A Worshippers' Journey
I am thinking this morning of Exodus chapter 15 and the account of Moses leading the people in a song of praise to God after His deliverance of them from everything that Pharaoh had planned for them at the Red Sea. God had another plan, it was one of salvation. Pharaoh meant evil, God meant good. And so His people praised him. They remembered who He is, and what He had done, and what He would do. It was the kind of praise that God wants from us: God-centered, God-exalting, worshipful adoration.
But my mind quickly goes to Exodus chapter 16 when God provides water and food and the people complain. They rail against God who had saved them. They say that they wished they were back in Egypt! How quickly they forgot. How quickly the idol factory got back to business.
I am thinking today also of how we respond to God's saving acts on our behalf in Christ and then how quickly we complain when daily things don't go our way. How is it that praise to God for His saving acts on our behalf can so quickly turn to complaining against Him because we do not get what we want? How quickly we forget. How quickly our idol factory gets back to business. Too often it seems like my heart's default position. Doesn't matter if it's a flat tire, a lost wallet or a major disappointment.
If we only praise God when He rescues us we will be like the Israelites; stubborn, ungrateful, unbelieving. If we praise God all the time we will be believing, yielded and humble. Either way God is God and we are not. Our best choices are dependent on Him. Our glad response is enabled by him. Sovereign gifts of Grace are given by God. We receive with thankful hearts.
We act upon our choices but nonetheless our godly choices have their beginning in God.
After Pharaoh's army had seen justice and been drowned in the Red Sea, God showered extreme mercy on His people. It was right that Moses led the children of Israel in praise to God, but it was not right that they soon forgot. It was appropriate that Moses and the people returned thanks to God for his deliverance. It was not right that they complained against that same God.
How was it that one moment they could be praising God and the next they could be complaining? How is it that one moment you can be praising and the next be complaining, cringing, or even cursing? We are weak, we have the treasure of the Gospel in earthen vessels. If we put any confidence in the flesh we will fall. Our tendency is to think that the good thing that happened is because God is rewarding us for our faithfulness. When we do not get what we want we think that somehow God is being unfair.
We think that He is withholding good from us. Where is the spouse that I want? Where is the new job that I've been waiting for? Where is the money that I need? Why are things not going my way? We fail to see that God ordains each blessing. We give ourselves too much credit. So did they. They could not keep covenant with God. We cannot keep covenant with God. God is the unilateral covenant maker who keeps His Word. He will not give us everything we want. He will give us everything we need.
And now I am thinking about how believers can respond. What is it in your life that you need to praise God for today? What is it in your life that you need to repent of before God? You will only go as far as your praise or your complaining.
Can you turn your complaint to praise? It seems to me that David did. Read the Psalms. See what many other saints of God did in response to His saving acts. Welcome whatever comes into your life as a gift from God. Praise God from whom all blessings flow. And know that when you forget, and you will forget, God is with you always. You and I are prone to go from praising to complaining. God wants us to rest in Him. God wants us to be content with all the good things that He has provided. Even the things that don't seem good that God is going to ultimately use for good.
God is preparing you for eternity. He wants to use you as an instrument of His grace as He peoples eternity. This journey He has you on has eternal implications. Praise God with all your heart. Make wise, godly, Christ-honoring choices. Knowing that in Christ you are secure. In Christ you are safe. In Christ you have been forgiven not because of your faithfulness but because of His. God's saving acts on your behalf are for His glory and your good. Praise Him for His salvation. Trust Him to keep your heart pure. When you waver look to Him who saves. If you are in Christ, there is no condemnation. Go to God for forgiveness and reconciliation and restoration and peace. These, and more, are yours in Christ. He who saved you will finish His work.