God or Giants? (5/17/15)

Posted by on May 18, 2015 in Rambo, Sermons | 0 comments

Scott Meg Rambo _20150517_103926-600x

Scott and Meg Rambo

Our guest speaker on Sunday May 17 was Scott Rambo.  Scott, his wife Meg, and their family have become part of our family as they have joined in our Tuesday night Bible Studies, Small Groups, and Men’s group gatherings during their “furlough” from the mission field.

The Rambos will soon return to Africa after an extended stay in the States.  They will initially return to Uganda, but will then move to Beni, Congo to teach pastors and health workers.  To learn more about the Rambos, check out their page on our website.


Click the following “Play” button to start the recording of the sermon.  In this  recording, Pastor Jim opens with an introduction of Scott Rambo (this recording was from the 2nd service).  Scroll down and follow along…Click the following “Play” button to start the recording of the sermon.  In this  recording, Pastor Jim opens with an introduction of Scott Rambo (this recording was from the 2nd service).  Scroll down and follow along…


The scripture was from Numbers chapters 13 and 14.  Scott didn’t read the entire passage,  but instead used his “storytelling” skills to describe the passage in the oral tradition that’s used in Africa.  Open the below Drop Down box to read the passage..


Numbers 13

The Lord now said to Moses,  “Send out men to explore the land of Canaan, the land I am giving to the Israelites. Send one leader from each of the twelve ancestral tribes.”   So Moses did as the Lord commanded him. He sent out twelve men, all tribal leaders of Israel, from their camp in the wilderness of Paran.  These were the tribes and the names of their leaders:

  1. Reuben    Shammua son of Zaccur
  2. Simeon    Shaphat son of Hori
  3. Judah       Caleb son of Jephunneh
  4. Issachar    Igal son of Joseph
  5. Ephraim    Hoshea son of Nun
  6. Benjamin    Palti son of Raphu
  7. Zebulun      Gaddiel son of Sodi
  8. Manasseh son of Joseph    Gaddi son of Susi
  9. Dan              Ammiel son of Gemalli
  10.  Asher          Sethur son of Michael
  11. Naphtali    Nahbi son of Vophsi
  12. Gad             Geuel son of Maki

16 These are the names of the men Moses sent out to explore the land. (Moses called Hoshea son of Nun by the name Joshua.)

17 Moses gave the men these instructions as he sent them out to explore the land: “Go north through the Negev into the hill country.   See what the land is like, and find out whether the people living there are strong or weak, few or many.  See what kind of land they live in. Is it good or bad? Do their towns have walls, or are they unprotected like open camps?   Is the soil fertile or poor? Are there many trees? Do your best to bring back samples of the crops you see.” (It happened to be the season for harvesting the first ripe grapes.)

21 So they went up and explored the land from the wilderness of Zin as far as Rehob, near Lebo-hamath.   Going north, they passed through the Negev and arrived at Hebron, where Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai—all descendants of Anak—lived. (The ancient town of Hebron was founded seven years before the Egyptian city of Zoan.)    When they came to the valley of Eshcol, they cut down a branch with a single cluster of grapes so large that it took two of them to carry it on a pole between them! They also brought back samples of the pomegranates and figs.  That place was called the valley of Eshcol (which means “cluster”), because of the cluster of grapes the Israelite men cut there.

The Scouting Report

25 After exploring the land for forty days, the men returned   to Moses, Aaron, and the whole community of Israel at Kadesh in the wilderness of Paran. They reported to the whole community what they had seen and showed them the fruit they had taken from the land.   This was their report to Moses: “We entered the land you sent us to explore, and it is indeed a bountiful country—a land flowing with milk and honey. Here is the kind of fruit it produces.   But the people living there are powerful, and their towns are large and fortified. We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak! The Amalekites live in the Negev, and the Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the hill country. The Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and along the Jordan Valley.”

30 But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!”   So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites: “The land we traveled through and explored will devour anyone who goes to live there. All the people we saw were huge.   We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!”

Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Numbers 14

Then the whole community began weeping aloud, and they cried all night.   Their voices rose in a great chorus of protest against Moses and Aaron. “If only we had died in Egypt, or even here in the wilderness!” they complained.   “Why is the Lord taking us to this country only to have us die in battle? Our wives and our little ones will be carried off as plunder! Wouldn’t it be better for us to return to Egypt?”   Then they plotted among themselves, “Let’s choose a new leader and go back to Egypt!”

5 Then Moses and Aaron fell face down on the ground before the whole community of Israel.   Two of the men who had explored the land, Joshua son of Nun and Caleb son of Jephunneh, tore their clothing.   They said to all the people of Israel, “The land we traveled through and explored is a wonderful land!   And if the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us safely into that land and give it to us. It is a rich land flowing with milk and honey.   Do not rebel against the Lord, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the Lord is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!”

10 But the whole community began to talk about stoning Joshua and Caleb. Then the glorious presence of the Lord appeared to all the Israelites at the Tabernacle.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.



Preparing to return to Africa is daunting enough.  But, sometime after returning, the Rambos will leave their familiar surroundings in Uganda to begin ministering in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  The preparations are not easy; rejected visas, accidents, fundraising.  It’s tempting to be like the Hebrews who listened to the 10 spies and ignored Joshua and Caleb.

It’s too much!  It’s too hot!  It’s too dusty!  I hate this manna! Let’s go back to Egypt!!!

So which voice do you listen to?  You feel that God has called you to go, and yet there are so many voices of doubt and fear: “It’s too hard,  it’s too scary… we can’t do this!”  Joshua and Caleb say “Go,” but the Ten other spies say “Are you crazy?  Give up and stay home!!!”



But if God is leading, that’s where we need to go.  Scott was attending a conference in Nairobi while carrying these questions about his calling.  He saw a need in the Congo, and felt that Beni is where he should be.  But how?  Does God really want him to go to Beni?  Is there an open door?

But at the conference, God showed up and gave Scott the answers he needed.   During this conference, Scott met a pastor named Pastor Jerusalem (in Africa, its not unusual for a new Christian to change his name to one that speaks to his faith).  During their conversation, Scott indicated his need for a connection to Beni, and Pastor Jerusalem responded, “Oh Really?  I lead a few churches in that area, and it just so happens that we need a pastor’s training program in Beni.”

Like Phillip showing up to explain a passage from Isaiah to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40), God sent Pastor Jerusalem to answer the doubts of the other ten spies.  Pastor Jerusalem was Scott’s Joshua and Caleb at that moment.  God shows up and encourages.

Scott asked Pastor Jerusalem, “If there’s just one thing that this part of the church in Congo needs, what would it be?”  Pastor Jerusalem didn’t have to consider his response; He quickly said, “No one stays!

The greatest need was someone who stays!  There’s no lack of well intending people who come to the Congo.  They set up great programs, deliver inspirational messages, do great things… but then they leave!  This mission field needs people who stay long enough to grow with the people and understand them.

At that moment, Jesus was whispering: “I want you to be people who stay!


Mt. Nebo Moments

After Moses died, God chose Joshua to lead His people.  Perhaps, like Moses, Joshua stood at Mt. Nebo and gazed across the Jordan Valley towards the Promised Land.  Ahead of him, beyond the rugged valley, lay the land he had seen in his youth; a “land flowing with milk and honey.”

Mt.Nebo.  Moses' view of the Promised Land from across the Jordan Valley.

Mt. Nebo. Moses’ view of the Promised Land from across the Jordan Valley.

And yet, God is now calling him to a dangerous future.  The giants were still there.  The wilderness in Judah is as inhospitable as the wilderness in Sinai.  Maybe Joshua began to hear the voice of those spies who feared the giants:  “It’s too big, it’s too scary, we can’t do it…”

But as He did with Pastor Jerusalem, God shows up.  He knows Joshua’s fears, but He encourages him…

Joshua 1:6-9

“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them.   Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go.  

Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.  

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”   NIV


Individual Choice, Shared Burden…

We all have a choice to make between God and the Wilderness.  Do we trust God, or do we listen to the Ten Spies who said “no”?  Like Scott going to Congo, we too have a choice between following God even if the path is rocky and dangerous.  We have a choice between listening to the spies who said “with God we can do this” and the spies who said that “we look like grasshoppers.”

But when we make that choice, we need the support of others.  Joshua and Caleb always trusted in God, but they couldn’t take the land alone.   God won the battle for Gideon, but He still gave him 300 soldiers to defeat the Midionites (see Judges 6-7).  Even Jesus relied on 12 of His disciples.

We’re not alone as we cross the wilderness.

As Scott and Meg go to Congo, they need us.  They need people to stand with them.  Even if we’re not physically with them in Congo, they need “people who stay.”  Trust with them.  Pray with them.  Remind them that it is God who is fighting the battles.  Even if we see Congo as being deep in “Dark Africa,” because of God’s people, God is already there.


Where’s God Calling You?

The Kingdom of God isn’t limited to far away places like Africa.  The Kingdom of God is around us.  God is calling us.  Maybe it’s to a food pantry, or youth group, or young adult group, or to a Sunday School class.  Maybe He’s asking you to knit quilts for needy children or sing to shut ins and nursing home residents.

The Call won’t be easy to follow.  There is a Wilderness and Giants between where we are now and where God wants us to be.  But like Joshua, God will take us there.

Which voice are you listening to?


 Quiz Time!

As you reflect on what you’ve just heard/read, give this quiz a try.  If you don’t understand an answer (or if you disagree with the “correct” answer, post a comment)…


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