Devotions

Category Archives: Memoirs of Moses

The Way

Brazen Serpent | Devotion 1: The Way
Pastor Ryan and Cathy Story

It can be shocking to watch people make choices for which they know there will be a consequence. We are people who love to test our limits! By Numbers chapter 21, it can start to feel like we are rereading the same story. The Israelites are really good at being impatient and complaining. In Numbers 21:4-5, we read about the Israelites complaining against God again. In verses 6-7, we read, “Then the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, ‘We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord and against you. Pray to the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.’”  

When faced with the consequences of their disobedience and complaining against God, the Israelites immediately acknowledge what they have done and ask for Moses to approach God on their behalf. You may notice that the Israelites do not question where these snakes originated. They do not try to blame the environment or make up some other reason for why these snakes appeared. Instead, it appears as if they knew exactly where these snakes came from and the reason that they were there.

The Israelites say in verse 7, “We have sinned.” This is such a bold statement because it accepts responsibility. Having to admit that we have done wrong is often a hard thing to do. It can feel easier to shift blame to something or someone else rather than admitting that we have done something wrong. Even more challenging than admitting our own wrong may be accepting the fact that God may discipline us for our actions. While this certainly does not mean that every time something unfortunate happens in our lives it is God punishing us; how often do we try to correlate our lack of obedience to God with His discipline in our lives? God is too good to let us continue in our sin. Proverbs 3:12 writes, “For the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.” Similarly, Hebrews 12:7 writes, “It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” It is out of His love for us that God directs us in the way we should go.

When we continue in Numbers 21:7-9, we read, “So Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.’ So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and life.” When Moses goes to God on behalf of the people, God answered their plea, but probably not in the way they expected. God does not remove the snakes from the people, but instead provides a way that they can live. This is what God has done in our lives by sending Jesus to die on the cross for us. While we still have the consequences and discipline for our actions, we are provided with a way to God through Jesus. In John 14:6, we read, “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’”

Lead by Example

Hits Rock | Devotion 6: Lead by Example
Dani Reynolds 

In Numbers chapter 20, Moses and Aaron went to God for some answers on what to do for the complaining people who do not have any water. God told them what to do, what to say, and how to handle the situation. However, Moses goes back to the people and starts off by doing what God told him to do but then did not handle it the way God told him to do. Instead of being God-like and calmly telling the people this is how you talk to God and pray to God for Him to help you, Moses popped off at the mouth and erupted with the whole situation. I think he had had enough of the people and their grumbling ways and I think he had enough of God not immediately fixing the problem.

God told him to take his staff. God had used the staff for several other miracles. The staff was a reminder that God was present. However, Moses was to talk to the rock. A rock is often used to represent or describe God. He is our strength; He is the one we lean on in times of trouble. Yet, Moses did not do that. Out of anger, frustration, and anxiousness, he behaved just like the people of Israel. Moses misrepresented God. He let his bitterness over shine his godly heart.

Moses and Aaron were chosen by God to lead the Israelites to the Promise Land. He put them in charge, and their job was to do what God asked them to do. They were to act and speak like God. Ephesians 4:20 says, “But that is not the way you learned Christ!” God is telling Moses, “I did not teach you that!” I did not teach or instruct you to throw a temper tantrum, to speak harshly, or to behave like a buffoon.

Psalm 116:5 describes God, “Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful.” God is gracious, pleasantly kind, benevolent, and courteous. He is righteous, always acting in an upright, moral way, and virtuous. He is merciful and compassionate.

God is not rude or angry, even though Moses behaved exactly like that. God told Moses and Aaron that since you did not represent me the way that I told you to, now you will not get to lead the people of Israel to the Promise Land.

God wanted Moses and Aaron to lead by example and do and say as He told them. I think God may have said something along these lines, “I get that you are irritated with the situation. I get that you probably feel like you have had enough of the grumbling with the people, but if you were a true follower of Me, you would have known to be angry without sinning.” God could have added, “Cast all your worries on Me, and I will give you strength.” However, Moses decided to take matters in his own hands and sin. Therefore, Moses did not get to be the person who got to lead the people to the Promised Land.

There are consequences for actions. A sin is a sin, and it does not matter who you are, who you work for, or how high you are up in the business ladder, we will all be treated the same. There is no special treatment. A leader is someone who leads by example. Clearly, Moses and Aaron did not lead by example.

Leader or Rebel?

Hits Rock | Devotion 5: Leader or Rebel?
John Rigg

“And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, ‘Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?’ Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank.” Numbers 20:10-11 (NKJV) 

The Bible records Israel being labeled as “rebels” because of their murmuring and complaining all throughout their wilderness travels. It was their constant refusal to obey God’s commandments through the leadership of Moses and Aaron that earned them this title. After almost 40 years of dealing with Israel’s rebellious attitude, Moses has had enough. After inquiring of the Lord what to do over Israel’s recent complaint of having no water, Moses receives his instructions. Numbers 20:8 starts off by saying, “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water.”

However, acting out of frustration and anger over their complaining, Numbers 20:11 tells us what Moses did, “And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.”

Numbers 20:12 gives some harsh consequences, “And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.’”

According to verse 12, Moses’ response to the rebellion was one of unbelief and irreverence towards God, costing him his opportunity to lead the people into the Promised Land, a judgment that seems a little harsh at first glance. However, it is not until we remember that God’s original desire was to bless the children of Israel with “water for them out of the rock.” They certainly did not deserve it, but what a wonderful example of grace and mercy!

In a moment of weakness and frustration, Moses disobeyed God by “striking the rock” instead of “speaking to the rock.” God desired the Israelites to see His power and His might so that they might believe in Him and trust Him; something they had been struggling to do since they first set out from Egypt. However, what they witnessed was Moses taking matters into his own hands. Verses 10 and 11 (NKJV) reveal His attitude and action, “‘Must we bring water for you out of this rock?’ Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod.” What the Israelites needed most was not to see the poor example of their leader, but to see the power and love of God through His graceful provision of water. God was not hallowed in the eyes of the children of Israel because of their leader’s poor decision. So, by disobeying God, the leader Moses became a rebel himself and shared in the punishment with the rest of the rebels.

If you have ever had the opportunity to lead people, eventually, you will find yourself in the same frustrating situation as Moses and Aaron. Listening to the complaints from those you are trying to lead is an inevitable part of leadership and joining in with the rebels is tempting. However, it will be your response to contention and strife that will either define you as a leader or number you among them.

Numbers 20:13 adds, “These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the Lord, and through them he showed himself holy.”

“Meribah” translated into English, means provocation or strife.

From which waters are you drinking?

Was it Worth it?

Hits Rock | Devotion 4: Was it Worth it?
Pastor Ryan Story

Have you ever done something that you have regretted? Yes, I know, that was an easy question. A resounding “yes” from every person to read this just went through their mind. We have all done something that we wish we would not have. The harder part of this question becomes, what did this mistake cost you? I missed out on meeting a pastor I admired and respected. I regret that I went to the RV early that day because that mistake cost me, but it was not the worst thing that could have happened. Sadly, there are mistakes I have made that have cost me friendships and opportunities, but even those still are not an end of the world mistake. Then there are the mistakes I have made that have cost me in my relationship with God. Those mistakes are the ones that I truly regret.

Moses had one of the most tragic endings in any Bible narrative. After being used by God, seeing God, communicating with God, and being able to speak for God, Moses falls. Moses never got to go to where God was leading him and the Nation of Israel. The worst thing about all of that is it was Moses who was squarely to blame for missing out on the opportunity. As the narrative in Numbers continues the life of Moses, we see the continual grumbling from the people of God. Numbers 20:10 says, “Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, ‘Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?’” Moses seemingly let the grumbling get the best of him. Moses struck a rock expecting water to come out as God has done before. Like God does, He did make the best of this bad situation and provided water for all who were in need. Sadly, for Moses, God was not very accepting with how this situation was handled.

After this moment, God wanted to speak to the leaders He put in charge. Numbers 20:12 sadly tells us what that one moment would cost Moses and Aaron, “And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.’” God rebuked Moses and Aaron for not having faith that God was working something out to provide them all with water and not setting a holy example for the nation of Israel. Moses should have acted in a way that would show the rest of God’s people how to act and trust. Moses resorted to calling his people rebels and acted out in anger based on the congregation complaining. That is not exactly the holy lifestyle God wanted out of the person He put in charge.

I believe that every person is a leader in one way or another. If you interact with any person in which you are hoping to influence them in any capacity, you are a leader. I believe that all Christians should be leaders in their respective lives. I am not claiming all Christians are meant to be pastors, but all Christians should be trying to influence the world around us for the cause of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The scariest realization I had while reading this chapter was, “What have I missed out on because I am not representing God in the way I should be? How many times have I name called, got angry, and did something with a bad attitude? How often have I missed out on seeing what God has planned for me because of my sinful self?”

Let us all take this chapter as an amazing warning that God rejects sin, and will punish those who are not representing Him in Heaven. I am never a fan of fear-based living when it comes to our walks with Jesus, but I am calling every Christian to make sure that they are living for God in the utmost of their being. No mistake will ever make God not love us, but sin can make us lose out on seeing God’s blessings today.

Number One

Hits Rock | Devotion 3: Number One
Shawna Johnson  

Who is your number one? Who is your go-to? Or what is your go-to? When you are in trouble, when you are excited, or when you are down, think about what your first response is.

For me, it is usually my husband or one of my girlfriends; then after a while, I will be reminded that I need to go to God. Whether it be thanks, praise, or crying out in prayer, God is not always my first thought. I pray that through this devotion, with the help of each other, and being in God’s Word, we can be reminded that God should always be our Number One.

I am thankful for the life and stories of Moses. He was unsure of himself, and he needed reassurance, but He did not let himself or his fear get in the way of what God had for him. He led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, through the Red Sea, and further on their journey, often unsure of how to lead them or what to do.

Numbers 20:2-5 (NIV) says, “Now there was no water for the community, and the people gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron. They quarreled with Moses and said, ‘If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this wilderness, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!’”

As we read about Moses and the Israelites journey, I am encouraged by Moses.

Numbers 20:6-8 (NIV) continues, “Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The Lord said to Moses, ‘Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.’” 

Notice this passage of Scripture does not say Moses talked to Aaron about it, complained, or pouted about it, but that “Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the entrance to the tent of meeting and fell facedown.”

Immediately he went to God.

Moses called upon the Lord, and the Lord not only heard him but responded to him. Moses would not have gotten anywhere had he tried to solve the problem on his own.

One of my favorite quotes came from DeeAnn Moshier, “His purpose will stand, and He will accomplish His plans with or without you.” Do you want to be part of what God is doing? Let us go to Him first, in both praise and concern, that He may use us as a blessing and encouragement to others. Holy Spirit, please help us to consider You first, that we would make You our Number One always.



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