SOAP Journal – 19 June 2017 (Joshua 2:10)

For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed.

Joshua 2:10

Joshua sent two spies in to get intelligence on the lay of the land: strong points, weak points, that sort of thing. He told them to pay particular attention to Jericho, which makes sense, as it is the first city that the Israelites will conquer in the Promised Land. The spies go in, but are somehow revealed. They shelter in the home of a prostitute named Rahab. She tells the city leadership that the spies came to her house, but had already gone by the time the gates were being shut for the night. Meanwhile, the spies were hiding on her roof under stacks of stuff. This morning’s verse is part of her response to the spies before she helps them escape.

The denizens of Jericho had heard of what the LORD had done. They heard of the Red Sea opening up and the Israelites crossing on dry ground. They heard of Og and Sihon, two kings across the Jordan River from them who were neither kings nor even living at the time of the spies going through the land. The people of Jericho had heard, which means that the stories had gotten around. People were talking about what God had done for and through the Israelites.

The question for me is whether or not I am telling others what God has done for me. His fame spreads by word of mouth. I tell someone about something awesome God has done for me and they, in turn, relate the story to others. And God’s Fame grows. And His fame should grow. He has done great things for me and in me.

I was once a tremendously angry person and now that anger — while still an emotion that I feel intensely — is under pretty tight rein, by God’s doing. I did not meditate or follow any other sort of practice to gain control of my anger, I prayed and God gave me control of my anger. It was not an overnight hand-off, either, but a lengthy process of learning to surrender my anger to God’s control and to gain control of it by ceding control of it to Him. And it is things like that which increase God’s fame. The rage of a violently angry person brought to heel (me). The immediate and complete abstinence from alcohol on the part of a former alcoholic (one I know).

Am I sharing these stories (and others like them) with others? If yes, then I am taking part in increasing God’s fame and giving people a correct view of His power. If no, then I am robbing God of glory that is rightfully His and robbing other people of a right view of God’s might.

Father, thank You for showing Yourself mighty on behalf of those who love You. Please give me a mouth that is ready to praise You to anyone and everyone; to increase Your fame by nothing more than telling the truth about how You have impacted my life for the best.

SOAP Journal – 15 March 2017 (Numbers 13:30-31)

Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.”

Numbers 13:30-31

In Numbers 13, God tells Moses to send in spies to examine the Promised Land before the Israelites go in and take possession of it. Twelve spies are sent in. One report of facts comes back, but two different interpretations of the facts are put forward.

In verse 30, Caleb gives one interpretation of the facts. He considers everything he has seen — a land flowing with milk and honey, fortified cities, strong people, and giants living in the land — and speaks from the position of faith. His interpretation of the facts is: We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we will surely overcome it. He saw the same giants and strong people and fortified cities as the other ten spies. He also saw God wipe out the Egyptian army in the sea. He looked at his God and his problem and his God won out. No contest.

In verse 31, the other spies give their account. They saw the same things that Caleb saw and spoke from a position of fear. Their understanding of the facts is: We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us. These individuals had seen God wipe out the Egyptians in the sea; had seen all the firstborn in Egypt die in a single night; had seen God to mighty things on their behalf. What they had seen was not enough to inspire them to trust God. They looked at their problem and their God and their problem won out.

It has been said that the man who says he will succeed and the man who says he will not succeed are both right. The same held true for Caleb and the other spies. What Caleb said was true: we will surely overcome it. What the other spies said was also true: they are too strong for us. Forty years after this event, Caleb will be among those who enter into the land he said they would surely overcome and they not only overcome it, but Caleb goes in and puts a beat down on giants in the hill country at the tender age of 80. Caleb is right. He will overcome. His faith carries his day.

The other spies had been defeated by the people in the Promised Land before they had even lifted a finger to fight. Their fear carried the day.

These are two of the most powerful responses I can have to any situation: faith and fear. I can look at what is before me and remember Who is before me and trust in Him and His love for me and His power. Or I can look at what is before me and fear it. I confess, there are things in my life right now that inspire fear. Despite that fear, my God is in those things and He has never done anything but good for me.

Let me respond to the frightening thing before me in faith; with trust in the God Who loves me and wants to conform me to the image of His Son.

Father, thank You for Your love and that You are already in every moment of my future from now until my last breath this side of Heaven and beyond. Thank You for having brought me safe thus far — as the hymn goes — and that You have promised to see me Home. Please increase me feeble trust until I can say with Caleb that I will surely overcome the giants and fortified cities and strong men of war in my spiritual life.