“ARE YOU GOING NOWHERE?”                           By Pastor YAU

Text: Deuteronomy 4:1-10                                          February 3, 2008.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   Walking on a treadmill: Usually I do walking 3-4 times a week. I usually walk for 35-40 minutes. I will start with 3.5mph, then increase speed to 3.7 to 4.0mph. I will also increase the incline from level to 6 then 10 then 14. At the end of the fast walk mostly on uphill, my heart beat will reach 115/minute with the T-shirt all soaked and the indicator shows that I have walked about 2 miles. But in fact I have gone nowhere. I am still on that same treadmill. I have been doing this in the past 3 years. Every time doing the same thing going nowhere.

2)   Wandering in the wilderness: If you have read the first few books of the Bible, especially from Exodus to Leviticus to Numbers, you will find it so repetitive. Almost all the chapters are about censuses of tribes, numbers of people, places they had traveled and traveled again. Then repeating those laws and commandments, stories about their rebellions and God’s punishments. The Israelis had been walking, sometime faster than others, but they were going no where. They were still in the same wilderness 40 years after they had left Egypt.

 

LIFE, A REPEATING CYCLE:

1)   This is how God created: “And God saw all that He had created and it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning---the sixth day.” (Genesis 1:31)This is the sixth time the phrase “and there was evening and there was morning” was repeated at the end of each day God created the heavens and the earth and everything in it. The cycle of repetition was installed in the creation process. We all believe that if God chose to create things in a different way, such as a continuous way without stopping or repeating, He certainly can do that. But God chose to created things in cycles and it has been that way ever since.

2)   This is how things go: In the nature world, we see the sun comes up from the east in the morning and sinks in the west at night. We see winds blow from one direction then another. We see the cycles of sunshine, clouds and rains taking turns and the moon and the stars come and go. They never stop the cycle as long as God allows them to move. We see trees grow from small plants to big and old and they withered. We plant flowers in our yards annually or bi-annually, see them bloom and died. We celebrate the birth of babies and watch them grow with joy. We also see them grow old and older and get very sick and die. You may say there is a purpose on this and I agree. What I am saying is: the cycles of life is always there whether we like it or not.

3)   This is how we grow: In the never ending cycles of life, we learn by experience, observation and practices. We learn to hold bottles when we were babies. We learn to eat solid food when we grow older. We learn to speak, learn the alphabets, language, skills, arts and music and many other things by repeating the cycles until we do them well. We also make mistakes and more mistakes, some times the same mistakes, so we may master a subject or a skill. The cycle of life is a necessary process in which we learn and grow. To see the cycles as something intolerable or irritating or trying to stop the cycle is either impossible or committing mental suicide.

4)   This is how we contribute: The cycles of life is more than just for learning, growing, absorbing and benefiting ourselves. They are also profiting others as we keep contributing to the well being of someone in particular or mankind in general. Whatever we do such as teaching, nursing, construction, computer programming and any and all other things, we repeat the cycle of contribution everyday in what we do. This is true in cooking at home, cleaning houses and buying groceries. Many people do all these to support, feed and grow their families. It is through the cycle of doing the same thing repeatedly, we contribute to the well being of others. Few people live their lives doing all different and new things all the time. Most people will do the same thing over and over again all their lives. That’s the process God designed for us to contribute.

WE ARE GOING SOMEWHERE: Some may see the cycles of life boring, meaningless or even intolerable. But they can be full of meaning and purpose if we have the correct perspective. Here are some of them.

1)    We follow God’s order: If we believe that the cycles of life is the order God has instituted in the world and everything in it and we live our lives accordingly, we can have peace of mind that we are doing God’s command. This is one of the ways we express our faith and respect of God by living our life the way He wants us to live. Just as a subordinate obeying the orders of a superior even though he may not understand fully or think it is the best way, his obedience and support is important to show his trust in his superior. We believe God must have a good reason to make things this way and we will follow them with good faith.

2)    We fulfill God’s purpose: On the personal level, we all agree that God has a purpose or purposes in our lives and His purpose is to bring glory to Him and good will for our fellow men. When we are faithful in doing our duties even though they are repetitive at times we are fulfilling the purpose God has for us. The things He puts us in, no matter how boring we may think, are important parts in His overall plans for us and others. So, as we are faithful and obedient in doing those things, we are fulfilling that purpose. Fulfilling God’s purpose is a big thing in Christian living. It is both glorious and meaningful when we live with His purpose.

3)    We build our usefulness: Very few people like to live on others by being useless. In whatever position or capacity we may be in, if we faithfully discharge our responsibilities on things regardless of how we may think boring, we become useful in what we do. This is about our value as people. No one likes to live a life that is no value to himself and others around him. Being useful also helps us to feel proud and satisfactory because it means we do more than consuming on others but contribute to their benefits. We may be useful to our family, our employers, friends and colleagues. We may also be useful in God’s Kingdom through serving in His church and mission fields. Being useful also earns us the respect of others and brings glory to our heavenly Father.

4)    We find meaning of life: Living a life without meaning is certainly the saddest thing anyone may be in. Many very successful people ruined their lives in horrendous life style or even committed suicide because they can’t find meaning for their life. By faithfully discharging our duties in everyday life some may feel unimportant, boring or intolerable, but we can find meaning in it if we do our parts to the best of our ability and make contributions to the overall well being of others. Meaning of life is never selfish but altruistic---for the good of others. That’s why the Bible encourages us to give than to receive. (Acts 20:35)

 

SO, WHAT’S IN THE BIBLE? (Deut. 4:1-10)Why did God allow so much repetition in the Bible recording all the similar stories, especially repeating the Exodus story in Deuteronomy? Why do we have to read so many similar pages and chapters saying about the same thing? Moses gives us some important reasons.

1)   They may live in the Promised Land: “Hear now, O Israel, the decrees and laws I am about to teach you. Follow them so that you may live and may go in and take possession of the land which the Lord, God of your fathers, is giving you.” (Deut. 4:1)Living in the Promised Land is the core of the Old Testament promises. It was the promised God have given to Israel through their forefathers. God allowed the repeated story to be in the Bible for Israel, ancient and modern, to understand the ultimate purpose of God in them. God’s teaching, even those which we consider as repetitive, is for us to see His purpose and direction so we may enjoy the blessing of His gifts. We have to be reminded again and again, like many parents teach their children, to see and remember and do their instruction so they may enjoy the blessings of their parents.

2)   They may be witnesses of their God: “Observe them carefully so this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations who will hear about all these decrees and say, ‘this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” (Deut. 4:6)Bearing witness to God is not a New Testament idea. God always wants us to bear His greatness and mercy to people of the world. By seeing, doing and observing all the decrees and laws of God, Israel will bear witness on the wisdom and mercy of the Lord, their God. We can and need to do the same thing. By observing and obeying the decrees and law of God, by faithfully discharging our duties, even though they may be boring and repetitive, we will show the world how great is our God and how good it is to build a personal relationship with Him through our faith in Jesus.

3)   They may not forget their past: “Only be careful and watch yours-elves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them slip through your heart.” (4:9)As children, we don’t like our parents telling us the same thing so many times. We think that by saying to us once, we will remember and obey. The fact is we won’t remember nor obey if they tell us only once. All parents know they have to tell their children many, many times the same thing just to get it into their ears if not their hearts. That is why we need to read the Bible, either the whole thing or part of it, many times just to let His words and their meaning sink into our hearts so we will not forget.

4)   They may teach their children: “Remember the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb when He said to me, ‘Assemble the people before me to hear my words so that they may learn to revere me as long as they live in the land and they may teach their children and their children after them.” (4:10)Christian experience of God should never stop with the first generation but be passed on to all the following generations, our children and their children. It is through the repeating process, the words of God and our revere attitude of Him pass on to our children and the children after them. Christian parents are responsible to teach their children their faith and their experience with God so their children will be strong to teach their children.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)    Are you getting nowhere? Is this how you feel about your life? Getting nowhere? Do you know why and how will you handle that? If you believe in a God of superior wisdom, how can He create you and your life with such boring, meaningless repetition of cycles? Try to find some meaning of your life and make sure it is not boring or meaningless. See life from a different angle and you will find meaning and purpose.

2)    Make yourself a checklist: Facing unending repetition of motions, can you check on the list above and see if you are getting some- where with good reason and purpose. Search the Scriptures and the words of Moses and you may find ways to make your life worth living.

3)    Searching for meaning?  You need to ask God, the best place to find meaning of life. He has one for you and wants to tell you if you will humble and listen. Place your life in His hands and see how he will lead you into a new Promised Land you never dream before.