Staying humble

Daily Readings: Numbers 27-28, Proverbs 8, 1 Corinthians 4

Already you have all you want! Already you have become rich! You have begun to reign—and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless.  We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world—right up to this moment. I am writing this not to shame you but to warn you as my dear children.

1 Corinthians 4:8-14

There are some letters from Paul back to churches that he planted where you need to look a tad deeper to discern exactly what was happening in that particular church at that particular time. The Book of 1 Corinthians is not one of those books! It is clear throughout Paul’s first letter back to the church at Corinth that a large number of church leaders have become quite pleased with themselves and the successes they have been having and that this arrogance is beginning to cause divisions within the church.

I have heard it said that you judge a person less by how they handle failure and more by how they handle success. I have seen this to be true over and over again.

This is such a critical thing to remember as marketplace missionaries. It is easy, during periods of abundance, to feel like God is smiling down on us and that our walk being in line with his will in our lives is the source of all of these blessings. That is close enough to accurate to feel biblically sound, but far enough away to be extremely dangerous.

It is true that all of our blessings come from God. This is undeniable and a fundamental truth that is so important to remember as a Christian. Anything that we have here on earth is a blessing that we should show constant thanks for.

However, when we begin to say, “Look at how closely I am walking with Jesus! No wonder things are going well! God is blessing me because of what a faithful follower I have been!” pride can very quickly set in. We begin to feel like these blessings are something that we have earned and are entitled to “because of our amazing faith”.

It is pretty easy to see this happening in the church Paul planted in Corinth.

Paul has some pretty sharp words for them and challenges them to think twice before embracing this logic.

I have many friends and family members that are working diligently as overseas missionaries in incredibly difficult locations to minister to. They have far fewer luxuries, face constant threat, and from the outside looking in it would appear that they have far fewer worldly blessings than we have. In some of these regions of the world it takes years to break through to even a handful of people. If, in the meantime, things are going relatively well over here on our side of the Atlantic in terms of income and we have also seen numerous people coming to Christ, does that mean we must be walking more closely with Jesus and that is the source of our blessing? Does that mean that we are doing a better job and preaching a truer version of the gospel message that is breaking through in a more powerful way?

Arrogance is a dangerous poison to allow into the lifeblood of a church. Once we begin to view a specific pastor, church leader, author, speaker, etc. as the key to why the church is thriving, we take the focus off of Christ. We take the focus off of the gospel.

The best leaders within the Christian community operate with humility. They understand that they are simply vessels for God to utilize and not the authors of the message itself. A key distinction.

Many sin issues we struggle with, as Christians, are far easier to diagnose than pride. It is much easier to know if you are struggling with jealousy, lust, anger, etc. Pride is sneaky. Pride disguises itself well. Pride is one of the most useful weapons the enemy has to take well meaning, actively engaged Christians off course.

Paul offers us the same warning that he offered to the church at Corinth.

As marketplace missionaries, especially when things appear to be going well, it is a warning worth listening to!

Thought to ponder

When have I recently fallen into an attitude that might have resembled the attitude of self-righteousness seen in the Corinthians? When this occurs, how can I refocus on Christ and giving him the glory?

Starting with milk

Daily Readings: Numbers 25-26, 1 Corinthians 3

Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans?

1 Corinthians 3:1-3

This is such a perfect analogy for our spiritual journey as Christians. There are times in our journey when we need nothing more than milk in terms of our spiritual development. Until we have come to fully internalize the truth that Jesus chose to come to earth in fully human form, paid a price for us that we were unable to ever pay on our own by giving up his life willingly, and that we have the ability to welcome Christ into our lives to dwell within us and guide us through our time here on earth; spending time reading about his will for our life carries so much less weight.

If you give an infant solid food, it will wreak havoc on the poor baby’s digestive system. If you attempt to help a non-believer see how they might potentially be out of step with the life God had planned for them before they have even come to know and accept Jesus, it wreaks havoc as well.

This is the fundamental problem with street corner evangelism where you simply shout that people are going to hell and holding up signs about certain sin issues, declaring why people are not living the way God intended.

On a more normal level, it is also the problem with the judgmental brand of Christianity that exists in the marketplace today amongst some believers who really do want to be marketplace missionaries, but have a tendency to turn people away more than draw them in. If you lead with telling people why they are not living in accordance with God’s design, you are shoving meat down the throat of an infant.

Paul encourages us to first come with milk.

For folks who have no relationship with Christ, we must first introduce them to amazing, unearned, unconditional grace. We must share with them the incredible truth of a God who loves us in all of our messiness. We need to share the gospel message.

There are times where God certainly uses us to confront people in our lives who have professed faith in Christ, but may not be living it out. I am thankful he has used others in my life in this way from time to time when needed!

However, before they believe, we are called to lead with love, patience, and the same grace that God showed us.

During his time on earth Jesus was extremely tough in his language when it came to people who already believed in God and said they wanted to serve him faithfully. He was not shy in calling out hypocrites!

However, he came with nothing but grace, forgiveness, and acceptance for those who did not yet know him. He came with patience and love.

He came with milk.

Thought to ponder

Who are individuals or groups of people in my life where I tend to lead with meat instead of milk? Do I need additional milk myself in my walk with Christ and have I sought that out recently?

Stop beating the donkey!

Daily Readings: Numbers 22-24

Balaam got up in the morning, saddled his donkey and went with the Moabite officials. But God was very angry when he went, and the angel of the Lord stood in the road to oppose him. Balaam was riding on his donkey, and his two servants were with him. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road.

Then the angel of the Lord stood in a narrow path through the vineyards, with walls on both sides. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it pressed close to the wall, crushing Balaam’s foot against it. So he beat the donkey again.

Then the angel of the Lord moved on ahead and stood in a narrow place where there was no room to turn, either to the right or to the left. When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord, it lay down under Balaam, and he was angry and beat it with his staff. Then the Lord opened the donkey’s mouth, and it said to Balaam, “What have I done to you to make you beat me these three times?”

Balaam answered the donkey, “You have made a fool of me! If only I had a sword in my hand, I would kill you right now.”

The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day? Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”

“No,” he said.

Then the Lord opened Balaam’s eyes, and he saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with his sword drawn. So he bowed low and fell facedown.

The angel of the Lord asked him, “Why have you beaten your donkey these three times? I have come here to oppose you because your path is a reckless one before me. The donkey saw me and turned away from me these three times. If it had not turned away, I would certainly have killed you by now, but I would have spared it.”

Balaam said to the angel of the Lord, “I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.”

The angel of the Lord said to Balaam, “Go with the men, but speak only what I tell you.” So Balaam went with Balak’s officials.

Numbers 22:21-35

How often are we Balaam?

There have been so many times in my life where I can look back and realize, in hindsight, that I was sitting atop my donkey beating the poor thing repeatedly while an angel stood in the road opposed to what I was currently doing.

These times in life don’t have to be major sin issues. The angel standing in our path trying to stop us doesn’t necessarily have to be there for the purpose of helping us avoid pitfalls for our own personal lives. (Although, that is certainly frequently the case!) Occasionally God has a specific mission for us on a given day, week, year, or season in our lives and we are too focused on our own priorities to notice the angel standing in our path attempting to redirect our steps.

Perhaps it is a person at work who is really struggling, but we haven’t taken the time to notice because we are worrying too much about our own current situation. Maybe it is a ministry opportunity that our church family is in desperate need of filling that we would be perfect for, but we are more concerned with how we want to use our time instead of what God wants to use our time for. From time to time it may just be a stranger that could really use a smiling face, a kind word, and a prayer from someone they just met, but took the time to see the humanity in them, and paused their busy life to have an impact.

There are times when I am completely in tune with God and these opportunities for kingdom level impact seem to be all around me. However, frequently, I just beat the donkey.

It is amazing how stubborn we can be when pursuing our own will for our lives instead of having our eyes open to see God’s will. It usually ends with us feeling like Balaam; foot crushed, plan stalled out, frustrated at our current situation, and unsure why our plan seems to be failing so miserably at the time!

We beat the donkey…over and over and over again.

And we wonder why life is hard at the moment.

As marketplace missionaries, one of the most powerful prayers we can pray every single day is, “God, open my eyes. Help me see the angels in my path directing my steps. Show me your will today. Use me for impact.”

When this is the posture of our hearts it is amazing how God always shows up. It is still amazing to me that the God of the Universe would choose to use us in all of our brokenness to reach and bless others.

Today, slow down and stop beating the donkey. God might just have someone in your path you are meant to impact.

Thought to ponder

When have I recently been too worried about my own plans, responsibilities, or stressors in my life to be attentive to those around me and open to God’s will for my day, week, month, or year?

Do it while scared

Daily Readings: Numbers 21-22, 1 Corinthians 2

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 

Fear is one of the greatest weapons the enemy has that keeps many potential marketplace missionaries on the sidelines. What if I say the wrong thing? What if they don’t believe me? What if they have questions I don’t have the answers to? What will they think about me if I bring up Jesus?

When it comes to people that do not yet know Jesus, Paul would argue you are exactly where God wants you to be in order to begin reaching out!

Paul came to the Corinthians in weakness, with great fear and trembling. His words were not wise and persuasive. He kept the message simple.

There is beauty in simplicity when talking to new Christians or people that do not yet know Christ. Paul was not trying to give huge lessons on church doctrine. He simply told people that this Jesus character loved them so much that he willingly laid down his own life so that they might have eternal life. He told that that Jesus was God’s son, came down to earth, was crucified for our sins, and on the third day rose from the dead. He came willingly for you and me.

We also see throughout Paul’s letters and through the Book of Acts that Paul is constantly referencing his own conversion story. He is constantly referencing how lost he was and how Jesus made himself known to Paul and radically changed his life.

When we are out in the world, and make the conscious effort to have our radar up, there will always be people that come into our lives who need to discover or rediscover Jesus. Our job is not to be perfect in the way we articulate church doctrine. Our job is to share our own testimony about what Jesus has done in our lives along with the simple message of the cross. God can guide us from there.

If we are willing to be used by God, he can do powerful things through us as marketplace missionaries. It is ok to be a tad bit nervous or even trembling as Paul said! Do it while scared. Action cures fear.

If we wait until we feel like we have every answer, until our fear dies down, until we “feel like it is the right time”, then we inevitably remain on the bench.

Jesus wants us in the game.

So have your radar up this week. Look for the people that God may have placed in your path for a reason. Don’t be afraid to share the gospel and your testimony over a cup of coffee with that person you have been nervous about talking to.

At first it is terrifying and then becomes easier and easier every time you do it. Eventually you realize that God has it under control and that the people you were so afraid to share with are not as scary as you pictured.

The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.

Do it while scared.

Thought to ponder

What has kept me back from sharing my own story with others along with the simple message of what was accomplished on the cross through Jesus’ death and resurrection?

Strike the rock

Daily Readings: Numbers 19-20, Psalm 42

As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”

Psalm 42:1-2

There are many times in life where I feel like this. Many times where my soul absolutely pants for God like a deer pants for streams of water.

This water imagery comes up twice in our readings today. In Numbers we see the Israelites without water and becoming desperate. They come to Moses broken and fearful. I am blessed enough to have grown up in a country where I have never known a complete lack of water, but even drawing on times where I have been extremely thirsty on a hot day and forced to wait, it can be a helpless feeling. I can’t even imagine being in a situation as desperate as the Israelites faced.

How often does our soul feel that same sense of desperation, where we long for the refreshing, life giving water that Jesus provides, but feel like it is just out of our reach? There are definitely times where my soul feels a bit like I am wandering in the desert, knowing the water I am looking for, but having it constantly elude me.

There are many times where I struggle because the weights of life brings me down, I have a hard time giving them over to God, and I want to make everything work out of my own power. In these moments my soul pants for God, but accessing his loving grace feels as hopeless as the Israelites felt.

Then Moses struck the rock and water came pouring out.

Our God is a God of the impossible. He is a God that can bring forth water from the stone and refresh us in the most dire of circumstances.

Frequently I am standing there with a staff and God invites me to strike the stone, but I hesitate. He invites me to strike the rock, but I still want to do it under my own power. I insist on turning to other distractions to fill up my cup instead of turning to him.

My soul continues to pant and these distractions never satisfy.

As I continued on to verses 3-5 in Psalm 42 this morning, they really spoke to me. When I feel deeply like the author of verses 1 and 2, it is so important that I move on to verses 3 through 5.

These things I remember as I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God
under the protection of the Mighty One
with shouts of joy and praise
among the festive throng.

Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.

There are few things that fill up the soul like worship. When my relationship with God is purely studying his word and communicating through prayer, it is far better than nothing, but there is very little passion. Passion, energy, enthusiasm, and unconditional belief that the God of the Universe has everything firmly under control only truly come to me through worship. I need to shout with joy at his works in my life. I need to praise him for all of the blessings he has showered down on me, both earthly and eternal.

When I am worshipping God with all of my being, I strike the stone and water comes pouring out.

Our God is there and waiting.

The stone awaits and the staff is in your hands today.

Strike the rock.

Thought to ponder

When has my soul panted for God recently? What can I do today to strike the rock?

Was Paul crucified for you?

Daily Readings: Numbers 17-18, Psalm 41, 1 Corinthians 1

My brothers and sisters, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?

1 Corinthians 1:10-13

I love this passage in 1 Corinthians because it is always a constant reminder to us to not get caught up in hero worship when it comes to our faith in Christ.

Throughout all of Christian history this has been happening. In today’s age with so many options for content consumption, we all end up gravitating towards books, blogs, podcasts or sermons from individuals that we really enjoy listening to or reading. There is nothing wrong with this on the surface of it, but Paul would warn us that this becomes dangerous when you start hearing more of, “Another thing Andy Stanley says is…” or “Rick Warren teaches that…” or “Joel Osteen believes that…” instead of, “Another thing Jesus taught was…” or “The Bible consistently shows us that…”

The Bible is the ultimate authority, not individual teachers of the Bible. Sometimes we need help interpreting God’s word, but ultimately we should always seek to keep God’s own word as the primary source!

Having authors, pastors, and speakers that you really connect with is not a bad thing and God has the ability to use these people to help draw you closer to him. That is the role of people called to ministry in different forms! However, when we start to trust any one given voice above the words of the Bible, it becomes a very dangerous proposition indeed.

This doesn’t simply go for issues within Christianity. If you listen to people today the vast majority of people turn to only a couple of sources when shaping their opinions on different topics. Once we find someone we connect with, we are all in!

Financial gurus, self help personalities, pundits on the right or the left, health and nutrition experts, etc.

None of these things are bad on the surface. In a lot of cases these folks can hold a great deal of value in helping us navigate complicated topics where they have a great deal more knowledge than we do if it is not our area of expertise. However, none of them are infallible. They are all human. It is always ok to seek out multiple sources of opinion so that you have a well-rounded view of any topic. Your ultimate understanding on that issue will be that much more thoroughly developed as a result of you not simply going with what one person has to say.

That brings us back to Christianity.

I love Paul. It would be incredibly natural for Paul to enjoy the fact that there are people in his corner proclaiming, “I follow Paul!” His response is perfect.

Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in the name of Paul?

Ultimately, it is all about Jesus.

When it comes to reading articles or blogs, listening to sermons or podcasts, make sure that you come away focused on what the Bible has to say on the topic. When in a discussion with other Christian friends or folks you are trying to share the gospel with, keep it focused on Jesus.

It never hurts to have outside commentators you want to draw from in these discussions, but it is important to be careful that you use these outside sources to supplement the word of God and not fall into the trap of doing the opposite.

Remember, it is all about Jesus.

Thought to ponder

Whether in Christianity, finances, psychology, politics, or anywhere else, are there any people I look to a little too much? Are there any people that I find myself constantly agreeing with and not seeking outside knowledge on the topic to see things through another lens and have a more complete perspective on the topic? Do I unintentionally engage in hero worship?

Am I being conned?

Daily Readings: Numbers 15-16, Romans 16

I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people. Everyone has heard about your obedience, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be wise about what is good, and innocent about what is evil.

Romans 16:17-19

Early on in church history there were all kinds of false prophets popping up teaching a twisted version of the gospel. Paul addresses these preachers head on at the tail end of his letter to the Romans in today’s reading. This is a warning that rings true all the way up to this day.

As marketplace missionaries one of the most critical things we need to be effective reaching others for the Kingdom is God is having our own feet on solid ground when it comes to what Jesus actually taught. If we are off chasing false images of Christ given to us by these conmen that Paul describes, then the Jesus we are introducing others to will be not be Jesus at all.

So how can we tell if we are being deceived?

An unfortunately popular phrase commonly uttered when it comes to certain celebrity pastors in our society is, “Only God can judge the heart. Who am I to say that they are leading people astray for their own profit?” While I completely agree with the statement that we will never know for sure what is in the heart of another person and it is not our place to judge them, it is absolutely our duty to make sure that we are following a gospel message that is based on what Jesus actually taught.

To that end it is our moral imperative to look carefully at the version of the gospel that smooth, charismatic, likable preachers are giving to us and ask if it is in line with the overall gospel message.

One of the most common popular messages taught from the pulpit today is the health and wealth gospel. Believe in Jesus and he is going to make you rich, healthy, and without a care in the world! You just have to believe strongly enough!

There were many points throughout Jesus’ time on earth where he encouraged his followers to not stress so much about meeting their basic needs because God would provide. However, turning that message into, “God is going to pour out financial blessing over your life if you follow him to the point where you can get that car you always dreamed of, that house you have been picturing, etc.” is simply not what Jesus spoke of. In fact, he spent a great deal of time talking about how people that have been blessed financially should be turning around and giving it all away.

This does not mean that God will never bless some people financially that are following his will for their lives. I think oftentimes he does. However, when he does, it is in hopes that they will turn around and be an incredible blessing to others. When it comes to celebrity preachers, or pastors in general, I try not to spend time judging what they do with their money because I do not have the full picture of their motives or their entire checkbook. They might appear to have a massive house, larger than they need, but when you dig deeper they give away over half their income to help those in need and they go out of their way to use their house as a blessing to others in different ways.

Without seeing the full picture, judging lifestyle is dangerous.

However, judging the message they preach is an absolute necessity.

Paul warns us to be careful. There will always be people who look to profit personally instead of seeking to serve others. Their will always be leaders who seek to lead their flock astray. Sometimes they might genuinely believe that what they are saying is actually true. In my estimation that makes them even more dangerous. We have all told ourselves some type of lie in our lives long enough that we began to believe it. Whether intentionally leading their followers astray or merely by accident, the result is the same.

To be a marketplace missionary begins with putting our own personal faith in the correct place. It begins with seeking out the genuine nature of Christ and ensuring that we are personally living out the commands that Jesus laid out for us. It starts with following Paul’s advice and desperately seeking after wisdom of what is good!

Thought to ponder

How well do I feel that I know the message that Jesus gave to his followers in his time on earth? Do I feel like I have spent enough time with the words of Jesus to detect false teachers who may sound appealing to follow, but would ultimately lead me astray?

7 habits to form in 2018, 5 things to stop doing immediately, 10 ways to live a happier life, or something…

Daily Readings: Numbers 13-14, Romans 15

We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 15:1-6

If you read any self help article online today entitled “5 things you need to stop doing to be happier” or “7 habits to kick in 2017” or “I stopped doing these 10 things and became so much happier!” one of the most common items I read is to stop spending time with people that drain you. Remove relationships from your life that seem to bring you down. Stop spending time with those people who are just hard to be around!

Every time I read that bit of advice I think to myself, “Man is there a lot of truth in that!” It is easy for every single one of us to think about relationships in our life that make us feel drained. At any given time I always have a handful of relationships that would absolutely make my life less stressful if I was to just walk away. My life would be so much easier without them.

The unfortunate reality with self-help articles is in their title.

Self Help.

If you go back and read the entire message of Jesus throughout the gospel, he doesn’t seem all that pre-occupied with how to help us advance our career, have less stress, make more money, grow our brand, or increase our social status. If Jesus were to create a section in a bookstore it would almost certainly have a very different title.

Help Others.

I love what Paul writes today. We are not called to please ourselves. We are called to view others the way Christ did. Jesus sought out the broken hearted. He sought out the people that others wanted nothing to do with and were all too willing to cast aside. Jesus commanded us to do the same.

And yes, sometimes dealing with difficult people can take a great deal of the endurance that Paul spoke of! We frequently have to turn to God and pray for the encouragement and endurance to lock arms with folks who are struggling.

It is hard to walk with someone in all of their messiness. It is challenging to watch them make the same self-sabotaging mistakes time after time. It is maddening to have them push you away in the middle of their low moments even though you are one of the few people willing to walk alongside them during these times, especially when you would love to walk away as well!

It is so easy to want to jump on Facebook, read an article about removing those relationships from your life, and say, “Sounds good to me! This year is my year!”

Jesus asks us to see people the way he sees them. When we are feeling strong, Jesus wants us to do what Paul suggests and help those who are currently feeling weak and vulnerable. He wants us to be a source of encouragement and endurance for them as the run their race. He wants us to focus on serving them first instead of ask ourselves the question, “How is serving them impacting me and my life?”

This isn’t the message that we typically hear today in our society. Then again, neither was most of what Jesus taught!

Here is the interesting thing though; when we stop asking ourselves whether or not this relationship is really benefitting us in any way and make serving others the singular focus, life ultimately becomes way more rewarding for us as well! Even though the title hanging above the section Jesus creates in the bookstore is “Help Others” and most of his advice runs counter to what you are going to read in the Self Help section, the result is a more fulfilled life for us as well.

They key is motive. If we are helping others simply to “please ourselves” and feel good about what a great thing we are doing and what a great Christian we are, ultimately we will eventually say, “Man this is draining and not worth it!” If we are helping others just for the sake of helping others because the harvest is truly plentiful and the workers are few, encouragement and endurance will flow naturally from our father in Heaven.

Thought to ponder

Who is someone in my life I could really encourage at this moment in their walk, but if I am truly honest with myself, would rather simply let go?

As always, thank you for your comments, shares, etc. They are a constant source of encouragement! If you enjoyed this post and think others would as well, feel free to share it!

Manna again?!

Daily Readings: Numbers 11-12, Psalm 40

The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” 

Numbers 11:4-6

Whenever I read about the Israelites in the Old Testament I am always struck by what a group of whiners they are! Here is a group of people that were rescued from slavery and yet they complain about anything and everything. How quickly they seem to forget what Egypt was like! They conveniently forget backbreaking labor from sun up to sun down, being beaten and whipped, and having their male children killed in an attempt to suppress their growing population.

Instead they whine about having to eat manna!

Here is God miraculously providing food for them out of thin air, but they want more. How ungrateful can you get? Really. Get it together Israel!

Then I remember myself…

The reality is that the Israelites were wandering through the desert on a promise that they would eventually settle into the land God promised to them. This journey was not just days, weeks, months, or years; it was decades.

God has put so many amazing blessings in my life. All of my basic needs are met and so much more. And yet how quickly do I occasionally allow a spirit of stress, anxiety, frustration, and ungratefulness to set in on some days?

The Israelites should have been overcome with thankfulness every single day at their good fortune and had no right to grumble! However, when comparing situations, I have infinitely less reason.

Perspective.

I truly believe that one of the most powerful things we can do as marketplace missionaries is demonstrate a spirit of thankfulness. We have a society that relishes complaining. Without consciously realizing it, we have collectively fallen into the habit of embracing the feeling indignation, outrage, and dissatisfaction. When people see us, as Christians, break this mold and living lives of thankfulness and peace; it is an incredibly foreign and attractive thing to observe. It is hard to not be attracted to someone who always seems thankful for their blessings instead of stressing over needing more. You have to stop and ask, “Why? Where does this spirit of thankfulness come from?”

I want to walk through life with the mindset that David expresses in Psalm 40 today when he declares:

Many, Lord my God,
are the wonders you have done,
the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you;
were I to speak and tell of your deeds,
they would be too many to declare.

I proclaim your saving acts in the great assembly;
I do not seal my lips, Lord,
as you know.
I do not hide your righteousness in my heart;
I speak of your faithfulness and your saving help.
I do not conceal your love and your faithfulness
from the great assembly.

When we make the conscious decision each and every day to count our blessings, remember the amazing work God has done in our lives, and are unafraid of telling others of the wonders God has done; a spirit of thankfulness is only natural.

Today I will embrace living out Psalm 40 instead of Numbers 11. Today I will choose a spirit of thankfulness!

Thought to ponder

When have I recently fallen into a whiny attitude that looks more like the Israelites and how can I refocus my mind on the incredible blessings God has put in my life?

 

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