Saturday, March 2, 2013

Three Points & A Poem


It’s been a little over 35 years now since I first imagined the Lord could use me. In 1977 Brenda and I moved from England to West Germany where I began a new job as a member of the USAFE Elite Guard. Brenda was pregnant with our first child and we had each recently made a personal commitment concerning our faith in Jesus Christ.

Following our move we visited and subsequently joined Faith Baptist Church in Einsiedlerhof, Germany. The pastor and congregation welcomed us like we were family. Although my new job was demanding on my time and Brenda was about to give birth, we believed Church important and decided to get involved, take it personal and make it our Church home.

We searched for a place to serve among the several areas of ministry that always need volunteers. Brenda and I offered to teach Sunday School for the 5 year old class and I volunteered to help with the youth on Wednesday evenings. Those were wonderful days of learning and sharing what we learned each week with those we taught. We were only one step ahead of those following but God blessed as we were faithful to each opportunity.

Week after week Brenda and I divided the responsibilities between ourselves. She was usually in charge of some type of craft and refreshment and I did the teaching and managed the discipline. Needless to say, each week brought new challenges. We served in those positions for almost 2 years until we moved from there to Albuquerque, New Mexico, where we joined another Church, volunteered, and made it our Church home.

While at the Church in Germany the Pastor, now Pastor Emeritus of FBC, Bob Ferguson, began to encourage me towards considering the potential call of God on my life. He had connections with Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary and was a very well studied man. His sermons were always challenging and filled with bits of history, scripture and interesting stories. Once he jokingly said that the perfect sermon outline contained “3 points and a poem.”

For some reason I thought of him and the impact of that Church on my life when I began studying for my message this week. Before starting the outline I decided to entitle today’s sermon – “Three Points and a Poem”. I already knew the three points the Lord had given me, and I decided to trust God a little further to supply the poem. If you are ready, let’s turn in our Bibles to the book of Numbers and make the first point.

Point #1: What a person believes will affect what they are willing to attempt.

Somewhere near 1500 years before Christ, God preserved, prepared and positioned a man named Moses to lead the Children of Israel out of the slavery they had known in Egypt for 4 centuries and into the land of Canaan. After the 10 plagues which God sent upon the Egyptians, Pharaoh decided to let the Israelites go.

These Hebrew children experienced miracle after miracle, from the parting of the Red Sea and the subsequent drowning of their enemies, to the manna which fell from heaven each morning for their daily bread. God proved Himself strong on their behalf covering them with the shade from a cloud during the daytime and warming them with a pillar of fire each night. There was no doubt God was with them. Yet they did not trust God.

Despite miracle after miracle, the Children of Israel had a difficult time believing that God was able to deliver on His promises. They complained every step of the way and at each hardship the congregation accused either God or Moses and threatened to choose another leader and go back to Egypt.

Finally, after hearing the voice of God and receiving the Ten Commandments, Moses led Israel to a place called Kadesh Barnea. It was from there that God wanted them to enter and conquer the land of Canaan. God had promised to send His angels before them and complete a mighty victory and establish these sons of Jacob in the promised land.

At Kadesh Barnea Moses chose 12 spies and sent them from there to search out the land. When they returned all 12 shared the same story … that is, up to a point. Let’s read what the spies had to say:

Numbers 13
26 ¶  Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.
27  Then they told him, and said: "We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.
28  "Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there.
29  "The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan."
30  Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it."
31  But the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we."
32  And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature.
33  "There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight."

Numbers 14
1 ¶  So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night.
2  And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, "If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness!
3  "Why has the LORD brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?"
4  So they said to one another, "Let us select a leader and return to Egypt."

Point #1: What you believe will affect what you are willing to attempt.

Point #2: What a person believes will affect what they are able to endure.

When the Children of Israel refused to trust God at Kadesh Barnea, He drove them out into the wilderness to wander in circles for 40 years. I have traveled in those desert lands and I can assure you that this wilderness is a harsh and trying environment. Even in those difficult years God continued to provide for and protect the Israelites.

After 4 decades all of the people who had refused to trust God died. The only ones left of that group from Kadesh Barnea were Joshua and Caleb. The bible plainly describes them as those who had a “different spirit”.

What made them different? They believed God!

Point #1: What you believe will affect what you are willing to attempt!

Point #2: What you believe will affect what you are able to endure.

Point #3: What a person believes will affect what they are empowered to overcome.

Only 2 of the 12 spies trusted God and only those 2 endured to cross over the Jordan River and into the Promised Land. However, these two did not just cross over … they led the crossover.

Joshua succeeded Moses and ultimately carried the weight of leadership for the whole congregation of Israel for the next 25 years while Israel conquered city after city to possess the land. Caleb was 85 years old when he fought and won the battle at Hebron against the sons of the giants who fortified and occupied that city. Let’s look at what Caleb declared.

Joshua 14
10  "And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the LORD spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old.
11  "As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in.
12  "Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said."
13  And Joshua blessed him, and gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh as an inheritance.
14  Hebron therefore became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the LORD God of Israel.

We have heard the three points for today … What you believe will affect what you are willing attempt, what you are able to endure and what you are empowered to overcome.

Now for the poem: You will immediately recognize that I wrote this myself. Take into account that it was about 8 last night and I did it just for you. Listen closely, it took me the better part of 15 minutes to write this.

Although it is deeply woven with multi-layered meanings, is not so much ‘Rhymsical’ as it is loosely ‘Sonnetary’ … Allow me:

          A ‘Sonnetary’ composure by Ron Hammonds, March 2, 2013

When I at end do again stand I shall attest my time and action,
Then trust shall be that thing I hold and keep in clutch.
It is the star to which I pledge my travel here and away,
Surrounding me as the net to catch and secure each day’s falling,
Giving close to my eyes in peaceful repose.

Trust cannot be well spoken without it stands to face the loss,
Against danger’s supply and its fair advantage.
Halt at bay the torture of souls when light shines and truth reveals.
Fear, will you call still, when ears are deaf to empty claims of ascendant glory,
Shut the door on those who lift themselves against this single path of mercy.

Trust does not abandon the heart by its own accord nor goes easily when helped, but haunts the mind to have claim by right.
Well struck trust is without question the ally best chosen to company lonely days, burdensome nights,
Holding captive wild imaginations to drive the distance.

Trust I say, trust in the truth and lay not alone at the gates.
I have and as I say will yet acclaim the endless bounties this root …
They reach beyond the mortal means of man to grasps the grace of Almighty God.

While thinking on or attempting to forget this ‘Sonnetary’ composure, whichever the case,  “Thou shalt not forget the three points” for today:

What you believe will affect what you are willing to attempt; what you are able to endure; and what you are empowered to overcome.

Additional Information:

Research by the Barna Group ( in the beginning of the 21st Century, (2003), revealed:

Of all adults in the United States
        99% believe that they will not go to hell when they die
        84% say they are Christian
        80% claim they have prayed to God
        50% accept the bible as being true
        40% report they attend church
        38% have confessed their sins and accepted Jesus as savior
        4% say they allow the bible to influence their daily decisions