Numbers 20:8 “Take the staff and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.”
The nation of Israel have congregated at the waters of Meribah and there is no water to be found for them or their livestock to drink. They complain to their leaders, Moses and Aaron, regretting they ever left Egypt. Moses and Aaron are humble men of God and they throw themselves on their faces and cry out to God for his intervention. God directs Moses to speak to the rock, with a promise that water would gush out from the rock for the people to drink. Instead of obeying the voice of the Lord, Moses is fed up with Israel’s complaining and he reacts in anger and frustration, striking the rock with his staff and cursing the people as he did it. God does intervene, the rock does yield its water and the people do drink, however, Moses and Aaron are brought under God’s judgement for their disobedience and eventually die in the wilderness. Like Israel, everyone of us face circumstances that threaten our peace, well being and survival. It’s easy in those moments to panic, make rash judgements and question God’s faithfulness to us. If we humbly seek God, he will provide strength and sustenance through his word. We must be careful to obey all that God’s word calls us to, not only for our sake but also so that we don’t misrepresent God’s heart to those around us. Notice a fresh supply of water didn’t automatically gush forth, Moses had to partner with God in the process of the miracle. This takes faith and without faith, it’s impossible to please God. Moses took matters into his own hands, showing he didn’t have faith in God’s word. God in his grace, intervened but God’s holiness and character was misrepresented to Israel. My encouragement to you is the next time you seek God for intervention into your challenging circumstance, follow his instruction carefully. Don’t allow your own emotions to dictate your response. Not only will you receive God’s gracious blessing but you’ll have witnessed to the world around you of God’s goodness and faithfulness. Selah!
Therefore when the Lord heard, he was full of wrath; a fire was kindled against Jacob; his anger rose against Israel, because they did not believe in God and did not trust his saving power. (Ps 78:21-22)
Recently, I was running on an isolated trail and I found myself in a torrential downpour of rain, which turned into a minor storm. All of a sudden, I saw and heard a bolt of lightning hit the earth, cracking a tree only 50 meters from me. The crack of the thunder went through my chest and for an instant I was captured by the fear of God as I came face to face with his awesome power. Needless to say, I increased the pace of my run. As I ran for my life, I was reminded of the reality of God’s power. Like Israel did in the past, sometimes we too forget the awesome power of God and his deeds amongst us (Read Ps 78). This often leads to a weakening of our faith and a lack of trust in his capacity to provide and move in our lives. This offends the heart of God. God delights in showing off his awesome power in our lives, just as he did for his people in the wilderness, thousands of years ago. When we refuse to believe in him, despite his awesome deeds, we grieve his heart and offend his nature. Don’t take for granted whom God is and what he has done in your life. Tread carefully around his throne room with a grateful and believing heart.
Judges 13-16 gives an apt description of a person’s life that ended so badly when it started with such promise and favour.
Samson had a massive calling on his life and was anointed for great influence, however, the wheels started falling off very early in his journey. He was a powerful and strong individual on the surface but lacked real substance under the surface.
His immaturity spiralled out of control and was on display for us not only to observe but to heed the lessons of his life. Samson liked the ladies too much. He was impulsive and hasty. He lacked self-control and discernment of people and their motives. He didn’t control his appetites and was prone to extreme exaggeration. I believe he acted in this way because he fundamentally underestimated what God had entrusted him with.
Samson had everything going for him – anointing, favour, calling, strength, looks, influence, miraculous provision BUT he blew it all because he thought his strengths gave him the right to have whatever his eyes saw and whatever his heart desired. Wrong conclusion.
He became so distant from God that he didn’t even know God’s anointing had left him. What a tragedy! Hot tip. Don’t be like Samson. If there are any tendencies in you similar to Samson, get real with yourself and with God and with a mate and repent. Life’s too short and the anointing is too precious to waste on lesser vices.
Isaiah 43:18-19 ‘Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing. Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it.’
Too many of us give too much power to our past and not enough power to our present. Past failures and past successes don’t have to dictate your present reality. If you give too much weight to what God did or didn’t do in the past, you’ll miss what he wants to do in the present.
There’s a reason why your rear view mirror is smaller than your front windscreen. Where you are heading is more important than where you’ve been. If you linger too long on where you’ve been, you’ll crash and miss the turn off to the direction God wants you to head in.
An interesting fact to consider is that when you look up into the sky at night at all of the beautiful stars, you are actually looking at the past. You see, most of the stars in the sky have already died and you are simply looking at the afterglow of them. Too often we look at the past with stars in our eyes and miss what God is wanting to do in our lives right now.
As you head into 2013, I want to encourage you to learn from the past, get healing from the past and celebrate the past but honour what God is doing right now in your life.
Recently, in the news we’ve all heard of the tragic events surrounding Hurricane Sandy which hit the northeastern coast of the United States. Over $20 billion worth of damage is estimated to have occurred and many lives have been lost. Don’t you think it’s odd that we name such cataclysmic events after lovely ladies names… like Sandy or Katrina or Cyclone Tracey. I know a Tracey and she is a lovely lady. Why don’t we call them ‘Hurricane Hitler’ or ‘Hurricane Lucifer’ or ‘Cyclone Frankenstein’? Just a thought!
No matter how sturdy or stable a house, boat or car looks pre-hurricance, if the hurricane winds are strong enough then the object will have no power over itself to determine where the wind blows it. There are massive implications in the spiritual dimensions of life as well.
One of the symbols of the Holy Spirit is Wind. All throughout Scripture we read of the wind of God’s Spirit blowing upon his people and world events (Ezekiel 37, Acts 2). John 3:8 says, ‘The wind blows where it wishes. You can hear its sound but you don’t know where it comes from or where its going. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit of God.’
Believers are born of the Spirit of God and are children of the wind of God’s Spirit blowing upon people. I’ve observed, though, that after a number of years, some believers become very static and inflexible when it comes to the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The opposite should be the case. The longer we walk with God, the more flexible, dynamic and passionate we should become as we anticipate the blowing of the Spirit in our lives.
Unfortunately, hard-heartedness anaesthetises us to the Spirit’s leading in our lives. A hard heart disguises itself in religious activity and piety (Pharisees) but really finds its seed in pride which leads to rebellion. Hebrews 3:7-8 says, ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts, as in the day of rebellion.’
What stirs God’s heart to blow a hurricane in our lives is a soft and broken heart before him. It’s not that God can’t blow upon a hard heart, he does all the time (after all, how could any of us be saved), it’s that he delights in blowing upon a soft heart. Psalm 51:17 says, ‘The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit. A broken and contrite heart O God, you will not despise.’ Are you a bucking stallion that needs breaking or do you have a soft heart that the trainer (Holy Spirit) is able to bridle and ride into God’s purposes on?
2 Chronicles 5:11 ‘The priests consecrated themselves without regard to their divisions.’
Consecration is about your heart, not your position. Sometimes people think only those who are senior pastors or those in great and influential positions need to be fully consecrated to God while the rest of us only have to be half-consecrated. Wrong conclusion.
In the passage above the priests consecrated themselves to God, regardless of what position or division they were in. The word consecration means to be set apart as holy for the purpose of worshipping God. Consecration isn’t a one time event, it’s a continual requirement of every follower of Christ.
Unfortunately, some of us are living off a past consecration for a past season. In every major season of our lives we need to be freshly consecrated to God. Romans 12:1 ‘I appeal to you, to present yourselves to God as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual worship.’ In light of who God is and what God has done, the only reasonable and rational thing to do is to throw ourselves at God’s altar and consecrate ourselves.
Consecration always happens in the holy place. The holy place from a new testament perspective is in the context of our personal relationship with God. We accept the invitation from God’s Spirit, to enter the school of the Spirit and be set apart for God’s purposes. It involves making a sober decision to leave the old nature behind, including some former ways of thinking, speaking and living, to embrace the new renewed nature of the Spirit working in us through the process of sanctification.
Joshua 3:5 ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow God will do wonders among you.’
Consecration always precedes God’s wonders. Before Israel crossed over the Jordan River to march into the promised land, they had to consecrate themselves to God. Before the fire of God’s glory could fill the temple, the priests had to consecrate themselves. Before God wonders become a living reality in your life, you need to consecrate yourself.
Humbly posture your heart in prayer and worship and hand the keys to the door of your heart and future over to God and let him in to occupy every square corner of your life and you would have started the journey on the road of consecration.
Numbers 13:30-31 ‘Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Then the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we are”.’
Fashion is one of my hobbies and I don’t mind the odd shop for some quality clothes. I’ve observed the higher quality the product, the higher price you must be willing to pay for it. You can’t have a BMW experience with a Ford Escort mentality.
Breakthrough in life and ministry operates the same way. The bigger the breakthrough you need, the bigger the price you must be willing to pay for it. Breakthroughs don’t come at bargain prices.
Problem is breakthrough is often disguised as hard work. The 10 spies who reported to Moses the state of the Promised Land looked at the giants, fortified cities and obstacles in the way and said, ‘Too Hard’. Most people want breakthrough, they’re just not willing to embrace the hard work required to get it. There’s a difference between a desire and a conviction. A desire is a surface level feeling that disappears when hard work is required but a conviction is a revelation in your heart that you will possess what you are believing for regardless of the hard work involved.
Breakthrough is inhibited by a bad report. 10 out of 12 spies brought back a bad report and it stopped nearly 3 million people from entering into their Promised Land. I’ve discovered, you can hear 100 words of encouragement but one negative report will be the thing you take away with you. I bad egg can mess it up for everyone else. We’ve got to guard our hearts and watch the report coming out of our mouths.
Breakthrough requires you to see through obstacles. 10 spies couldn’t see past the obstacle and they got intimidated by it to the point that they saw themselves as grasshoppers. When you see yourself as a grasshopper, you don’t see yourself as capable of overcoming great obstacles. When you can’t see through the obstacle you compare yourself to it and get intimidated by it. Get your eyes back onto Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith. When you get a revelation of whom God is, He will give you a revelation of whom you are.
Joshua and Caleb modeled 4 key actions (V30) that we need to take note of as we head towards our own breakthrough:
- Unity – We are stronger together than we are alone
- Urgency – Seize the opportunity before you
- Faith – God was their source of strength
- Sacrifice – You can’t go up, if you don’t give up
God wants you to breakthrough but there’s a few hard questions you need to ask yourself. What hard work is in front of me that I am trying to avoid? What bad report have I brought to the table that I need to repent of? What obstacles in front of me intimidate me?
I’ve discovered that guidance from God is not always what we need. More often than not we know what God’s will is but what we need to complete it is assurance from God that he will be with us.
This is no more true than for Gideon after God called him to strike down the Midianites. The Lord said to Gideon, “The Lord is with you, O mighty man of valor… Go in your strength and deliver Israel from the hand of Midian. Have I not sent you?” Gideon said, “How shall I deliver Israel? Behold, my family is the least in Manessah, and I am the youngest in my father’s house.” But the Lord said to him, “Surely, I will be with you, and you shall defeat Midian as one man.”
Gideon has an initial conversation with God and then goes on a journey of giving God his final response. On a personal level Gideon feels much like us when asked by God to complete his will, he feels inadequate, insecure and lacking in confidence. When God issues a call to us, it raises our insecurities to the surface but this is a necessary part of our training to complete God’s will for us.
The very thing we think disqualifies us to answer God’s call (our weakness) is the very reason why we have been chosen, so we don’t confuse God’s glory with our ability.
Gideon knew the will of God but he puts out a fleece, not to get guidance but to get reassurance from God that he was in fact called to do what God had asked him to do. Why would someone who knows the will of God need a fleece to double-check? The fleece had nothing to do with finding God’s will and everything to do with his own poor self-image. Gideon wasn’t seeking guidance, he was asking for reassurance.
When it comes to our own calling, what we need most, is not more direction but reassurance that we are the one’s to fulfill it. Reassurance is a key part of Gods intention for us. When he commits us to impossible situations He knows that it will throw us into a crisis of self-confidence. It is in these moments that God will answer our insecurities with confirmation that he is with us and that he has called us to head in a certain direction.
Numbers 13:32 “… The land, through which we have gone to spy out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height.”
Israel, and especially the 10 spies who brought back a negative report of the Promised Land would surely have liked it, if God had have destroyed the giants in the land on their behalf. But God left the giants alive in the land he had called Israel to possess because God wanted his people to grow in their authority and faith. The giants in the land stood between Israel and their calling. A part of Israel possessing their call as God’s people, was to rise up in authority and slay the giants themselves.
Sometimes, God doesn’t remove the giants in your life the way you might want him to because he actually wants you, in partnership with His Spirit, to rise up in your spiritual authority and conquer them yourself. We all need God to work powerfully in our lives but we also need to grow in spiritual authority and maturity ourselves. There might be some giants you have been praying God would remove for some time, but maybe God is letting them stay alive for your own benefit. A bicep muscle only gets stronger through active resistance. In the same way, the muscles of your spirit often only get stronger through spiritual resistance.
God calls you more than a conqueror through Jesus Christ. He wants you to live out this revelation by overcoming obstacles that come your way by faith in the name of Jesus. What are the giants in your life and ministry that are trying to intimidate you? There are all sorts of giants – relational, marital, financial and physical, to name a few. None of these giants can compete with God’s might and power. It’s time to rise above your feelings and begin to boldly exercise your faith against the attack coming against you.
Next time you face a giant in your way, ask God to remove it but if he doesn’t, then you know what to do. Find a way in God’s Word to beat the sucker.