It was during final exams week in seminary when I fell asleep while driving. I had finished a Sunday at the church I served in Mississippi and was returning to New Orleans. When I awoke, I saw the lights of a passing car on a bridge while speeding at 80 miles an hour.
I was startled quite awake and told God, “Thanks for saving my life. I won’t ever do that again.”
During most of my seminary career, I took Greek and Hebrew classes at the same time. I studied until 11:00 each night and awoke at 5:00 to return to my studies. I played lots of basketball and served a small church 100 miles away on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
What may seem like heroic academic efforts were tempting God to take care of me, even if I wouldn’t care for myself.
I believe that the failure to not care for our health is one of the major ways that we tempt God. There are other ways and that will be the subject of today’s article.
One story of how Israel tempted God is found in Exodus 17. There was no water for 1.5 million Hebrews and they complained to Moses.
They said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” (Exodus 17.3).
They had already forgotten how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt and how they walked across the Red Sea on dry land. Their complaint tempted God because they wondered, “Is the Lord among us or not?” (Exodus 17.7).
As the Israelites were on the verge of the entrance to the promised land, Moses reminded them of this experience and said, “Do not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah” (Deuteronomy 6.16).
Why do you think our complaints test God?
The language of complaint expresses how we feel that we have been wronged. It may perfectly accurate, but complaining only expresses our concern. It doesn’t provide a solution.
The language of complaint needs to be transformed into the language of commitment.
In the Exodus 17 passage, Moses could not produce water in the desert. What he could do was pray and ask God to help. He did so and God answered his prayers with the miracle of water in the desert.
We can learn from Moses and turn our complaints into prayer and appeals to God for his assistance.
Jesus addressed Satan with words from this passage when he was tempted. Matthew tells the story like this.
— Matthew 4.5-7 – Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
In our YouTube videos, Rudy Ross reminds us that there are three voices in our head: (1) our voice, (2) the devil’s voice, and (3) the voice of the Holy Spirit.
Our voice and that of the evil one will always lead us to a place where we tempt God’s mercy and grace. The Holy Spirit will give us the ability to follow God’s direction.
Follow God. Don’t Test Him
Our youngest daughter and family have moved to Kansas. Toni and I drove to their home for the first time the other day. The GPS on my phone got us to the town but refused to direct us to their home.
I have a horrible sense of direction but still attempted to find their house on my own. We saw lots of the town until Toni used the GPS on her phone to get us to their house.
The truth is that we all have a bad sense of direction in life. Our internal compass is set to pride and self-seeking. There is never a moment when we don’t need God’s GPS in life.
Moses said this to the Hebrew nation, but it applies perfectly in 2021.
Deuteronomy 6.17-19 – You must diligently keep the commandments of the Lord your God, and his decrees, and his statutes that he has commanded you.
Do what is right and good in the sight of the Lord, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may go in and occupy the good land that the Lord swore to your ancestors to give you, thrusting out all your enemies from before you, as the Lord has promised.
Jesus knew the value of following God’s direction. He said, “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven’ ” (Matthew 5.19).
What makes great the person who teaches and follows God’s guidance? They end up becoming the kind of people that God designed them to be.
Like my need for GPS, God’s directions show us the way to the best life possible. How foolish we are to think we have can have a great life by living according to our idea and opinions.
Moses’ Message Applied
There are two parts of Moses’ message that should be applied to life.
(1) Don’t put God to the test. There are many ways to test God’s grace and mercy. I have listed but a few.
The best way to not put him to the test is to follow the direction of the Holy Spirit.
(2) Know and do God’s will. God has revealed his will to us.
God’s will is called by many names: commandments, statutes, guidance, or direction. Like a perfectly working GPS, God’s guidance will lead us to the best life possible.
We must turn it on by knowing what is written in the Bible and by speaking to God about what we read. Then, we must follow the step-by-step directions of the Spirit.
About This Blog
I have interviewed Rudy Ross on this passage. Rudy is an excellent Bible student and lover of God. The video can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
Please email your prayer request to firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.