“When they reached the Valley of Eshcol, they cut off a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes. Two of them carried it on a pole between them, along with some pomegranates and figs.”
The Valley of Decision is surrounded by the slippery slopes of self-doubt. It is the place where we have been challenged to move forward but we are trapped by our inability to make the right choice. Fears of past mistakes, memories of failures lure us back into a bad decision-making process. But the fault isn’t really in the process at all; it lies in the hearts and souls of the ones making the decision.
A few years after Jehovah had led Israel from their Egyptian captivity, He told Moses to explore the land of Canaan (Numbers 13:1) by sending twelve men, one from each tribe, to spy out the land. They brought grapes from the Valley of Eschol, a symbol of the wealth of their new home. When the committee gave their report, they said: “But the people who live there are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.”Caleb, a member of the minority report, represented by only he and Joshua, said “We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it.”
But he was too late. The majority had spoken eloquently and already influenced the hearts of the Israelites, who then raised their voices against Moses, Caleb and Joshua. The decision was made that Canaan was out of the question, so Jehovah punished them with forty years of wandering in the desert.
What happened? Why didn’t Israel accept the challenge and move forward? The problem was that they were anchored in their past. When the committee spoke about the giants they would face in Canaan, it reminded them of when they were slaves in Egypt. All the bad memories of the beatings, hard labor, and unjust treatment of their past came pouring back into their minds and they were defeated all over again. Their instinct was to stick with what they knew best. Even if it was the desert, manna and quail wasn’t so bad in comparison with the fierce Amalekites and Canaanites which were awaiting them if they dared cross the Jordan River.
It could have been different for Israel. And, it could be different for you the next time you are facing a critical decision in your life. Ponder these thoughts:
When faced with a decision, look backward at your journey, not your defeats. Israel had been miraculously delivered from Egypt, but all they could remember were the bad times.
What has God been doing in your past to prepare you for this moment of decision in your life right now? Life is a journey of preparation for tomorrow, and God has a way of getting us ready for the next big step by helping us to take such small steps right now that we may not even see our own progress, but He does. And He knows when we are ready.
Look inward. Jehovah had planted the Law inside the hearts of His children, and His Shekinah Glory led them on their way. He was not asking anything from them which would contradict His covenant.
Look within your heart. Does the decision you face ask anything of you that is contrary to the Word of God? If the Bible is your “rule book,” and you are certain that what you are being asked to do is within the Truth of God’s Word, then maybe that is your answer.
Look forward. There is no way that Israel could have defeated Canaan without the hand of Jehovah to go before them. It would require a miracle! The enemy was too big, the territory was unfamiliar, and they were going to have to depend upon a new leader (Joshua).
Will your new task require something from you that borders on the impossible? When I have groaned over a major decision in my life, it is usually because it will take me way out of my comfort zone. A decision which will cause you to stretch beyond the capacity you have now is often the one which God has planned for you. When that happens, my thoughts are, “Hallelujah, and hang on!”
The Valley of Decision is not a place to linger. To choose NOT do make a decision is to make a decision. Like the Valley of Eschol, our place of decision can become comfortable, a place of contentment and joy because it is there that we dream big dreams for the future. The enemy will tempt us to spend far more time “dreaming” about tomorrow than we ought. Even if the answer from God is to wait, seek His answer and it will come, for He is a God who “knows the plans He has for you,” and will not leave you clueless about your future.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, forbid that I allow my time in the Valley of Eschol to become a valley of indecision. Make me careful, not careless; courageous, not cautious; and consecrated, not complacent. Deliver me from haste, and set my feet in motion the very moment I hear from You. Amen and amen.
A woman suffering from bleeding for 12 years had endured much under many doctors.She had spent everything she had and was not helped at all.On the contrary, she became worse.Having heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His robe.For she said, “If I can just touch His robes, I’ll be made well!”Instantly, her flow of blood ceased, and she sensed in her body that she was cured of her affliction.At once Jesus realized in Himself that power had gone out from Him.He turned around in the crowd and said,“Who touched My robes?”His disciples said to Him, “You see the crowd pressing against You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me’?”So He was looking around to see who had done this.Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came with fear and trembling, fell down before Him, and told Him the whole truth.“Daughter,” He said to her,“your faith has made you well.Go in peace and be free from your affliction.”
Several cases just like this are presented within the gospels.The centurion’s faith is another example.In both of these stories, we find people who have faith that, without direct attention from Christ, that their problems may be made well.The centurion asked of Jesus, “But only say the word, and my servant will be cured.”
The centurion had the faith that the word of Christ alone would heal his servant, just as the woman had the faith that a word need not be spoken by Christ, but merely that she touch His robes to be healed.These stories provide us with great examples of people that had faith and believed without sight that what they asked in the name of the Lord would be done, a faith that we all should have concerning the Lord.
GospeLines Prayer: “Father give us the faith to move mountains.Let us not be hindered in our faith by that which we can see, but instead rely on what we cannot.Help us to fully understand that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by Your holy Word.Amen.”
S.I.C. Ryan McCammon
Amen and Amen!
≈ Devotional for Thursday, April 28, 2011
"The Valley of Sin"
“Now the Valley of Siddim was full of tar pits, and when the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some of the men fell into them and the rest fled to the hills.”
Genesis 14: 10
Sodom and Gomorrah. Ask a dozen people on a crowded bus if they have ever heard of these twin cities and most will say yes, Christian or not. These ancient places are historically associated with humanity’s evil actions and God’s judgment.
The Bible says the herds of Abraham and his nephew, Lot, grew so large that the land would no longer support them together. When the herdsmen began to argue among themselves for grazing rights, Abraham decided to separate from Lot by giving him a choice. “If you go right, I will go left. If you go to the left, I will go to the right,” he said. So Lot chose the plush green valleys near the Jordan River, a perfect place for raising his herds. Later he decided the wicked city of Sodom would be his home. This place, as its name suggests, was a city of perversion and wickedness of all kinds.
When God said that He was going to destroy Sodom, Abraham bargained with Him to change his mind if ten righteous people could be found there. But there were only four, Lot, the nephew of Abraham, his wife and two daughters. Only Lot’s family would be saved, except for his wife, who turned back for one final glimpse of the life she had enjoyed, and God destroyed her, too.
Pulpits today speak less and less of sin. In the New Testament, sin is most often translated from the word hamartia, which means “to miss the mark.” The vivid picture is created from an archer who may hit the target time after time, and then suddenly the arrow flies away from its mark. There are consequences when the target is missed.
In the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, the cities were destroyed by fire.
Are you missing the mark? Is your life in turmoil now because you have failed to live up to the standards set by God? Paul writes in the book of Romans that “the wages of sin is death!”(6:23) I plead with you to leave your Sodom and Gomorrah lifestyle and seek the grace of Almighty God. Turn aside from those things in your life which cripple, maim, and finally destroy your soul.
Mercifully, God sent two messengers to the home of Lot to lead his family away from the tar pit of sin into a place of safety. Time and time again, Jesus has sent you a messenger to lead you back into the way of righteousness. Until now you have rebelled. Yet the God of mercy has given you another and another and another chance to heed His warning. If at last you allow some messenger of God to lead you toward the Kingdom, do not hesitate, and do not look back! Lest you be destroyed as was the wife of Lot.
But there is more to that scripture from Paul’s letter to Rome: “The wages of sin is death… BUT… BUT… BUT… the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23) Hallelujah! Be lifted out of the valley of sin today, and accept the gift of everlasting life from Jesus Christ, the Savior, Lord, and Redeemer of your soul.
GospeLines Prayer:Righteous Father, will you withhold your judgment for just a moment longer? There is someone, now, who has just read these words and wants to give their life to You. Oh, God, give them time…just a moment, or a day, or a week to come to You. Spare your judgment for awhile, Lord Jesus, until this sinner becomes a saint, by placing their trust in You, the only hope for salvation. Amen and amen.
She wasn’t going to attend her own graduation. However, at the urging of her friend, Charity Caldwell, a single mom age 35, changed her mind at the last minute.
After flunking out of nursing school once, she was re-admitted under a special provision to meet the medical shortage for qualified nurses. It took her 8 years to complete the course, but here she was in heels and graduation gown, ready to celebrate what was to become her second greatest achievement in life.
As she joined the other graduates on May 2, 2009, a crowd was gathered around a man near the entrance of the DeSoto Civic Center. Her training instinct kicked in while she pushed her way through: “I’m a nurse,” she cried out. She got down on the floor, checked for a pulse, made note of the shallow breathing. Then his pulse stopped.
All she was thinking was she only had three minutes to get the blood flowing to his brain. She began chest compressions, something she had only done one other time on a dummy in class. The heart attack victim soon opened his eyes, took two quick breaths, and the paramedics arrived to take him to the hospital.
Charity Caldwell, a student who had flunked out of school and was given a second chance, saved the life of Southwest Tennessee Community College’s Dean of Health Sciences, Glen Swinny. The school officials called her a heroine, but she said it was divine intervention for both of us. “God let me know that I could do it. I have no doubt that the second chance I was given to pursue my dream resulted in a second chance for Dean Swinny.”
Jesus taught that life is full of second chances. He restored sight to the blind, forgave the sins of publicans and prostitutes, healed the hopeless of their disease, and fed those who were hungry. Which is the greater sin? Stumbling from the barrage of temptation before us, or making the decision to stay in the pit when we are down?
I believe in second chances. Maybe you have been waiting for this word of affirmation today. You have had the life crushed out of you from the embarrassment of a family problem; or you see yourself as a failure because you struck out in school, on the job, in your relationships. That is no reason for God to give up on you, and it certainly is no reason for you to give up on yourself. For the first time in awhile, try to see yourself as Jesus sees you. He loves you as much now as He did when you were just a twinkle in His eye. Let Him restore you to His fellowship.
GospeLines Prayer:Father, sometimes I wonder what You must think of me. I am a hopeless sinner; I make mistakes; I am always asking You to forgive me for this or that. Still, You do not grow weary of my feeble effort to live a godly life. Thank You for undeserved second chances, and for sending angels of mercy at just the right moment to open my eyes and breathe into me a renewed spirit. To God be the glory! Amen and amen.