By Charles Westbrook
Purpose: To discern how disordered desire can lead to complaint and dissatisfaction.
Bible Lesson: Numbers 11:1-6, 10-15 N IV
Key Verse: “The rabble among them had a strong craving; and the Israelites also wept again and said, ‘If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions and the garlic; but how our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” — Numbers 11:4-6
Our study is about the Israelite people grumbling about how about how they were treated by having to eat manna instead of meat and fruits as they always did.
Soon, the people got where they would complain about any and everything. They started their complaining to Moses, and the Lord heard them. His anger was aroused because after he helped them, they weren’t happy about anything that was given to them. Soon, the Lord sent his fire to burn among them, and the fire consumed some of the areas around the camp. They all got together and called on Moses to talk to the Lord about the fires. He went to the Lord and asked that he put out the fire. After the fires were extinguished, the Lord called the village Taberah because the fire from the Lord had burned around them.
Moses grew tired of being blamed for the living conditions and lack of food. It seemed like they were at his tent with some kind of complaint. They seemed to believe that he would correct everything, and when he couldn’t they had something else for Moses to do. The Lord became angry with them, and Moses was highly troubled about what was going on.
The people continued to ask Moses for everything they needed and wanted. They were sorry that they left Egypt, because at least they were able to get what they needed and some of the people said that they should turn back. Their actions troubled Moses. He tried to help them but they wouldn’t try to follow him. So, he just let them go on doing and saying things that wouldn’t help them.
The people believed Moses had a direct line to God. Everyone has a direct line but, they wouldn’t use it. Moses encouraged them to talk to God. They wouldn’t go straight to God with their concerns and petitions like they should do. God was always ready to listen and help them with what they wanted and needed. We’re not doing right either.
We seem to spend our time complaining and not listening to God who can and will help. Today we won’t do anything. Instead of working on the problem, we fold and are not willing to seek God and ask him for help. He wants to help us and be a vital part of our lives and it seems that we aren’t willing to call on him.
Moses started asking questions to God about the way he wanted things to go with his people and what they needed. He asked questions such as did he give them birth or did he give them life. He knew that God would listen and answer; God knew best about what they needed. Moses told God that the burden was too heavy for him to carry alone. God knew that it was getting hard for Moses to carry, but he knew what was best and he would help carry the load for Moses. All he had to do was ask God to help.
We don’t ask God for help with the heavy burdens and all we need to do is ask. When we ask God for help and we look for an answer; we must wait for his answer.
God came to Moses and told him to go to the meeting tent and bring 70 of the elders with him. God would use these people to help carry the load. God helps us carry our load each day if we ask Him. God also told Moses that he would send the Holy Spirit to carry the load.
Children were being cared for, but he also asked the Lord if it was his job to take care of the people while they were seeking help from God. I don’t think that Moses really minded taking care of his people, but he needed help.
If the Lord asked us to carry a load as Moses’, what would we do? Would we serve him and answer his call or would we turn and run from him? Each one of us is faced with that task each day. We need to take a look at our lives and decide what we would do.
Let’s take a close look at our lives and see how much grumbling we do. A lot of the time we spend grumbling we can spend encouraging people and helping them. When we know the Lord, there’s really no room to grumble. Just as the Lord helped the Israelites, he will help us as well. We need to face up to our problems and temptations and let the Lord help us just like He helped Moses.
Purpose: To explore how dissatisfaction and complaint lead to rebellion and disobedience.
Bible Lesson: Numbers 14:1-12 NIV
Key Verse: “Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to fall by the sword? … Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” — Numbers 14:3
The Israelites were discouraged. All they wanted was to rebel over what was happening in their lives. It seemed like all they wanted to do was raise their voices and weep out loud. It seemed that they wanted to be heard by their leaders. Everything seemed to go from worst to very worst. All they wanted to do was grumble against Moses and Aaron. They wanted to change leaders and do things their way. They weren’t happy about how they were being treated. They wondered if it was better to be in bondage or die in the desert.
While some grumbled, others were wondering why they were brought to this land. They were promised to be let into the land of milk and honey. They raised the idea of getting new leaders and returning to Egypt. The men said they may be tortured or some even killed, but, they knew they could get better food instead of having manna to eat all the time. They wondered why the Lord brought them to this dry land instead of the land with milk and honey.
All the Lord wanted from the people was to trust him and put their faith in him. I just don’t think the Lord would leave his people all alone. But, the Lord did promise to take care of them and provide what they needed. It wasn’t always what they wanted but what they needed. But, the people spent so much time rebelling that they really didn’t know what they wanted or needed. The Lord really loved and cared for them and He always provided for them.
Some of the people wanted to go to the Promised Land and make their community. The people stated that if it was up to the Lord that He would let them go in. He would guide them through the desert if they wouldn’t rebel against Him. He wanted to show them what has been saved for them if they pleased the Lord. But, if they didn’t please him or do as he asked, they wouldn’t have the opportunity to go into the Promised Land.
We can learn from the people. We must not try to rebel against the Lord. It just won’t work, even if we try. We must always honor the Lord with everything we have and with all the strength we have. Instead of trying to rebel against him, we should honor and respect him. He told us not to be afraid of anything, but, put us in his hands and then he will protect us and supply our every need.
Sometimes we try to rebel against the Lord, and we soon discover that we can’t do it. By obeying him fully, he will guide us and take care of us.
Many times we may try to rebel against God by refusing to do something for him. He is our Lord and we must obey him in the way that he instructs us. It’s important for us to follow the Lord because He cares and loves us. We are his people and it’s his plan to take care of us no matter if we know it or not. He’s always with us ready to help us in whatever we try to do. When we find ourselves trying to rebel against the Lord, we can pray that the Holy Spirit will come and help us not to rebel but to honor him with all of our heart and mind. The Holy Spirit will come and help fight the temptation.
Have you rebelled against the Lord? At times I think that we all have rebelled against him when we don’t get our way. We need to look to him for everything we do and everything we have and thank him for all that we have.
He’s good about saving and doing things for us and so much of the time we don’t even thank him for what he does for us. He just keeps right on doing for us. We need to think of him from time to time and let him know that we appreciate what he does for us.
Purpose: To warn us how sin and disobedience can block or delay the abundant life God offers to us.
Bible Lesson: Numbers 20:1-13 NIV
Key Verse: “The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not trust in me, to show my holiness before the eyes of the Israelites, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.’” — Numbers 20:12
When the Israelites reached the Desert of Zin, they found no water for themselves or their animals. The people again put the blame on Moses and Aaron. The people of the community started quarreling with each other but they were really angry with Moses and Aaron. Some of the community said that they should have died along such as one man who just fell dead on the trip.
They continued to ask about why they were led in this land and what they had planned to do. They asked Moses and Aaron why they had brought the people into the desert and what they were going to do to help them get through each day. The people asked if they should go back to Egypt where they could at least have food and water instead of being lost. They became discouraged about their travels and trying to survive the journey.
Both Moses and Aaron went to the Tent of Meeting where both fell facedown. Then the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord spoke to them. The Lord told Moses to take his staff and strike a rock twice. When he did it water came out and all of the communities listened and told them that water was flowing out. Enough water flowed so that everyone in the communities could get water from the rock. There was enough water for the animals to drink from the rock.
Everyone was mad with one another; they thought they didn’t have what they needed to survive. God was protecting them against dangers, and they didn’t know what to do. All they needed to do was have a little bit of patience.
I wonder what people would do if the Lord all at once appeared before the community? Would they accept him as Lord and Savior? Or would people blame him for what happens to us? I think they were hunting for someone to blame their troubles on. Why couldn’t they just trust in the Lord and let him handle everything? This would help their problems instead of letting them get out of order. The Lord will take care of every problem we have. There’s no problem that he can’t handle. All we need is to have a little faith in the Lord and let him handled it.
God told Moses to take the staff, what to do and how to use it to get water. Everyone in the community watched as Moses touched the rock just as he was told. After he touched the rock twice water began to flow. They started giving thanks to the Lord.
Everyone seemed to be happy about getting fresh water, and they praised the Lord and offered praise and thanks to him for helping them get water for them and their animals to drink.
The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron about their lack of faith. For this they would not be taking the people into the land that the Lord gave them.
Do you trust in what the Lord can and will do? The only things that he asks are that we have is faith and trust in him.
God Calls for Obedience
Purpose: To respond wholeheartedly to God’s covenant love by faithfully obeying God’s law and teaching it to others.
Bible Lesson: Deuteronomy 6:1-9, 20-24 NIV
Key Verse: “Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart.” – Deuteronomy 6:4-6
Digging in the scripture for this week we study about God’s commands and what he wants us to do for him. He wanted to teach us directly; to teach us to observe what God does for us each day and the way that we should live our lives. He wanted them to teach their children and they would continue to teach until all generations had heard the Word of God. The people would teach his laws, and God would direct them to learn his will, teachings and commands that he sets forth.
When we honor God’s commands and decrees, we learn to work in his will. We stay in his love by believing his commands and decrees. Not only do we receive God’s grace, but by living by his commands we have a free life. In response, we must praise his name.
In verse 4, we read where the Lord is our God; he is our one and only savior. We must love him in the same way; we must love him with everything we have. We must love Him with all of our strength. He says that we must do this with all of our soul. These commandments must be kept in our hearts, in our souls and our lives.
We must carry these commandments with us everywhere we go and teach them to our children and our children’s children. This will give them a good background and teaching about the Lord.
Everything that the Lord teaches is love, and how we must teach our children to love and honor him. We much teach them to let the word of the Lord make us grow and help us in our lives. By impressing this on them, we teach them to grow in the Lord.
You should take these commandments wherever you go so that they will always be with you. By doing this, you can always depend on knowing that the Lord will be with you at all times. We need to carry them in our hearts and learn to carry them with us wherever we go and whatever we do. God teaches us to keep these commandments as a part of us; doing that will help us grow and increase our faith in him.
Day by day, we can give him all of our love because he has shown his love by giving us everything. One day when your children ask about him, you can tell them and they will understand what he is teaching us and about his love. Do what is right in the Lord and serve only him because we owe him all that we have to give. He is a jealous God and we need to keep his commandments and do everything that is right in his sight so we may reach the Promised Land.
God would like to help us just like He helped the Egyptians escape from the power of Pharaoh. He wishes to help us and see us through to a new land of freedom.
God Calls for Decision
Purpose: To realign our lives with God’s purpose by opening ourselves to God’s transforming work in us.
Bible Lesson: Deuteronomy 30:1-10
Key Verse: “Moreover, the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live.” — Deuteronomy 30:6
Have you ever had to make a hard decision and didn’t know what to do or how to make your decision? I’m sure that everyone has to make a major decision and didn’t know which way to turn. Most of the time, we ask ourselves what to do and which way we have to turn. Often, we try to find an answer by talking to someone, but the best thing we can do is turn our decision over to God and ask Him to help. We need to learn how to turn our decisions — big or small — over to God.
We don’t need to turn things over to him and pick them up. We need to wait on him and trust him in what we need to do. We aren’t really giving our problems to God.
You can rely on God and His word, and he gives you blessings. The Lord will be with you during that time. All you need to do is call on him and he will rescue you. He told all his people to obey the commandments. The Lord then told his people the result would be that he would rescue them and save them from captivity. He will have mercy upon you and gather his people together. It doesn’t matter where you are, he will gather his people from around the nations from around the earth where they have been scattered.
He will cleanse all hearts, and you will love the Lord with all of your heart and soul. Israel shall come alive again. Your children’s children will be cleansed and their hearts will love the Lord.
If you return to the Lord and confess your sins and obey his commandments, he will take your curses and turn them on your enemies. God wants to be part of our lives, and all that we have to do is turn back to him. We’ve all have turned our backs to him and gone astray. But by turning towards him, our life will be cleansed.
He will rejoice if we start obeying his commandments. If you turn back to the Lord, he will be your guide and teach you about his commandments. Following his commandments isn’t beyond our strength or out of our reach.
Some people don’t look at his commandments. They are more interesting in living for themselves instead of letting God into their lives. God offers us life, but we must listen and obey Him. God has given us everything that we do. He never turns his back on us, but most of us turn our backs on him. If we want him to be our savior, we must follow and obey him. He will keep giving us our needs but, he needs our complete attention.
If you feel that you are at the ends of the earth, God will help if you are sincere in following him. He will find you, pull you back and give you life. He will give you many blessings if you will let him take care of you.
We all need to let God guide us but we seem to be too busy and we don’t let him. We must submit to him. Our lives belong to him, and we need to let him guide us. He loves us more than we would ever know. But, we can’t imagine His love for us until we really turn to him.
There’s a song that I enjoy called People Need the Lord. We really do need him. If you haven’t heard the song, I urge you to take the opportunity to hear it.
God offers us so much and we give him so little. He calls us to make a decision for him and follow. He gives us everything we need and more than we deserve. Are you willing to give your life? He’s willing to accept you and repair your life. He wants us so much that he sent his son to give us life.
Make a decision to follow Him. You can’t go wrong is great. Make your decision to follow, serve and obey.
Westbrook is a member of Pearl UMC and a regular contributor to the “Advocate.”