James 1:5-7 If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. 6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. 7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
Would it do truth an injustice if I were to replace the word “wisdom” with “courage” in the above? I don’t think so. So I will restate this for the purpose of this provocation: “If any of you lack courage, let him ask of God…but let him ask in faith, nothing wavering.”
The story of Israel’s disregard for God’s word and faithfulness in Numbers 13-14 is a powerful illustration given to us for our learning. I will bring only a few details to your attention today.
Israel had been brought to the land of promise by the Lord. Through every part of their journey He had proven Himself faithful and able to keep and protect His chosen people. Yet when they came to the time to enter and possess the land He had promised them, they wavered. Judging things according to the appearance, i.e., what their eyes could see and their natural reasoning could comprehend, they chose to trust the opinions of men (the 10 unfaithful spies) rather than God.
The spies who had been sent to investigate the land returned after 40 days with actual samples of “the fruit” of the land that they had gathered, proof of God’s truthfulness regarding the blessing the land held for them. Yet, 10 of the spies set this evidence aside and gave their conclusion to the people.
Numbers 13:28-29, 31a-33 [Though the promised blessings are real,] Nevertheless the people be strong that dwell in the land, and the cities are walled, and very great: and moreover we saw the children of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites dwell in the land of the south: and the Hittites, and the Jebusites, and the Amorites, dwell in the mountains: and the Canaanites dwell by the sea, and by the coast of Jordan…We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we. And they brought up an evil report of the land which they had searched unto the children of Israel, saying, The land, through which we have gone to search it, is a land that eateth up the inhabitants thereof; and all the people that we saw in it are men of a great stature. And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.
While Caleb and Joshua tried to quiet the people and encourage them with the Lord’s faithfulness and love for them, the fear of the faithless people could not be overcome. They chose to believe the evil report of the 10 spies rather than these faithful men of God.
Numbers 14:1-2 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. 2 And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!
Caleb and Joshua once more tried to encourage their brethren. They had seen the same “giants” as the other spies. But they believed in the faithfulness of God. They realized that there would be battles ahead, but they knew that God would fight for and with them, and that He would be faithful to His promise to give them the land.
Numbers 14:6-9 And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes: 7 And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. 8 If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. 9 Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.
Their brethren’s response to their loving exhortation:
Numbers 14:10a But all the congregation bade stone them with stones.
Fear does not appreciate the truth. Fear begets sin.
This was the “last straw” as it were. God had heard their “request,” and determined that, since they would not trust Him and His grace, He would grant them their “desire.” They would die in the wilderness without ever experiencing the blessings of the promised land.
Are you facing “giants” today? Health? Finances? Personal loss? Relationships? What are you doing about them? Are you coming to God and asking Him for the direction and courage necessary to defeat them, or are you, without realizing it, praying for “faith” to continue to live in fear? In other words, instead of trusting in Him and His grace to bring you through your troubles to a victorious deliverance according to His will, are you praying for the “faith” to be “content” living with trouble, for the “strength” to live peaceably with your “giants?”
There are certainly times and circumstances in our lives when the Lord is glorified by our being content in accepting our lot in life. In such times, as Paul instructs us, the perfection of His strength is made fully manifest in our “perfect” weakness. However, there are also times when God places us squarely in the face of trouble to test our faith in His power and strength which give Him opportunity to show Himself strong on our behalf. It is at these times that our trusting in Him for deliverance brings Him great glory.
At some point in our life, each of us will come to our own “Red Sea” experience. With the sea before us, mountains around us, and the enemy pursuing us from behind, it will seem that we have no good options, that there is “no way” to escape. It is at these times that we must remember that
1 Corinthians 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
“But what if God’s way requires me to fight something ‘bigger’ than I. I might get hurt in the battle?” If you fight for your own glory and benefit, there will without doubt be loss. But if you fight as you are to live, for God’s glory, there will be no loss, only gain.
At such times you are to exercise faith, seek and submit to God’s will and way, and allow God to glorify Himself in your deliverance by whatever means He deems best. His way may seem strange to you, as Israel’s marching around Jericho must have seemed strange to them. It may, in fact, provoke great fear in you, seem to demand “too much” of you, as fighting the giants of the promised land brought fear to Israel in this account. But it is at these times when you must remember that God’s way is always the right way. He is Faithful and True. If you will allow Him, He will fight your battles, and
Romans 8:31b If God be for us, who can be against us?
So, again, regarding your present trial, are you asking for God’s will? If so, are you asking “in faith, nothing wavering,” or are you asking in fear, hoping that you won’t have to face what seems to you to lie ahead? In other words, are you really praying that His will be yours?
Answer these questions honestly because the nature of your prayer is the measure of whether you are willing to truly trust God and His promises, or are determined to trust your own eyes, i.e., your own understanding, as Israel did when she believed the evil report of the 10 spies? Remember this:
Proverbs 14:12 There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death. (repeated in Proverbs 16:25)
Regardless of your circumstances, if you ask for God’s will and strength “in faith, without wavering” the Lord will provide for your needs “liberally,” whatever they may be.
Isaiah 59:1 Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear:
Jeremiah 32:27 Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?
But if you ask “wavering,” in fear, thereby evidencing your refusal to accept God’s way and truly trust Him by willingly traveling the path He may determine to be best for you, don’t expect that you “shall receive any thing of the Lord.” These are His words, not mine. Very simply, God honors faith but rejects fear.
Hebrews 10:38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.
Walk in faith. Rest in hope. Rejoice in tribulation. Glorify your Lord in all things.
Ephesians 3:20-21 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
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