I press on to lay hold of (grasp) and make my own, that for which Christ Jesus (the Messiah) has laid hold of me and made me His own.
Friend to Friend
Have you stepped out in faith—fully trusting in God, but then began to stumble—errantly depending on yourself? That’s what happened to the children of Israel when it came time to take the Promised Land.
Moses led the people under the bloodstained doorframes of the Passover, across the dry land of the Red Sea, and to the front door of the Promised Land. He guided them with a fire by night and a cloud by day. God took care of their needs and brought victory over every enemy they faced. And yet, when it came time to march into the Promised Land, the land that was theirs for the taking, they cowered in unbelief.
“Send some men to explore the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites,” God instructed Moses. So Moses sent twelve spies to scout out the land. When they returned, ten gave the following report:
“We went into the land to which you sent us, and it does flow with milk and honey! Here is its fruit. But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large. We even saw descendants of Anak there…” (Numbers 13:27-28)
Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
But the men who had gone up with him said, “We can’t attack those people; they are stronger than we are.” And they spread among the Israelites a bad report about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored devours those living in it. All the people we saw there are of great size … We seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and we looked the same to them.” (Numbers 13:30-33)
The twelve spies were not sent into the land to access the problematic obstacles. They were sent into the land to take a peek at the promised blessings and bring back a sampling of its richness. This was not meant to be an exploratory mission to case the joint. Their names were already on the title deed. It was supposed to be a trip to get the folks stoked about the promises that waited just beyond the wall.
Sending in the twelve spies was supposed to be the denouement of the story—the final part of the narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and the climax of a chain of events occurs. Instead, the story took a nosedive.
“But the people who live there …”
Whenever we add a “but” to the promise, we’re in trouble. And they were in trouble. Oswald Chambers notes,
Human frailty is another thing that gets between God’s words of assurance and our own words and thoughts. When we realize how feeble we are in facing difficulties, the difficulties become giants, we become like grasshoppers, and God seems to be non-existent. But remember God’s assurance to us: “I will never … forsake you.” Have we learned to sing after hearing God’s keynote? Are we continually filled with enough courage to say, “The Lord is my Helper,” or are we yielding to fear?
Guess who the people believed? They believed the ten spies who said, “we can’t” rather then the two who said, “we can because God already has.” They believed the wrong report.
All night the unbelieving Israelites cried and wanted to go back to Egypt, while Caleb and Joshua tried their best to convince them to move forward and live bold.
“The land we passed through and explored is exceedingly good. If the Lord is pleased with us, he will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will devour them. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them.” (Numbers 14:7–9)
No matter what Joshua and Caleb said, the people refused to believe. They had the opportunity to go into the land, but not the faith to possess the promise. I cringe at those words wondering how many times they have been true of me. I mourn the opportunities not taken because I lacked the faith to possess the promise.
Because they feared the battle, they lost the blessing. They clung to the cul-de-sac safety of the wilderness and preferred its riskless tedium to the adventurous boldness of believing God. The sin of unbelief sabotaged God’s perfect plan—just like it can in your life, in my life.
Instead of taking hold of what was already theirs, the Israelites wandered in the wilderness of unbelief for the rest of their lives. That entire generation died in their stiff-necked refusal to believe, except for Caleb and Joshua. They were one in a million. That’s what I want to be. I’m thinking you do too.
So here’s my question to you: Whose report are you going to believe? Are you going to believe God’s Word is true—that you are who God says you are and God will do what He says He will do? Or are you going to believe the naysayers who say “you can’t,” “you won’t,” “you never will”? Are you going to listen to the voice of fear that says, “I can’t do it,” or are you going to believe the voice of God that says, “I already have”?
Lord, I get so frustrated with myself sometimes. I start out believing that You can do what You say You can do through me, and then I take my eyes off of You and onto myself. You know what happens. I get fearful. I start to doubt if I heard You right. Lord, help me to keep my eyes on You and not on myself. Help me to walk in the power and strength that is mine through the Holy Spirit. Help me to take hold of all that Jesus has taken hold of for me and placed in me…my Promised Land.
In Jesus’ Name.
Now It’s Your Turn
Evangelist Leonard Ravenhill said, “The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized within the lifetime of the opportunity.” Is there anything that God has told you to do that you’ve been dragging your feet to do?
If so, what are you going to do about that?
Ponder this sentence today: The sin of unbelief sabotages God’s perfect plan.
More from the Girlfriends
Today’s devotion came from my latest book, Take Hold of the Faith You Long For: Let Go, Move Forward, Live Bold. It’s all about how to get unstuck in your faith. Learn how to let go of all that holds you hostage to a “less than” life, and take hold of all that Jesus has done for you and placed in you…the faith you’ve always longed for. Check it out at www.takeholdthebook.com where you can download a free chapter and watch a video book trailer. The book also comes with a Bible study guide.