Time to Listen

You have two ears and one mouth.
This picture is of the desert that the children of Israel came through on their first attempt at entering the Promised Land.
The Book of Numbers in the Hebrew Bible is called “in the wilderness,” taken from the first word of the book itself. Yet the word for wilderness comes from the Hebrew word to speak.
This is quite insightful. God was taking the Israelites into the desert, where the distractions would be few and the situations would abound for them to trust Him.
Would the Israelites get the hang of listening to and following Him, despite what their eyes saw? We see from their words and actions that they didn’t. This had dire consequences for them and their children.
Are you learning to listen to Jesus in the midst of your desert experience(s)? Jesus said His sheep would do just that despite what they saw and felt.
Your God is breaking into your everyday world to get you to trust Him. And it all starts with closing your mouth and listening.
Make this prayer of mine, yours as well, “Give me more love for You, more faith in You, and more strength from You to make more choices to follow You despite what I see and feel.

Too Many to Count

Walking across the beach on one of the many motus of French Polynesia was a kick. Grains of fine white sand would stick to our feet, eventually washing off in the aqua colored water. I never once thought to count those tiny individual grains. Quite frankly, I wanted to keep snorkeling!
Yet, David said that if he were to count those grains and all those on the beach, God’s thoughts toward him would vastly outnumber them.
He went on to say, “When I awake, I am still with You.” God was thinking about David while he was sawing logs and couldn’t possibly be thinking about God.
Think about this for a moment. What hurts and even destroys relationships? Neglect. Our Father doesn’t neglect His relationships. He thinks about each and every one of His children constantly, even when they can’t or won’t think about Him.
We spend more time thinking about ourselves than we should. Yet, even with all the time we do spend on ourselves – our needs, our wants, our desires, etc. – we still don’t know ourselves like our God knows us.
Therefore, don’t you think He’s much better equipped to make your life better than yourself? Of course He is.
Yet this requires a loving choice on our part to follow Him even if what He says goes against what we think and/or feel. It’s time to ask the Spirit for the faith and strength to enact that faith with your next choice.
It’s high time that you do. His thoughts outnumber yours gazillions to one.

It’s What Lies Ahead that Counts

“Never let the sense of failure corrupt your new action” – Oswald Chambers.
How we handle failure says a lot about our belief system. Did Jesus, in fact, take care of all our sin on the cross? If so, why do we circle the drain and continue to spiral downward when we fail?
I get real hard on myself when I mess up. The reality of living this side of heaven written about in Scripture, though, is that I will. So if that happens, I have two choices. I can continue to spiral downward, which only brings despair and possible depression, or I can believe what Jesus did by faith and get up and walk with Him in the current moment.
One athlete put it this way, “It isn’t the last play that defines me, it’s what lies ahead that does.” It wasn’t that missed catch that ruined his day, but the focusing on that failure to miss the opportunity to catch the next ball thrown his way that would. He had to put the failed play out of his mind so he could focus on the current one.
We can either focus on past failures, which may have occurred only seconds before, or on the present opportunity to walk with Jesus.
Express your love for Jesus by getting up after any failure in order to walk with Him. As you do, you’ll enjoy the next opportunity He has for you. It’s what lies ahead that counts – Him, not what you did in the past.

Be Careful Where You’re Headed

Jan and I love to take advantage of every chance we get to hike in different places and countries.
On the island of Moorea, there is a famous hiked called the 3 Coconuts Trail. It’s 4 miles up and back with an elevation gain of a little over 1,100 feet. The guide books call it strenuous, but it’s pretty normal for us.
Our anticipation was high. We were going to an exotic place to hike in a rain forest type of atmosphere where the scenic views from the top would be nothing but spectacular.
Rain was forecasted for the day we were to hike. Needless to say, we got drenched not once, but twice. Yet, since it was a warm rain and we were already sweating from the humity, the amount of rain was no problem. The coming view would be worth it all.
This heavy rains, though, caused the trails at times to turn into literal rivers! And, as the trail was laced with tree and plant roots, we ended up slipping and sliding along the way quite a few times. But, oh the view would be worth it.
Yet the view wasn’t! This is what we found when we reached the top – a sign! No spectacular view, just a sign telling us that three coconut trees used to be here and now the forest had overgrown the area to the point that you couldn’t even see the ocean.
What a great illustration of reaching and working hard to reach goals that have no lasting or eternal value. Paul said that he always pressed on toward the goal of becoming more like Jesus – a goal that will last forever while giving benefits now.
Where are you headed? Hope it’s worth it in the end!

Time to Trust

You’re in good hands!
Jesus tells us to listen to and follow Him. This takes trust as there will be many times when what He’s asking us to do feels wrong and/or cuts against the grain of our current thinking. Yet, increasing trust is the mark of a healthy Jesus disciple.
What I find most interesting about Jesus’ statement, though, is the context in which it is made. He goes onto to say that He gives us eternal life and security by being firmly in the grasp of two sets of hands – His and the Father’s. Another way of putting this is that we’re putting our very hearts into the hands of God.
Now, we’ve all learned from living on this planet that this can be a scary thing. There have been times when we’ve given our hearts to someone or something where we’ve been hurt. Our trust has been broken and/or abused. The reality of this world is that we’ll never escape this life without having our hearts broken a time or two.
Yet, there are two Persons who’ve never hurt us and deserve our trust – Jesus and the Father. In fact, as we learn to trust them, we’ll realize that our very personhood, let alone our heart, is protected by them. And for this to happen we must let our self-made walls come down or trust.
It’s time to realize Jesus already has your heart in His hands anyway. It’s time to trust that the Father has your best interest in mind when He asks you to go down a certain path.
Therefore, it’s time to take a step of trust in what you know they have been saying to you. Today is that time to trust.