February 9

Numbers 1-4, Psalm 40

Many feel secure and satisfied with their unsaved friends and family members. The reason is that when asked if they believe in God, they say, "yes". If asked whether they believe in Jesus, they say, "yes". Even if you ask them if they believe that Jesus died for their sins, they say, "yes". The conclusion is they believe and therefore are saved. This conclusion is because most don't fully understand what the term, "believe", means. Believing the facts surrounding God, the Father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is only part of the equation. Many give mental assent to these facts as true but indeed do not believe. Biblical saving faith means also trusting and relying on those facts. The question is whether people mentally believe in these facts academically but do not trust Jesus with all their heart as their Savior. Do they believe they factor into the equation? Do they believe they will be saved by a little of Jesus and a little by their good works? Just as important, is this trust manifested by how they live their lives? Do they live the bulk of their lives indifferent to the things of God, honestly not giving Him a second thought for most of their daily lives? For those reassured by this mental belief in God, we read in James 2:19, "You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe-and tremble!"

As we go through the numbering of the men of Israel who were 20 years old and above, we come to the total of the census in Numbers 1:45-46, "So all who were numbered of the children of Israel, by their fathers' houses, from twenty years old and above, all who were able to go to war in Israel-all who were numbered were six hundred and three thousand five hundred and fifty." These men witnessed the miracles of the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the presence of God on Mount Sinai, being fed by manna in the desert, being given water to drink miraculously by God, physically seeing the pillar of fire and the cloud to lead them. It would be impossible for these men not to believe that there was indeed a real God. Yet, as we move through the pages of this 38-39 years journey chronicled in the pages of Numbers we will see that all but two of these men die in the wilderness journey. They were not permitted entry into the Promised Land due to the tragic consequences of their unbelief. This journey which brings them to the brink of the Promised Land in one year, becomes a forty-year wilderness journey because of this unbelief. We should meditate on the words spoken by the author of Hebrews in Hebrews 3:16-4:2, "For who having heard, rebelled? Indeed, was it not all who came out of Egypt, led by Moses? Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it. For indeed the gospel was preached to us as well as to them; but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in those who heard it."

Many describe their belief in Jesus without the slightest hint of emotion. Many seem to refer to Him and the cross in front of their sanctuary as though He were the mascot representing their religion. Going to church, saying your daily prayers, saying emotionlessly and without trusting completely that Jesus is your Savior does not mean you believe. We face the same choices that those Israelites faced in their wilderness journey. We can truly believe in the promises of God and enter into the victorious life of faith and enter into the Promised Land as only two of the men aged 20 and above did, Caleb and Joshua. The alternative is to live a life of unbelief, constantly complaining about the various "injustices" that we face, walking in circles and never entering into the Promised Land, which is heaven. We, who believe have a job to do, now. We never know when someone's life will come to an end. Believing somehow that a loved one will make into heaven because they give verbal assent to belief without any tangible evidence that they have true trusting belief and because this is what we want for them is a dangerous game to play. Jesus in Matthew 7:13-14, reminded those assembled that very few actually find the narrow road to heaven. So, armed with the truth of the gospel message may we not hesitate in fulfilling that Great Commission given to us by our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, in Matthew 28:18-20.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster