Saturday, March 10, 2012

In the Presence of Serpents

In the garden, Satan took the form of a serpent and led Eve down a path of deceit and disobedience.  In the desert, God sent fiery serpents to chastise His people's disbelief and ingratitude. 

My first impression on reading Numbers 21:6-9 this morning was that God did not remove the serpents.   He did provide a means of healing.  He instructed Moses to create a bronze serpent and lift it up on a pole.  Those who looked to the serpent were healed.  The serpents continued their destructive path, and those afflicted had a choice:  they could believe and receive healing or disbelieve and die.  We have that same choice today.  Sin works havoc, death and destruction in our personal lives and relationships.  But God has provided a way of escape for those who come in faith.  In the fullness of time, Jesus, the Son of Man, was lifted up to bring healing and forgiveness to those who believe (John 3:14-15).

The problem is, the serpent of sin--of unbelief and ingratitude--lives in my heart.  The great hope and comfort is, the Savior is there as well.  The life of faith must continue with the same sincerity and dependence with which it started. 

"As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,  rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving." Colossians 2:6-7

Friday, March 2, 2012

Spiritual Greed

One of the greatest dangers of ministry is spiritual greed.  We see a need, a hole, and want to fill it.  In our sinful selves, there is a part of us that 1) isn't content to trust God to meet the need His way, 2) wants to be the savior.  Oh, what a dangerous, dreadful decision to step in the gap that God has left open!

We know what it is to struggle with an unmet need, to want something--something good--and to live without it.  We often step into God's place, trying to meet our own need, creating anxiety, worry and fear, before we step back willingly to wait on Him (see Psalm 131).  Learning to wait is long, painful process that can be practiced successfully, but never perfectly.  Ah, the life of a sinner!  (Romans 7-8)

Even more dangerous is our desire to step into the lives of others and meet their needs apart from God's provision.  This morning as I read about Korah's rebellion, I was struck by the difference between Moses' focus and the focus of the wayward priests who were eaten by spiritual greed.  Moses' focus was God:  "The LORD will... He will... the man whom the LORD chooses...."  The priests' view was on themselves and Moses, "You have gone far exalt yourselves... you have brought us up out of a land...." (Numbers 16:1-14)

When I fall into believing that people are sovereign over their choices and the choices of others, I live in a sea of doubt, uncertainty, and unbelief.  But when God is my focus, the Author of circumstances, privilege, and trials, I can live with assurance, peace, and contentment.  When I find myself discontent with the ministry opportunities of others, or  unmet needs that glare to distraction, the question is, where is my focus?  Do I truly believe God is control?  Or am I attributing God's qualities to broken, sinful man who cannot control his own life, let alone mine.  To quote Moses, "...the LORD has sent me to do all these deeds; for this is not my doing."  (Numbers 16:28)

May you be blessed today as you see the ministry opportunities and individuals God has brought into your life and may you rest in His provision, finding peace and contentment not in the task, but in God Himself who enables and empowers you to serve Him, and Him only.