March 10, 2005

Encouragement for Today

Believing False Scouting Reports

Glynnis Whitwer, Senior Editor P31 Woman, Speaker for Proverbs 31 Ministries, editor@proverbs31.org

Key Verse:

"Then Caleb silenced the people before Moses and said, "We should go up and take possession of the land, for we can certainly do it." Numbers 13:30 (NIV)

Devotion:

Every year I dread making the call. It takes six months to get an appointment, so I put a reminder note on my July calendar to set up something in January. Once the appointment's set, I dread opening my new calendar because I know I'll see the date clearly written.

My annual well-woman check up makes me nervous every year. I know I shouldn't worry like I do, but each year I struggle with fear. My uncontrolled mind thinks of every possible thing that could go wrong, every disease that could be uncovered. I've even thought that perhaps I shouldn't make any plans just in case they find something.

I've dealt with this fear head on, because I know it isn't pleasing to the Lord. I believe God wants me to trust Him, and know that whatever I'm facing, if He brings me to it, He will bring me through it. Unfortunately, I know my fear is one chink in my spiritual armor that Satan knows about (of course) and uses against me in certain areas of my life.

One way I've dealt with fear is to see it for what it is: False Evidence Appearing Real. Satan would like for my fear to appear very real and for God to appear far away, watching my life soar out of control. But that's just not the truth.

The Israelites chose to believe false evidence over faith. In the Old Testament book of Numbers, the Israelites were on the brink of entering the land promised to them by God. However, there were people already living in this land who would have to be conquered before the Israelites could move in. So, the Lord told Moses to send out a scouting party of 12 spies. These men were to explore the land and the people who lived in it, and bring back reports.

Forty days later, the 12 spies returned with tales of a fruitful land, flowing with milk and honey just like God promised. The only problem - according to 10 of the spies - was that giants, who were too big and powerful to conquer, also inhabited the land.

The 10 fearful spies spread their false reports throughout the people until "all the people raised their voices and wept aloud" (Numbers 14:1). The Israelites, in spite of all God's faithfulness in the past, thought that God had brought them to this place and would now let them die. In fact, they discussed going back to slavery to avoid this "sure" death.

In the midst of the fear and madness, two of the spies (Joshua and Caleb) stood on faith. They had seen the same land and the same people, but they chose to believe that if God said the land was theirs, then it didn't matter how big or how powerful the inhabitants were.

Joshua and Caleb stood bravely in front of the entire Israelite assembly and said, "If the Lord is pleased with us, He will lead us into that land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and will give it to us. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not be afraid of the people of the land, because we will swallow them up. Their protection is gone, but the Lord is with us. Do not be afraid of them."

Today, what false reports do you believe? Have you allowed your fear of the unknown to affect your faith? Satan wants you to believe the exaggerated reports that are bouncing around your mind. He wants you to believe that God has abandoned you to suffer. But God wants you to trust Him and have faith. No matter what "giants" you are facing, the Lord is with you, and He's got a plan. And in the words of Joshua and Caleb, "Do not be afraid of them."

My prayer for today:

Heavenly Father, I praise You that You are bigger than anything I'm facing today. There is nothing out of Your control or knowledge. I ask You to forgive me for those times I've doubted You and allowed fear to reign in my heart. Please help me have the faith of Caleb and Joshua and to see false reports for what they are. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Application steps:

Identify a fear that you have exaggerated. Acknowledge your fear before the Lord.

Commit to living in the present and trusting God with your future.

Reflection points:

Write down a list of your fears about the future. Identify those that seem like "giants."

Read Numbers chapter 14. Describe God's attitude towards those who believed the false reports.

Why would God react so strongly towards their lack of faith?

What does God want us to do in the face of "giants" that seem overwhelming?

List some of the attributes of God to remind yourself of how powerful our God is. (unchanging, all-knowing, etc.)

Power verses:

"'Because he (she) loves Me,' says the Lord, 'I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges My name.'" Psalm 91:14 (NIV)

"Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff they comfort me." Psalm 23:4 (NIV)

"Praise be to the LORD, for He has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song." Psalm 28: 6-7(NIV)

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 (NIV)

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the LORD , 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

Additional resources:

P31 Woman Magazine by Proverbs 31 Ministries

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/newsletter.html

Who Holds the Key to Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/key.html

Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes

http://www.gospelcom.net/p31/resources/womanlistens.html