Out of All the Peoples

“You are the sons of the Lord your God. You are a people holy to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth… For you are a people holy to the Lord your God.” Deuteronomy 14:1-2,21c

“Thus says the Lord,
he who created you,..
    he who formed you,.:
‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
    peoples in exchange for your life.'” Isaiah 43:1-4

“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

The divine retinue that is ours in Christ is extraordinary, limitless, and indescribable. A people holy, chosen, treasured, created, formed, called, named, redeemed, precious, honored, loved, possessed. And all that we might know and proclaim His excellencies. Amazing love, how can this be? It is wholly humbling (and God-exalting) that not all are saved, nor own these spiritual riches. Out of all people God has chosen us to be His cherished possession. In sovereign, irresistible grace He pursued us, and in inexplicable love He adopted us as His children. That is what we are, which should make a difference in perception of both self and purpose. (Ephesians 1:5-8; 2:4-6; 1 John 3:1)

With abounding privilege comes remarkable responsibility to serve the Lord and daily bless His name. We were created and called by Him to bring glory to Him. If I am indeed His, royal and holy, what distinguishes my choices, attitudes, and interactions with others from all the peoples of the world as I go about activity and service? How and where am I proclaiming His excellencies and displaying His beauty in my demeanor, speech, and industry? (Isaiah 43:7; 49:3)

The world seems increasingly dark under the influence of the prince of the air. Yet, we’ve been born again into a living hope to be luminaries, effusive with Jesus in everything we do. Do we flaunt His goods, hoard them, or grow complacent about our bounty? What needs to change in our attitude about God’s gracious benevolence toward us to compel sober gratitude and generous spreading abroad of His treasures and fame? (Ephesians 2:1-3; Philippians 2:14-15; 1 Peter 1:3-5)

“May the mind of Christ, my Savior, 
Live in me from day to day,
By his love and pow’r controlling 
All I do and say.

May the love of Jesus fill me 
As the waters fill the sea.
Him exalting, self abasing:
This is victory.” ~Kate B. Wilkinson (1925)

As Your beloved child, so be it, Lord, to Your forever glory.

Out of the Village

“They came to Bethsaida. And some people brought to him a blind man and begged him to touch him. And he took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village, and when he had spit on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, ‘Do you see anything?’ And he looked up and said, ‘I see people, but they look like trees, walking.’ Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he opened his eyes, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. And he sent him to his home, saying, ‘Do not even enter the village.'” Mark 8:22-26

When the blind man was brought to Jesus, the Healer had a captive audience. He could make a name for Himself and perhaps persuade some curious onlookers into following Him. But instead, He led the disabled man by hand out of the village before addressing him and restoring his sight. With the gentleness of connection and the authority of a leader, He took him away from onlooking crowds, the chatter and comments, any who would use this incident for notoriety or gossip. Jesus led him to a place where he could see clearly, and see Him.

Jesus sees our brokenness and deals with us one on one. He knows the self-pity, criticism, and doubt that press and buzz around us, as well as our spiritual and emotional infirmities. He gets the deception of sin, and the darkness of the world’s influence, every urge and tittilation of temptation. He often needs to remove us from distractions and what we’ve always known to give us new spiritual sight and understanding. With Jesus, away from routine and unaffected by the ‘village’ around us, we learn to see anew. Truly, in His light we see light, and all else, with holy clarity. (Psalm 36:9; Matthew 4:1-11; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Hebrews 4:15)

What ‘village’ of ingrained bad habits of temper or favoritism, long-held resentments, unhealthy practices do we need be extricated from to see all God has for us? To what opportunities, needy people, or potential new ministry has our current way of living blinded us? Do we take regular time to leave the village of my schedule, my plans, how it has always been and I like it to be, to meet with Jesus afresh and be changed by His touch? To yield under the pressure of his hands and be redirected to uncomplicated holy living?

And is there anyone who is blinded by the allures of this world, or false teaching, whose hand I can take and lead them to Jesus? Can I see clearly enough to see and care about them?

“Spirit of the living God
We’re leaning in to all You are
Everything else can wait
Spirit of the living God
Come now and breathe upon our hearts
Come now and have Your way.
‘Cause when You speak, when You move
When You do what only You can do
It changes us
It changes what we see and what we seek.” ~Vertical Worship (2015)

Lord, give me the will to leave my comfortable village to be with and changed by You. By the power of Your word and touch, open my eyes to clearly see wondrous things in You, Your word, and Your world, and give you praise. (Psalm 119:18)

Steadfast and Sure

“Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me,
    for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly;
    save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
Be gracious to me, O Lord,
    for to you do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant,
    for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving,
    abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
    listen to my plea for grace.
In the day of my trouble I call upon you,
    for you answer me.

“There is none like you among the gods, O Lord,
    nor are there any works like yours…
For you are great and do wondrous things;
    you alone are God.
Teach me your way, O Lord,
    that I may walk in your truth;
    unite my heart to fear your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
    and I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your steadfast love toward me;
    you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol…
You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious,
    slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.
Turn to me and be gracious to me;
    give your strength to your servant.” Psalm 86:1-8,10-13,15-16

“O Lord, be gracious to us; we wait for you.
    Be our arm every morning,
    our salvation in the time of trouble…
The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high;
    he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness,
and he will be the stability of your times,
    abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge;
    the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure.” Isaiah 33:2,5-6

Soft lines of cloud striate the pale early sky, tracing a back rub from heaven, soothing the morning with a reminder of God’s constant, other-worldly, loving care. In our need, He is the gracious preserver, in our woe He gladdens, in troubled times He is stability. There is none like Him, steadfast and sure.

Yet we waver in steadfastness of spirit, and waffle with unsure, untethered emotions. Voices come at us from every direction, constantly harping, taunting, teasing us into turbulent thinking and frenzied reactions. The psalmist in his very writing sets us both foundation and pattern, declaring with his trust his great need, making specific request, and staking his claim in God’s ownership, goodness, compassion, uniqueness, truth, and love. He approaches God’s throne on the basis of His mercy and grace, exalting His and bowing as His servant.

Would we so turn from complaint and come to our loving Savior’s throne of grace to find help in time of need? Would we stop the negative chatter and whine to others that diminishes any understanding of a Sovereign, and instead lift high praises for His great and wondrous deeds? The trusting, united heart is one that is filled with gratitude, and spills over to exalt Him before those around us. (Hebrews 4:16)

In the upheaval of our times, how confidently do we commune with God? What evidence is there that we live day to day under the banner of God’s grace and stability of His benevolent care?

Father, may all I do represent Your wisdom and steadfast character, that others be drawn to and sure of who You are, and how You love.

Watching Works the Will

“Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here, while I go over there and pray.’ And taking with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, ‘My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.’ And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.’ And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, ‘So, could you not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.’ Again, for the second time, he went away and prayed, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.’ And again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So, leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words again. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, ‘Sleep and take your rest later on. See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us be going; see, my betrayer is at hand.'” Matthew 26:36-44

Watch with Me. Watch that you may not be tempted. Watch so you will not fall. Peter had just vehemently, adamantly pledged his loyalty to Jesus, but could not keep hold and watch for fatigue. In contrast, Jesus’s soul was sorrowful unto death, yet every sinew was engaged in worship, wrestling with His Father, waiting until His will be fully surrendered.

Bold assertions not fortified by prayer and dependence will fall flat under fire, proving the weakness of flesh. Failing to watch and pray yields failure in other areas of life: impetuous actions and reactions, disloyalty, betrayal, and temper. But consistent, persistent watching works within the will until perspective and resolve are aligned. (Matthew 26:31-35,51-54,69-75)

Often the watching- the give and take and push and pull of prayer- is what kneads the heart to spiritual health. We pour out desire, express doubt and fear, cry out for help and understanding, and the Almighty responds with grace, discernment, fresh perspective, transformation and fortification of the will, and peace. The tension of our ineptness with His absolute ability and perfection works to bring us to glad trust that He knows best and is always good. When the hour is at hand, we are prepared to rise and go. (Matthew 26:45-46; Romans 12:2)

Many personal situations and cultural or worldwide circumstances rouse wrestling within the will: How can this happen? What should I do, and where begin? Is this really what You require of me? How can this brokenness possibly be repaired or redeemed? Can I trust Your word? Watching with the Lord will guard against temptation and falling, and reorient our resolve. Always on our side, He intercedes with and for us! Are we taking time deliberately to watch?(Romans 8:31,34)

Lord, keep me watching You, and with You, that my will becomes Yours, and Yours be done. (Matthew 6:9-10)

What Heart Inscription?

“The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron; with a point of diamond it is engraved on the tablet of their heart, and on the horns of their altars, while their children remember their altars and their Asherim, beside every green tree and on the high hills, on the mountains in the open country… 

“Thus says the Lord:
‘Cursed is the man who trusts in man
    and makes flesh his strength,
    whose heart turns away from the Lord…

‘Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord…’

“The heart is deceitful above all things,
    and desperately sick;
    who can understand it?” Jeremiah 17:1-3,5,7,9

“Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you;
    bind them around your neck;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:3

“My son, keep my words
    and treasure up my commandments with you;
keep my commandments and live;
    keep my teaching as the apple of your eye;
bind them on your fingers;
    write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 7:1-3

“You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all.  And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” 2 Corinthians 3:2-3

The prophet’s words for Israel pierced with harsh truth: their sin was so explicit and depraved that it was inscribed on their hearts. Not smudged, nor pencilled, nor shallowly etched, but deeply imprinted and identifiable. Trusting in man and flesh instead of God and His word was consequentially caustic to worship, locale, and generations. Sin poisons the heart, deceives, and spreads its desperate sickness that can be healed, un-inscribed, by One alone.

What is the only cure for the sin-infested heart? Jesus’s blood. For those who have been cleansed and forgiven, what the effective prevention? Inscribing God’s word on our hearts ahead of time, and instead. When the Spirit of God writes His word, and name, and grace upon us, He transforms our trust, allegiances, and desires. He sows life and fruitfulness into and from our lives. (Psalm 51:7; 119:11; Mark 4:3-8,14-20; John 13:1-10; Hebrews 9:14)

To what are we exposing our sensibilities and affections that would engrave in our behavior or reputation lasting detriment, or dishonor to God? How will we inscribe His word more clearly, and permanently, on our hearts?

“O for a heart to praise my God,
a heart from sin set free;
a heart that’s sprinkled with the blood
so freely shed for me:

A heart resigned, submissive, meek,
my great Redeemer’s throne;
where only Christ is heard to speak,
where Jesus reigns alone:

A humble, lowly, contrite heart,
believing, true, and clean,
which neither life nor death can part
from him that dwells within:

A heart in every thought renewed,
and full of love divine;
perfect and right and pure and good —
a copy, Lord, of thine.

Thy nature, gracious Lord, impart,
come quickly from above;
write thy new name upon my heart,
thy new best name of Love.” ~Charles Wesley (1742)

O Lord, engrave Your beauties upon my heart, that I might faithfully bear Your grace, love, and truth to those around me. So imprint me with Your character and light that Your excellencies are beheld and You are glorified.

Advanced, Yet Very Much Remaining

“Now Joshua was old and advanced in years, and the Lord said to him, ‘You are old and advanced in years, and there remains yet very much land to possess..: all the regions of the Philistines, the Geshurites.., the Avvim,.. all the land of the Canaanites, and Mearah.., to Aphek, to the boundary of the Amorites, and the land of the Gebalites, and all Lebanon, toward the sunrise, from Baal-gad below Mount Hermon to Lebo-hamath,.. to Misrephoth-maim, even all the Sidonians. I myself will drive them out from before the people of Israel. Allot the land to Israel for an inheritance.’” Joshua‬ ‭13:1-7‬

Old and advanced in years, Joshua may have felt ready to rest, relax. He was likely worn weary by his warrior work’s routine and challenges, yet the Lord did not give permission. In fact, He said the opposite: there was still land to conquer. Very much land. He knew that a life continually dependent on Him would be most satisfying for this godly commander, and would effect His purposes for Israel. Even after Joshua’s death, He would teach and test Israel’s faith through war, so this training with Joshua at their helm was key. (Judges 3:1-2)

When God calls His children to service, He expects that we fulfill that calling to the end. We might, after strenuous service or a particularly difficult or long assignment, feel it is time to retire, recreate, reinvent me and do what I want to do. Yet, while life circumstances may change, affecting our ability to remain where we are or doing what we are doing, the Lord’s call to exercise every unique gift and serve wholeheartedly is irrevocable. As long as we have breath, the Lord has land- some kind of land- for us to conquer. (Romans 11:29; Philippians 3:14; Colossians 3:23; 2 Timothy 4:5-7)

What mosts tempts us to give up in our work for the Lord? When worldly whispers tempt us away, would we retune our ears to God’s voice and realign with His call? Taking all His land in obedience and His strength brings great delight.

“Stand up, stand up for Jesus
ye soldiers of the cross;
lift high his royal banner,
it must not suffer loss.
From vict’ry unto vict’ry
his army he shall lead
till ev’ry foe is vanquished
and Christ is Lord indeed.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
the trumpet call obey;
forth to the mighty conflict
in this his glorious day.
Ye that are men now serve him
against unnumbered foes;
let courage rise with danger
and strength to strength oppose.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
stand in his strength alone;
the arm of flesh will fail you,
ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the gospel armor,
each piece put on with prayer;
where duty calls or danger,
be never wanting there.

Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
the strife will not be long;
this day the noise of battle,
the next, the victor’s song.
To him that overcometh
a crown of life shall be;
he with the King of glory
shall reign eternally.” ~George Duffield (1858)

Lord, help me stand up and press on to follow Your call to all the land You have for me, in Your design and for Your glory.

What I Do Have, I Give

“A man lame from birth was… laid daily at the gate of the temple… Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, ‘I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!’ And he took him by the hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. Leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. All the people saw him walking and praising God,  and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement…

“While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran to them in the portico… Peter addressed the people: ‘Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? The God of… our fathers glorified his servant Jesus… And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know.'”

“They were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead… Many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number… came to about five thousand…

“‘Let it be known… that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well… There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’

“When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus… ‘We cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.'” Acts 3:2-13,16; 4:2-4,10,12-13,20

The lame beggar’s gaze was one of resigned hopelessness and hungry temporal survival, while Peter and John both perceived and looked upon him with hope and life beyond the here and now. Helplessness was borne of limited physical and spiritual resources, where hope held fast all that is true and unchanging. The disciples would not give what he thought he wanted; they wanted to give him so much more.

We hear pleas and respond with assertions or donations on impulse and emotion, without really thinking, or knowing what is needed. Getting caught up in and distracted by tangibles can keep us from assessing and utilizing the intangibles we own in Christ. As Christians, we have great and varied opportunity to make a significant, eternal difference by giving what others cannot: the gospel of life and grace that heals and re-creates. (1 Corinthians 3:21,23)

Do I hesitate to be generous because of what I don’t have- time, resources, inclination- rather than draw on the bounty God has entrusted to me in Christ? What needs do I ascertain that will shift me from hoarding to spreading God’s light and truth?

Lord, lead and fill me with your Spirit that I boldly speak life-giving words, so others are astounded at and by your grace. (Acts 4:29–31, 33)

Make It Ordinary!

“‘And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.’

“The people answered, ‘Far be it from us that we should forsake the Lord to serve other gods, for it is the Lord our God who brought us and our fathers up from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, and who did those great signs in our sight and preserved us in all the way that we went, and among all the peoples through whom we passed. The Lord drove out before us all the peoples... Therefore we also will serve the Lord, for he is our God.’” Joshua 24:15-18

“When Joshua dismissed the people, the people of Israel went each to his inheritance to take possession of the land. And the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and… of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great work that the Lord had done for Israel. And Joshua.., the servant of the Lord, died… And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers. And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord or the work that he had done for Israel.

“And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals.” Judges 2:6-9a,10-11

It is hard to imagine how Israel could neglect their covenant God and forget all He had done, yet lesser gods enticed them away. What had been an ordinary rhythm of life became as strange as the new gods after which they whored. They lost their first love. (Revelation 2:4)

Pledges made in earnest are kept for just so long. Righteous devotion flames, but over time loses its fuel of love, remembrance, and gratitude. Somewhere between past fervor and today’s stupor is a link broken by disinterest, puffery, and love of ease. Even when warned, fickle flesh will not, cannot, remain faithful apart from Christ. Why has it become so extraordinary to follow steadfastly the high and holy God? (Exodus 1:8; Joshua 24:14,19-24; Judges 2:12-15; Matthew 26:41)

We need to make living for Jesus ordinary! We need to elevate conversation and the substance of living! The vibrant Christian life, to serve and honor Him, should take no exceptional commitment or unique ability- it is who we are and what we do! But when the world around us forgets or has never known what He has done, society grows devoid of acknowledging His influence and worthiness. We must maintain- in every effort- that He’s intimately involved in all our ways. (Psalm 139:3-6)

What will we do to spread and live brightly His light and truth? How are we conveying to the next generation the great deeds of the Lord, and the comfort and blessings of knowing and following His word? How will we stem the tide of idolatry and complaint by exhibiting the normality of joy in obedience, and gratitude?

Father, deepen my trust in Thee as the only way to live. Check and convict my deceitful heart, and lead me daily in Your everlasting, fruitful, ordinary-for-the-faithful way, to Your glorious praise. (Psalm 1:1-4; Jeremiah 17:5-10)

Closing Remarks

“A long time afterward, when the Lord had given rest to Israel from all their surrounding enemies, and Joshua was old and well advanced in years, Joshua summoned all Israel, its elders and heads, its judges and officers, and said to them, ‘I am now old and well advanced in years. And you have seen all that the Lord your God has done to all these nations for your sake, for it is the Lord your God who has fought for you. Behold, I have allotted to you as an inheritance for your tribes those nations that remain, along with all the nations that I have already cut off, from the Jordan to the Great Sea in the west. The Lord your God will push them back before you and drive them out of your sight. And you shall possess their land, just as the Lord your God promised you.  Therefore, be very strong to keep and to do all that is written in the Book of the Law of Moses, turning aside from it neither to the right hand nor to the left, that you may not mix with these nations remaining among you or make mention of the names of their gods or swear by them or serve them or bow down to them, but you shall cling to the Lord your God just as you have done to this day. For the Lord has driven out before you great and strong nations. And as for you, no man has been able to stand before you to this day. One man of you puts to flight a thousand, since it is the Lord your God who fights for you, just as he promised. Be very careful, therefore, to love the Lord your God…

“You know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord promised concerning you. All have come to pass.'” Joshua 23:1-11,14b

With limited time and opportunity left in his full life, Joshua was deliberate in his closing charge to the nation he led. Life always was, and would be, and should be, about their Lord. He it was who had delivered them, led them into Canaan, and fought for them in giving them the land. (Joshua 24:1-8,11-13)

We prioritize and communicate what means most to us. Each day, we can put on lenses of schedule and must, or of God’s higher perspective. The way we see will dictate what we value and are compelled to convey. Obedience to God’s call in His enabling effects experiencing His might, provision, and victories, and His glory cannot be contained.

When I have opportunity to make a claim, to give remarks in a situation that only God knows would ever come again, what do I deem vital to say? Is my mind so enmeshed with Christ’s, do my passions reverberate with holy love and devotion, that I cannot help but speak of His goodness, faithfulness, worthiness to be followed and obeyed and praised?

If there is an ounce of haughtiness, self-desert, or smugness, I rob Him of His rightful glory and mislead those I address. But the Lord gives us daily chance to eschew pride and the adoration of our depraved passions and idols, to cling to Him and be to Him a people, a name, a praise, and a glory. Which will it be? (Isaiah 42:8; Jeremiah 13:9-11)

Lord, keep it my highest priority to be careful to love You and to point others to You.

Maintaining Vigor

“Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. And Caleb said to him, ‘You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me. I was forty years old when Moses… sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart. But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the Lord my God. And Moses swore on that day, saying, “Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.”  The Lord has kept me alive, just as he said,.. I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming. So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day…’

“Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance… because he wholly followed the Lord, the God of Israel.” Joshua 14:6-14

From his first arrival on the Bible scene, Caleb stands out as a man of vigorous faith and action. He and Joshua alone, of all the spies sent into Canaan, saw the land of promise as just that, secured by God’s good word and power, and urged Israel to take it. His life was surrendered to his Lord’s will and ways, and he seized opportunities wholeheartedly. His belief in what God had promised must have fueled him through the frustration of forty years of wandering as a consequence of his nation’s lack of faith. He consistently chose to run for the prize over tripping on trouble. (Numbers 13:1-3,6,16-33; Philippians 3:14)

Maybe we’ve had to wait longer than hoped for God to fulfill His promises. Maybe we’ve had to slog through the fallout of others’ sin and grown resentful or felt like giving up. Keeping our sights on our heavenly Captain and sticking to His course keeps us centered and focused on God’s call and purposes that are woven through every warp and woof.

What will it take to keep my eyes fixed on God’s promises and provision when the going gets tough? What threats and difficulties do I allow to block my spiritual progress and debilitate my faith in God’s strength over my own? Where have I given in to the passage of years and grown lazy in stewardship, yielding to indulgences and self-pampering because ‘I’ve done my time,’ rather than maintaining appropriate, healthy readiness for what the Lord has next?

While certainly we cannot control every aspect of our physical health, we can do much to feed and maintain our spiritual health. God calls us to specific work and we are accountable as stewards of the grace and gifts He’s entrusted to us. (Romans 12:3-4; 1 Timothy 4:7-8)

Lord, may I rise every day eager to get up and go up to take advantage of every opportunity You give, serving You with wholehearted vigor and joy, to Your honor and praise. (Numbers 13:30; Colossians 3:23)