READ: Numbers 9-10
THINK: Have you ever felt God's presence? Have you ever sensed so strongly that He was with you that you could hardly contain your emotions? Maybe, or maybe not. Feeling God's presence isn't the issue, because following God is a matter of faith, not feeling. Neither is serving God a matter of what we see or don't see (2 Corinthians 5:7), and thankfully so, as few people will ever witness a physical sign of His presence like the ancient Israelites did. You have to trust that God is always with you and that He will always remain faithful-even when you're not. Yet, while God is always there, His specific guidance and protection are not guaranteed to those who refuse to trust Him and to obey His Word. However, if you demonstrate your faith by obedience, God promises that His presence will be active in your life-guiding, protecting and revealing himself in a personal way-regardless of what you see or feel.
RESPOND: Who was really leading the Israelites through the desert? What did the cloud by day and the fire by night represent? (See 9:15-23 note.) How did the people respond to these visible signs of God's presence, and what can you learn from this (cf. 9:19-23)? Did God's direct guidance eliminate the need for human wisdom and planning? Why or why not? (See 9:15-23 note, subpoints 1 & 2.) How does God guide people today, and from what sources can people gain wisdom and insight in following God? (See 9:15-23 note, subpoints 2 & 3.) Why must we follow God's commands and remain in right relationship with Him in order to have assurance of His protection and guidance? What does Moses' invitation to his brother-in-law indicate about the availability of God's promises and blessings? (See 10:29 note.) What's significant about the Ark of the Covenant going in front of the people (10:35- 36)? Why is obedience to God and respect for His presence vital in finding and following His guidance?
PRAY: Praise God for His guidance and pray for wisdom in responding to His guidance. Don't simply ask for God to go with you, but ask Him to help you see where He is going and what He is doing-then follow in those ways.
ACT: Go throughout the day with an intense awareness of God's presence and a passionate desire to discover what He's doing in the lives and situations around you. Make a deliberate effort to join God in that work and to follow His guidance regarding how to interact with those around you. Keep an open ear for God's voice.
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