Thursday, May 3, 2012

What Time is It?

"And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the LORD will command concerning you." ~Numbers 9:8 
 Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed. At the commandment of the LORD they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the LORD they journeyed: they kept the charge of the LORD, at the commandment of the LORD by the hand of Moses." ~Numbers 9:22-23

This morning while reading in Numbers about how God led and directed the children of Israel, I began thinking about how this applies to our lifes today... I believe there is much to be learned from this passage about God's leading and protection in our lives.

Numbers 9:8 is Moses' response to a sincere inquiry from men who were trying to do the right thing but were meeting opposition. These men didn't try to "get around the system" on their own or just say "forget it" and bluntly disobey God. Instead they talked to the man of God and sought His counsel. The first thing he told them was, "Stand still". Sometimes not doing anything is the best thing you can do for the moment. Always hold off on making major decisions until you have sought godly counsel and heard from God in a definate way.

Numbers 9:17-23 is, in my opinion, one of the most simple, yet profound, passages in the Bible about walking with God. There are many things one can learn from the passage, four of which I have listed below:

1) When God says, "Go", Go.
2) When God says, "Stay", Stay.
3) Going when God says,"Stay" = Very Bad Idea
4) Staying when God says, "Go" = Very Bad Idea

I know I know...Perhaps you are thinking, "Is it really THAT simple?!" I believe it is.
The "cloud" in this passage is representative of the blessings and favor of God on one's life.  If the cloud had moved, and the children of Israel didn't, their provision would no longer have remained.  Had they got tired of staying at the times they were to stay, and proceeded on their own, the same would have happened. They would have starved in the wilderness or died from heat stroke.  The cloud was both their direction, their provision, and their protection all wrapped up in one...and so it  is in our lifes today. Only now it's not a cloud, but rather the Holy Ghost inside us, and in those who are our spiritual authorities (who, if we're submitted, should also be our spiritual counselors).

On a personal level, there have been times when God has told me to stay, when I would rather have gone and times when He has told me to go, when I would rather have stayed. Sometimes our personal environments may reach a point where our flesh desires to take the escape route. Other times our personal environment may become our comfort zone, and no one enjoys leaving their comfort zone.

Please understand that I am not necessarily talking about only literally moving, such as to a different city, though that may well apply, but rather this could apply to a ministry situation, a relationship, a job, etc...any kind of change.

In the literal sense, however, it is also important to note that sometimes God says "stay" not to make one fidgety and miserable, but often it is because He wants you to rest and prepare for the journey ahead. Remain sensitive to the purpose of every season in your life. There is always a purpose.

Above you see a picture of Cookie Monster in shock that an option on his computer is "Delete Cookies". Cookie Monster loves cookies. He lives to eat cookies. So in his mind he's thinking, "Why in the world would you want to DELETE cookies?!!!"  Yet, even the most unsavvy computer user realizes that deleting "cookies" is, in general, a good thing.   And sometimes it is this way in life.  Cookie Monster in his ignorance would probably not press that button. However, a computer specialist might very well advise him to do so.

You see, making decisions in alignment with God's will is not about doing what you THINK is right or about what FEELS right.  If you make decisions based on this criteria, don't expect for God's favor to be on your life.

So, what IS it about? Well....It's about having good listening skills. What?! Yes. Really. It's that simple. I've heard it said that God has three answers: Yes, No, and Not Yet (Stand Still). I believe this is true. If you are seeking direction by praying and fasting, reading your Bible, and seeking godly counsel, God will answer you. It's not a matter of if He will answer, though sometimes you may think He's not when the answer is "not yet" or because it's not time for you to know yet, it's a matter of if you will obey when He does answer.

As in the Cookie Monster scenerio, sometimes the answer will come through a vessel of God. The question is, are you humble enough to listen to them and to act on it, even if it goes against what your flesh desires?  Are you willing to "delete cookies" if that's what God tells you to do? Are you willing to say goodbye to your comfort zone if that means staying hand in hand with God and His favor, provision, and protection on your life?

Observe the 23rd Psalm....

Green Pastures. Still Waters. Niiiice.

But what about The Valley of the Shadow of Death? The Presence of Our Enemies? 

Following God is not always a life of bliss nor should it be. If it were, we would never grow in Him. BUT if you walk with God He will always be there and there will be no need for want. He will always be leading. Always restoring, comforting, refreshing. and annointing. The best part? Goodness and mercy are yours to have, as well as the privilege to forever dwell in God's presence.

So, let's review:
1) When God says, "Go", Go.
2) When God says, "Stay", Stay.
3) Going when God says,"Stay" = Very Bad Idea
4) Staying when God says, "Go" = Very Bad Idea
"He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" ~Micha 6:8 
So, my question to you is, "What time is it in your life?  Is it a time to go or a time to stay?

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