Read: Numbers 13:17-33
Doesn't it seem that events are occurring at break neck speed? What was once new and state-of-the-art is now yesterday's no longer supported model. Does anyone else still like the XP? The other day, I heard that Merriam-Webster has added 455 words to the dictionary. I have to admit not understanding many of the new entries; However, among them is one that might be worth exploring. "It is "fluffernutter", which is a sandwich made with two pieces of white bread with a filling of peanut butter and marshmallow crème! Many of the other new entries that have made an appearance became part of our vocabulary during the pandemic. Language. It is constantly evolving. If I don't believe that, a cursory reading of a book written only a century ago will verify that this is true. Some of the words that were commonly used back then have totally different meanings now. Doesn't anything stay constant?
Thankfully, the answer is a resounding yes. Truth remains constant, and the God of Truth never changes, Hebrews 13:8; John 14:6; John 17:17. That, as we all know, is not a popular view held by the majority of people in our world today. The lies bombard us from many different directions, even from places where we, at one time, expected to receive truth. How can we know if what we encounter is true or not? May I share a story along with a strategy that we can use when we're not certain?
It was several years ago. My husband and I were having supper with another couple in a restaurant. We were not in our hometown. I was about to eat the burger I had chosen from the menu when my friend who sat across from me said something puzzling. She asked me if she could see my hamburger bun. There was a good reason. The bottom was moldy. Guess what I did? I stopped any thought of eating. I believed that her words painted an accurate picture of the food I was about to eat, and I didn't have even one more bite. I stopped, assessed the situation and acted on the truth of the information my friend gave me.
Let's look at a situation from Israel's past and how the people and those who were their leaders handled it from Numbers 13:17-33. A bit of background: God had wondrously redeemed His people from their servitude in Egypt. By the time we see them in Numbers 14, they had already been nourished by the Lord's provision of manna for longer than a year. Moses has received God's plans for the tabernacle, and the people had the Ten Commandments which had been written by God Himself. If all that weren't enough, they had been wondrously guided by God's special pillar of cloud during the day and His pillar of fire at night. As Numbers 13 opens, God had said that it was time for them to take the Land of Promise. Spies were sent out, and victory was promised. The spies weren't sent to figure out if Israel could be victorious. They were merely getting a glimpse of the land that was going to be their home. All was well until the twelve men returned with their report which was a very mixed bag. Yes, the land was lush and productive. Yet, ten of the spies brought discouraging words, telling the people that victory wasn't within their grasp. Joshua and Caleb gave the minority report, reassuring the people that with God, victory was certain. The people stopped to listen; however, even though they could see the beautiful fruit that had been brought back to them, their assessment was that they would be better off if they returned to Egypt. They didn't believe that God was big enough to fulfill the promises He had made to them, even though they were experiencing His miraculous provision each day. They refused to act on the truth that was presented to them.
Where does this incident from scripture leave us? We have the same opportunity the Israelites had, but unlike them we can stop the lies in their tracks. Let's look at what we can do when lies bombard us, assaulting the truth. Let's suppose that God has nudged our hearts and given us a desire to do a specific ministry, and we are excited to see what He will do in and through us, Ephesians 2:10. All is progressing well until we have one of those days where we react in a fleshly way, rather than yielding to the Holy Spirit. Perhaps, we throw out some unkind words. What we did was wrong, and we know it.
Thoughts might come such as:
· You aren't worthy of ministering for God after you reacted as you did.
· Let others do this ministry. They are better Christians, and besides, they would be more effective than you ever could be.
The list could stretch into many different directions. The question is what will we do when assaulted with lies like this?
First, let's stop and ask ourselves who would be telling us these things? Is this person trustworthy as my friend was? Or is what we are hearing coming out of the mouth of the father of lies who seeks our discouragement and destruction, John 8:44; John 10:10. If we aren't certain about the source of what we are hearing, we need to take the next step and assess what we have heard. We know that God is called the God of all encouragement, 2 Corinthians 1:3-5. Are these words that we have heard the kind that build us up and help us want to become more like Jesus as we minister for Him? The answer is no; so, it is time to act on what is true. It is time to combat the lies with God's truth that never changes.
Yes, we reacted in a fleshly and unkind way. That is true; so rather than running away from ministry, we should do what is right and admit our sin and apologize to the one we hurt. Is there someone more gifted in ministry than we are? No doubt that is true; however, that doesn't mean we should stop serving where God has directed us. We, like all of God's born-again children have gifts that the Lord uses in unique ways. Whether others are more gifted is not the issue. We serve God, and our eyes should be on Him. He gives us our adequacy, 2 Corinthians 3:5-6.
Lastly, what about the lie that we aren't worthy of having this ministry? We aren't. I'm not saying we aren't loved by God. We are, but we have done nothing to make ourselves worthy of any of His kindness. Each blessing, including ministering for Him is a grace gift, given to us out of His lavish love.
Lord, help us to know You better so we will recognize when Satan is trying to deceive us with a lie, and please help us act according to Your truth.