Twiddling Your Thumbs For 38-Years

Years ago, Moses led a group of people (about a million or so) out of Egypt towards the promised Land.  Along the way they found a lot of good things to help them, and they also found a few problems.  

God led them to the base of a mountain (Sinai) for a while.  There, He showed them a lot of things about himself.  He showed them what HE was like.

They learned how to treat one another.  They learned that one-seventh of their time and one-tenth of their possessions belong to God in a special way.  They learned about food & clothing too.  They learned how to live.  Then they came to the Jordan river. 

They thought they’d better send a research team over there to investigate…so they did.  The research team came back in sharp disagreement…..  16% were positive.  84% was negative (Numbers 14:1-10).  Now what?

By nightfall, the whole camp was immersed in negative thoughts & they came to a unanimous conclusion “If only we would have died in the desert.”  And God said “You shall have your wish.”

Let's talk about materialism, or temporal values.

Temporal values is placing a higher value on:

  • Possessions
  • Position
  • Power
  • Personal goals, than on a relationship with God and others. 

Our whole culture is saturated with temporal values

Very seldom do we see a couple really committed to emotional connectedness with each other, or with God.  In our world, I see a lot of individuals emotionally giving themselves to their desires & goals, desiring to be financially free etc.  Very seldom do we see a couple that are really committed to their relationship with God, and to each other.  Our focus is on our rights, My needs, My goals.

We develop a self-focus on the reasons I want to live, rather than caring about people, or about a spouse who wants to be loved.  Many husbands & wives come to the place in their lives where they don’t feel loved at all by their spouse.  But they have materialism in their life.

Try this sometime.  When you go home tonight, ask your spouse “0-100% how much do you feel loved by me?”  Now, be careful when you ask that question, because you might get a 1%.  A couple years ago I heard of a –30%. I don’t know where that is on the scale—below zero I guess!

In response to this, many husbands might say

“I love my wife, what do you mean!?  I’ve provided for my wife, I’ve done everything financially for her, what more could she want!?” 

The problem is many people focus on their goals and not on a relationship.  Our whole culture is programmed wrong!  Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, that you & I cannot serve God and money at the same time.  Let me say this.  It’s impossible to have two divergent emotional connections at the same time.  Impossible.

In Philippians chapter 3,  Paul says “For me, living is…Christ.”  I’d like to ask you a question.  What is living for you?  Your goals or your relationships?

Have you been twiddling your thumbs..?


Back to the desert.  The Israelites had been in the desert for 2-years before they sent spies into Canaan.  “If only we would have died in the desert.”  And that night it became a mantra, echoing from tent to tent… And God said  You shall have your wish.” 

God judged them and sentenced them to spend the next 38-years in the wilderness until everyone over the age of 20 had died.  That's sad.  Over a million people were in the desert, just living to die.  They were twiddling their thumbs for 38-long years.

  • God provided food (manna) for them. 
  • He provided water.
  • He took care of their shoes so they wouldn’t wear out, but their bodies did. 

Over the next 38-years:

  • 600,000 men and 600,000 women had to die
  • That’s 3-4 people every hour
  • 87 people per day

This whole 38-years Moses is watching 87-people die every day (on average).  Now, I’m sure that Moses didn’t have time to preach all those funerals—there were probably some other men who helped him.  But that's a lot of funerals.

Now, something happened to Moses during this 38-years.  He saw this people living—just waiting to die.  No purpose in life, they were just existing under God’s judgment waiting for a new generation that God could bless and lead them into the Land of Canaan.  At the end of these 38-long years, Moses sat down and wrote the 90th Psalm.  It is a stunning account of the meaning and brevity of life.  

In verses 1-2, Moses talks about God’s eternal nature and greatness.

In verses 4-6 he talks about how short life really is.  He describes the brevity of life in four different ways.

1.      Life is like yesterday

2.      Like a watch in the night (4-hour period)

3.      A tide of water… brings in another generation and takes one out..

4.      Life is like a sleep.

5.      Like grass (Psalm 103)

6.      Vapor (James 4:14

7.      Shadow (Psalm 144)

8.      The wind that comes and is gone…(Psalm 78)

During this 38-years Moses comes to realize just how short life is.  There is something more to life than just waiting to die.  Isn’t that sad?   Let me show show you something even more sad.  Today, 86,000 people die daily in our world.          


Look around you.  People all over the world are just living to die.  People in your neighborhood, are just living to die.  Maybe some in your house.

What is needed?  Listen to Moses! 

Here are some lessons learned in the wilderness:


Lessons from Psalm 90

  • Verse 12.  "Lord teach us number our days."  I don’t want to waste my days—I want to make every day count.  Later on Moses is going to describe what he means by that.


  • Count your days, friend.  I have 13-years left until my 70th birthday. That's 4,745 days if God allows me to live until 70.  What will I spend those days on?  Let’s say my goal is to help strengthen marriages, or install commercial roofing or spray foam insulation--which I have been working on for 33-years.  If I spend all my time (4745 days) helping to strengthen marriages or putting roofs on, or helping to run Fulcrum7,  but have no time for relationship with God it won’t profit me.  Let’s say my goal is to make money.  If I make a million dollars or more during the next 4745 days what will it matter?  100-years from now it won’t make any difference if I made ten-million.  It won’t.  100-years from now my goals will be meaningless, unless I have the right focus.


  • Verse 13-15. Show us your mercy & forgiveness early in life.  I have a real burden to show the mercy of God to my children.  They need to see it quick, while they’re relatively young.  Moses is talking about the fact that he wanted to have a right relationship with God—he wanted to have an intimate relationship with God.  The only thing that ever matters is God and you and others.


  • Verse 16 “I want to see God’s hand at work.”  Moses wanted to be part of what God was doing.  How is it with you, dear friend?  Moses was tired of seeing people just living to die, and says “God, I want to see your hand.  I want to be a part of something that’s eternal, something that you’re doing.”  What you do in this life can be connected to eternity, friend.


  • Verse 16 “May our children see your splendor.”  In other words I want my children to see the power of God to change a life for His glory.


  • Verse 17  “Let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us.”  Moses is saying, Lord I want to be a reflection of your character.”  When people in this sin-cursed world look at you, may they see something peculiar.  The love of Jesus.  They can see something of eternal value – something that’s connected with God and His beauty.  Let me say something to you.  If God transforms your life and you get emotionally connected to your spouse and your children and you go into any community, I can guarantee everyone is going to look, and they’re going to ask “What happened to you? How did you get that?


  • Last verse 17.  “make my work permanent.”  Lord, make what I do count for eternity.  You know the saddest thing is…how many people today in our world are just living to die?   Even in the church many are living defeated lives, unfulfilled, not enjoying anything, can’t smile about anything, can’t enjoy a relationship…And they’re just waiting to die.


 So, according to this Psalm the two most important things in life are what?

1.      Our relationships with God and with others

2.      The eternal impact of our lives

  • Your money stays here.
  • Your clothes stay here.
  • Your possessions (all of them) stay here.
  • Your position is gone.

When I saw this, I prayed in my heart  “God, I’ve been a sinful, selfish, hypocritical person.  I want to enjoy relationships with other people.  I want to impact emotionally those individuals around me.  Secondly, I want each day of my life to count for eternity.  Do you know what I prayed for this week?  I asked the Lord to bring people into my life He could bless through me.  There’s not a day goes by, where God doesn’t answer that prayer in a mighty way.  I also prayed for you that God might bless your heart somehow in this message.


Let me ask you a question.  Would you pray in your heart, wherever you are right now?  “God I want everyone around me to feel loved, especially my spouse and my children.”  Have I been twiddling my thumbs in the wilderness, Father?  Are my goals and my desires more important to me than a relationship with you, and my spouse?  And other people?  Would you forgive me for that?

And secondly, God, would you connect me every day of my life to something that’s eternal? 

100-years from now what will be important?

Our job will gone

Fulcrum7 will be gone.  Spectrum will be gone

Our goals won’t be there

Our money won’t exist

The only 2 things we’ll have is:

  • Our relationships (with God and others)
  • The eternal impact of our lives.

"Lord teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12).