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When January 1st came around this year, many Americans woke up with a new-found sense of hope. The previous night was filled with yummy food and games around a kitchen table. Surrounded by friends and family we love. Another year just came and went. For some, they met a lot of their goals and aspirations. For others, they lost loved ones they passionately cared about. But when the first day of the new year came, we all knew there was a new sense of excitement in the air. What would this new year bring us? What adventures would we have? What stories would be recorded in future history books?

I don’t think anybody could have imagined how crazy this year has gone so far. We have less than 5 months left until the new year, and for many, this year has felt like 5 years! First, we have had the Coronavirus scare this year. We still are dealing with the unknown fears many have surrounding the virus. Then, we had the murder of George Floyd. People protesting for weeks. Some, doing so peacefully. Others, sadly taking the criminal approach by looting and rioting. Violence against others, some of it just for 15 minutes of fame on a YouTube Channel.

For many, they feel like they are in a desert right now. Things were pretty good last year! People could go to eat and drink where they wanted, without fear. Without mandates. But now, they feel like they’ve been wandering in a hot, humid, waterless desert. With no sign of water in the distance. In times like these, when we are tested in ways we have never been before, it’s really easy to see what is the true foundation of each of our lives.

Matthew 7:24-27, NASB, gives us a nice illustration: “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, maybe compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall.”

Are we built on the rock? 1 Corinthians 3:11, NASB, says: “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” Is Jesus our foundation? If not, then we have built our lives on a foundation of sand. What does it look like to build one’s foundation on sand? To not believe the promises of God?

The Bible gives us an example of a people who, like many feel in 2020, were in a desert. Literally. For the Israelites, God had just freed them from their bondage in Egypt, after 400 years of slavery there. God had just used a man named Moses to perform many miracles in the sight of Egyptians, and now they were on their way to a new, Promised land. Led by Moses, they now had new hope. The promise of a new start. But what happened? On their journey, on their way to their Promised land, things didn’t go as they planned. It was hot and they were thirsty. They didn’t enjoy the food, manna, God provided. God provided food for them called manna. They wanted meat. They wanted variety. They wanted the food they used to eat in Egypt. Numbers 11:5-6, NASB, says, “We remember the fish which we used to eat free in Egypt, the cucumbers and the melons and the leeks and the onions and the garlic, but now our appetite is gone. There is nothing at all to look at except this manna.” Like some of us, the Israelites loved to complain. Loved to let Moses know God wasn’t doing enough for them. And when Moses was on the mountaintop, getting the ten commandments from God, the Israelites were so unholy that they made an idol, in the form of a calf, made by their own jewelry! They didn’t treat God as Holy at all times as they should have.

When they continued on their journey later, twice they complained about having no water to drink in the hot land they were in. The second time, when they got to the wilderness of Zin, it was actually Moses who didn’t treat God as Holy. The Israelites started complaining and confronted Moses about not having water to drink. Instead of trusting in God to provide, and showing God reverence and honor in front of the Israelites, Moses fell on his face. Seemingly hopeless. But he had hope! God was his hope! Why didn’t he express that to the Israelites? He should have! When Moses was on his face, not knowing what to do, God showed Moses how to get water for them, telling him to hit a rock twice with a rod. Water poured out of the rock, for all to drink. But the damage was done. Moses had failed to treat God has Holy at that moment. And the consequences would be severe.

God told Moses, in Numbers 20:12, NASB: “Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.” Moses, God’s chosen leader to bring the Israelites out of Slavery. Somebody God spoke face to face with. A man the Bible described as the most humble man on the earth would not be permitted to bring them into the promised land. Why? Because he did not treat God as holy!  And the generation of Israelites who constantly rebelled also would not get to see the promised land. Their descendants would, after the rebellious generation eventually died off walking 40 years in the wilderness. The Israelites also didn’t treat God as holy.

One mistake. Just one. Moses didn’t treat God as Holy. And that cost him the chance to bring God’s chosen people into the promised land. It’s very tragic. And it’s also a very good lesson to us for how we are expected to treat God. Sure, some people might feel like they are going through a desert right now. With good reason! There has been a lot of unpleasant change this year. Many have lost jobs. Lost loved ones. Lost a will to live. But even in the desert, we MUST remember at all times to treat God as holy!

God is holy! Psalm 77:13, NASB, says: “Your way, O God, is holy;
What god is great like our God?” Psalm 78:41, NASB, says: “Again and again they tempted God,
and pained the Holy One of Israel.” In times of trouble. In times of great distress. When we may even feel like we are wandering in a desert. Thirsty. With no water in sight. Let us remember to not act like Moses and the Israelites did. Instead, let us remember to treat God as holy at all times. We MUST! He knows best. He has a plan. And may we continue to trust in His holy and divine will for each of our lives. What an amazing and holy God we serve! God bless you all.

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It’s so easy to worry. We all do it. After all, there are so many things we can worry about on this earth! Financial worries, relational worries, health worries, future worries, etc.  Now, with the Coronavirus affecting our entire world, the natural reaction for many is to worry. “Am I or somebody I love going to get the virus?” “Will we lose our jobs?” “Will we make it through this very difficult time?”

As “human” as it is to worry, God tells us in the Bible that we should not worry about anything. Not one thing! Philippians 4:6-7 (NASB) says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Matthew 6:34 mentions, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” And Matthew 6:27 adds: “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” Of course, some might say, “That’s easy for you to say! But how am I to be anxious for nothing, or not worry about tomorrow, even if worrying doesn’t add a single hour to my life, when I have a loved one who is dying? Or I lost my job? Or I can’t pay my bills? How am I not going to worry about those things?”

The simple but profound answer is this: “Rest.” We need to rest in God, and His promises for our lives. Worry and Rest cannot coexist at the same time. Resting in God actually pushes out worries we may have. And it brings us the peace we long for. We need to make sure we are resting in God, and His promises, and not the lies of the Enemy. Some people may have the mindset of, “When I see it happen, then I’ll believe.” Or, “I won’t believe until I am healed from this disease. Or until I get a new job. Or until I find the spouse God has for me.” However, God wants us to believe in His promises, and rest in them. Are we believing in them? What are some of the promises of God?

One promise is found in Isaiah 40:29: “He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.” Another promise is in Isaiah 40:31: “Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.” Philippians 4:19 says, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” And Psalm 34:17 adds, “The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them out of all these troubles.” Are we believing these promises? We need to be. We need to be resting in them, as we ultimately rest in God.

Psalm 116:7 says, “Return to your rest, O my soul, for the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.” That is what we are supposed to tell ourselves, when we find ourselves worried. “Return to your rest, O my soul! For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you!” Psalm 116:8 says, “For You have rescued my soul from death, my eyes from tears, and my feet from stumbling.” And Psalm 116:9 adds, “I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” Are we trusting that the Lord deals bountifully with us? That He rescues us from the worries of this world? And that we shall walk with the blessings God gives us, in the land of the living? If not, we should be!

Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Maybe one reason God gives us the Sabbath day, and asks us to keep it Holy by doing no work on it, is because He knows how valuable resting in Him and His promises are for our lives. Exodus 20:8 says, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” And Hebrews 4:9 says, “So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” In reality, this command for resting on the Sabbath each week is a good model for what we should be doing with the worries of this life. Giving those worries to God. Not being burdened with them, with the type of anxiety one might have with trying to make a paycheck each week. But to take a second. Pause. Breathe. And rest in God. Know that He provides for all our needs. He is ultimately in control.

Exodus 33:14 says, “And He said, ‘My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest.’” Isaiah 26:3 mentions, “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, because he trusts in You.” Matthew 6:25 says not to be worried about our lives. So, why be anxious or worried about anything? I pray that we indeed trust God with our lives, as we Rest in Him and in His promises!

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