When many of the COVID restrictions had finally been lifted, many of us resumed our normal activities and moved on without looking back. And yet, Chuck Swindoll asserts we have a lot to learn from the mysteries of 2020 and 2021. Losing control over our daily freedoms while worried about an invisible disease taught us to trust God. On the night for living, we'll hear Chuck conclude a message based on Israel's 40 years wandering in the wilderness.
Chuck titled his message, Looking Back, Let's Remember the Journey. In the wilderness, there were no leaks and garlics and melons and onions that they could pull from the ground and eat. There were no cattle to kill that they might cut and cook and prepare as meat. They were in the wilderness.
They have nothing, nothing. And on top of that, their stomachs growled with hunger. And so, look at what he did. He humbled you, letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna. In fact, he says this about it, a food previously unknown to you and to your ancestors. They ate it. They broiled it. They boiled it. They ate it in sandwiches. They ate it raw. They sliced it, ate it thin, thick, ate it hot, ate it cold.
It's all they had. What's for breakfast? Manna. What's for breakfast?
What's for what? Manna. How about supper today? Manna. Manna is deliberately designed to be boring but nutritious.
Now, stay with me. There's a reason for all this. God doesn't operate as though he's unreasonable. He just doesn't do it our way. Just as we don't let our children go hungry, he does let his own. Just as we don't let our children go hungry, he does let his own. Because you see, it takes a heavenly appetite to enjoy a heavenly food.
They didn't have one. You're going to learn to like it. Remember your parents teaching you that? Like spinach. I remember my brother sat at the table five hours as my dad said, you're going to eat that spinach if it's the last thing that happens in your life.
I thought it was going to be the last thing that was going to happen in his life. Or whatever it was for you. Broccoli, maybe. Cauliflower. Yogurt. Whatever. Whatever. For them it was manna.
Now, I'm having a little fun with you but I know exactly what I'm doing. We went hungry these 12 months. That we might learn new ways of ministry. Over the months, I remember sitting in meetings that I thought we would never have as we in leadership who have the responsibility of, at least on this earth, of directing the way the church handles things and decisions that must be made. As they say in other churches, this is another way of doing church.
Though I never heard those words here. Because the Lord was with us when we were going hungry and the pandemic required that we not meet because it wouldn't be safe, we simply announced we will not be meeting. I never in my life ever thought I would ever make such an announcement. But we did. And so, I'm now at the mercy of those who are better at it than I am of thinking outside the box. So I say, well, how in the world are we going to minister?
And one of the men said, we'll do it on a live stream. We weren't meeting here, the building was empty. We couldn't meet here. So you met, we met, but not like we'd always met, just like they didn't eat food like they'd always eaten in Egypt because they weren't in Egypt.
Why am I yelling? They were in the wilderness and they were at the mercy of the elements. For a few months, not really. They were at the mercy of their faithful God who said, you're going to go hungry for the leeks and melons and onions and garlic and all the stuff you like to eat, the spicy good stuff that goes on your food, you're not going to have that. You're not going to have manna, and you'll never go hungry if you eat the manna. It'll nourish you, it'll feed you, and you'll learn from that a new diet, a new way of survival. So we too had to become familiar with another way of worshipping.
They learned to like it so much, they say to us now, we're going to be watching online forever. We're not going to show up again. Well, I think you ought to show up because there's something great about coming together, being together for worship, but the Lord will have to show these individuals when they ought to do that or if they ought to do it. The point being, we began to minister on live stream.
Are you ready? This year we have ministered to more people than ever in our history on live stream ever, ever. Isn't that great? Now the offerings. So I said, me a little of great faith. Well, now, I mean, we're not going to be taking up offerings. No, no, we're going to trust God to have people give on stream. They're going to give, we're going to put a little banner on it. I go, that's a tacky way to do it. We'll do it. We'll word it just right. This is the kind of conversation we have behind the scenes.
I look all spiritual up here, but behind the scenes, I'm not that spiritual. So I go, that's not going to work. And the guys say, Chuck, it will work.
It'll work beautifully. And you know what? This year alone, we have received more than we need. All through these 12 months. In fact, do I need to remind you?
We've paid off all our debts. How good is God? You know, it's like the Hebrews when they finished a meal of manna and by then they had really cultivated an appetite for it. They were beginning to say, you know what? This isn't half bad. And daddy says, sitting at the other end of the rock, well, it's not only not half bad, it sure beats starving. As a matter of fact, you're all gaining weight.
You look real healthy. Just as the Lord said, the manna will be nourishing for you. Along with building character and humbling us, you will learn to eat the manna and you will see that people do not live by bread alone. There are more than just the normal traditional ways of ministering. And God is not limited to what has always been done. And we all must be flexible. If nothing else, the 12 months has taught us he's up to great things.
Great things and they're different. There are some moments when it's great to be wrong and God is right. And your friends around you are right on target and you go, why am I so slow at this? Why wasn't I leading the way through this? Some of you thought I was.
I wasn't. I was sort of dragging along and then I began to pick up the idea. And before we knew it, we're starting to get mail from this country and that country and this country and this area and sometimes groups of thousands, thousands of people that we were never reaching before. Now they're thinking, in fact, one of the questions was, how can we join your church even though we live in Omaha, Nebraska?
Or how can we join your church even though we're in one of the islands of the sea? How can we be? Well, you are part of it. You're part of the family of God. We're in this together. God's at work.
Remember that. Remember how he has done great things during this time as we've learned new ways and new diets and new satisfactions and accomplishments that he's brought to pass. In fact, he says in verse four, it is beautiful. All through those 40 years, your clothes didn't wear out. Your feet didn't stink or swell.
Your feet didn't swell and you didn't blister. And I love verse five. Think about it. It's what we don't do. We get to the end of the year, we go, wow, that's over.
Let's get out of there. We go, wait. Remember all of the things that look so impossible. All the things that would have to be so different. We wouldn't even have the look of Stonewire Church on those days of emptiness. But we realize the work of God is universal. The body of Christ is at work feeding and ministering to people who will never once get into this building, though some would love to. But now we're reaching out to them in a method that God led us to during these 40 years in the wilderness. And we're better people for it.
We're less proud. We're quick to say, you know, God has really opened the floodgates of his grace. And he's reaching and ministering to people we would never have reached before. I love that.
I just love that. And that's why this sermon was so effective. When Moses says, think about it, look at the ending of my text. Just as a parent disciplines a child, so the Lord your God disciplines you for your own good.
Oh, so good. It's for our good. Just before I left the house this morning, I turned over to Micah 6-8. Some of you already have that verse nailed down.
If you don't, you could do that before we get into the new year. What does the Lord require of you? Well, really three things. To do what is right. That's a mouthful.
To love mercy and to walk humbly with your God. That's it. Perhaps in these 12 months. We've begun to realize he really means what he says. He will meet our needs. But we don't know how. He will do it in different ways that we could never predict what those ways are. But what he expects of us.
It's not that we sit back with folded arms and yawn and think, well, here we are, Lord, meet ever need we have. No. We're to do what is right. Are you doing what's right? When you hear his word taught, do you want to align your life to that? I do.
When I don't, I'm embarrassed about it because I'm preaching it and I'm thinking, you're not doing that, Chuck. So I want to get it in line. I want to do what's right.
I want to do what's right. And we need to love mercy. We need to have hearts for others. I love it that we have mercy. That we believe in helping others and putting our arms around those who can't help themselves.
And then ultimately walking humbly with our God. If this 12 month period hasn't begun to reach you in those areas, you're missing it. You're not remembering.
You've already begun to forget. We made it through the blizzard, by God's grace. We're going to make it through these tough times. And frankly, I'm going to level with you. I don't know when they've been tougher. I don't know when I've been less comfortable with the leadership of our country.
I don't know where all of that's going to land. Stay with me. This is not a political speech, it's a statement of admission. I say, Lord God, they don't lead, you lead. You're in charge. You're in charge. You're our God. You're our God. You bring the sun up.
They can't do a thing about the sun. You provide for us. Just keep our hearts right to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk in humility. Looking back, let's remember the journey. Don't forget. Don't forget this year. Tough year. A humbling year. An educational year. A year of change.
A year that pulled us out of control and reestablished our God. He's in charge. I love that, when he's in charge.
And when he speaks, we say yes. I'll do what's right. I'll be merciful. I'll reach out with an open heart to those that are in need. And I'll do it so not to call any attention to me, but to help them. And in final analysis, as I walk with you, I will not once call attention to the fact that I'm doing that. I'll walk in humility before you. That's it, folks.
That's it. By the way, if you don't know Jesus, you're playing with fire. You will have to give him your life. You just have to. You just can't afford to live without him. He's your savior.
He'll bring the light and remove the darkness. Speaking of that, this last week, I was getting ready to go to bed. And I had my water jug in my hand. It's a great big water cup. Really, it's like a gallon container. You can't drink all of it or you'll wet the bed, you know, if you do that. So I filled it up, put ice in.
It's going to be all ready for me in the morning. And Cynthia already turned down and I was getting ready to get in there with her. And I went into our family room.
Now, we've lived in this house 16 years. And I thought I know everything in here only to turn the lights on. So I walk in the dark with my jug and I lean over to put it on the table. And there's no table.
So I hit the floor. And what you don't know is behind this makeup, there's a great big black eye. First time I've ever worn makeup in a pulpit.
But Cynthia's idea. And I learned that I can think I know where I'm going in the dark. But I'm really smart if I turn the light on. And you'll know where the table is.
So if you're walking in the dark, you're just thinking over where you're going. But you're in for a real, real surprise. A dreadful fall into a darkness you can't imagine. And a dread that would make this year look like Girl Scouts cutting out paper dolls. You got to have the savior.
You got to have it. Bow with me, please. We love you, Lord, and we long to do what's right and to love mercy and to walk humbly with you. Thank you for putting up with us. For understanding us when we stumble. When we continue to go our own way and for patiently pulling us back in line.
Just like you did to Hebrews. Thank you for staying with us. Holding us close. As you get us through the rest of this year, help us to pause like the people of Hebrews did in our own planes of Moab.
And take stock of what you're doing and what you want. That we might prepare ourselves for what's ahead, whatever it may be. And we'll be very, very grateful. Finally, Lord, for those who don't know, you're as you're as the savior.
Just pray that you will bring them to yourself. Just make that happen by your grace. In Jesus name. In Jesus name.
Everybody said. Amen. You're listening to insight for living and a brand new teaching series from Chuck Swindoll. Two part study is called pressing on in faith.
Stay with us because Chuck is in the studio with some comments that he's prepared exclusively for our radio family. First, let me mention we are trusting God to stir in the hearts of people just like you to do their part in supplying insight for living with the needed resources. Please allow God to guide you in the amount you give. I can assure you the need is enormous and your support is urgently needed. But we are confident that many listeners pulling together will allow us to cross the finish line with all that's required. Here's how to send your donation. If you're listening in the United States, give us a call.
The number is 800-772-8888. Or you can give a generous gift online when you visit insight dot org. Chuck, by far the gifts we received today will determine our course for tomorrow. And with that in mind, we are calling on every listener to do their part in contributing to the future of insight for living. For several weeks now, you've heard me talk about the financial needs facing insight for living ministries. So I'm not going to belabor the point, only to say this. As the new year draws near, there's a growing urgency to reach the incoming goal before us. Can I count on you to give generously?
Let me be very clear. Your gift does far more than pay the bills. The outcome of your generosity is, in fact, life-changing. You are the channel God uses to deliver his message to someone who truly needs a touch of his grace. Can you remember the first time you felt and understood God's grace? You remember the heavy burden that was lifted from your shoulders? Remember how much it meant when someone put his or her arms around you and helped you survive your lowest moment? That's what your generous gift will mean to someone in the new year.
Someone you may never meet this side of heaven. So please, we're running out of time. Give us a call. Go online. Whatever method you choose, I can assure you of this.
God will use your gift as a fragrance of his grace in the lives of others. Thanks for responding. Thanks for being generous and for being all of that today. And here's how you can respond to Chuck Swindoll right now. First, you can call us. If you're listening in the United States, call 800-772-8888. And then we're always grateful for those who prefer to give by visiting us online. If that's you, you can give your donation by going to insight.org slash donate. Thank you so much for giving generously to Insight for Living Ministries. We look forward to hearing from you. I'm Bill Meyer inviting you to join us when Chuck Swindoll describes how to prepare for the new year of 2023.
Listen Monday to Insight for Living. The preceding message, looking back, let's remember the journey, was copyrighted in 2021 and 2022. And the sound recording was copyrighted in 2022 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. All rights are reserved worldwide. Duplication of copyrighted material for commercial use is strictly prohibited.
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