The Lord tells Moses to gather some men together to scout the Promised Land, the land He was giving them. When He makes the request, He even restates that He is giving this land to the Israelites. They were to simply walk through the land and bring back their report with some fruit. When the men came back, ten of the twelve men were not eager to enter the land.
Though God already stated numerous times that He was giving the land to them, the men didn’t want to pursue the promise. Caleb and Joshua were the only ones who spoke of what this great land boasted. It was described as a land that was flowing with milk and honey. The fruit was so large, two men had to carry it back. Yet instead of focusing on the promise of God, ten of the men focused on the people who were strong, much stronger than the Israelites. They even spoke of giants. Beside these giants they “felt like grasshoppers.”
How often do you feel like a grasshopper when God calls you forward? How many times do you look at the giants, and turn in the other direction? How many times do you allow the lies of this world to keep you from embracing the promises of God? Whatever He promises, He will be deliver. We can choose to be grasshoppers, or we can choose to rise up and be the sons and daughters of God. He has called YOU forward. Rise up my friend.
“We even saw giants there, the descendants of Anak. Next to them we felt like grasshoppers, and that’s what they thought, too!” – Numbers 13:33 [NLT]
My dog Max frightens at times. I often tell him he is a big baby despite his 85-pound Labrador body. When my little Shih-Tzu Marci has an episode due to tracheal collapse, Max runs upstairs to hide. He doesn’t like the sound. I’ll admit the sound is a bit disturbing.
The tracheal collapse is a known issue with the breed. It doesn’t happen often and it has not caused Marci any problems. Even so, Max is fearful of the noise and possibly the body language of his best friend. Perhaps, just like us humans, he’s fearful of the unknown.
The unknown can be scary. Truth be told, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. It is unknown. There are some possible things that likely will happen tomorrow. But we don’t know for sure. Even more frightening is when we are to walk out of our comfort zone. When God calls us out of the comfort area, the fear level rises. There’s no need to run. Tomorrow may be unknown, but our God is known and He is faithful. Put your trust in Him. He will see you through.
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid. What can flesh do to me?” – Psalm 56:3-4 [ESV]
My dog Max has some issues with other dogs due to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. He is fine when dogs enter our home. He is fine when he goes to someone’s house and they have a dog. The issue is when we are walking. As a result, I am mindful of when we walk and where we walk because I do not want Max to get fearful and agitated.
It does not matter how prepared I am, nor how many alternative routes I can travel. At times, it does not matter and something will happen that is out of my control. This morning was one of those moments. A lady was driving down the road above the speed limit. She quickly veered over to the wrong side of the road, parking illegally right in front of us. She was holding a small dog and had the window wide open with the dog hanging out and actively barking. Right before Max was his biggest fear. He started to react. He was all frazzled.
There is no guarantee that you will have smooth travels throughout your day. There could be an interruption. Something could happen that would pull you off course. You may have spent time in preparation but you are knocked off of your feet. What then? Stop. Breathe. Remind yourself of the promises of God. Remember you are not alone (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). He is with you (Psalm 46:1). It may feel like everything is caving in, but in fact, God is preparing the way using all of the good and bad in your life to position you for something great. You were made for great things (John 14:12). You were made to give God glory (Isaiah 43:7). Change your focus and move forward (Philippians 4:8-9). You were made for so much more!
During our morning walk there was quite a lot of water puddles to make our way around because of the crazy weather during the night. Being a Labrador, Max has no issue making his way through the puddles. I try to encourage him to walk around but sometimes he just walks right on through. With Marci it is a different story. She is a Shih Tzu. Some of the puddles we encountered this morning were like lakes to her.
As we made our way home, Max went ahead and Marci found herself right in front of a large puddle. She was frightened. She tried to run in the other direction but could not get far as she was attached to Max’s leash. I reached down to grab her and save her from the puddle. She did not know what was going on. She ran away from my hands because I think she feared we would start giving her a bath right there in the puddle. I tried to calm her. Finally I was able to get a good hold on her and I carried her over the puddle and placed her safely on dry ground.
We often reach puddles in our own lives. We are fearful to go through. We don’t know what direction to go and we can’t get very far no matter which way we turn. Sometimes we just need to walk up to the water’s edge in faith, understanding that God is right there. Our loving Father is always there. He reaches out and carries us across the turbulent waters in life. He holds us with His great strength. He guides us through the deepest waters and the darkest valleys. There is no safest place to be than in the hands of our Father. Stop squirming. Rest in Him. Let yourself be carried where He made you to be—to a place beyond our understanding. Step forward. It’s time.
“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” – Isaiah 43:2 [NLT]
Moses was told to take off his sandals for he was standing on holy ground (Exodus 3:5). Joshua was told to take off his sandals for he was standing on holy ground (Joshua 5:15). Holy means set apart or sacred. One of my favorite passages references Isaiah’s commission. Isaiah sees the Lord sitting on His throne and He is in complete awe and reverence as he hears the words, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty.” He knows he is unclean. He knows he is undeserving.
It is important to approach God with fear and awe. The fear is not the fear we consider when we typically speak of fear. When Proverbs 1 speaks of the fear of the Lord being the beginning of wisdom, it doesn’t mean we are frightened as we are when watching a horror movie. Fearing God means that you have a fear of disobeying and displeasing God which would result in judgment and a disconnection from Him. It is about reverence and submission. God is holy and exalted above all. It is approaching with humility.
Yes, the blood of Jesus has cleansed us and when we repent we are forgiven of our sins. Yes, the veil has been torn and we can approach God once again. But it is important that we still approach God with fear and awe. The song says you have a friend in Jesus, and you do, but that is to be treasured not stomped on. When you approach God in prayer, in church, wherever—don’t take it for granted. Focus on Him. Remember He is holy and you too are to be holy. May your heart be filled with a passion and desire to worship, to truly worship Him, with all that you have and all that you are, each and every day.
“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord, high and exalted, seated on a throne; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphim, each with six wings: With two wings they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory.’ At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke. ’Woe to me!’ I cried. ‘I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.’” – Isaiah 6:1-5 [NIV]
Giving Max a bath can be quite the ordeal. Since he’s a larger dog, it’s not so easy to get him into the bath tub. Plus he is not fond of getting a bath and I am not fond of cleaning all of the hair out of the tub when he finally decides to comply with his mom’s request. Every so often I take him to the dog wash, which is a dog bath at the local car wash.
Max never wants to go up the ramp to the bathing area. Although it is the good path to take, he does not want what will follow. He loves to be clean. He loves to have his hair blown dry. But he detests the bath itself. When the bath is over, I have to stand beside him when he gets put back on his leash for he wants to hop out of the bathing area rather than taking the ramp down to the ground. Today I got soaked because he rammed into me as I blocked the dangerous attempt
Many times God will try to lead us down a particular path in life. Sometimes it does not appear so great and sometimes the path brings about trials and obstacles we do not desire. However, God has a perfect plan and His direction will help us to get to where we are meant to be in life. There are moments when He opens doors for us to enter but we hesitate because we fear, we doubt, or we think we know better. There are also moments when we try to go another way, a way that might lead toward something not in our best interest. At times He will block it to keep us safe and at times He will allow us to take the other way to help us to grow closer to Him. It is as if He says, “You want it. Okay, I’ll give it to you.” Oh the lessons He has taught me by giving me what I wanted. I soon realized I no longer wanted what I wanted—I wanted instead what He wanted. Today, if God is leading you down a particular path, if God has opened a door for you to enter, I pray you have the trust to follow. Following His direction is always the best way.
“Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will say,
‘I will go back to my husband as at first,
for then I was better off than now.’
She has not acknowledged that I was the one
who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil,
who lavished on her the silver and gold—
which they used for Baal.” – Hosea 2:6-8 [NIV]
“You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.” – Psalm 16:11 [NLT]
When you live your life for Jesus you will find that some people are not so eager to be supportive of you giving up your will for His will. There will be people who do not understand. There will be people who do not want to spend time with you. There will be people who want to argue with you. There could be confrontation.
Jesus said He came to “disrupt and confront.” You may be on the receiving end of hurtful words and actions. You should expect disruptions to how things were in the past to how they are now that you are living for Jesus. The relationships you have might change. It may be tough to cope with as people treat you differently.
If there is not disruption and confrontation, then there is a Christian tucked away, fearful of moving forward. Remember those who told Jesus they would follow Him, but wanted to turn back to their family? Remember those who said they wanted to make Jesus their number one priority, but they could not quite let go? My friend, it may not be easy but I pray each day you may say, “Not my will, but Your will be done.” May each day be a day where you give up your will for His will.
“I’ve come to start a fire on this earth—how I wish it were blazing right now! I’ve come to change everything, turn everything rightside up—how I long for it to be finished! Do you think I came to smooth things over and make everything nice? Not so. I’ve come to disrupt and confront! From now on, when you find five in a house, it will be—
Three against two,
and two against three;
Father against son,
and son against father;
Mother against daughter,
and daughter against mother;
Mother-in-law against bride,
and bride against mother-in-law.”
-Luke 12:49-53 [MSG]
Elijah came on the scene with no introduction and announced the Word of God. He told the people there would be no rain, upholding what was said in Deuteronomy 28:24 for those in disobedience. Ravens brought him food and when the brook dried up, he went to the widow of Zarephath and God provided.
Elijah then had a showdown with the prophets of Baal. As Elijah watched, the prophets could not get Baal to produce fire. Elijah poured 12 jars of water in a trench and God produced fire that drank up all of the water and burned the surrounding stones. It was an amazing display of God’s power, but then Elijah ran in fear and hid himself in a cave.
God approached Elijah and asked him – What are you doing here? There was incredible wind, an earthquake and fire but God was not in any of them. Then came a gentle whisper. Elijah was reminded of God’s greatness. There are moments when we need to be reminded of God’s greatness – when fear and doubt creep in and try to discourage us. Today, ask yourself how great is our God? How great is our God! Step out of the cave.
“When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, ‘What are you doing here, Elijah?’” – 1 Kings 19:13 [NIV]
I have been so busy with this semester’s coursework that my writing has been very scarce lately. More recently I have be plagued with a cold which has taken its wrath upon my ear. I went to the doctor only to find out that I had a very bad ear infection, and I was given antibiotics to aid in the healing process. As I opened the bottle and peered at the pills inside, I started to remember a time I’d like to forget.
Some people take pills daily for whatever health reasons or simply to fulfill a vitamin regimen. Most people have no problems taking pills; however, I am not most people. I can remember a day when ibuprofen and I didn’t get along. It wasn’t so much the medicine that left a mark, but how the medicine was administered.
When my children were younger and unable to take a particular kind of medicine, I always went to the store to get the appropriate medicine in a form they could take best. Perhaps I took that extra time because of this image still stuck in my head, or possibly it was because I wanted to show some grace.
God is so very gracious with us. We are all sinners. Romans 3:23-24 states: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (NIV). The love He has for us is incredible, with no words great enough to describe how amazing. His grace is something we all receive, and we are all to share it with others.
There are many people who look at God as an angry God in the Old Testament. People will page through the books and read the story of Sodom and Gomorrah and not see His love. But if we look solely at the story and don’t grasp the full picture, we miss God’s grace and we miss seeing the love that has been there since the very beginning. 1 John 4 tells us that “God is love.” When reading the Bible front to back cover, it can be seen that God is love. God is faithful. God is just. And God is so very gracious with all of us.
I know some people who believe God will just toss a lightning bolt down to remedy a situation without seeking another solution. What these people do not understand is that from the very beginning, God has been moving and working in our lives for us. He is not against us and not looking for any of us to fall, to hurt, or to not be with Him. And He is not so forceful, administering what He wants without grace. At times He is so gentle, that He is like the wind gently blowing by. If you read about Elijah’s encounter with the prophets of Baal, you will note that God’s glory was shown. It was a great victory. When Elijah was on Mount Carmel he believed that God would be faithful and God answered with fire. Yet after that event, Elijah ran away and hid. He got fearful and let his fear get the best of him. In 1 Kings 19, God did not go after Elijah and pour His wrath upon him for not continuing his mission. He was “a sound of gentle blowing.”
God comes to us again and again with His loving arms wide open. He meets us wherever we are and asks us if we are ready to come back to Him. He is not forceful. He gives us an invitation, not an order. We have the free will to make the decision. As John 3:16 states, “whoever believes in Him will not perish.” It doesn’t say all will believe. He put out the invitation and He simply wants us to respond. He would love if we all checked yes, but He will never force us in the matter.
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.” – Isaiah 49:15-16 [NIV]