Category Archives: Prayer

The Humility of Caleb

“But My servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit in him and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land where he went, and his descendants shall inherit it. (Num 14:24 NKJ)

I’ve been thinking about Caleb lately. Caleb was a slave in Egypt and saw the plagues that God brought on them. He cheered when the Red Sea covered Pharaoh. He sang Miriam’s song of Redemption. He watched his nation under the watchful hand of God travel through the wilderness. How he longed to receive his inheritance!

When the congregation came to the border, ready to invade and take their inheritance, they rebelled. They were afraid of the giants in the land.

And Caleb’s hopes fell. His desire and expectation crushed. And then God spoke to Moses. “Caleb will enter. He was faithful.”

But he had to wait for 40 years. And the worst thing about it was that there was nothing he could do about it.

The other thing that I’ve been thinking about is humility.

Humility is learning that the world is about God’s glory, not your own. Humility is understanding that without the positive decree of God, you won’t take your next breath. Humility is knowing that our God is in the heavens, and does whatever he pleases.

Without humility, no one sees the Lord, for he will not give his glory to another. God resists the proud, but gives strength to the humble (1 Peter 5:5).

But having a theoretical knowledge of humility isn’t enough. Humility must be experienced and learned. For pride is so deeply engrained that we don’t even know it is there. Since God loves us and has promised us the inheritance, he has ways of showing us our pride and calling us to repent of it. And one of the sneakiest forms of pride is revealed when God brings something into our lives that is bitter and difficult, and there is nothing we can do about it.

When we are faced with giants, mountains, Pharaohs, armies; when the dark valleys and black clouds cover everything; when the hurt is too deep, we want to fix it. We want it to stop.

Most of the time, we can find a solution. Most of the time, we can find comfort and peace. Most of the time, there is something that we can do. We get hungry, we eat. We get thirsty, we drink. We get hot, we go swimming. We get cold, we put on a jacket or start a fire.

But we don’t learn humility that way. Humility comes when we are hungry, thirsty, cold, tired, and there is nothing to do about it. Humility comes when the black clouds and giant soldiers block the inheritance and we aren’t strong enough. Humility comes when difficulty becomes unbearable, and there is no solution.

That’s when we go to our knees and cry out to God.

But what about those times when God seems to be silent. What about those times when we know the promises of the Scripture, but we don’t see them anywhere on the earth. What about the times when God’s providence tells us to wait?

This is where Caleb and humility cross paths. Job is known for patience; Elijah for prayers; Samson for strength; Solomon for wisdom.

Caleb should be known for humility. He knew that he didn’t have the strength to overcome the giants, but he knew that God could. His humility gave him courage. But when everything collapsed, and God told him to wait, he waited. His humility was then tempered in the wilderness for forty more years.

We see his character revealed again, forty years later. He said to Joshua, who was now the leader:

7 “I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the LORD sent me from Kadesh Barnea to spy out the land, and I brought back word to him as it was in my heart.
8 “Nevertheless my brethren who went up with me made the heart of the people melt, but I wholly followed the LORD my God.
9 “So Moses swore on that day, saying,`Surely the land where your foot has trodden shall be your inheritance and your children’s forever, because you have wholly followed the LORD my God.’
10 “And now, behold, the LORD has kept me alive, as He said, these forty-five years, ever since the LORD spoke this word to Moses while Israel wandered in the wilderness; and now, here I am this day, eighty-five years old.
11 “As yet I am as strong this day as on the day that Moses sent me; just as my strength was then, so now is my strength for war, both for going out and for coming in.
12 “Now therefore, give me this mountain of which the LORD spoke in that day; for you heard in that day how the Anakim were there, and that the cities were great and fortified. It may be that the LORD will be with me, and I shall be able to drive them out as the LORD said.” (Jos 14:7-12 NKJ)

He was ready. He was 80 years old, and ready to drive out the giants. The Anakim were the biggest and baddest of them all, but Caleb was ready. For forty years, he didn’t rail against God. He didn’t become angry towards his brethren, but still called them brethren. He told the truth about them, but held no hatred in his heart. He waited patiently for the Lord’s time and when God said “now”, Caleb was ready and eager. Did I mention that he was 80 years old?

This is the humility of Caleb. What do we do when faced with a tremendous trial and our hope is deferred? What do we do when that which we long for seems so far away? What do we do when there is nothing that we can do except endure the pain? What do we do when we have exhausted everything that we know to do, when we have said all that there is to say, done everything there is to do? What do we do then?

Wait. You can’t fix it, but you can join Caleb and lift up your eyes to heaven where Christ already is. The inheritance is certain because God promised it. The inheritance is certain because God cannot lie. The inheritance is certain because Jesus died for us and rose again and is even now at the right hand of the Father.

But on this earth, everything is still under the curse. The tears aren’t wiped away until he comes again. The whirlwind still rages all around us. Do what you can, but know this: you can’t fix the curse. You don’t understand the power of sin. You can’t change a heart. You can’t even change your own heart. But you can pray and wait and love. That’s humility and it is only learned the hard way.

You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord. He is their help and their shield (Psalm 115:11).

A proud man thinks he can fix anything. Humility is learned when the giants come, and God says, “Not now.”

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Filed under Hope, Patience, Prayer, salvation

Peace and Prayer

When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. (Dan 6:10 ESV)

The whole world had changed. Daniel had been taken from his homeland 70 years earlier and faithfully served the Babylonian king. But he would never bow to any other gods. His loyalty to the one true God, the creator and sustainer of the earth, was known throughout the world.

But now everything is different. Babylon had fallen. The Medes and Persians took the great city and the kingdom became theirs. Darius was now on the throne and no one knew what he would do. The political situation was in flux and terrifying for everyone throughout the whole world.

For everyone, that is, except Daniel.

Darius recognized Daniel’s gifts, and that made everyone else jealous. Daniel was promoted to the second ruler of the kingdom, and that made everyone jealous. Daniel cared about that about as much as he cared about the promotion. He would serve faithfully wherever God placed him, but his identity was firmly established in heaven, not in prestige or power. God might give; God might take away. But Daniel would be faithful and trust in God no matter what the circumstances were.

And now everything is topsy turvy. To make matters so much worse, the king of Persia succumbs to flattery and issues a decree. For thirty days, no one is to pray or ask any god anything except Darius alone.

The idea was that well-being, security, food, drink, clothing, health, yea, all things – come not by chance but by the hand of Darius the king (For those of you that know the Heidelberg Catechism, QA 27 – do you see what I did there?) Darius was usurping the place of God. God alone is our helper and our rock. God alone is the sustainer of our life and provider of every good thing. How quickly do we forget that!

So anyone who refuses to acknowledge the supreme hand of the king as the only source of life and every good thing was to be immediately thrown into a den of hungry lions. Death would be gruesome, painful and shameful.

And Daniel freaked out. Panicked. Started writing petitions. Ran to his bunker. Fled to Canada….

Woops. Not really….

What did Daniel do? The same thing that he did every day since he was a youth: He opened his window. He prayed towards Jerusalem. He gave thanks to God. Jerusalem signified the place where God’s glory was revealed. We “pray toward Jerusalem” every time we pray in Jesus’ name, because Jesus is the temple of God, the glory of God and the revelation of God.

Daniel did exactly the same thing that he always did. If God truly is the only source of every good thing; if God truly is eternal, all-powerful, good and wise; if God is our Father for the sake of Christ his Son who died for us and reconciled us to God – if all of these things are true, then the most important thing we can do is cast all of our cares on God, seeking good from his hand alone, and make all of our requests and petitions to him alone, trusting his love and care for us.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Phi 4:6 ESV)

Daniel did this from his youth.

From Daniel’s youth, he brought everything to Jehovah in the name of Jesus (praying towards Jerusalem). He went through upheaval after upheaval, had his life threatened over and over again. Now he is well over 80 and it looks like the good old days are over. Everything is different. What about our children? Who will provide for us now that Babylon is fallen?

But that didn’t change anything that Daniel did. It didn’t put him into turmoil It didn’t disrupt his rest in the Lord. He still did what he always did, because the kingdom of God is never rattled or shaken by anything on this earth.

Do we live in such a way that no political ruler, no law, no decree, can change how we live? Or cause us to panic? Or throw us into turmoil?

This is faith. Daniel wasn’t looking for his home in Babylon. He worked there. He was a good citizen. But he never forgot where his true loyalty was. And against all the religion of the day and all the influence of the day, he never forgot that health and sickness, rain and drought, food and drink, or any other thing, don’t come from the Dariuses of the old world, or Supreme Courts and presidents of the new world. They come from the same place they’ve always come. The hand of our almighty Father, who will never leave us or forsake us.

When his whole world was threatened, he opened the window. He knelt before God. He prayed and he gave thanks to God, just as he always did.

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Filed under Prayer, Providence