Chapter 1.
He Brought Us Out... to Bring Us In

New Year's

Text: Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 20-25

Have you ever begun a prayer with the phrase "Lord, bring me out..."? Bring me out of this unhealthy relationship... addiction... problem... meaningless job... destructive habit... emotional pain... financial debt... spiritual confusion.

God brings us out to bring us into something greater. The great type of salvation is the exodus of Israel from Egypt, the wilderness years, and the possession of the Promised Land. After the forty years, Moses prepared the people to possess the land under Joshua. Deuteronomy is the collection of his messages. He repeats the Law for them to obey. He makes a statement that is vital for us to understand in our own salvation history: "God brought us out of Egypt to bring us in and give us the land he promised" (see 6:23). As we enter a new year, we need to reflect on our God who brings us out to bring us in.

The Christian life is not a negative, it's a positive... not subtraction, it's addition... not division, it's multiplication... not a diminishing of life, but an enhancement of life. Jesus said, "I came that you might have life to the full" (see John 10:10). When God takes something away He replaces it with something better. When there is an ending there is a new beginning, for He makes all things new (Rev. 21:5).

A high school teacher had just finished one of her most difficult times of teaching. During the Christmas break she was filling out some paperwork in preparation for a new year. The question was asked on the form: "Have you ever had a nervous breakdown?" She was so stressed out that she wrote, "No. But watch this space for further developments."

What do we learn for our lives from the experience of the Israelites as they entered the Land of Promise to possess their inheritance? Since God brings us out of negative situations in order to bring us into a new experience with Him, how do we possess the promises of God?

I. When God Delivers Us, He Expects Us to Develop

  1. The deliverance of Israel from Egypt was a great event, but they did not develop in their faith.
    1. They failed to learn the lesson of the Exodus and doubted God at the Red Sea.
    2. They rebelled when Moses was at Mount Sinai receiving the Law.
    3. They complained constantly and rebelled against the leader God gave them.
  2. We need to grow up in our salvation (Heb. 4:2; 5:11-6:2). We need to get out of the quick-fix mentality. We need development.

II. Promises Need to Be Possessed

God has given us "exceeding great and precious promises" (2 Peter 1:4 KJV). Someone has identified 7,847 promises of God in Scripture. Paul says all of God's promises are "yes" to us, but adds to that the "amen," which means the word of agreement is spoken by us (2 Cor. 1:20). The word amen comes from the Hebrew word for "faithfulness," meaning that when we say "amen" we are first of all acknowledging that God's word is true and we agree with it, and second, that we pledge to be faithful to His word as we live obediently to Him.

  1. God's promises are not decrees but opportunities. We confuse prophecies with promises. If God prophesies something it will definitely come to pass. It is a sovereign declaration of what God will do by His power. But a promise must be received by faith, and we must obey the conditions of the promise. God says, "If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land" (Isa. 1:19). Many of God's promises are never enjoyed by us because we fail to lay claim to them in our lives.
  2. Claiming the promises takes great faith and patience: "Imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised" (Heb. 6:12). We play a part in our victories. Everything does not come out of heaven like manna. While God gave the manna miracle, the people had to go out and gather it. In the same way God gave them the Promised Land, but they had to fight the battles and take the land. The first generation failed to do so and spent forty years in the desert. You see, God's promises have to be possessed through faith, patience, and obedience, or else they are forfeited and we live beneath our privileges.

III. Possess the Promise "Little by Little."

God told the people of Israel to possess the land "little by little" or else the project would overtake them and they would fail (Deut. 7:22). Here are three lessons to reaching your goals:

  1. Start small. As a pastor I often have new, creative ideas for ministry. But I have learned to discipline myself to pursue only one of them at a time. When we try to do too much at one time, we fail. We have to take a new idea, start small with it, and not start off talking about how big and grandiose we think it's going to be. That's how a good idea gets lost in a delusion of grandeur, when people talk in terms of things being so large and great.
  2. Go deep. Second, you have to take that small beginning and go deep. That means to turn the plan into action and do it long enough until you get it firmly established and working.
  3. Think big. Now you're ready to think big and reach for the stars because you have proven that the idea has merit and that it can be sustained over time.
  4. God told Moses that if they tried to take too much land at one time, the wild beasts would attack them, which means they would have upset the ecological balance. When we try to do too much and take on more than we can handle, the stress eats us up with anxiety, frustration, and exhaustion. I heard a politician say that people can handle only one major change at a time. So, start small, go deep, and think big!

IV. Enemies Have to Be Defeated

  1. The Israelites faced giants in the Promised Land. What a paradox—God gives us a promise that has giants in it! We face obstacles to every goal. We battle the sin nature, the world, and the devil. The gift of faith is free, but the life of faith is a fight. The key to victory is to keep fighting and not quit. You don't lose any battle until you give up. If you keep fighting the good fight, you will win.
  2. God also told them to inhabit the land and to be witnesses of Him to those who remained in the land from the other nations after the conquest. You see, it's not enough to be against something; we have to be for something. Too many people of faith are always talking about what they are against, but our first priority is to be positive communicators of the good news (notice it's not bad news) of Jesus and His salvation to others.

Winston Churchill motivated the troops and people of England at the height of World War 11 when Nazi forces threatened to destroy England:

I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.... Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.... We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

V. When You Possess the Promise, Remember the Lord

  1. Repeatedly Moses told the people that when they got across the Jordan River and possessed the land, not to forget God, not to turn away from His word, and not to follow the false gods of the surrounding nations. Over and over in the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses says, "Remember."

    When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land he has given you. 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 desert, 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 desert, something your fathers had never known, to humble and to 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 forefathers, as it is today (8:10-18).

    Words spoken 3,500 years ago that still ring true today for us.
  2. Prosperity may be a greater test of faith than is adversity. When things are going great we have the tendency to forget the Lord, feel self-sufficient, and get comfortable. So be on your guard when you have possessed the promises and everything is going great and you're on the top of the world—remember the Lord your God who gave you the ability to prosper, and keep Him first in your life. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said the greatest tragedy that can befall any nation is the tragedy of forgetting God.

In a Berlin art gallery is a painting by German painter Adolf Menzel (1815-1905) that is not quite finished. King Frederick the Great is artistically portrayed as talking to his generals. In the center of the painting is a section etched in charcoal outline indicating the artist's intention to paint a person. But the artist died before the painting was finished. He had painted the background and the generals first, but the king he left till last. He died before painting the king. Today his work of art is the contribution of a man who omitted the king.