Monday, March 11, 2013

Follow the Glory

Today is the first day of week ten, reading the Bible through together in a year.  Our scriptures this week are:
  • Numbers 8-11; Colossians 1
  • Num 12-14; Col 2; Psalm 28
  • Num 15-18; Col 3; Psalm 113
  • Num 19-21; Col 4
  • Num 22-25; Luke 1
 Today, I want to focus on Numbers 9:15-23:

15 On the day that the tabernacle was set up, the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the testimony. And at evening it was over the tabernacle like the appearance of fire until morning. 16 So it was always: the cloud covered it by day and the appearance of fire by night. 17 And whenever the cloud lifted from over the tent, after that the people of Israel set out, and in the place where the cloud settled down, there the people of Israel camped. 18 At the command of the Lord the people of Israel set out, and at the command of the Lord they camped. As long as the cloud rested over the tabernacle, they remained in camp. 19 Even when the cloud continued over the tabernacle many days, the people of Israel kept the charge of the Lord and did not set out. 20 Sometimes the cloud was a few days over the tabernacle, and according to the command of the Lord they remained in camp; then according to the command of the Lord they set out. 21 And sometimes the cloud remained from evening until morning. And when the cloud lifted in the morning, they set out, or if it continued for a day and a night, when the cloud lifted they set out. 22 Whether it was two days, or a month, or a longer time, that the cloud continued over the tabernacle, abiding there, the people of Israel remained in camp and did not set out, but when it lifted they set out. 23 At the command of the Lord they camped, and at the command of the Lord they set out. They kept the charge of the Lord, at the command of the Lord by Moses.

People often ask me how they can determine God's will for their lives.  What job should they take?  What ministries should they get involved with?  Where should they move?  I'm glad that they are asking me how they can sense God's direction for themselves, rather than asking me what God's direction for them is--because I'm not qualified to answer the latter question for them.  But how to sense God's direction for themselves--for that I can point to God's Word.

The Israelites had a clear and tangible way to sense God's direction.  A physical cloud of God's shining glory led them through the wilderness.  They followed that glory wherever it went.  Where it settled, they settled.  When it moved, they moved.  They stayed as long as it stayed and left when it left.  It would be nice if Christians had such a clear manifestation of God's direction--something we could see.  But 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, "We walk by faith and not by sight."  While we can't see God's physical glory today with physical eyes, we can sense God's glory in other ways.  I invite you to check out two articles from  The first is called,  Six Steps in Finding God's Will.  The second is called, God's "Will" vs. God's "Work."  Both articles discuss finding God's direction when faced with tough choices.

How can we sense God's glory today, if we can't see it with our eyes?  Someone once said to me, "Find what God is doing, and do that."  God doesn't want His people to strike out on their own, unless they are under His cloud of glory.  God's cloud in the desert offered guidance, but it also provided shade from the desert heat.  When you decide to proceed with some new ministry or project or direction, and God isn't leading it, you find yourself exposed and vulnerable.  If you're going to start something new, make sure that God is leading it, and that it's not just some human whim.  Pray through it, and seek God's wisdom in His Word.  Listen to the counsel of godly women and men that the Lord has placed in your life.  Then, wait on God's answer to your prayers, before you act.  Sometimes that word will come through circumstances opening up, like a door that opens, waiting for you to walk through.  This may mean something new that has never existed before.  Or, it could be something that God is already doing, and He wants you to get on board with it.  Find what God is doing, and do that.

On the other end, you may need to find what God isn't doing, and don't do that.  You may have been participating in something that was God's will for you, for a season.  That season may be over.  Just because God called you to join something doesn't necessarily mean that you're supposed to continue it forever.  Just as Israel followed the cloud wherever it went and stopped wherever it stopped, they also pulled up stakes whenever it moved again.  They knew that if God's glory departed and they remained where they were, they'd be left behind, no longer under the Lord's covering.  You don't want to be in that position.  So be sensitive to the lifespan of various projects you're working on.  God may open doors for you to do something that lasts for days, weeks, months, or years.  But when He removes His blessing from it (or from your participation in it), be willing to leave that thing behind and follow where God is leading next.  There's nothing worse than someone who stalwartly digs in their heels and says, "Come hell or high water, this is where I stand," when God has already removed the foundation from beneath their feet.

How do you know God's direction?  Follow the glory.  Find what God is doing, and do that.  Also, be sensitive to what God is no longer blessing--and don't do that any longer.  This way, you will remain under God's cloud of leadership and protection.  This way, you will always know God's presence in whatever you do.

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