Lessons From the Life of Nehemiah (Part II)
Nehemiah prayed and fasted when the need was great and he didn’t know what to do. This is a great starting point for a divine solution! …
Nehemiah prayed and fasted when the need was great and he didn’t know what to do. This is a great starting point for a divine solution! …
We live in a culture of self-improvement, and people seek change and attempt to get better by various means. However, when we look around us, it doesn’t appear that the self-improvement doctrine has made society any healthier. There is a fallacy in self-improvement doctrine. …
God’s rest and work go hand-in-hand. It all begins with the Lord inviting us to enter His rest. As the Lord grows us, He shows us the good works He has for us. The good works bring life and fruitfulness when they’re done God’s way and in His time! On the other hand, when the works are done in our way or our timing, they produce dead works and create issues.
Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. Genesis 2:21-22
The Lord created the heavens and the earth and placed Adam in a garden with plenty of food for him to enjoy. Up to this point, Adam did not have to toil or work, but the Lord made everything that he needed available to him. Furthermore, God knew that Adam needed a helpmate, so while Adam was sleeping, the Lord provided a wife for him. Adam didn’t have to search for her or beg God, but God provided what Adam needed.
The Lord gave Adam and Eve the responsibility of manning the garden and becoming fruitful. Then God rested on the seventh day (See Genesis 1:28-31). Adam and Eve had the opportunity to live in the rest of God and do the assigned work without toil or struggle.
The rest of God was present in the life of Adam and Eve and the garden, but there was also the presence of freedom and choice. Adam & Eve could have chosen to live in the rest of God and continue to follow God’s mandate in subduing the earth and multiplying. However, once they decided to use their freedom to disobey God, their eyes opened to the evil of insecurity and inferiority, and subsequently, God’s consequences began to play out in their lives.
The garden was the place where the rest of God and our freedom were supposed to coexist. Adam and Eve had plenty of trees to choose from and to enjoy. However, because of man’s disobedience to God’s boundaries, the rest of God collided with their freedom, hence, the separation of man from God. In effect, the Lord was telling them that the day they partake of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they have chosen to be their own God, and He was not going to be part of it.
Whenever we choose the knowledge of good and evil, we choose unrest, anxiety, and stress, which are the opposite of the fruit of the spirit. This in turn causes people to try to control others and/or their circumstances to alleviate their stress by doing a lot of dead works and walking in carnality.
The truth is that once we open the door to the knowledge of good and evil, we become confused with all the messages we receive. The devil is the father of lies and knows how to deceive people. Good and evil coexist, and many times people are incapable of differentiating between them appropriately, which leads to confusion and division in relationships and society as a whole.
The effect of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is present all around us. We have opened doors that should have never been opened. We have permitted vises in our lives that the Lord never sanctioned. We have exposed ourselves to too much evil in what we watch and/or listen to and wonder why we are so angry, frustrated, and suspicious. Some have questioned the authenticity of the Bible and as a result, they have lost their footing in a very confusing world. Others have tried to counsel people out of sin rather than communicating to them the importance of repentance. When evil is committed by someone we love, some of us justify our actions as if God’s precepts don’t apply to our special people. Some people have been considered unclean because they did not meet the religious standards of a chosen few and did not follow their preferences. All of this evil masquerades as “good” creating unrest, confusion, and frustration leading people to dead works to clean up the messes created.
How do we rest in God and do the good works the Lord has for us!? I will share this in the next devotional.
The Israelites learned the hard way that unbelief and listening to the voice of majority has major consequences. Many times, the voice of the majority is not correct, and it requires courage and discernment to hear God amid all the unbelief around us.
Then the Lord said: “I have pardoned, according to your word; but truly, as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord— because all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it. But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it. Numbers 14:20-24
Only two out of twelve spies came back with a good report. The ten spies exaggerated the problem to the point that they convinced themselves and others that they were not capable of fighting those men. On the other hand, Joshua and Caleb’s report was faith-filled. They saw the size of their enemies, but they resolved that God is greater than any giants in the land.
Faith is a decision to believe God and to trust Him when we don’t have all the facts. Genuine and bold faith is not easily found. The voice of the majority generally is the voice of unbelief and relying on it is bound to cause problems and lead people the wrong way.
While we should count the cost before we make a major decision, there are times that we cannot figure out God’s direction, but we know it is from Him. If we are going to walk by faith, we have to accept the fact that the Lord may not provide step-by-step instructions nor does He give details in advance. All we know is that He is guiding us in a certain direction.
When you read the entire passage in Numbers 14, you find that Moses interceded on behalf of the Israelites and God forgave them. However, they still had to experience the consequences of their unbelief and disobedience. God punished the Israelites by keeping them in the wilderness one year for every day that they spent scouting out the land and bringing the unfavorable report to the people. That meant they were going to spend forty years in the wilderness. The only two from their generation who were going to make it to the Land of promise were Joshua and Caleb!
The Israelites’ unbelief and disobedience were very costly. Our unbelief and its associated disobedience can also be very costly, and it may lead us to going around the mountain over and over again.
Interestingly, we don’t find Joshua and Caleb complaining about the Israelites’ unbelief and the fact that they also had to remain in the wilderness for forty years before they could enter the land of promise. These two individuals were courageous in the true sense of the word. They were not just warriors confident in their ability to fight the enemies, but they were also humble men who accepted the consequence of Israelites’ disobedience and went around the mountain right along with them.
Knowing God was displeased with them, the Israelites decided to go up and fight the Amalekites after all. Moses told them that they were being presumptuous. God had given them a window of grace and the opportunity to fight the “giants’ in the land, but they had refused to accept it at the right time. Surprisingly, they did not feel like grasshoppers anymore and they thought they could fight them this time! In reality, the Israelites were operating in carnality both times. At first, they did not want to go because they focused on themselves and didn’t think they had what it took to conquer the land. Now, they felt bad about God’s punishment and displeasure, so they decided to fix it on their own. They were not looking to the Lord to help, and they ended up not succeeding in their own efforts.
Sometimes, we get emotional and make rash decisions. We can vacillate back and forth based on how we feel at the moment about a decision. It is better to seek the Lord and allow our emotions of fear, guilt, frustration, or pride to subside, so we can hear God clearly rather than jumping into or out of a decision based on momentary emotions.
Caleb and Joshua remained steady and were able to successfully reach the Promised Land. Our walk with the Lord will continue to require faith, patience, obedience, and humility to have the longevity and the success that Caleb and Joshua experienced.
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
The norm in the American Christian culture is the desire to seek God’s purpose for our lives and to accomplish all that the Lord has planned for us to do on this earth. To a degree, that is a noble desire, but if we make it the focus of our walk with the Lord, it can derail us from the Lord’s greater purpose. …
Having a Vision Greater than Personal Purpose (Part I)Read More »
The Lord has territory for His children where they can live, function, glorify the Lord, and be fruitful, but when they use comparing themselves with others as a measuring stick to determine they are on track, it brings much frustration to some. …
God’s Boundary Lines and His Territory for Us (Part III)Read More »
God’s timing is an important aspect of walking with Him. To live a surrendered life, we must trust God’s timing. The Lord is the master of time, and just as He has the power to keep the sun, the moon, and the galaxies in proper order and timing, He also directs His children’s steps according to His timing and His will.
The Lord holds the times and the seasons, and He has placed each of us on this earth at this time for His purpose and pleasure. If we are going to be effective in the Kingdom of God and have satisfaction in life, we all need to be in tune with the Lord and understand His will for the season we are in. We are also called to steward our time well and use it wisely. We cannot earn more time, but we can squander it if we are not intentional with it.
God spoke to Israelites in captivity through His prophet Jeremiah by giving them exhortation, instruction, and correction. The Lord told the people that His plans for them were not to harm them but to give them a hope and a future. The fruition of God’s plans were going to come through a process, and it required their obedience and cooperation. …
Then the Lord answered me and said:
“Write the vision
And make it plain on tablets,
That he may run who reads it.
For the vision is yet for an appointed time;
But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
Though it tarries, wait for it;
Because it will surely come,
It will not tarry.
“Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith. Habakkuk 2:1-4
In the above passage, the Lord told Habakkuk that the vision is for an appointed time. That meant that even though the Lord was giving him a vision, it did not mean that he were going to see its fruition right away. The different aspects of God’s purpose have to all come together before the fulfillment of the vision is seen. Also God’s vision is connected to God’s timing and the season in which it is to be fulfilled. The below passage is a good example of this.
And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days. Joel 2: 28-29
In the above passage, Joel prophesied about the baptism of the Holy Spirit and that God was going to pour out His spirit upon His people. Joel wrote this vision down in a period between (835-796 B.C.) He didn’t know when that was supposed to happen. It took about 800 years prior to the fulfillment of those prophesies! Joel and others could not have done anything to make this prophecy happen in their lifetime. They didn’t even know what it meant for the spirit of God to be poured out upon the people.
In Acts (1:4-8), when Jesus told His disciples to wait for the promise of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem, the disciples were still thinking about the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel! They had no idea what Jesus meant to be empowered by the Holy Spirit! It wasn’t until they received the promised baptism of the Holy Spirit that their eyes were opened to that reality. They also recognized that the baptism of the Holy Spirit was the fulfillment of Joel’s prophesies from 800 years prior and what God had intended from them from long ago!
The truth is that we cannot manufacture the fulfillment of God’s vision. The Lord has an appointed time and He knows the right season! God’s vision had to come into fruition in parts. The baptism of the Holy Spirit was only needed after Jesus came to earth and accomplished God’s mission. Subsequently, the disciples needed the empowerment and the revelation of the Holy Spirit to become His witnesses in all the earth and proclaim the Good News of salvation! Hallelujah!
The Lord provides a vision for His people, so we can continue to look to Him and not get derailed. The vision allows us to perceive a preferred future where God does His work on the earth and sets things right. Sometimes the vision is for an individual person, but many times it is for His people. This allows them, in one accord, to push forward into God’s purposes and not grow weary.
I wonder how many people over the 800 years prayed about fulfillment of the Joel’s prophecy and God’s vision for His people!? Those individuals had no idea how the fulfillment of this vision was going to look like and whether they would see it in their lifetime!
We still have many other prophesies and visions that God wants to fulfill, and they will come at the appointed time. While we cannot make them happen, we can pray that God’s Kingdom would come and His will and His vision is done on earth as it is in heaven! Pray with your brothers and sisters in Christ for the shared vision that God has given you through His word or through a prophetic word to the body and stand together in faith for the fulfillment of God’s vision on the earth!
Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay