Life in the Fast Lane (Numbers 9:15–23)
Joanie could scarcely believe her eyes. The woman speeding along the Los Angeles freeway next to her balanced a cup of coffee and a cigarette in one hand and ignored her three children bouncing around in the back seat. At that moment, Joanie longed to quit her job and move to the mountains. She prayed, “Lord, I’m tired of this fast-paced life. Can I get off this merry-go-round?”
Maybe life in the fast lane doesn’t appeal to you anymore either. You’re tired. You need a break. Maybe you’re thinking of buying a nice little cabin with a fireplace, a cat and a rocking chair. Anywhere but here, Lord, you think. But what does God think?
Following her release from Ravensbruck concentration camp, Corrie ten Boom purchased a house called Schapendunien and turned it into a home for disabled people and ex-prisoners. She thought that was where God wanted her to settle down. But in late 1945, she began to sense that God wanted her to travel to the United States to tell her story. So she crossed the Atlantic and became what she described as a “tramp for the Lord.” It wasn’t until 1977, when she suffered a stroke, that she finally retired to a home in Orange, California. Choosing to follow God’s leading rather than her own comfort level, Corrie ten Boom maintained an itinerant lifestyle of travel for Christ.
You may be facing unbearable pressures in your daily life, pressures you think will get better if you settle down in a peaceful location of your choice. But God showed the Israelites that he chooses our paths. He gave them a visible reminder of his presence to guide them: a cloud by day and a fire by night. When the cloud lifted, they set out; when it stopped, they camped. God’s sign in the sky marked their course and set the pace. By looking up, the Israelites discovered that the Lord ordained the movements of his people; God saying “no” was just as important as God saying “go.” God alone knew the reasons for the journey, the unseen dangers ahead and the ultimate purpose beyond each move.
God ordered the lives of the Israelites. And he’ll order yours if you will let him. If you need to know which way to turn, look up.
Taken from NIV Women’s Devotional Bible
What Makes God Proud
But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city. (Hebrews 11:16)
I want very much for God to say to me what he said about Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: “I am not ashamed to be called your God.”
As risky as it sounds, does this not really mean that God might actually be “proud” to be called my God? Fortunately this wonderful possibility is surrounded (in Hebrews 11:16) by reasons: one before and one after.
Take the one after, first: “God is not ashamed to be called their God, because he has prepared for them a city.”
The first reason he gives why he is not ashamed to be called their God is that he has done something for them. He made them a city — the heavenly city “whose architect and builder is God” (verse 10). So the first reason he is not ashamed to be called their God is that he has worked for them. Not the other way around.
Now consider the reason he gives in the front. It goes like this: “They desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God.”
“Therefore” signals that a reason has just been given for why he is not ashamed. The reason is their desire. They desire a better country — that is, a better country than the earthly one they live in, namely a heavenly one.
When we desire this city more than we desire all that this world can give, God is not ashamed to be called our God. When we make much of all he promises to be for us, he is proud to be our God. This is good news.
So open your eyes to the better country and the city of God, and let yourself desire it with all your heart. God will not be ashamed to be called your God.
Exhausted and impatient, Job’s three friends eventually stop giving their counsel. Job makes his final speech to his friends, describing where he believes true wisdom comes from.
“But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding? No one knows where to find it, for it is not found among the living. ‘It is not here,’ says the ocean. ‘Nor is it here,’ says the sea. It cannot be bought with gold. It cannot be purchased with silver. It’s worth more than all the gold of Ophir, greater than precious onyx or lapis lazuli. Wisdom is more valuable than gold and crystal. It cannot be purchased with jewels mounted in fine gold. Coral and jasper are worthless in trying to get it. The price of wisdom is far above rubies. Precious peridot from Ethiopia cannot be exchanged for it. It’s worth more than the purest gold.
“But do people know where to find wisdom? Where can they find understanding? It is hidden from the eyes of all humanity. Even the sharp-eyed birds in the sky cannot discover it. Destruction and Death say, ‘We’ve heard only rumors of where wisdom can be found.’
“God alone understands the way to wisdom; he knows where it can be found, for he looks throughout the whole earth and sees everything under the heavens.”
Job and his friends disagreed about how people become wise. Eliphaz’s attitude toward God was: “I have personally observed how God works and have figured him out.” Bildad’s attitude was: “Those who have gone before us figured God out and all we have to do is use that knowledge.” Zophar’s attitude was: “The wise know what God is like, but there aren’t many of us around.”
Job, however, believed that God is the source of wisdom, and the first step to wisdom is to fear God. So his attitude was: “God reveals his wisdom to those who humbly trust him.”
Those who do not understand the importance of God’s Word naturally seek wisdom here on earth. They look to philosophers and other leaders to give them direction for living. Yet Job said that ultimate truth and wisdom cannot be found there.
No leader or group of leaders can produce enough knowledge or insight to explain the totality of human experience. The ultimate interpretation of life, of who we are and where we are going, must come from outside and above our mortal lives. To be lifted above and beyond the boundaries of life, we must know and trust the Lord of life.
Thank God for giving you his Word so that you can know him better. Commit to knowing him more by reading his Word and living by the wisdom he gives.
Streams in the Desert – June 5
“Ask for a confirming sign from the Lord your God. You can even ask for something miraculous.” (Isa 7:11)
Make thy petition deep, O heart of mine,
Thy God can do much more
Than thou canst ask;
Launch out on the Divine,
Draw from His love-filled store.
Trust Him with everything;
And find the joy that comes
When Jesus has His way!—Selected
We must keep on praying and waiting upon the Lord, until the sound of a mighty rain is heard. There is no reason why we should not ask for large things; and without doubt we shall get large things if we ask in faith, and have the courage to wait with patient perseverance upon Him, meantime doing those things which lie within our power to do.
We cannot create the wind or set it in motion, but we can set our sails to catch it when it comes; we cannot make the electricity, but we can stretch the wire along upon which it is to run and do its work; we cannot, in a word, control the Spirit, but we can so place ourselves before the Lord, and so do the things He has bidden us do, that we will come under the influence and power of His mighty breath.
“Cannot the same wonders be done now as of old? Where is the God of Elijah. He is waiting for Elijah to call on Him.”
The greatest saints who ever lived, whether under the Old or New Dispensation, are on a level which is quite within our reach. The same forces of the spiritual world which were at their command, and the exertion of which made them such spiritual heroes, are open to us also. If we had the same faith, the same hope, the same love which they exhibited, we would achieve marvels as great as those which they achieved. A word of prayer in our mouths would be as potent to call down the gracious dews and melting fires of God’s Spirit, as it was in Elijah’s mouth to call down literal rain and fire, if we could only speak the word with that full assurance of faith wherewith he said it.
—Dr. Goulburn, Dean of Norwich