Foundation of Praise • P.O. Box 2518 • Escondido, CA 92033-2518 • 760.741.2755 • www.foundationofpraise.org
Can We Learn?
by Mary Carothers
Most of you reading this know how God long ago redeemed His people out of slavery in Egypt. This actually happened historically. In Romans 15:4 God teaches us that everything written in the Old Testament was recorded for our benefit. God hopes that we can learn from the mistakes of others, so let’s think about what we can learn from the Israelites.
As they travelled through the desert, God daily provided a cloud cover to protect them from the heat of the sun. Each night He provided a cloud of fire – the first “night light” (see Exodus 13:22). This was just the beginning of His provision.
After God had sent the mighty plagues which pretty much destroyed Egypt, we naturally expect the Israelites to trust Him to provide their basic needs in the desert such as food and water. Well, not so that we could tell. In Egypt they could see the grain growing for their bread. And water was everywhere. But in the desert nothing was growing, and there was no water to be seen.
This called for faith in their unseen God, but they probably preferred, “Seeing is believing. Show us the water. Show us the food and we will believe.” We can easily imagine the children looking at their mothers and saying something like, “My canteen is empty, and I’m really thirsty.” Some of them might have even whined a bit to make sure their parents understood how thirsty they were. By the next day even the adults were complaining because of thirst.
Finally, the waters of Marah were seen. Moses and Aaron must have felt like saying, “Whew Lord, that’s cutting it rather close.” But, uh oh. The water was incredibly bitter. Not even the animals would drink it. So, the people grumbled (Exodus 15:24).
But, did complaining change anything? No, of course not. In response to earnest prayer by Moses, God had him throw a piece of wood into the water, and this made the water sweet. Why a piece of wood? Why not a rock or even some sand? Ah, but God had a reason. Because with this piece of wood from a tree, God was looking far into the future when His Son would hang on a wooden tree taking the penalty for all our sins – even our grumbling and complaining. What Jesus accomplished on the cross can actually take the bitter things of our lives and cause them to become sweet as we practice praising and thanking God for them. But the Israelites didn’t understand that. And so it went, day by day, week by week, across the desert. Even though the Lord continued to provide for them, it never was soon enough, or as good as what they wanted.
What was the result of all this grumbling and complaining on the part of the Israelites? When they got to the Promised Land just across the Jordan River how excited they must have been to see it! But, when the time came to go in and take the land, they couldn’t believe that God would help them. Joshua and Caleb believed, because they had disciplined themselves all across the desert to trust that God would provide whatever He wanted them to have. God wanted His people to go in and to take control of the land. But most of the Israelites had not taken control of their own attitudes, and were unable to trust Him.
What a lesson this is for us! We must beware of indulging ourselves with complaining and grumbling, because nothing in this world will ever be perfect. Rather, let’s begin trusting in the Lord with all our hearts (see Proverbs 3:5). Especially the small and seemingly unimportant circumstances of our lives. Let’s not someday find that we are missing out on some tremendous blessing that God has for us, that He wants to give us, but can’t because we have grumbled and complained for too long. Let it be said of us Christians that we will, Always give thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20 NIV).
BECOMING A HAPPY PERSON
We must practice on a piano if we want to learn how to play it well. No matter how much we wish we could play a musical instrument or paint a beautiful picture, we must do whatever is necessary to reach our goal.
To become a happy person we must practice being a happy person.
Learning to play the piano is easier for some people than others. Having good hands, and the ability to memorize are very helpful, but people with determination can conquer many obstacles.
Learning to be a happy person is difficult for some people. Some of us face greater hardships than others, but God’s desire is for every believer to receive His happiness; Jesus came to make it possible for everyone.
If we have serious problems it is easy for us to decide, “I can’t do it.” Or, “I don’t know how to do it.” We then end up being unhappy and we often cause others to be unhappy too.
We can decide, “I can’t be happy on my own, but because of Jesus I can learn how.” Because of Him we can do the “all things” in Philippians 4:13. For example, we can believe we have eternal life. Because of Him we can also do the seemingly impossible by being happy in very difficult circumstances.
Sickness, poverty, and loneliness are a few of the many obstacles we may face. But Jesus offered us the gift of receiving whatever we believe He will give us. True, we have to learn how to believe, and that isn’t always easy, but we can learn if we determine to practice what Jesus taught us. His disciples had difficulty learning, but they did learn. They caused their hardships to work for them. Some of them recorded what they learned in the Bible, and we are free to learn from them.
We can learn, and then practice the joy that Jesus came to give us. Some of us have to work harder but we can end up with greater joy than those who have not been “blessed” with difficulties! Jesus said, Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28 NIV).
Such a promise may seem impossible to receive if you are weary or burdened, but God makes the impossible possible! Multitudes of people have learned that God wants to give rest to all who are weary and burdened. As you learn, you can have the even greater joy of helping others who carry heavy burdens. (Reprint from February, 2007)
The staff and men here at the Varner Unit are appreciative of all that your ministry does to ensure that we have a ministry here. Thank you again for the books you provided. Chaplaincy Department, AR
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