Is it Easy Or Hard To Follow Jesus?

“When we come to Christ, we’re no longer the most important person in the world to us; Christ is. Instead of living only for ourselves, we have a higher goal: to live for Jesus.” – Billy Graham

Do you remember that one time when Jesus said those famous words that have echoed throughout history and inspired countless followers, “Follow Me and life will be grand”? It’s in Matthew or is it in Luke. Actually, it is in neither because Jesus never said it. While we may wish Jesus did express that idea, He didn’t. Not even close. It can be difficult to try to apply all of Christ’s teachings to our lives. So is following Jesus easy or hard? The answer is yes.  

Jesus didn’t come to burden us with more rules. There was a time when there was an extensive  list of expectations and regulations that each person had to follow to be right with God. But Jesus offered us an alternative to that impossible mandate—one much easier to grasp: “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’No other commandment is greater than these.” (Mark 12:30-31)

We don’t have to perform to a certain standard to earn God’s love. We already have it. We don’t need to make life harder by doing tasks we think will make God love us more. In fact, loving God is simple. It’s not easy, but it’s simple. Loving God and loving people—all people, all the time—is where it gets hard. Because we live in a broken world, with broken people and broken systems and broken things, life is never going to be easy. Jesus promised us that. Life will be so hard, in fact, that we should take it one day at a time. But He also promised us something else, something no one else has ever promised. He told us that He’s never leaving us. “…I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Love God; love people. But that doesn’t mean we’ll have a trouble-free life. In fact, quite the opposite. Your car will break down at inconvenient times. Your iPhone will get cracked. And despite all your precautions, you may catch COVID-19. The world is full of difficult circumstances and difficult people.  

So don’t be confused about life and all of the hard, weighty decisions it brings with it each day. Make it simple. Strip away everything that’s not you loving God and loving His people (that’s everybody). Start with Jesus, and then build up from there. Life won’t ever be easy, but when the burden gets too heavy, you’ll never have to carry it alone.

Jesus didn’t come to confuse us. He came to love us and to show us the way to peace. He’s our ultimate example, and what’s more, He told us that we would do even greater things than He did.  So, go do it. Four simple words: Love God, love people. Easy or hard? Yes, it is. 

Discussion Questions:

  1. In your opinion is it hard or easy to follow Jesus? 
  2. What can we do this week to love God and love others a little better?  

A Jealous God

 “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. — Exodus 20:4-5.

If we were asked to list God’s “traits” or “characteristics” or “qualities” that come to mind,  we would probably come up with: God is holy, ever-present, loving, just, faithful, righteous, merciful, sovereign and all-powerful to name a few.  But I doubt anybody would see the green eyed monster of jealously as a trait, or attribute of God. Yet in the Bible, God speaks repeatedly of His jealously. Exodus 34:15 says, “You must worship no other gods, for the Lord, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.” And Nahum 1:2 says “The Lord is a jealous God…” 

Hear the word jealous, and images of an insecure husband may come to mind. Or that new car in your neighbor’s driveway or that new diamond pendant she is wearing around her neck. Jealously does not seem productive or positive. So how could a perfect, loving, patient God call himself jealous?  Despite any confusion, we must not reject or neglect this important aspect of God’s character. The jealousy of God is an attribute that pervades the pages of Scripture and is an essential part of God’s love. 

But to appreciate God’s jealousy we first need to properly understand it. God’s jealousy is His righteous and loving demand for exclusive faithfulness from His covenant people. If He does not care when we love other things in our life more than Him, He would allow Himself to be dishonored and let us settle for so much less than He intends us to have from life. God’s jealous love demands the best of us and our relationships.

We should all find the fact that God is a jealous God encouraging. God is jealous of us because He loves us. We are not just casual acquaintances but people for whom He cares deeply.

In the Old Testament He declared, “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: My love for Mount Zion is passionate and strong; I am consumed with passion for Jerusalem!”(Zechariah 8:2). This theme continues in the New Testament, where we read, “For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:2). It is the same attitude loving parents have toward their children, or a godly husband for his wife. It is an attitude of maximum compassion, maximum attachment, maximum commitment, with no room for compromise.

Remember that God is jealous toward you. That is how much He cares for you. But never forget to worship Him and Him alone.  

Discussion Questions:

  1. How would you describe the feeling of jealousy, and when have you experienced it?
  2. Why do you think God would use this word jealousy to reveal Himself to us? 
  3. How can we remove or minimize the allure of “idols” in our lives” and look for practical ways we can give our attention and focus to the things God is passionate about? 

Thanksgiving In 2020

Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” – Psalm 100: 4-5.             

What emotions do you feel as you mull over the approaching holiday season? Peace, joy, and thankfulness? There is no doubt this has been a year unlike any other in recent history. We continue to suffer from the unrelenting Covid-19 pandemic that has ravaged our country and world since early 2020. We have seen riots and social unrest as our country tries to understand and address the racial and social issues that have divided us for so long. We have endured a long and tumultuous presidential election that has given rise to uncertainties and fears on both sides of the political perspective. It is no wonder that so many of us are carrying the stress and anxiety of these times like a heavy weight around our shoulders. Where does a person find hope when life at times seems so out of control? How can we, as a people of faith, give thanks even in times such as these?

When we give thanks, we bring to mind God’s gifts to us. This, in turn, reminds us of God’s gracious nature. We think, not just of what God has done, but also of who God is. Thus, giving thanks is a beginning, not an end in itself. In the language of Psalm 100, we enter God’s gates with thanksgiving so that we might go into His courts with praise. There’s no biblical rule that states that thanks must always come before praise. But, for many of us, thanksgiving for what God has done leads us to praise God for who He is.

Thanksgiving is a season of being grateful. Thanksgiving reminds us of all the things to be grateful for. One reason that we fail to thank God now for what we have is that we want more – we want the next step. We fool ourselves into thinking that when we get more or when we get to the next step that then we will stop to thank Him. But that suggests we should not be grateful for what God is doing in our lives as part of His plan for each of us. And that means being thankful even when we are facing setbacks.

We should be thankful because God is worthy of our thanksgiving. It is only right to credit Him because “Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father,”  (James 1:17). Expressing thankfulness helps us remember that God is in control. Thankfulness, then, is not only appropriate; it is actually healthy and beneficial to us. It reminds us of the bigger picture, that we belong to God, and that we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing. “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). 

All of us have a lot to be thankful for this time of year. But not only should we give thanks during the holidays, but we should also give thanks to God every day of the year.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How is it possible to give thanks even in 2020?
  2. For what are you most grateful today?

What Is God Like?

“I recommend to you Jesus Christ, the unchanging One. I recommend to you God’s answer to your questions, God’s solution to your problems, God’s life for your dying soul, God’s cleansing for your sin-cursed spirit, God’s rest for your restless mind, and God’s resurrection for your dying body. For advocate above, I recommend Him to you. You will find Him to be all He ever was–the very same Jesus.” ― A.W. Tozer, The Attributes of God: Deeper into the Father’s Heart

What is God like? What kind of God is He? How may we expect Him to act toward us and toward all created things? It is truly impossible to grasp what God is like. He is one of a kind, and there is nothing, really, to compare Him to as Isaiah 40:25 points out: “To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One.” But the Bible speaks of God’s many attributes; those characteristics that help us understand who God is – both eternally and for us personally. 

Worthwhile relationships are based on knowledge. When we meet someone for the first time, we do not consider that we really know that person until we have the opportunity to learn more about that person, such as his or her history, personality, likes, dislikes, and desires. In the same way, a vibrant relationship with God must be rooted in a firm understanding of who He reveals Himself to be in His Word.

Obviously, it is impossible to delve deeply into the attributes of God in a 500 word devotional. But it is important that we realize that how you view God and His involvement in your life touches every facet of who you are. Everything about your life — your desires, motives, attitudes, words, and actions — is influenced by your perception of who God is. And you’ll be changed when you realize the awesome greatness of God and the value He places on you. The more accurate your understanding of who God really is and how He is involved in your life, the more highly motivated you will become to excel to use your time, talents, and abilities for His glory.

What is God like? He is completely trustworthy. He has unlimited abilities, so He makes the impossible possible. He is all-powerful, ever-present, all-knowing, and sovereign. Nothing is too difficult for Him. God is morally perfect in every way, so He will always do the right thing. He is holy, absolutely truthful, righteous, and just. And God is totally committed to His relationship with you. He is loving, merciful, and faithful, and He never changes. He will always do what is best for you. And even in the tough times of 2020, God is with you, and He wants to help you.

Allow the truth about Him and His attributes and character to transform you. Only then will you experience God’s best and become all He wants you to be. I encourage you to learn more about Him and His nature and character by studying and understanding what the scriptures say about the attributes of God.

Discussion Questions:

  1. How well do you know the attributes of God?
  2. What can you do this week to increase your knowledge of the attributes of God? 

The Great Physician

 ” In the crowd that day was a woman who had suffered greatly for twelve years from slow bleeding. Even though she had spent all that she had on healers, she was still suffering. Pressing in through the crowd, she came up behind Jesus and touched the tassel[s] of his prayer shawl. Instantly her bleeding stopped and she was healed. Jesus suddenly stopped and said to his disciples, “Someone touched me. Who is it?”…When the woman realized she couldn’t hide any longer, she came and fell trembling at Jesus’ feet. Before the entire crowd she declared, “I was desperate to touch you, Jesus, for I knew if I could just touch even the fringe of your robe I would be healed.”Jesus responded, “Beloved daughter, your faith in me has released your healing. You may go with my peace.” – Luke 8:43-48. 

The “bleeding woman” represents both the power of the Great Physician and living a COVID-19 type of life. Here is why: when she first comes to Jesus, we’re told she’d “had a discharge of blood for twelve years”, and though she “spent all her living on physicians she could not be healed by anyone” (Luke 8:43 ESV). 

Israel had laws for contagious diseases, so this woman was socially distancing for 12 years. Like many of us, she was lonely, shut in her house without the benefit of the internet or Zoom to keep up with what was going on and keep in contact with others.  In addition, the bleeding woman is in economic distress. She’s spent “all her living” on doctors. The bank account is empty, her hope dried up along with her money. Many people have lost their jobs due to the pandemic as businesses strain to stay afloat. It will take time for the economy to fully recover. But most importantly, she is sick. Her life is in jeopardy if nothing changes. COVID-19 has confronted us with our mortality, bringing us face to face with the harsh truth that we’re not invincible. We’re all “in jeopardy” in one way or another as COVID cases continue to climb. So what can we do? What does she do? Where do we or she go? Is there any hope for her and our condition? The answer to those questions is Jesus. 

The woman reaches out to Jesus and finds out that Jesus is the one who is contagious: She doesn’t get Him dirty; He makes her clean. She doesn’t transfer her impurity to Him; He transfers His purity to her. She doesn’t give Him her sickness; the Great Physician gives her His wholeness. The same is true for us. Christ is the Great Physician who draws close to care for us—the sick and wounded. He knew how contagious our condition was, yet He came to earth. He came knowing that absorbing our sin affliction was the only cure. 

The bleeding woman gives us a glimpse of the final victory. The question is not “if I get healed” but “when I get healed.” Heaven is our final destination. Sickness and death don’t have the last word. But until then, we can experience the care and healing of the Great Physician today.  As the sick, broke, and lonely, we can reach out for comfort and help. The Great Physician is the One who can make us whole.

Discussion Question:

  1. Do you view Jesus as the Great Physician? Why or why not? 
  2. If Jesus is the Great Physician, how does that change how we look at sickness and healing? 

Prayer That Works

“Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. Are any of you sick? You should call for the elders of the church to come and pray over you, anointing you with oil in the name of the Lord. Such a prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make you well. And if you have committed any sins, you will be forgiven. Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” – James 5:13-16.

The book of James, which was written by James, Jesus’ half brother, contains a lot of teaching about prayer. In James 4:2, James says that one of the reasons we don’t receive what we desire is we don’t pray. In other parts of his letter, he tells us: “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5)  If we are suffering we should pray (5:13) and if we are sick, we should call for the elders to anoint us with oil and pray for us (5:14) In other words: If there’s something you want from God – you should pray, or have others pray for you.

We live in a fallen world. Disease and death entered the world after Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Our bodies endure sickness, pain, and decay. We don’t always know why we suffer from ailments and disease nor does God promise that we will understand why. That is not to say that healing cannot occur. God is the great physician. The Gospels overflow with stories of Jesus healing every kind of bodily affliction. God still works to heal people in ways that defy medical knowledge. The Bible tells us to pray for whatever we need, and that surely includes freedom from pain.

But healing does not always occur, even to the most loving, God-centered people. Why not? We don’t know. The Bible has a lot to say on the subject: “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” (3 John 1:2 ESV)  Matthew 9:35 says, “And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction.” Psalm 103:2-3 adds, “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,”—Psalm 103:2-3

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) Exodus 15:26 says, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.”

DL Moody, in his book Prevailing Prayer, quoted Bishop Joseph Hall, saying, “It is not the arithmetic of our prayers, how many they are; nor the rhetoric of our prayers, how eloquent they be; nor the geometry of our prayers, how long they be; nor the music of our prayers, how sweet our voice may be; nor the method of our prayers, how orderly they may be; nor even the theology of our prayers, how good the doctrine may be – which God cares for. Fervency of spirit is that which avails much.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. Have you experienced or know someone who has experienced miraculous healing? What was your reaction? 
  2. Does the fact that God doesn’t heal everybody make Him unloving in your mind? 
  3. What can we do this week to make prayer a bigger part of our daily life?   

What Is Sanctification?

“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God….And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption…” – 1 Corinthians 1:30; 6:1.      

God’s saving grace in Christ is much bigger and more comprehensive than one can possibly imagine. God’s grace not only rescues but also renovates. It not only reconciles, but it also renews. It not only delivers, but it also matures, and it not only justifies, but it also sanctifies. Justification leads to sanctification. But what is sanctification and how does it matter to believers today? 

The Christian life begins with reconciliation. If we truly repent of past sins, God forgives us for Jesus’ sake. This is a wonderful experience, but we soon discover that we are still tempted to sin and that we must fight to overcome it. By the power of the Holy Spirit and through faithfulness in this battle, we can indeed come to a life of victory over all conscious sin—that is, the thoughts, attitudes, and actions we know in the moment of temptation are wrong.  

Sanctification is another term for holiness, and we certainly don’t become holy overnight. Actually, something drastic has to happen for us to change from being the way we are by nature into being holy, as He is holy. “But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”(1 Peter 1:15-16) A radical transformation is needed, and it involves a lifelong process of transforming an individual to be more Christlike. This process is called sanctification. Sanctification is accomplished through being “set apart” from the unholy things of this world—the things that are directly counter to who Jesus is and His goal for our lives.

One reason sanctification is important is that it represents who we are and who we are striving to be. That is the work that God began in us. Second, when Christ begins a work in you, He is going to carry it forward to completion. God has made you a new creation. Sanctification provides evidence and testimony of God’s work in us.

The Scriptures make it clear that sanctification is vital for a Christian’s growth and development life. There is little doubt that God wants us to be passive bystanders in the sanctification process.  2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 “As for us, we can’t help but thank God for you, dear brothers and sisters loved by the Lord. We are always thankful that God chose you to be among the first[a] to experience salvation—a salvation that came through the Spirit who makes you holy and through your belief in the truth. He called you to salvation when we told you the Good News; now you can share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 

Sanctification is the path that God calls you to walk. Most Christians have memorized Romans 6:23 over their lives: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” But we seldom pay attention to Romans 6:22 which says, “But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. What does it mean to be sanctified? 
  2. What is God demonstrating to us in sanctification?
  3. Is God’s goal in sanctification just to make us better than we currently are? 

What Is Justification?

 “In other words, just as condemnation came upon all people through one transgression, so through one righteous act of Jesus’ sacrifice, the perfect righteousness that makes us right with God and leads us to a victorious life is now available to all. One man’s disobedience opened the door for all humanity to become sinners. So also one man’s obedience opened the door for many to be made perfectly right with God and acceptable to him.” – Romans 5:18-19.   

We are sinners. Yes, that is pretty blunt, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Yes, we do good things every day. Yes, we have the best intentions. And yes, we can name people who are worse sinners than we are. But none of that changes the fact that we are sinners and have been since Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. 

That is where justification comes in. Justification is a theological term that sits at the heart of the Christian message. If you are a Christian, the moment you repented of your sins and believed in Jesus you were justified. You were made right with God because of your faith. Justification does not make us righteous but rather pronounces us righteous. Our righteousness comes from placing our faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. His sacrifice covers our sin, allowing God to see us as perfect and unblemished. Because as believers we are in Christ, God sees Christ’s own righteousness when He looks at us. This meets God’s demands for perfection; thus, He declares us righteous—He justifies us. He saves us. So even though we are sinners, and even though we still rebel against God every day, God treats us like we are not sinners. We are sinners but do not die the death of sinners.

Justification takes place the moment a person puts their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior. It is an example of God’s grace. Without an understanding of justification by faith alone, we cannot truly perceive the glorious gift of grace—God’s “unmerited favor” becomes “merited” in our minds, and we begin to think we deserve salvation. Paul says in Romans 3:24-25: “Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past.” Titus 3:7 adds, “Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life.”

Romans 5:18-19 sums it up well.  It is because of justification that the peace of God can rule in our lives. It is because of justification that believers can have the assurance of salvation. It is the fact of justification that enables God to begin the process of sanctification—the process by which God makes us in reality what we already are positionally. “Our faith in Jesus transfers God’s righteousness to us and he now declares us flawless in his eyes. This means we can now enjoy true and lasting peace with God, all because of what our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, has done for us.” (Romans 5:1 TPT).

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does knowing life is short compared to all of eternity change the way you live?
  2. If God wants us in heaven with Him, why do you think we are here on Earth now? What is your purpose for the time you are here?
  3. How are you working to fulfill your purpose?

I Can Only Imagine

“Think of friends or family members who loved Jesus and are with him now. Picture them with you, walking together in this place. All of you have powerful bodies, stronger than those of an Olympic decathlete. You are laughing, playing, talking, and reminiscing. You reach up to a tree to pick an apple or orange. You take a bite. It’s so sweet that it’s startling. You’ve never tasted anything so good. Now you see someone coming toward you. It’s Jesus, with a big smile on his face. You fall to your knees in worship. He pulls you up and embraces you.” ― Randy Alcorn, Heaven.

Walt Disney Imagineering is the creative engine and the innovative people who research and develop ideas for the Walt Disney Company. They’re in charge of dreaming, designing, and building Disney theme parks, attractions, cruise ships, resorts, etc. They create things you can see and touch and smell, experiences that you can walk right into. As brilliant and as innovative as the Disney Imagineering people are, they could not come close to duplicating heaven in a theme park or anywhere for that matter. Their imagination does not reach that far. 

Our imagination does not go far enough either. The Bible admittedly doesn’t answer all our questions about heaven, and one reason is because our minds are simply too limited to fully understand its glory and greatness. As the Bible says, “he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears.” (1 John 3:2).

But the Bible does tell us some important truths about heaven. For one, it tells us that heaven is glorious, far more glorious than anything we can even begin to imagine on Earth. When the Apostle John was given a glimpse of heaven, he “fell down to worship” (Revelation 22:8).

The question is why don’t we as Christians look forward to heaven more. Part of the answer may be that Christians often feel they’re leaving the party before it’s over, going home early. They can’t help but think of all the people and things they’ll miss when they leave. But for God’s children, the real party awaits.  Paul says, “Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.” (Romans 8:18). If we don’t understand this future glory of heaven that awaits us, we won’t see our present sufferings shrink in comparison to its greatness. 

Scripture tells us we will all be living with the same person (Jesus), in the same place (heaven), with God’s people (the church). Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 4:18 that we are to “So encourage each other with these words” in reference to our being together with the Lord forever. So clearly we will be spending eternity with our loved ones in Jesus.

The financial cost of following Jesus may require us to make sacrifices, give a little more than we think we can, change our spending habits, or evaluate our job situation. And it could cause stress and worry. But the return on the investment in Christ is worth far more than we could ever imagine. Living for Christ now means living an eternal life in heaven later.  As Paul described heaven in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”

Discussion Questions:

  1. How does knowing life is short compared to all of eternity change the way you live?
  2. If God wants us in heaven with him, why do you think we are here on Earth now? What is your purpose for the time you are here?
  3. How are you working to fulfill your purpose?

When the “Check Anger” Light Comes On

 “So Moses did as he was told. He took the staff from the place where it was kept before the Lord. Then he and Aaron summoned the people to come and gather at the rock. “Listen, you rebels!” he shouted. “Must we bring you water from this rock?” Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with the staff, and water gushed out. So the entire community and their livestock drank their fill.” – Numbers 20:9-11.  

If you asked people for the Bible characters that come to mind, Moses would certainly be among them. Moses had a front-row seat to the signs and wonders God performed against Pharaoh, including the parting of the Red Sea. He received the 10 commandments from God on Mt Sinai. Moses protected, guided, taught, encouraged, rebuked, prayed for, and was responsible for an entire nation through the good times, bad times, and all the times in between since the Israelites left Egypt. So why wasn’t Moses allowed to enter the promised land? In a word anger. 

In chapter 20 of Numbers, Moses is attempting to lead the people of Israel through a desert, there is little to no water to drink and the people and the animals are all very thirsty. Moses goes to God and asks for help and God responds with a specific set of instructions with a limited number of steps: Take your rod; get your brother Aaron; gather the people before the rock, speak to the rock, give everyone a drink. But Moses lost his temper and struck the rock twice even though God had told him to simply speak to the rock. 

That act of anger cost Moses dearly. Numbers 20:12 says, “But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” When you know the story behind all of that it’s pretty hard to blame Moses for getting upset. These people were chronic complainers. Nothing could please them. Miracle after miracle was not enough and Moses had been extremely patient with them. But enough was enough and rather than fully trusting God to handle the situation, Moses took matters into his own hands. When we try to fix situations ourselves rather than trust God to fix them we are prone to become frustrated and angry.  

We all get angry. It’s unavoidable. There’s really no way to not get angry. Anger doesn’t want you to pause, it demands a reaction. It wants you to throw caution to the wind; say what you want to say and do what you feel like doing. The key is to deal with your anger…appropriately. When you detect anger in yourself, slow down, step back, zip up the lips and take control of your mind. Then turn your disappointments, offenses, frustrations and hurts and the anger they cause over to God. Determine that you will do whatever is necessary to make sure that anger doesn’t control you. Forgive people. Accept disappointments and delays patiently, trusting God’s plan and timing. Try to let it go. “Stop being angry! Turn from your rage! Do not lose your temper – it only leads to harm.” (Psalm 37:8)

Discussion Question:

  1. How do you deal with anger? What is the typical outcome of your anger?
  2. Proverbs 14:29 says: “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” What does that verse mean to you?