First Things @ First

Pastoral Perspective,

One of the greatest hindrances to spiritual growth is simply a lack of determination. It is a character quality that few appear to prioritize in matters eternal. Most are too easily deterred in their spiritual growth because they're too easily distracted by their physical surroundings. While all believers experience times of refreshing where we take great strides toward spiritual maturity, most of the time, determination is simply being willing to take another step, even though the step may be small. It's seen in showing up consistently.

As with momentum, spiritual maturity ceases when you and I refuse to show up consistently in prayer, study and fellowship. Therefore, it is determination that's driven by devotion for God that directs and leads us forward in faith.

One of the best biblical examples of dogged determination comes from the life of Caleb. Numbers 14 records the opportunity disguised as an obstacle. (Maybe you're facing one of those this week) In that series of verses, Caleb is counted among those who are commissioned to bring back a report of all that God had promised concerning Canaan. It's interesting that this committee of 12 was never commissioned by God through Moses to decide if the command was possible or the challenge doable. They were charged with bringing a report that confirmed God's promise trustworthy. The 12 returned after a 40-day journey through the land of Canaan and reported that it was indeed all that God had promised BUT there was a problem, at least in the minds of the majority. The problem, as the majority saw it was the land was occupied by giants who dwelt in fortified cities. The majority became pre-occupied with the problem and lost sight of the promise. And life for the nation of Israel was about to take a long detour of discouragement and death.

How could that happen after all that God had provided?

Largely because of a lack of devotion and determination.

Israel, like many today lacked the resolve to trust God and move forward. They were out of Egypt but still operating under the influence of a slave mentality. They were out from under the burden but not yet out of bondage. That kind of freedom requires faith in the promise of God. So, Israel went backward into the wilderness and wasted away, except for the two in the minority who voted to go in--Caleb and Joshua.

Those who lack determination will always be in the majority.

Even more reason to thank God for the Caleb's in the crowd. Those, who with disciplined determination put their heart and soul into the work of God and move forward, even though they are and may well remain in the minority.

Fast forward some 38 years. The older generation, those who refused to follow the promise is dead and buried. A new generation is poised to assume the reins of leadership. And standing among them are two men who by now are 'the great grandpa' figures of the nation of Israel. Joshua and Caleb. Joshua 14:10-15 records the rest and best of the story. Caleb is given a choice and a chance to claim his promise from God. Now 85, Caleb reminds Joshua of the promise Moses had made him for his determination to follow God 45 years earlier. Caleb says with confidence; the Lord has kept me alive these 45 years and I am as strong today as I was then for war and for going out and coming in. Therefore, give me this mountain, where a stronghold of giants is entrenched. (The Anakim) The Lord will be with me and I will drive them out as the Lord said.

Now there's a model of devotion and determination to follow!

The Lord had provided the health and Caleb would honor God through it! At 85, Caleb is still moving forward with determination and seeing God's design for his life being fulfilled. Caleb's not looking for a path to coast on. He's seeking a mountain to climb and a challenge to conquer. Caleb demonstrated determination in living as more than a conqueror in the strength that God provided.

It's been said and it's worth repeating--"age has little to do with achievement and nothing to do with commitment."

Regardless of whether you're 18, 38, 58 or 98, what are you requesting of God that requires faith to begin and disciplined determination to finish? If nothing comes to mind, you're most likely on the fence or worse, wasting away in the wilderness of wantonness drying up a little every day as you march toward death.

Without disciplined determination, you and I will falter or fade before we finish. And God desires that we finish well the race set before us in His strength and supply.

How determined are you to live for Jesus even when living for Jesus means being in the minority?

Didn't matter to Caleb or Joshua, for that matter. Will it matter to you and me?

God's best in the challenges that are designed to change us for His glory!

Pstr k

Hebrews 10:35-36