God Sees Individuals

After the plague the Lord said to Moses and Eleazer son of Aaron, the priest, “Take a census…” (Numbers 26:1-2).

  • The book of Numbers starts with a census.
  • In the middle of the book, the Israelites sin by distrusting God. 
  • Every one of those adults recorded in the first census—who distrusted God—died.
  • The book of Numbers ends with a census.

“The total number of the men of Israel was 601,730. … Not one of them was among those counted by Moses and Aaron the priest when they counted the Israelites in the Desert of Sinai [in the first census]…EXCEPT Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun” (vv. 51, 64-65).

God doesn’t see crowds or masses of people; He sees individuals. He knows each individual by name. He knows me and you too. I cannot hide my sin, I cannot use “the crowd“ to justify my disobedience. He sees my heart. He sees my obedience and my disobedience.

God said, “Because they have not followed Me wholeheartedly, not one of those who were twenty years old or more when they came up out of Egypt will see the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—not one EXCEPT Caleb son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua son of Nun, for they followed the Lord wholeheartedly” (Numbers 32:11-12).

God had a plan for each and every person recorded in that first census. They all could have entered the Promised Land. But all of them sinned and forfeited their opportunity—EXCEPT Caleb and Joshua. 

God has a plan for my life and for your life. Each of us has to choose obedience for ourselves. Despite the sin everyone else around you may be committing, let God say of you, “There is an EXCEPTion!”

Hope-Filled Declarations

Whether it’s a doctor’s diagnosis of cancer, or a rapidly-spreading virus, or a painful relationship, Lynn Eib helps us keep these unexpected things in perspective. These may have taken us by surprise, but nothing takes God by surprise. No diagnosis nor prognostication can limit God’s power and love. 

As David learned in his painful time: “God has spoken once, twice have I heard this: that power belongs to God. Also to You, O Lord, belong mercy and loving-kindness” (Psalm 62:11-12). He is All-Powerful and All-Loving. 

Let these declarations Lynn made when receiving her cancer diagnosis help put things in perspective for you—

I refuse to believe my diagnosis is a death sentence.

I believe God is on the side of my healing because His unbreakable Word says so.

I believe treatment is effective against this illness, especially the skillful efforts of scientific medicine with my strategies for replacing lying thoughts with truth.

I believe my hormones and immune system are on the side of my healing and are even now working to overcome this illness.

I believe I am personally responsible for my treatment and for managing it.

I believe hope is a choice. I choose hope, not hopelessness.

My major aim is to have a mind fully submitted to the Spirit of God and His truth, not just to see better lab results or improvement in physical symptoms.

I believe I am on earth to share Christ, hope, and joy with others. I am here only to love others, regardless of my physical condition.

I believe that God’s will is good. 

I believe that He loves me and wants only the best for me—whatever He is allowing me to experience right now.

I can recover from this illness and live a rich, productive life of service. But whether I recover or not, I am going to leave this life someday regardless. Until then I can live a full life of service every day for as long as I am given. 

—Lynn Eib, in Peace In The Face Of Cancer 

Self-made Or Spirit-led?

“And behold, two men were conversing with Him—Moses and Elijah, who appeared in splendor and majesty and brightness and were speaking of His exit from life, which He was about to bring to realization at Jerusalem.” (Luke 9:30-31)

Jesus was constantly making decisions that kept Him on the path straight toward Calvary’s Cross. He would let nothing deter Him from God’s appointed mission. Even when His own friends and family urged Him to find another route. 

It was at a moment like this—when Jesus had yet another choice to make about what path He would follow—that Moses and Elijah talked to Him, reminding Him of the ultimate outcome of His obedient and correct choices. 

At every crossroads—at every decision point—Jesus chose correctly. He chose to do God’s will for His life. He could have decided to do things His own way, but He leaned into the unmistakable voice of the Holy Spirit pointing Him toward the right path.

What does that mean for us today?

I have failed to make the right choice.
That means that I could have chosen correctly.
Jesus was human just like me.
Which means He had choices too.
He always chose correctly, even though the other possibility was there.
So the question is: Will I try to be a self-made man or a Spirit-led man?
I cannot be both.

The Mysteries Of God

“Relinquish your demand to understand; accept the fact that many things are simply beyond your comprehension. Because I am infinite and you are finite, the limitations of your mind make it impossible for you to understand much of what happens in your life—and in the world. So it’s vital to make room for mystery in your worldview.

“You are privileged to know many things that were formally mysteries—things that had been kept hidden for ages and generations. The New Testament is full of revelations that came through My incarnation, life, death, and resurrection. You are immeasurably blessed to have this priceless knowledge!

“Nonetheless, the ways I work in your world are often mysterious to you—beyond tracing out. This presents you with a choice: to resent My ways or to bow before Me and wonder and worship.” —Jesus (in Sarah Young’s Jesus Always)

I hope you will choose wonder and worship—that’s what I’m trying to choose.

Saturday In The Proverbs—But… (Proverbs 10)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

But… (24 times in Proverbs 10).

These proverbs of Solomon make clear the distinctions between God’s way and man’s way. Doing things God’s way brings all sorts of blessings, but trying to do things man’s ways is a dead-end road. 

Check out the contrasts—

 

(click on the image to see a larger view or click here to download a PDF → Proverbs 10 – but)

Saturday In The Proverbs—Two Pursuits, Two Outcomes (Proverbs 7)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

…call understanding your nearest kin… [or be] devoid of understanding… (Proverbs 7:4, 7).

Two pursuits lead to two totally different outcomes. 

Pursuit #1—I can keep God’s Word in my sight, treasure His laws and commands, and pursue His understanding. Outcome: I am kept safe from the flattery of anything that would try to seduce me (vv. 1-5).

—OR—

Pursuit #2—I can ignore God’s ways and rely on myself. I become devoid of understanding and I pursue what I want to pursue. Outcome: Seduced by flattery and led to the slaughter (vv. 6-27).

And your choice is….???

Saturday In The Proverbs—Wisdom (Proverbs 1)

[Each chapter in the Book of Proverbs contains thoughts that fit into a theme; they are not just random thoughts gathered together. In this “Saturday In The Proverbs” series, I will share a theme that I see in each chapter. But the cool thing about God’s Word is that you may see an entirely different theme. That’s great! If you do, I would love for you to share it in the comments below.]

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction (Proverbs 1:7).

Would you like to see things others don’t see? How about if you could have insight that others don’t have? What if you could keep on getting more, and more, and more knowledge that really mattered? That’s what this entire Book of Proverbs is all about, and the opening chapter sets the tone for the rest of the book.

You have to decide: do you trust God’s knowledge, or do you trust yourself more?

God is to be revered above all else.

God is to be delighted in above all else.

God is to be listened to above all else.

That is what defines pure knowledge: God’s knowledge.

The path to wisdom, then, is to accurately apply God’s pure knowledge.

Lady Wisdom—thankfully for us—makes herself readily available IF we will listen to her. If we do, we will have the best insights into how to use this purest-of-pure knowledge which God gives. When we operate in God’s wisdom and God’s knowledge, He is pleased and He is glorified.

There is always another option we could choose. We could listen to things that others say is “knowledge,” and we could try to figure out things on our own. But if we do, we also have to be willing to accept the consequences for applying that “knowledge” (see vv. 29-31). Ummm, no thank you, I’d rather not be called a fool! 

13 Quotes From “No Limits”

John Maxwell has a unique and gifted way of challenging his readers to move forward by giving them both the motivation and the practical steps to do so. No Limits is no exception. You can check out my full review of his book by clicking here. Below are the first set of quotes from this book that I would like to share with you.

“What stops people from reaching their capacity often isn’t lack of desire. It’s usually lack of awareness.”

“Sad is the day for any man when he is absolutely satisfied with the life that he is living, thoughts that he is thinking, deeds that he is doing, until there ceases to be forever knocking on the door of his soul, a desire to do something greater for God and his fellow-man.”

“Dysfunctional people want others to function on their level. Average people want others to be average. High achievers want others to achieve.”

“Emotionally strong people honor their relationships while at the same time guarding against letting others control them, especially in difficult relationships.”

“What’s the fastest way to make a relationship better? Make yourself better so that you have more to give. That requires an abundance mind-set.”

“How can we make things better? If you’re already successful, this is a fantastic question to ask yourself and your team. Anytime we’re successful, there is a temptation to be lulled into a feeling a false security, to believe that we have arrived. But the greatest detriment to continual success is relying on past success.”

“No one has ever had to work at limiting their capacity. That happens naturally. The world tries to talk us out of working hard. We convince ourselves that we can’t get ahead. We feel down, and we watch our lives go downhill. There are even people who will tell you that others have put you there, that the system is rigged, that successful people have pushed you down and have gotten to the top by stepping on you. Well, I have good news for you … Your production capacity is within your own control.” 

“No one has ever stayed the same, while at the same time rising to a higher level. Being willing to change is one of the prices we pay to grow.”

“Repeated choices to take responsibility give you mental and emotional momentum, which only makes you feel stronger and better about yourself.”

“Everyone sees people’s success without realizing that 90 percent of what leads to it is unseen, yet that 90 percent is what makes it possible.”

“The bottom line is that you cannot manage your life if you do not manage yourself. You cannot maximize your capacity if you cannot increase your discipline.”

“Resilient people don’t focus on the negative experience. They focus on what they can learn from the experience.”

“Winning is overrated. Growing is underrated.”

I will be sharing another batch of quotes from No Limits soon, so stay tuned. To check out other quotes I share daily, please follow me on Twitter and Tumblr.

No Limits (book review)

I always get excited when I get to read a John Maxwell book because I know right upfront that I’m going to be getting life-changing insights. As usual, No Limits lived up to my expectations!

The premise of this book is simple: Most of our limitations are self-imposed, but if we could see a way to blow the cap off those limitations there is no limit to the level of success we can achieve.

The book is built around John Maxwell’s capacity challenge, which says, “If you grow in your awareness, develop your abilities, and make the right choices, you can reach your capacity. In other words: Awareness + Ability + Choices = Capacity.”

No Limits is built around the three components in this capacity equation. First, you will learn how to become aware of what may be limiting you; then, you will learn how you have the ability to develop the capacities that you already have; and finally, you will learn how to make the daily choices that will maximize your capacity.

The book contains a link to a “Capacity Quiz,” which is a great help to identify the areas in which you especially need growth. It’s a good idea to take this quiz before diving into the material in the book so that you can pay special attention to the weakest areas as you are reading.

John Maxwell continues to stretch and mentor me in leadership growth like few other people have. I believe he will do the same thing for you, too, if you are willing to roll up your sleeves and go to work on blowing the cap off all your limits!

I am a Center Street book reviewer.

Thursdays With Oswald—Are You Self-Made Or God-Made?

Oswald ChambersThis is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Oswald Chambers. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Oswald” in the search box to read more entries.

Are You Self-Made Or God-Made?

     It is possible to be perfectly real to ourselves but not real to God; that is not reality. It is possible to be perfectly real to ourselves and real to other people, but not real in our relationship to God; that is not reality. The only reality is being in harmony with ourselves and other people and God. That is the one great reality towards which God is working, and towards which we are working as we obey Him. … 

     The critical moment in a man or woman’s life is when they realize they are individually separate from other people. When I realize I am separate from everyone else, the danger is that I think I am different from everyone else. Immediately I think that, I become a law to myself; that means I excuse everything I do, but nothing anyone else does. ‘My temptations are peculiar,’ I say; ‘my setting is very strange; no one knows but myself the peculiar forces that are in me.’ … This sense that I know what other people do not know, that I have a special intuition that tells me things, is even more dangerous than the sense of individualism because it leads to spiritual deception in a religious nature and to hard intellectual conceit in a natural nature. … 

     Self-realization naturally cares nothing about God, it does not care whether Jesus lived or died or did anything at all. For ourselves we live and for ourselves we die; that is self-realization that leads to death and despair; it is absolutely and radically opposed to Christ-realization. True self-realization is exhibited in the life of Our Lord, perfect harmony with God and a perfect understanding of man; and He prays “that they may be one, even as We are one.” … 

     God’s purpose is to make us real, that is, to make us perfectly at one with all our own powers and perfectly at one with God, no longer children but understanding in our heads as well as in our hearts the meaning of the Redemption, and slowly maturing until we are a recommendation to the redeeming grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

From The Philosophy Of Sin

Oswald Chambers says we have a choice: Will we try to be a self-made man or woman, OR will we allow the Holy Spirit to make us a God-made man or woman? Only the second option puts us in touch with ourselves, others, and God.

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