You’ve chosen to believe, trust, and surrender. Now, choose to keep the territory you’ve gained by exercising your faith. Keep your mind on God’s provision. He will take care of you.
Choose to keep your mind on God’s sufficiency rather than the perils of the desert.
Lessons in the Desert
The Israelites were in slavery in Egypt. They watched God provide safety for them and sent devastation on the Egyptians in a series of plagues. The plagues were designed to convince the Pharaoh of Egypt to “let my people go.” But they were also designed to teach God’s people that they could place their faith in God.
Finally Pharaoh sent the Israelites out of Egypt. As the Israelites left Egypt, they were surrounded by warring nations. They had been slaves, and had never gone to war. They did not know how to fight a battle. They must depend on God for safety in their journey.
“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ (Exodus 13:17 NIV)
God could have easily and safely protected the people through the warring land of the Philistines. Many years later he would use a little boy named David with a sling shot to defeat the Philistine giant Goliath. What stopped God from leading the Israelites through the Philistine country during the Exodus from Egypt? Was it God’s inability to deliver them? No.
We can’t say it was the Israelites’ lack of faith either. They had learned faith through God’s faithfulness over a lifetime of slavery and through their deliverance in the plagues. They had faith, else they would not have marched into the desert under the leadership of Moses.
Yet their faith wavered greatly at times. For example: “They said to Moses, ‘Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, “Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians”? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!'” (Exodus 14:11-12 NIV)
So did they have enough faith? How much faith is enough?
The faith they had was enough to start the journey, else God would never have called them into this journey of faith. But they wavered back and forth between following God and following the ways that seemed right to them. They had problems with surrender. As their mind considered the danger they faced, they began to fear rather than trust God. They wondered if God really could or would deliver them. Deep in their hearts they knew that God had proved himself to them. But they often kept their minds on the problem and not on the God who is bigger than the problem.
You can exercise your faith
You have enough faith for today. Does it look like tomorrow you may die in this desert? Everyone of the Israelites who asked that question did just that. None of the original group that left Egypt, except for Joshua and Caleb who proved their faith, were allowed to go into the promised land.
We’ll plan to study the story of Joshua and Caleb in another session. The important thing today is that we put our faith into action by choosing to believe God, to trust him, and to surrender our minds to him. Our minds are where we live. Choose to keep your mind on his sufficiency rather than the perils of the desert. In one way or another, almost everything about the Christian walk is a choice. Faith is no exception.
“And now just as you trusted Christ to save you, trust him, too, for each day’s problems; live in vital union with him” (Colossians 2:6 TLB).
You’ve chosen to believe. You’ve chosen to trust. You’ve even chosen to surrender. Now, choose to keep the territory you’ve gained by keeping your mind on the assurance that God will take care of you. Read these Scriptures every time you start to doubt or waver, and thank God for the victory he has already given you.
How much faith is enough? God has given you all the faith you need for your present circumstance. You just have to choose to exercise it.
“The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’ He replied, ‘If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it will obey you.'” (Luke 17:5-6 NIV)
You have mustard seed faith. But that mustard seed will not germinate unless it is planted in the proper environment. Plant your mind in the Word of God. Water it daily with his promises. Let the sunshine of his sufficiency dwell in your mind.
So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17)
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV)
Questions for thought and discussion
- What stopped God from leading the Israelites through the Philistine country during the exodus from Egypt? Why would God send the Israelites into a cruel desert amidst warring nations. Could not God have transported them to safety through the Philistine country quickly and easily, sparing them the 40 years they spent wandering in the desert?
- Did the Israelites have enough faith as they started off for the promised land? What was their problem?
- Review the story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel 17. What was different about David’s faith and the faith of those who complained in the desert?
- Where exactly do we make the surrender? Is it a one time thing? How can we tell when we are not surrendered?
- Do you have enough faith? How much faith do you need? How can you get more?
We’ll talk about faith for our problems next.
Scripture taken from New International Version unless otherwise noted