“That which will keep a ministry on target is a faithful commitment to the Word of God.” —Charles R. Swindoll
Have you ever felt like you were surrounded by the things of God—the programs, people, and praise of God—but couldn’t find Him anywhere? While we’re around His people regularly, talking His language, watching Him work, enjoying His blessings, we can start to take Him for granted.
The Israelites had no reason to cry, “Oh, God, if You would only show Yourself.” His presence was all around them. The Lord divided the sea and delivered them from Egypt. He guided and protected the Israelites with a cloud by day and a fire by night. He provided manna from heaven and water from a rock. But God’s people complained and disobeyed, and as a result, they wandered in the desert for years.
How did the Israelites bring tragedy on themselves? By swimming into a swirling vortex of disobedience by taking one stroke at a time—like passing through a series of concentric circles until the suction pulled them down. Let’s look at those five perilous, concentric circles.
- Craving evil things: The Israelites knew they should have followed God, but they followed their appetites instead. When the going got tough, they grumbled against Moses, stopped trusting God, and longed for the security of their former captivity
- Idolatry: When we, like the Israelites, put something besides God on the throne of our lives, it becomes idolatry. Idols slowly and subtly tug at our attention, time, and devotion
- Immorality: The Israelites had issues with immorality. They incorporated pagan rituals into their worship of God (Numbers 25:1-4)
- Presuming upon God: The Israelites’ perspective was so distorted by sin that they accused God of carrying out an evil plan. How arrogant, after all God had done for them
- Grumbling: God didn’t judge the Israelites for merely mumbling idle complaints under their breath but for heaping blame on Moses and Aaron for their difficulties and for despising God’s chosen leaders (Numbers 16:41-50)
As we walk the path towards godliness, let’s remember God knows our limits even better than we do. When temptations come, He won’t give us more than we can handle, and He will be right there to provide a way out (1 Corinthians 10:13).
“Strengthening Your Grip on Godliness” is from Chuck Swindoll’s series Strengthening Your Grip: Essentials in an Aimless World. You can stream this message online anytime at insightforliving.ca/audiolibrary.