Overarching theme: In 2020, FUMC will be a Go church!
When using this material as teacher, feel free to pick and choose the point you want to emphasis in the lesson. The format of the curriculum is designed to have an abundance of information in which to refer as desired.
The past is the past. There is nothing that can be done about it. The past can only be used to gain wisdom for the future. What can change is the future. When we, as God’s people, are willing to follow God in our daily lives, God will make a good way in the future. The way may be bumpy at times and have curves, but the process will be filled with God’s love and grace.
Book of Numbers
Numbers, is the fourth book of the Pentateuch, which is the Greek name for the first five books of the Old Testament. Likewise, the first five books of the Old Testament are called the Torah by the Jews. Moses is considered the author of this book while he was the leader of the Israelites. Numbers tells the story of the 38-year period of Israel’s wandering in the desert following the establishment of the covenant of Sinai. One of the interesting characteristics of the book is that it highlights a census of the Israelites who followed Moses into the desert, and gave an account of certain genealogies. One encouraging theme which jumps out from the book is how God cared for the people in the midst of their wandering by providing manna, water, and Qual. The ending of the book focuses on how the Israelites stopped just short of moving out of the desert into the Promised Land.
Reflect on this Scripture:
Numbers 13:1-2 (NRSV)
1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites; from each of their ancestral tribes you shall send a man, everyone a leader among them.”
Numbers 13:21-33 (NRSV)
21 So they went up and spied out the land from the wilderness of Zin to Rehob, near Lebo-hamath. 22 They went up into the Negeb, and came to Hebron; and Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai, the Anakites, were there. (Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) 23 And they came to the Wadi Eshcol, and cut down from there a branch with a single cluster of grapes, and they carried it on a pole between two of them. They also brought some pomegranates and figs. 24 That place was called the Wadi Eshcol, because of the cluster that the Israelites cut down from there. 25 At the end of forty days they returned from spying out the land. 26 And they came to Moses and Aaron and to all the congregation of the Israelites in the wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land. 27 And they told him, “We came to the land to which you sent us; it flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit. 28 Yet the people who live in the land are strong, and the towns are fortified and very large; and besides, we saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the land of the Negeb; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites live in the hill country; and the Canaanites live by the sea, and along the Jordan.” 30 But Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” 31 Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against this people, for they are stronger than we.” 32 So they brought to the Israelites an unfavorable report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land that we have gone through as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people that we saw in it are of great size. 33 There we saw the Nephilim (the Anakites come from the Nephilim); and to ourselves we seemed like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.”
Numbers 14:1-4 (NRSV)
1 Then all the congregation raised a loud cry, and the people wept that night. 2 And all the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron; the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! 3 Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become booty; would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” 4 So they said to one another, “Let us choose a captain, and go back to Egypt.”
Questions to Ponder:
What jumps out at you from these passages?
What are they going to search out?
Who was chosen to spy out the land?
What did they say in their report?
How did they view the land and people in front of them?
What was the final result?
Why did they not move forward?
Did anyone stand up to vote yes to go? Why do you think two said yes?
The Israelites were on the “Go” to the Promised Land, but they had to first spy out the land in which they would inherit. How were they going to get it? What did they have to do to possess it? At that moment in time, another tribe occupied it. God said it would be a land for the Israelites to possess and develop. So, Moses called for and sent out 12 spies, a designated leader from each of the 12 tribes of the Israelites. During the spy mission, they found the land was rich in resources, “flowing with milk and honey (vs. 27).” Great land to possess, BUT in order to possess it, they had to go against a wicked people that were described as giants and were known to eat their inhabitants. They were the descendants of the Nephilim, which is translated as “giants.” The Nephilim, were the offspring of the “sons of God” and the “daughters of men” found in Genesis 6:1–4. The Israelites considered themselves in physical size like grasshoppers compared to the Anakites. So fear stopped the Israelites dead in their tracks from moving forward to the land God promised. Out of the 12 spies, only 2 of the spies were ready to go and possess the land because God said to possess it. This was a time when the majority was wrong. Think on this, the majority can be wrong when it goes against the word of God. The consequence of fear ruling over God’s direction in the lives of the Israelites was for the Israelites to wander in the wilderness for 40 years. They did not get to enjoy the land that God wanted them to have until many years later. Their prize was put on hold because they were not confidant enough in God’s plan for God’s people. God led them out of bondage, why would God not lead them into the Promised Land? Ironically, the two spies that voted to go possess the land were the two that eventually led them into the Promised Land.
When we lean on our own understanding, we can come up short in what God’s desire is for us. Let us remember, Proverbs 3:5-6 (NRSV), “5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
What holds us back from truly giving into the leadership of God’s grace and desire for us? Is it fear? Is it perception? Is it physical limitations? We have seen God work in powerful ways in the past, whether it was in scripture, or personal experience. Still, what holds us from truly living into God’s way on a daily basis in our work, family, church, school, and etc.? Just like the individual, a community can be stopped by their collective fear and preconceived ideas. It was the community of the Israelites that decided to stop forward progress because of the people in the land they were to possess. How many churches, or Godly communities, stop from reaching their potential because the fear of dealing with giant issues? When you determine what holds you back and get beyond it, then you can truly live in your own Promised Land from God, whether as an individual, or a community.
Questions to Ponder for accountability in the group:
What holds you back from experiencing the greater power of God in your life?
What do you see as the Promised Land in your life?
What do you see as the Promised Land for your faith community?
What is the elephant, or giant that is stopping you from moving forward in your life?
What can hold back FUMC, Coppell from growing and reaching the Coppell Community for Christ?
How can you overcome, slay, or step beyond the giant before you, both individually and corporately?
Activity of for the life of a disciple:
1. Remember to find encouragement for the day by reading the daily devotional from FUMC.
2. Ponder and pray on this scripture this week:
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NRSV), “5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own insight. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
3. Pray to God to show you the vision for your life as you seek to GO in God’s grace.