Encourage | What To Do In A Crazy World
Monday— The LORD said to Moses, “Send…men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to Israel.” Numbers 13:2
“But I’m not a spy, I’m a farmer,” thought Igal. “I’m not a spy, I’m a metal worker,” thought Hoshea. “I’m not a spy, I’m a shepherd,” thought Palti. And they were right. In fact, none of the wandering Israelites was a professional spy. They’d been slaves until a few months ago. So imagine how God’s instruction came across to them when Moses presented the plan. But it didn’t matter that they felt inadequate. God would do through them what He intended to do, His purpose would be accomplished, and they got to be a part of it. God had already decided the outcome of the mission. They had only to obey.
“I’m not a preacher, I’m a roofer,” said Jack. “I’m not an evangelist, I’m a welder,” said Mick. “I’m not a leader, I’m a mom,” said Meg. And they’re right. In fact, none of us can accomplish God’s work in our own strength. We were slaves to sin until a few months ago, so when God calls us to ministry, we feel inadequate. God likes it that way. Our confident pride gets in His way, but our inadequacy highlights His power. When a truck driver leads someone to Christ, when a factory worker starts a Bible study, when a mom trains future kingdom warriors, God is glorified in their inadequacy. “Go into all the world and preach the gospel,” Jesus said. It doesn’t matter that we feel inadequate, God’s purpose will be accomplished through us if we’ll obey.
Final Thought: Whatever God calls you to do, He will do through you—if you will only obey.
Prayer: Father, I feel inadequate in so many ways, but you already know that. You created me and you know me better than I know myself. I am ready to obey your call. It will be accomplished because you will do it through me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— Caleb calmed down the crowd and said, “Let’s go and take the land. I know we can do it!” Numbers 13:30
We all need a Caleb. Maybe in your circle of friends, you ARE the Caleb. Calebs see a challenge and immediately shift into high gear: “We can do this! All we need to do is…” And they’ve already got a plan to conquer whatever problem is in front of them. Calebs aren’t know-it-alls, they’re cheerleaders. They see the glass half full—and it’s their favorite drink! They are often accused of not being realistic, but their confidence is not in themselves. It is anchored firmly in the promises of God.
When the first Caleb reported to Moses all he’d seen, he minimized the dangers and maximized the Lord. “Yahweh said to take the land, so let’s take the land!” He’d seen the giants. He’d seen the obstacles. But he’d also seen the Lord and knew that if God had commanded them to overcome, they could overcome. The Lord wanted to give them the land and could have done it without their participation. But He loves working with us, showing us His power, and rejoicing with us when He gives us the victory. God rewarded Caleb because he chose to believe God’s promise instead of the people’s fears. We can learn to do the same when we adopt Caleb’s attitude. Rather than moan, “Oh no! What am I gonna do?” when a challenge presents, we say, “Okay, what is God gonna do?” And we encourage others to do the same. If God brought us to it, God will see us through it.
Final Thought: Calebs don’t tell God how big the problem is; they tell the problem how big God is. Be a Caleb.
Prayer: Lord, many times my first response is fear when I see a challenge too big for me. I panic. But if you could raise your Son from the dead, you can handle my problems. Help me change my default from fear to trust. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— But the other men… said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” Numbers 13:31
For every Caleb, there’s a Negative Nellie. She sees the underbelly of every good thing God wants to do in our lives. “We’re saving to build a house debt free,” Joe said. “That’ll never work,” she answers. “I plan to homeschool my kids,” June told her. “They’ll grow up weird,” Nellie sighs. “I think God is calling me to be a pastor,” Ben told her. “You’ll starve in these financial times,” she warns. Negative Nellie goes way past realism into faithlessness. She doesn’t trust anything she can’t understand and won’t support anything she didn’t initiate. “God has given us this land! We can do this!” Caleb told her. “No, and here’s why,” Nellie responded through the lips of ten spies. Don’t we hate it when Nellie squashes our enthusiasm about what God is doing in our lives? What He’s shown us? The steps He’s asking us to take? But… what if you’re the Negative Nellie?
Recognizing our tendency to be negative is the first step in overcoming it. Some people, by nature, are more cautious and reserved when new ideas come at them. That’s good. We should be careful, proceed with wisdom, and consider all sides of a matter. But we won’t always understand why God does things the way He does them, so our obedience must spring from faith. If God called Joe to build a house debt free, God will supply what he needs. If God called June to homeschool, God will bless her efforts. If God called Ben to be a pastor, God will provide. Nellie forgets that when God gives the order, God will make it happen. Nellie would have told Jesus to avoid the cross and Paul to forget preaching. Aren’t we glad they didn’t listen?
Final Thought: Negative Nellie ignores how big God is and focuses on how big the problem is. Don’t be a Nellie.
Prayer: Father, search my heart and my responses. Am I a negative Nellie? Does my caution go beyond wisdom and into faithlessness? If you’ve called me to something, you will empower me and provide for me. I trust you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thursday— “We saw giants there…next to them we felt like grasshoppers. That’s what they thought, too!” Numbers 13:33
“I’ll never get married,” grumbled Sheila. “All the good men are taken.”
“I’ll never pay off all my debts,” sighed Craig. “With that last hospital bill, it’s impossible.”
“We have a thousand issues in our marriage that we’ll never get solved,” said Richie. “Might as well give up.”
“We’ll never take this land. Those people are giants!” the spies reported. “We were grasshoppers next to them!”
Each of those statements has one problem in common. They use superlatives to describe their situations.
Superlatives are words that express exaggerated extremes. Terms like “never, always, the worst, the last” are usually attempts to express a person’s viewpoint by exaggerating the situation. For example, “He’s the best person on the planet” is a superlative because it cannot be proven to be true. Or, “I never have any fun!” is inaccurate because that person has had fun at some point. When we approach God with superlatives, he probably grimaces. “You never bless me,” we grumble. “I’ll never get ahead. I’m always the last person to win anything.” Notice the superlatives? When we use them with God, they indicate a lack of faith and an ungrateful attitude. Positive superlatives are usually lies while negative superlatives are filled with self-pity. The spies used superlatives to convince everyone that their perspective was more accurate than God’s. Bad idea.
Final Thought: How often do you use superlatives to express your frustration? Changing your vocabulary will lift your spirits.
Prayer: Father, I sometimes exaggerate to get my point across, but do I use superlatives to contradict what your word says? Do I use them in self-pity? Do I lie? I don’t want to be faithless like the spies were. Help me change. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Friday— “Do not rebel against the LORD, and don’t be afraid of the people of the land. They are only helpless prey to us! They have no protection, but the LORD is with us! Don’t be afraid of them!” Numbers 14:9
Those words are thousands of years old, but they are also God’s instruction to the church in 2020. Chaos rules our land. Hatred, fear, and offense are the driving forces that create the chaos. God is shaking our world, trying to get our attention before judgment comes, swift and merciless. Worldly people are doing what worldly people do. We can’t expect any different from them. But it’s the church, God’s church, that can change the direction of our culture. The church has the only answer to heal this broken world, but where is it? Where’s the light? As with Israel, the church has been weakened by rebellion and fear.
The American church has grown lazy after 200 years of freedom. It has compromised God’s word in order to please unrepentant sinners. Rather than lead the world to holiness, the world has led the church to worldliness. Sexual immorality is rampant. Greed is applauded. Addictions are “diseases” and self-esteem has replaced true worship. Many who cling to God’s word grieve over the devastation in our world, but they grieve in silence. Afraid to speak up and be socially ostracized, most substitute a cheery meme for a bold witness. But neither rebellion nor fear have any place in God’s church. He is with us.
Final Thought: Does rebellion or fear keep you from demonstrating holiness to an unholy world? Repent. God is with you.
Prayer: Father, am I living in rebellion or cowering in fear? You are in charge of life and death. You promise to take care of me if I will hide myself in you, your word, your purpose. I repent. Grant me boldness to live and speak truth in this evil day. Amen.