Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Lessons From Manna, Part Four

Today’s lesson is a bit different from the others in that it is not based solely on the manna experience.  Instead, it is based on the journey of the children of Israel up to this point.  To help you understand the message, allow me to give you a brief rundown of their progress from Egypt.

God brought them out of Egypt; they rejoiced.  When they got to the Red Sea and found no way across, they complained.  God parted the waters, saw them safely through, then destroyed the enemy behind them.  The people praised God and committed an entire chapter of the Bible to their song of redemption.  After traveling three days, they grew thirsty and murmured against Moses.  When they finally found water, it was bitter, so they complained even more.  God made the waters sweet, then led them to a place with twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees (a paradise in the midst of the barren desert).  The people rejoiced.  But then they grew hungry, and. . . you guessed it. . . they began to murmur and gripe.  So, God fed them with quail and manna, and the people gave thanks.  If you continue to the next story in the wilderness wanderings, you’ll see that the people are thirsty again, and they complain to Moses and against God, going so far as to say, “Is God among us or not?”

Do you notice a pattern?  When things were going well for them, they praised.  When they weren’t, they griped.  When things were going their way, they acknowledged God and His presence.  When things weren’t going their way, they doubted God’s presence.  Unfortunately, it sounds a bit too familiar in our own lives, doesn’t it?  When we’re happy, God is good.  When we’re unhappy, we have our doubts about God’s goodness.  Should it be that way?

I’m going to make a statement here, and it’s going to come across a bit strange, but read on and allow me to explain, okay?  Faith in God’s character is more important than faith in God’s provision!  I’m not saying that God doesn’t provide for us.  He does.  He always has.  Neither am I saying that we shouldn’t trust God to provide or to meet our needs.  After all, He has promised to do just that, so we can count on that promise.  That being said, if we only acknowledge God’s presence when things are going “right” for us or when God is doing some big miracle in our lives, then we’re missing out.  Circumstances change, but the nature of God does not!  He is the same yesterday, today and forever.  We can depend on that and know that if He was faithful yesterday, then He is still faithful today even though it may not seem like it.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found myself in the darkest of valleys wondering, “God, are you still there?”  I couldn’t feel His presence, and the world around me seemed to be crumbling to pieces.  In my state of despair, it seemed that God had forsaken me and left me to deal with my mess on my own.  I’ve been in the place where I asked God to prove Himself to me by working some huge miracle.  I needed to know He was still there and still working on my behalf.  In a sense, I was mimicking the children of Israel.  I was trusting in God’s provision but not His character.  I was good as long as God was doing big things in my life, but as soon as I could no longer see His hand at work, I began to doubt His presence, His goodness and His promises.

It is wonderful to look back and see how God has provided for us in the past.  It is imperative that we trust God to meet our daily needs.  But far beyond that, it is vital that we trust God for Who He is.  He is all-powerful, ever-present and all-knowing.  He is kind, just, good, merciful, gracious and faithful.  He is a healer, a deliverer, a redeemer and a Savior.  I could go on and on listing the attributes of His character, but I think you get my point.  By focusing on Who God is and the fact that He never changes, we won’t need to see God do big things in our lives just to prove that He’s still there and still working.  That’s not to say that He won’t still work in miraculous ways because He probably will, but this way our faith won’t hinge on that alone.

The God of yesterday is the God of today.  He hasn’t changed.  He will do what He said and be what He is.  He cannot deny His own nature.  If God is good in the pleasant times, then He’s good in the bad times as well.  Trust in His character, and you’ll never doubt His presence, His work or His promises.

Thou art good, and doest good; teach me thy statutes. - Psalm 119:68

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