Embracing Unity Within

To recap, from the story, the people’s fears occurred because of how big they saw the opponent and how small they saw themselves.  At that point, their knowledge of who God is was lost sight of long enough for the seed of doubt to take root in their minds.

Failure was no longer only a possibility to them, but in their minds, failure became a fact.  Realizing this reveals and reminds us of the source of our victory – God’s involvement and direction in our lives. Moses understood this and in Exodus 33:15, he told God, ‘If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence’ (KJV). 

Moses was only going where God would go with him.  This is in contrast to the people who after realizing their grave mistake was rushing ahead and without God’s guidance (Numbers 14:44, 45).  Using the analogy described in the section ‘Confronting Our Fears’, the people were ‘riding without whistling’ where riding represents going forward, and ‘without whistling’ can represent not receiving God’s guidance to move forward. So in Exodus 33:15 we see that Moses chose to moved forward (ride) while he listened to God’s voice (whistled).

So with a heart of faith and fortified by God’s Word, the mind would be solely focused on letting the Holy Spirit guide.   It was critical for the people to learn and reinforce a new sequence of steps in their problem solving approach if they were going to succeed.  Maybe it is the same for us today.

As we continue on the road of experiencing unity within, the internal conflict which causes part of us to war against other parts of us will diminish.  Then as explained in the previous section ‘Response’, when we are confronted with things on the outside, we would with the Holy Spirit’s guidance be able to make sound assessments and judgements that will lead to sound decisions; since the decisions being made are no longer clouded by internal struggles. 

So, at each stage of our lives, we will find the strength in Christ to face challenges in a healthy way.  However, as we grow and meet new and uncharted challenges, we may find ourselves experiencing some mental discomfort as we go from the place that we have become accustomed to and as we start to move to another level.  

Therefore, experiencing internal unity does not mean that we will not wrestle with some decisions or will not face some difficult situations.  But having resolved our internal conflicts at every stage of our lives, this will free up our energy to focus on overcoming new challenges with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And in the midst of it all – in every situation – we will choose to stay true to God.  And we would be able to join Joshua who said in Joshua 24:15, ‘but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD’ (KJV).

We would: look to God our Leader who gives us the power to confront our fears; have a correct view of the internal and ourselves; embrace an optimistic and joyful attitude; take responsibility for our actions; expect God to do in our lives what He has said that He would do; be even tempered in all situations; be aware of the influence others have on us and the influence we have on others; and be in a position with the correct report to move forward with a God-directed response.    

We would overcome with God’s power and we would be able to response correctly in the face of negative influences.  This is worth working towards, and then ‘the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep … [our] … hearts and minds through Christ Jesus’ (Philippians 4:7 KJV).  So when we go to our ‘tents’ (contrary to the people’s response in Deuteronomy 1:27), we will be singing praises to God for His awesome work in our lives and how He has brought us through ever stage and season of our lives.

The next blog post is entitled, ‘Moving forward United Within‘.

Be Blessed.

Response

The previous blog post in this series focused on ‘Influence’. In a world where we are constantly bombarded with information, we can easily get to a point of overload and not know what to do.

If we get to a point where time is of essence and we need to decide and act quickly, we may be tempted to be impulsive; but we need to guard against such.  With each decision, we need to ask God to give us clarity, so that we can make wise decisions.

To make a decision, having a report is a critical point; a turning point.  From the previous sections, we saw the actions that followed when the evil report from the spies (Number 13:32) was shared and accepted. The report will eventually guide our responses.  Even with the best of information, we need to guard against the feeling that we know it all.  Only God knows the full implications of each decision and response that we make.

So should this cause us to do nothing? No.  Instead, it should cause us to be even more determined not to leave God out of our lives.

Awareness is very important. 

We need to be mindful of how we relate to and respond to the things that happen around us.  In the case of the people as explained in a previous section on ‘Anger’, the realization that they were wrong created another impulsive reaction, as they had the desire to fix the problem immediately, so they went into battle without God’s guidance.

It can be a struggle to stay grounded especially when we know the seriousness of our decisions and how much depends on the decisions.  But Joshua and Caleb’s response of unwavering trust in God is the example we can follow.

Our desire and determination to be united with God, would guide the process for us to achieve internal alignment.  Then once we have with God’s help resolved who we are, what we believe, and what God expects of us, then our actions and responses will continue to become in alignment with our mental resolution.  Why is this important? If a decision to stay purposeful is not made ahead, when faced with a myriad of ways to turn and choices to make, it can become very confusing; so preparation is important.

Similarly, that resolve will guide every response we make.  So by making the decision before to stand on God’s side, the minute and daily decisions and responses will fall in line with the overarching strategy that we have adapted for our lives.

So if we are aligned on God’s side, we will be declared winners by God and for God.  The beauty about God’s way is that there is not only place for one person to be a winner; but everyone who stands for God and chooses to go God’s way is a winner.  So with the resolve to stay purposeful in the midst of facing problems, as we go forward (as explained in previous sections), 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,
  • maintain an even-tempered attitude, keep calm and utilize our energies productively, and
  • be aware of the influence others have on us and the influence we have on others.

Then when we are able to address these areas internally, we are in a better position to respond in a healthy way to the external.  So then we can prayerfully:

  1. Analyze the facts and perceptions surrounding the problem,
  2. Determine a root cause,
  3. Prepare a report (mental, verbal or written) with the results and findings,
  4. Identify possible plan of action,
  5. Make a God-directed decision,
  6. Act in accordance with God’s will.

Therefore we would be in a position with the correct report to move forward with a God-directed response.

The next blog post will be entitled Embracing Unity Within.

Be Blessed.

Influence

To see the list of the blog posts in this series, click here.  Now as we continue exploring the theme of United Within, the focus is on the effects of influence.

Everybody influences someone else – either for good or for bad; and even our own words influence us.  The reality is that the leaders would have been highly respected by the people. So to hear the 10 leaders speak with such a conviction was credible to the people and the listeners.

In fact, Deuteronomy 1:27, 28 says, ‘and ye murmured in your tents, and said, because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.  Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, the people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there’ (KJV). 

And Numbers 32:9 says, ‘for when they went up unto the valley of Eshcol, and saw the land, they discouraged the heart of the children of Israel, that they should not go into the land which the LORD had given them’ (KJV).

In addition, because the 10 spies were the majority (83 % of the spies), this helped to make their report even more believable and trusted by the people.  But we know that majority does not automatically mean correct. 

Fortunately in the midst of it all, Caleb and Joshua had positive influences and company in each other.

As we struggle within ourselves, when we are looking for answers, many times the words we heard prior to the struggle and the advice we received even in unrelated circumstances, come back to our memories with such clarity.  So the question arises, have I exposed myself to positive influences that will provide me with good advice as I go through my challenges?

It is important that with God’s help we can correctly decipher all of what we have heard and seen.

Also we need to be aware of our influence on others.  Being our ‘brother’s keeper’ means we are also alert to how we influence them.  Will our words and actions help others when they are going through their struggles? 

As God’s people we realize every word and every action will count for something.  We have the opportunity to choose to let these things count for good and to build up God’s kingdom on this earth.

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,
  • maintain an even-tempered attitude, keep calm and utilize our energies productively, and
  • be aware of the influence others have on us and the influence we have on others.

The next blog post will be on ‘Response’.

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.

Dependency – Looking for Another Leader

Continuing on from the previous blog post Dealing with Blame, sadly, the people’s thought process led them to exclude God, and in their desperation, they shifted the focus again and they sought a solution outside of God.

In their desperation they wanted to look for a leader, to take them back from whence they came.  But they ignored the fact that they needed to be delivered from their crippling fears, which resulted in them making bad decisions.

In their moment of irrational thinking, they were willing to leave God, the Creator, who had brought them that far.  Then the spirit of self-sufficiency took over and the people, feeling confident that they knew what was best for them, decided to choose a captain.

Their experiences are also a caution to us not to make decisions in the ‘heat of the moment’, where the decisions are based on our feelings – which at these points of desperation cannot be trusted.

They acknowledged that they needed a leader (Numbers 14:4), but they were going to do the selection themselves, having blamed and ignored Moses, the leader that God had already chosen for them.  They were also going to tell the new leader what their objectives for the leadership would be (Numbers 14:4).

After shifting the responsibility for the outcomes of our decisions and looking for a way out, do we look for something or someone to solve our problems and solve them the way that we think best based on our own vision?

The reality is God does provide help for us through human agencies, so we should never disregard how God uses people in our lives.  But in this case in the moment, the people disregarded God’s leading and just decided to do things that suited them.

They lost sight of the fact that their ‘help cometh from the LORD’ (Psalm 121:2 KJV) the Creator; and even though God engages people in His work of helping others, ultimately God is the source of our help, solutions and hope.

Our only safeguard is to be resolute to never allow God to take second place in our lives.  Persons deciding to take matters into their own hands would no longer feel accountable to God; and  it could also result in impulsive decisions and behaviors.  Seeking a solution without God is a dangerous road to take.  We need to forever guard against this.

The account is not for us to say, how could they have done that? But rather, what can we learn from the experiences in order to avoid this subtle downward spiral?  Remembering God’s leading in the past,  hearing of other’s experiences who submitted to God’s will,  memorizing God’s Word and praying momently for God’s intervention in our lives are the actions for us to take.

So 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 and let God be the leader of our lives.

We stand on the assurance that God the Creator of the universe can solve every problem and issue that we face on this earth.

In our next blog post, we will explore ‘Expectations’.

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.

Seeking Correct View of Self

Following on from the previous blog post, Inflated Account of the External, having confirmed in their minds that the opponent was bigger than they, their thoughts shifted to ‘how much smaller they were.’  They saw themselves ‘as grasshoppers’ (Numbers 13:33) and they even went one step further to say, ‘as we were in their sight’ (Numbers 13:33).  At that point, every ounce of hope was gone from their minds. 

In our own lives, can we think of a time when through a series of our logic, we ended up feeling so hopeless that we decided how we look to our circumstances,  and how our circumstances would just consume us?

When we reach a point of despair, fortunately that does not have to be the end.  In prayer we can run to God and ask Him to help us to see things through His eyes.  Interestingly in Isaiah 40:21 and 22, the inhabitants of the earth are described as grasshoppers when compared to God.

The story of Elisha and his servant in 2 Kings 6:15-17 is one of encouragement. When they were surrounded by the opposing army, Elisha was calm through the entire ordeal because he saw what the servant could not see initially – God’s intervention.  When the servant’s eyes were finally opened, he saw ‘horses and chariots of fire’ (2 Kings 6:17) protecting them and the servant’s hope returned.

The enemy is happy when we see ourselves as helpless and when we stop there.  But the enemy is not happy when we see ourselves as helpless and we run to God to lead us through.

As explained earlier, we should never deny or ignore the magnitude of the issues we face, or the strength of the enemy, but we must always keep in mind and live with God’s assurance.  He will not leave us.  In the context of our individual potential, we also have to be careful not to doubt our own capabilities, when others believe that our abilities are limited, or when we think that others believe that our abilities are limited.

Let us today determine to see ourselves through God’s eyes, then as we move forward, we will correctly see ourselves as ‘more than conquerors through’ Jesus Christ who loves us (Romans 8:37).

The title of the next blog post in this series is Pessimism and Weeping.

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

Be Blessed.

Inflated Account of the External

In my previous blog post, I wrote about Confronting our Fears.

In Numbers 13: 31, 32, the informants saw their opponents as stronger than themselves.  This is the key reason why they felt hopeless and helpless.  At that point, in their assessment they did not factor into the equation God’s presence and God’s assistance.  They had forgotten that God was the one who had led them that far.

Because of the crippling fear that the environment was so big and intimidating, the previous account of the good produce in the land (Numbers 13:26, 27) was distorted and then the 10 spies presented an ‘evil report of the land’ (Numbers 13:32). The opponent most likely was strong, but the Bible has reassured us that ‘greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world’ (1 John 4:4).

Similarly as we go through our situations, in the areas of our lives where we previously believed that God had called us to move forward, are there things that we now identify that are causing us to second guess God’s calling and His leading in our lives?

In life we are always in need of ensuring that we do not let our fears distort the reality. The good news is that once we are aware of this, we can ask God to give us the right perspective and the objective assessment of each situation. This is also key for us to address real issues in the environment, with the view of going forward as God ordained.

Then instead of seeing the magnitude of the opposing environment, we would see the providence and provision of a faithful God; instead of seeing ourselves intimidated by a big world (which many times can be very non-supportive to what God is calling His people to do), we would see the world subjected to our God who made the universe.

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

The title of the next blog post is: Seeking Correct View of Self.

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.