Attitude is everything when it comes to our reliance on God’s provision
Scene 1/ Illustration “Attitude is everything” (Nick Vujicic “Voy-a-chich”)
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Nick has overcome because he has learnt to rely on God’s provision.
He has realised that without God you are lost, but with him there is purpose and meaning.
The problem is that all too often people lose sight of what life is all about.
We think it is about the success that is portrayed in the media.
We think it is about physical comfort.
We think it is about us.
And when things get difficult we think that God has abandoned us.
Because he isn’t doing what we think he should, the way we think he should, at the time we think he should.
Scene 2/ This poor attitude and lack of relying on God’s provision is evident in the struggles of the people of Israel as they journey through the Red Sea and beyond.
Listen to their complaints in Exodus 14:10-12
10 As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the Lord, 11 and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? 12 Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’ ”
The Israelites were camped at the edge of the sea, trapped by the geography of water and desert and when they saw the dust of Pharaoh’s army coming, they were terrified.
They turned on Moses and accused him of bringing them into the wilderness to die.
Humanly speaking, they were faced with certain destruction.
In Egypt they had at first greeted Moses openly, but when things got tough & Pharaoh had increased their labour they had told Moses to leave them alone.
He was making their situation worse and now he has done it again.
We told you to leave us alone was their cry.
For them, slavery in Egypt was preferable to death in the wilderness—and those were the only alternatives they could see.
Isn’t that a part of human nature.
When you feel defeated and in bondage it is so easy to respond passively, to simply accept what is!
Again in Exodus 15:23-24
23 When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink. So they called the place Marah (which means “bitter”). 24 Then the people complained and turned against Moses. “What are we going to drink?” they demanded.
Three days later they arrive at the oasis of Marah, expecting to find water.
Which they do, but it is bitter and by now their water supplies are running out.
They are in a desert and there are lots of people with nothing to drink.
Thirst has set in and panic is close by.
They are on an emotional rollercoaster.
Numerous times now they have seen divine deliverance, quickly followed by impending destruction and complaint instead of faith.
Again in Exodus 16:2-3
2 There, too, the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and Aaron. 3 “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.”
And Exodus 17:2-4
2 So once more the people complained against Moses. “Give us water to drink!” they demanded. “Quiet!” Moses replied. “Why are you complaining against me? And why are you testing the Lord?” 3 But tormented by thirst, they continued to argue with Moses. “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? Are you trying to kill us, our children, and our livestock with thirst?” 4 Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What should I do with these people? They are ready to stone me!”
Israel has settled into a routine.
The newness of freedom has worn off, and the hardship of wilderness life has set in, and so the people complain against their leaders.
Commentators have picked up some irony in all of these accounts.
There are plenty of graves in Egypt, but none in the wilderness.
There was plenty to drink in Egypt but they will die of thirst in the wilderness.
There was more food than they could eat in Egypt, in fact so much that they were stuffed, but they will die of hunger in the desert.
In each complaint there is an excess that is almost humorous.
In slavery & oppression there were riches!
But in freedom with the direct presence & provision of Yahweh there is poverty!
These accounts are told for a theological purpose.
Not only are they questioning the authority of Moses but also that of Yahweh.,,
Scene 3/ God was literally present in the cloud and the fire, he had already proven himself by miracles that are beyond our comprehension.
The plagues of Egypt were a testimony to the Lord’s presence & power.
The result was their freedom.
Another result was the fulfilment of the promise made to Joseph 430 years earlier in Genesis 50:25 that his bones would be brought out of Egypt and into the promised land of Canaan.
The Egyptians had lavished them with gifts of clothing and precious metals as they left.
Then the Lord had intentionally led them out of Egypt by an unusual route.
Instead of following the Mediterranean coast they took an unusual route and headed into the desert further south.
Egyptian records from the time of Seti I and Rameses II tell us that there was a road from the Egyptian Delta into Canaan, it was heavily fortified with outposts and was designed to make it hard for Egypt to be attacked, or for that matter for people to leave.
While Exodus 13:17 uses a later name for this route the reason for avoiding it is obvious, they weren’t ready to fight their way to Canaan.
This ununusual route is given for a theological reason, as is nearly all the information in Exodus.
It is too erratic a route to have been invented.
The Lord chose this route as a ruse so that he could gain further glory at Pharaoh’s expense.
The problem we face today is that it is impossible to determine the exact location of these events.
Exodus 14:1-2 specifies three places which were well known to ancient Israel, but are not known with any certainty today.
Pi Hahiroth probably means “mouth of the diggings,” possibly referring to canal work.
We do know that a north-south canal was being constructed during this period (Seti I) and that it passed through the region near Qantara, a few miles west of Sile.
Migdol means “tower” or “fort” in Hebrew.
There were several locations known by this name and one is known near Succoth in this period.
Baal Zephon is identified as Tell Dafana, about twenty miles west of Sile. (Jeremiah 44:1; 46:14)
If they camped near here, Lake Balah, would be the closest sea.
What makes the location more uncertain is that the Hebrew word commonly translated “Red Sea” actually means “Sea of Reeds” and while the Gulf of Suez further to the south has been identified as the Red Sea it isn’t actually a place of reeds.
So there is a lot of guess work but no certain location of the crossing of the sea.
In fact virtually every body of water and marshland between and including the Mediterranean and the Red Sea has been proposed
Yahweh has guided his people away from the shortest and most logical route along the Mediterranean coast and into an eccentric series of turns designed to depict confusion.
It appears that they are cornered with nowhere to go.
Trapped with their backs to the water.
We read in Exodus 14:16 -22 that the Lord performed a miracle.
He parted the waters with a wall of water on each side.
Many attempts have been made to explain this and the other miracles of the Exodus by natural means.
But you can’t, water doesn’t divide like that.
It has been observed that a strong wind can blow the water to one side of a shallow lake.
But you can’t walk across the muddy bottom with 100s of thousands of people.
And you can’t drown an entire army in a lake shallow enough to be blown out of the way by a wind.
So the water had to be at least wall height on each side and there had to be a firm rocky base.
And then you had to convince an army of 600 chariots to charge into this canyon of water.
You can call that a miracle of stupidity, causing Pharaoh and his commanders to be so obstinate that they would attempt the otherwise unthinkable manoeuvre of pursuing a company on foot through the middle of a sea.
We cannot identify for sure any of the locations and the building of the Suez Canal has forever changed the topography of these waterways but we know for sure that the Lord provided.
Once Israel had escaped and was in the desert we have the miracle of bitter water being made sweet.
Innumerable flocks of quail day after day so that they had meat to eat.
A sticky flaky residue called mana which they used for bread
Water from a dry rock and many other provisions.
Now much has been said about natural occurrences which could be used to explain all of these things.
Huge flocks of quail have been observed in ideal seasons and there is a low shrub which secretes an edible residue in the area.
Many have claimed these as natural explanations.
But none of these things can be described as miraculous and none of these things can feed more than a few hundred people for a day or two, let alone the 100s of thousands involved for extended periods of time.
The Lord miraculously provided for his people.
The people of Israel had every reason to trust the Lord.
Miracle after miracle!
Things which could only be understood as the Lord’s mighty hand guiding, protecting and providing for his people.
Scene 4/ But still they had a bad attitude!
Throughout the forty years that lay ahead, Moses and the Lord would hear this murmuring complaint of the Israelites, who would often sink into despair, constantly vascillating between trust and doubt.
There attitude was one of mistrust.
They complained, they were dissatisfied whenever things got just a little bit hard or uncertain.
And so do we!
It is all so easy for us to miss all that God is doing.
To see his mighty hand at work and still miss the point.
The people of Israel were caught in a mindset of bondage to Pharaoh.
They were slaves to fear and what they knew.
We can be caught in a mindset of bondage to culture.
Being slaves to comfort, to wealth, to immorality and to self.
1 Corinthians 10:1-11 warns us of such things.
1 I don’t want you to forget, dear brothers and sisters, about our ancestors in the wilderness long ago. All of them were guided by a cloud that moved ahead of them, and all of them walked through the sea on dry ground. 2 In the cloud and in the sea, all of them were baptized as followers of Moses. 3 All of them ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all of them drank the same spiritual water. For they drank from the spiritual rock that traveled with them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Yet God was not pleased with most of them, and their bodies were scattered in the wilderness. 6 These things happened as a warning to us, so that we would not crave evil things as they did, 7 or worship idols as some of them did. As the Scriptures say, “The people celebrated with feasting and drinking, and they indulged in pagan revelry.” 8 And we must not engage in sexual immorality as some of them did, causing 23,000 of them to die in one day. 9 Nor should we put Christ to the test, as some of them did and then died from snakebites. 10 And don’t grumble as some of them did, and then were destroyed by the angel of death. 11 These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age.
Did you notice the word grumble in verse 10.
This is the same word used in Exodus of the complaining, murmuring of the people of Israel against Moses and Yahweh.
It is easy for us to look back in disbelief and think how could they do that with all the miracles that they saw?
But we have the same miracle and instead of a pillar of cloud and fire to lead us we have the Holy Spirit within us.
So how do we learn to rely on God’s provision?
How do we develop the attitude that says the purpose of life is to glorify God?
Scene 5/ Our attitude is everything when it is dependent on God
4 Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! 5 Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. 6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. 8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. 9 Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
This, my friends is the key!
Where we focus our thoughts is where our attitude will be.
Is it on self?
Then expect that you will miss what God is up to.
You will fail to see his provision even when it is right in front of you.
But if our focus is on Christ and we take onboard his attitude.
Then we will have victory and we will know his power.
This is a challenge for all of us.
It is especially a challenge for me.
Like the people of Israel I find it so easy to fall into the pattern of looking at what I don’t have, of looking at the cost of ministry rather than the priviledge and joy of serving God.
It is hard sometime to remember the example and teaching of Christ.
To focus on the immeasurable gift of eternal life in God’s presence.
At these times remember the words of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. 9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
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