Title: FOLLOW THE LORD FULLY
Text: Numbers 14:24
Reading: Office: Auditorium:
Date: Sunday Morning - 1991
The title of my message today is - Follow the Lord Fully! I have only one thing that I want to show you, one thought that I pray the Spirit of God will set in our hearts, one thing I want us to leave here today knowing, desiring, and determined, by the grace of God, to set our hearts upon...
Proposition: It is a blessed thing to follow the Lord fully!
The Lord God declared to Moses that he would destroy all of Israel in the wilderness because of their unbelief, except for Joshua and Caleb. He spent forty years fulfilling his word. But at the end of forty years of wandering in the wilderness, the only two people who left Egypt above twenty-years old who entered the land of Canaan were Joshua and Caleb. Everyone else died in the wilderness because of unbelief!
When God told Moses how he would deal with the nation of evil-doers, one man stood out above all the rest as an example of faith, commitment, and consecration. Read what God says about that man in Numbers 14:24 -
“But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with
him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land
whereunto he went; and his seed shall possess it!”
The name Caleb, I am told has two meanings, First, it means “a dog.” Though commonly, when a man is referred to as a dog it is a great offense, that is not the case here. A dog has one admirable feature, one virtue that no other animal possesses. A dog always follows his master. He is the most loyal, faithful animal on the earth. In that sense Caleb was indeed a dog, a loyal, faithful dog. He followed his Master from the day that he left Egypt until the day that he was called home to glory. God, make me such a dog!
The name Caleb also means “all heart.” What a name for a man! But it perfectly suited this man. Caleb was all heart. There was nothing half-hearted, lukewarm, or insincere about him. Caleb was all heart. I have known many who had a head to understand, but no heart, a hand to work, but no heart, and feet to go, but no heart. Not Caleb! His head was clear. But he was all heart. His hands were strong. And his feet were both steady and ready. But he was all heart. Whatsoever he did, in word or in deed, he did with all his heart!
Caleb means “a dog.” And Caleb means “all heart.” Put the two together and you have the character of this man. He was faithful to his Master in all things, following the Lord fully with all his heart.
I. WHAT MADE CALEB THE MAN HE WAS?
There were millions in Israel. But Caleb was different from the rest. What made him so peculiar? What made him different? What caused Caleb to be such a faithful, whole-hearted man?
The Lord tells us plainly - “He had another spirit.” That which distinguished Caleb from all the millions around him was the fact that God had put his Spirit within him. He had been made a new creature in Christ (Ezek. 36:24-30).
This is where we must begin. If you and I would follow the Lord fully, there must be given to us a new heart, a new spirit, a new nature. And that new heart can be found only at the feet of the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, where the Spirit of God works through the bleeding wounds of the crucified Savior (Zech. 12:10).
Come to Christ. Fall before the crucified Son of God as a guilty sinner. Confess your sin. Sue for mercy. Lay hold upon the Son of God like Jacob of old. And do not let him go until he has given you his Spirit (John 7:37-39; Eph. 1:13-14).
NOTE: I know that you cannot believe unless you have
the Spirit of God. And I know that you cannot have
the Spirit of Christ unless you believe!
The Spirit of life and grace is given to those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. If you would follow the Lord fully, you must be filled with, controlled by, led by, ruled by the Spirit of God (Eph. 5:18; Rom. 8;17).
Caleb was the man he was “because he had another Spirit with him.” The Spirit of God made him a new Spirit.
· A believing spirit - Caleb took God at his Word.
· A meek spirit - Caleb recognized who and what he was before God.
· A brave spirit - Meek men are always courageous men.
· A loving spirit - Grace makes men and women loving.
· A zealous spirit - Consecrated and committed to God.
· A heavenly spirit - Caleb lived on earth with his heart in heaven.
“Because he had another Spirit with him,” God says, “he hath followed me fully.”
II. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? WHAT IS IT TO FOLLOW THE LORD FULLY?
Caleb was not a prophet or a preacher! He was just a man who believed God who followed the Lord fully!
I am afraid very few of us follow the Lord fully. At best, most of us are like Peter in the judgment hall, following the Lord afar off. At worst, I fear, some may be like King Saul, following the Lord conveniently. But I pray that God will give us grace to follow our Savior fully, like Caleb did.
A. When God says that Caleb followed the Lord fully, he means for us to understand that Caleb followed Christ in all things.
His obedience to Christ was universal. Whatever his Master told him to do, he did. He did not pick and choose what he would do. He followed the Lord fully. He would not violate the will of God at any point.
· In doctrine.
· In worship.
· In duty.
Caleb was consecrated to God...
· His mind.
· His heart.
· His money.
· His family.
· His life!
Spurgeon said, “A spirit of partial obedience is a spirit of radical disobedience.”
Illustration: The Prophet eaten by the lion
at Bethel (1 Kgs. 13:24).
B. Caleb followed the Lord sincerely, without hypocrisy. (Matt. 15:8-9).
His obedience was sincere. And he proved it. One of the surest tests of sincerity is a person’s willingness to suffer for the cause of Christ. When the spies came back from the land, Caleb dared to speak alone for God against the rest (Num. 13:27-33). Even when they took up stones to kill him, he stood firm (14:6-10). Caleb followed Christ at all hazards!
There are many who follow Christ in the sunshine who will not follow him in the storm. And many will follow him in the storm of need who will not follow him in the sunshine of prosperity.
C. Caleb followed the Lord cheerfully.
Those who serve God with a grumbling heart do not serve God at all. “Our God requires no slaves to grace his throne. He is the Lord of the empire of love” (Spurgeon). That obedience which is not cheerful obedience is disobedience, “for the Lord looketh on the heart.”
God will not accept legal obedience. He will not receive anything that is not performed from a willing, cheerful heart (2 Cor. 8:12; 9;7).
D. And Caleb followed the Lord to the end of his days.
Now, I want to camp here a little while. Caleb was forty years old when he went in to spy out the land. Apparently, he was about thirty-five years old when God first crossed his path and revealed himself to him by the Word of Moses.
· Moses told him of God’s deliverance.
· Caleb saw redemption - The Passover, and experienced it.
· Caleb passed through the Red Sea!
· Caleb believed God!
Then, when he was forty years old, he spied out the land and brought back a true report and a word of faith - “We are well able to overcome it!” For forty-five years after that he lived among an unbelieving people who called themselves the people of God. But all that time Caleb followed the Lord. Never once did he consort with the murmuring crowd. Never once did he join with the rebels. And when his time came to claim his heritage, at the age of eighty-five, this grand old man was still following the Lord fully! He still had the strength of his youth, the faith of his youth, and the zeal of his youth!
How many there are who fail in this respect! Most people follow the Lord in spurts. Their religion comes in spasms. They leap into the church like the flying-fish leaps into the air. And they fall back again into the world like the fish falls again into the water. The one thing that is required of stewards is that they be found faithful. But the one thing lacking in these shooting stars is faithfulness! The only thing you can depend upon with them is the fact that you cannot depend upon them! And I know the reason - They go out from us because they are not of us; for if they had been of us, doubtless they would have continued with us (1 John 2:19).
NOTE: I do not mean they cease to profess to follow
the Lord. I mean they cease to follow him!
1. There are many like Lot’s wife - They flee out of Sodom for fear, but look back with regret. Lot’s wife was greatly alarmed. Angels laid hold upon her. She heard the words of warning. She fled from the city of destruction. But she perished in the way! How many are like her? While she fled from Sodom, she left everything in the city, even her heart!
2. Many are like those in John 6. They follow the Lord for a time. They are called his disciples. They hear the word enthusiastically. But in time they are offended.
· By the doctrine of Christ.
· By some duty of faith.
· Some petty something!
3. Many are like the Galatians. When Paul first preached to them, they received him, “As an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus.” They spoke of the blessedness of being in Christ. They rejoiced in God’s great salvation. They so loved Paul that they would have plucked out their eyes and given them to him (Gal. 4:150. But they were soon bewitched by the Judaizers and began to hate Paul because he told them the truth (3:1; 4:16). They clung to their religious profession, but departed from Christ (Gal. 5:2, 4).
4. Many in time of affliction begin to follow Christ, but do not follow the Lord fully (Psa. 78:34-37).
Hear the parable of the sower and be warned (Matt. 13:20). “All are not Israel which are of Israel.” All that glitters is not gold. If we would follow the Lord fully, we must follow the Lord always! Perseverance is the characteristic of faith. True faith never quits. It never quits believing. It never quits obeying. It never quits following (John 8:31; 1 Cor. 15:2; Col. 1:21-23; Heb. 3:6, 14; 10:35-38). We must be like...
· Jephthah, who said, “I cannot go back.”
· Mary, who sat at Jesus’ feet and heard his word.
· Simeon, who even in his old age was found in the house of God, waiting for the consolation of Israel.
· Paul, pressing toward the mark, constantly (Phil. 3; 1 Cor. 9:27).
· The palm tree and the cedar tree, faithful to the end, bringing forth fruit in their old age (Psa. 92:12-14).
· Like fine wine, the older the better.
This is what God says - “The righteous shall hold on his way, and he that hath clean hands shall be stronger and stronger” (Job 17:9).
“The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day” (Prov. 4:18).
“He that endureth to the end shall be saved” (Matt. 10:22). NOTE: My friends, the most dangerous thing on this earth that you and I have to face is that carnal ease and security that is the forerunner of apostasy - “Woe unto them that are at ease in Zion!” And the first step toward apostasy is the neglect of God’s Word and worship (Heb. 10:25-26).
I am calling upon you, more specifically, I am calling upon myself to follow the Lord fully, like Caleb. God let me be a man whose name is synonymous with “faithful dog” and “all heart”. Follow the Lord fully!
· Follow Christ in his unswerving faithfulness.
· Follow Christ in his self-denying obedience.
· Follow Christ in his self-sacrificing love.
· Follow Christ in his total consecration.
Do not be like those five foolish virgins (Matt. 25:1-13). Do not be content with the lamp of profession. Make sure you have the oil of grace! “Ye are not your own!”
Where there is life there is growth - “Grow in grace.” In faith - in love - in consecration to God - Not less and less, not more and less, not less and more, but more and more.
III. WHAT ENCOURAGEMENT DO WE HAVE TO FOLLOW THE LORD FULLY?
Perhaps you are thinking, “Don, what you have said is good. What you have said is true. I know I ought to consecrate myself to the Lord fully. But it is not practical to live like that.” Look at Caleb and learn what God declares - “Them that honor me I will honor” (1 Sam. 2:30).
I am telling you, if you are a believer, the most costly thing on this earth you can do is fail to follow the Lord fully - Sodom cost Lot everything he had but his soul! And the most practical, most advantageous thing you can possibly do in this world is follow the Lord fully.
Look how God honored Caleb, because he followed the Lord fully!
A. When God destroyed his family and friends, Caleb was preserved. He perished not in the wilderness. He entered the land of rest.
B. He was blessed with a long life of vigor and usefulness.
C. He was exalted to a place of honor among his brethren.
Illustration: “Son, that’s Caleb. Were it not Caleb,
we would never have entered this land.
How God has used Caleb.”
D. Caleb had the distinguishing honor of being given the hardest service - (Hebron, the sons of Anak - Josh. 14:11-14; 15:14).
Get your heart right and you are independent of difficulties and dangers!
Illustration: A train traveling through the fog.
E. Caleb had the privilege of enjoying what he desired. He possessed the land.
You will never win Hebron for yourself or the church, if you are always talking about the giants, and the difficulties, and the dangers. There are no difficulties to the man who believes God!
F. Caleb left a great blessing to his children.
· His sons reaped the benefits of his faithfulness.
· His daughters had a double portion - The upper and nether springs (Josh. 15:16-20).
Application: Follow the Lord fully!
1. This is the secret of a happy life.
Whatever you lose by following Christ, he will reward you in this world a hundredfold in peace of conscience (Matt. 19:27-29).
2. This is the way to be useful.
“I will bless thee and make thee a blessing.”
3. This is the way to die happily (2 Tim. 4:6-8).
I can hear my Savior calling,
I can hear my Savior calling,
I can hear my Savior calling,
“Take thy cross and follow, follow me.”
Refrain: Where He leads me, I will follow,
Where he leads me, I will follow -
Where He leads me, I will follow -
I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
I’ll go with Him through the garden -
I’ll go with Him, with Him all the way.
I’ll go with Him through the judgment -
I’ll go with Him, with Him, all the way.
He will give me grace and glory -
I’ll go with Him, with Him, all the way!