Timeless Promises

Read: Deuteronomy 11:1-12

Text: Deuteronomy 11:11-12 "But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year."

Theme: It matters to Him about you.


Introduction:

In this passage, the children of Israel were coming to the end of an era (discuss 40 years wandering in wilderness, death of an entire generation), and were looking forward with great anticipation to the dawn of a new era in a new land.

So we, today, stand at the beginning of a year. It just so happens that the list of beginnings doesn't stop there though, for this year we also start a new century, and even a new millenium. These things don't happen very often, and so many are reflecting on the past, and prognosticating about the future.

I believe that the words Moses spoke to the children of Israel as they stood poised to cross into the promised land are just as relevant to us in America today, as we peer through the binoculars of hope into the new era before us. For there are certain truths that remain truth in any time and place.

Let's notice some of these promises:


I. In any time or place, the Christian will encounter hills and valleys.

Deuteronomy 11:11-12 "But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys..."

As we look into the new year, we can rest assured that our lives will not be trouble free! (Joy!)

The sea will not always be smooth.

The journey will not always be downhill.

The road will not always be straight and bathed in light.

Sometimes we will find ourselves in the dark, struggling with hills and through valleys.

A. They might not always be pleasant, but I don't want to live without the hills.

1. Some words that come to mind to describe a world without hills and valleys:

Flat, bleak, barren, plain, unsurprising, same, boring, uninspiring, ugly

2. We need the hills.

For the challenge.

To force us to our knees.

To teach us we can climb.

To remind us of the beauty of God.

ILLUS. I had a good friend named Charlie Sprouse. Charlie was retired and had a winter home in Florida, but every spring he would return to Southern Ohio to his home in a little "holler" in the town of Ohio Furnace. I asked him once why he would leave sunny Florida and come back to Ohio every year, even when his health was not too good and the drive was getting harder and harder. He responded, "I could never live without these hills."

3. We can choose to wish for the dullness of the plain, or we can embrace the hills.

ILLUS. Caleb - READ: Joshua 14:10-12

B. The fact is, like it or not, life is filled with ups and down, hills and valleys, troubles and trials, difficulties and traumas.

JOKE:
Doctor to patient: "I have bad news and worse news."
Patient: "So let's have it."
Doctor: "The bad news is that you only have 24 hours to live."
Patient: "I can't imagine what could be worse than that!"
Doctor: "I forgot to tell you yesterday."

Deuteronomy 11:11-12 "But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys..."

Job 14:1 "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble."

JOKES: How you can tell when it's going to be a rotten day:
You wake up face down on the pavement.
You call Suicide Prevention and they put you on hold.
You see a "60 Minutes" news team waiting in your office.
Your birthday cake collapses from the weight of the candles.
You turn on the news and they're showing emergency routes out of the city.
Your twin sister forgot your birthday.
Your car horn goes off accidentally and remains stuck as you follow a group of Hell's Angels on the freeway.
Your boss tells you not to bother to take off your coat.
The bird singing outside your window is a buzzard.
You wake up and your braces are locked together.
You call your answering service and they tell you it's none of your business.
Your income tax check bounces.
You put both contact lenses in the same eye.
Your wife says, "Good morning, Bill", and your name is George.
Author Unknown

Deuteronomy 11:11-12 "But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys..."

Job 14:1 "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble."

ILLUS.Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched in his cage. The next he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over.

The problems began when Chippie's owner decided to clean Chippie's cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She'd barely said "hello" when "ssssopp!" Chippie got sucked in.

The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippie -- still alive, but stunned.

Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water. Then, realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do . . . she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air.

Poor Chippie never knew what hit him.

A few days after the trauma, the reporter who'd initially written about the event contacted Chippie's owner to see how the bird was recovering. "Well," she replied, "Chippie doesn't sing much anymore -- he just sits and stares."

It's hard not to see why. Sucked in, washed up, and blown over . . . That's enough to steal the song from the stoutest heart. In the Eye of the Storm by Max Lucado, Word Publishing, 1991, Page 11

Deuteronomy 11:11-12 "But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys..."

Job 14:1 "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble."

C. Actually, life would be terrible without them.

James 1:2 "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;"

QUOTE: "If life were all one dead level of dull sameness it would oppress us; we want the hills and the valleys. The hills collect the rain for a hundred fruitful valleys. Ah, so it is with us! It is the hill difficulty that drives us to the throne of grace and brings down the showers of blessing; the hills, the bleak hills of life that we wonder at and perhaps grumble at, bring down the showers. How many have perished in the wilderness, buried under its golden sands, who would have lived and thrived in the hill country; how many would have been killed by the frost, blighted with winds, swept desolate of tree and fruit but for the hill - stern, hard, rugged, so steep to climb. God's hills are a gracious protection for His people..." (Mrs. Charles E. Cowman)

ILLUS. I used to love to ride a bicycle. I started when I lived in New Jersey, and worked my way up from riding a short distance once in a while to riding many miles every day. I thought I was a great rider. Then I moved to Southern Ohio. They call them hills down there, but they were mountains to me. At first, because I had never ridden anywhere but "billiard table flat" New Jersey, I could not negotiate the hills. Many is the time I pulled over to the side of the road just a short way up a long hill, stars dancing before my eyes, and nausea threatening to embarrass me in front of passing motorists. Because I was only familiar with the mundane and the flat, I simply could not handle the difficulties of the hills.

The interesting part of this is, that when I was in New Jersey, I used to find it very difficult to ride those long flat roads. I would puff and pant and think I was really working (and I guess I was, since that was all the more my poor old body could handle).

Once I'd negotiated the hills of Southern Ohio, though, I never found the flats hard again. Actually, I never found the hills hard again. Truthfully, I came to a point where I didn't enjoy the ride if there were no hills.

QUOTE: "To realize the worth of the anchor, we need to feel the storm."

D. The secret is not to avoid the hills and valleys, but to learn from them, and get out of them what God wants for us.

ILLUS. Vance Havner told a story about an elderly lady who was greatly disturbed by her many troubles--both real and imaginary. Finally, someone in her family tactfully told her, "Grandma, we've done all we can for you. You'll just have to trust God for the rest." A look of absolute despair spread over her face as she replied, "Oh dear, has it come to that?" Havner commented, "It always comes to that, so we might as well begin with that!"

1. This new year, let us not fear the hills and valleys, but determine to climb them and see what God has for us at the top.

2. This new year, let us not complain about our problems, but learn from them.

3. This new year, let us trust God no matter what comes our way, knowing that He has only our good in mind.

4. This new year, let us be reminded that it matters to Him about us; that He works all things together for our good; that He will never lead us to a place where His grace is insufficient to sustain us.

POEM: Lord, I've never moved a mountain and I guess I never will. All the faith that I could muster wouldn't move a small ant hill. Yet I'll tell you, Lord, I'm grateful for the joy of knowing Thee, and for all the mountain moving down through life You've done for me.

When I needed some help you lifted me from the depths of great despair. And when burdens, pain and sorrow have been more than I can bear, you have always been my courage to restore life's troubled sea, and to move these little mountains that have looked so big to me.

Many times when I've had problems and when bills I've had to pay, and the worries and the heartaches just kept mounting every day, Lord, I don't know how you did it. Can't explain the wheres or whys. All I know, I've seen these mountains turn to blessings in disguise.

No, I've never moved a mountain, for my faith is far too small. Yet, I thank you, Lord of Heaven, you have always heard my call. And as long as there are mountains in my life, I'll have no fear, for the mountain-moving Jesus is my strength and always near. Author Unknown

II. In any time and place, the Christian will find that God provides.

NOTES:

Verse 10 speaks of "watering with the foot." Jamieson Faucett and Brown Commentary indicates that this refers to irrigation in Egypt, where there was little rain, and irrigation from the Nile was accomplished by digging trenches to route water from the river. One would use one's foot to move the dirt and direct the water. This speaks of the fact that we can duplicate the blessings of God to a certain extent. We can get water in the desert using our own devices, and think that things are ok. But, it is nothing like the water from heaven which is available to the Christian in the promised land. Think about this and expand on it.

QUOTE (Treasury of Scripture Knowledge) - "Rain seldom falls in Egypt; the land being chiefly watered by the inundations of the Nile. In order to water the grounds where the inundations do not extend, water is collected in ponds, and directed in streamlets to the different parts of the field where irrigation is necessary. It is no unusual thing in the East to see a man, with a small mattock, making a little trench for the water to run into; and, as he opens the passage, the water following, he uses his foot to raise up the mould against the side of this little channel, to prevent the water from being shed unnecessarily, before it reaches the place of its destination. Hence he may justly be said to water the ground with his foot."

Other places where the thought of Verse 10 is reiterated: Deu 8:7-9 Gen 27:28 Heb 6:7

Cross references:

1 Peter 5:7 "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."

Deuteronomy 11:11-12 "... a land (that) drinketh water of the rain of heaven: A land which the LORD thy God careth for..."

A. There is an aspect of God's care which deals with your significance to Him.

1. You are important to God.

2. Your contribution is as important as that of anyone else.

B. There is also an aspect of God's care which deals with his provision for you, your needs, and your desires.

1. God provides for every detail of His creation.

Job 38:41 "Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat.

Matthew 6:26 "Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?"

Matthew 10:29 "Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father."

2. God provides in every place and every day until His purposes for you are fulfilled.

Genesis 28:15 "And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of."

3. God provides all night long, even when all others are asleep.

Psalm 121:4 "Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep."

4. God provides only and always what is best, for He alone knows what we need.

Matthew 6:31-33 "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

5. God provides only and always what is best, for He alone understands our value to Him.

Luke 12:7 "But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows."

6. God provides in every age of our life.

a. Youth (ILLUS. Moses preserved alive, Jesus preserved alive, Joseph preserved alivee.)

b. Old age

Isa. 41:10 "Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness."

Isaiah 46:4 "And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you."

III. In any time and place, the Christian will find that God sees and knows.

Deuteronomy 11:11-12 "... the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it..."

(Psa 33:13 KJV) The LORD looketh from heaven; he beholdeth all the sons of men.

A. God sees and knows what you do.

ILLUS. Nathaniel - READ: John 1:44-51

ILLUS. Zaccheus - (Luke 19:5 KJV) And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.

1. There is a negative aspect to this thought.

a. When we're tempted to do things we ought not, God sees and knows.

b. Even when we can lie our way out before men, God still sees and knows.

(1 Sam 2:3 KJV) Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.

(Psa 69:5 KJV) O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.

(Psa 11:4 KJV) The LORD is in his holy temple, the LORD'S throne is in heaven: his eyes behold, his eyelids try, the children of men.

2. There is a positive aspect as well.

a. God sees your efforts that nobody else sees.

(Jer 32:19 KJV) Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings:

b. God sees the things you do that you no longer feel like doing.

C. God sees the things you do that you receive no thanks for.

d. God sees when others mistreat you.

(Exo 3:9 KJV) Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them.

(2 Sam 22:28 KJV) And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the haughty, that thou mayest bring them down.

B. God sees and knows what you need.

(Mat 6:8 KJV) Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

(Psa 34:15 KJV) The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.

ILLUS. Impotent man at pool of Bethesda - (John 5:6 KJV) When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

ILLUS. Hagar - Genesis 16 (NOTE that one of the names of God is El-Roi "God who Sees me" or "God of Vision" (Gen. 16:13). God sees needs of His people and responds

C. God sees and knows what you are thinking.

(Psa 139:2 KJV) Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.

(1 Cor 3:20 KJV) And again, The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain.

(Gen 6:5 KJV) And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

D. God sees and knows EVERYTHING!

ILLUS. I saw an advertisement for a bumper sticker that carried the message "God sees Everything." The words were beneath two of the omnipresent Christian fish symbols, which had been modified slightly to look like eyes. I want one. What a great reminder that God sees and knows EVERYTHING!

(Psa 139:16 KJV) Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.

(2 Chr 16:9 KJV) For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.

E. It makes a difference to know that God sees!

ILLUS. Bob Richards, the former pole-vault champion, shares a moving story about a skinny young boy who loved football with all his heart.

Practice after practice, he eagerly gave everything he had. But being half the size of the other boys, he got absolutely nowhere. At all the games, this hopeful athlete sat on the bench and hardly ever played. This teenager lived alone with his father, and the two of them had a very special relationship. Even though the son was always on the bench, his father was always in the stands cheering. He never missed a game.

It was this way in grade school, in high school, and even in college: he never missed a practice and he never got to play because he was smaller than every other member on the team. He was kept on simply because he was an inspiration to the other members of the team.

At the end of his senior football season as he trotted onto the practice field shortly before the big playoff game, the coach met him with a telegram. The young man read the telegram and he became deathly silent. Swallowing hard, he mumbled to the coach, "My father died this morning. Is it all right if I miss practice today?" The coach put his arm gently around his shoulder and said, "Take the rest of the week off, son. And don't even plan to come back to the game on Saturday."

Saturday arrived, and the game was not going well. In the third quarter, when the team was ten points behind, a silent young man quietly slipped into the empty locker room and put on his football gear. As he ran onto the sidelines, the coach and his players were astounded to see their faithful teammate back so soon.

"Coach, please let me play. I've just got to play today." said the young man. The coach pretended not to hear him. There was no way he wanted his worst player in this close playoff game.

But the young man persisted, and finally feeling sorry for the kid, the coach gave in. "All right," he said. "You can go in."

Before long, the coach, the players and everyone in the stands could not believe their eyes. This little unknown, who had never played before was doing everything right. The opposing team could not stop him. He ran, he passed, blocked and tackled like a star. His team began to triumph.

The score was soon tied. In the closing seconds of the game, this kid intercepted a pass and ran all the way for the winning touchdown. The fans broke loose. His teammates hoisted him onto their shoulders. Such cheering you never heard!

Finally, after the stands had emptied and the team had showered and left the locker room, the coach noticed that the young man was sitting quietly in the corner all alone. The coach came to him and said, "Kid, I can't believe it. You were fantastic! Tell me what got into you? How did you do it?"

He looked at the coach, with tears in his eyes, and said, "Well, you knew my dad died, but did you know that my dad was blind?' The young man swallowed hard and forced a smile, "Dad came to all my games, but today was the first time he could see me play, and I wanted to show him I could do it!"


Conclusion:

Just as the children of Israel stood at the brink of a new and wonderful opportunity, so we stand on the brink of a new year, some would even say a new millenium.

What can we expect?

The truths that Moses shared with Israel are just as applicable to us today, and should help us to face our new year with courage, anticipation, and hope.

Let us remember that:

In any time or place, the Christian will encounter hills and valleys.

In any time and place, the Christian will find that God provides.

In any time and place, the Christian will find that God sees and knows.

May God give you a wonderful new year.


Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
Copyright © 1999 William E. Johnson.