Mature Class Study, teacher Danny Sanders

The Israelites consistently displayed a tendency to revert backwards, as opposed to going forward. What God has for us will not be found where he took us out of. The Israelites lost focus of how bad life had been when they were slaves.

Numbers 14:1-3 And all the congregation…cried; and the people wept that night. And all…murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the Lord brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?

God help us to not fall to this way of thinking and look back to our old life with a false sense of reality. We don’t want to forget the bondage we were enslaved in and slip back to our old ways. We know none of it was good for us. We see in Numbers 13 the Lord told Moses to send men to search out the land of Canaan. This was not just any land they were going to go and search out. It was the land God had promised them. God had Moses choose rulers among them – men who we would expect to take charge with confidence and to view it as an opportunity to go forward. Unfortunately they showed a completely different outlook and a pattern we repeatedly see with the Israelites. It is one of going backwards, constantly murmuring and complaining. Caleb and Joshua saw the others had lost sight of the God they were serving. Their journey should have taken 11 days but it turned into a 40-year agony. The lesson for us, especially today, is clear that the Lord is leading us through this difficult time because he wants us to get to a better place. He wants us to emerge better and stronger because of the time that we have with him here. Our goal is to go forward, not backwards. If we’re going to go forward and find ourselves reflecting on the past, let it be to realize that we really did not begin to live until we surrendered our old way. This new way is God’s way and is the best way – even in hard places, trials, and the tribulations we’re experiencing right now. It makes sense in a world that doesn’t make sense. If you stop and think what we have collectively as the body of Christ: healthy relationships (not hindered by hidden agendas as in the old life), we’re able to trust the members of the body, and work for common goals. We want each other make it and to see others make it. We’re in a safe environment and have other’s best interest at heart.

Looking at things from an individual standpoint, we’re no longer spinning out of control in life. Before we got saved, life was always out of control. Now we have a sense of direction. We have an assurance and the promise of eternal life that we can hold on to and be fully persuaded of. We’re a part of something that’s bigger than ourselves and we no longer have to sin in our lives. If you notice Jeeps on the road, many times they have a spare tire cover with an image that says “Life is good.” The image depicts life from a viewpoint that has something to offer and communicates a sense of hope. What does the image of our life say to others that look at us? What are we communicating when they see us?

Someone testified about side effects of our choices and about focusing on the positives. As a result of the better way of living, we don’t have to worry about what we said because we always tell the truth. This way of living removes so many negative things that the old way produced. Another testified how salvation stirs us to work at having healthy relationships, even at the cost of being misunderstood. This precious life produces good effects. Years ago the milk cartons had a picture of a missing child with a picture of what the child might look like 10 or 15 years later. God’s word can also give us a picture of what to expect based on the path we choose or what we were capable of before yielding our spirit to God. If we go forward then we can imagine a picture of life that’s well-adjusted, healthy, and happy. We’ll also get a picture of what’s produced if we go backwards. The works of the flesh show the way of sin, the backwards way.

Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh…are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like…as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Thank God we’re going forward – not backwards! The works of the flesh describe the side effects of living after the flesh. When God wipes away those old things, they’re absent so we have an opportunity to have a real experience with God. It’s not that we don’t experience disappointments and heartaches. Those are part of life that we don’t escape. But they don’t make us look back on the old life with a distorted view of what life was really like before we came to God.

There’s no comparison of the works of the flesh to the fruit of the Spirit. Love is made known by showing it. Before we know Christ we don’t really know how to love our neighbor as ourselves. It’s different than volunteering once a year at a soup kitchen. This love extends itself for the betterment of another over ourselves. We have joy in simple things of life, like slowing down to smell the roses. Now we’re able to measure joy differently by things that last. The peace within is a peace you can’t put a value on. We have the ability now to long-suffer where we had little patience before. We have a new approach of gentleness toward others and we try to respond to situations with a sense of compassion. We can respond like we want someone to respond to us. We have a general desire to show goodness without expecting a reward. We have faith that isn’t measured by others actions. We can’t be let down if we keep our eyes on Christ and eternal things. When people ask why we live for God, we can ask them to consider their way of life is producing. After we make a purchase we’re asked to rate and share if our experience was good or bad. Those reviews of five stars versus one star can help others make their purchase choice. Spiritually we need to point out to others the five stars about this life as opposed to the one star. We should be able to make a difference in others lives.

Galatians 5:22-26 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking…envying one another.

There are still those who are willing to be faithful to the truth and the work they were called to, an inheritance worth fighting for. It’s worth promoting by giving the five stars it’s worth and working to sustain for generations to come.

I Corinthians 10:1-11 Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; And were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; And did all eat the same spiritual meat; And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them…The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them…tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some…murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. Now all these things happened…for examples: and…for our admonition…

We have a responsibility to continue in the things we’ve learned and been assured of. The promise of the desired outcome is that God will perfect us thoroughly and furnish us onto all good works. This life is worth every trial, every struggle, every sacrifice, every tear we shed, and every risk we take for God. It’s all worth the effort and has tremendous value. We hear testimonies of how God rescued some, pulled them out of a horrible life, changed them, and cleaned them up. It’s so important to keep that testimony, to remind ourselves and others of the benefits and value of serving God, to keep going forward and not going backwards. We don’t want to find ourselves looking back on our old life of sin as somehow being favorable. Yes, we’re in difficult times right now, but we have so much to be thankful for. God has done so much and we live a privileged life with immense value as God’s people. We want to tell others about this because we want others to make it. Look forward to be encouraged and don’t look back because God cares for us. Let’s keep our eyes looking up and stay encouraged in the things of God. Let’s go forward let’s not go backwards!

II Timothy 3:14-17 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.