HAVE YOU WHOLLY FOLLOWED THE LORD?

Andy Hollifield 5-10-17

Numbers 14:24 But my servant Caleb, because he had another spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.

Numbers 32:12 Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenezite, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the Lord.

Wholly———–(1) entirely; totally; altogether; quite. (2) to the whole amount, extent, etc. (3) so as to comprise or involve all

Can that be said about you, that you wholly followed the Lord? Probably, we can all find someplace, without looking too hard, where we have slacked up in following him. I began to think about this while searching for something else. Caleb and Joshua were by no means perfect but they did have their heart set on following God. The phrase “wholly followed the Lord” is used in scripture five times and all five times refer to Joshua and/or Caleb. Keep in mind that five is the number of grace and these two definitely had a good portion of God’s grace. The first time that it was used was in Numbers 14:24 when God was speaking to Moses about Caleb. Can you imagine that: God bragging to Moses about Caleb because he was completely obedient?

Before we get too far I want to look at some things about Caleb and Joshua. Something dawned on me when I was writing this; God was pleased with Caleb and Joshua even though they had failed. Don’t get me wrong, they did their job. They scouted the land and brought back a good report. Their objective however was to bring the report back to get the children of Israel prepared to take the land. I am sure that even though they had done their job and even gave eloquent and direct passionate speeches, they failed to convince their countrymen. While we wouldn’t consider their job a failure, I am sure they did.

If we stop and think for a little bit, we have all probably been there. If you have been a parent any length of time I am sure you have. You try to talk to your kids and passionately explain to them why they need to make good decisions and you do everything except make up their mind for them and they still make the wrong choice. You share embarrassing stories about the dumb things you did and how it is without question going to turn out for them, and you allow them to use their judgment based on the indisputable facts you have presented to them, knowing there is no possible way they can make the wrong choice because they are reasonably intelligent and now are fully informed with sufficient examples, and they still manage to blow it. That isn’t a failure on your part but rather bad judgment on theirs. Such was the case with Joshua and Caleb. In spite of the positive reports, and the grapes hanging on the pole between two men, and 10 accurate reports about the land, Israel still chose wrong. No, I didn’t mess up. The other spies had accurate reports about the land itself but they had flawed assessments and poor opinions of the inhabitants based on weak faith and unbelief.

Joshua and Caleb kept trying to convince Israel to invade immediately. How often do we stop short of the glory of God being manifested in our lives just because of doubt, fear, and uncertainty? Those are all normal emotions. Thomas doubted after missing the first post resurrection appearance of Jesus to the disciples. Before you get too critical of him, think where he was just a little while prior to that. He had gone out two by two with the others and cast out devils and healed the sick just like everyone else had. Where Thomas messed up is the same way we often do. He let his emotions overcome his faith. That happens to all of us at some point or another. None of us are above it. Just like the father in Mark 9:24, sometimes we just need God to help our unbelief. Even the Psalmist mentioned being overwhelmed 7 times. Three times “he” is overwhelmed, 3 times “his spirit” is overwhelmed, and 1 time his “heart” is overwhelmed. If it happened to David and then to Thomas after all he had seen, it can happen to anyone. That is no excuse but it is simple fact. When it occurs, you can’t give in to fear and refuse to obey God as Israel did. We have to do like the Psalmist did in Psalms 61:2 when his heart got overwhelmed, just cry out to him and ask him to lead you “to the rock that is higher than I.” If our next words after getting overwhelmed was prayer rather than a complaint, think how much better off we would be as Christians.

God holds us accountable for doing what he tells us to do, not the results we may or may not get. As a young preacher this fact was pointed out to me very abruptly by a deacon at my church one Wednesday night. As I spoke with one of the ladies in my church, she asked how my ministry was and if I had been preaching a lot. I told her that I was but I just wanted to see someone saved. This deacon, Ron Radford Sr., overheard the conversation and wheeled around and told me that was none of my business. Needless to say, I kind of thought it was really none of his, until he explained himself. He told me to read my bible and I asked him to show me where he got his ideas so he obliged me. He turned in my bible to Isaiah 55:11 which in a nutshell promises that God’s word will accomplish what he wants, where he wants, when he wants, and with whomever he wants. My little twinge of anger was instantly placed by an overwhelming sense of relief! For the first time I really understood that God only holds me accountable for what he tells me to do and say. I am not responsible for what someone else may do with it or think about it. That has been probably 25 years ago and I have never forgot that lesson. I still want to see folks saved when I preach but that is God’s responsibility not mine. Big Ron, as we called him, gave me peace in my soul that night that money can’t buy. All Joshua and Caleb were responsible for was presenting the facts the best they could. They could not control whether or not they were accepted.

Now back to the question; “have you wholly followed the Lord?” It has nothing to do with results but everything to do with your obedience. Do you have “another spirit” in you like Caleb did? A spirit that drives you to do the Lord’s will regardless of the cost or how it is received. My prayer for you is that you will “wholly follow the lord”. Have a blessed day in the Lord!!!

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