Take New Ground

Guest Blogger Candace Gray

Numbers 13:30 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.”

Happy New Year!  Everyone is thinking about what the new year will bring.  Some people make resolutions and some people set goals and create detailed plans.  Some people just wing it, having been disappointed by previous failures in the past.  But if you are a person with a strong desire to live a purpose-driven life, you can’t afford to wing it.  You must set goals, make plans and try again, because it’s not just about you.  There are others who will be blessed because of what you do.  You desire to be a change-agent, problem-solver, healer, peace-maker, leader, creator, giver, do-gooder and anything else that glorifies God, helps others and makes the world a better place. 

In Numbers 13, God was preparing the Israelites to possess the land of Canaan.  Twelve people were sent to examine the lay of the land.  As they explored the land, they saw both the bountiful resources of the land and the potential obstacles to possessing the land.  When they returned from seeing the same set of facts, they came to two different conclusions:   Caleb and Joshua concluded, “We should go up and take the land, for we can certainly do it.”  The other ten concluded, “We can’t attack these people:  they are stronger than we are.(13:31)”  They observed, “we seemed like grasshoppers in our own eyes and we looked the same to them.(13:33)”  One group focused on the power of God and the other group focused on their own limitations.          

This devotional series is written to encourage you to keep moving forward with making a difference.  You will face obstacles along the way, that tempt you to view yourself as a grasshopper.  But do not underestimate the significance of living a life of purpose.  The desire in your heart is there for a reason. The ideas you have are there for a reason. I encourage you to do the thing on your heart to do. I am praying for you and me to be focused, purposeful and bold in 2023.  Someone’s life is depending on it.  When we step out with the bold faith of Caleb, God is faithful to show up and help us. 

Questions for Reflection:

  • What ideas would you like to implement in 2023?
  • What’s holding you back from taking new ground in 2023?
  • Are you more focused on your own limited ability or God’s unlimited power? 

For the month of January, I have invited my friend Candace Gray to share a weekly devotional. Candace is a seasoned leader with a track record of living a life of purpose and helping others to do the same.  She is a Senior Director for Buckner Children and Family Services and a longtime member of Concord Church in Dallas. 

If you’d like to follow her full 21-day devotional series, go to www.candacegray.com 

Beautiful Gift of Grace

You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,

that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor,

so that you through His poverty might become rich.

II Corinthians 8:9

Grace. What a beautiful word – divine favor, underserved gift. Those who believe in Christ are the recipients of God’s redemptive mercy and grace. What greater joy can there be than to know we have received such a gift? We could not pay our own debt, but Christ became poor, leaving His heavenly place so that we might be made rich in grace.

We could not save ourselves, yet God in His loving-kindness made a way for us to be forgiven.  It is not what we have done, but what Christ did for us on the cross. Spurgeon said, “Thou hast need of nothing beyond what there is in Him. In Him thou art at this moment just, in Him entirely clean, in Him an object of divine approval and eternal love.”[i]

At this time of year, we rejoice in His divine grace toward us. Let us linger at the manger and ponder this unspeakable gift, this kindness God has shown us in sending His Son Jesus. In the hustle of the season, let us step aside and hear His voice calling our name to come abide, rest and be thankful for His rich mercy toward us.

[i] Charles H. Spurgeon, Complete in Christ and Love’s Logic, (Whitefish, MT:Kessinger Publishing, 2006) p. 27.

He Sees Us

“You are the God who sees me…I have now seen the One who sees me.” Genesis 16:13

            When you feel as though no one knows the depth of pain, remember that there is One who sees.  You are not alone, for God sees you and knows your needs.  In the Old Testament we read how God’s angel met Hagar in the desert when she fled from the cruelty of Sarah. God meets us where we are and gently cares for our needs as well.  We can rest assured that our God sees our pain and challenges, and He understands. 

            We are not invisible to God.  Just as Hagar was comforted by God, so we can find our comfort in knowing that God sees all. It’s easy to think that when bad things happen, God doesn’t see our situation or care about our problems. Be patient. Wait on Him. Have faith in the God who sees and has a plan that is bigger and more eternal than we can imagine.

He Carries Us

In the last few months of his life, Hudson Taylor told a friend, “I am so weak I cannot write. I cannot read my Bible. I cannot even pray. All I can do is lie still in the arms of God as a little child, trusting Him.”[i] There are times when we feel as though we cannot take another step forward. All we can do is be still and like a child rest in God’s precious arms. It is in our most difficult hours that God carries us. His arms are able and strong and can hold us close when we feel like we can’t go on.

            In Isaiah we read about God’s comfort for His people, “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart.”[ii]My friend, keep your eyes on Him. In times of difficulty, do not despair. Picture yourself being carried by your loving Father as He holds you close to His heart.

Save your people and bless your inheritance;
   be their shepherd and carry them forever.

Psalm 28:9

[i] Streams in the Desert, L. B. Cowman, edit. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1997) p. 188.

[ii] Isaiah 40:11

Redeeming God

Who redeems your life from the pit.

Psalm 103:4

            The pit.  Been there? There are simply times in our lives when we find ourselves in a rut. It may be an emotional pit of feeling down or blue.  It may be in a money pit where you find yourself in a hole which keeps draining more and more of your finances. The job pit may seem like you are tirelessly working without enough recognition or pay. Maybe you are even in a spiritual pit – a lull where you feel alone.  Take heart my friend. God is a redeeming God and He is able to redeem your life from the pit.

            He can bring new life into worn out frustrations. Isaiah reminds us that He makes a way through the sea and a path through the mighty waters.  When life seems to be at rock bottom, He is able to lift us up. Look up my friend, whether you are in a pit of your own making or one you didn’t choose. Look up and seek Him. He is the God who redeems your life from the pit.