In my studies this week, I ran across a report on what to avoid in life to keep us safe. Let me share some interesting statistics:
AVOID riding in automobiles because they are responsible for 20% of all fatal accidents. Don’t stay at home because 17% of all accidents occur in the home. AVOID walking on streets or sidewalks because 14% of all accidents occur to pedestrians. AVOID traveling by air, rail or water, for 16% of all accidents involve these forms of transportation. Of the remaining 33%, 32% of all deaths occur in hospitals. So, above all else, AVOID hospitals.
However, you will be pleased to learn that only .001% of all deaths occur in worship services at church and these occurrences are usually attributed to previous physical disorders.
Therefore, logic tells us that the SAFEST place for you and I to be at any given time is at CHURCH…or Bible study, which is even less. So for your own safety, attend church and read your Bible.
Now as much as most Pastors today would like for people to come to church in order to avoid accidents, unfortunately, what often happens is that the CHURCH gets too safe–tamed.
We throw away our rebellious side. I don’t mean just REBELLION against God. I mean, we just stop rebelling against the culture, too. We try to fit in…play nice; get along with everybody because that’s what Christians should do.
This brings us to the Bible passage found in JOSHUA 17:11-18 which describes the condition of the tribe of Manasseh.
 Within Issachar and Asher, Manasseh also had Beth Shan, Ibleam and the people of Dor, Endor, Taanach, and Megiddo, together with their surrounding settlements…  Yet the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region.  However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor but did not drive them out completely.  The people of Joseph said to Joshua, “Why have you given us only one allotment and one portion for an inheritance? We are numerous people and the LORD has blessed us abundantly.”
 “If you are so numerous,” Joshua answered, “and if the hill country of Ephraim is too small for you, go up into the forest and clear land for yourselves there in the land of the Perizzites and Rephaites.”
 The people of Joseph replied, “The hill country is not enough for us, and all the Canaanites who live in the plain have iron chariots, both those in Beth Shan and its settlements and those in the Valley of Jezreel.”
 But Joshua said to the house of Joseph–to Ephraim and Manasseh– “You are numerous and very powerful. You will have not only one allotment  but the forested hill country as well. Clear it, and its farthest limits will be yours; though the Canaanites have iron chariots and though they are strong, you can drive them out.”
(New International Version – NIV)
MANASSEH had already claimed some land east of the Jordan River before Joshua had started to lead his people to conquer the land of Canaan, which lay west of the Jordan.
But apparently, Manasseh, because it was a large tribe, was to get some land west as well. VERSE 11 gives what towns could be found in that land:
 Also Manasseh had in Issachar and in Asher [these six towns], their inhabitants and their villages: Beth-shean, Ibleam, Dor, Endor, Taanach, and Megiddo. (Amplified Bible)
The Whinners, Grumblers, and Complainers Become Front and Center –
So you see the PROBLEM…
The people of Manasseh had these six towns in their land, given to them by God, but… they couldn’t drive the people out who lived there. After all, the residents had iron chariots which seemed pretty scary to fight in battle (verse 16).
So they came to Joshua looking for MORE LAND, in lieu of fighting the dreadful charioteers.
At first glance, the request seems reasonable enough. But JOSHUA knew what they were asking and it wasn’t more land because they needed it…it was more land so they wouldn’t have to take any chances fighting the enemy. You see, they were whiny. They were grumblers and complainers. They had so much, they still weren’t happy. Never mind that they had more land than any of the other tribes. No, they wanted MORE!
That sounds like us, actually.
We have so much. We have PHYSICAL BLESSINGS:
- Like health, strength, food on our tables, shoes on our feet, roofs over our heads.
Plus, as Christians, we have all those SPIRITUAL BLESSINGS:
- Like forgiveness, hope, peace, joy, love, patience, self-control, and answered prayers.
And what He’s done for us:
- ADOPTED us, REDEEMED us, JUSTIFIED us, PURIFIED us, and CLEANSED us, to name just a few.
Ephesians 1:3 says…
And yet, knowing GOD’S WORD…
We still want to WHINE about all the shortages in life–in our paychecks, our casual times:
We WHINE about gas prices.
We WHINE about grocery bills.
We WHINE about how hot or how cold it is.
We WHINE about what sinners do.
We WHINE about what Christians do.
We WHINE about our church, our pastor, our teachers, our family, our friends (or shortage thereof!)…GUILTY, GUILTY, GUILTY!!!
“WE JUST WANT MORE!” Is an all together cry today, even in television commercials:
And I wonder, if because we think life is so bad, that we must think that God isn’t doing a good enough job to make us happy.
COMPLAINING about everything, eventually, shows that we are complaining about how good of a job God is doing on earth.
Of course, the people of Manasseh whined and complained. They had reached a level in their lives and didn’t know how to get past it. It seemed as though they saw what COULD happen, but too afraid to MAKE it happen. So, instead of moving forward, they stay put.
It’s like trying to keep a two-year-old still for any length of time–they easily get bored and perhaps…unpleasable, maybe?
It’s the same for the children of God.
We were meant to move on and press forward! (Philippians 3:12-16; Hebrews 12:1-2). So if at some point we stop in our spiritual walk with Christ because we are afraid of what might happen, then we’ll get bored, restless, whiny, and unpleasable.
So what you have to do is move on and get out of your COMFORT ZONE every once in a while.
Early in my Christian life at the church, I was saved at, our pastor invited a few good men, including all the men on the Deacon board, to commit to an Advanced Discipleship Training class for six weeks. In this training, we were to meet in groups of five (there were 15 men in total) at different homes, review and discuss the previous lesson, then meet back together at church for prayer for the following week.
One week, the LESSON was on Evangelism in our neighborhoods and the discussion entailed sharing Christ to a total stranger. Wait…it gets scarier!
We were to open up a city telephone directory, randomly pick a name, call the phone number and introduce the person on the other end of the line to Christ, reading from a prepared script. We all practiced for about ten minutes, and then it was time to ‘move forward.’
“Who wants to be first?” the group leader asked. “Uh, I’ll go first,” I said with eyes closed. Was I afraid? No, of course not. I was scared to death! But I pressed on.
Yes, I had several people I called hang up the phone. But as time came to the end, the last call…“Would you like to receive Christ as your Savior?” He said, “YES, I WOULD.” My reaction to the stranger’s answer…”You would?” I was as surprised as everyone else in the room, as they silently moved their lips with AMEN and PRAISE GOD!
FEAR disappeared and FAITH took over.
There are too few people who are willing to give of themselves. Too many people, too many Christians are afraid.
Moving From Living by FAITH to Living In FEAR.
Maybe it’s age.
Maybe too much head knowledge, I don’t know, but it seems that people become more and more AFRAID OF LOSING…losing their reputations, losing their pensions, losing their health, losing their lives, the longer they live.
PEOPLE CRAVE WHAT MAKES THEM COMFORTABLE.
But, just as the tribe of Manasseh learned, COMFORT doesn’t bring satisfaction. They knew the LORD had BLESSED them with so much, and yet, they still wanted MORE!
They whined about not having enough–“MORE IS BETTER”–because they just weren’t happy. But they weren’t willing to go out on a limb and trust God with their challenges.
If you don’t every once in a while, put your FAITH to the test and step out a little, you’ll never be content.
Someone once said, “Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb. That’s where the fruit is.”
James Bryant Conant, an American Chemist, and educator once wrote: “Behold the turtle. He makes progress only when he sticks out his neck” [See footnote [i].]
That’s why there are so few men and teens in church. We make this place we call our church home so safe, so secure, never going out on a limb for anything, that there’s no element of risk or danger. Which of course…fuels men and teens.
Sometime COURAGE means letting go of what you’ve always had.
SOMETIMES COURAGE means stepping out into uncharted territory.
SOMETIMES COURAGE means going to someone and say you’re sorry.
I don’t know what you’d love to do, but you’ve been too afraid to do it. I don’t know what COURAGE means for you. All I know is that too few of us are too afraid to do what God is calling us to do, and we have missed out on God’s BEST for us because of it.
There’s a story in Luke 13 I want to share with you– Luke 13:22-25 (MSG)
 He (Jesus) went on teaching from town to village, village to town, but keeping on a steady course toward Jerusalem.
[23-25] A bystander said, “Master, will only a few saved?” He said, “Whether few or many is none of your business. Put your mind on your life with God. The way to life–to God!–is vigorous and requires your total attention. A lot of you are going to assume that you’ll sit down to God’s salvation banquet just because you’ve been hanging around the neighborhood all your lives. Well, one day you’re going to be banging on the door, wanting to get in, but you’ll find the door locked and the Master saying, ‘Sorry, you’re not on the guest list’.”
JESUS wasn’t saying that you could ever work your way to heaven. What He was saying “Trust in God’s mercy but work with all your might!”
He said that the VICTORY’S have been promised to us, but don’t be lazy about it.
I know it’s hard to risk ridicule from people, non-believers, and believers too.
I know it’s hard to have people disagree with you on biblical principles.
But sometimes, as we go about life’s many turns and detours, we find situations, where to do the RIGHT THING, means to step out in FAITH & COURAGE…AND it’s hard!
BUT DO IT ANYWAY!!
As a Christian, there’s no condemnation for you.
As a Christian, you’ve been forgiven.
If you fail, you always have a safety net–His name is JESUS.
CREDITS & FOOTNOTES:
Footnote [i] : Britannica.com James B. Conant, American educator and scientist.
“WE WANT MORE” – Youtube.
PHOTOS: Google Image Search – Advance search setting.
Bible Translations: New International Versions (NIV), Amplified (AMP), except where noted.