Dealing with Blame

If you have not read the previous blog posts in this series, you can find them at this link.

Now crippled into inactivity by their thoughts, the people’s next action was to blame someone for their reality and the situation and predicament.  In our own lives, in the areas that we are feeling down, can we identify the stimuli or chain of events that got us there? Many times we may not even be conscious of how we got to the point of despair.  And when our world feels as if it is falling apart, the last thing we may want to do is assess what is happening. 

We may just want to ease our pain as quickly as possible, and this is where we may feel tempted to shift our focus as the people did.  Instead of taking responsibility for their actions and lack of faith, they ‘murmured against Moses and against Aaron’ (Numbers 14:2 KJV).

At this point all rational thinking had completely broken down and it was manifested in their words and actions.  And then someone else became the recipient of their frustrations.

And they lamented that they should have died before coming to that point.

They also accused God of bringing them that far to see them perish (Numbers 14:3 KJV), they said that ‘the LORD brought … [them] … unto this land, to fall by the sword, …’.

As we look at this chain of events, we can explore learning a different and positive sequence when challenges arise – allowing God’s wisdom to fill our minds and not our own wisdom.  We can ask God to help us understand His purpose, plan and leading in our lives; we can ask God to help us make the necessary adjustment to our approach.

When going through changes we have choices; choices to embrace the things that we need to be accountable for.  We with God’s help can choose to decide what we listen to, what we speak and what we decide to do and to seek a positive solution in the midst of uncertainty. 

The people succumbed to the natural trait of trying to place blame away from themselves.  As far as the people were concerned, they were small, they couldn’t win, they felt depressed, and the opponent was bigger than them.  Then their chain of clouded logic and their resulting perspective brought them to the conclusion that it was God’s fault.

So as we learn new sequences of logic and thinking, instead of blaming, let us remember always in times of uncertainty to trust God, who is the great problem solver, and be confident that we can always seek God’s help – God who is the only solution.

So when we are dealing with challenges, we can confront our fears in God’s power, have a correct view of the external as well as a correct view of ourselves, embrace an optimistic and joyful attitude and take responsibility for our actions.

The focus of the next blog post will be: ‘Dependency – Looking for Another Leader‘.

Pessimism and Weeping

In the introduction, I explained that in our hearts ‘we long to find courage to stand for the right in the face of fierce opposition’.  Based on what was explored in the previous blog posts, to stand, we would need in God’s power to confront our fears, and we would need to have a correct view of the external as well as a correct view of ourselves.

In addition the account reinforces the power of words, and also cautions us to be very careful about whom we allow to speak into our lives and who provides us with information for our decision making.

Having reached such a low with their hopes being crushed, ‘the people wept that night’ (Numbers 14:1).  The people were sad and depressed.  It seemed like in their minds they had lost everything that they had dreamed of achieving.  They were at a dead end.  They did not know what to do.

I believe that the events unfolded very quickly, and they were not prepared for the emotional rollercoaster that they found themselves on.

Fortunately, we have their experiences to learn from.  During stressful times, having the reassurance from God’s Word is key to stopping us from going down this slippery slope of despair.  Anywhere along the slope that we may find ourselves, we need to be lifted up and out.  So praying for God’s perspective is definitely required.

When a lot of a person’s energy and time have been consumed fighting negativity and they end up not knowing what to do, the person may then find themselves in a stagnated and limbo state; and for some persons the next step may be to do nothing positive. 

But rising above what we feel and intentionally using our time in simple productive activities may be the stimuli we need to shift our focus and our feelings.

Though at times we may try and yet see no immediate results, that does not mean that the seed will not grow.  During the apparent barren times, it is the vision of what God has shown us in the past that we need to keep at the forefront of our minds. 

Like the farmer and the builder, let us keep the vision of the harvest and the finished building ever in our minds, while we are confronting feelings of doubt.

As we intentionally turn to God and His providence, the things that bother us will lose their sharp focus, and God’s Word like the light will overtake and consume every negative thought and we will be at peace.

The focus of the next blog post is about ‘Blame’.

Be Blessed.

Seeking Correct View of Self

Following on from the previous blog post, Inflated Account of the External, having confirmed in their minds that the opponent was bigger than they, their thoughts shifted to ‘how much smaller they were.’  They saw themselves ‘as grasshoppers’ (Numbers 13:33) and they even went one step further to say, ‘as we were in their sight’ (Numbers 13:33).  At that point, every ounce of hope was gone from their minds. 

In our own lives, can we think of a time when through a series of our logic, we ended up feeling so hopeless that we decided how we look to our circumstances,  and how our circumstances would just consume us?

When we reach a point of despair, fortunately that does not have to be the end.  In prayer we can run to God and ask Him to help us to see things through His eyes.  Interestingly in Isaiah 40:21 and 22, the inhabitants of the earth are described as grasshoppers when compared to God.

The story of Elisha and his servant in 2 Kings 6:15-17 is one of encouragement. When they were surrounded by the opposing army, Elisha was calm through the entire ordeal because he saw what the servant could not see initially – God’s intervention.  When the servant’s eyes were finally opened, he saw ‘horses and chariots of fire’ (2 Kings 6:17) protecting them and the servant’s hope returned.

The enemy is happy when we see ourselves as helpless and when we stop there.  But the enemy is not happy when we see ourselves as helpless and we run to God to lead us through.

As explained earlier, we should never deny or ignore the magnitude of the issues we face, or the strength of the enemy, but we must always keep in mind and live with God’s assurance.  He will not leave us.  In the context of our individual potential, we also have to be careful not to doubt our own capabilities, when others believe that our abilities are limited, or when we think that others believe that our abilities are limited.

Let us today determine to see ourselves through God’s eyes, then as we move forward, we will correctly see ourselves as ‘more than conquerors through’ Jesus Christ who loves us (Romans 8:37).

The title of the next blog post in this series is Pessimism and Weeping.

(Please note that Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.  Public domain.)

Be Blessed.

Inflated Account of the External

In my previous blog post, I wrote about Confronting our Fears.

In Numbers 13: 31, 32, the informants saw their opponents as stronger than themselves.  This is the key reason why they felt hopeless and helpless.  At that point, in their assessment they did not factor into the equation God’s presence and God’s assistance.  They had forgotten that God was the one who had led them that far.

Because of the crippling fear that the environment was so big and intimidating, the previous account of the good produce in the land (Numbers 13:26, 27) was distorted and then the 10 spies presented an ‘evil report of the land’ (Numbers 13:32). The opponent most likely was strong, but the Bible has reassured us that ‘greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world’ (1 John 4:4).

Similarly as we go through our situations, in the areas of our lives where we previously believed that God had called us to move forward, are there things that we now identify that are causing us to second guess God’s calling and His leading in our lives?

In life we are always in need of ensuring that we do not let our fears distort the reality. The good news is that once we are aware of this, we can ask God to give us the right perspective and the objective assessment of each situation. This is also key for us to address real issues in the environment, with the view of going forward as God ordained.

Then instead of seeing the magnitude of the opposing environment, we would see the providence and provision of a faithful God; instead of seeing ourselves intimidated by a big world (which many times can be very non-supportive to what God is calling His people to do), we would see the world subjected to our God who made the universe.

(Please note that Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.  Public domain.)

The title of the next blog post is: Seeking Correct View of Self.

Be Blessed.

Confronting Our Fears

In the previous blog post, I wrote about The Account of the 12 Spies. I believe that the people were excited at the thought of moving forward; but before they did, they had to address some critical things.  One of these things was their fear.

All transitions are not easy.  When we come to a crossroad, having made our plans, and having done our preparation, we look forward to all the positive things related to the planned change.  Similarly, seeing the fruit of the land (Numbers 13:26, 27), and with the positive account, the congregation must have felt excited and motivated.  But what transpired after confused the whole congregation.

In Numbers 13:28 there was a change, a shift in the thinking, and a reduction in the confidence level.  The obstacles (‘the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great:’ Numbers 13:28) were identified and placed before the congregation.

During changes, though we have a positive vision of what could be, we are also faced with the real possibilities that what we hope for may not becoming a reality.  During these times, with the threat of failure looming, the thought could arise, what if the critics are right?  What if I don’t make it?  This can be a turning point depending on how we deal with such questions and doubts.

As we embark on change, there are generally thing(s) that we did not plan for and did not consider; and how we address these uncertainties is a critical point that can determine if we retreat in fear or move forward in faith.

I have looked at the saying ‘ride and whistle’ to explore some practical ways of how to address this phase – this turning point.  Whistling can represent the process of getting all the facts – good and bad – favorable and unfavorable.  So the noises (including the negative facts) in the environment could cause us to retreat in fear.  But thankfully it does not have to be that way. 

Instead of thinking ‘what if they are right?’ and we will not make it, we can think, what if they are wrong?  Of course this does not mean that we go ahead carelessly without consideration for the dangers.  But instead at these junctures, we can ask the Holy Spirit to infuse us with the voice of reason and we can ask the Holy Spirit to still our fearful minds and help us to use our energy and time constructively – really asking God to help us to do all that can be done to make the transition as smooth as possible.

Knowing the potential issues before hand reveals the challenges that we need to be aware of, so that the mitigating plans can be put in place; but they should not be a reason just to pack up and not even try at all.  Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes by hearing, so to overcome fear, we need to soak and immerse our minds in the Word of God. So with God our fears can be changed to faith that looks to God to help us through.  So we can feed on God’s Word and be reminded that God has told us that He will never leave us, nor forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). 

Then our response would not be based on presumptuous actions, but instead on seeking to move forward for God in whatever sphere of life we may be.  This brings us to another obstacle that we will need to overcome to ensure that our faith in God grows; and that obstacle is how we see the world around us – the focus of the next blog post (Inflated Account of the External).

(Please note that Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.  Public domain.)

Be Blessed.

The Account of the 12 Spies

If you have not as yet, I invite you to read the first blog post or listen to the first podcast in this series entitled, United Within – Introduction.

In Numbers 13:17-20, we read that Moses gave the 12 spies the same command. And they obeyed, and they returned after 40 days (Numbers 13:25). The 12 spies returned together and stood before the entire congregation, who were waiting in anticipation to hear and know what the 12 spies saw.   The initial account, that the land ‘floweth with milk and honey;…’ (Numbers 13:27) was positive. Then the spies went on to describe the strength of the enemy and the fortified walls of the city. Then Caleb one of the spies, as the voice of reason, sought to reassure the people and to reaffirm that they would be able to take the land.

But the 10 spies countered Caleb’s affirmation and said no they would not be able to successfully possess the land (Numbers 13:31).  The report from the spies continued to deteriorate to the spies saying that the land ‘eateth up the inhabitants ….; and [that] all the people … [they] … saw in it … [were] … men of a great stature’ (Number 13:32).

Then in their own eyes, the 10 spies saw themselves as grasshoppers (Numbers 13:33).  True there was real danger, but it was important for the parties involved to see things in the correct context.  Sadly, ‘all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night’ (Numbers 14:1).  So after the meeting the whole camp would have returned to their tents with very heavy hearts.

And then as one thing led to another, murmuring was the next thing that happened (Numbers 14:2).

Then the things that God had done before became the subject of distrust and the people even spoke about dying ‘in this wilderness’ (Numbers 14:2).  They started to doubt God’s intention for their lives and even went as far as to discuss the idea of appointing a new leader to take them back from whence they came (Numbers 14:4).

At this point Moses and Aaron were in distress, and Caleb and Joshua tried to bring some balance to the conversation and implored the people not to rebel against God (Numbers 14:5-9).  Then the congregation turned on Joshua and Caleb with the intention to stone them and at this point God intervened (Numbers 14:10).  

Based on this account, imagine if such conflicting sentiments are held by one person; then the ensuing mental trauma is evident.

When we face challenges, do we oscillate between different feelings?  And when pieces of information are shared with us, do we go from feeling confident, to feeling doubtful to feeling distress and even feeling to give up at times? 

As I explore this story, I am prayerfully seeking to address and highlight the events that occur and the revelation of how information when absorbed and processed can create or trigger varying reactions or responses. 

From this account, we are introduced to barriers that we need to overcome in order for us to achieve unity within ourselves. The next blog post in this series is entitled, ‘Confronting Our Fears‘.

(Please note that Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.  Public domain.)

Be Blessed.

United Within – Introduction

The account of Joshua and Caleb in Numbers 14:6-9 has been a source of inspiration for many.  We long to find courage to stand for the right in the face of fierce opposition.  We long to rise to the occasion and show that we mean business for God. 

The support and opposition from the outside is at times so much easier to identify, but on closer observation of the story, what if the varied traits displayed by the 12 spies (Numbers 13:17-33) are possessed at times by one individual?

This I believe occurs, because Paul spoke about the battle he experienced within himself (Romans 7:23-24).  When Paul wrestled with his inner man, at that point he was not united within himself.  With this understanding I will use the account of the spies as a representation of the internal battle that we may face.

With the understanding that light travels faster than sound, with thunder and lightning, we would see the lightning flash before we hear the sound of the thunder.  Similarly, we need to let the light from God’s Word be at the forefront of our minds and inform our thinking, before we take action.  So that when we hear the sentiments of the 10 doubting spies trying to echo in our minds, God’s Word, which ‘is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path’ (Psalm 119:105), would be established in our hearts and our minds, to nullify the effects of the negative sentiments.    

Joshua and Caleb represent the desire to trust and obey God, and to live a life of faith.  The 10 spies on the other hand represent the noises or voices that we hear that tries to erode our faith; threatening to tempt us to even start to question who we are and where we are going.

Sadly, the contrast between the opposing attitudes is not always obvious at the beginning. When the 12 spies were sent out, they went out together, so there was no visible difference.  They were leaders (Numbers 13:3).  They were all exposed to the same things, but when the time of reckoning came, or using the saying ‘when the rubber hit the road’, the true sentiments were shared.  In many ways as time unfolded it was clear that the 10 spies were ‘on one side of the fence’ and the 2 spies were ‘on the other side’. 

Never should we underestimate the magnitude of the battle/war. Instead, understanding what we are facing will cause us to run even harder to God for His help, as we realize that the only way for us to make it is to depend on God to remove anything in us that opposes His will. So in complete surrender we let God do His work in us.

Join me in the coming blog posts, as we look at the characteristics that can cause inner conflict and as we explore how we can transition, with God’s help, to let God’s light inform and enlighten us; so that we will stand as internally united individuals to successfully face the situations that confront us however challenging they may be.

The next blog post in this series is entitled ‘The Account of the 12 Spies.

(Please note that Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.  Public domain.)

Be Blessed.

Praising while Rebuilding

(Click here to listen to podcast for this blog post)

‘And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD…’ (Ezra 3:10).

With the completion of the foundation, persons were ‘praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good …’ (Ezra 3:11).  The people were thankful to God for the progress that had been made.

But wait a minute, that was not all that was going on.  In the midst of the praises there was also weeping.

How could it be? The older men who had seen the previous temple ‘wept with a loud voice’ (Ezra 3:12). There was sadness that the new foundation did not show prospects of the magnificence of the first building.  I can imagine that as they wept that they thought of the glory days of times past and some even may have wanted to return to those days.  Yet in the midst of the weeping there were others who were just so thankful that they had reach that far; thankful that they had been able to rebuild a foundation on which they could move forward.

A few things came to mind as I read:

  • there would have been valuable things of the past that the older men would have cherished;
  • there were valuable things of the present that the persons praising were thankful for.

From the older men’s responses, there was pain and maybe even regret about the things and circumstances that would have caused them to have to reach the point of rebuilding a new foundation.  Thankfully, there were persons among the group who were able to hold onto the vision of the possibilities in God of what could happen with the new foundation; they were ready to continue the rebuilding process.

In this story there are lessons for us all. To:

  • be thankful for what we had in the past;
  • not forget the past, but learn from the past;
  • with God’s help be careful with the resources that we have been given, to avoid losing the important things;
  • not allow the pain from regret to prevent us from enjoying the blessings that God has for us today and tomorrow;
  • embrace the present foundation that God has provided and be thankful for all the rebuilding that God has been doing and continues to do in our lives.

So now, as you move forward, I encourage you to:

  • learn from the past and with God’s help seek never to repeat past mistakes;
  • lean on God’s wisdom and not your own;
  • in God’s strength cherish and embrace every opportunity that He has provided for you to build on, recognizing that ‘the foundation of God standeth sure’ (2 Timothy 2:19), the only foundation that cannot fail and will never need rebuilding.

In Psalm 34:1 we are told, ‘I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth’.  So let us remember at every stage of our lives to praise God continually, and not wait until the tasks are done or the goals are accomplished.

(Please note that Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.  Public domain.)

Be Blessed.

When it is Time to Climb

(To listen to podcast for this blog post click here)

I had been picking the leaves from my moringa tree for a while.  When I stood beneath the tree, I was enjoying the ease of picking the leaves from the branches within my reach.  However, over time, I needed to tiptoe and stretch to pick the leaves.

When I looked up into the tree, I observed that there were many leaves outside of my reach while I stood beneath the tree.  So to reach the leaves on the higher branches, I would need to safely climb the tree. 

Then I thought, isn’t this similar to what can happen in our lives?  We can reach for the ‘low hanging fruit’ which of course is good, since we really don’t want any of the fruit to go to waste.  But because these ‘low hanging fruit’ are in abundance for so long, we may actually forget that there are other ‘fruit’ a little higher in the tree.  But to get to the other ‘fruit’ we would need to stretch ourselves, then we would need to climb beyond our initial comfort level.

As I thought about my moringa tree, the questions came to mind:

  • In what areas of my life is God calling me to go higher, to press on and to experience the growth that can only occur with me climbing and taking on new challenges?
  • What fears do I need to let go of to embark on the journey of growth?

The reassuring thing for me was that the leaves in the moringa tree were within my vision, within my view.  The only thing that separated me from getting to the leaves was climbing the tree.  Similarly with some effort, we will experience blessings from the growth opportunities right in our sight.

Let’s ask God to show us the ‘moringa leaves’ He wants us to go after today, for His honor and glory.  Let’s ask God in what areas He wants us to press on, like we are reminded of in the hymn ‘Higher Ground’.

So once again, my question to you is, what ‘moringa tree’ in your life do you need to climb today?  Remember with the vision in view, God provides the tools and strength for us to go higher.

God’s Guidance

Anyone who ever got lost and can remember the amount of time that it took for them to find their way back would possibly appreciate receiving guidance from someone who knows the way.

Similarly, as Christians we recognize the value in not having to face the unknowns alone while we travel on our life journey – not having to ‘figure things out’ all on our own. In Psalm 25 verses 4 and 5 we read, ‘Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. Lead me in thy truth, and teach me: for thou art the God of my salvation; on thee do I wait all the day’ (KJV). This text provides us with a wonderful assurance.

So during the day, while we are at home, on the road, at the supermarket, at work – wherever we may be – like the psalmist we too can ask God to show us the way. What ever decisions we have to make, we can depend on God to teach us, to help us to find truth amidst all the noises and all the chaos that may be happening around us. The psalmist recognized that he could not save himself but needed to depend on God to save him.

The way that God has led us in our individual lives in the past is a present testimony of God’s involvement and concern for each of us. Though our life experiences may not all be happy ones, it is comforting to know that God can take even the difficult times in our lives and make something beautiful, and can even use our situations to help someone else who may be going through something similar to what we experienced in the past.

When I think about sharing with others about God, I think of the reality that though there are so many things we may not understand about how God leads us, we can be like the man who was once blind (John 9:1-38). He was asked lots of questions regarding how he was able to see, and he recounted how he received his sight to those who questioned him. Though he was asked the question several times by those who doubted, the man did not stop from telling what he knew – he was not stopped from telling how he was led by Jesus and healed of his blindness.

In John 9:25 we are told that the man (once blind) declared, ‘… one thing I know, that whereas I was blind, now I see’ (KJV). This was his firm and undeniable statement, when he was asked to give an account of what had happen to him. God gives us His children the same privilege to share with others what He has done for us.

So as we are led by God each day, let us live the truth that He reveals to us, being a source of encouragement for another traveler along the journey.