1 thing God looks for – and how to develop it

Anyone who has a working knowledge of the Bible will be familiar with Caleb. The biographical detail provided about Caleb ( Numbers 13 & 14; Joshua 14) reveals a man of deep conviction and faith. A man confident in God. And it also reveals that Caleb had the strength of character to nurture and protect a promise God made to him for forty-five years before he saw it fulfilled. And it seems that his conviction somehow mysteriously conserved his strength to the point that he was ready to fight with giants at the age of eighty-five!

How was it that despite the disappointment and setback he experienced when the people rejected his report on the land of Canaan, that he his faith remained rock solid?

Caleb was commended by God and by Moses for one thing: wholeheartedness.

Everyone of us experiences setbacks. Everyone of us experiences disappointments. And too often many of us allow those things to knock our faith out of shape and ultimately knock our life out of shape.

Like Caleb, it is wholeheartedness that is an absolutely key quality to successfully navigating those “faith knocks”.

So how do we develop wholeheartedness ?

Firstly, if you want to develop wholeheartedness, learn to manage the threats to wholeheartedness.

Perhaps the biggest threat is that of disappointment.

Unfulfilled expectations, unexpected diversions and undesired circumstances can tempt us to move into the territory of halfheartedness. They also expose us to the temptation to ditch God’s promises. Or to detach from God’s people.

How do you manage those threats? By taking your thoughts captive. Numbers 13.30 says that Caleb silenced the people. Sometimes we have to silence the voices that speak negativity and halfheartedness.

Secondly, make the most of where you are.

Caleb spent most of his life in places he didn’t want to be. The first forty years of his life were spent in slavery in Egypt. The second forty years were spent wandering in the desert. Those years of desert wandering were not his fault. He was living with the consequences of decisions others had made. He had no option but to wander in the desert with the rest of the Israelites. Yet he still kept wholehearted in his walk with God.

Sometimes we find ourselves in places where we don’t want to be, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find God there. When Jesus went into Samaria, He found Himself in a place where no self respecting Jew of His day would want to be. But Samaria was the place where He transformed the life of one woman and eventually that of a whole city (John 4).

You can find God wherever you are.

Finally, be prepared to modify your image of God.

It’s amazing how faulty our image of God can be. For example, people often think that difficult circumstances are an indication that God is upset with us and is punishing us. Yet the Bible says we have peace with God (Romans 5.1) and that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ (Romans 8.1).

What we believe about God impacts on us. It affects the way we think and that in turn affects our faith.

Caleb was wholehearted for God because He knew God was wholehearted for him. How did he know that?

Caleb was from the tribe of Judah. Judah was a tribe to whom God had given great authority (Genesis 49.10; Psalm 60.7 & 108.8). Caleb lived in the blessing and promise that God had put upon his tribe. He knew who He was and he knew his God.

In Christ we have every blessing Caleb had – and more. If we want to live wholehearted lives, conforming our understanding of God to how He reveals Himself in His word is a priority. We will never be wholehearted for Him, if we feel He is halfhearted about us.

If we can learn from Caleb the power of wholeheartedness, we can push through every setback and disappointment. And more importantly we will attract the smile of God.

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You can still define your moment with faith – even if everyone else chooses unbelief

We don’t like to believe that we could ever miss out on what God has for us. Nor are we comfortable with the thought that a whole church – or even a movement – could miss out on God’s purpose. But it does happen. It happened to most of the churches mentioned in chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation. And of course it happened to a whole generation of Israelites.

A whole generation of Israelites except two, that is. When Israel had the opportunity of entering the Promised Land, the people decided to believe the fearful report brought by ten of the twelve spies. Only two, Joshua and Caleb, advocated entering the land, believing that God would lead His people to victory.

Whilst the will of the majority prevailed, Joshua and Caleb lived to fight in another generation.

At eighty-five years of age, Caleb is commended for the attitude that he had shown forty-five years earlier. With the same faith filled outlook he goes on to gain his inheritance.

What was a negative defining moment for the whole nation was still a positive one for Caleb, and of course, Joshua.

What made the difference?

Firstly, Caleb was a man of a different spirit (Numbers 14.24). He had a different attitude, a different outlook to the ten spies who filled the people with fear. Caleb stood out from the crowd. And he was willing to stand up for what he believed – even though a million people were against him.

Secondly, Caleb was a man of defining conviction (Joshua 14.7). What do I mean by that? What he believed determined his take on what he saw. Truth be told, we all have defining convictions! Our beliefs determine how we see. Caleb and Joshua and the ten other spies all saw the same thing, but Caleb and Joshua saw those things differently. They saw through the filter of faith. The ten other spies saw through the filter of unbelief. Beliefs shape vision.

Finally, Caleb was a man of deep commitment. Moses said that Caleb followed the Lord wholeheartedly (Numbers 14.24; Joshua 14.8). Caleb was not hedging his bets. His service was not half-hearted. He approached the task of surveying Canaan with a wholehearted commitment to the Lord.

That generation of Israelites all missed out on the Promised Land, but not Joshua and Caleb. They kept the faith and received their inheritance.

However people are reacting around you, make sure you keep the faith. You can still make your defining moment one of faith. Even if a million people are against you. Caleb did.