“Little things are important.” “It’s the little things that mean the most.” These are sayings most of us have heard all our lives. The reason little things are important and matter so much is that big things are made up of little things. Little things require a lot of thought, discipline, commitment, and sacrifice. That means that little things are actually “big things.”
When children become pre-teens and teens, they think more abstractly and become more self-focused. When this happens, they want to know “why” before they carry out instructions. If they’re not told “why,” or if it makes no sense to them, they often resist the request or directive.
At times, parents need to take more time to explain the reasoning behind their directives. But, because of their age and experience, parents know and foresee things their children are unable to. So there are times when a child needs to trust their parent’s wisdom, intentions, and love…even though the child doesn’t have the information they desire.
“No one is above the law.” This statement is cliché and almost laughable in this day and age. High officials regularly navigate around the law, gang members seem to do whatever they choose, ministers sexually abuse women and children…the list goes on and on. Some are caught and tried, but a large majority of people will continue to violate the law, seemingly undetected.
Deuteronomy chapter 17 stresses the importance of careful and complete adherence to God’s law; whether you’re a lowly citizen or a high official.
Have you ever noticed that when it comes to details, there are people who are more specific in nature and people who are more general in nature.
Specific people meticulously read the instructions before starting. General people just jump in, occasionally glancing over the instructions…if they look at them at all.
Specific people will sit at a red light for five minutes waiting for the light to change…even when no one else is at the intersection. General people will stop at the red light, but if no one else is there, and they’re already been waiting longer than they think they should, they will drive on.
Specific people see a rule as something to be followed. General people see a rule as something to be considered.
When it comes to worship, are you more general or specific?
When I was younger, I used to think that success was dependent upon talent, or skill, or wealth, or connectedness. I thought those who were successful merely had the right stuff and/or were in the right place at the right time.
There’s no doubt that these things are helpful, but the older I get, the more I’ve come to believe that success is much more about being persistent and consistent. Persistence and consistency are the two inseparable keys to success…both temporally and spiritually. In his book by the same name, Eugene Peterson called it “a long obedience in the same direction.”
Remember when you were a kid and the sight of fireflies, shooting stars, and rainbows would cause you to stop in awe? Remember when your parents seemed so big and powerful that the sound of their voice would quickly snap you into obedience?
As we grow up, we tend to lose our child-like sense of awe, as well as our desire and willingness to obey authority.
We can also lose our sense of awe and obedience when it comes to our relationship with God. We lose our awe of God when we become too familiar with Him or too indifferent to Him. We lose our willingness to obey God when our self-motivated desires dampen our desire for prompt and complete obedience to Him.
In Deuteronomy chapter 5, Moses reminds the children of Israel that the key to their relationship with God, as well as their success in the world, would come from maintaining their awe of Him and their obedience to Him.
Awe and obedience should still be the core of our life and relationship with God. Without them, our life will lack power, passion, and production for God. Perhaps that’s why Jesus put such an emphasis on becoming child-like…as opposed to childish. (Matt. 18:3) (1 Cor. 13:11)
Our lives need to be based in awe over God’s indescribable greatness and obedience to His perfect Word. And one will prompt the other. If we reclaim our awe of God, it will renew our obedience to Him. If we improve our obedience to God, it will increase our awe of Him.
Have you lost your awe over the greatness of God? Do you find yourself treating obedience to God more as an option than a mandate? Pick one to focus on and the other will not be far behind.
Some people make things harder than they have to be. These people complicate things by ignoring suggestions and instructions. They like doing things their own way. They open the box and begin putting pieces together, without reading the instructions.
In Deuteronomy chapter 1, Moses begins a speech to the Israelites who are preparing to cross over into the Promised Land. In the speech, Moses reminds them that the generations before them had made things harder than they needed to be. They had turned an eleven day trip into a forty year trip, because they chose to do things their own way, rather than follow God’s lead.
God had their blessing in hand and was holding it out to them. He promised to pave the way and handle the difficulties they would face. All they had to do was go and occupy.
But their fear and discouragement led them to doubt God. They refuse His direction…and thus His blessing. So the previous generation spent forty years wandering in the wilderness, never receiving what God longed to give them.
I have a feeling I would be shocked and dismayed at how much un-necessary wandering I’ve done, simply because I was afraid to go and occupy. How many times during a single day does God hold some blessing out before me and longs for me to make it my own, only to see me wander and stumble trying to do things my own way.
God, help us to hear the words “Go and occupy” at every turn, and to respond without hesitation.
What is it that God is calling you to do that you’re hesitating to do? Spend this week asking God to give you the courage to step out in faith.
As any cook knows, it takes a variety of ingredients to make a great dish. Yes, some cooks make incredible dishes by somewhat randomly throwing a variety of things into a pot, but most tend to follow a recipe…whether it’s in their head or on a piece of paper.
Numbers chapter 31 is a recipe of sorts. It’s a chapter that covers a variety of ingredients for a well lived life. Many of these ingredients are so simple and common we tend to overlook them, if not reminded once in a while.
When you read Numbers chapters 22-24, it’s easy to just zero in on the talking donkey story. And why wouldn’t you?! It’s big, unusual, and supernatural! The rest of the text is just a lot of talking, urging, pleading, and manipulating. That kind of stuff happens all the time.
I think that is exactly the point of the story.
Isn’t it funny that we will rabidly search for dramatic and supernatural signs from God while ignoring the simple and clear “God answers” right in front of us? And this is especially true if the answer right in front of us is “NO.”
If you’ve ever had trouble following directions, you can relate to Moses. There was a specific time in Moses’ life when failing to follow God’s directions cost him dearly.
In Numbers chapter 20, God tells Moses to gather everyone in front of a rock and speak to the rock, that it might provide water for the grumbling Israelites. But rather than speaking to the rock, Moses strikes the rock with his staff. Because of this, Moses was not permitted to enter into the Promised Land.
You may be thinking, “What’s so bad about striking the rock?” There’s two problems with it: