Echoes From the Campfire

But the difficulty with a memory is that it doesn’t operate the way a body wants. Seems contrary as all get out, and when you want to remember a particular thing, that idea is shunted off to one side.”

                    –Louis L’Amour  (Lando)

       “‘Be angry, and do not sin’:  do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.”
                    –Ephesians 4:26-27 (NKJV)
There are times in our lives when everything seems to be going all right.  Life is hunky-dory; it’s like eating a hot dog, fully-loaded at a baseball game.  Then you get sloppy in your eating.  A bit of mustard and ketchup fall onto your shirt, then on the next bite a glob of onions and relish join the already forming stain.  Not all is lost for you scoop up the onions, relish and some of the mustard on your finger, glance around and finish eating it, but the stain is there and most likely forever visible.
       When we read Psalm 81, we see the same thing.  We see that the people are called to worship.  Everything seems to be going smoothly…

          1 — Sing aloud to God our strength; make a joyful shout to the God of Jacob.
          2 — Raise a song and strike the timbrel, the pleasant harp with the lute.
          3 — Blow the trumpet at the time of the New Moon, at the full moon, on our solemn feast day.
          4 — For this is a statute for Israel, a law of the God of Jacob.
          5 — This He established in Joseph as a testimony, when He went throughout the land of Egypt, where I heard a language I did not understand.
          6 — “I removed his shoulder from the burden; his hands were freed from the baskets.
          7 — You called in trouble, and I delivered you; I answered you in the secret place of thunder; I tested you at the waters of Meribah.      Selah
          8 — Hear, O My people, and I will admonish you!  O Israel, if you will listen to Me!
          9 — There shall be no foreign god among you; nor shall you worship any foreign god.
         10 — I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.”  (NKJV)

Stop!  From worship, God then brings forth warning and reinforces previous instruction.  Listen!  Listen!  Notice the emphasis, we are to listen to what God is saying.  If you remember Meribah was a place of testing–quarreling.  There were arguments, fightings, but today we should look at it in the manner of attitude.  What is our attitude like toward God?  Do we go about our day, in ease, skipping along thinking all is okay?  Perhaps we go to church and worship, sing, clap our hands, but it has become perfunctory.  Israel was upset with God because of the lack of water.  We perhaps get upset with God because our soul is dry.
       Thirsty, we forget God’s provision for us in the past.  Hungry, we look at the shirt and see a stain–why did God allow that to happen?  Doesn’t he care for me any longer?  “Meribah did not just occur in the wilderness–it’s a perpetual test.  At every juncture in life we are called upon either to trust God or go our own way.” (George O. Wood)  We are not to lean upon our own understanding, but fully trust the Lord in each and every step that we take.  Put away your gods (i.e., money, power, career, bank account, ,etc.)  Don’t depend upon the god of self to get you through or the stain will remain.  Go back to your trust in God; it is He who rescues you.

                    “When Israel out of Egypt came, they left the proud oppressor’s land
                    Supported by the great I AM, safe in the hollow of His hand.
                    And all things, as they change, proclaim, the Lord eternally the same.”
                                  –Charles Wesley