Do not Let It Linger

A weed had grown adjacent to our fence in the back of our home. It was growing so tall that it looked like a plant. I did not see it as a real threat, so I pulled it up at the point where it appeared to begin. A few weeks later, that weed was back, but this time it had spread across the back of our fence in every direction. I ended up pulling it out beneath the root and cutting it off – so that that problem was dealt with not just at the surface level but at the source.

There is a valuable lesson in this that often gets overlooked in our everyday lives. It never gets better when we don’t deal with nuisances at the root and allow them to linger. God instructed Israel to attack Midian causing them to become consumed with sexual sin and idolatrous behavior. (Numbers 31) The Lord wanted them to be free of the things that appeared harmless on the surface but kept them in bondage. Instead, Israel began to mingle with the Midianites leading them to Baal worship and entertaining sexual immorality.

Why have you let all the women live? These are the very ones who followed Balaam’s advice.”

~ Numbers 31:15 NASB ~

Moses was asking if they had gotten rid of the problem at the core. The same question can be asked of us today. I wonder at that moment what Moses was seeing. Outwardly did they get to the core of the issue in their lives, or just put a band-aid over it. We must be careful of our feelings that may lead to acceptance of corruption. In the past, I have known what needed to take place but just ignored it. Truthfully this broke the Lord’s heart and pushed me further away.

Here is a thought, what things do we allow to linger in our lives? Israel attacked Midian and killed the men but allowed the women to live even though God said to destroy all. What things have we justified keeping?  Have we dealt with the lingering stuff that we think is not that bad? Have we acknowledged not only that gossiping is wrong but why do we find joy in passing information about others? Do we recognize that pornography is wrong and examine why we are looking for impure satisfaction? Perhaps this is a season of singleness and it is hard to embrace for some. Learning to not be selfish or learning to discipline one’s finances, thoughts, or home, before we bring another into our lives is sacrifice.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up.

~ Hebrews 12:1 LASB ~

I am thankful for the reminder not to allow sinful behaviors and habits to linger. The challenge is normally the overcoming lesson used to stretch us. When we obey God, in some capacity we are blessed.  

Partial obedience is not obedience. It is not enough to obey partially what God has confidently and consistently told us as Christians to do. We can only receive His best and embrace His love for us when we follow His instruction. Obedience is the ultimate gesture of love that we can show to our Lord. I thought partial obedience was better than no obedience. I am thankful for the revelation that Jesus desires us all to receive.

 “Love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. “This is the first and great commandment.

~ Mark 12:30 NASB ~

The challenge is not in the knowing but in the doing. We must deal with it all. In other words, we have to look in the mirror and do the work. In Numbers 31, v.17 reads, So kill all the boys and all the women who had intercourse with a man. God gives a command that seems harsh. I pondered why does God command the boys and a specific group of women to be slaughtered? In ancient culture, the boys would have grown up to avenge their father’s legacy. The command to kill the women because they had turned the hearts of the entire kingdom away from their first love, God.

It is not the women or the boys that the Lord was addressing (on the surface it seemed to be). It was the allowance of something that should be removed to change the trajectory of our destiny. We all can think back to a time or situation that created conflict, but by the grace of God, we are still here. Do not let it linger.

Lord, thank you for your grace and unconditional love. Help me to remove anything that prevents me from continued growth or change in my life. When you show me things that need to be removed that hinder my growth let me not hesitate to take action. I ask that you will allow me to go beneath the surface and get to the root of those things that keep me from becoming more like Christ.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Great Expectations

I recently accepted a new position in a different field. As excited as I am, it has left me uncertain of where God is leading. What is certain is that I am feeling a little uneasy.   This new season requires a different level of faith. But that is just like God to stretch our faith. Faith is like muscles, they grow with resistance and pressure. That may look different depending on the situation, but for me, it is: what type of work environment will it be? Is it team-oriented? Will the benefits package be enough for my family? These questions and more began to formulate in my mind. Then God reminded me of 1 Chronicles 28:20.

Then David said to his son Solomon, Be strong and courageous and act; do not fear nor be dismayed for the Lord God, my God is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.  1 Chronicles 28:20

With great promise, comes great expectations. Often, we can’t see the reward until we make the sacrifice to move beyond our fears. Until we make the decision to act.  What makes the sacrifice worthwhile is the expectation of what is to come. That is the reward.  

Sacrifice is always a prerequisite to any upward movement for any area in life. If I only focus on the end, I miss out on what is happening in the process. The process is the road that must be traveled on the way to change. We cannot get there if we are not willing to take a step. Lately, I have felt the Lord has had me in constant process, and to be honest, it is a challenge. There are some days where I ask, “Lord, are you still with me?”

The Bible often gives me or reminds me of what I need to move forward. The reminder here is hidden behind a father (David) encouraging a son (Solomon) to have great expectations in what is to come. The expectation of things unseen. David spoke directly from the Lord. The reminder David speaks over Solomon’s life positions his thinking for an expected end. God wants us to find comfort when we rest in the Holy Spirit, and trust how He leads.  

Great expectation is the confidence I place in God that He has my situation worked out, but not for the reasons I want. It is easy to focus more on where the benefit is for me more times than I should. When this happens, I try to refocus on Christ and say, Lord, what are you saying to me? Maybe he is trying to get me to see where my identity is. Is it in Him or me? I have to remind myself it is not about me. Daily we strive to train our minds to stay faith-focused, especially in these uncertain times. I know this applies personally to me. Accepting a new career path is exciting but nerve-racking. When I think about all the intricate details, it can be overwhelming, but God’s great expectation (not Charles) reassures me.  

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

I found a few things in 1 Chronicles 28:20 that I think we all can implement to help us move forward: Be strong, Be courageous and Act.

When I think about strength, it means different things. Being strong can be applied to life circumstances such as loss, struggle, and confusion. It signifies the power to move past hindrances—the ability to press beyond our ability. Strength is grown by endurance, and this is one area God has been challenging me to grow in- not in my own but His power. When I am strong in His strength, nothing can stop me. It is almost like having a spotter while lifting weights. He assures me I am not alone, and with His help, I lift/handle far more than on my own.

Courage often gets misrepresented. Courage does not mean one is not afraid; sometimes, it is just the opposite. It is not the absence of fear but the ability to continue despite. I wonder what Solomon felt when his father encouraged him to build without experience? He was young and did not know all this process would entail but his father told him to have courage. I have had moments where fear tried to grip me. But friend, we must push through the worry and unknown and believe that we can. If we never do, we never will. If we stay stuck in fear and don’t try to become free—we know our ending. It stares us in the face screaming defeat. If Solomon never moved from fear to want more, great expectation could never manifest.  

I remember an exercise I had to complete while attending an old job retreat. We were asked to climb a rock wall 80 feet up. Once at the top the only way down was to jump and grab a trapeze bar that was suspended in the air, pretty scary, right? I wanted to go first and get it out the way, so I did. I did not think about the consequences; I did not look down; I just climbed up and jumped. Sometimes we have to act when we know the instructions are clear.  

 Have you been holding back? What is something you had great expectations for, and you have grown cold hoping for?

Father, allow us to rest in You when the direction is unclear and the path uncertain. Teach us to trust Your voice to lead us to an expected end. Help us to depend on You in the process and build on that what You have called us to. Give us the courage to trust You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.