“Take up my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” —Matthew 11:29 (NIV)
Peace family, I’ve been reading through the Old Testament, and right now, the children of Israel are stuck in the desert, waiting to get into the Promised Land of Canaan.
There are all kinds of lessons to pull from this passage, but something that especially struck me on this reading, was how they (and we) often get so mixed up, lose perspective, and choose what is bad or even just okay over God’s best. Maybe we’ve suffered a long time, we got tired, we forgot God’s truth, promises, and power, and we decide to meet our needs on our own terms.
We want what we’re familiar with, even if it’s bad for us, and it takes courage to obey God and do as he asks. Sometimes, the depth of our fear can make us confuse what’s good with what’s bad, and mix up God’s plan with things that are not God’s plan. We can become so fearful, that we long for what God did not want for us to the point of despair.
A lot of it starts with discontentment. In Numbers 11:4-6, the Bible says, “Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: “Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish we freely ate in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic, but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!” The people fail to be grateful for the large miracles that God has done (like the plagues in Egypt and parting the Red Sea), as well as the smaller miracles that he does in their lives every day (like manna.) They are describing Egypt, the place that they were abused as slaves for hundreds of years, as an ideal! Besides forcing them to do hard labor, Pharaoh had put out an edict for all of their sons to be murdered by throwing them in the river! Surely that kind of oppression is not worth leeks and melons?
It’s easy for us to look at them and say, “I’d never do that. How can they possibly forget the cruelty of their enslavement to such an extent that they crave to return to it?” And yet, how many of us return to the same sin habits over and over, choosing to disobey God and not trust that He knows what’s best for us? I’m pretty sure that that’s something we all do.
Even with the reassurance of leaders like Joshua and Caleb, who said, “If the Lord delights in us, then He will bring us into this land and give it to us, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey.’ Only do not rebel against the Lord, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread; their protection has departed from them, and the Lord is with us. Do not fear them,” in Numbers 14:8-9, the people were overwhelmed by the scary accounts given by other leaders, and rebelled. They outright refused to enter the land that God had promised them! In fact, they took it a step further.
In Numbers 16:13, the people say to Moses, “Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you should keep acting like a prince over us?” Up until this point, only Canaan, the Promised Land, has been referred to as “a land flowing with milk and honey.” The people are so warped in their perspective, that they have misplaced the attributes of Canaan onto Egypt, the land of their oppression.
How many times have I failed to trust God, despite the miracles He had previously done in my life? Too many to count. So many times, we are willing to sacrifice what is not God’s plan, for what is best, because we feel like that will satisfy us, but it won’t.
Peace family, what are the “Egypt”s in your life? Are you settling for Egypt when you could be striving for the Promised Land? Let’s you and me both take today to realign our vision with God, and to start training our hearts to love God, his ways, and his will, instead of our own. You won’t regret it!
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'” —Genesis 1:26 (NIV)
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” —Isaiah 41:10 (NIV)
Peace family, the local H&R Block and United Way of the Brazos Valley are partnering to provide a website that can help you do your taxes for free!
Alison Prince says they’ve been partnering for several years in order to offer this service. Any family or individual who’s making $64,000 or less can file their taxes for free at www.MyFreeTaxes.com. The deadline is April 15th, it’s available 24 hours a day, and it’s empowering because it teaches you how to do your taxes for yourself.
Click below to hear Alison Prince chat with Peace 107’s Brian and Kat.
“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” —Romans 10:9 (NIV)
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” —II Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
Peace family, do you know your blind spots?
This morning, I was thinking about the ways that God purifies us. As believers in Christ, we are forgiven and redeemed from our sins, but even so, many times, we come with blind spots that are very difficult to get rid of, if we don’t take action.
One place we can develop blind spots, is in the areas where we have personally disobeyed God. Whether that is because we have dulled our consciences through our choices, or we are afraid of being seen as hypocrites, we often seem to give passes to certain sins that we are more vulnerable to, while condemning other sins that we are less tempted by (especially in other people’s lives.) We also sometimes condemn sins in others that we make excuses for in ourselves (it’s just human nature.)
The ways we are raised, and habitual sins of our families (sometimes even “acceptable” versus “unacceptable” types of sin within a family,) can also lead to some pretty big blind spots. Take a moment to think about it. What sins were okay in your family, or not taken seriously? Bad tempers? Getting drunk? Gluttony? Gossiping? Sensuality? Dirty jokes? Jealousy? What does the Bible say about certain choices and behaviors in comparison to what your family taught you?
Another way we can grow blind spots, is by means of our culture. This is easier to notice when you’ve been exposed to multiple cultures or have lived abroad, because different cultures have different solutions for trying to enjoy life or get needs met without God. We become desensitized to different kinds of sin commonly around us, even if we don’t participate. Losing the sensitivity can often lead to acceptance, which can lead to advocacy, and even doing the thing yourself, that you once believed to be wrong.
Peace family, I know I have blind spots. Everyone does. Unfortunately, the hard thing about blind spots is that you rarely see them for yourself! So how can we discover them in our lives?
- Pray, asking God about it, and any areas where He’d like you to grow. Have a humble heart. Be open to what God might be speaking to you, or pointing out to you throughout your day.
- Ask someone who loves you, who you trust. Our families and closest friends are most familiar with our shortcomings.
- Look at the areas where you are most tempted to criticize other people. I’m sure we all know people who accuse us of doing what they themselves do, so doesn’t it make sense that we might sometimes fall into this category for ourselves? When I find myself bristling at someone else’s actions, it’s important for me to take time sometimes, and examine my own heart.
- Remember that God loves you! He convicts but does not condemn us. We need to be able to accept that we are sinners in need of grace and change without losing all heart and giving up. It’s okay that we can’t do it on our own and need a savior. That’s why Christ died and rose again for us!
Peace family, when we glimpse our own brokenness, we are more gracious towards others, and more at awe of God’s goodness towards us. God lifts up the humble heart, and he will lift you up, too. Let’s relinquish our blind spots to him, today!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” —II Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)
Peace family, have you ever been so disoriented that you couldn’t tell up from down, or forward from backward?
One time as I drove back at night after a friend’s wedding out in Nacogdoches, I ended up in some of the thickest fog I’ve ever experienced. It was so thick, that I wasn’t even sure I was on the road. I slowed my car down, and hoped that anyone coming from the other direction would see my headlights. It was an extremely strange experience. Though I knew I had to be going forward because I had my foot on the accelerator, as far as I could tell, I felt like I wasn’t going anywhere. It looked like I wasn’t going anywhere. What I felt in my body, with all of my senses, simply wasn’t true of the situation. I had to press on cautiously and trust that the laws of physics were still working, even though I couldn’t really tell. Don’t our lives get like that sometimes?
Remembering that experience today, was a great reminder to trust God and what his word says and his truth, instead of my own experiences and perspective. It can be so easy to believe what is going on around us instead of the truth and promises of God, but there have been so many times in the Bible that God asked his people to trust him. God helping the Israelites to cross the Red Sea and escape the Egyptian army, to win the battle of Jericho, and for David to kill Goliath, are only a few examples of times God has done for his people what seemed to be impossible.
Peace family, do you believe the promises that God has made to you in the Bible? Do you believe the truths of what He says about you, instead of what you, the world, or the devil say about you? When your life is full of fog, let God be your compass! He will never steer you wrong!