Everything I do that I want to do well seems to require a bit of research and development as I plan a challenging task in stages for completion. I learned this over time, by trial and error, but not well. God stepped in to teach me that I must be directed by Him at the start who leads me through ALL the stages of life! I also learned from God to seek counsel from those I respected in His work. A cherished mentor responded to my overwhelmed mind and my words of complaining with; “Susan, how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time!” When God directs our path, He does not always show us the end result. I know this can be frustrating to us, but God knows what He is doing in His created. There are many lessons learned, not as much in completing or arriving at our destination as there are in the journey itself.
God took the Israelites through the wilderness on a forty-year trek across the dessert. There is much to be learned at each stage of this journey. God is in front of them and behind them. God is the Pillar of fire at night and the Cloud of His Presence in the day time—constantly directing them as they are moving forward. Where? Only God knows. But Moses knows and we now know that “Directed by God, the whole company of Israel moved on by stages from the Wilderness of Sin.”
God brought His people out of Egypt. Now God is taking Egypt out of His people. He will teach and test them as they move farther away from their most recent bondage to freedom “by stages” from all that Egypt taught them over the generations. There is a lot “unlearning” of Egyptian worldview as they learn God’s view of life and how to live it well.
It’s a good thing they didn’t know at the time that it would take FORTY years, or many of them would have hightailed it back to Egypt, back to slavery, back to bondage, turning their backs on their God who brought them out! So, they resort to complaining when life gets uncomfortable and scary. Ah, but we aren’t like that…. are we?
Do we complain when the task of changing our minds, changing our thinking and changing the way we behave becomes hard? Do we get frustrated that it doesn’t happen all at once but in stages after Jesus deliver us from our sins and past lifestyles?
God’s Holy Spirit comes to live in us at the time we say be believe in Jesus and what He did for us to free us from all our sin debts. His Spirit will prod us to change the way we think which will change our lifestyle. It won’t be easy to leave the past worldview thinking for thinking more and more like Jesus. Why? World thinking is the opposite of the way Jesus thinks. Paul explains:
“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants.” Galatians 5:16-17
He clarifies this statement with…
“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.” Galatians 5:19-26
Paul also teaches us that this is a DAILY, one bite at a time commitment, a life pursuit of being more and more like Jesus in the way we think and behave.
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2
My prayer for all of us: May we allow God to direct our path as His Spirit brings out of sin and teaches us to be more like Jesus at every stage of our journey—one life experience at a time!
Begin by trying not to complain at every stage! (So me, I’m working on me!)
Exodus 17, The Message
1-2 Directed by God, the whole company of Israel moved on by stages from the Wilderness of Sin. They set camp at Rephidim. And there wasn’t a drop of water for the people to drink. The people took Moses to task: “Give us water to drink.” But Moses said, “Why pester me? Why are you testing God?”
3 But the people were thirsty for water there. They complained to Moses, “Why did you take us from Egypt and drag us out here with our children and animals to die of thirst?”
4 Moses cried out in prayer to God, “What can I do with these people? Any minute now they’ll kill me!”
5-6 God said to Moses, “Go on out ahead of the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel. Take the staff you used to strike the Nile. And go. I’m going to be present before you there on the rock at Horeb. You are to strike the rock. Water will gush out of it and the people will drink.”
6-7 Moses did what he said, with the elders of Israel right there watching. He named the place Massah (Testing-Place) and Meribah (Quarreling) because of the quarreling of the Israelites and because of their testing of God when they said, “Is God here with us, or not?”
* * *
8-9 Amalek came and fought Israel at Rephidim. Moses ordered Joshua: “Select some men for us and go out and fight Amalek. Tomorrow I will take my stand on top of the hill holding God’s staff.”
10-13 Joshua did what Moses ordered in order to fight Amalek. And Moses, Aaron, and Hur went to the top of the hill. It turned out that whenever Moses raised his hands, Israel was winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, Amalek was winning. But Moses’ hands got tired. So they got a stone and set it under him. He sat on it and Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on each side. So his hands remained steady until the sun went down. Joshua defeated Amalek and its army in battle.
14 God said to Moses, “Write this up as a reminder to Joshua, to keep it before him, because I will most certainly wipe the very memory of Amalek off the face of the Earth.”
15-16 Moses built an altar and named it “God My Banner.” He said,
Salute God’s rule!
God at war with Amalek
Always and forever!