I'm not posting here as often as I'd like. After months at home, I've a crazy-busy semester. But here is my devotion for our church, to complement this past Sunday's sermon.
Exodus 16:1-18, Luke 22:1-23
Many of us have endured times when money was very tight. Having faith in God through financially difficult times is really hard. Worry clouds your thinking.
Our first scripture lesson is the famous story of manna. Exodus 12:37 states that about 600,000 men on foot left Egypt with Moses, which doesn’t include women and children and, presumably, the infirm who had to ride. That’s a lot of people requiring food and water. Think of news reports about of people in refugee camps.
The Israelites were fearful and demanding concerning their needs. The people had witnessed the power of God in the several plagues that struck Egypt, and especially in the splitting of the Red Sea which let them escape. But once in the Wilderness, they grumbled and panicked.
The Bible says that for their entire period of sojourn in the Wilderness, God provided the Israelites a miraculous substance, manna, to feed them He also provided quail, and sources of fresh water.
So why didn’t they trust God when times were hard? Because they were human!
Psalm 42 captures well that human anxiety concerning God’s care. The psalmist remembers God’s faithfulness, but nevertheless feels abandoned. The psalmist knows that this is a painful but temporary emotion during a difficult time. Psalm 73 also captures the feeling. The psalmist has almost lost faith in God and behaved like “a brute beast” toward God. But God never once gives up on the psalmist and will always be a faithful source of faithfulness and help (Psalm 73:21-26).
Our second scripture is Luke’s story of the Last Supper. We’ll focus on Judas.
The four Gospels give us a composite picture of Judas. All the Gospels tell of Judas’ meeting with the leaders about his idea to betray Jesus. Matthew alone mentions the 30 pieces of silver, as well as his later regret and suicide. Luke and John attributes Judas’ actions to Satan. John goes farther and accuses Judas of greed and theft. Judas’ attitude toward money was an empty place in his heart that left room for temptation.
For someone who has access to funds, theft may be a great temptation and a slippery slope. Their “money stories” turn tragic. Years ago, I knew someone (no longer living) caught siphoning from an account. The person was found guilty and punished. I wrote the person a positive letter, to keep hope for the future. As I suspected, the person did feel great regret and was glad that I wrote.
Judas may have had another motive. Was he impatient with Jesus, who was not initiating an earthly kingdom? Perhaps Jesus would declare himself King if he was confronted by authorities in an otherwise vulnerable situation. If so, Judas was guilty of something we all do from time to time: second-guessing God’s guidance. I’ve certainly felt that way during times of struggle!
In a stewardship sermon that I heard several years ago, the minister said that all of us can set stewardship goals even when we’re broke. Then, when income increases, we’ll be ready to give a little more, and later on, still more. The minister acknowledged our emotional insecurities about money.
Sometimes a person needs to take baby steps in trusting God concerning money! But once we gain confidence, we become more excited about contributing. We want to address critical needs—earlier I mentioned refugees, and there are many more—and the needs of our local church and community. Our money stories gain new dimensions!
Prayer: Dear Lord, during this season, let us give to you our worries and insecurities and grow in ways of generosity and joy. Amen.