Do It Alone

Judges 1:3
“And Judah said unto Simeon his brother, Come up with me into my lot, that we may fight against the Canaanites; and I likewise will go with thee into thy lot. So Simeon went with him.”

Joshua was dead, the children of Israel had conquered enough cities for them to have their own land, but much land still needed to be conquered. When God told Judah to go up against the Canaanites, Judah didn’t want to go alone, so they asked Simeon to go with them. This became the pattern for many years, but it also was the beginning of their backsliding ways.

What is interesting about this story is that Judah didn’t have enough faith in God’s power to do it alone. The only way Judah felt comfortable going up against the Canaanites was if they had someone else to go with them. This lack of faith is what led to their idolatrous ways because their faith was not in God, but their faith was in the power of a crowd.

I see this same mentality affecting our churches and younger generation today. When I was a boy, missionaries didn’t have teams they would travel with to go to the mission field, but all they had was God, and that was good enough for God to build great works overseas. Likewise, instead of a man going alone to pastor a church, today teams are going to start churches because the man doesn’t have enough faith in God to do it alone. Is there anything wrong with a team going to do the LORD’s work? In and of itself, no; however, when God tells an individual to do something, that individual needs to have enough faith in God to do the work He has called them to do.

The fallacy of this mentality is that we are creating an idolatrous mindset. The Book of Judges is filled with stories of Israel serving other gods. Where did this start? It started when they asked other tribes to go with them to battle instead of obeying God to do it alone. Though the influence of a team sounds powerful, where is the faith? If you are depending on the size of a team to help you build a work, you are placing your eyes on man and not God. Anything that lessens your faith or causes you to take your eyes just a bit away from God is wrong. God expects and blesses total faith in Him.

My question is, where is the pioneering spirit of Christians who believe that they and God together make a majority? When I stepped out in evangelism, I didn’t have a team to go with me to make my ministry more powerful. All I had was a faith that God had called me, and God and I have been at this for nearly three decades. I don’t believe God would have blessed my ministry this much if I had to trust in a team to make my ministry successful.

I think of my father-in-law, Missionary Steve Heidenreich, who went to the Philippines alone to start the work God called him to do. When others told him not to go because of the unrest in the country, he felt that God and he alone could do it. It was that faith that God used to build a thriving work through him in the Philippines.

My friend, don’t fall into the trap of needing a team to do God’s work. If God calls you to do something, you need to have the faith that He is all you need to be successful. It is when you step out alone on what God commands you to do that brings Him glory. Be careful that you don’t let the size of a crowd replace your faith in God.

Stop Running

Joshua 20:3
“That the slayer that killeth any person unawares and unwittingly may flee thither: and they shall be your refuge from the avenger of blood.”

When God established Israel’s infrastructure, He commanded Joshua that cities of refuge be established for the person who kills “any person unawares and unwittingly.” This city was their refuge from the “avenger of blood.” It was the place where they could go and get a just trial to show their innocence from intentionally killing an individual.

The key I want you to notice from this verse and about the person who killed someone is that they fled. This verse says about the killer that they “may flee thither.” You see, if this person weren’t guilty of anything, they would not have to flee. The whole reason they fled is because they were guilty of killing a person. The point of this devotional is that it doesn’t matter that they unwittingly killed someone, it is the fact that their guilt is what caused them to flee.

Proverbs 28:1 says, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” A person has nothing to run from if they are not guilty. Yet, there are many times people run when they know that they are guilty of doing something wrong. If your conscience is clear, you will be as “bold as a lion.” You have nothing to fear when you are innocent; however, a person’s guilt is what causes them to flee. Let me pose several questions to you.

If you are right, why do you flee from authority? People who know they are wrong will avoid the authorities in their lives. When you avoid authorities, you are revealing your guilt. If you’re right, you have nothing to fear with authorities because your conscience is clear. If what you say you are doing is right, why do you avoid those authorities who could help you do what you say you are supposed to do. The only reason a person avoids their pastor is because they are hiding something from him. The only reason a person avoids authorities is because they know they are wrong.

If you are right, why are you running from a church that preaches the truth? For many years, I have heard the excuses as to why people are leaving a church, but I have always found that the excuse is only a diversion of the real cause that they left. Most people don’t leave churches because a church is compromising, though there are times when they do, most people leave churches because they have a spiritual issue that they don’t want others to discover.

If you are right, why are you running from your loved ones? I’m always amazed how young people try to hide relationships from their parents. My friend, if your relationship with someone is right, you won’t have to continue that relationship in secrecy. If that relationship is right, you should want your family to know about it.

Christian, stop running and come clean. There is no reason to run if you are right. Running from those who disagree with you never makes a situation better; it only makes the situation worse. What you must realize is that God sees what you are doing, and running from those who represent Him in your life doesn’t hide it from Him. The answer to a clear conscience is to stop running and get right. Always remember that the person you are running from is not who you answer to, but you answer to God. If you get right with God, you won’t have to run.

No Day Like This Day

Joshua 10:14
“And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.”

The day in the verse above was an amazing day. Joshua and Israel were in pursuit of the five kings of the Amorites. As the day progressed, they had not captured all of the kings, but the battle was going well for God’s people. As the day began to come to an end, Joshua realized the need for more time to fight this battle. Realizing this need, he asked God to cause the sun to stand still until they won the battle. So the sun stood still at Joshua’s request, and Israel won a great battle.

The verse above said about that day, “And there was no day like that before it or after it…” This was a day like no other day because the LORD hearkened unto the voice of man; however, this day doesn’t have to be the only unique day. You can have a day like no other day if you will do the same thing that Joshua did. Let me show you what Joshua did to make that day like no other day.

First, he obeyed God. Sin can make your day like no other day, but the results won’t be as enjoyable as if you obeyed God. Obeying God is one of the most satisfying things you will do every day. To know that you have obeyed the One Who gave you that day will make that day like no other day. You have a choice to make today like no other day, but you must first start by obeying God.

Second, he made that day like no other day by trying to accomplish something. Every day can be a good day if you try to accomplish something. Accomplishment makes every day unique because each accomplishment brings a different quality to your day. You can make your days mundane by filling them with busyness, or you can make your days like no other day by accomplishing something.

Third, he made that day like no other day by doing something bigger than himself. The best way to make your day like no other day is to attempt something by faith that requires you to trust in the LORD. When you step out by faith to accomplish something greater than yourself and your faith has been placed in the LORD, you will find that the LORD will fight for you as He did for Joshua. Any day with the LORD will make that day like no other day. Lamentations 3:22-23 reminds us, “It is of the LORD’S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning…” The LORD can certainly make your day like no other day if you will trust Him by attempting something greater than yourself.

Fourth, he made that day like no other day by praying. The reason the LORD “hearkened unto the voice of a man” is because Joshua prayed. My friend, the only way today can be like no other day is by spending time with the LORD. Prayer changes things! Prayer is what turns the mundane into the miraculous. Prayer is what summons Heaven to action. Prayer is what activates the power of God in your life. Christian, you can make every day like no other day if you will start your day with prayer. Don’t embark upon the journey of each day without first spending time with the LORD.

Are you going to make today like no other day? Each day can be an exciting and unique day if you will make these four things a part of each day.

Multi-Generational God

Joshua 1:5
“There shall not any man be able to stand before thee all the days of thy life: as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.”

One of the most daunting tasks that you will read about in the Scriptures is when Joshua took the reins of leadership after Moses died. This not only had to be an intimidating task, but it was a great responsibility to carry on what the LORD had used Moses to do. Though Moses had prepared Joshua, and though he had been with Israel throughout their journeys in the wilderness, the weight of leadership fell squarely on his shoulders once Moses died.

The first thing that God reminded Joshua to encourage him was that He is a multi-generational God. God said, “…as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” As a new leader filling the position of a man whom God used greatly, this had to be one of the most comforting words to hear. God wanted Joshua to understand that though Moses had died, He was still alive. Every Christian should consider several thoughts from these words.

First, it is not a man thing; it is a God thing. It wasn’t Moses who delivered Israel through the wilderness, but it was God Who delivered them. It is very easy to get your eyes on man so much that you feel that God could never use you. My friend, man is only the tool God uses to accomplish His great works. Though a man may be a part of those great works, never mistake the man for what God did. The same God Who worked through Moses and men of God from the past can still work through you today if you will yield yourself to Him as they did.

Second, the God of yesteryear is still God today. God didn’t die when those He used in the past were taken to Heaven. Christian, the same God Who used some of the heroes of the faith wants to use you. God is a multi-generational God Who has the same power today that He used through those in the past. I remember reading stories as a boy about God providing the needs for George Müller in his orphanage, and as I read about God’s providing hand it made me wonder if God could do the same for me. That wonder I had as a boy has been turned into experience as an adult because I have seen God come through time and time again. My friend, don’t squelch the power of God by thinking that His works were for a previous generation. The God Who built great churches in previous generations can still build a great works today. The God Who answered miraculous prayers for those in the past can answer your great need today. The God Who came through for mom and dad is still able to come through for you today. God’s presence and power are as relevant today as it was in yesteryear.

Third, don’t allow the daunting needs and tasks to take your attention away from your multi-generational God. If Joshua had focused on all that he had to do and all that needed to happen, he could have easily given up. Stop walking around with the weight of your needs and remember 1 Peter 5:7 which says, “Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” Your need may be great, but God is greater. You know God came through in the past, but let me remind you, “…as I was with Moses, so I will be with thee: I will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.” It’s time to stop worrying and get back to your normal self and realize that God will come through for you as He did for those in the past. Your God is alive and well today and is ready to meet your needs if you will simply ask and trust Him.

Service with a Smile

Deuteronomy 28:47
“Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things;”

Have you ever been to a restaurant where the service was great but the attitude of the servers was terrible? There is something about a good attitude that makes the atmosphere and the food of the restaurant better. The smile of the waitress and the service can make or break the decision of a customer’s return.

Several years ago, my wife and I stopped to eat at a Waffle House. We both had never eaten at there, and the thought of having a good waffle seemed to get the juices of our palettes going. We entered the restaurant, and only two people were there to care for our order. The waitress was obviously having a bad day, and the cook was helping her bad day to get worse. By the time we left, the attitude of the servers had left such a bad impression on our minds that every time we see a Waffle House, we both go back to that unpleasant visit.  Though it is not fair to the Waffle House franchise, the attitude of the servers left a bad taste so much that we have never gone back.

Sadly, I’m afraid many Christians have given the bad taste to others with their attitude. The verse above says, “Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart…” God’s judgment upon His people was in part due to their spirit of service. God is making it clear that He not only wants service, but He wants service with “joyfulness, and with gladness of heart.” Your disposition matters to God, and it matters to those you influence.

Christian, you don’t have to have a bad attitude to be right with God. It is sad that in many churches, you will never see the people smile or enjoy their Christianity. Their service to the LORD is done out of complete obligation and not with “joyfulness” or “gladness of heart.” Your spirit, while you serve, does influence others. Remember how the Queen of Sheba was overwhelmed because of how Solomon’s servants joyfully did their jobs? If their attitude and spirit affected the Queen of Sheba, how much more does your spirit and attitude affect those you are around?

Attitude is a choice! The whole reason anyone has a bad attitude about serving the LORD is answered in the verse above. It says, “…for the abundance of all things;” The reason people get a bad attitude is because they are wrapped up in possessions instead of being focused on their greatest possession. The greatest possession you have is a relationship with Jesus Christ. The fact that you are saved and on your way to Heaven should be enough to give you a good attitude. This should stir you to have a glad heart every day. The fact that you can never lose your salvation should cause you to have a heart filled with joy. It all comes down to your choice of whether you are going to focus on things and circumstances, or on the fact that your sins are forgiven.

Let me ask you, is your spirit one of joyfulness and gladness of heart? Do you serve the LORD with a smile? You will influence more people to want what you have if you have a smile on your face while you are serving the LORD. People want to be happy, and they will notice your smile and wonder why you are so happy. Certainly, you must still talk about the LORD, but talking about the LORD with a smile on your face will help you to influence others to want what you have while you talk about the LORD.

The Influence of a Wife

Deuteronomy 17:17
“Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.”

One of the common messages directed towards wives is for them to submit to their husband. Of course, this is not always taken with a good attitude, especially in a world that preaches that women have a right to do with their bodies what they want to do. However, there is a bigger reason that God gave this command.

The verse above says, “Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away…” The reason God didn’t want a king to have several wives is so that they would not turn his heart away from God. God knew that a wife has more influence over her husband than many like to discuss. We often hear ladies say after they hear their husband proclaims that he’s the head of the house, “I’m the head that turns the neck.” This is more than just a cliché. The wife has the power to turn her husband’s heart towards God or away from Him. There are three observations I would like for you to consider concerning this truth.

First, respect your power. Anyone who has ever worked with electricity often tells others that electrical power won’t hurt you as long as you respect it. Likewise, the power a wife has over her husband won’t hurt the marriage as long as she learns to respect it. Ladies, you know that you can influence your husband one way or the other, and that is why you need to respect the power you have and use it wisely. Don’t use it to get your own way, but use it to influence your husband to do right.

Second, don’t abuse your power. Many ladies have turned the heart of their husband away from God because they abused their power. A husband wants to be strong for his wife, but there comes a point when he gets tired of constantly fighting his wife, and he will begin to withdraw himself from her if she continues to abuse her power. Many ladies have lost the husband they loved because they abused their power and didn’t allow him to be the husband God meant for him to be. Most men will try to lead in the home, but if his wife constantly complains or gives him an attitude every time he makes a decision, she may drive him to the point where he stops leading. You may think that is what you want, but you will lose the man you married, and he will give his attention to some other place or some other woman. It may not be right for him to do this, but he will get tired of fighting and fulfilling his responsibility. Ladies, you have to understand that the husband wants to please you, and if you abuse your power by fighting against him when he makes a decision, he will eventually quit making those decisions.

Third, use your power to influence to do right. Ladies, let me challenge you to encourage your husband to do right. When he makes the right decisions, let him know that you appreciate his desire to do right. You would be surprised how your power to praise him when he does right will cause him to want to please God and you more.

Ladies, you carry tremendous influence in the home. Be careful to use your influence to turn the home towards God. God’s order of the home is right, and we always regret it when we use our power to get out of God’s order. Using the influence you have properly will bring peace and joy to the home.

Teaching the Next Generation

Deuteronomy 11:19
“And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”

When God gives a child to a couple, they acquire a duty to teach them in the ways of the LORD. One of the greatest mindsets that a parent must acquire if they are going to turn their children out for the LORD is that the child does not belong to them, but the child belongs to God. When a parent acquires this mindset, the verse above won’t be difficult to apply. Deuteronomy 11:18-20 shows five things a parent must do in teaching the next generation for the LORD.

First, a parent must take responsibility. The verse above says, “And ye shall teach…” You will never train children to serve the LORD until you realize it is your responsibility to do this. It is not the pastor’s or youth pastor’s responsibility to train your child, but it is yours. Certainly, the authorities you allow in your child’s life can help in training, but it is ultimately your responsibility to train your child. You will never turn your child out for the LORD until you take full responsibility for training them.

Second, it takes an example to train the next generation for the LORD. Verse 18 says, “Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.” Don’t expect your children to do what you teach if you are not being an example. Teaching always starts with an example. If there is no example, teaching is just a noise or a form of entertainment. If you want your children to do right, be sure that you are doing right.

Third, it takes information to train the next generation. The verse above commands the parent to “teach them.” Many children never turn out for the LORD because their parents never taught them what was right. Yes, children heard the commands given, but they were never taught why they were to obey those commands. There must come a time when you teach your children from the Scriptures why you live the way you do and do the things you do. Parent, take the time to show your children what you believe from the Scriptures; this will go a long ways into turning them out for the LORD.

Fourth, it takes repetition to train the next generation. If you look at how many times you are to train your children the truth, you will see that God is enforcing the importance of repetition. Don’t let the Devil deceive you into not being repetitious about teaching your children. They may have heard you say something a hundred times, but you must keep on saying it because that is how it is engraved into their hearts.

Fifth, it takes proclamation to train the next generation. Verse 20 says, “And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:” The best way to keep your children walking in the ways of the LORD is to proclaim to everyone that you are Christian. Proclaiming who you belong to will help to keep the bad crowd away from you. Like Joshua, proclaim that you and your family will serve the LORD.

My friend, these five things are paramount to training the next generation for the LORD. I challenge you to follow the LORD’s advice and see how it influences your children for right.

There Is No Better Way

Deuteronomy 1:33
“Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day.”

An interesting statement is made about God’s guidance of Israel in the verse above. It says that God went before Israel to search out a place “to shew you by what ye should go.” In other words, God wasn’t taking them to a place He had no idea about, but He was taking them to a place that He knew everything about. He knew everything about where He was taking them because He had already been there.

This should encourage every Christian about how much God cares for them. God promises to guide you through life, but oftentimes we think the way that He is guiding us is not the best way. When you take the verse above into consideration, there are four things that should help you to trust God.

First, God cares for you. God wouldn’t go “before you” if He didn’t care for you. The reason He goes before you is so that He can show you what way you should go. What a caring God! God cares enough about you to take the time to be sure that what way He is guiding you is best for you. He is not leading you in a way that is best for someone else, but He is leading you in a way that is best for you. You are going to have to trust God that He cares enough for you to go “before you.”

Second, God has already been where you are going. God goes before you to be sure that where He is going to take you is the best way for you to go. This means that He knows what your future holds. You may be unsure about your future, but God is not unsure because He has already been there. What you consider the present is past tense to God. There is no reason to doubt God because He knew what you would face before you ever faced it. Don’t doubt God, but trust Him because He has already been where you are going.

Third, God knows your next step. Because God has already been where you are going, He knows what step you should take next. This is why you should “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6) You may not know the next step you should take, but God does. He knows the next step because He has already been there. When life has put a blindfold on your future, you must trust the guiding hand of God as He leads you to the next step. I can promise you on the authority of God’s Word that He will never lead you to a place that is not best for you.

Fourth, God knows what is best. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” God knows what is best because He has searched out “what way ye should go.” The verse above didn’t say that He searched out a way He thinks you should go, but a way “ye should go.” You can be assured that if God is leading you that it is the right way and the best way.

Christian, it doesn’t matter what life has dealt your way because He has already been where you are. Don’t doubt Him. Trust God and His guiding hand and you will discover that where He led you was the best way for you.

A Divinely Planned Journey

Numbers 33:1
“These are the journeys of the children of Israel, which went forth out of the land of Egypt with their armies under the hand of Moses and Aaron.”

I was reading the journeyings of the children of Israel, when the Holy Spirit reminded me of an important truth. I was reminded of Exodus 13:21-22 which says, “And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”

What is so important to remember about these verses in Exodus is that everywhere Israel’s journeys were recorded in Numbers, it was God Who led them there. In other words, when they went to the bitter waters of Marah, God was still there, and He led them there. When they came to the wilderness of Sin where they had no food to eat, it was God Who led them there, and He was still with them. When they came to Horeb, a place where there was no water, God led them there, and He was still with them. Every place Israel went, whether times were good or bad, God was the One Who led them there, and He never forsook them.

Christian, you are going to have to realize that God divinely plans your journeys in life. Just like God led Israel to each of these places, God has already planned your life. You are going to have to trust the providence and omniscience of an almighty God that He knows what He is doing in your life. You may not understand the place of life where He has brought you, but He has divinely planned this in the journeys of your life.

Moreover, every place God leads won’t always be pleasant. Yes, we want the “twelve fountains of water, and threescore and ten palm trees” of Elim, but He won’t always lead you to those places. There are going to be times when He leads you to the bitter waters of Marah or the dry times of Horeb, but if He leads you there, you are being led by the hand of God. My friend, God’s divinely planned journeys of your life won’t always be pleasant, but that doesn’t mean that God hasn’t planned it.

Furthermore, God is still with you when you reach those unpleasant parts of your journeys. The pillars of cloud and fire didn’t leave when they came to Marah or Horeb, which means God was still guiding them, and He was still with them. If God led you to those unpleasant times of life, let me assure you that He is still with you. God promises in Hebrews 13:5, “…I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” God’s Word has not changed, nor has His presence left you because you are in the unpleasant part of your journey. The God Who was with you when you were in Elim is still with you when you come to your Marah.

Let me encourage you not to despair when you are in the Marah or Horeb of your life. Realize that God has divinely planned your journey, and He has a purpose for those dry and bitter times of life. You may not enjoy those times, but you can always be assured that God has planned them. If God planned them and guided you to them, He will take you through them and make you a better person. Let me encourage you to keep going; Marah and Horeb will turn into a blessing if you keep trusting the LORD.

A Never-failing Leadership Style

Numbers 27:17
“Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them, and which may lead them out, and which may bring them in; that the congregation of the LORD be not as sheep which have no shepherd.”

The verse above is the first verse of Moses’ response to God telling him that he was about ready to take him to Heaven. Moses was like any leader who had invested his life in people; he wanted to be sure that there was someone who led the people after he was gone. It wasn’t that Moses doubted God’s ability to give them a leader, it was just that he loved those people and wanted to be sure they had someone to lead them down the right path.

In the verse above, you will discover the never-failing leadership style of Moses that he wanted to find in the next man who would lead Israel into the Promised Land. Moses’ leadership style will work with any leader if they are willing to be humble enough to follow this method. There are three attributes to the never-failing leadership style.

First, never-failing leadership will be among the people. Moses said, “Which may go out before them, and which may go in before them…” The CEO leadership style among Christian leaders today seems to be a style that is out-of-touch with those they lead. When you look at Jesus, He didn’t hibernate in an office and only had contact with those He led during counseling sessions; rather, He was always found among the people, and that is what allowed Him to be able to help. The never-failing leader often finds himself among those they lead. It is while you are with them that you learn their needs and give them the example of how to live for Christ. Every leader must be careful that they don’t let their office become that palace where the subservient peasants come to get their lofty advice. Instead, find yourself among those you lead so that you can meet their needs.

Second, never-failing leadership will be in front of the people. The verse above says, “…which may lead them out, and which may bring them in…” The best leader is the leader who leads by example. Those you lead need to see that you are doing what you tell them to do. If all you do is bark orders to those you lead, you are nothing more than a lord. Never-failing leaders show their followers what to do; their leadership style is an example. They don’t just tell them to be a soul winner; they take them soul winning with them. They don’t just tell them to pray; they spend time praying with them. The never-failing leader realizes that their life is the greatest example and motivator to show their followers how to do right.

Third, never-failing leadership will be on top of the people. In other words, the never-failing leader walks with God. What will make you a never-failing leader is spending time with God getting to know His mind of how you should lead those whom He has given you to lead. You will fail as a leader if you don’t have a personal time with God. Moses wasn’t the great leader because of his own talent; he was the great leader because he walked with God and got the His mind. Never-failing leadership doesn’t try to get the people to get their mind, but they take the mind of God and give it to those they lead. You will fail as a leader if you fail to walk with God.

Do you have a never-failing leadership style? These three attributes applied by any leader will help you never to fail in directing those you lead to follow the LORD; that is what makes a never-failing leader.