Wednesday, September 14, 2011


TODAY'S SPECIAL: Numbers 21:1-9

TO CHEW ON: "Then they journeyed from Mount Hor by the Way of the Red Sea, to go around the land of Edom; and the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way." Numbers 21:4

Have you ever noticed how one little choice of bad attitude leads to the next and the next until you've worked yourself into a full-blown funk? That seems to be what happened to the Israelites in today's reading.

They have just conquered King Arad, destroying all the cities of his small kingdom south of Canaan. Perhaps the Israelites expected to enter Canaan from that point. Instead God led them on a detour away from the promised land. That understandable disappointment may have sparked their initial complaints.

They began with an attitude that is common — at least to me: discouragement — "discouraged" is also translated "impatient" (Amp, NIV, NLT), "depressed" (Amp), "irritable and cross" (Message).

Their complaints had typical characteristics:
- they were against leadership: "the people spoke against God and against Moses."
- they were against conditions: "There is no food and no water and our soul loathes this worthless bread."
- they had the typical faithless tone: "Why have you brought us out of Egypt to die in the wilderness?"

God's response—sending poisonous snakes among them—may have seemed harsh. But it certainly got their attention. The remedy—Moses erecting a bronze snake to which the bitten looked and were cured—foreshadowed God's final blow to sin through Jesus on the cross (John 3:14-15).

I ask myself, am I struggling with a typical though negative attitude today? Discouragement, impatience, irritability in my situation may seem like a harmless, even expected response to irritations, disappointments, and difficulties. But it is just such common attitude choices that got the Israelites into trouble way back in the wilderness and still easily trip us up today.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to guard my attitudes. I want to nip my faithless bent in the bud before it blooms its toxic flowers of complaining, unbelief and depression. Amen

MORE:  Holy Cross Day
Today is Holy Cross Day on the church's liturgy calendar. The liturgy for this day begins with the Collect:
Almighty God, whose Son our Savior Jesus Christ was lifted high upon the cross that he might draw the whole world to himself: Mercifully grant that we, who glory in the mystery of our redemption, may have grace to take up our cross and follow him; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

(Reposted from September 13, 2010.)

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  1. Well said! It's scary how often we need to be reminded not to sink into discontent.

  2. Excellent Violet! Thank you for writing. This is very good. Blessings

  3. You're so right, Janet..discontent, the little/big sin!

    Iris, you're reading! Wonderful. Thank you for your encouraging words.


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