Numbers 14-16, Psalm 44
Every day we are pulled in a multitude of directions. We interact with our loved ones daily, both in person and on the phone. Many of us work where we encounter co-workers. In my profession, I see around 30-40 patients per day. We encounter people on the road, in stores, at church, etc. We have to all ask ourselves whether we approach all of these encounters with God, or do we wing it. The world is full of distractions which make it easy to break that continued reliance on God. We make so many excuses for our actions, but often the fault lies in the fact that we were flying solo, rather than relying and leaning on the true source of our strength and wisdom. To enjoy the Spirit-filled life we are to God's will, God's way. Like many on this site, I am pro-life. It seems clear from Scripture that this is God's will, but this would not justify bombing abortion clinics or physically assaulting those performing abortions or those who had them. Like many on this site, I believe that the only union that God honors is that between man and woman in marriage, but this would not justify offensive or hateful signs at a Gay Pride parade. This is trying to accomplish God's will, our way. As God's people, we also should not be indifferent to the assaults against God's will.
It was God's will for the Israelites to enter the Promised Land. But we read what transpired after the spies went into the land, and with the exception of Caleb and Joshua, convinced the congregation not to do so in Numbers 13-14. We see the sad consequences of this act of disobedience and unbelief, in Numbers 14:33-34, "And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness. According to the number of days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely forty years, and you shall know My rejection." As an aside, the number 40 in the Bible deals with judgment or testing (the flood, the spies, the wilderness, Jesus in the desert, etc.). Realizing they had blown it, the Israelites now try to do God's will, their way and fail miserably when they now charge into the Promised Land after God's verdict. Notice Moses' comments before they disobey in Numbers 14:43, "For the Amalekites and the Canaanites are there before you, and you shall fall by the sword; because you have turned away from the Lord, the Lord will not be with you." It may seem like an odd transition to move from this story into a discussion about the offerings, but read in Numbers 15:2, "Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: 'When you have come into the land you are to inhabit, which I am giving you,". God reassures them that despite a difficult forty years ahead of them, He would fulfill His promises. The Orthodox Jews still put tassels on their garments as described in Numbers 15:37-41. Notice why God instructed them to do so in these verses, "...that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined...".
Many state their reason for not following or distancing themselves from God is due to the untimely or difficult death of a loved one. The people in the wilderness witnessed the deaths in a closely confined space of over 600, 000 deaths over the forty years. Many claim that it is difficult to keep God in our hearts throughout the day, due to all the worries and distractions. We have the ability to remove many of those distractions as so many are tied to their phones and to social media. We have the ability to keep God at the center of everything if we choose. If a teacher, do we carry on a conversation as we enter the room, or do we take the moment to pray to God for insight before entering. As a physician, do we busily walk room to room, or do we continually pray for God to illuminate those opportunities that are present daily for His kingdom. As we enter the sanctuary, our church building, do we approach the service not expecting much or do we pause to allow God to move in us and through us. As we interact with our family, do we see it as to get through another day, or is it an opportunity to pour God's Word into their hearts. We see the plight of the Israelites in the wilderness and see the many mistakes that they made. We are to learn from these mistakes and apply God's principles to our lives. They don't have to be the same for all of us, but we should all set aside a method: on a post-it, a sign in our room or mirror, etc, when we refocus our strength and our minds on the only true source of wisdom which will carry us through the day. And when we face trials, which we all will, these should be times when we lean on, not pull away from God.
Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley: