“And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them; and He departed” (Numbers 12:9).
The Bible teaches that the earth is under a curse. Everything gets older, everything wears out. Death is in the air. The only hope for fallen mankind is a redeemer who is greater than all our fears and failures. The Lord has revealed Himself to Christians who believe. But what happens when those believing Christians cease believing or become numb to their plight in this fallen world? We learn the answer in Numbers 12:9.
God gets angry when His gift of grace gets rejected or ignored. And the result of His anger can be calamity, health issues (in the next verse they were struck with leprosy), or worse. Without God upholding us we are at the mercy of Satan, the god of this world. What could be worse? That He departs from us. If God is our only hope in this world, what shall we do if He departs, withdraws, or ignores us?
We would be doomed. But, I recall Jesus saying, “I will never leave you nor forsake you“. We need to open our eyes again to our need for a redeemer, and cry out like David, “Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your holy Spirit from me” (Psalm 51:11).
This would be a good time to close your eyes and let God know you haven’t ignored Him.
I was shopping for a specialty item which I found on Amazon.com. We have Amazon Prime so I thought I might as well buy some other things I needed, as well. Two days later the shipment arrived. But, there was two of everything. One of the items I couldn’t return. I went back online and checked my order to see if it was my mistake or theirs. Sure enough, I had ordered the same set of items twice. How did I do that? I guess everyone should be permitted one mistake in their lifetime.
So Anita, who’s a better negotiator than I, called up Amazon, and got a real person on the line within three minutes. She had to deal with an Indian accent, but got all the help she needed and they sent us a return shipping label via email instantly. Who says online shopping isn’t personal? This was a swift and acceptable deal. And the item that couldn’t be returned? They told us to keep it and wrote off the cost ($99)!
There are two lessons I’ve learned from this: First, don’t order online at bedtime. And secondly, If Amazon.com will forgive sin, God ought to forgive it as well. Whatever mess you make in life, He’ll help us clean it up. That’s who He is. “His mercy endures forever” (Psalm 136; 26 times).
Ever had to fire someone? Its one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It was in the early days of the church and money was tight. We had a custodian who cleaned the building. She was a single mother who had been a part of our church from the beginning. She was also a bookkeeper out of her home.
The church had grown to where we needed to hire a part-time secretary. So, we hired Elaine Johnson, who was herself a single Mom. The only way she could do that financially was if we could give her more hours. The only way we could give her more hours was to have her also do the custodial work.
So I fretted and fretted about letting our original custodian go. I didn’t want to hurt people, I wanted to help people grow. That was one of the toughest conversations I’ve ever made. But, not everything that is a part of God’s plan is supposed to be easy…just done.
So, we made the tough decision and carried it out. Today, Elaine is gone and the first custodian is still attending church. Every week. Some people are faithful even when they’ve been let down. Perhaps this story is for you today. Make that tough decision and act on it.
Years ago I was praying about a Christian ministry in the Philippines that was launching church planting teams in remote mountains. I felt a nudge to do something and felt impressed that we should finance building a church building. I had read in the ministry’s newsletter about a top student who had just started a church meeting in a home in the mountains. So, I called up the leader of that ministry, who was a Philippine national. When I told him why I was calling, he got excited and told me the church planter was sitting in his office at that moment. What a coincidence! So we sent a check for $1,000 and paid for the church building (no kidding, $1,000 paid for all materials).
Bill Johnson says, “The language of the Spirit is coincidence”. When God aligns things like that, you know its God in between. That was a great lesson to learn. Since then, I’ve had many people try to push me toward what they thought we should do. But, I’ve learned to wait upon that coincidence. If God doesn’t align things I would rather wait on Him.
“But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles, They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Teach me, Lord, to wait.
Farmers in Zentsuji, Japan, are preparing full-grown watermelons for shipment – only these are no ordinary melons, they’re square! They were placed in tempered glass cubes while they were still growing. Why would anyone want a square watermelon? They’re much easier to ship and store in a refrigerator.
It seems unnatural to think that a naturally round watermelon can become a whole different shape because of the container in which its grown. But that reminds me that we humans are the same way. Our environment shapes us. I don’t think like my ancestors thought because my worldview has shaped me into something different than they were. My worldview also changed when I gave my life to Jesus Christ.
The world tries to squeeze me into its shape. The Presidential candidates try to squeeze me into their shape. Hollywood screenwriters try to squeeze me into their shape. But I choose to allow Jesus Christ to be the mold I fit myself into. As I grow in my faith, I make sure He pressures me more than the media
I’ve been studying the little French province of Alsace, from which several of Anita’s ancestors came from. Alsace, which is along the border with Germany, actually became a leading part of the Reformation. During the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), the Hapsburgs led the French Catholics in a purge to eradicate Protestantism. Alsace suffered a loss of one third of the population to public executions and brutal war. This was radical Christian terrorism at its worst. After a toleration agreement in 1648, the next generation of Protestant Alsatians suffered persecution and economic deprivation. Only Catholics had a chance of any kind of life.
Those outside the Catholic Church fled for their lives to points all across Europe. This was a major refugee crisis. Protestant churches all over what is today Germany, the Netherlands, and Great Britain kicked into gear to resettle these uprooted refugees. The Reformed Church in the Netherlands not only arranged for shelter for these displaced refugees, but arranged to have those who wished to be transported to America to begin a new life. This was why the Pennsylvania colony was flooded by German immigrants from Alsace and the Palatinate in the early 1700s.
It was the church’s greatest hour to care for these homeless refugees and assist them in relocation. Where is the church today with a new refugee crisis?
Moses sent a plague of lice upon the Egyptians because of Pharaoh’s hard heart. The magicians then tried to recreate the judgment but could not. The magicians then declared to the Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God”(Exodus 8:19). Even the idolatrous magicians recognized God’s finger.
Later, Moses himself experienced the touch of God: “Then the Lord delivered to me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God” (Deuteronomy 9:10). So, God’s finger is apparent to both the ungodly and the godly.
In the New Testament, Jesus demonstrated the power of God by delivering a demon-possessed man. The religious Pharisees criticized him, to which Jesus declared, “But if I cast out demons with the finger of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you” (Luke 11:20).
Clearly, the finger of God is God reaching into our world. Are we receptive when God reaches out to us? There is great power available if we can recognize it.