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Pine Cones,Branches, and Weeds, Oh My!

Read Numbers 20:1-13

Since the small amount of snow that we received during the week had already melted, and because it was already pleasant out, I ventured into the backyard this morning to do a bit of clean-up. When time permits, I look for pine cones and branches and get them off the lawn before my husband mows. Today, in addition to that task, I also was able to do a cursory examination of some of the flowerbeds, pulling some dandelions and getting rid of old leaves and some of last fall's dried plant debris too. However, I remembered the lesson from a few years ago and didn't get carried away as I pulled weeds. May I explain?

I had been zealously weeding the flowerbeds that line our front sidewalk. The chrysanthemums were leafing out nicely, but so were the weeds around them. I couldn't believe how big one of the "weeds" was. So, I pulled it out roots and all, making sure I was rough with it as I put it in the bucket. That one won't grow again I thought, feeling good about it. I was certain of that. Too bad it was a chrysanthemum, and yes, I was correct. It never grew or had a chance to bloom. Haste really did bring waste. However, today I worked carefully around the perennials that are emerging, and when I was uncertain as to whether something was a flower or a weed, I didn't act impulsively. If waiting shows that something I didn't pluck is a weed, it can be pulled, and if it turns out that it is a flower, we will enjoy its beauty.

It is so easy to act or speak in haste in life events far more serious than weeding a flower bed. The consequences of doing so might be small or they might be great, as they were for Moses. Let's remind ourselves of this part of his story and be helped by the lesson he learned. What a life this man had. After being weaned, Moses spent his first 40 years being raised by Egyptian royalty. He spent years 40-80 in Midian, tending sheep for his father-in-law. Then in Exodus 3, God commissioned him for the work of bringing the Lord's people out of Egypt.

Oh, the highs and lows Moses had. He saw God's power through the ten plagues which the Lord said were His judgment against the gods of Egypt, Exodus 12:12. We can only imagine the wonder Moses must have experienced as he and the people safely crossed the Sea and observed as the massive walls of water came back together. Pharaoh and his men all perished, and as God promised were never seen again, Exodus 14. Then Moses saw the Creator's great power as the people were nourished through the provision of manna, Exodus 16:14-21. Imagine, Moses witnessed how God fed more than one million people for 40 years. However, in spite of these incredible blessings, it was far from sweetness and light for Moses. He endured the complaining and unbelief of his people on a regular basis. They often cried out against him and against God, though they had seen His miraculous care. Time after time, Moses acted with wisdom, often praying to God on behalf of His rebellious people, but then, one day, it happened. In Numbers 20, the people needed water. It was a legitimate need, but once again, they spoke against Moses, wishing they hadn't left Egypt, and they also had other complaints.

The Lord gave Moses His plan. He was to speak to the rock and water would pour out, enough for the whole congregation and their beasts to drink. Oh, the gracious display of God’s unconditional love. He had previously done this wondrous miracle, Exodus 17:1-7, and He would do it again. However, this time Moses' reaction was different. No doubt he was weary, and he spoke rashly, Psalm 106:33, and struck the rock twice. His speech and actions did not display the heart of God, and Moses anger resulted in disobedience. The man who had walked in faithfulness allowed his emotions to rule over him. As a result, God did not permit him to go into the Promised Land. How many times had Moses cried out to the Lord, asking for His mercy for the people? His words and actions more than not, displayed God's love for the Children of Israel. Yet this time, his words didn't honor the Lord, they were hasty, and so were his subsequent actions.

I doubt there is anyone who has not been on both sides of impulsive words or actions. Often words and actions walk together. It doesn't take much thought at all to remember a time when we have been lashed with words. Proverbs 12:18 paints a true picture. Reckless words can inflict an injury that feels like being pierced with a sword. Sadly, most of us also know about the pain we have inflicted when our words and actions came pouring out before we thought about their outcome. How we praise God that Jesus' blood cleanses us from all sin, 1 John 1:7. Jesus will never remember our transgressions against us, Hebrews 8:12.

Although we can't undo the things we have done or said in haste, today we can begin anew. Proverbs and Ephesians both remind us that our words can be used to bless others. Rather than resulting in pain, they can produce healing and refreshment and building up for those who hear them, Proverbs 12:25; Proverbs 16:24; Ephesians 4:29, but how do we keep from impulsive actions and words. Galatians 5:16-26 gives us the answer. We are to allow the Holy Spirit to enable, empower and guide us. There is a battle that rages in us. It is the battle for control. When we became new creations, 2 Corinthians 5:17, we were made new people with new desires to please and honor God. However, our old way of doing things tries to rise up within us and prompts us to walk impulsively, according to the way we used to live. However, there is good news. The Holy Spirit wants to direct us into a different and beautiful way, enabling us to become in our daily lives, more and more like Jesus, 2 Corinthians 3:18. Galatians 5:25 in the New Living Translation exhorts us to keep in step with the Spirit. We are to follow His prompts, and as we grow, listening to Him more and more, we will act less and less in the rashness of the flesh.

Lord, help us to listen to Your Spirit, keeping in step with Him as He prompts us and enables us to honor You with our words and actions. Thank You for Your forgiveness, poured out when we fall short.

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