Thoughts and musings on faith and our mighty God!

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Grumble, Grumble

Reading: Numbers 21: 4-9

Verses 4-5: “The people grew impatient… they spoke against God and against Moses”.

“Spoke against” is code for complained. For any parent who has gone on a long road trip with kids, you have gotten to this point. No matter how many snacks, no matter how many movies, no matter how many coloring books and games – you get there. Your answer to the 100th “Are we there yet?” is not any more satisfactory than your answer was the first time, and the complaining begins. Inevitably it spreads.

God has provided His chosen people with food and water day after day. He has led them safely day after day. He has parted the sea and then drowned all the Egyptians. Through the years your clothes and your sandals have not worn out. And yet this day they get to complaining. It started small but has become a roar. It may be that they’ve been by this sea before. It may be that this journey has been a lot longer than it could have been. But the people’s disobedience has caused God to say “one more time around the desert” more than once. They have wandered longer than needed solely through their own sin.

When we get to the point of complaining, our memory goes a bit defunct. We too forget how God had cared for and fed and led us. We forget how God has accepted our repentance over and over, always offering forgiveness. We forget all those times when God rescued us and guided us through. Instead of using all of our experiences with God to draw strength and as a reason to seek God, like children, we complain. Complaining is dangerous. The Israelites encountered some snakes that snap their memories back into place and lead them to repent and to seek God’s help.

God does not send snakes when we complain. The poison that we bring into our relationship with God does enough damage. It separates us from God. It sometimes even ramps up the complaining. In those moments when we are tempted to begin to grumble at God, may we instead take a breath and reflect on God’s presence and blessings in our life and then go to God with a prayer of thanksgiving. Then we can humbly and honestly come to God with our petitions and our prayer made from a good heart will be holy and pleasing to God. God is good. Trust.

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In Lament

We find great comfort in the past.  Through our own experiences and through what we read in the Bible we gain both an understanding of God and of our relationship with Him.  We live day to day with these memories as both our guide and our support system.  We know God to be loving and caring and protecting and compassionate.

But sometimes in life we suffer and suddenly our God memories don’t seem to work.  We experience discord when we are in conflict or in the midst of a life change or in the woes of a loss and the God we know seems absent.  In this uncertainty we cry out to God.  We bring our laments to God as a means of reminding God that to us, at that moment, He is not the God of love and care and,,, that we know.

In lament we also bring before God the suffering and pain of others.  We lift up their need for God’s presence and intervention and we demand an answer or action on God’s part.  In a sense we proclaim the suffering and hurt in the world to God so that He will act on it and be present to those in need.

In lament we remind both God and ourselves that He is the one who saved us from the powers of sin and death through Jesus and that He is the one we, His children, look to for our deliverance.  Reminding God calls Him to action.  Reminding ourselves brings reassurance and a reminder that although we may not know or see the plans of God, all is in God’s hands.  In this we lay our trust and our hope.  God is love.  God is faithful.  For these things, we say thanks be to God!

Scripture reference: Psalm 22: 9-15

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Memory and Reassurance

As Israel prepares to cross the Jordan River, they must have felt so much emotion.  This moment is like crossing the Red Sea in  some ways.  God is parting the waters and providing a way across.  In both events they can clearly see God’s power and feel His presence with them.  One chosen by God himself leads them.  Yet these crossings are also different.  At the Red Sea they were fleeing their enemy and were about to enter the wilderness.  At the Jordan they were crossing over to face their enemy at Jericho and they were leaving the wilderness.  Joshua had replaced Moses, but God was clearly with Joshua, just as He had been with Moses.

The connection to and memory of what God has done forms the foundation of their faith and also provides reassurances that He will continue to be present with them.  Our history and experience does the same for us.  To remember that difficult situation that God walked us through or to recall that job that He provided reassures us of His love for us and also gives us a basis of hope for our future.

God is always and always will be.  As we remember what He has done for us, hope and faith are built up in us.  We look forward with confidence, knowing God’s steadfast hand will continue to guide and lead us.  Whether facing a wilderness or preparing to enter a promised land, we can step forward knowing the He will never leave us and that He will never forsake us.  A God that always was, will always be, for He is everlasting.

Scripture reference: Joshua 3: 7-17

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Sing a Song!

As the sea closed in and the waters settles back down, the Israelites sang a song of thanks to God.  As a community, they worshipped God.  Song has a way of uniting us too. At a gathering, there are certain songs we all know and these songs draw us together.

Song also carries along our history or common story.  Songs are sung over and over as a way to remember.  Songs can also bring us back to another time or place – this song reminds you of your wedding or that song reminds you of Christmas or Easter.  Music is a reminder of who we are and brings us back into community.

Songs are also connectors.  Songs connect us to God as we lift our praises to Him.  One can just get lost in a song and find oneself in God’s presence.  Song also connects us to the people we are physically present with in worship.  It binds us young and old, rich and poor, into a people gathered as one.  When we worship and sing together, God is present.

Scripture reference: Exodus 15: 1-11b and 20-21