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FRONT-PORCH GOSPEL: Something big missing!

Good week to all. Welcome to the “front porch.”

Bible history is marked by a number of key transitional moments – from Abraham’s packing up and heading to Canaan to the carrying away of Judah into Babylonian captivity more than a thousand years later. Somewhere in the middle of those two events is a key transition that helps separate those two Old Testament eras.

In the thirteenth chapter of Numbers we see what “could have” been Israel’s return to the land the Lord had given Abraham. We put “could have” in quotation marks because the people’s first shot at crossing back over to the Promised Land falls flat as a flitter. I learned recently, by the way, that the word “flitter” in that expression should have been “fritter,” which is a flat cake that is similar to a pancake. Regardless of the word we use, we know that when we say that the people's attempt to cross over fell flat as a flitter we know that it is a highly unsuccessful endeavor. It fell flat; and whatever a flitter is, it must be pretty flat, too.

Note that the Holy Spirit’s account of the people of that era does not include just those whose lives fall flat. The Spirit gives us a picture of a couple of disciples whose faith sails high above the clouds, and they have a courage to match. Not many people can muster up a Joshua-like or a Caleb-esque faith, though. So, the Lord tells the whole story and gives us a view of two types of people and two types of “hearts”: the heart of fear, and then a rare heart of tremendous, God-inspired courage.

I suppose you and your children can read the account of faith and faithlessness there in Numbers 13 in less than five minutes. I hope you will take time to do that. A great faith-builder is reading the accounts of those men and women of God whose lives are driven by a steel-like courage and their decisions led by an unshaken faith.

Winston Churchill – who may have had to conjure up more courage than any world leader we have known – once wrote that “courage is the first of human qualities.” As we look at our own lives through the rear-view mirror, certainly we see that courage can be seen somewhere at the core of every great moment – ranging from such nerve-racking events as getting married to making decisions to change jobs a half dozen times. Biggest of all, of course, is a decision to obey the gospel of Christ Jesus (Romans 6:17). Without courage we would fall short at every turn, and we would be unable to realize all the great things the Lord has in store for us. Thank God, today, for that little-bitty virtue we call courage.

But courage is not an absence of fear, as some might think. Without fear there really can be no courage at all. Courage is the ability to step up despite that fear. Courage is the ability to step out of the boat while the waves of doubt and fear rise high above us, threatening us with their power and the raging winds that feed them. It is that rare courage that allows Peter to step out of the boat in the midst of that awful late-night storm on the waters of the unhappy Sea of Galilee (Matthew 14:29).

The long and short of the Numbers 13 story is that the Israelites have the chance to cross over into the Promised Land just weeks after leaving Egypt. They “could have” crossed over and enjoyed God’s blessings four decades earlier than they do. But they didn’t. They didn't because of a problem as prevalent now as it was then. Too many people cannot reach up to God’s plan for them and grasp it because they are missing an unshakable, God-given, relentless, never-give-up, steel-like faith.

Coach Steven Bowen, a long-time Red Oak teacher and coach, now enjoys his time as a full-time writer and preacher of the gospel. In addition to his evangelistic travels, he works and writes for the Church of Christ of Red Oak at Uhl Road and Ovilla. Their worship times are 10 a.m. Sundays and 7:30 pm. Wednesdays. Email coachbowen1984@gmail. com or call or text 972-824-5197.

Ellis County Press

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