now. And because of that, we sometimes cannot enjoy the journey of life because we are so focused on a destination. A number of years ago, while driving down the road, a car passed me at a relatively high rate of speed and I noticed the vanity license plate there on the back of the car as he went by, and it contained these letters: N A HURY, in a hurry. In fact, so many of us live our life in a hurry. Well, one thing I have come to realize is that God is not in a hurry. In fact, He is just the opposite. God is patient. He operates on a different time schedule than do most of us. Perhaps that is why Peter wrote, in 2nd Peter 3:9 – God is patient, not willing that any should perish, but all should come to repentance. – The Bible also tells us that with God 1000 years is as one day and one day is as 1000 years. Yes, God is patient. And perhaps the very best place to see the patience of God is in His deliverance of the Israelites. We know well that story: How His chosen people were led out of the Egyptian captivity through the hand of Moses, to Mount Sinai and then on to the promised land of Canaan. Now, if we look at the map we would find that it would take only about 2 to 3 weeks to get from Egypt down to Mount Sinai, where Moses received the 10 Commandments; a journey of about 175 to 200 miles. But then, from Mount Sinai over to the promised land of Canaan, it too, was about the same distance, 175 to 200 miles. But the difference is where it took 2 to 3 weeks on the 1st leg of that trip it took 40 years to eventually get to Canaan. And we read how these Israelites wandered in the wilderness, and indeed, it was a wandering, going around in circles until finally they arrived. Some have estimated there were almost 2 million people in that caravan, making that trip. Can you imagine the logistics of trying to get from Egypt to Sinai and then over to the Promised Land? How many times do you suppose they asked the question, are we there yet? How much longer will it be? And in the midst of that wilderness, wandering, they complained and they griped about their situation. They were tired of walking and traveling. They were thirsty, and they were hungry, and they got tired of the same food eaten over and over again, food that they didn't have to work for. Many of them even longed to go back into Egypt and to enjoy some of those things, even though they had to work for them. Yes, these Israelites complained about their situation. They did not like it at all, and for 40 years this went on. But to God it must have seemed as if it was no time at all. Yes, these Israelites longed for that final destination, the promised land of Canaan, but they struggled during the journey. They were in the space between the now and the not yet. And isn't that where we are in our life today? We are certainly not where we were yesterday and we are not where we hopefully will someday be, the final destination in the presence of God. And sometimes, in the midst of our life's journey, we too get a little bit anxious, just like these Israelites. We too become anxious to arrive where we someday will see and be with God for all eternity, and we have trouble in the midst of life's journey. I want you to take just a couple of moments to watch this video clip from our website, keytothekingdom.com. It illustrates our lesson today.
Today I am taking a trip with some friends. Were going to a place we have never been to before, traveling down a road we’ve never been on before. And as we are traveling we are asking our self the question, when will we get there? How much longer will it be? Are we there yet? And for those of us who have children those are questions that we hear quite often from the back seat, as they are anticipating arriving at a place perhaps they have never been to before. And why do we ask those questions? It's because sometimes the road is long and we are anxious to get to our destination, to where we want to be. Recently I was traveling down a road I had never been on before, following my friend. He knew where we were going and I was watching very closely, anxious to get there. And when we finally arrived he said, “Bret, did you notice that herd of deer on the side of the road?” And I said, “No, I was so focused on you.” Oh, it was a beautiful clear morning and it was a beautiful sight to see, and yet I missed it. Sometimes we are very focused on where we want to go, and certainly there is nothing wrong with that. We have our eyes on our destination. But at times, since we are so focused on that, we miss the wonderful things on life's journey. We miss the wonderful people, and experiences, and things that God puts upon our life's journey for us to enjoy. I would encourage us today that as we travel down life's highway we never forget that God places people, and things, and events in our life that bring great blessing and joy to us. Let us never get in a hurry to get to where we want to go but enjoy each and every day; make the most of every moment that God gives us on the road of life.
Oh, if we took a journey of 175 or 200 miles, to a place we had never been before, no doubt we would see some things we had never seen before. We would experience all kinds of things, some of them good and perhaps some of them bad. And yet that is the essence of life, isn't it? It is not about the destination but, really, it is about the journey. And there are lots of things that happen on our journey of life but if we are so focused on getting to our destination, and again there's nothing wrong with that, we might miss out on some wonderful experiences along the way. Some of those experiences might test our faith while others of them might strengthen it. Some of those experiences might move us away from God while others will bring us closer to God. We will experience our share of good times, and bad times, and ups, and downs, and trials, and triumphs, and successes, and defeats. At times, we will be single. At times, we might be married. At times, we will experience the joy of bringing children into this world, and then at other times we will experience the sadness of saying goodbye to those whom we love. At times, we will walk close with God and be faithful to Him, and at other times, we may be unfaithful to the God who loves us so very much. But here is the key: It is how we handle the journey of life that is so important. Yes, the journey of life is like an every day walk with the one you love. It's like walking hand in hand through life with your spouse. There will be your fair share of ups, and downs, and trials, and good times, and bad, but yet there will always be an underlying commitment of love for one another. There will be some unique and trying experiences yet there is that commitment that keeps you together. And based upon that, there are some ways in which we can live our lives upon this Earth where we can enjoy the journey of life on our way to the final destination, and those things come from the story of the Israelites. In Deuteronomy chapter 8, Moses reminds the people of some very important principles they need to practice as they make this journey, and even as they arrive in the Promised Land, 6 adjustments, or 6 changes, they can make that will make their life's journey just a little bit better. And I believe these same 6 things are very valuable for us to know and to practice as well. The 1st thing, and in fact all of these things, come from Deuteronomy chapter 8. The 1st thing Moses tells the people is to live with humility and not with pride. We find that in verses 1 through 4 of the 8th chapter. – Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land the Lord promised on oath to your ancestors. Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the wilderness these forty years, to humble and test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. – The humbling process of wandering through the wilderness for 40 years was to teach these people to depend upon God, to test their faith, to see whether or not they would trust God to provide for the needs in their life. I love that statement there at the end, in verse 4: Their clothes did not wear out, their feet did not swell. In other words, these people didn’t have to worry about what they wore. They wore the same pair of shoes for 40 years because God took care of what they needed. Their feet did not swell. Their clothes did not wear out. Yes, that was a learning process, a humbling process, to teach them to rely on God. And sometimes we need to experience those humbling experiences, as well, to teach us to depend upon God, to realize that life doesn't revolve around us, or our abilities, or our talents, but we trust God to provide for what we need in this world. And that's the 1st thing that we learn in our life's journey, to live with humility and not with pride. The 2nd thing Moses tells the people to do is to live with obedience and not disobedience. And we find that in verses 5 and 6 here in Deuteronomy chapter 8. – Know then in your heart that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you. Observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in obedience and revering Him. – Perhaps you have heard the phrase, “Obedience brings blessing, but disobedience brings burden.” No doubt, that's what Moses is trying to communicate to these people. When you obey God you will be blessed by God. When you do what He is asking you to do then things will go well with you. You will be prosperous. Your life will go smoothly. Things will work out. But when you disobey God and choose to live by your own desire and your own purposes then you're going to experience some problems, and burdens, and difficulties in life. And perhaps we have all had that experience. We have the experience of going off and doing our own thing, and we know the consequences that come as a result. And so the 2nd thing Moses tells us to do is to live with obedience and not disobedience. But then there's a 3rd thing he tells the people, it's found in verses 7 through 9, and that is to live with faith and not fear. Notice these verses in Deuteronomy chapter 8. – For the Lord your God is bringing you into a land, a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. – Oh, the Israelites did not know what they were getting in to, but God did. God knew exactly what He had in store for His people. And here in these 3 verses we find at least 15 things that God is going to give to these people: the iron, and the copper, and the figs, and the vines, and the pomegranates, and the water, and everything they could possibly imagine. God would provide it for them, so they could live with faith knowing that God would take care of their needs. There would be no need to have any kind of fear in their lives. They did not need to be afraid of anything that lie ahead because God would sustain them. Likewise today, we know that when there is fear in our lives there is no room for faith in our hearts. And so the encouragement is to live by faith in God, knowing that He will provide everything we need in life's journey. There's a 4th thing which Moses tells the people to do, and that is to live with worship and not with whine, and that's spelled whine. Look, if you will, at Deuteronomy chapter 8 and verse 10. – When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you. – Oh, complaining was the natural response of these Israelites. They did not like their situation in life. They did not like wandering in the wilderness for 40 years, and who would blame them. They did not like the sand, and the scorpions, and the snakes, and everything else that made that life's journey so difficult; and they complained. But Moses says, when you get to the Promised Land you will bless the name of God. You will praise the name of God for what He has done for you. It will exceed any kind of expectation you might have had. Likewise today, we sometimes spend our time complaining, and fussing, and griping about our situation in life. And perhaps this is a message for us, to realize that someone always has it worse than we do. And so instead of whining, and complaining, and griping, we thank God. And we praise and we bless His name for the good that comes our way. Moses tells them something else as well, number 5. He says I want you to live with gratitude and not with greed. And we find that in Deuteronomy chapter 8 beginning with verse 11. – Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe His commands, His laws and His decrees that I am giving you this day. Otherwise, when you eat and are satisfied, when you build fine houses and settle down, and when your herds and flocks grow large and your silver and gold increase and all you have is multiplied, then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. He led you through the vast and dreadful wilderness, that thirsty and waterless land, with its venomous snakes and scorpions. He brought you water out of hard rock. He gave you manna to eat in the wilderness, something your ancestors had never known, to humble and test you so that in the end it might go well with you. You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms His covenant, which He swore to your ancestors, as it is to this day. – Moses tells the people to thank God for His goodness. Thank God for all the blessings that He has provided for you in the midst of this wilderness wandering, in the midst of your life's journey. And don't get greedy; don't take credit for any of the wealth or any of the prosperity you enjoy, because it did not come from your hand. It did not come from your own resources but rather it came from the loving hand of God, who took care of you. Therefore, thank God for it. Many nations around the world have certain times of the year when we thank God, and when we recognize the good things in our life. Why not live with that thankful and grateful attitude year round, on a daily basis, as we recognize the good that God does for us? But then there is one more thing that Moses tells people to do, in the midst of their life journey, and that is to live with devotion and not desertion. And we find that here at the end of Deuteronomy 8 in verses 19 and 20. – If you ever forget the Lord your God and follow other gods and worship and bow down to them, I testify against you today that you will surely be destroyed. Like the nations the Lord destroyed before you, so you will be destroyed for not obeying the Lord your God. – The question I have is; why would anyone want to turn away from the God who took care of them for 40 years? It really doesn't make sense. And yet we know that when the people arrived in the Promised Land they did that. They deserted God. They went over to the other side, and they worshiped the foreign gods of all those foreign nations around them. Oh, I cannot imagine, today, trying to live life without God. This passage reminds me to give my full devotion to Him and not desert Him or go over to the other side. When we live by these principles, that are found here in Deuteronomy chapter 8, I really believe that our journey in life will go so much smoother. Certainly, the ultimate goal and destination is important, as we long to see God and to be eternally with Him. And to have those goals and dreams here upon this Earth are absolutely essential. And yet the journey we take to get there will develop our character and it will strengthen our faith. It will allow us to seek help from the One who is never in a hurry. And perhaps God is not in a hurry, as we tend to be, to move us to our final destination because He wants us to learn the lessons of life. He has some things to teach us as we make life's journey, and as we travel on that road to our final destination. As we close, we might consider this. What are some lessons that we are learning on life's journey? Do they have to do something with trusting God to provide for the needs of our life? Do they have something to do with depending more upon Him than upon ourselves for our direction and purpose on where we want to go, and what we need to do and accomplish in this world? Oh, I hope they do. And then we might ask this. Are those lessons really making a difference in the way we live? Do we live with less stress, and less anxiety, and less worry, knowing that God will provide for us in the midst of our wilderness wandering, wherever it might take us? Do we live with a desire to walk with God and to know without a doubt that He loves us, and He cares for us, and therefore we walk with obedience and devotion to Him with faith in our hearts knowing that He knows what is best and He will safely keep us until we reach that final destination? Oh, let us never be in such a hurry that we keep asking the question, “Are we there yet?” but let us walk with faith in God as we travel down the journey of life.
Thank you for being our guest today on “Key to the Kingdom.” Yes, sometimes life is challenging and hard, and we cannot wait to be in the presence of the Lord. Until that time comes, however, we know there are some things we can do now to make the journey a little bit better. Have you download the “Key to the Kingdom” app on your smartphone? This free app offers daily messages, & more, to assist you in your daily walk with the Lord. I certainly hope you will take advantage of these free offers. Again, I want to say thank you for taking a few minutes to view today's program. Hopefully it was a blessing to you. Please join us again next week on this same station for another episode of “Key to the Kingdom.”