Sunday, September 28, 2014

Complaining about the food

"And thou shalt smite on the rocks..." 
Lithograph by Marc Chagall

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Psalm 78:1-20

TO CHEW ON: "He also brought streams out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers. But they sinned even more against Him by rebelling against the Most High in the wilderness" - Psalm 78:16,17

I identify with Carolyn Arends when she writes in Theology in Aisle Seven:

"I was making my way through Exodus, feeling a little jealous of my spiritual ancestors. It seemed they never had to wonder if God was there. They had only to follow pillars of cloud and fire, gathering up the manna served fresh daily from God's kitchen .... I wondered why the present-day actions of the immutable God sometimes seem so muted in contrast to the God of Moses. I wouldn't mind a pillar of cloud or fire when I need direction, or some manna on my front lawn when I pray for provision" - Carolyn Arends, Theology in Aisle Seven, Kindle Location 507.

But Asaph, the writer of today's psalm, reminds us that despite that luminous GPS, six-day-a-week meal service, and all the other tangible evidences of God's presence, the Israelites still struggled with bad attitudes of discontent, grumbling, and rebellion. Why?

Perhaps verse 18 holds a key to their problem: "They tested God in their heart..."

[Testnasah—means to put to the test, try, prove, tempt. It's the thing that God does to us through life, not we to Him. As the Word Wealth writer of my Bible's notes concludes: "In this reference, the wilderness generation insulted and grieved the Lord by tempting and limiting Him as if to test His patience or His power" - Dick Mills, Word Wealth, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 747.]

Note the place those discontented complaints and rebellions originated: "their heart." It was an inner thing first before an outer action. Really as simple as choosing to see life's glass half empty instead of half full.

And so you and I too have a choice to make. Do we focus on what's wrong with life, the things we wish were different, what we would like more of, and so in effect test God, telling Him He's not doing a good enough job in our circumstances? Or do we, in our hearts, focus on gratitude, thankfulness, what's right with life? For it's as easy for us to test God as it was for the Israelites—as easy as complaining about the food!

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to live with gratitude every day, choosing to see life in a positive, not negative light, choosing not to test You in my heart. Amen.

MORE: Ingratitude—the catalyst of all my sins?

"From all our beginnings, we keep reliving the Garden story.

Satan, he wanted more. More power, more glory. Ultimately, in his essence Satan is an ingrate. And he sinks his venom into the heart of Eden. Satan's sin becomes the first sin of all humanity: the sin of ingratitude. Adam and Eve are, simply, painfully, ungrateful for what God gave.

Isn't that the catalyst of all my sins?"

- Ann Voskamp, One Thousand Gifts, p. 15.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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