Moving Forward United Within

Studying the account of the people who were on the verge of going to the land of promise gives us a good understanding of the things we will or could face – irrespective of the type of change – and the interventions needed that will allow us to move forward and live the life that God wants us to live.

These changes can occur in our families, with our jobs or changes in our careers, or could even involve starting a major project or making a decision to move our location, etc…

Ensuring that God is part of every stage of our change is the only safeguard.  When we are confronted with major decisions, let us ensure that we ask God in faith to show us the way.

As we start to move forward and must confront new challenges and unchartered waters, initially the obstacle(s) may seem so big to us and we may feel so inadequate. But let us be reminded that God who made the universe is with us and is guiding us; and with God we need not be overwhelmed. What is big to us, is minute to God.

So realizing God is with us, we can listen to the Holy Spirit’s instructions, maintain a heart of thankfulness and praise, embrace the part God is asking us to perform and move forward.

As God continues to work things out in our lives, we can be at peace and deal with the opposition in a constructive way.

In God’s power, opposition will not stop us, and we will not allow our energy to be taken up in getting upset over the things that God will take care of for us. Rather, we will be focused on doing what God has laid on our hearts to do.  We will not allow our weaknesses to cause us to limit in our minds what God wants to do for and through us. 

Understanding that what we say and do affect others and ourselves, even as we are going through uncertainty, we will ask God to help us to correctly represent the situation and respond in a way that is pleasing to Him.  Then with each success, we will continue to move forward for God’s glory.

It is time that we no longer have a diet of fear.  Let us be determined not to feed our fears or doubts.  Let us build our spiritual immunity and be fortified inside by God’s Word.  Then when we are confronted by the 10-spy attitude outside of ourselves, we would be determined not to catch the ‘fear fever’ or at least we would be able to nip the ‘fear fever’ in the bud quickly.  It is time we are not gobbled up by fear.

As we dig deeper to strengthen our foundation of unity – unity with God and unity within ourselves – then this unity and unified purpose would emit outward.

The reality is as we experience unity within, it also brings clearer vision, and our vison of God is also made clearer.  I was also reminded of the song by Sandi Patti, ‘We will see Him as He is’ (click here to hear the song).  What a beautiful assurance.  To one day see God, what a glorious day that will be. 

This experience of exploring the theme ‘Unity Within’ has been an amazing experience, and God has been speaking to me in so many ways; and I hope that you also were encouraged from the contents shared.

Be Blessed.

Anger

With the people no longer expecting to win (as explained in the previous blog post ‘Expectations’), what anguish it must have been for Moses and Aaron to witness the chaotic situation that was unfolding before them.  In Numbers 14:5 we read, ‘then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces before all the assembly …’ (KJV).  After, Joshua and Caleb tried to convince the people not to rebel by reiterating the positive attributes of the land (Numbers 14:7).  Joshua and Caleb also told the people ‘… the LORD is with us: fear them not’ (Numbers 14:9 KJV).  But at this point having decided to do what they felt, now the people’s emotions were out of control.

At this point, the people had lost sight of the fear of the Lord, and anyone who dared to remind them of God’s leading became the recipient of their anger.

When we are dealing with irritating situations in our lives, for reasonable and rational behavior to prevail, we have to ‘pull back’ from the present situation and sometimes even take very deep breaths.  During these times of testing, the Holy Spirit speaks to us and reminds us of whose we are and who we represent.  This knowledge of God’s ownership of our lives is a constant reminder that we do not live for ourselves.

In Numbers 14:10, sadly we see that the people drifted from God’s ownership to ‘me’ ownership, resulting in the people wanting to stone Joshua and Caleb.

They were angry at anyone who tried to get in their way of putting plans in place to return from whence they came. 

The resulting irrational thinking led to aggression with the intent to be destructive. At this point God intervened before any stones were hurled (Numbers 14:10). 

Eventually after realizing that they were wrong, the people impulsively decided to go forward, though God told them not to go up.  God wasn’t with them and they lost the battle (Numbers 14:44, 45).  Not directed by God, they went forward in their self-confidence and presumption – a dangerous place to be.

God wants us to display an even-tempered attitude and be fully guided by Him.  In the midst of a conflict, when tempted to do anything irrational, let us remember the account found in Numbers 14:8-9: ‘If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey.  Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defense is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not’ (KJV).

The anger seemed to result from the reality that things were not going as they planned, and the words were not what they wanted to hear.  But we can learn from their account that maintaining confidence in God will help us not to lose our temper, because we know that God is in control and we have nothing to worry about. So as we go forward, we can:

  • confront our fears in God’s power,
  • have a correct view of the external,
  • have a correct view of ourselves,
  • embrace an optimistic and joyful attitude,
  • take responsibility for our actions,
  • let God be the leader of our lives,  
  • expect God to do in our lives what He has said that He would do, and
  • maintain an even-tempered attitude, keep calm and utilize our energies productively.

Next blog post will be focused on Influence.

Expectations

In the last blog post, we saw how the people were seeking to find a different leader.  Though the people had been looking forward to entering the promised land, some apparently bad news dashed their expectations.  They no longer expected to succeed or to win.  They did not give themselves a chance to explore success.  It seemed like their expectations to succeed was not based on God’s intervention, but their expectation to succeed was based on favorable looking circumstances.

And because the steps to the anticipated success was not in line with how they expected things to unfold, they declared defeat even before they tried.  Their expectations were also affected by their attitude, as was explained under ‘Pessimism and Weeping’. 

In their assessment, since all the odds were against them, their next response was, why bother?

One of the lessons that we can learn here is – don’t decide and declare defeat before even trying.  In Romans 8:31 we are told, ‘..If God be for us, who can be against us?’ (KJV).  So we can also learn that when God has given us a promise, we need to guard against letting challenges along the way cause us to lower our expectations of what the outcome will be.

Let us remember that with God we should expect to overcome and to win.  God is happy when we trust Him to work things out for us.  When hope is waning, a person may not feel motivated to fight for anything.  So maintaining confidence in God is important. 

And though things don’t work out along the way as we expect, that is not an indication that God has forgotten us. Looking back on the mistakes of the people, if we were to put ourselves in their shoes, it is evident that to be able to stand like Joshua and Caleb we need to fully depend on God’s strength. So as we go forward, we can:

  • confront our fears in God’s power,
  • have a correct view of the external,
  • have a correct view of ourselves,
  • embrace an optimistic and a joyful attitude,
  • take responsibility for our actions,
  • let God be the leader of our lives, and 
  • expect God to do in our lives what He has said that He would do.

Next blog post will be focused on Anger.

Dealing with Blame

If you have not read the previous blog posts in this series, you can find them at this link.

Now crippled into inactivity by their thoughts, the people’s next action was to blame someone for their reality and the situation and predicament.  In our own lives, in the areas that we are feeling down, can we identify the stimuli or chain of events that got us there? Many times we may not even be conscious of how we got to the point of despair.  And when our world feels as if it is falling apart, the last thing we may want to do is assess what is happening. 

We may just want to ease our pain as quickly as possible, and this is where we may feel tempted to shift our focus as the people did.  Instead of taking responsibility for their actions and lack of faith, they ‘murmured against Moses and against Aaron’ (Numbers 14:2 KJV).

At this point all rational thinking had completely broken down and it was manifested in their words and actions.  And then someone else became the recipient of their frustrations.

And they lamented that they should have died before coming to that point.

They also accused God of bringing them that far to see them perish (Numbers 14:3 KJV), they said that ‘the LORD brought … [them] … unto this land, to fall by the sword, …’.

As we look at this chain of events, we can explore learning a different and positive sequence when challenges arise – allowing God’s wisdom to fill our minds and not our own wisdom.  We can ask God to help us understand His purpose, plan and leading in our lives; we can ask God to help us make the necessary adjustment to our approach.

When going through changes we have choices; choices to embrace the things that we need to be accountable for.  We with God’s help can choose to decide what we listen to, what we speak and what we decide to do and to seek a positive solution in the midst of uncertainty. 

The people succumbed to the natural trait of trying to place blame away from themselves.  As far as the people were concerned, they were small, they couldn’t win, they felt depressed, and the opponent was bigger than them.  Then their chain of clouded logic and their resulting perspective brought them to the conclusion that it was God’s fault.

So as we learn new sequences of logic and thinking, instead of blaming, let us remember always in times of uncertainty to trust God, who is the great problem solver, and be confident that we can always seek God’s help – God who is the only solution.

So when we are dealing with challenges, we can confront our fears in God’s power, have a correct view of the external as well as a correct view of ourselves, embrace an optimistic and joyful attitude and take responsibility for our actions.

The focus of the next blog post will be: ‘Dependency – Looking for Another Leader‘.

Pessimism and Weeping

In the introduction, I explained that in our hearts ‘we long to find courage to stand for the right in the face of fierce opposition’.  Based on what was explored in the previous blog posts, to stand, we would need in God’s power to confront our fears, and we would need to have a correct view of the external as well as a correct view of ourselves.

In addition the account reinforces the power of words, and also cautions us to be very careful about whom we allow to speak into our lives and who provides us with information for our decision making.

Having reached such a low with their hopes being crushed, ‘the people wept that night’ (Numbers 14:1).  The people were sad and depressed.  It seemed like in their minds they had lost everything that they had dreamed of achieving.  They were at a dead end.  They did not know what to do.

I believe that the events unfolded very quickly, and they were not prepared for the emotional rollercoaster that they found themselves on.

Fortunately, we have their experiences to learn from.  During stressful times, having the reassurance from God’s Word is key to stopping us from going down this slippery slope of despair.  Anywhere along the slope that we may find ourselves, we need to be lifted up and out.  So praying for God’s perspective is definitely required.

When a lot of a person’s energy and time have been consumed fighting negativity and they end up not knowing what to do, the person may then find themselves in a stagnated and limbo state; and for some persons the next step may be to do nothing positive. 

But rising above what we feel and intentionally using our time in simple productive activities may be the stimuli we need to shift our focus and our feelings.

Though at times we may try and yet see no immediate results, that does not mean that the seed will not grow.  During the apparent barren times, it is the vision of what God has shown us in the past that we need to keep at the forefront of our minds. 

Like the farmer and the builder, let us keep the vision of the harvest and the finished building ever in our minds, while we are confronting feelings of doubt.

As we intentionally turn to God and His providence, the things that bother us will lose their sharp focus, and God’s Word like the light will overtake and consume every negative thought and we will be at peace.

The focus of the next blog post is about ‘Blame’.

Be Blessed.

Confronting Our Fears

In the previous blog post, I wrote about The Account of the 12 Spies. I believe that the people were excited at the thought of moving forward; but before they did, they had to address some critical things.  One of these things was their fear.

All transitions are not easy.  When we come to a crossroad, having made our plans, and having done our preparation, we look forward to all the positive things related to the planned change.  Similarly, seeing the fruit of the land (Numbers 13:26, 27), and with the positive account, the congregation must have felt excited and motivated.  But what transpired after confused the whole congregation.

In Numbers 13:28 there was a change, a shift in the thinking, and a reduction in the confidence level.  The obstacles (‘the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great:’ Numbers 13:28) were identified and placed before the congregation.

During changes, though we have a positive vision of what could be, we are also faced with the real possibilities that what we hope for may not becoming a reality.  During these times, with the threat of failure looming, the thought could arise, what if the critics are right?  What if I don’t make it?  This can be a turning point depending on how we deal with such questions and doubts.

As we embark on change, there are generally thing(s) that we did not plan for and did not consider; and how we address these uncertainties is a critical point that can determine if we retreat in fear or move forward in faith.

I have looked at the saying ‘ride and whistle’ to explore some practical ways of how to address this phase – this turning point.  Whistling can represent the process of getting all the facts – good and bad – favorable and unfavorable.  So the noises (including the negative facts) in the environment could cause us to retreat in fear.  But thankfully it does not have to be that way. 

Instead of thinking ‘what if they are right?’ and we will not make it, we can think, what if they are wrong?  Of course this does not mean that we go ahead carelessly without consideration for the dangers.  But instead at these junctures, we can ask the Holy Spirit to infuse us with the voice of reason and we can ask the Holy Spirit to still our fearful minds and help us to use our energy and time constructively – really asking God to help us to do all that can be done to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Knowing the potential issues before hand reveals the challenges that we need to be aware of, so that the mitigating plans can be put in place; but they should not be a reason just to pack up and not even try at all.  Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing, so to overcome fear, we need to soak and immerse our minds in the Word of God. So with God our fears can be changed to faith that looks to God to help us through.  So we can feed on God’s Word and be reminded that God has told us that He will never leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). 

Then our response would not be based on presumptuous actions, but instead on seeking to move forward for God in whatever sphere of life we may be.  This brings us to another obstacle that we will need to overcome to ensure that our faith in God grows; and that obstacle is how we see the world around us – the focus of the next blog post (Inflated Account of the External).

(Please note that Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.  Public domain.)

Be Blessed.

United Within – Introduction

The account of Joshua and Caleb in Numbers 14:6-9 has been a source of inspiration for many.  We long to find courage to stand for the right in the face of fierce opposition.  We long to rise to the occasion and show that we mean business for God. 

The support and opposition from the outside is at times so much easier to identify, but on closer observation of the story, what if the varied traits displayed by the 12 spies (Numbers 13:17-33) are possessed at times by one individual?

This I believe occurs, because Paul spoke about the battle he experienced within himself (Romans 7:23-24).  When Paul wrestled with his inner man, at that point he was not united within himself.  With this understanding I will use the account of the spies as a representation of the internal battle that we may face.

With the understanding that light travels faster than sound, with thunder and lightning, we would see the lightning flash before we hear the sound of the thunder.  Similarly, we need to let the light from God’s Word be at the forefront of our minds and inform our thinking, before we take action.  So that when we hear the sentiments of the 10 doubting spies trying to echo in our minds, God’s Word, which ‘is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path’ (Psalm 119:105), would be established in our hearts and our minds, to nullify the effects of the negative sentiments.    

Joshua and Caleb represent the desire to trust and obey God, and to live a life of faith.  The 10 spies on the other hand represent the noises or voices that we hear that tries to erode our faith; threatening to tempt us to even start to question who we are and where we are going.

Sadly, the contrast between the opposing attitudes is not always obvious at the beginning. When the 12 spies were sent out, they went out together, so there was no visible difference.  They were leaders (Numbers 13:3).  They were all exposed to the same things, but when the time of reckoning came, or using the saying ‘when the rubber hit the road’, the true sentiments were shared.  In many ways as time unfolded it was clear that the 10 spies were ‘on one side of the fence’ and the 2 spies were ‘on the other side’. 

Never should we underestimate the magnitude of the battle/war. Instead, understanding what we are facing will cause us to run even harder to God for His help, as we realize that the only way for us to make it is to depend on God to remove anything in us that opposes His will. So in complete surrender we let God do His work in us.

Join me in the coming blog posts, as we look at the characteristics that can cause inner conflict and as we explore how we can transition, with God’s help, to let God’s light inform and enlighten us; so that we will stand as internally united individuals to successfully face the situations that confront us however challenging they may be.

The next blog post in this series is entitled ‘The Account of the 12 Spies.

(Please note that Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.  Public domain.)

Be Blessed.

The Vines

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The gardener planted spinach vines and passion fruit vines along the same fence in the garden. The passion fruit vines grew faster than the spinach vines and eventually the passion fruit vines encroached on the part of the fence where the spinach vines were planted.

The spinach and passion fruit leaves soon became intertwined, and it appeared that only the passion fruit vines would thrive. However to ensure both vines thrive, the gardener redirected the passion fruit vines from the spinach vines.

There was also a third vine growing in between the passion fruit and the spinach vines.  It was a strange vine that was not planted by the gardener, so the gardener tried to remove the third vine without damaging the passion fruit or the spinach vines.

From this situation we can learn that as we occupy the garden of life, God wants the good plants to co-exist.  Like the spinach and passion fruit vines, God helps us to know how to organize among ourselves so that the different aspects of His work that He has requested each of us to do can be accomplished.

We also need to let God remove any divisiveness from among us. Only God can give us the discernment to navigate in tangled situations.

God has given each of us a task to do. Let us work together and learn to complement each other as we help each other to grow into the kind of persons that God wants us to be.