1. Am I asking God to lead or am I following after my own heart and desires?
“There is a way that seems right to man, but its end is the way to death.” Proverbs 14:12
That is a sobering Proverb. If our hearts were completely and perfectly good, it would be great advice to “follow your heart”. An honest assessment of our hearts, however, will provide evidence that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick”. But, there is One who is completely and perfectly good. He desires for us to live abundantly (John 10:10). In fact, he doesn’t plan to harm us, he plans to prosper us, to give us hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)
When we follow our own desires, we end up hurt. Following God’s plan will bring healing and peace.
So, why do we struggle to trust God and ask for His direction? Why do we make decisions without asking for His guidance?
Do we really believe that God’s way is better than our way?
Leaning on our own wisdom and knowledge is not only limiting our potential, it is leading us to destruction (remember Proverbs 14:12) The only way to follow Jesus is to be willing to let HIM lead. Be willing to choose what He wants over what you want.
A heart that is willing to put his/her own desires aside and obey God will find the “promised land.”
A heart without faith to trust that God’s direction is a heart that will die in the wilderness.
Lord, may my heart fully trust in You and obey you with every step. Let me obey you because I love you. “…remember and obey all the commands of the Lord instead of following your own desires and defiling yourselves, as you are prone to do” Numbers 15:39
2. Would I rather return to slavery (sin) than face and fight the “giants” that are keeping me from God’s blessings (God’s best for me)?
It is shocking that the Israelites, who experienced amazing demonstrations of God’s power, wanted to go back into slavery. These people had seen water stand up in glorious demonstration, forming walls around them. But, when their enemy followed them, the water walls collapsed on the enemy. After experiencing that, how could they have ANY doubt that God would not fight their next battle as He led them toward the promised land?
Of course, we all know. It is easy to forget who our God truly is. When we investigate God’s promises, as the spies investigated the promised land, it is easy to focus on the physical struggle that is required of us rather than the spiritual promises and God’s faithfulness. When we consider the “giants” in our lives, it is easy to be fearful, discouraged, and overwhelmed. In our own strength and wisdom, we should feel those things. But, when we focus on God, obstacles do not make us tremble. We don’t “fear anything that is frightening.” (1 peter 3:6) When we determine in our hearts to follow God, we know that He will destroy the obstacles that go before us. He fights for us. (Exodus 14:14)
But, we are not to sit in the wilderness and pray that God will destroy the giants. We are to fight WITH God. We follow Him into battle. He brings the victory, but we have to engage in the battle, also. We have to move away from fear and choose to trust and obey God. Then, we will have victory through Christ and enter into the promises of God.
3. Am I focused on the future or is my mind dwelling in the past?
What if your vehicle had a windshield as small as a rear view mirror and the rear view mirror was a large as our windshield? Disaster. We would never be able to move forward.
Allowing our minds to take up residence in the past will keep us from experiencing the good, new adventure that God has planned for us.
Paul said, “one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
In order to press forward, we can’t live in the past. We have to forget it. “Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles” and get moving (Hebrews 12:1)! Start obeying God. If your past is keeping you from moving or if failures and regrets are keeping you from experiencing God’s great plan for your life, you need to throw it off. You need to forget the past. God makes us new. He gives us a new day to remind us that He loves a fresh start.
When the children of Israel were at the door of the promised land, they longed to go back to slavery. Their ambition, their drive, and their ability to press ahead to the promised land was suffocating because they couldn’t let go of the past.
4. Do I choose faith and trust God even when the odds are against me and everyone says I will fail?
When everyone was shouting that it was impossible to take possession of the promised land, Caleb silenced the crowd and declared that it was possible! He urged them to trust God and receive what He promised for them! The people chose fear over faith.
The people who did not trust God never received God’s blessing. Caleb did. And Joshua. They got to experience what the others refused to receive.
Let our hearts not grow weary. Let us not be fearful. Let us remember who our God is and rejoice in the face of a challenge because we KNOW that God is with us! Lord, make us like Caleb and Joshua that believed You and trusted You. They were eager to follow you. Let our hearts follow you and not continue to wander around chasing our own whims and desires. Lead us into the promised land and bring victory to our hearts!
5. Do I have an attitude of expectancy or do I constantly complain and grumble? The generation of Israelites that chose to wander in the wilderness rather than dwell in the promised land had a complaining problem. Their attitude was so negative, that it was like a sickness. They grumbled and complained constantly. It would wear us out. It angered God.
The two men that broke this pattern, Caleb and Joshua, refused to mimic the grumbling crowd. When their friends saw through a negative lens, they saw through a faith lens. When their families complained about the present situation, they planned to change the situation through the strength of God.
Whatever is in our hearts will come out of our mouths.(Luke 6:45) The hearts of those people were unhappy. Circumstances couldn’t change their hearts. The promised land was right in front of them, but they couldn’t get excited. They couldn’t thank God for the opportunity to live abundantly. They wallowed in their the misery.
When we hear complaints come out of our mouths, let us repent and ask God to help us. Let us live with an expectancy and an excitement that God has something good in store for us. Let us fight whatever obstacle is in front of us with great joy, knowing that God is with us and He will bring the victory!