Nellie and Pam

Joshua 14: 7      NLT

I returned and gave from my heart a good report, but my brothers who went with me frightened the people and discouraged them.

When Moses sent out the twelve men to spy out the land God was to give them, two came back with a positive report and ten delivered a negative report. You know, those stats are about right. There are way more negative Nellies than Positive Pams. What made these two, Joshua and Caleb, so different?

The answer is easy, following in their footsteps, perhaps not so much. Today’s verse is the retelling straight from the mouth of Caleb. All twelve men saw the same things, but Caleb tells us the difference. He and Joshua gave their report from their hearts. They saw the promise of God and it filled their hearts with good news. It was from their hearts that they poured out the good news about the land flowing with milk and honey. The other ten, they gave a report from their minds.

Even though all twelve saw the same abundance that Caleb saw, ten of them didn’t take it to heart. Instead, they saw with their minds and so they, imagined all the problems that could arise. When the ten reported back to Moses, they reported from their minds rather than their hearts and thus, spread a report that discouraged the people. Joshua and Caleb knew how to see with their hearts and report from their hearts which allowed them to not only see the blessing in the land, but also allowed them to see the Israelites in possession of the land. They said the land was just as God promised and encouraged the nation to go up and possess it.

There are several lessons here. First, don’t listen to the negative report. The Israelites could have possessed the land in that moment had they listened to Joshua and Caleb. Instead, they listened to the negative news. Man, turn off the negative news!!!!! It will kill you and it is daily robbing you of your promised land.

The bigger lesson though, is in putting yourself in the shoes of any one of the twelve. Who do you want to be? Are you a Nellie or a Pam? Which do you prefer to be? You do get to choose, you know? If you want to be a positive person, a person who can see and possess the promise of God, then you have to learn to see with your heart. I have an expression which I think is appropriate here. “The facts don’t count.” They really don’t. Look at the vision, the promise and ignore the obstacles. Jesus has taught us how to overcome obstacles. That’s really the easy part. The hard part is looking beyond the obstacles and seeing the land flowing with milk and honey. It is right here in front of us, you know? If you lift your eyes out of the everyday hum drum and look to the horizon with your heart, you will see the Promised Land. I promise.

What is your Promised Land? Is it healing in your body? A new car? How about paying off your mortgage? Maybe you want your child to get into a particular school or program. God has blessing upon blessing for you. Don’t look with your mind. Don’t let the facts get between you and the promise. Look with your heart at the promise of God and when you lift your eyes, you will see the land of promise. Whatever you believe in your heart, is what you will have.

I Spy . . .

Judges 6: 9

And I delivered you from the hands of the Egyptians and from the hands of all your oppressors, and dispossessed them before you and gave you their land.

You know the story of the Israelites. God freed them from Egyptian slavery and led them through the desert to the Promised Land. He was with them at all times. He routed their enemies and gave them the chosen land. And yet, most of the people who journeyed through the desert never entered the Promised Land. They died in the desert because of their unbelief. How tragic! God defeated the enemy. He led them, fed them and gave them water. He emptied the land for them and yet they failed to enter in.

Even as I lament those Israelites who stopped short of receiving the promise I am brought up short by the reality of present day faith. How many of us are failing to enter into the Promised Land? God has made us many promises. He has provided food and drink, dispossessed the land of our enemies, prepared a table before us and all we have to do is follow him obediently and faithfully. But so often we look at the land and see the giants instead of the promise. We look at the enemy or the desert and focus our full attention on those things when we should be filling our vision with the land which is flowing with milk and honey. 

Only two of the original twelve Israelite spies were able to move into the land God had given the Israelites (Numbers 14: 22 – 24). The others were too busy talking about the giants even though they admitted that the land was everything God promised. I read recently, “You become what you behold,” (Richards, Moving Your Invisible Boundaries, P. 141). Ten of those spies saw themselves as grasshoppers and so they were. Two of them saw the promise of God and that was all they needed. They believed God and applied their faith to what He said and they got the Promised Land.

God has driven out the enemy before us too. Jesus did that for us. We didn’t even have to use our faith for that. But now in order to receive all that Jesus has won for us we must believe with our hearts. Your heart is your faith center, not your brain. We can have everything God promised us but we must put our believers in gear. We have to decide that we are going to believe our Father and trust Him. If we will do that, we can have the Promised Land. I want that for us. Then all people will see how mighty is our God.

Your Divine Reputation

Deuteronomy 1: 34 – 36                            NIV

When the Lord heard what you said, he was angry and solemnly swore; “Not a man of this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your forefathers, except Caleb son of Jephunneh.  He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.”

God spoke audibly from heaven about Jesus saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased (Matthew 3: 16). We are told of David that he was a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13: 14) and we know that Enoch walked with God (Genesis 6: 24). You can think of other great heroes of the Bible and their remarkable tales. We see how these Biblical giants are remembered. Do you remember the woman who poured the costly perfume on Jesus? She was criticized for her act but Jesus said that as long as the gospel is preached she will be remembered (Matthew 26: 13). Of Caleb it was said that “he followed the Lord wholeheartedly.” The question is, how do we wish to be remembered?

Most of us want to please the Lord and we sometimes talk about what God will say of us when we meet Him face to face. Perhaps we do not individually have the faith of Abraham or the bravado of Peter. Maybe we are not great leaders as was Moses or as trusting as David but I believe we can all attain the reputation of Caleb, that we serve the Lord wholeheartedly.

It is hard in this modern society not to be divided in attention and loyalty but I suppose every generation has had that challenge. Somehow Caleb was able to fix his heart on God and follow Him with all his heart. He was allowed to go into the Promised Land when many, many others were not. Caleb chose to believe God and to follow Him in a time when it was not popular. He was, in fact, part of a small minority. He chose, though, who he would follow and didn’t let anything dissuade him, not even the giants that were living in the Promised Land.

We too can be Calebs in our generation. We can live to God and follow wherever He leads. Is it easy? No. If it was easy the other 83% of the Israelite spies would have articulated their trust in God and followed Him into the land of promise. But just because it isn’t easy does not mean it isn’t attainable. It is a decision. Are we going to believe the 6:00 news or the Word of God? Are we going to allow the appearance of things in the earth determine in whom we believe and what we believe? Truly, the facts don’t count. What counts is our decision about who we put our trust and belief in. That’s it. Caleb chose to believe God despite all kinds of obstacles that he could see in the landscape. He believed that God would overcome every obstacle. We too, then, can be spiritual giants. We must only decide. We can give our whole heart to God and follow Him relentlessly. Abandon all your worldly beliefs and fill your heart with God’s Word until it is overflowing. Then you too will follow God wholeheartedly and be a champion residing in the Promised Land.