young boy trying snow shoes February 7 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today's Bible reading: Exodus 16, 17, 18

Learning to Live by Faith

Whenever we learn a new skill or face a new challenge we usually struggle at first. Yet, we have faith that eventually we will learn by experience. Today's Bible study is learning to live by faith.

Hebrew 11:1 says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see,” (NIV). When our basic needs are secure (meaning at least our food, water, clothing, and shelter are provided), we may not see a need for faith. What happens, however, if the economy turns sour? What happens if we lose our jobs or health, and we are not independently wealthy? Will we sink in despair, gripe and complain, or will we turn in faith to God? If the truth be told, most of us would do the former before we would turn in faith to God. We need to learn to live by faith.

As we learned in recent Bible studies, the Israelites had been enslaved by the Egyptians and influenced by their worship of false gods. They were not well acquainted with their ancestral God who delivered them from bondage through ten miraculous plagues and freed them from the land of Egypt. When they went into the desert, they complained to their leadership when there was no food or water. God was gracious to the grumblers, however, because they had not learned to live by faith.

How do we learn to live by faith? Faith in God is a simple childlike trust. Some have it, but most must learn it. How? First, we must experience some difficulties where we see no natural solution. There were few places in the desert wilderness where 600,000 Israelite men and their women and children could find food and water; there were no natural solutions for them. Is there some difficulty that you are experiencing with no natural solution? God specializes in doing the impossible.

Second, we must learn that God can supply all our needs. In today's Bible reading he answers the disgruntled Israelites, The LORD says to Moses,

I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, “At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.” (Exodus 16:12, NIV).

From then on, every morning of their forty year trek in the wilderness dew appears on the ground. When it dries there are small wafers left there. They call it “Manna” since they do not know what it is (Manna means “What is it?”). They are to gather it daily and not save any for the next morning. On the sixth day they are to gather twice as much so they can have a sufficient amount for the seventh day. On the seventh day there will be no Manna on the ground so that they can rest on the Sabbath. God does this to test the Israelites to see if they will follow his instructions. Unfortunately, they fail. In the evening they have quail to eat for meat. God provides their needs, even in the desert, and by doing so they come to know that he is the LORD their God. If he can provide their needs in a way that only he can do, they learn to live by faith. Unfortunately, they are slow learners. God can provide all our needs, even in unlikely places like a desert. Have faith in him.

In John 6:31-35 Jesus describes himself as the Bread of Life from heaven. “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty,’” (NIV). Have you received Jesus? Only he can satisfy the hunger and thirst of your soul. Only he can bring you peace (more...). Christians, are you depending on him for your strength every day? He will provide all your needs (Matthew 6:25-34; Philippians 4:19).

Shortly after the incidence with the manna and quail, the people again complain to Moses about not having water to drink. This time they quarrel with him and threaten to stone him. Leadership can be pretty tough at times. God's response is for Moses to have some of the elders accompany him as a testimony of God's miraculous power. They witness God doing the unthinkable - he provides water from a rock! A person might ask, “How would striking a rock provide water? Did he loosen an underground spring? If he did (naturally speaking), how would Moses know which rock was holding back a spring capable of quenching the thirst of 600,000 men, and their women, children, and livestock?” What a gusher that must have been! What a miracle! Again, God is the one who can quench our thirst. God is our provider and sustainer in difficult times. Seeing this miracle, the elders are less likely to criticize Moses and are able to lead their families in faith when the next crisis comes.

After this miraculous provision of water from a rock, Israel is attacked by the Amalekites. Perhaps the Amalekites are threatened by this horde of people in their neighborhood. When they are attacked, Moses says to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands,” (Exodus 17:9, NIV). The staff Moses holds becomes a symbol of God’s power. When Moses raises the staff like a banner Israel is winning, but when he lowers it the Amalekites are winning. Seeing this, Aaron and Hur hold his arms up. The Israelites win a great victory that day; God is their banner and he helps them win. This event helps them learn to trust in God. When God helps us win victories we also come to trust in him.

After the victory, Moses is seen trying to administer justice to the masses. Moses needs more help; he can not bear the burden of all the Israelite people alone. Under the advice of Moses’ father-in-law, he divides up his responsibilities to better serve his countrymen and himself. Moses is now God’s representative before the people. The tough cases are brought before him, and he brings them before the LORD. Moses trains the elders to make less crucial decisions with justice. The division of the responsibilities amongst the elders of Israel gives them opportunities to learn to live by faith as they help settle cases brought before them. Parents, teachers, and administrators, this is a good example for us. Equip others to do the work and allow them to learn to live by faith. God can help us all make good decisions if we will learn his ways (from the Bible) and learn to trust him.

Lessons to live by:

  • If we do not have childlike trust in God, how do we learn to live by faith? First, we must experience some difficulties where we see no natural solution. Second, we must learn that God can supply all our needs.
  • God can provide all our needs, even in unlikely places like a desert.
  • Only Jesus can satisfy the hunger and thirst of your soul (more...).
  • God is our provider and sustainer in difficult times.
  • When God helps us win victories we come to trust in him.
  • Give others the opportunity to learn to live by faith. Do not bear the yoke by yourself.

Today’s Bible memory verse:

Psalm 119:71 “It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees.” (NIV)

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