Woe to the rebellious children, says the Lord, that take counsel, but not of me…that walk to go down into Egypt, and have not asked at my mouth (Isaiah 30:1-2).
The Assyrian army was going to attack Israel first and then Judah. God already knew what Judah was going to do. They were going to try to make their enemy, their friend. They thought they would have greater success if they joined forces with Egypt, but it was already prophesied that Egypt would fall to Assyria, which meant that when Egypt fall, Judah would fall also. God didn’t have to send a prophet to His people, but because He loved them, He warned them.
Judah was aware that they needed help, but they were asking for advice from everyone except God. They never asked God if it was okay to go to Egypt. They just made a decision without Him. They thought Pharaoh was the answer, but Pharaoh was really the problem. Egypt couldn’t protect them and in the end, they would only be disappointed and embarrassed because the Egyptians are only men, not God (Isaiah 31:3).
The reason why some of us don’t ask God for advice before we make certain decisions is because we are afraid He is going to say no. We are afraid that God is going to tell us something that we don’t want to hear.
Let’s say for example, you’re dating someone. Because this is the person YOU want to marry, you refuse to ask God for advice because you don’t want Him to tell you that this person is not the wife or husband He picked for you. You’ve already made plans and you don’t want God’s plan to change your plan.
Maybe you’re tired of being single and you think you’re ready for marriage now, but God sees what is going to happen in the near future if you make a decision without consulting Him first. What you think is going to be an answer just may become a problem. Remember, the person you are about to join yourself to is just a man or a woman. They are not God. They are not a Healer and they are not a Savior.
If you’re not sure about anything else, know that God loves you. If He didn’t, He wouldn’t warn you before you go in the wrong direction or convict you when you do wrong. He does care for you and He doesn’t want you to make a decision that will only bring you disappointment and shame.
Jesus is called our Counselor and God has placed counselors around us. I know Proverbs 11:14 speaks about the condition of a nation without wise leadership, but even in your personal life, where there is no counsel, you will fall.
Before you make a permanent decision, seek godly counsel, ask for advice and then follow the advice.
Ask and it shall be given you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you (Matthew 7:7).
Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;
Who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked an alms.
And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have, give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk (Acts 3:1-6).
The lame man asked with expectation for alms, but Peter and John wanted to give him something better – something that would last. Had Peter and John given the lame man gold and silver, how long do you think that would have lasted? At some point, he would have run out of money and the only choice he would have had was to go back into the lifestyle that he thought he left. He would return to begging.
This man had a problem, but what he was asking for was not the solution to his problem. Just like the lame man, I was sitting at the gate of Beautiful. As a result of when I went through, I was crippled with fear, unbelief and doubt. I was sitting in pity when I should have been walking in power. I was on the outside when I should have been in the inside.
Your problems and painful experiences may have brought you to the gate, but it can’t stop you from going through the gate.
I was praying for money, but money wasn’t my problem. My problem was that I didn’t trust God. When Peter told the man to look on him and John, the man immediately looked at them to be his source. And that was me. I was looking to my job to be my source when I should have been looking to God to be my Source. The man was looking at their hands, but Peter wanted him to know that what he needed wasn’t in his hand, but in his mouth. In his mouth was the power to command things, to prophesy, and to change his situation.
I thought it was money that I needed, but I needed wisdom. If I have wisdom, I have riches (Proverbs 8:18). I thought I needed money, but it is healing that I need. God never hurt me and He never disappointed me, but I know that I don’t have the trust in Him that I once had and I need God to build up what the enemy tried to tear down. I need Him to restore that childlike faith.
The lame man spent most of his life depending on people, but God wanted him to depend on Him. When Peter took him by the right hand and lifted him up, it took trust and faith to believe not only that he could rise, but to do something he had not been able to do since birth – walk.
But one thing is needful (Luke 10:42).
What I need and what God wants is for me to seek a better relationship with Him. It’s time to go from begging to believing.
I’ve been giving Him my hands (seeking a handout), but what God really wants is my heart.
make time: to find time to do something or be with someone in spite of being busy (Macmillan Dictionary)
I remember one day I shared with an individual that I wanted to do some things, but I didn’t know how to get started. At that very moment, the young man began to tell me all the things I could do, but every time he gave a suggestion, I gave an excuse.
After the last excuse, the young man said, ‘Then, you really don’t want it’. And he said no more.
My feelings were hurt. How could he say that I didn’t want it? But sometime later, I realized he was right. It’s not that I didn’t want what I was asking for. It’s just that I wanted it to come easy. I wanted it, but without the work.
For six days, God didn’t just speak creation into existence with His mouth, but He also worked with His hands.
God made the firmament and divided the waters (Genesis 1:7).
God made two great lights (sun and moon). He made the stars also (Genesis 1:16).
God created every living creature that moves (Genesis 1:21).
God made the beast, cattle and every creeping thing after its kind (Genesis 1:25).
God created man in his own image, in the image of God created He him (Genesis 1:27).
I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens (Isaiah 45:12).
My hand has made all those things (Isaiah 66:2).
We all are the work of Your hand (Isaiah 64:8).
God not only said things, but He did things. I was saying things, but I was doing nothing – or I was just doing enough to say I was doing something.
The heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day, God ended his work which he had made and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made (Genesis 1:1-2).
After God worked, He rested. Some of us want the rest, but without the work – and it doesn’t work that way.
You and I will never inherit the promises through laziness, but it will be through patience and faith, but you must show your faith by your works and by your actions.
This may consist of early mornings and late nights. And some of you may say, ‘I don’t have time’, but we can’t use that excuse anymore because we all make time for the things we want to do and for the people we want to spend time with.
The question isn’t, Do you have time?
The question is, Will you make time?
One day after church, I was standing outside with two adults and a small child. As I was talking to one of the adults, the child asked me a question. I won’t repeat what he said, but let’s just say this child ‘called me out’. I was shocked, embarrassed and speechless.
I couldn’t believe he had just spoken to me that way, but what really made me mad was that the two adults standing by were his parents and they said nothing. They didn’t correct him nor did they apologize to me. So, what did I do? I accused the parents of talking about me in front of their child, but they both denied it.
I knew I was doing things that I shouldn’t have been doing, but I couldn’t figure out how this child knew what I was doing. I thought no one knew. I thought no one saw me, but the Lord opened the mouth of a child to open my eyes.
In Numbers 22, Balak, the king of Moab, saw what the Israelites did to the Amorites and he was afraid. He knew a man named Balaam and he knew that whoever Balaam blessed was blessed and whoever he cursed was cursed. He then sent his messengers (with money) to Balaam so that he might place a curse on the people that God called His people. Balaam told the men that he would talk to God and then tell them whatever God told him. God made it very clear to Balaam that the people Balak wanted to curse were blessed and he was not to go with Balak’s men.
The next day, Balaam told the men that God didn’t give him permission to go with them so Balak made a better offer and it sounded really good. Not only did he offer riches and honor, but he offered to do whatever Balaam asked. Balaam knew what God said the first time, but he went back to God concerning the same thing to see if He would change His mind.
God told Balaam to go with the men if they called him the following morning, but when Balaam went with Balak’s men, God became angry. I don’t believe God would tell him to go and then be angry because he went. Maybe it wasn’t about who Balaam went with, but about why he went with them. In 2 Peter 2:15, Balaam is described as a man who loved the wages of unrighteousness (wrongdoing; wickedness; doing harm).
While Balaam was traveling, the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the way. The angel drew his sword to kill Balaam three times, but each time the donkey protected him. Balaam beat his donkey each time because he couldn’t see what his donkey saw and he didn’t understand what she was doing. But after the third beating, the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey and then He opened Balaam’s eyes.
The reason why God used a child that day was because when He spoke to me, I wouldn’t listen to Him. He used adults, but I wouldn’t listen to them so He used someone that I least expected. He used someone who I didn’t think He would use. Because I refused to put away childish things, He used a child to speak to a child (me). It may have been a little boy’s mouth, but it was God’s words.
God saw what I couldn’t see. He saw me going in the wrong direction and He knew the way I was going would have either killed me or destroyed me. Yes, Balaam’s foot was crushed against a wall along the way, but he lived to repent for the things he had done. He was given another chance and so was I.
I wanted to discipline that child the same way Balaam disciplined his donkey, but it wasn’t the child that needed rebuke.
It was me.
After Moses read God’s instructions, laws and commands to the children of Israel, they made an agreement with their mouths. All that the Lord has said, we will do and be obedient (Exodus 24:7).
But their hearts were from far Him. Make us gods, which shall go before us (Exodus 32:1).
Throughout their journey in the wilderness, the Lord had to always remind them of what He said or what He did for them.
Don’t forget the Lord your God.
Don’t forget how you provoked the Lord in the wilderness.
Don’t forget the covenant I made with you.
Remember when you came out of Egypt.
Remember what I did to Pharaoh.
Remember how I kept you for 40 years in the wilderness.
Your clothes and your shoes didn’t wear out.
There were fiery serpents and scorpions in that great and terrible wilderness, but they didn’t harm you.
You never went hungry for I gave you fresh manna from heaven every day.
There was drought and no water, but you didn’t die of thirst.
In Judges 6, the Israelites were crying to God. The Lord had given them over to their enemies for seven years because they did evil in His sight. God allowed the Midianites to destroy their crops and to take everything that belonged to them – their land, sheep, oxen and donkeys. Prior to this, He warned them not to serve the gods of the Amorites once they lived in their land, but they didn’t obey His voice.
They forgot that they had cried to the Lord before, but God sent them help (Moses). He brought them out of Egypt. He brought them out of bondage. He delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians and their oppressors. He drove their enemies out and gave the Israelites their land. God set them free, but they kept returning to the things that placed them back in bondage.
I’m reminded of the man who had an infirmity for 38 years. After he received his healing, Jesus found him later in the temple and said, You are made whole. Sin no more, lest a worse thing come to you (John 5:14). For Jesus to tell him not to sin any more meant that he was in that condition because of sin. I believe this is what Jesus was really saying to that man then and this is what He is saying to us now:
I forgave you. Despite your past, I gave you a future. Remember what I did for you. I’ve shown you how good I am. I gave you another chance. You are whole now. Don’t go back. Remember what happened the last time. Don’t return to the thing that made you sick. If the Son makes you free, you are free indeed. Stay free. Stay whole. Show others what I’ve done for you so that they may know what I can do for them.
I know sometimes we wish that God would erase all the painful memories of our past, but I told the Lord recently that there are some memories that I don’t want to forget because if I forget it, I may repeat it.
May we always remember what the Lord has done for us.
[Scripture references: Exodus 13:3; Deuteronomy 4:23, 7:18, 8:1-18, 9:7; Judges 6:1-10; John 5:1-9, 14-15]