Posts Tagged ‘God’s provision’

1 Samuel 19:18-24
David Flees to Ramah

Recently, I read the story of miraculous survival from World War II. These story is about surviving the sinking of battleship. On May 24th, 1941 several British warships were tracking the German battleship Bismarck in the North Atlantic. They were trying to catch up to it and sink it. Among the British ships was the pride of the British fleet, the battlecruiser HMS Hood. When they caught up with the Bismarck and her escorts a tremendous battle took place. Just 10 minutes into the battle a shell from the Bismarck hit the Hood and exploded in her magazine, where the Hood’s munitions were. This resulted in a cataclysmic explosion in the rear part of the ship, which sank almost immediately. The bow quickly became vertical and sank a little more slowly, but within three minutes all traces of the Hood were gone. Of the one thousand four hundred and eighteen men on the Hood, only three survived. Only three of almost 1500 men. One of the men who survived, Ted Briggs, told of his harrowing escape. He managed to get outside and started going down a ladder when the water reached him. He attempted to swim away from the ship but the force of the sinking ship pulled him under. He said he remembered struggling for a while, but then realized that it was hopeless as he was being carried further and further down into the ocean’s depths. So he gave up all hope. Then suddenly, he found himself being miraculously propelled back to the surface by a huge air bubble. Some air had escaped from the sinking ship and he was caught up in it. It could be that the windows on the bridge collapsed and released the air that had been trapped there. Wherever it came from it happened right under the spot where Briggs was and he shot to the surface and soon found himself among the burning oil. He was able to hang on until help arrived.

That’s an incredible story. All hope was gone and then suddenly he was saved in the most unexpected of ways. We do not always have stories of miraculous survival at sea, but still there are stories from our lives in our pasts where God has sustained us when no other explanation could be offered. I have stories like that from my past. Stories that scream God’s miraculous provision. One story from my previous job that occurred about 5 years ago is where on the surface it appeared that I had made a major mistake that could have cost me dearly but in the last minute the truth came out about the real cause of the situation and I was exonerated. Only God allowed reason to prevail long enough for the truth to come out in that situation. There are many other situations in my life where God has protected me from the sin of others, my own sins, stupid mistakes that I have made, and, sometimes, even from things that could have physically caused my death. In all these situations, we have bumps and bruises and cuts (either figurative or literal), but God does often snatch us from figurative and literal traps and pitfalls of life because he is not done with us yet. I firmly believe that.

The past should provide us with evidence of God’s provision and protection. However, we often forget it. Every time a new situation arises that seems overwhelming and seems to large and seems like it will defeat us, we forget the past. We are like the Israelites who complained and bellyached in the desert about God not providing for them and completely forgetting all the miracles that had gone down before them in the past. We are often the same. A new problem or a new danger arises and we forget. I am no different from anybody else. Even though God has provided for me and looked after me constantly over the years and saved me from my own mistakes, the bad intentions of others, just plain difficult circumstances, and even physical danger, I forget. Currently, my new job as director of business/staff pastor at Calvary Church just seems so overwhelmingly different and strange. I don’t understand the mechanics of so much that is under my area of responsibility. Although I conceptually understand stuff, the mechanics and procedures are all different and even foreign to me at times. Add to that, one of the people that reports to me just resigned for personal reasons on Thursday. So, my weekend has been a whirlwind of self-doubt and self-effacing emotions. Wondering why I even came here. Wondering. Wondering. Wondering. All self-confidence I had about myself just a short month ago in a decade long tenure in one position in the secular world. All the confidence I had about my church finance capabilities gained in a much simpler accounting system at LifeSong is gone now that I am dealing with the seemingly more complex systems here. How this one event of losing an employee rocked my world to the point of serious self-doubt is no doubt the work of Satan.

How quickly we forget God’s provision. I was not always the confident dude at Fujikura America or at LifeSong. The confidence gained and displayed in the second half of the years those dual roles back in South Carolina came after years of just figuring stuff out and God directing my steps toward understanding. God directing my steps after understanding to taking things and making them simpler and more efficient. God directing my steps to better seeing how all the pieces fit together. God protected me in those early years as learned. I must remember that every new job is like starting over as a new baby and re-learning to walk again.

When I read this morning’s passage, 1 Samuel 19:18-24, it reminded me that God is my protector and provider and that he has proven it over and over again over the years. David’s protection by God in this passage from Saul once again is a reminder that I should never doubt whether God will provide. Let’s read the passage now:

18 So David escaped and went to Ramah to see Samuel, and he told him all that Saul had done to him. Then Samuel took David with him to live at Naioth. 19 When the report reached Saul that David was at Naioth in Ramah, 20 he sent troops to capture him. But when they arrived and saw Samuel leading a group of prophets who were prophesying, the Spirit of God came upon Saul’s men, and they also began to prophesy. 21 When Saul heard what had happened, he sent other troops, but they, too, prophesied! The same thing happened a third time. 22 Finally, Saul himself went to Ramah and arrived at the great well in Secu. “Where are Samuel and David?” he demanded.

“They are at Naioth in Ramah,” someone told him.

23 But on the way to Naioth in Ramah the Spirit of God came even upon Saul, and he, too, began to prophesy all the way to Naioth! 24 He tore off his clothes and lay naked on the ground all day and all night, prophesying in the presence of Samuel. The people who were watching exclaimed, “What? Is even Saul a prophet?”

In this passage, we see again for like maybe the fourth time, the Lord saved David from certain death. Tow times he was saved by Saul’s kids (Jonathan and Michal each saved David’s life by the actions they took) and once there was a spear thrown at David that just missed him and stuck in the wall instead of David. Now, God preserves David by causing the Holy Spirit to descend on Saul and his warriors so that David could escape.

It is a reminder to us all that God provides for those who love Him. It may not always be in the way that we want. It may not always be without bumps and bruises. It may not be without the testing of our faith. It may not be without moments where we doubt whether the Lord is watching over us. I may not be without moments where we wonder why God led us to where we are. It may not be without moments where we wonder if we have done the right thing. It may not be without moments where we wonder if what we are doing is actually in God’s will or just us mistaking it for God’s will.

Those doubts that come from Satan must be offset by the memory that God is with those who love him. Those doubts must be offset by our memory of what God has done for us in the past. Those doubts must be offset by remembrance of how God provides for His people in His Word, the Bible. Satan loves it when we buy into his lies about our self-worth and whether we are following God’s will. When he takes our confidence in God away, he makes us ineffective. When he makes us ineffective, he wins. Just ask Adam and Eve.

We must remember what God has done. There is a prayer from Deuteronomy that I must always keep in mind as I progress down this new and unknown path at Calvary Church. It says, “Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands (Deuteronomy 7:9).

Amen and Amen.

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1 Samuel 10:17-27 (Part 2 of 3)
Saul Is Acclaimed King

Sitting here this morning as I get back into the routine of my normal everyday life, after two weeks of vacation, I realize another year has begun. I am pondering this morning about the possibilities that a new year brings. A reset button mentally and emotionally is afforded by the passing of one year into the next. It got me to thinking about the what ifs of 2018 and God’s calling on my life.

At some point in the future, I will be offered a job in full-time ministry. It is a given in my mind. It will happen. And it will most likely move us away from this place that we have come to know and love in Lyman, SC and a church that we know and love in LifeSong Church. For all these past 6, almost 7, years since I have felt the call to full-time ministry, there will come a day when I have to make a decision.

Currently, yes, I have been playing the part of a full-time ministry wannabe. I have been educating myself for the task. I have gotten a second master’s degree, this time a Master of Arts in Christian Ministry (May 2014) to go along with my master’s degree in business management. I am currently a doctoral candidate for my D. Min. degree (starting my second year in the D.Min program this week). I play a significant role in the financial and administrative functioning of our church. I am considered part of the leadership team there at LifeSong Church. It is all, I think, part of God’s preparation of me for my future task. My wife is oh so active in our church’s work in the community as the director of community outreach. Although neither one of us is compensated by the church, we are significant contributors to various operations of our church. But yet, it is my secular job at Fujikura America, Inc. (FAI) that is the fuel that drives the engine of our lives. Were it not for the compensation that I receive from FAI over these past 10 years, none of the things that we do for our church and none of the things that we have accomplished financially over the past decade would have been possible. I have a great job there. Although my title is only comptroller, I am in essence the chief financial officer of my company. I am compensated well both in regular compensation but in bonuses each year as well. My benefits package is amazing for this day and age in corporate America. My wife and I have been blessed beyond measure by God’s providence in guiding me to this position a decade ago. There were great sacrifices made when I first started working there just to demonstrate to the company that I was dedicated and willing – moving across country twice among them. I have been and am considered excellent at what I do and have been rewarded financially as a result. In the meantime, God has been calling me to the ministry. And there will be a day when I have to walk away from this season of wonderful financial blessing.

The question that keeps me up at night is what will I do? By all accounts, I should just ride this gravy train for another 10 years and then ride off into the sunset of retirement. During these additional 10 years, I will have amassed even greater assets in my 401k. I will have in the next 10 years made a significant dent in my mortgage in preparation for retirement. I will have most likely been able to pay off my daughter’s undergraduate student loans. By all accounts within the next decade, I will have accomplished all the financial goals that my wife and I have wanted to have accomplished by the time we retire. But all during this time, God has been calling me to ministry. All during this time, I have said that I will answer the call. All during this time, we have been preparing financially by living a modest life, even though we have the earning capacity for much greater. All during this time, we have been able to pay off may debts. All during this time, I have been doing all the things that God has called me to do as prep work. We are ready for when the call to full-time ministry comes.

But what will I do when it comes? Will I step into it or will I hide among the baggage? It is this idea of stepping into what God has called you to do that I thought of when I read through this passage today for a second time, 1 Samuel 10:17-27. Let’s read it together now:

17 Later Samuel called all the people of Israel to meet before the Lord at Mizpah. 18 And he said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, has declared: I brought you from Egypt and rescued you from the Egyptians and from all of the nations that were oppressing you. 19 But though I have rescued you from your misery and distress, you have rejected your God today and have said, ‘No, we want a king instead!’ Now, therefore, present yourselves before the Lord by tribes and clans.”

20 So Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel before the Lord, and the tribe of Benjamin was chosen by lot. 21 Then he brought each family of the tribe of Benjamin before the Lord, and the family of the Matrites was chosen. And finally Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them. But when they looked for him, he had disappeared! 22 So they asked the Lord, “Where is he?”

And the Lord replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.” 23 So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else.

24 Then Samuel said to all the people, “This is the man the Lord has chosen as your king. No one in all Israel is like him!”

And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

25 Then Samuel told the people what the rights and duties of a king were. He wrote them down on a scroll and placed it before the Lord. Then Samuel sent the people home again.

26 When Saul returned to his home at Gibeah, a group of men whose hearts God had touched went with him. 27 But there were some scoundrels who complained, “How can this man save us?” And they scorned him and refused to bring him gifts. But Saul ignored them.

[Nahash, king of the Ammonites, had been grievously oppressing the people of Gad and Reuben who lived east of the Jordan River. He gouged out the right eye of each of the Israelites living there, and he didn’t allow anyone to come and rescue them. In fact, of all the Israelites east of the Jordan, there wasn’t a single one whose right eye Nahash had not gouged out. But there were 7,000 men who had escaped from the Ammonites, and they had settled in Jabesh-gilead.][a]

In this passage, we see that when the Israelites assembled to choose a king, Saul already knew he was the one (1 Samuel 10:1). Instead of coming forward, he hid among the baggage. Often, we hide from important responsibilities because we are afraid of failure, afraid of what others might think, or perhaps unsure about how to proceed. We are reminded from this passage that we must prepare now to step up to our future responsibilities. We must count on God’s provision rather than our feelings of adequacy for the task or our own abilities.

It is that question that plagues me, will I have the faith that I have talked about having when the time comes to, as they say, “put up or shut up!” For all my whining over the past few years about God’s timing being too slow, will I have the trust in God to step into the opportunity when it comes. Will I step out or hide in the baggage?

Many of us have the same faith challenges when it comes to stepping out in faith into what God has called you to do? Will you and will I have the faith to trust in the Lord to provide and make a way. In Matthew 8:19-22, we see a person who considered himself a disciple tell Jesus that He was willing to follow Him wherever He may go, but first he wanted to go home and bury his father. Later in Matthew 19:16-20, we see Jesus tell a rich young man to go sell everything he had and follow him. Will I use the excuses of family matters (my first grandchild is 17 months old and just beginning to realize who Poppy is)? Will I use the excuse of financial security? Or will I follow the call of the Lord? Will I step out in faith in what God will make abundantly clear as my call to mission or will I hide behind and among the baggage? Will I use excuses that sound perfectly reasonable to the world and to my family as to why I turned down whatever comes? Or will I go against all the sensibilities of this world and follow Jesus’ call on my life simply on the faith that He will provide for me? Will I have the faith that God will make a way for me? Will I have the faith that God will actually strengthen my family relationships through choosing to follow Him? Will I have faith to simply obey and follow God? Will I have faith?

Or will I hide among the reasonable excuses when the time comes? Will I hide among the baggage? I pray that I have enough faith and enough trust in the Lord to step into His calling when the time comes.

Amen and Amen.

Numbers 28:26-31

The Festival of Pentecost

Today, we have the closing on the sale of our house for the past six years, and during the past six years, our house, bought at the bottom of the Great Recession (2008-2010) in 2010, has since appreciated in a nice little way. It has increased in value by 13% in those six years. Today, we harvest that crop, that value increase. It is a reminder of God’s faithfulness to us even in uncertain times. When we bought the house six (6) years ago, Elena and I were still newlyweds having been married about a year and a half. So, this house was our first major purchase together and it was in this house that we learned greater and greater dependence on the Lord. Until one of our friends in California told us to just check and see if we were pre-qualified for a mortgage, we would not have even considered buying a home when we moved back to South Carolina in 2010. We were thinking of continuing to rent until we followed the advice of this friend. We thought because of my credit past that we would never qualify. However, while in California, we faithful in taking on my past credit mistakes and paying them off as we could. Instead of blowing refunds and bonuses on extravagances, we paid off old debts and negotiated settlements on them to clear my credit profile. That plowing of the fields in preparation was necessary for us to be in a position in 2010 to buy our first house together as a couple. The purchase of the house was a seed planted. Today is the harvest of the planting.

 

During the past six years, we have been faithful to the Lord with our firstfruits of my income. We have been faithful in that. The Lord has taught about being obedient to Him in our finances and we have learned to be less concerned with keeping up with the Joneses and more concerned with pleasing God. During this time, we have learned that the blessings of obedience to the Lord in our finances is not some investment/payback scenario where you invest in God and he will bring you cash blessings as some huckster media preachers might suggest. The blessing of being financially obedient to the Lord means that He changes your mindset about riches and what blessings are. The blessing is no longer chasing after things but rather seeking to be generous to God and watching Him use it to bless the world around us. The blessing is changing from a mindset of consumerism to a mindset of generosity. The peace that comes with being obedient to the Lord and seeking to live on 90% or less of what we make is amazing. The peace that comes desiring fewer things and less debt is eye-opening. Being able to be generous instead of just wishing to be begins with being faithful to God’s Word when it comes to our finances. The peace of knowing that God will provide when we quit worshiping our money and our things is the biggest blessing of all. Placing our trust in the Lord through obedience begins with our finances and trickles down to the rest of our lives.

 

Today, when we close on the sale of our house. It is a celebration of what God has done in our lives during the past six years. It is a time to celebrate His provision in our lives. It is a time to celebrate how He has grown Elena and me over the past six years. Six years ago, we might not have seen the power of God’s provision in our lives as we do today. It would have been seen as more of as the luck of the market. But six years later, we are able to see God’s orchestration of our lives. The way that He orchestrated our desire to live more simply in a smaller home, the timing of our meeting our real estate agent, the timing of our finding the home that we are going to purchase, all of it stems from our being faithful and obedient to the Lord. Today, we celebrate the growth that God has done in us through our obedience to Him. Today is more than a sale of a house, it is a celebration of God’s provision. I do not tell you these things to boast but rather as a signal to those who wonder if it is worth to be obedient to the Lord in the last area of our lives that we typically give up to Him – our finances. Our finances, our harvest, is one area that the Lord invites us to test Him as He states in Malachi.

 

Ours is a story of trying to live our lives our own way and not being obedient to the Lord. Our finances are the evidence of the things that we worship and thus making our finances obedient to the Lord is the first step in being obedient to the Lord in all areas of life. Being obedient to the Lord in our finances is not some cash invest/cash return scheme. It is about learning to trust the Lord to provide for us. It is about trusting that God is our provider and that He will never leave us. It is about changing your mindset about money. So, this is not boasting, but as evidence of how trusting the Lord with your finances brings blessing of peace that are what He desires for us. Today, we celebrate God’s provision and His blessing upon our lives. Today, we celebrate what He has done in our minds, hearts, and souls over the past six years. It’s more than a sale of our house. It is celebrating God’s bounty and His provision in our lives.

 

It is that idea of being obedient to the Lord and reaping the blessings from that I thought of when I read today’s passage, Numbers 28:26-31, with its talk about the offerings to be made at the Festival of Pentecost, fifty days after the Festival of First Fruits. The Pentecost festival was a celebration of the harvest. It was a celebration of what God has done and how He has provided for His people. The similarities of this festival to the life event that Elena and I go through today is not lost on me. Let’s read the details of the offering together but keeping in mind what the Festival of Pentecost was all about:

 

 

26 “‘On the day of firstfruits, when you present to the Lord an offering of new grain during the Festival of Weeks, hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. 27 Present a burnt offering of two young bulls, one ram and seven male lambs a year old as an aroma pleasing to the Lord. 28 With each bull there is to be a grain offering of three-tenths of an ephah of the finest flour mixed with oil; with the ram, two-tenths; 29 and with each of the seven lambs, one-tenth. 30 Include one male goat to make atonement for you. 31 Offer these together with their drink offerings, in addition to the regular burnt offering and its grain offering. Be sure the animals are without defect.

 

 

To the Jews, this time of celebration is known as Shavout, which is the Hebrew word meaning “weeks.” This is one of three separate names that are used in Scripture to refer to this important Jewish feast. Each name emphasizes an important aspect of the feast as well as its religious and cultural significance to both Jews and Christians. Besides being called the Feast of Weeks in Leviticus 23, this special feast celebration is called the “Day of the Firstfruits” in Numbers 28:26 and the “Feast of Harvest” in Exodus 23:16.

 

The Feast of Weeks takes place exactly 50 days after the Feast of Firstfruits. It normally occurs in late spring, either the last part of May or the beginning of June. Unlike other feasts that began on a specific day of the Hebrew calendar, this one is calculated as being “fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath” (Leviticus 23:15–16; Deuteronomy 16:9–10).

 

The festival was instituted by God to remind His people to be thankful to Him for His provision in the harvest. How often do we forget that it is through God’s providential care for our lives that He provides us with the talents that we have? He gifts each one of us with the talents that we have and that makes each one of us unique qualified to do something. We use these talents to earn money in the vocations that he gives the talent for. God guides us toward those vocations that will use the talents that He gives us. Some are accountants, some are mechanics, some are engineers, some are talented to be stay at home wives and mothers, and so on. We all have God given talents that we use to earn money. Thus, our money comes from Him and the way He talents us. Thus, should we not honor Him by giving Him the first fruit of the harvest of our wages? He commands that we give Him the first fruits of our labors. When we are obedient, He provides and He blesses. There are times that we must celebrate that. Today, Elena and I celebrate our Pentecost Festival. It is not lost on us how God has provided for us and how He has changed us and how He is the Master of everything. So, it’s more than just a sale of a house today. It is a celebration of God’s provision.

 

Amen and Amen.

Numbers 21:4-9 (Part 1 of 2)

The Bronze Snake

Man, are you not tired of the whining and complaining of the Israelites? These guys are just never happy. Seems as though in every chapter, they are complaining about something. It’s like going on a long trip with your kids. Are we there yet? Are we there yet? He’s touching me. He’s on my side of the car! He’s picking his nose and trying to put boogers on me! I gotta pee! Do we have to go to grandma’s house? Are we there yet? It is funny and maddening all at the same time. Kids don’t realize that there every need has been met but yet they on focus on the moment or focus on what they don’t have. Rather than observing the beauty of the world around them, they focus on what they don’t have. Rather than focus on seeing new things on the journey, they focus on what they don’t have. Whining and complaining.

 

I know we are all like kids on a long trip at times in our lives. Sometimes, we intentionally sabotage our lives and then complain at the result. I have some friends who are suffering through marital trouble because of sin and yet they complain about their lives. Both have done things that have disrespected their marriage and their spouse. Both refuse to be the one to change. Rather, they focus on seeking only what they want and complain because the other one does not give that to them. They would rather justify their own actions by the sin of the other. Just as the Israelites were wandering in the desert because they refused to trust God and complained about the conditions of their lives, I see the same with these two friends. Neither is willing to trust God with the sins of the other and would rather complain about the condition of their lives on the other. Neither is willing to take their focus off the sins of the other and see their own sin for what it is. This marriage will never be healed as long as each of them are blaming the other’s sins as the break point for their own behavior. The marriage right now reminds me of that movie, The War, with Kevin Costner and Elijah Wood. The battle begins over supremacy over a tree house built by one group of kids and then another group of kids try to take it over. By the end of the “war” sequence toward the end of the movie, the tree house catches on fire and there is nothing left to win. These two are burning their tree house down. In the movie, the only thing that changed the all out war between the two groups was an act of selfless love by Elijah Wood’s character by helping save the littlest brother of the other group from drowning. The near-death of the little boy took their focus off their war and put things into perspective. Each group realized that family and friends were more valuable that some old tree house. When are my friends going to realize that they have the potential to be this awesome couple, one a brilliant man with the ability to teach that is amazing, the other a super-talented artist who could be far more than a local artist. They could be this dynamic couple who could be so much more than they are right now. Right now their concentrating on burning their tree house down rather than focusing on what they do have. Both must quit whining and complaining about each other and look their own sins square in the face and repent. Both most see their marriage as more important than their own desires and hurts. But must look up to the Lord rather than at each other’s faults. Both must work on themselves and their own sins rather than pointing the finger at the other’s sins.

 

At the same time, the Lord provides for them regardless of their kids on the long trip back seat squabbles that they are having. They have so much to be thankful for if they would just see beyond pointing at their spouse’s sin. They have four bright, intelligent children. God has provided them with a home that is perfect for their large family. The Lord has provided the husband with a job that is right down his alley as the academic that he is. A brilliantly gifted teacher finds a job teaching Bible to middle schoolers at a Christian school. That is God all in that. That’s not just random. The Lord has provided the wife with numerous opportunities around town and in schools to express her amazing talent as a visual artist. She is a budding artist who could become world renowned one day, I just know it. The kids are apples close to the tree as well. Each one with wonderfully unique talents that will take them far. However, there is a pall over this family as the husband and wife self-destruct their God-given tree house. Although God amazing provides for this family at every turn. They can’t see the miracles for complaining about each other and using their spouse’s shortcomings as a reason to continue in their own sins.

 

I just want to say to them, “wake up before it’s too late!” God has blessed you two even when you have been completely disobedient to Him. He is blessing you right now and you can’t even see it. They are the Israelites wandering in the wilderness having their needs met at every turn, but yet complaining about the fact that they are in the desert. They fail to see the miracles that God has given them. They fail to see how God has provided for them in miraculous fashion even though they have put themselves in the desert. Can’t they see that God is doing this because He has something special in store for them. He is holding on for them until they wake up and take hold of what God has in store for them. Wake up. Wake up. Give forgiveness. Be the change that you seek in your marriage. When you both quit wallowing in your sins and complaints and justifications, God will use you in ways that I cannot even imagine. I pray for them. They could be this awesome couple that soars with the eagles and impacts many, many lives in ways that my wife and I could only imagine. They have so much talent and so much to offer as a disciple-making couple, but right now they are mired in looking horizontally rather than looking vertically to the Lord. Right now they are focused on what’s wrong with their sibling in the back seat on a long trip. Right now, they are focused on the fact that the manna is the same every day. Right now, they are focused on defending the tree house. Right now, they are focused on what’s wrong instead of what’s right. Right now, they are focused on pointing out what’s wrong with the other rather than repenting of their own sins. Right now, they are whining and complaining while the manna of provision is dropping on the dewy grass around them.

 

My dear friends are what came immediately to mind when I read through this passage for the first time today. I know that the classic view of this passage is about the similarities of the bronze snake on a pole to Jesus Christ on the cross is the big point of the passage (and we will deal with that tomorrow), but first I wanted to address the issue of the complaints that lead to the poison that almost destroyed the Israelites. Let’s read the passage now together, Numbers 21:4-9:

 

4 They traveled from Mount Hor along the route to the Red Sea,[a] to go around Edom. But the people grew impatient on the way; 5 they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food!”

 

6 Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.

 

8 The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.

 

Are you whining and complaining? How’s that going for you? Are you failing to see the amazing ways that God provides for you even when you are not looking or noticing? Are you whining and complaining as you pick up your daily manna? Are you destroying a good thing by focusing on the negative things? Let us see God’s provision and be thankful for it. I know that I could be living on the street in a moment’s notice if it were not for the provision of God and the miracle that He lets me do what I do and get paid for it. There are so many stupid decisions that I have made in my life that forced me to wander in the desert for years but yet the Lord still provided for this arrogant proud sinner. He was waiting for me to wake up and look up at Him as the provision for my life. He was waiting for me to grab hold of what He had in store for my life rather than focusing on my self-centered and destructive ways. We waste so much time in our sins and not taking hold of the hand of God. We waste so much time trying to justify our sins that we fail to see what God is doing in our lives. We waste so much time pointing out what’s wrong with our lives and with the lives of those who have hurt us rather than seeing the amazing provision of God even when we are not looking. There’s a big pointing finger, a neon sign, of God’s provision that we are ignoring while mired on our complaints. We are Debbie Downer at Disney World. God’s provision abounds around us and we want to burn the tree house down. Help us Lord, oh help us to see your miracles. To see your provision. To be thankful that you love us even when we are rebellious in our sins. Thankful that you provide even when we shake our fist at you. Help us Lord to grab hold of your miracles and be obedient to you and take hold of what you have had planned for us all along.

 

Amen and Amen.