One of the greatest gifts God gives us is seeing into His heart; the promises He has for each of us. They’re listed in a Benediction Prayer, found in the Book of Numbers, and was the blessing the High Priest said over the Israelites. Ever since, it has often been read as a closing, eternal blessing at the end of a time of worship and reading of the Word. It was the capstone of a meeting. The final reminder of God’s heart. “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26 NIV) God promises to keep us safe from all harm; sees our every need, looks upon us with favor, and gives us more grace and peace than we asked for. Sounds like what I need, every day.


As each of us get older, and have experienced many of life’s great challenges, we can either look forward to the future or dread what’s ahead. I’ve found that without continual encouragements from the Word of God, I tend to have less hope for my future. It therefore becomes essential that I reflect on what God has already done in order to see what He promises to do. I’m reminded of the first miracle Jesus performed during His earthly ministry. In John 2, we read the memorable line, “You have saved the best wine for last.” (John 2:10) Because I believe my best days are ahead, and not behind me, it causes me to look forward and embrace what requires the most faith . . . my future. Having faith to believe God will provide for my future needs is the new wine we each need to believe for.  


It’s always fascinating how cooperative people become, me included, after we’ve been caught doing something we shouldn’t have done and are facing serious consequences. From little children to seniors, when caught red handed, suddenly we’re compliant. The patriarch Joseph’s brothers were only interested in doing the right thing after they were finally busted for doing what they knew what was wrong all along. It made me think. What I really need is a pre-caught conscience. To live surrendered; becoming puddy in God’s hands. Fully conscious to do God’s will, and His will alone. How would that change my life? I’d be waiting for the blessings of right living to overtake me and not the repercussions of past disobedience. “God, awaken my pre-caught conscience, so I can look forward to all that is ahead.”


One of the great advantages of getting old may surprise you. Many times as people reach old age, they feel that they’re losing more than they’re gaining. Yet, this scripture is true throughout our lives. “…when I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Corinthians 12:10, ESV) As I age, I’ve found I rely less on my physical strength or my memory and ability to communicate. Growing old makes me ever more conscious of asking the Lord for His help, minute by minute. My inadequacy provides a backstage pass to enter into depending on His sufficiency. As I get older I find I need Jesus more, and so, simultaneously, get closer to Him, not further away. This is an answer to prayers I began to pray when Jesus became the Lord of my life, a half century ago.


Did you ever wonder what happened to the ten scouts who explored the promised land in the Book of Numbers, but refused to go in? While Joshua and Caleb came back with a faith-filled report that said, “…we can possess the land God has given us…” (Numbers 13:30) The ten fear-filled spies confessed, “…we were like grasshoppers in our own eyes, and so we were in their eyes.” (Numbers 13:33) The Bible says that because of their unbelief the ten spies were later killed by a plague. (Numbers 14:37) This motivates me. I know what it’s like to give in to unbelief. Though I am certainly more stirred by the encouragement of those who have been obedient, examining the fate of those who bow to unbelief motivates me as well. “Jesus, give us the courage to conquer the spiritual land you have promised us.”


This is truly a treacherous age. An upside down world, riddled with deception. From the moment, “The serpent said to the woman, ‘Surely you will not die’…” Satan continues to spew lies. Those who say they know the truth, often speak words dripping with lies. Those who seem to hate the most, often call others “haters.” Those who claim to have the higher moral ground choose to give in to immorality. Those who flaunt their spirituality, are, at times, the least spiritual behind closed doors. Two scriptures sum up the danger of hypocrisy. “Claiming to be wise, they became fools.“ (Romans 1:22, ESV) And then there’s how The Message describes 1 Corinthians 10:12. “Don’t be so naive and self-confident. You’re not exempt. You could fall flat on your face as easily as anyone else. Forget about self-confidence; it’s useless. Cultivate God-confidence.”


My heart breaks when spiritual leaders fall from grace. It saddens me. It scares me. Will someone I love be next? Will I be next? Why am I thinking that? Because it’s one of the clearest ways God uses to demonstrate His holiness and keep His sons and daughters from destroying their lives. At times, when God publicly disciplines disobedient leaders in the Body of Christ; those who are given great stewardships, and extraordinary responsibility — the fear of God reaffirms His holiness. Even Moses, for modeling bad behavior, was not able to go into the Promised Land. God said, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” (Numbers 2:12, NLT) “God, I hear You!”


In Numbers 21, the Children of Israel complained about God’s provision, the food He graciously provided for them in the wilderness. They detested the heavenly manna. What did they get for their complaining? A plague of poisonous snakes. Proving, once again, bad attitudes always bring plagues. So, God had them make a bronze serpent and hang it on a pole. When they looked to the serpent, the plague stopped. But only after many people died. If we spend our lives complaining about God’s provision for us, it a self-inflicted wound, and will kill us. But, if we look to Jesus, who became sin for us and died on a Cross, then we will be healed. Complaining about what we don’t have is the seed that brings less. Being grateful for what God does provide is the seed that always brings more.


Near our home there was a burned out piece of land that, for much of the year, has looked horrible. Nine months ago, someone set fire to the entire hillside. It has looked like death for many months, and every day, when I drove by, it made me sad. What a waste; a lifeless swatch of land that seemed irredeemable. Much like some of the lowest seasons of my life. But now, many months later, as Spring has sprung, that piece of land is bright and green, more beautiful than all the hills around it, and infinitely better than I thought it could ever look. Proving, once again, the marvelous biblical principle that everything the enemy ever planned for each of us will ultimately work for our good if we will but wait and trust in God’s ultimate intention, which is always the best of all possible options. 


In November of 2001, two months after 9-11, we invited four New York City Firefighters to speak at a banquet in their honor and at our church service. Dozens of local police officers and firefighters attended. Both events were packed with standing room only. It was a very serious and emotional event. There were two spelling mistakes in the printed program and graphics that initially seemed horrific, but provided a much needed laugh. Amazing Grace was spelled, “Amazing Graves.” And when we presented the fire fighters plaques, the word on the video screen was spelled plagues. “Graves” and “Plagues.” Awesome! The mistakes were so unbelievable that when I publicly apologized and pointed them out, the room broke into laughter. Lame but laughable. The God of laughter showed up with priceless humor we all very much needed.


We were created to worship, and so we are each worshipping something. In time, whatever we worship will control us. When Moses was delayed returning from the mountain, the people took all of their jewelry and made a golden calf in order to worship this demonic Egyptian god. When Moses returned, “. . . he took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire, ground it to powder, poured it out on the water, and made the Israelites drink it.” (Exodus 32:20, NET) The wages of sin is always death. The patriarch Job said, giving in to sin would create “…a fire that burns all the way to hell. It would wipe out everything I own.” (Job 31:12, NLT) To keep us from destroying our lives, God is willing to destroy any attachment we have to worshipping the lifeless idols of Earth.


The longer I live, the more I consider, “Where are my blind spots? What is obvious to God, but hidden from me?” I ask these questions because I’m increasingly surprised by how much I’m missing every day, along the way. In Genesis 45, it took Joseph many years to realize the value of the hurts that caused him the most pain. God used his struggle to build strength, character and perseverance. Though he didn’t know the future, he refused to let his past make him a victim. He rose to become a victor, the recipient of a heavenly script, divinely crafted for his good, to make him the person God always intended. “Jesus, help me to connect the dots that the ultimate effect of every event that has taken place, or will take place in my life, is meant for my good and will bring me closer to You.”