I didn’t know this morning how my “spirit” would be tested. Caleb from the Old Testament is one of my favorite Bible characters. I love his enthusiasm and optimism. I love that at age 85 he felt just as strong as when he as a 40-year-old went to explore the land of Canaan. While there, he fell in love with a mountain area, and he asked Moses if he could have that as inheritance. But he had to conquer it!
How could he feel just as strong at 85 as when he was 40? It probably was thanks to the manna diet! I’m talking about a man who spent 40 years in the desert, eating manna. No variety in his diet. The same thing every day! But it was bread from heaven! You can read about it in Exodus 16. God would not feed his people any kind of food. That “dew” that covered the ground every morning must have contained every kind of nutrient the body needed to stay strong and healthy.
Moses ate manna. “Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eye was undimmed, and his vigor unabated” (Deut. 34:7). I wish I had the eyesight of Moses! And his vigor! It was the desert air and the manna diet! The manna “was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey” (Exodus 16:31).
The story that I’ve worked on this week is about the spies that Moses sent to explore the Promised Land. I asked the Lord to give me a word for the teachers. That is my standard request on Thursday mornings. That’s when the words “a different spirit” stood out. God himself said those words about one of the spies.
But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it. Numbers 14:24
What was this “different spirit” about? Caleb “wholly followed the Lord.” That’s the kind of people we need to be.
My hero Caleb returning with sample grapes.
When the spies came back, ten of them discouraged the people. Caleb and his friend Joshua were the only ones that believed that God would be with them to conquer the land. When the people heard the bad reports of the faithless spies they cried the entire night! They wanted to choose another leader and go back to Egypt! And about Joshua and Caleb… they wanted to stone them!
God was tired of the grumbling people and punished them by having them wander for 40 years in the desert, until the unbelieving generation had died.
But his servant Caleb, because he had a different spirit and followed God fully, would go into the Promised Land, and his descendants would possess it.
So, here is the story of the strong 85-year-old:
Then the people of Judah came to Joshua at Gilgal. And Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite said to him, “You know what the Lord said to Moses the man of God in Kadesh-barnea concerning you and me. I was forty years old when Moses the servant of the Lord sent me from Kadesh-barnea to spy out the land, and I brought him word again as it was in my heart.
“But my brothers who went up with me made the heart of the people melt; yet I wholly followed the Lord my God. And Moses swore on that day, saying, ‘Surely the land on which your foot has trodden shall be an inheritance for you and your children forever, because you have wholly followed the Lord my God.’
“And now, behold, the Lord has kept me alive, just as he said, these forty-five years since the time that the Lord spoke this word to Moses, while Israel walked in the wilderness. And now, behold, I am this day eighty-five years old. I am still as strong today as I was in the day that Moses sent me; my strength now is as my strength was then, for war and for going and coming.
“So now give me this hill country of which the Lord spoke on that day, for you heard on that day how the Anakim were there, with great fortified cities. It may be that the Lord will be with me, and I shall drive them out just as the Lord said.”
Then Joshua blessed him, and he gave Hebron to Caleb the son of Jephunneh for an inheritance. Therefore Hebron became the inheritance of Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite to this day, because he wholly followed the Lord, the God of Israel. Joshua 14:6-14
How was my “spirit” tested? It’s being tested as I’m writing. I got ready to dive into all the files I needed to prepare for uploading the story. Guess what? I couldn’t open them!
My assistant had her computer updated and cleaned and the person helping her installed another version of the program we work with. It’s complicated. She should have been at her home office, so we could resolve this, but she was in some distant suburb in Lima running an errand. (Lima has some 10 million people so there are distances to conquer!) I’m glad God is helping me to keep my cool. That’s what I mean by my “spirit” being tested.
Have you ever tried to work with someone thousands of miles away? We only look at each other through Skype and things that challenge my “cool” come up from time to time. Now I feel sorry for all the teachers across Latin America waiting for their story. This might take some time for us to resolve.
How would Moses have handled it?
“Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). That’s the “spirit” he had. He was humble. And he had a very special relationship with God. When his brother and sister spoke up against him, this is how God answered:
And the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent and called Aaron and Miriam, and they both came forward. And he said, “Hear my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord make myself known to him in a vision; I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses. He is faithful in all my house. With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?” Numbers 12:5-8
God punished Miriam with leprosy. Did Moses tell her, “Good for you. You deserve it. Why did you complain? Suck it up and go on with life as a leper.” No, he prayed for her. That’s the kind of “spirit” he had!
What about Daniel?
How did he handle his problem-situations? In the worst of moments, when his fellow-workers had tricked the king into making a decree that whoever prayed to someone else than the king for thirty days would be thrown to the lions, he prayed!.
When Daniel knew that the document had been signed, he went to his house where he had windows in his upper chamber open toward Jerusalem. He got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously. Daniel 6:10
The king had been tricked. He knew what kind of a man Daniel was. When Daniel was brought and cast into the den of lions, the king declared, “May your God, whom you serve continually, deliver you!” (Read the complete story in Daniel 6.)
Daniel slept well that night. The lions kept him warm!
A good night’s sleep for a cool guy.
But the king could not sleep. He didn’t eat, and he wanted no diversions.
Then, at break of day, the king arose and went in haste to the den of lions. As he came near to the den where Daniel was, he cried out in a tone of anguish. The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”
Then Daniel said to the king, “O king, live forever! My God sent his angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, because I was found blameless before him; and also before you, O king, I have done no harm.”
Then the king was exceedingly glad, and commanded that Daniel be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no kind of harm was found on him, because he had trusted in his God. Daniel 6:19-23
How about Joseph?
What kind of “spirit” did he have?
Joseph was treated unjustly by his envious brothers. They sold him as a slave. “The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master” (Genesis 39:2). But there he was accused of making sexual advanced to his master’s wife. What a horrible thing for an honest young man like Joseph! And he was put in prison.
But the Lord was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. And the keeper of the prison put Joseph in charge of all the prisoners who were in the prison. Whatever was done there, he was the one who did it. The keeper of the prison paid no attention to anything that was in Joseph’s charge, because the Lord was with him. And whatever he did, the Lord made it succeed. Genesis 39:21-23
After interesting turn of events, he ended up in the king’s palace, advising the king about his strange dreams. When Joseph suggested to the king that he find a man as his administrator the coming years, Pharaoh said to his servants, “Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God?” (Genesis 41:38).
That, my friend is the key! We need to have the Spirit of God in us.
How did God describe David?
“[God] raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will’” (Acts 13:22).
O, to be a man/woman after God’s heart!
“I have found David, my servant; with my holy oil I have anointed him” (Psalm 89:20).
Today we can be anointed with power by the Holy Spirit.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:8
How was Paul’s “spirit”?
But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. Acts 20:24
The only thing that mattered to Paul was to finish the race and the ministry. Once a zealous young man persecuting the followers of Christ, he was now zealous follower of Christ, unto the end.
I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7-8
What about Abraham?
He was a man who was called a friend of God (James 2:23).
There is so much to say about this obedient servant of God. Paul wrote about walking in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had (see Romans 4:2-12).
But now, my friend, I can do something about my weekly story. My assistant is back from her outing, and she has saved all the files in a new format. Instead of starting in the morning to work on getting them ready, I will start now, in the evening.
We’ll talk some more another time. Keep the thought about what “spirit” you have. We want a different spirit, one that honors Christ in whatever circumstance.
We need to explore some of the Bible women with a different spirit.
I’m glad I kept my cool.