See Clearly — A Shadow or the Real Thing

See Clearly — A Shadow or the Real Thing

I see clearly from my upper-story window both shadows and the objects projecting the shadows. Both their dimensions and shapes differ. The shadow often stands out sharper and more distinctly that the real thing. With the changing angle of the sun, the shadows gradually reshape into forms much different from the original appearance.

God reminds us,

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.
1 Corinthians 13:12

He alerts us of our limited viewpoints. We look at people and the shadows of their lives from a single angle, but there are multiple points of view hidden from us.

Optometrists prescribe prescription lens to correct physical vision. But how do we secure a prescription for our hearts, to enlighten us to look deeper and wider?

God’s View

We need — desperately need — to see things from God’s perspective. As the Light, He illuminates everything inside and out.

He also reveals Himself in multiple ways. Hebrews 4:13 says,

Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”

This thought becomes both frightening and comforting to those who experience His love and grace. We most accurately gain God’s view by knowing Him. We know Him most accurately through His Word. The Bible gives us the clearest image of God’s perspective regarding all things. The more we read and understand His Word, the more we will see clearly and understand His thoughts and ways.

God’s Heart

No one fully knows their own heart or motivation, let alone the heart and motives of others. Yet, how quickly we judge each other from limited viewpoints.

Even when we think we operate with pure motives, the curse of sin taints our words and actions. Just as often, the reverse holds true. We may say or do something with obviously impure motives, yet along the way God shifts our hearts to align with His.

The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
Jeremiah 17:9

Only when our hearts become transformed more like His heart will be see clearly both ourselves and others. The Holy Spirit, our Comforter, comes gently and firmly nudging us closer and closer to the heart of Father God.

See Clearly

We so easily become deceived while living in the shadow lands of earth. Through consistent prayer asking God to help us see clearly, God opens the path of improved perspective.

As children, we may have enjoyed playing shadow creatures with flashlights beaming against dark walls. But as adults mature in the Lord, we desire more and more to see clearly — first ourselves and then others.

“For now [in this time of imperfection] we see in a mirror dimly [a blurred reflection, a riddle, an enigma], but then [when the time of perfection comes we will see reality] face to face. Now I know in part [just in fragments], but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known [by God].”
1 Corinthians 13:12 AMP

As we realize our limited view, we more quickly restrain critical judgments and offensive rhetoric. Like the disciples of old, we, too, possess warped perspectives, blurred vision, and dimmed hearts.

Let Us Pray

The greatest shifts occur as we acknowledge our shortcomings and pray. Let us earnestly and consistently ask God to remove the enigmas of our flesh and the many fragmented perceptions we hold. May we see beyond the shadows people cast to God’s perspective.

Oh Father, we groan under the weight of our insufficiency. The things we think we see and know clearly, we neither know nor see. In one sense, we accept our limitations. While in another, we earnestly seek You to change us and grant us clearer vision. If ever there was a time or season when clarity of thought and motive is necessary, now is that time! May we not be like blind beggars groping in the darkness of deception. Lord Jesus, open our eyes to see as You see. Open our ears to hear Your voice. Open our hearts to respond with full obedience and alignment to Your ways. Draw us near to Your heart, that we might reflect You more and more. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for Your conviction and comfort. We are grateful, Lord Jesus, for Your incredible grace and truth that helps us to see clearly.

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Pass the Tests – A Lesson From Nehemiah

Pass the Tests – A Lesson From Nehemiah

What thoughts do you associate with tests? Are they fear-filled or hopeful? How can we prepare to pass the tests life throws our way? Writing this blog became a test when my website crashed midway through preparation!

Nehemiah teaches us how to pass the tests, even when they come in unexpected ways. Each test presented a different range of problems he overcame as he consistently moved toward his goal.

We, too, will face challenges and hurdles as we press toward all God has for us, testing our character, commitment, and courage.

Nehemiah began his journey the best way possible through prayer.

“When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.”
Nehemiah 1:4

Nehemiah had received news that the walls and gates of Jerusalem lay in piles of burnt rubble. Deeply distressed, he sought God’s direction and intervention. Unprotected, vulnerable, and open to enemy attack, the people he loved were in the worst possible position.

Serving under the king’s authority, Nehemiah set out for Jerusalem.

Test of Motive

It didn’t take long for Nehemiah’s enemies to push back. Whenever we attempt to serve God, we will experience similar opposition. Three men, in particular, faced off against Nehemiah — Sanballat, Tobiah, and Geshem.

” . . . they mocked and ridiculed us. ‘What is this you are doing? . . . Are you rebelling against the king?'” Nehemiah 2:19

Their attacks against Nehemiah aimed deep. Verbal arrows pointed at his motivation, judging him as rebellious.

“I answered them by saying, ‘The God of heaven will give us success. We his servants will start rebuilding, but as for you, you have no share in Jerusalem or any claim or historic right to it.'”
Nehemiah 2:20

Some people may delight in questioning our motives — even publicly.

Without anything to fear, this test offers a perfect opportunity to expose our true motive for the Lord’s examination. With the king’s orders in his hand, Nehemiah knew their empty claims were groundless.

Test of Ability

When Nehemiah passed his first test, his enemies became even more aggressive.

“When Sanballat heard that we were rebuilding the wall, he became angry and was greatly incensed. He ridiculed the Jews, and in the presence of his associates and the army of Samaria, he said, ‘What are those feeble Jews doing. Will they restore their wall . . . offer sacrifices . . . finish in a day? Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble — burned as they are?'”
Nehemiah 4:1-2

Our inner critic echoes similar questions. Will you? Can you?

Nehemiah wasted no time defending himself. He knew the task far exceeded human ability. The test of ability drove Nehemiah to his knees before God, asking Him to turn the enemies’ insults back upon them.

“So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.” Nehemiah 4:6

As a result, God protected the hearts of the workers. With hearts completely dedicated and trusting in God, all things are possible. Ability with heart will take anyone anywhere God leads.

Test of Courage

To pass the tests of motive and ability Nehemiah and his team consistently focused on the goal. Immediately, the troubling trio enlisted the assistance of Arabs, Ammonites and the people of Ashdod — increasing the troops of opposition.

“They all plotted together to come and fight against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it.”
Nehemiah 4:8

Nehemiah faced the threatening declarations of war in the same way he withstood every test — through prayer. The mission conceived in prayer continued in prayer. Prayer formed a solid foundation for effective, continued ministry.

“But we prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.”
Nehemiah 4:9

Little by little, a wall began to rise from the rubble. The warrior-builders proceeded with “swords, spears, and bows” strapped to their sides (4:13).

Test of Dedication

As the work continued unabated, the trio attempted to lead Nehemiah into yet another trap. Without a leader, the work would surely stop.

” . . . Come, let us meet together in one of the villages on the plain of Ono.”
Nehemiah 6:2

No matter how persistent, we must never “meet together” with the enemy at Ono or anywhere else! Four times they sent the same message. Four times Nehemiah refused (6:4).

“I sent messengers to them with this reply” ‘I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?'”
Nehemiah 6:3

Distraction and failure to recognize the significance of a task may become the greatest obstacles to reaching any goal.

In the fifth attempt the enemy added even more lies and intimidation “trying to frighten us” (6:9). Again, Nehemiah prayed.

Taking everything to God in prayer will strategically lead us to victory. We may consider our mission minor compared to what God asked Nehemiah to do, but whatever our mission, may we face every test with determination and dedication. The smallest actions may prove to have the greatest impact in the Kingdom of God.

Test of Reliance

One final test of reliance awaited Nehemiah, when a false prophet attempted to entice Nehemiah to protect himself.

” . . . Let us meet in the house of God, inside the temple, and let us close the temple doors, because men are coming to kill you — by night they are coming to kill you.”
Nehemiah 6:10

Nehemiah trusted God alone as his protection. Self-protection placed above the call to shield his people would be nothing short of sin!

“But I said, ‘Should a man like me run away? Or should someone like me go into the temple to save his life? I will not go!'”
Nehemiah 6:11

Even here, Nehemiah would pass the tests with character, commitment, and courage. As servant leader, Nehemiah set the example by placing the needs of the vulnerable above his own.

Passing the Test

By the grace of God, they completed a humanly impossible task in fifty-two days (6:15). Nehemiah trusted in God, leading the people to accomplish God’s desire for Jerusalem.

What is our calling? What mission has God placed before us? Is it raising our families, teaching a Sunday School class, or leading a small home group? Perhaps, it is boldly living our faith in the marketplace.

May the testing of our motives, ability, courage, dedication, and reliance show a depth of character, a commitment to God, and an unwavering courage in the face of opposition. From here forward, may we learn from Nehemiah’s success and emulate his consistency in prayer. Whatever God calls us to, He will equip us for. There is no shortage with our God!

“Lord make us bold for the task. Give us ears to clearly hear your direction. Grant us a steadfast heart to serve You. Through You, we pick up spiritual weapons in one hand and tools to build your Kingdom in the other. We turn our whole hearts to follow You.”

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