Giant Faith - A Bible Story

Scripture: Numbers 13:1-33, Numbers 14:1-38, Romans 12:3
Date: 02/15/2003 
This sermon speaks of Israel's story of being on the edge of the land of Canaan and turning back. Joshua and Caleb alone said, "We are able," and ten said, "We can't." We are at the borders of Canaan and by faith we can overcome and enter heaven.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Morning. That music was beautiful.

Giant faith is the theme of our message this morning. And no, I’m not talking about dogs. It’s a message about… It’s a Bible story. Some of us are familiar with… Have you ever been in an experience where you came right to the edge of a moment of something you’d been expecting and thinking about, looking forward to and then you became terrified to take the last step? Sounds like marriage, right? A wedding. Or it could be some adventure, taking that job or entering school, or… It could be taking the final step for baptism. Committing your life to the Lord.

You know, when I think about reaching the edge and then panicking, one of the experiences that pops into my mind took place since I’ve been here. It’s been about eight years ago. I had my first adventure hang gliding. I’d never done this before. But, we have a friend… I remember I went on a trip to Mexico with Jim Crabtree and Daniel and we met a man there named Mike Hunter who did hang gliding. We said, “Oh man. We would love to try that.” I’ve always dreamed of hang gliding. Just the idea of having that feeling of being a bird. And so, Daniel and I and Karen went up to the Mount Shasta area and then Mike took Daniel and I up…

Pray for Daniel. Pray for our kids. He’s in the Marine’s and he’s shipping out today for somewhere where they ride camels. So, and we also have a daughter in the Army, with two children, who is shipping out. So pray for the Batchelor family.

Daniel was a little younger then. As a matter of fact, he wanted to try it and Mike Hunter said, “You’re underweight. It’ll take off and won’t come back down.” And I did a couple of runs off little hills to get the feel of it. He said, “Oh Doug, you’re a natural. You’re a pilot. Won’t be any problem.” Then he took me to a mountain and I stood on the edge of this mountain. And he checked out everything and he gave me some final cues and this little ribbon is blowing in the wind off the cable to… He said, “The wind is the right direction.” And I’ve got the thing lifted up and it’s heavy when you’re holding it. When it’s holding you, it’s fine.

And he said, “Go.” Well you know, you’re not trained during your life to jump off of mountains. And it’s a terrifying experience. And I just want to tell you, I do not remember, anytime recently, being so afraid in my life of taking a step. There I was on the edge. I thought, “All my life I’ve thought, ‘I’d love to go hang gliding.’ Here I’ve got a hang glider, I’m on the edge of a mountain, I’ve checked everything out, my son is watching…” And I thought, “Am I going to chicken out?” And I tell you what, I went “Gasp…gasp… gasp.”

And he finally said, “Doug, it’s not going to get any better.” He said, “You’ve just got to decide to take it off or jump.” And I thought, “You know, I might die. But, I’ll never forgive myself if I take it off.” And so I said, “Lord help me.” And I jumped. And I’ll tell you what, it was a thrill. It’s sort of like if you’ve ever been captured by a pterodactyl and carried away. It’s like that. It’s like something picks you up from behind and, you know, you’re just—whoosh. I crashed like a duck when I finally did land.

But, uh, flying… I had that sensation. And you see the ground drop away… As a matter of fact, when I first jumped off the edge, instead of going down I went up. And I could faintly hear Mike saying to Daniel, “You know, I never did tell him what to do when he gets to 18,000 feet.” But… I thought I was just going to keep on going up, but he told me how to make it go down.

In any event, the Bible tells a story about how the children of Israel reached the border and panicked. Turn with me in your Bibles to the book of Numbers. And of course, that’s only about four books into the Bible. Numbers chapter 13. The children of Israel have reached that jumping off point. The culmination of their whole deliverance from Egypt was to go into the Promised Land. They were going to be free. They were going to fly. But they got nervous. They were edgy. They started to think about everything that could go wrong.

And so, they came to Moses and they asked that Moses would send some spies. Now, when you read it here in Deuteronomy 13, that doesn’t first become clear. It says here, “The Lord spoke to Moses saying, ‘Send men to spy out the land of Canaan.” Well, if you read in Deuteronomy 1:22 it says the people… Moses reviewing this story said the Lord gave them permission to send spies because the people had come to Moses begging for spies. They began to doubt God’s promises. And so they sent twelve spies. And notice what God says: “Send them to look at the land which I am giving,” it’s very definite, “to the children of Israel. From each tribe of their father you’ll send a man, one leader among them.”

So they picked twelve men. And most of them slip into obscurity. You hear their name once and never again. Two of them become heroes in the Bible. And their names, of course, are what? Joshua and Caleb.

And it says in verse… let’s jump down here now to verse 17, chapter 13 of Numbers. “And Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan and said to them, ‘Go up this way into the South and go up to the mountains and see what the land is like, whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many, whether the land they dwell in is good or bad, whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or strongholds…” Check it out. If you don’t believe God, if you want to know what’s there, check it out. “…whether the land is rich or poor, whether there are forests or not.”

And then he tells them, “Be of good courage. And bring some of the fruit of the land.” Bring back to the people some encouragement. Show them what they can expect. You know, they’re eating manna every day. Bring them some fresh fruit. Now the time was the season of first, ripe grapes.

It reminds me of the story of when Thomas Jefferson commissioned Lewis and Clark. You know they had made this Louisiana Purchase. Biggest real estate purchase in history, maybe next to Alaska I’m not sure. But pretty big. And they didn’t know exactly what they’d bought.

And here the children of Israel are going into the Promised Land, but keep in mind none of them had ever seen it before. Several generations had gone by. They’re wondering what it’s going to be like. They’d heard rumors. They had no photographs back then. They couldn’t get on the internet, type in ‘Google,’ and search ‘Promised Land’ and call up the pictures. They didn’t know.

And I remember when Thomas Jefferson sent Lewis and Clark to make that 8,000 mile trip from St. Louis to the Pacific Northwest and back again across country they’d never seen. About forty-eight men began the journey. They only lost one. Only one died, of appendicitis of all things. He said, “Bring back some of the fruit of the land. Bring some samples. Bring some animals.” And they made the trip. Lewis and Clark. And I heard that they spent all day catching a prairie dog. They brought back a lot of animals that were dead. But, they brought back one live prairie dog that somehow survived the trip. So they could find out what it was like. Makes me think of that when I think about Moses sending them across the Jordan.

So they made their search of the land. Verse 21, “They went and they spied out the land from the Wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob near the entrance of Hamath. And they went up through the South and came to Hebron; Ahiman, Sheshai, Talmai, the descendants of Anak were there,” that was a giant-like people, “(Now Hebron was built seven years before Zoan in Egypt.) Then they came to the Valley of Eschol, and they cut down a branch with one cluster of grapes; and they carried it between the two of the on a pole.” Who do you think the two were that carried this enormous cluster of grapes? Joshua and Caleb, I believe.

You know what the logo is for the Israeli tourism industry? It’s two men carrying a cluster of very large grapes on a staff between them in honor of the first two tourists. So, if you’ve ever gone to Israel you’ll see everywhere, anyone involved in the tourism industry, or the buses, or some of the hotels, they’ve got two guys carrying a cluster of grapes.

Now, that was either one cluster that had a thousand grapes on it, or it had the normal number of grapes but each grape was as big as your fist (I prefer to believe that). And if you should get to the Promised Land in Heaven, when you come over to my house to have grapes, we’ll all say, “Would you like to come over and have a grape?” Then I hand you a spoon and you step inside the grape. It says you can’t imagine it.

Well, the Promised Land really was a land flowing with milk and honey back then. It really was. You can read in the Bible where it says that when Joshua during a battle…I’m sorry, when Jonathan during a battle was going through the woods, the honey was dripping from the trees. It really says that. And I expect that there was so much lush grass and clover that the cows and the goats, their udders squirted as they walked. Flowing with milk and honey. That does happen, you know, if you don’t milk them on time. And so, it was a rich land. The Bible says it was a land that God watered.

But, two of the spies looked at the blessings while ten of the spies noticed everything that could be interpreted as a negative. Two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, as they went across the Jordan, they looked at the springs and the beautiful southern exposure, and the palms… They had palm trees there, I’ve been there, around Jericho. And the dates and the pomelos, and the figs. And ten of the spies, all they could see were the walls of Jericho. They didn’t know that God already had a contingency plan for the walls of Jericho. All they saw was the problem.

Joshua and Caleb were stuffing their pockets with figs and dates and pomelos and pomegranates, and hauling this big old cluster of grapes. They came up to the region near Hebron where the Anakim lived, these giants. And Caleb said, “Ah, this is where I want to live.” And I can just see him kicking the soul and sticking his fingers down in the rich ground and saying, “Oh, look at this soul. Look at the springs, the southern exposure. This is where I want to live.” And when they went up to Carmel, Joshua said, “This is where I want to live. Look at the grapes.” And that was their attitude.

But, ten of the spies kept saying, “Look at how big their armies were. Look at how big their fortifications were.” And they noticed all of the problems. And it says in verse 25, “They returned after spying out the land after forty days. So they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel that were waiting for them in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; and they brought back word to them and to all the congregation and they showed them the fruit of the land.”

Now, I think I can prove from the Bible that even though Joshua and Caleb had their pockets and pouches stuffed with fruit, (they probably had a cloud of fruit flies following them) this big cluster of grapes, (they carried it, you know, fifty miles), that they outran, the two of them, outran the other ten spies. Because they were excited.

I think another reason they got to the congregation first, is Joshua and Caleb, they weren’t stupid, they’d been hearing as they were spying the land, they’d sit around the campfire at night. And ten of them were cowering, thinking about how big these nations were. They were terrified. And Joshua and Caleb kept trying to encourage them.

But, you know, it’s really hard for two positive people to encourage ten negative people. That’s why the newspapers sell bad news. People gravitate to bad news instead of good news.

So they outran the other ten. And you notice it says they came to them and they showed them the fruit. I think that’s because Joshua and Caleb got there first. And they told them, they said, “We went to the land where you sent us and truly it flows with milk and honey and here’s the fruit.” And you can hear all the people going, “Ooh!” and “Ah!” As they’re throwing, “Catch this grape,” and they’re throwing it to the people, and they’re giving them the figs. And everyone’s rejoicing. They think it’s wonderful. They’re smiling.

Pretty soon, they see the silhouette of ten slouching forms approaching the camp. And they hear all the positive news that Joshua and Caleb are giving to the people. And then they chime in, verse 28, “Nevertheless the people who live in the land are strong. And the cities are fortified and very large. Moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there.” Anak was a word, it meant back then what Goliath means today. This is before the time of Goliath. That was a nation of giants, like NBA okay?

The children of Anak were there. “And 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.” And all the people, you could see a transformation, a wave of discouragement, a cloud just swept over the congregation. And they all began to moan, “Oh! What are we going to do? We can’t go back to Egypt. We can’t get into the Promised Land.” And the people began to mourn.

And that’s when Caleb, he heard this, “And Caleb quieted the people.” They’re all beginning to wail and mourn. He quieted the people before Moses and he said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”

Now, you know, it says in Revelation chapters 2 and 3, seven times Jesus said, “To him that overcomes…to him that overcomes…to him that overcomes.” Now, would Jesus say, “To him that overcomes,” to people that did not have the capacity to overcome? I think the very fact that Jesus makes promises to those that overcome means that it is possible for some people to overcome.

You know, I’m suspicious that some of these stores and fast food joints that have these contests where if you just happen to get the right cup and peel off the sticker you’d get a million dollars. Do you wonder sometimes if anyone ever wins that million dollars? If anyone ever gets that magic cup. Or do they count on there being enough cynical people to never check their scratch-offs on the cup, or the taco whatever-it-is that you get, that no one is ever really going to win. And I think that some people have that idea about salvation. That Jesus says these things but He really doesn’t expect anyone to overcome. I disagree.

Caleb said, “Let us go up now, for we are able.” When were they able? Now. Now. “We are well able to overcome.” And the people disagreed. The other ten spies said, 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 are.”

Now, was it true that the seven Canaanite nations, those pagan armies, were actually stronger than these slaves who had recently came out of Egypt and all they really had experience doing was building a church. They just built a temple. They weren’t really trained in war. They didn’t have very much armaments. Yeah, you could argue that they weren’t, from a human perspective, ready. But, they were not supposed to be looking at their strength, they were supposed to be remembering God’s strength.

Do not forget this important point. Calab said, “We are able.” Ten of them said, “We are not able.” They were both leaders of the church. Isn’t that right? They picked leaders, hand-picked leaders, from every tribe. Two of them said, “We are able to overcome, to get into the Promised Land.” Ten of them said, “We can’t. because they’re bigger than we are.” They were looking at the size of their walls, their armaments, their nations, their numbers. And if you looked at those factors, it would seem like they could not overcome.

You know, I would suggest to you today that we’re at the borders of Canaan again. Canaan is Heaven. The New Jerusalem now, not the old one. And, as we stand at the borders you’re going to find that the devil is going to try to discourage the church and say, “Oh, trying to be holy and overcome…it’s really too much. God doesn’t expect that of you. You’d better just stay in the wilderness. Do not think that you can cross over. The enemy, the devil, is too big. We’re not able.”

You know, whenever I do an evangelistic meeting, almost every meeting since I’ve begun, I teach the people that song He’s Able. It’s a simple song. But, you know why I pick that song? Simple, profound message. He is able. Now, I can’t do anything with Him, but through Christ I am able to do all things. And there are different voices in the religious community today that are saying both things.

I just spent the last weekend with some of the Amazing Facts staff at what they call the National Religious Broadcasters convention. And, I’ll tell ya, that’s an eye-opener. If you name any of your favorite radio or TV personalities, I would venture to say that 90% of them were there. In recent years I’ve seen just about everybody there from Billy Graham, James Dobson last year, D. James Kennedy, Joni… I think I told you I visited with Joni Erickson this week, I saw Jack Hayford.

As a matter of fact, President Bush came and talked with us this week. It’s that important that he went. Did any of you see his speech that he gave on Monday? It was at NRB. I was sitting there. We were what, Bonnie? Nineteen, eighteen rows back. There were just two rows between us; George Bush and the VIP section is in front of us.

And then after he finished his speech, he came down and started shaking hands. And I wanted to get up there and shake his hand. But, I thought, I’m not a VIP. So, I waited until they crowded around the front and I stood on a chair… This has nothing to do with the sermon, but I was trying to find a way to fit it in. And I stood on a chair back there as he was going by. And he’s got secret service on the right and the left.

And you know, I had my picture, my camera, I’m taking pictures. Don’t ask me why—they took away our granola bars, but they let us keep our cameras. Can you explain that to me? Really. We went through a metal detector. They took our granola bars and our water, but we had cameras... Anyway, so we’re taking pictures. I’ll show you someday.

And he goes by. And I thought, well I guess I won’t get to shake his hand. But there was a big… I was fortunate. I had all these short people in front of me. And when he got to the thing there, it’s just me standing on a chair. And he looked at me. And he nodded. And I know he was thinking, I see your programs. I’m sure that’s what he was thinking. I can’t prove that. But… I probably looked kind of dorky standing on a chair. But, in any event…

You know, you meet all kinds of people at this convention. A lot of the leaders… You know, I want to tell you, there are some good, Godly people, even in these other churches, that love the Lord. Some of them, maybe, don’t understand and believe some of the things we believe. But they love the Lord, they’re doing their best to preach the truth. And they believe in living Godly lives.

Any of you ever hear of David Jeremiah? Got a radio program. I’ve heard his program many times, and really enjoyed a lot of what he says. And I saw him walking down the isle. I went up and I introduced myself. And, before I could say anything, he said, “I used to see you every now and then, now you’re everywhere. How do you do that?” I said, “Well, I guess it’s the Lord.” And he said, “Where do you get all your material? You have so many different things.” And I said, “Well, I listen to your radio program and I plagiarize it.” He laughed at that. And then he said something that was so nice. He said, “I want to thank you for clearing the muddy waters of Christianity with your Biblical preaching.” Oh, that made me feel so good. I told him, “That’s such an honor coming from you.” Because he’s a very Biblical preacher. And he generally is teaching that we can overcome.

But then you meet a lot of other guys. And some of them came up to me and said, “Doug you’re preaching legalism. Why are you telling people to keep the Ten Commandments? Nobody can keep the Ten Commandments.” I’d say for every two people out there in the religious world that say, “We can overcome,” there are ten that say, “We can’t.” And, here we are at the borders of the Jordan and you’re getting mixed signals. It’s a very dangerous thing for people to be saying.

“The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours the inhabitants, and all the people we saw are of great stature.” They had just finished saying it was a land of milk and honey. “And there we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak that came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight and so were we in their sight.”

Now, this is a very important point. Don’t think like a grasshopper. You notice what they’re saying? They’re saying, “When they saw us, we looked like grasshoppers to them, and we felt like grasshoppers.” That was their problem. Their perception of themselves is something that was devastating them.

You notice that it says in Joshua 2:9. In reality, the Bible says the Canaanites were shaking in their boots at the Israelites. It wasn’t a real perception. The devil trembles when God’s people pray. But he wants to intimidate us into thinking we’re just grasshoppers. How can we do what’s right? How can we fight? How can we win? And the devil uses this grasshopper thinking to overcome the church. Don’t fall for that. Stop thinking that you’re a grasshopper.

The Bible says, “Behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us that we should be called sons of God.” We’re sons of God. We forget that Jesus said, “All authority is given to Me.” “And I give it to you,” is the understood reference. “Go ye therefore.” You’ve got authority.

The reason that the Promised Land was called the Promised Land is because God promised to give it to them. And they had forgotten the promise. They were thinking like grasshoppers. They were looking at the evidence.

Why did the people in David’s day refuse… Why did these soldiers stop short of going against Goliath? Because they looked at how big Goliath was. They looked at how small they were. Grasshopper thinking.

Do not look at external evidence. Real faith does not look at how big the problem is, it looks at how big God is. David saw how big Goliath was. But he did not allow that to dictate his faith. You’re going to have problems every day. And I would suggest to you, the bigger your faith, the bigger your problems. That might sound strange. But God, you know, God will only give you what you can handle. Sometimes you’ve got big challenges. It’s because God knows you can…you’ve got big enough faith to access to overcome most problems. But these ten spies were thinking like grasshoppers.

Tony Campolo said, “Instead of praying, ‘If I should die before I wake,’ we ought to pray, ‘Lord, wake me up before I die.” It’s kind of negative thinking, isn’t it?

Erwin Lutzer says, “Our self-perception is the foundation on which we build our dreams, whether good or evil.” What is your self-perception? What are you in Christ? He wants us to have a good perception of ourselves.

“A weak faith is weakened by predicaments and catastrophes,” Victor Frankle said, “whereas a strong faith is strengthened by them.” So we need to get the victory over this grasshopper thinking. The Bible record is that it was an exceeding good land, but they did not believe it.

Now, I would like to talk principally, in this story, about faith. You cannot be saved without faith. These men who did not believe they could get to the Promised Land did not make it to the Promised Land. Without faith, you cannot be saved. Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith, it is impossible to please Him. For he that comes to God must believe that He is, and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” We are saved by grace through faith.

The Bible tells us it was a good land. And we need to believe that if God brought us out of Egypt, He can get us all the way into the Promised Land. If you don’t believe that, you cannot make it. Now, I cannot over-emphasize this very simple kernel of truth. Those that did not believe God could bring them into the Promised Land, died in the wilderness. The ones who believed He could bring them in, made it.

We need to believe that God can finish what He’s started in our lives. Amen? He is called, in the Bible, the author and finisher of our faith. Everybody has faith. You may not know it, you may not feel it, but the Bible says in Romans 12:3, “God has dealt to all men…” How many? “…to each one a measure of faith.” Now we all differ in the amounts of faith, but we’ve all got faith. You’ve all got faith, even if you don’t think you do.

You know, have you ever come up to an intersection… You’re driving down, you know, through town, up Eastern or Walnut. The lights are green and you’re going your merry way. And you’re really hoping that the other people know their light is red. You’ve got to have faith. You ever cross the street at a busy intersection and you’re hoping that no one falls asleep or takes their foot off the clutch. You’ve got to have faith. Whenever you buy canned beans at the supermarket, you’ve got faith that at the factory where they made those beans that somebody wasn’t going bonkers and going to try and poison you. Right?

I know you’ve got faith, I always say, because I’ve watched a lot of you at potlucks. I see you go back. First time through line, you don’t know who made it, you don’t know what their kitchen looks like, you don’t know what’s in it. Sometimes you don’t even know what it is. I’ve really heard people say, “Do you know what this is?” “I don’t know,” and they take it. And sometimes it backfires. I remember one time I was going through line at a potluck, and I had some salad, and then I put some French dressing on it. And it wasn’t until I got back to my table I realized it was butterscotch pudding I’d just put on top of my salad, thinking it was French dressing. Don’t do that, girls. Please don’t put the butterscotch pudding right by the salad. I think someone did that as a cruel joke.

But everybody’s got faith. Someone once said that faithless Christianity is the greatest obstacle to the world’s conversion. We all have basic faith. You can’t get through life without it. When you pay your bills and you put them in the mail, you’ve got faith they’re going to get the money.

I remember recently ordering something for the first time on the internet. I’ve always felt really suspicious about just typing my credit card number into this international forum and hoping that it wasn’t going to get circulated and I was going to get my racquetball gloves. And I was so thrilled. I’ll tell ya, I was really nervous about that. I ordered…they were so much cheaper. I only ordered one, and I paid so much for shipping I realized I should have ordered ten. But I was thrilled when they finally came. I thought, hey it works. People have faith in all kinds of things.

Now, God has given every one a measure of faith. But we are not saved by faith in faith. This is a misconception. Some people… There are faith ministries out there that almost make a God out of faith, as though you’re supposed to worship faith, in and of itself. They call it the power of positive thinking. And, while it is true that we are influenced and affected by our attitudes, nobody’s going to be saved by positive thinking. You don’t get to Heaven by positive thinking. You get to Heaven by faith in Somebody. It’s faith in God that saves us.

Positive thinking is something that affects your health. It can affect your day. I mean, Jesus, whenever He healed somebody, didn’t Jesus say, “Your faith has made you whole?” That kind of faith can have an influence on your day and your life and your health, but it doesn’t get you to Heaven. It’s not much better than what they call the placebo effect.

You know, when they test market any new medication, they give the real medication to a group, and the other part of the group they give a placebo and they see if there’s any measurable difference. You know why they do that? Cause they found out that whenever they test medication, if they did not have a group of people in the test group that were given a placebo, some people got better from the medication cause they believed it would make them better, and the medication wasn’t doing it at all. So they would give some a placebo. And they would measure those that just thought they were getting the medication (some of them got better too), from those who were getting the real thing. How many of you know what I’m talking about. These test groups, you’ve heard this before.

I learned about this years ago. Some of you know when I was a young man, I was on a school, that was sort of like a reform school, on a boat. It’s hard to explain, but that’s what it was. And when I first was placed on this boat, I found out that there’s a lot of kids that were coming out of the drug scene. And they all asked me, “Hey Doug, did you…” I came late, two weeks after school started. They said, “Doug, did you bring any drugs? You got any drugs on the boat?” You know, they searched them and took everything. I said, “No.”

Then I lived on the boat for a month or two and realized, you know, you had no money, and the way they paid us was with candy bars, Snickers candy bars. You got to really appreciate them, living on a boat. And we began to use these candy bars as our barter. We’d trade with them.

And I was really depressed in my room one day and I was thumbing through my wallet because I used to go to rock concerts and I would buy LSD, a hallucinogenic. And I used to put it in my wallet. And I thought, maybe if I got high… I was desperate. I just wanted to escape. You know, I was in this prison boat, is what I felt like. And I’m looking through my wallet to see if I had any old hits of LSD. And there wasn’t anything.

But I got an idea. LSD comes in what they call window pane. It’s a little square about a quarter-of-an-inch by a quarter-of-an-inch or smaller. Looks like plastic. And I looked at the little picture holders in my wallet and I got an idea. I took a pair of scissors and I skillfully snipped two little squares, about a quarter-of-an-inch by a quarter-of-an-inch.

And there was a kid on the boat named Eric who was what we call an acid-head. He just loves LSD. I’m sorry about this, there is a point. But this is how I was back then. I called him to my room. I said, “Eric, you’re never going to believe what I found in my wallet.” Now, that was true. That’s where I found it. I said, “I’ve got two hits of LSD.” “Oh, man! Doug, wow! Far out. What do you want? I’ll give you anything.” I mean, he just got very excited. And I said, “Well, I want one, no, two…” I figured, I can only do this once, so I’d better go for broke. “I want two Snickers candy bars. The jumbo ones.” And so he said, “Sure.”

So he went back to his room and he gave me the two candy bars. And I gave him one of these little square pieces of plastic. And, as he’s leaving the room I said, “Now, Eric, this is not the kind of LSD that melts in your mouth. You just swallow it.” And then I felt guilty. And I said as he went out, “Now, I don’t know if it’s any good. It’s been in my wallet a long time. You sure you want to…” And it had been in my wallet a long time. So, he left the room and I gobbled down my candy bars. I felt guilty with every bite.

But, the next morning he came knocking on my door, as I expected. He came in and I said, “Yeah?” He said, “Doug, you know that acid you sold me?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “I took it and nothing happened.” I said, “Man, I’m sorry.” He said, “Well, nothing happened at first. But then I woke up in the middle of the night, and man, what a trip!” And he started describing all these hallucinations and patterns and colors and things that he had seen. And when he left the room, I took the other one! Thinking that maybe there was some hallucinogenic properties in wallets. Sweat or something. But, it was later someone explained to me the placebo effect.

And I remembered Dr. Harding telling me this story: One time he went and stayed at someone’s house, and he was a guest and he didn’t want to open the windows, but the room was so stuffy. And he couldn’t breathe. He always slept with the windows open. He didn’t want to change the thermostat. So, without asking permission, he went and he opened up the bedroom window and he felt so much better. He slept like a baby. Til he woke up in the morning and he found out they had double windows. He’d opened up the window, but there was another window that wasn’t open. But he thought the window was open, so he slept much better. It’s the placebo effect. It’s an incredible thing, mind over matter.

But that’s not the faith that saves us. That kind of positive thinking can affect your health; it can affect your job. You know, Zig Zigler has told salesmen, “If you believe that you’ll sell, you’ll sell better.” And it’s true. But, we’re not saved by faith in faith. That’s something entirely different. That kind of faith won’t get you to the Promised Land.

There is a foolish kind of faith that many people… It’s a reckless faith. Many people confused. It’s a kind of faith where someone gets on top of the temple and the devil says, “Jump off.” Or in a hang glider, and then pray that God will save you. It’s a kind of faith when, the children of Israel took the Ark into battle against the Philistines, you know, the sons of Eli, and they said, “As long as we’ve got the Ark with us, we’re going to win.” Even though they were living in sin. And they were terribly defeated, and the Ark was captured. That’s a foolish, presumptuous kind of faith. And that’s not the kind of faith God is talking about.

I remember… [Side 1 ends, side 2 begins] … Yickoff Schmirnoff, something like that, Yackoff Schmirnoff, you’ve heard about him. First he says, when he came to America, he was amazed by the great products that were in the American supermarket. He went down the isles and he saw there was powdered orange juice. You add water, you get orange juice. Powdered soup. You add water and, instantly, soup. Powdered milk. You add water, you get milk. And he went around the corner and he saw baby powder. He thought, what a country. That’s kind of naïve faith. A little bit foolish. So, some people, they’ve got this reckless faith. You’ve met them.

There’s also those people who, it’s name it/claim it theology. I met a lot of those at the NRB. I saw… Some of you have seen Jan and Paul Crouch, the owners of Trinity Broadcasting. I saw Paul Crouch there. They’ve got programs where they talk about, you know, just believe and you’ll have money. And everything’s gilded on their studio, and it’s supposed to be evidence of God’s blessing. And if you’ve got enough faith, you don’t get sick and you’re never poor. And the way you prove your faith is by sending it to their ministries. Right? Have you noticed that? It’s just a common theme in some of these, what they call, name it/claim it prosperity preaching ministries. That’s foolish faith. That’s not what the Bible teaches.

Jesus uses a strange marketing program. He says, “Take up your cross and follow Me.” And you wouldn’t think that would be the way to spread the religion.

Now, we cannot get to Heaven without faith. How do we get more faith? A few… How many of you want more faith? Without faith, it’s impossible to please Him. We’re saved by grace through faith. Jesus said, “Be it unto you according to your faith.”

Here’s a few ways. There’s several things you can do to strengthen your faith.

First of all, Romans 10:17, “So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by…” What? “…by the Word of God.” So, very simply, as you read and believe the Word of God, your faith will grow.

Mark 9:24. A man brought his son to Jesus and said, “Lord, if You can do anything, please help us.” And Jesus said, “Don’t say that. Don’t say ‘If’ to Me.” ‘If’ is a bad thing to say to Jesus. ‘If’ is what the devil said. He said, “If You’re the Son of God, turn these stones into bread.” The thief on the left of Jesus… Well, we don’t know if he was on the left, but I surmise that. The thief on the left of Jesus said, “If You’re the Son of God, save Yourself and us.” He didn’t get saved. He said, ‘If.” That’s why I’m trying to emphasize how important it is that we believe. This father came to Jesus and said, “Lord, if You can do anything.” Jesus said, “If you believe, all things are possible.” And you know what he said? “Help mine unbelief.” That’s a prayer for faith.

So you can strengthen your faith by reading the Word. You can strengthen your faith through prayer. Let me explain, practically, how this works. How many of you have prayed for something that was a big prayer, it was sort of a stretch, and God answered your prayer.

I can think of many times where something like that happened. It may have been a lost key. One time we prayed, we opened our eyes after prayer, and it was on the floor in front of us. What do you think that did for my faith? When you pray for big things and you get big answers, your faith will naturally get bigger. So start praying bigger prayers.

The other thing that gives us faith… Of course you should read the Bible every day and pray. That will strengthen your faith. Knowledge of Jesus gives you evidence of His faithfulness.

One of the reasons that God had no patience for these ten negative spies, they had no right not to believe God. It wasn’t that they just lacked blind faith. They did not have faith in evidence that He had given them. Did they have reasons to believe that He could lead them into the Promised Land? Did they have reasons to believe that if God could help them overcome the strongest nation in the world (Egypt was the strongest nation in the world back then), that He could help them with these seven pagan nations? He had given them abundant evidence.

Right there, towering above the camp of Israel was the Shekinah glory glowing at night, and the cloud of shade by day, manna raining down, water coming out of a rock. And then they go and they look at the land God says, “I’ve promised to give you,” and they start doubting in the face of all that evidence. God has given us evidence on which to hang our faith. God is not asking us to believe blindly.

You know why I’m a Christian? Not because someone said, “Doug, it’s a good crutch for people who want something to hang their faith on.” No. I have no choice. It’s evidence. I believe in what I don’t see, because of the evidence of what I do see. I don’t see germs, but how many of you believe in germs? I’ve seen the evidence of germs. I’ve never seen the devil, but I’ve seen the evidence. Haven’t you? There is evil in the world, as we all know.

And so, there’s evidence that we have on which to hang our faith. They had no excuse not to believe. Has God given you evidence of His love? Has He given you evidence of His provisions? His guidance? His providence? Have you sometimes forgotten to believe?

You know, you can choose to believe. You can choose to deny your senses and believe. When I jumped off that cliff with the hang glider, you’d better believe it wasn’t because I just thought, I’m going to have blind faith. I checked all the rigging. I thought to myself of all the people who’ve done it successfully. I had taken a few test runs earlier that day. Before I jumped off a mountain top, I had evidence that that thing was going to keep me from dying.

Later, Daniel and I went parachuting. I wasn’t nearly as frightened jumping out of an airplane 13,000 feet as I was jumping off a 2,000 foot mountain. Why? Cause that day, while we were training to go parachuting… Sorry, I don’t have a picture of that. I didn’t know I was going to say it… I’d seen a hundred people jump out of airplanes with parachutes and they all landed smoothly. I had evidence. First time you get on an airplane, you’re probably thinking that way, aren’t you? I don’t know how this big old hunk of metal is going to go soaring through the air, but I’ve seen them happen before and people seem to survive. And, you know, that’s why we do these things. Actually, we need more faith to get behind the wheel these days, don’t we?

We can get more faith by prayer, reading God’s Word, looking at the evidence. Why did David go against Goliath? He had evidence. Remember what he said to Saul? He said, “No, I’ve never fought a giant before. But I did fight a bear and God helped me. And I did fight a lion. I believe He can help me with this.” And, look at what He’s done for you before and you can believe He’ll do it for you again. God wants us to have faith that we can be victorious.

Now, I want you to go back to your story in the book of Joshua chapter 13. I want you to notice some things. Go with me now over to chapter 14. No, not Joshua. I’m sorry, Numbers. I’m going to Joshua in just a minute.

So they said, “We’re like grasshoppers. So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept all that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said, ‘If only we had died in Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us into this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should become victims? It would have been better for us to return to Egypt.’ And they said, ‘Let us select another leader and return to Egypt.’”

You know, one of the things you notice here, first of all… When they… The Gospel’s good news. Joshua and Caleb had good news. They said, “We’re able.” They brought back the fruit. The others had bad news. They made the people weep and cry and say, “It’s not possible.” And they wanted to change leaders, and they were murmuring. They wanted to go back to Egypt, that means serve the devil.

Now, do you have any pagan nations that intimidate you? Are there any walls of Jericho that make you think that you’re not going to make it? That’s exactly the way the devil wants you to think, like a grasshopper. Jesus is saying, “Don’t think that way.”

Peter says, “Lord, how come you’re walking on the water?” Jesus said, “Well, come to Me. Would you like to walk on the water?” Never underestimate what you can do through Christ. I love that Scripture, you’ve heard me quote it many times, and it’s one that I believe in. “The eyes of the Lord are going to and fro, through the whole earth, looking for someone through whom He can show Himself mighty.” God is looking for someone.

What is He looking for? He’s looking for people that will believe in Him. And, when He finds people that will believe in Him, He operates through them. God is not limited by your natural abilities. God will use whatever He gets. He will expand… Why do you think Jesus went to fishermen instead of the Ph.D.s if His day? Because they were trusting in themselves, the Ph.D.s. And the fishermen said, Peter said, “Lord, depart from me, I’m a sinful man. I can’t do it.” And, Jesus said, “If you recognize your weakness and you trust in Me, all things are possible.” And he became bold because of his faith in Christ. God can do great things through each one of you.

You know, sometimes I want to weep when I think about how far the Lord has led me. And you don’t know, because you’re looking on the outside. I look on the inside. I know what the past is. And, phew, I come away from a convention like last week where these people I respect, and these religious leaders know who I am, and that blows me away. That they know…that blows me away.

I was running around naked up in the mountains. Eating out of a garbage can. Gave my heart to the Lord, and I believed that He could use me to bring others to Him. Never did I know it would go like this. But he’ll do that for everybody. You just believe He’s going to use you. All things are possible to him that believes.

And if it’s not happening, Jesus said, “Be it unto you according to your faith.” The ones that did not believe they could be brought into the Promised Land, they died in the wilderness. Friends, I can’t… I’d like to change it for you, and say that if you don’t believe you’ll get halfway saved. But that’s not what it says. You’ve got to believe that you can overcome.

You’ve got two choices here. Life and death. Caleb says, “We are well able now.” Don’t miss that. Then the ten spies said, “We are not able, because they’re bigger than us.” You’ve got a choice. Who are you going to believe? Are you going to believe the voices that say, “We’re not able; the devil’s too big; I’ve got this problem; I’ve got this addiction; I’ve got these pagan armies; I’ve got these problems; I’ve got my inherited problems; you didn’t know my family. you don’t know my past?” You’re looking at the size of the enemy, instead of looking at the size of God. It’s a common tactic.

And, notice what Caleb says, verse 6, “And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, who were among those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to the congregation of the children of Israel, they said, “The land through which we passed to spy out is an exceedingly good land. And if the Lord delights in us, He’ll bring us into that land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread, they’re nothing. Their protection has departed from them. The Lord is with us.” That’s what makes the difference. If God is with us, then you have nothing to fear.

You know, there’s a passage here I jumped past I want to read to you. Joshua 23:10. Joshua later told the children of Israel this very thing, “One man of you,” who believes in God, “shall chase a thousand. For the Lord your God is the One who fights for you as He promised.” You don’t need to look at their numbers. Don’t look at the size of the problem. The main thing you want to know is, are you trusting God with an intelligent faith in God? Are you going at God’s bidding? All things are possible if you believe. Say ‘Amen,’ please. You sound like you’re going to sleep. I’m going to move along here.

All things are possible. We need faith for victory. Jesus said, John 3:16, “For God so loved the world…” You know this one? “…that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him…” You know what that means? Whoever has faith in Him, “…will not perish.” You must have faith in Him if you’re not going to perish.

There’s a battle that goes on between faith and doubt. Phillip Yancey said, “Faith is believing in advance in something that will only seem logical when seen in reverse.” “Faith is believing in advance in something that will only seem logical when seen in reverse.”

I think I’ve shared this poem with you before:

Doubt sees the obstacles, faith sees the way.

Doubt sees the darkest night, faith sees the day.

Doubt dreads to take a step, faith soars on high.

Doubt questions, ‘Who believes?” Faith answers, “I.”

Do you believe, friends? Now, if you look in Hebrews, chapter 4, the apostle there, I believe, is Paul. He says that the children of Israel did not enter into their rest, meaning the Promised Land, because of unbelief. And he said to the Jews back then, “We’re at the borders again.” They did not enter into in because of unbelief. If you do not believe in God, that Jesus is the Messiah, you will not enter in.”

And here we are now, friends, in 2003. If we do not believe, then we will not enter in. I think the coming of the Lord is very near.

You know, not only does the Bible tell us that we need faith in Jesus, it tells us we need the faith of Jesus. Revelation 14:12, “Here is the patience of the saints,” speaking of those who are saved, “here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” The faith of Jesus.

Would you buy something if you didn’t believe you would receive it? How many of you have bought something at the store, and then you leave it on the counter? Are you disappointed? Have you ever done it deliberately? Have you ever said to the clerk, “You know, I bought this, but I don’t intend to take it home. You enjoy it.” When you remember, halfway home, that you left what you purchased, how many of you… I want to see every hand, be honest. Everyone participate. How many of you have left something, after you’ve bought it, at the market, and went back? Let me see your hands. That’s everybody. I thought it was everybody. Some of you forgot that you did it before. Just like you forgot what you left. But, we’ve almost all done that.

You know what’s really bad is I’ve walked out of the store without paying. As a pastor, it makes you feel… You look around and you think, “I need to pay for this tomorrow.” I run back and say, “I’m sorry, I just ran out and forgot to pay for this.” You know, men are very task oriented. You say, “I’m going to get the bolts.” And you go in, and you find them, and you walk out and forget to pay for them.

But, in the same way you would not buy something you don’t expect to take home, would Jesus die for somebody He did not expect to redeem? Would He pay all that He paid for you, if it wasn’t possible for you to be saved? He has made it possible for you to get across the Jordan. He’s paid the price. Why do we not believe that He can finish what He started, after He’s paid, He’s purchased it? How tragic it will be, not to be there? We not only need faith in Jesus, we need the faith of Jesus.

Now, you know, in closing, one quick verse. Go with me now to the book of Joshua. We want to fast-forward forty years. The Lord said, “Because you prayed that prayer, ‘That we might die in the wilderness, or die in Egypt...” Be careful what you pray for, you might get it. They prayed that they might die in the wilderness; that generation that didn’t believe God could bring them in, they died in the wilderness. And for every day that those ten negative spies wandered through the Promised Land, they spent a year wandering through the wilderness. For every negative day, wandering through the Promised Land, they spent a year wandering in the wilderness. I wonder how many times we’ve had to wander because we didn’t believe. We’ve wasted a lot of time going in circles because we didn’t believe.

Forty years later, they’re now in the Promised Land. Joshua and Caleb are two leaders. As they’re dividing up the Promised Land, Caleb, who’s about eighty-five years old, he comes to Joshua. And he says, I’m in chapter 14 of Joshua, verse 10, “And now, 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. As yet I am as strong this day as I was on the day that Moses sent us; just as my strength was then, so is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in.”

One thing I don’t want you to miss: Caleb had a positive attitude and he had good health, too. Amen? I think they go hand in hand. He’s as strong for war at eighty-five as he was at forty-five. I’d like to have that problem. I’m forty-five now. I’d like to feel this good when I’m eighty-five. Wow.

He said, “Now, therefore, give me this mountain.” You know, that’s something… I’d like you to participate. (Oh, I was supposed to ask all the young people to write down the word ‘faith.’ Is it too late to do that now? Maybe you can remember.) I want you to say something with me: “Give me this mountain.” Let’s say that, here we go, let’s do it together. “Give me this mountain.” That sounds like a bold thing for someone to say. Let’s do that again. “Give me this mountain.” Did Caleb think small?

You know, the Bible says, if you’ve got faith you can move mountains. And, I used to think, what does that mean? I used to pray that, watch a mountain and see if I could physically move it. I really did that; I’m embarrassed to tell you. But I thought, “If you’ve got faith you’ll say unto this mountain, ‘Be plucked up and cast into the sea.’” I remember when I first read that, I thought, I wonder if that works? I want to make sure I’ve got faith. And I said, “Move!” And nothing happened.

Then I read in the Bible where it says, “He casts our sins into the depths of the sea.” What is the mountain that we need moved? It’s a mountain of sin. And if you’ve got faith, you can pray, and that mountain of sin will be cast into the depths of the sea. Amen? All things are possible if you believe.

Here he says, “Lord, give me this mountain.” It was a mountain occupied by giants. And we’ve got those giants, don’t we? And Joshua said, “Caleb, my old buddy, go for it.” And here this eighty-five-year-old man, he led his family against the children of Anak, and they took the mountains of Hebron. And to this day, Jerusalem, and Judea, is in the southern kingdom because of the faith of an old man who did not go along with the negative views of everyone else. All of history was changed because he believed. He had the faith of Jesus, that with God all things are possible.

Did Jesus ever seem afraid? Did He ever doubt His Father? He has faith in you. Jesus would not pay for you, if He didn’t think you could make it. Caleb said, “You can overcome.” The devil said, “You can’t overcome.” Jesus says, “To him that overcomes.” He believes you can overcome. Do you believe that you can overcome? Is that going to be based on your faith, or His faith? It’s based on the faith of Jesus. Believe, in Him, all things are possible.

I’d like to have you turn in your hymnals to number 100. That’s an easy one to remember. I love this song. Great Is Thy Faithfulness. And, if you believe that you can cross over, then you stand with me as we sing this familiar hymn.


You sound so good singing, I just didn’t want to stop. But I felt impressed that we need to give you an opportunity to respond.

There may be some people here today that have not really responded yet to Jesus’ invitation to cross over, to be Christians, to follow Him. As we sing the last verse, I’d like you to come.

There may be some of you here, you’re being intimidated by some giants. Maybe there’s some pagan armies that are making you think you’re never going to make it. You know what that is. If you’d like to take a turn in the road today and say, “Lord, I’m going to believe that through Christ, all things are possible, that I am well able,” you come, we’ll have prayer for you. Come now, as we sing the last verse. You sound so good.


Amen. Father in Heaven, Lord, we are just awed by Your faithfulness. Thank You, Lord, for being dependable; for being sure and steadfast. You are the same everyday. You do not change. You are a rock on which we can depend. Lord, I pray that You would strengthen our faith. Help Thou our unbelief. I pray, Lord, You will help us to take advantage of the opportunity we have to build our faith; through your Word, through the evidence of past leading you’ve given us. We also want to direct our prayer to those who have come, this morning, and responded to the Gospel invitation; perhaps some for the first time. Others, who have been, like we all have been, intimidated, at times, by the enemy to think we’re not going to make it. Sometimes we all fall into that grasshopper thinking. I pray that we’ll know that we are sons of God and that all things are possible to him that believes. Bless us as individuals. Bless those who are watching. And our church, that we may be faithful with the faith of Jesus. In His name we pray. Amen.

You may be seated. Those who have come forward, if you would like, we have some pastors available to visit and counsel with you.

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