Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Saturday, 3 Feb 18:
1. Exodus 17:2 – You test God when you do not trust Him to provide for your needs.
2. Exodus 17:2 – “Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, ‘Give us water to drink.’ And Moses said to them, ‘Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?’” It is easy to act nice or good when things are going well. But how someone acts under pressure reveals the truth of their character and the truth of their relationship with God. Under pressure (stress, fear, hunger, sickness, etc), people are more inclined to become self-centered and to lash out at others if they lack spiritual strength. Relationships start to become more “dog eat dog” – “It’s you and me until it’s you or me,” syndrome. Emotions overcome reason. In this situation, one might say, “He acted out of character;” however, in truth, the person’s true character was revealed. James, chapter 4 explains Exodus 17:2, and relational conflict in general, perfectly: “What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions are at war within you? You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:1-3) Quarrels are the product of selfishness and a godless perspective. Even when offended, the Christ-centered Christian understands that God is in complete control and will provide, that the offender is trapped in sin on “knows not what [he does]”, and that it is love that prevails. The mature Christian understands that stress and conflict are tests of faith, revealing the truth of a person’s faith. How do you act under stress and when offended? When tested, pray that you will remain Spirit-led and that God will use that opportunity to reveal to you the truth of your heart. Also, remember this truth when dealing with others. What are the spiritual conditions and emotions behind their offensive behavior? Remember that they are trapped in sin. They are not your enemy; they are your goal for reconciliation. The enemy is the Tempter, Satan. In your relationships, don’t represent yourself, represent Jesus.
3. Exodus 17:3 – “But the people thirsted there for water, and the people grumbled against Moses and said, ‘Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?’” Ultimately, grumblers, complainers, and whiners lack spiritual maturity. They tend to blame their circumstances and other people for their childish behavior, and they tend to avoid personal responsibility with victimization language – “Everything is against me so I can’t do the right thing.” They become catastrophists, making things worse than they really are, and as a result, they sink deeper into ineffectiveness and sin. Your job is to lead them out of their dark place to the light of Jesus. Like a drowning person, they will try to drag you down with them, but remember, you cannot save them if you are struggling in the sea of emotions too.
4. Exodus 17:6 – “And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.” God wants your obedient life to be a witness to others as He honors your obedience and works mightily through you to reveal Himself.
5. Exodus 17:7 — “Is the LORD among us or not?” Because of their lack of faith, the exiles quickly lost hope and rapidly spiraled into abandoned sin. Among the great Christian virtues of “faith, hope, and love,” this mob lacked all of them because, ultimately, they lacked the foundation of faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Faith is believing God, not just believing ‘in’ God but believing God; not only acknowledging that He exists (as even demons do) but trusting Him enough to obey Him, regardless. As God explains in Exodus, he tested the people to see if they would obey. The Christian life is about believing God. It is about living by every word that proceeds from His mouth (Deut. 8:3; Matt. 4:4). Faith walks with God one day at a time. Hope is faith looking forward, completely trusting God with the future because of what we know of Him and His love today. As the Bible says, “Now faith is the assurance [or substance] of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) Faith is the assurance or substance of our hope, giving us hope unlike the world (which is more like a fantastical wish or dream) but rather a hope that is total, unquestioned confidence because we know without a doubt the God is God and He keeps His promises of love for us, a hope of substance. Our hope is a “sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” keeping us from being tossed about aimlessly and beaten against the rocks like a ship in a storm without an anchor. (Hebrews 6:19) Our anchor keeps us from drifting away slowly in the tide of sin. The exiles in today’s readings did not have hope founded on faith and their ship was in peril. Without faith and hope, they lacked love. So, in their grief, they did what the faithless do, they lashed out against each other – hurting people hurt people. As Christians, our suffering gives us an opportunity to display God’s love which is founded on faith, which has assured hope, which
is anchored in Christ. Under persecution, today’s Psalmist describes his faith-based hope: “But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” (Psalm 13:5, 6) I pray that, in our trials, our faith, hope, and love will cause us to “rejoice” and “sing”, thereby glorifying God to others.
6. Exodus 17:10 – “So Joshua did as Moses told him.” God expects our faith to give us the confidence to not only obey Him but also to submit to earthly authorities. Christians should model obedience. Question: Do you drive the speed limit on the highways when no one is around or a bit faster because “It’s no big deal.”?
7. Exodus 17:12 – “But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.” God’s primary command is love, and with that command as central, He expects us to work together in love to accomplish His purposes. He will intentionally task us in ways that require interdependence. We cannot do what God wants us to do in isolation. How are you supporting the Christians around you? How have you asked for their support to do God’s will? Remember, “Two by two He sent them.”
8. Exodus 17:14, 15 – “Write this as a memorial in a book…. And Moses built an altar….” How are you memorializing what God has done in your life so that your friends and family will never forget?
9. Exodus 18:7-12 — When godly people get together, they naturally talk about what God has done and is doing because it is what they are most excited about. Godly people love to be with other godly people who they can truly share life with, joyful relationships full of praise and worship for God.
10. Exodus 18:20 – “You shall warn them about the statutes and the laws, and make them know the way in which they must walk and what they must do.” What did God expect the national leader to do?
11. Exodus 18:21 – “Look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.” The organizational concept of “span of control” is taught in the Bible which in the Marine Corps would look like forces, brigades, divisions, regiments, battalions, companies, platoons, squads, and fire teams. The fundamental concept is that leaders should focus their energies on developing (training, teaching, coaching, mentoring, and supporting) three to twelve other leaders, encouraging them to do the same. This is the “Master Plan for Evangelism”. Note the prerequisites to be a squad leader in God’s Marine Corps. Are you a squad leader? What is the condition of your troops? Are you building leaders in Jesus who, in turn, can make squad leaders? Write down the names of your squad and evaluate how you are doing with them. Write down the names of their respective squads. How are they doing with them?
12. Proverbs 3:2 — “…peace they will add to you.” Knowing and obeying God’s word out of love for Jesus brings peace in your life.
13. Proverbs 3:3 — “Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.” Once again, love and faithfulness go together. Obedience comes from the heart, not from just the head. You will not endure and persevere if you don’t really want to from your heart.
14. Proverbs 3:5-7 — “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.” Memorize these verses if you haven’t already — they are critical to your walk in life. Your understanding and ‘wisdom’ will always mislead you apart from the continual counselling of the Holy Spirit through God’s word. You do no possess the capacity to know and understand enough to make good decision — you were not created to have that ability; you were created to be a receptor of the Holy Spirit and to translate God’s revelation into practical action in the physical word. You were made to be a vessel. Yes, God wants you to use your volition, but in total love for Him. God makes it clear: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8, 9) How far are the heavens from the earth? The distance cannot be measured. How important than is it to stay connected to God day by day?
15. Psalm 13 – Sometimes when God is silent during trials, you may feel as if God has forgotten you; even John the Baptist needed reassurance that Jesus was the Christ, the Lord, the Savior. Someone once said, during the exam, the teacher is silent. Faith is tested during times such as these. Faith is trusting God now and acting on that trust. Hope is trusting God with your future. Love is an affection for God that gladly surrenders all to God regardless of outcomes – faith, hope, love – these three remain. We are weak, but He is strong: “But I have trusted in your steadfast love.” (v5)
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 3 Feb 18: Consider this – What rank and position do you hold in ‘God’s Marine Corps’? Who are you leading, and who is leading you? Are you adequately organizing, training, equipping, and supporting those under your charge? What has your unit accomplished for the mission of the Great Commission lately? Privates are responsible for themselves. Lance corporals are responsible for fire teams (four people, including themselves); Corporals and Sergeants are responsible for squads (three fireteams); lieutenants run platoons (around 48 people); captains run companies (around 200 people); etc. So, what rank are you among God’s troops, and how well are you doing in your responsibilities? “Look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens.” (Exodus 18:21) Pray today that God will help you lead, guided by the Great Commandment, to accomplish the Great Commission.