Lenten Devotion for March 9, 2020

Exodus 17:1–7 (NRSV)

17 From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” 3 But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” 4 So Moses cried out to the LORD, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” 5 The LORD said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the LORD, saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”

Oh how quickly Israel forgets. They forgets the harsh labor of brick-making in Egypt. They forget the lack of freedom for them or their children. Israel forgets the deliverance through the Red Sea from Pharaoh. And the people forget that all they are and where they are was directly a result of God’s love for them.

And do they really think that God will lead them in this miraculous way to leave them for dead?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is more difficult.

If we are not careful, the concerns of the day always seem more overwhelming than the miracles of yesterday. What have you done for me lately becomes our battle cry when we remove our eyes from the size of our God to the size of our problems.

Its not like they wanted to become fearful and anxiety ridden. It simply slips up on us when we aren’t paying attention! Human nature takes over.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact God has given us simple gifts to keep us in the moment and our eyes fixed upon Him.

GRATITUDE and SERVICE

If you want to stay focused on God develop a practice of gratitude. Thanking God every day is a habit that will help us in more ways than we can count. And we don’t do it simply to get in God’s good graces but because God is full of good graces!

The second is service. Serving others is a doorway into re-framing our own circumstance. It pulls us from the edge of bitterness and pity as we do for others.

I’ll not make more of the gifts than is necessary. Instead, what I will do is commend their use to us on a daily basis as the counterbalance to where our human nature wants to take us.

Published by Todd Nelson

I'm one of the pastors at First United Methodist Church in Lexington, Kentucky where I've served for the past thirteen years. The sub-title of this blog is "Grace is no accident" which happens to be the defining reality of my life. God's grace (gift) is the reason we have breath in our lungs and hope in our hearts.

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