Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Thursday, 2 June 2022:
Numbers 34:1-2 — The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Command the people of Israel, and say to them, When you enter the land of Canaan (this is the land that shall fall to you for an inheritance, the land of Canaan as defined by its borders)….
Lost Blessings, Missed Opportunities, and Unrealized Potential:
Numbers 34 details the general boundary of the inheritance of Israel west of the Jordan, which in totality is a huge and abundant territory. However, the Israelites never actually possessed all the territory comprised within these boundaries, even when it was most extended by the conquests of David and Solomon. Though God gave them this entire expanse and empowered them to receive it, because of their sinfulness and compromise, they failed to receive what God had desired for them. They had God-given potential which was never realized because they didn’t want to stay holy, and they didn’t want to do the work God had given them, which comes with the blessing. Throughout the Old Testament, we see a continuous cycle where God blesses the Israelites, they sin against God and ruin the blessings, God punishes them, they repent, God restores them (to a degree), and they sin again, repeating the pattern and never really getting past themselves. God shows incredible patience while His people show incredible impertinence. The lesson is this: Don’t do that! Don’t limit God’s best for you by refusing to remain holy and do the work. Don’t be lascivious and lazy. Be holy and do the work, all while rejoicing in God’s grace which He has bestowed upon you. Don’t wallow in the past and in your mistakes, learn from them, accept God’s discipline, mercy, and grace, and move on! However, perhaps most importantly, don’t repeat the cycle of bad habits which have plagued your past success. How often do we see people around us spending their whole lives doing the same stupid things repeatedly, robbing them of their potential? Are you humble enough to see that pattern in yourself and committed enough to change it forever? If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior and have chosen to follow Him, you have been empowered with the Holy Spirit, freed from the tyranny of sin in your life, and there is no limit to God’s blessings for you if you will follow Him wholeheartedly. Don’t quench the Spirit, grieve the Spirit, or get out of step with the Spirit, and be excellent in all things.
- Hebrews 12:1-2 — Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
2 Corinthians 5:7 – “We walk by faith, not by sight.”
Have you been asking God to reveal Himself to you in a ‘real and powerful way?’ He wants you to walk by faith. Throughout the Bible we have many accounts of God revealing Himself to His people miraculously. Reading quickly through the Bible might give you the impression that this is the norm. However, God rarely revealed Himself miraculously through the Bible but commanded His people to obey Him without need for of ‘signs and wonders.’ In fact, Jesus pointed out that generally it is the weak in faith that need special revelation in order to trust and obey – “Only an evil, adulterous generation would demand a miraculous sign.” (Matthew 16:4) “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (John 20:29) What does it take for you to trust and obey Jesus?
Without special revelation from God, some seek the approval of others for validation. This too is a sign of weakness. Faith is willing to walk faithfully on the hard, sacrificial road though unnoticed and unsung. Still others require some clear indicators of success in order to continue their journey. But they are then no longer walking by faith – it doesn’t take faith to do what you know you can do or to do what is obvious. Faith is willing to step out beyond your own abilities to rely on God’s abilities, trusting God with the results, regardless of how hopeless things might seem from the human perspective. Living in a world of fear and doubt, many proclaim the merits of self-confidence, but God’s people are confident in God, not self.
“We are becoming obsessed with the moments when God did come and speak with us, and we are insisting that He do it again. But what God wants us to do is to ‘walk by faith.’ How many of us have set ourselves aside as if to say, ‘I cannot do anything else until God appears to me’? He will never do it. We will have to get up on our own, without any inspiration and without any sudden touch from God. Then comes our surprise and we find ourselves exclaiming, ‘Why, He was there all the time, and I never knew it!’ Never live for those exceptional moments— they are surprises. God will give us His touches of inspiration only when He sees that we are not in danger of being led away by them. We must never consider our moments of inspiration as the standard way of life— our work is our standard.” (Oswald Chambers)
2 Corinthians 5:9 — So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him.
“’We make it our aim….’ It requires a conscious decision and effort to keep our primary goal constantly in front of us. It means holding ourselves to the highest priority year in and year out; not making our first priority to win souls, or to establish churches, or to have revivals, but seeking only “to be well pleasing to Him.” It is not a lack of spiritual experience that leads to failure, but a lack of working to keep our eyes focused and on the right goal. At least once a week examine yourself before God to see if your life is measuring up to the standard He has for you. Paul was like a musician who gives no thought to audience approval, if he can only catch a look of approval from his Conductor.
Any goal we have that diverts us even to the slightest degree from the central goal of being “approved to God” (2 Timothy 2:15) may result in our rejection from further service for Him. When you discern where the goal leads, you will understand why it is so necessary to keep “looking unto Jesus” (Hebrews 12:2). Paul spoke of the importance of controlling his own body so that it would not take him in the wrong direction. He said, “I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest…I myself should become disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
I must learn to relate everything to the primary goal, maintaining it without interruption. My worth to God publicly is measured by what I really am in my private life. Is my primary goal in life to please Him and to be acceptable to Him, or is it something less, no matter how lofty it may sound?” (Oswald Chambers)
2 Corinthians 5:14-16 — “For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh.”
“Paul said that he was overpowered, subdued, and held as in a vise by ‘the love of Christ.’ Very few of us really know what it means to be held in the grip of the love of God. We tend so often to be controlled simply by our own experience. The one thing that gripped and held Paul, to the exclusion of everything else, was the love of God. ‘The love of Christ compels us….’ When you hear that coming from the life of a man or woman it is unmistakable. You will know that the Spirit of God is completely unhindered in that person’s life.
When we are born again by the Spirit of God, our testimony is based solely on what God has done for us, and rightly so. But that will change and be removed forever once you ‘receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…’ (Acts 1:8). Only then will you begin to realize what Jesus meant when He went on to say, ‘…you shall be witnesses to Me….’ Not witnesses to what Jesus can do— that is basic and understood— but “witnesses to Me….’ We will accept everything that happens as if it were happening to Him, whether we receive praise or blame, persecution or reward. No one is able to take this stand for Jesus Christ who is not totally compelled by the majesty of His power. It is the only thing that matters, and yet it is strange that it’s the last thing we as Christian workers realize. Paul said that he was gripped by the love of God and that is why he acted as he did. People could perceive him as mad or sane— he did not care. There was only one thing he lived for— to persuade people of the coming judgment of God and to tell them of ‘the love of Christ.’ This total surrender to ‘the love of Christ’ is the only thing that will bear fruit in your life. And it will always leave the mark of God’s holiness and His power, never drawing attention to your personal holiness.” (Oswald Chambers)
2 Corinthians 5:17 – “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”
“What understanding do you have of the salvation of your soul? The work of salvation means that in your real life, things are dramatically changed. You no longer look at things in the same way. Your desires are new and the old things have lost their power to attract you. One of the tests for determining if the work of salvation in your life is genuine is— has God changed the things that really matter to you? If you are born again, the Spirit of God makes the change very evident in your real life and thought. And when a crisis comes, you are the most amazed person on earth at the wonderful difference there is in you. There is no possibility of imagining that you did it. It is this complete and amazing change that is the very evidence that you are saved.
What difference has my salvation and sanctification made? For instance, can I stand in the light of 1 Corinthians 13, or do I squirm and evade the issue? True salvation, worked out in me by the Holy Spirit, frees me completely. And as long as I ‘walk in the light as He is in the light’ (1 John 1:7), God sees nothing to rebuke because His life is working itself into every detailed part of my being, not on the conscious level, but even deeper than my consciousness.
Our Lord never tolerates our prejudices— He is directly opposed to them and puts them to death. We tend to think that God has some special interest in our particular prejudices, and are very sure that He will never deal with us as He has to deal with others. We even say to ourselves, ‘God has to deal with other people in a very strict way, but of course He knows that my prejudices are all right.’ But we must learn that God accepts nothing of the old life! Instead of being on the side of our prejudices, He is deliberately removing them from us. It is part of our moral education to see our prejudices put to death by His providence, and to watch how He does it. God pays no respect to anything we bring to Him. There is only one thing God wants of us, and that is our unconditional surrender.
When we are born again, the Holy Spirit begins to work His new creation in us, and there will come a time when there is nothing remaining of the old life. Our old gloomy outlook disappears, as does our old attitude toward things, and ‘all things are of God’ (2 Corinthians 5:18). How are we going to get a life that has no lust, no self-interest, and is not sensitive to the ridicule of others? How will we have the type of love that ‘is kind…is not provoked, [and] thinks no evil’? (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). The only way is by allowing nothing of the old life to remain, and by having only simple, perfect trust in God— such a trust that we no longer want God’s blessings, but only want God Himself. Have we come to the point where God can withdraw His blessings from us without our trust in Him being affected? Once we truly see God at work, we will never be concerned again about the things that happen, because we are actually trusting in our Father in heaven, whom the world cannot see.” (Oswald Chambers)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 2 June 22: Be holy and eager to do the work God has given you with enthusiasm, joy, contentment, and excellence, to God’s standard, not to merely to the norm. Walk in faith today, without need of ‘special revelation.’ Make pleasing God your primary goal today. Judge all your actions from God’s standards, not your standards or the world’s standards. Be controlled by the love of Christ, and regard no one or any situation from the human perspective but rather from Christ’s perspective. Surrender to the love of Christ and proclaim Him through the fruit of your life in Him.