February 20, 2010

Num 21-22: The Snake and the Donkey

Posted in Disobedience, Sin Nature tagged , , , , , , , , at 9:51 pm by Steve

Raising up the brass snake is a metaphor that Jesus uses to describe his own sacrifice. When the people complained and grumbled against God’s grace, snakes infiltrated the camp and began inflicting pain and suffering on the people. Moses was instructed to raise a brass snake on a pole. The brass snake was raised, not to drive out the snakes, but to heal any who had been bitten by them and experienced their venom.

NOTE: Brass is an alloy of two metals, copper and zinc, and is often associated with sacrifice and sin.

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” John 3:14-15

Now, someone in that situation, with the threat of death looming close, might feel that surely he must actively do something to rescue himself from the effect of the poison.  But the Lord was showing that He must do the work.  Every snakebite victim in that particular circumstance in the wilderness was to take the passive role of trusting the Lord for the miracle of healing.  He was to merely believe God’s words, and show his trust by looking to that one way of rescue that the Lord had made available, the brass snake on the pole.  He may not have fully understood.  He may have thought it foolish.  He may have considered it an insult to his intelligence.  He may have thought such a simple act woefully inadequate.  But regardless of what one might think, the Lord had spoken!  To refuse, quite frankly showed one’s prideful rebellion against the Lord and His words.  To refuse showed one’s stubborn insistence upon trusting himself and his own inadequate resources.  To refuse was to perish! Only God’s miraculous power could reverse the effects of that poison.  Every effort of man to save himself failed and resulted in certain death.  But every soul who humbly believed God’s promise there in the wilderness, and showed his faith by looking to that brass snake, was instantly healed.

Why do you suppose God didn’t drive out the snakes?

Does it make a difference that God provides a cure without destroying the curse?

What is the snake whose venom we suffer under and for which Jesus is the cure?

In the story of Balaam and the donkey I think part of the message here is that sometimes circumstances that make us angry and frustrated often protect us from other more dangerous harms. Balaam beat his donkey three times before he understood that his donkey was actually protecting him from dangers he could not see.

Have you ever been angry and frustrated things didn’t go as you had planned, only to find out later it would have been disastrous if they had?

February 10, 2010

The Land and the Covenant with a Treacherous and Hostile People.

Posted in Adolescent, Consequences/Blessing, Consequences/Curses, Covenant, Faithfulness, Father, Forgiveness, Love, Restoration, Sin Nature, Teacher, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 12:08 pm by webpastormike

40 ” ‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers—their treachery against me and their hostility toward me, 41 which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, 42 I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 For the land will be deserted by them and will enjoy its sabbaths while it lies desolate without them. They will pay for their sins because they rejected my laws and abhorred my decrees. 44 Yet in spite of this, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them or abhor them so as to destroy them completely, breaking my covenant with them. I am the LORD their God. 45 But for their sake I will remember the covenant with their ancestors whom I brought out of Egypt in the sight of the nations to be their God. I am the LORD.’ “

The land will lie desolate without them.

Seventy years of desolation is the closest thing to rest that the land could have while the punishment of the covenant was justifiably doled out to the treacherous and hostile people whom the LORD had chosen.  He made the covenant and refused to break the covenant because of His relationship with Himself.  He could not be unfaithful.

While you and I go through our times in the land of our captivity, the land of our promise is being healed.

The land needs it healing because of what we and our fathers have done in and to the land.  We have been little schemers.. treacherous and hostile toward those whom we were and are required to be in right relationship with. Right relationship with God and right relationship with the poor and the widows and the orphans and our families, and our employees and all our other neighbors.

Have you ever had a family member take advantage of you?  I have.  Have you ever taken advantage of a person who needed your grace instead of your greed?  Can you recall the treachery of a trusted friend or spouse?  All of these kinds of things add up to hostility and treachery toward God, the land and God’s people.

You may linger in an adolescent attitude of “fairness” and whine on about how you should not be struggling today, it is not your fault that people who are supposed to be living as covenant people, instead chose to be selfish and idolatrous.  “Why should I have to suffer?”

Well here is a revelation.  We are connected.  What I do impacts others, and not just close people, but people who I will never meet, both in space and in time.  You never met a Nazi, but what a few people did (and are doing) has consequences for you.  The same thing is true for the woman who is cheating on her covenant of marriage… a covenant made with God, a covenant made with her husband, and a covenant made with the children of that union, the grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, classmates, friends and spouses of those children.  The woman makes a covenant with her grandchildren at that moment before the man of God in the house of God in the inheritance God gives.

We are living fools.

Treachery and hostility cannot be contained.God makes it plain that what you do hurts people.  There is no such thing as a victimless adultery.  Your little fling, your little indiscretion, your secret affair, your whispered ear tickling words… KILL.  Yes a gossip is a covenant breaking evil that destroys lives.

40 ” ‘But if they will confess their sins and the sins of their fathers—their treachery against me and their hostility toward me, 41 which made me hostile toward them so that I sent them into the land of their enemies—then when their uncircumcised hearts are humbled and they pay for their sin, 42 I will remember my covenant … I am the LORD.’ “

YOU do not need to wonder where all the prosperity went.

YOU do not need to be anxious about whether or not there will be prosperity tomorrow… count on it.. there wont be prosperity until we confess and repent.  We must turn away from everything that is not an all out Love that imitates Jesus Christ.

YOU are witnesses to the destruction that this government is perpetrating on us.  Well consider that we are getting what our sins deserve.  And the land is getting what it deserves… rest.  We have been carried into captivity by the very desires that we cherished in our little houses of self worship.  Well now the great adolescent is in charge, the king of our captivity.  And I am not talking about the fool we elected to the white house, I am talking about the fool we elected to serve in our hearts.  Yes the king of fools is you.

De throne that idiot.

Let’s pray:

Our Father in Heaven.  We have played at life and let a little loudmouth brat play king of the hill with Your precious Inheritance.  Now we are paying the price for our stupidity.  I know so little about being in covenant with You or even being in covenant with my neighbor, and it is costing me this war.  What little I do know, I have rejected for some ridiculous fleshly desire, some temporary triumph.  I have given up what I need, in order to gain what I do not want.  I am a sin-filled-fool.  Now that I am here in the land of my captivity, I see, just a glimpse of the sin that put us here.  For that, and the sin that I do not see, I confess.  My sins and the sins of our forebearers, the plans we made were our own and the selfish ways we lived created the hell hole that is now our impossible captivity.  We hated you because you did not cherish our brat-selves.  Forgive us, forgive me.  I want to know you.

7But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

You must have a plan that will bring us back from captivity, into a land that has had its desolation-rest.  Like Daniel I pray, and like Paul I pray that this life and this nation’s life will be brought back from captivity with a new heart that is righteous in Christ by faith.  Do Lord, whatever is in your heart in and through this pitiable life through the Spirit and not through the flesh.  Amen.

January 31, 2010

Exodus 36-38: When Close Enough, Isn’t

Posted in Historical, Integrity, Miscellaneous tagged , , , , at 11:16 pm by Steve

Why all the details recorded in the Scriptures? Can’t we just skip over this part? I know it was probably important for

“Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, made everything the LORD commanded Moses; 23 with him was Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan—a craftsman and designer, and an embroiderer in blue, purple and scarlet yarn and fine linen” [38:22-23],

But is it really important for us to know these lengths, weights and measures? Only if you believe there’s something more important here than just architect drawings. What does the Master Architect want us to know?

In our culture we often hear people say, “close enough” or “good enough for government work.” What they really mean is “we don’t really care.” Who’s going to know anyway.

I believe the Bible records all these facts and figures precisely because it does matter, it matters a great deal. This will be where God’s Spirit will reside, no detail is too small to be notices by God and no detail is too small that we should not give our best in all that we do.

When it comes to you relationship with God have  you ever caught yourself saying “Close enough.” Then read again Exodus 36-38 and know that for those who are gifted by God, called by God and inspired by God, no detail is ever “close enough.”

January 28, 2010

Exo 30-32: Reverence and Awe

Posted in Fear, Moses, worship tagged , , , , , , , at 10:51 pm by Steve

(1)   Pay attention to Details!

Assume for a moment you’ve been invited to the White House to have dinner the President, the Vice-President and their families. What would you do? Perhaps you would buy a new dress or new suit, new hair styling, shoes, nails, etc. Every detail of your appearance would be analyzed and if possible, improved. You would arrive in Washington a day early and spend all day getting ready because after all this is the President.

When we prepare to meet the Creator of the Universe do we send much time with the details? Notice that every detail of the Ark of the Covenant is described, every weight and measure of the incense to be used and how often is recorded for the generations. It may seem to be in nauseating detail, but it is God’s way of saying this is to be unlike any other place on earth. It is to be God’s place.

When you prepare to encounter God at worship or private prayer, do you have the same reverence and awe that God if offering to the Hebrews?

(2)  Old Testament example of Spiritual gifts

31:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with skill, ability and knowledge in all kinds of crafts- 4 to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, 5 to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of craftsmanship.

(3)  Golden Calf

After all that God had done to liberate these slaves from Egypt, why the Golden Calf?

I think that without Moses’ constant leadership and movement they pressure was off and people will naturally revert to what they are comfortable with even that means returning to Egypt. Why do battered women return to the same situation time and time again? Why do people go to jobs they hate day after day? Why do people fight to maintain youth when aging cannot be stopped?

The Golden Calf represents our hesitancy to trust God and have the kind of faith that moves mountains. A faith that has not been tested is a faith that cannot be trusted. This is the first time Moses leaves the people for an extended period of time with disastrous results. If we can create our own god, even though heartless and powerless, we will bow before something we can control.

What is your Golden Calf that when stressed, you will seek help besides God?

What is your greatest fear that would cause you to build a Golden calf?

January 23, 2010

Exo 14-16: The Hard Hearted

Posted in Choice, Foundations, Moses tagged , , , , , , at 7:45 pm by Steve

When God intercedes in the affairs of men, He does so with a unique perspective of time and outcomes. When Exodus states that God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” the form of verb suggests a future orientation such that God is viewing a process that is occurring not necessarily a consequence God is causing to happen by divine force. There appears to be an interesting progression in the use of the verbs from one in which Pharaoh’s heart is strengthened and therefore becomes unyielding because of growing pride, to one of burdensome and weariness that reflects the problems associated with positions of power and authority.

The struggle between God’s foreknowledge and Pharaoh’s free will is ultimately at stake in understanding these passages. According to Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, God is long-suffering toward Pharaoh until he showed himself to be intransigent. While others in Egypt responded to the plagues as signs and wonders, Pharaoh remained obstinate and became more of what he already was.

In a larger sense the relationship between God and Pharaoh is best reflected in light of Romans 1:24-25 “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”

The hardness of Pharaoh’s heart was the consequence of his choices and his stubborn attitude toward any authority other than his own given the life into which he was born. The problem with Pharaoh’s position of absolute power is that it doesn’t allow for a lot of wiggle room when things don’t work out the way they should. Pharaoh is boxed in and his hardness of heart becomes a burden rather than a strength. In the face of God’s authority and sovereignty, Pharaoh goes down the wrong path and each step make his life and heart harder and harder. It’s all about choices.

The verbs that are most commonly used in Exodus to describe the state and or action of Pharaoh’s inner being as growing sense of strength, pride and arrogance that builds in Pharaoh over time bringing about certain events. The debate over whether God interferes with Pharaoh’s ability to freely choose is somewhat alleviated by looking at the form of the verbs, the process of development, and the context in which they are found.

tae: the mark of the accusative, prefixed as a rule only to nouns that are definite.

ble n.m. inner man, mind, will, heart

qzx  [to strengthen, strong, to grow firm]

Exodus 4:21 – action God takes on Pharaoh’s inner being [verb piel imperfect 1st person] future oriented. It suggests what is foreshadowed based on Pharaoh’s past history.

7:13  – describing the state of Pharaoh’s heart

7:22 – remained in its current state

8:19 – Pharaoh’s hardness of heart was resolute and established

9:12 – Action God takes toward Pharaoh [piel waw consec imperfect 3rd person]

9:35 – the state of Pharaoh’s heart such that he took action and would not let the people go.

10:20 — verb piel waw consec imperfect 3rd, seems to be concerned less with the causation of the event than the final state of being

11:10 — verb piel waw consec imperfect 3rd person, “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart” Consequential action, the logical outcome of the preceeding events

14:4 — piel waw consec perfect 1st person, Consequential, because of the nature of God and the nature of Pharaoh, hardness and stubbornness is the logical result.

14:8 — piel waw consec imperfect, consequential action, because the Israelites were out of Pharaoh’s hand, his heart became stubborn and he pursued them.

 To be hard, severe, fierce, make hard, stiff, stubborn, fig. of obstinacy.

 Exodus 7:23 – action God takes toward Pharaoh’s heart

 To refuse, refusing to obey commands;

Exodus 7:14 – describing the state of Pharaoh’s heart (perfect tense, is unyielding, or stubborn)

dbeK’ vb. be heavy, weighty, burdensome, honored,

Exodus 8:11 – Pharaoh’s heart became burdened and weighted down

8:32 – the action of Pharaoh toward his own situation

9:7 – in response to the death of the animals, pharaoh remains unyielding

9:34 – because of Pharaoh’s sin, his heart is burdened even more and therefore unyielding

10:1 — verb hiphil perfect 1st person, the subject brings about a state of being, in this case heaviness of heart brought about by God.

John Goldingay in Old Testament Theology: Israel’s Gospel provides a helpful discussion of this:

To soften or harden something impersonal such as butter or jelly, we use physical manipulation, heating or cooling it, but to soften or harden a person, we present them with facts or images or stories so that they can do their work in generating a response on the part of the person. Similarly, Yhwh’s softening or hardening need not involve some equivalent to physical manipulation, as if God reaches into the brain and directly changes the way it works. To judge from other aspects of God’s working with human beings, more likely God softens and hardens in the same personal way that human beings adopt in personal relations. God makes things happen by influencing people. To soften people, God presents them with facts or images or stories of divine love or power, or of human possibilities of action or achievement. These do not force them to a positive response, but give them, for example, extra stimulus and opportunity to trust or love or worship. To toughen people, God presents them with other facts or images or stories – for instance, perhaps, reminding the Pharaoh of the loss he will incur through letting the Israelites go. That, too, does not force or manipulate Pharaoh to decide to hold on to Israel. What happens depends on how Pharaoh responds to the facts or images or stories—on whether he himself toughens his resolve. (353).”

January 21, 2010

Exo 4-6: What if?

Posted in Fear, Historical, Moses tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:47 pm by Steve

Moses is scared and who could blame him? Whenever God asks us to follow Him, it will always cause what Henry Blackaby calls “a crisis of belief.”  Faith in God is not worth much if we already have all the answers, all the strength, and all the confidence to complete the task on our own. Faith comes when we are stretched beyond our limits to the point where only God can accomplish what lies before us.

What crisis are you facing today? None?

How’s your faith today? Is it growing or is it stagnant? You already know the answer!

Paul says, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’” 1 Corinthians 1:27-31 (NIV)

How does God help Moses grow and give him confidence? Through a simple staff, but it was a physical representation of God’s presence and Grace. Do you ever wish you had a staff to touch the Nile River and turn into blood? [Remember the Nile was Egypt’s source of power, prosperity, and confidence of divine blessing. To touch the river was to touch their source of confidence? If you could touch the oppressive forces in your life, where would you touch?]

What physical representation of God’s power and grace have we been given?

Holy Communion – the body and blood of Christ

Baptism – washed into the community of faith through water in the Spirit of Christ

The Cross – a constant reminder that “God so love the world that He gave His only Son…” [John 3:16]

Worship – the community of faith that represents the Body of Christ to the world.

>> Can you think of others?

Aaron – Moses doesn’t go alone. God partners Moses with Aaron to speak to Pharaoh. Moses is the visionary, but Aaron has credibility with the people. This is a strategic move by God based on Moses’ fear and anxiety.

Burning Bush – I have often wanted a burning bush in my life to know FOR SURE what God’s will was that I may walk in it. When things don’t work out as I thought they should, I’m big at second guessing myself. The downside of a burning bush is that it belittles the relationship. God command – we do. God grace comes in Christ that we might know His heart. Now the question is simply “What Would Jesus Do?”

New Testament Parallel

LORD had said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead.”  4:19

“Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” Matthew 2:20

Prayer

Father I pray that as we read your word together we will grow in grace, gratitude and faith. Continue to guide us and when we feel we cannot accomplish what lies before us, remind us that You are with us always in Christ Jesus. Amen

January 20, 2010

Exodus 7-9 Unyielding Hearts

Posted in God's Character, Human Nature at 1:04 am by webpastormike

Unyielding Hearts

I feel compassion for Moses.  Here he is in the Exodus story doing everything that God commands and nothing is turning out well for him.  That seems so backwards.  From our way of reasoning, if you do what is right, if you obey God’s call, it should go well for you.  But life does not conform itself to our belief system.  Life does not bend for us.  Life is difficult.  Moses was homeless, powerless, and indigent.

Did you ever wonder where Moses lived during all this?  How did Moses support himself?  He did not have a salary.  He did not have an inheritance.  Moses had no income.  The time that he lived with his in-laws ended at the burning bush.  Who supported this prophet’s lifestyle?  Was it Miriam or Aaron who paid for his food and shelter?  Was this why they felt they could criticize him so openly later on in the desert?

Jesus was homeless too you know: “The Son of Man has no place to lay His head…” and when I think about it, so was Elijah, particularly after the massacre of the priests of Baal.  How can you balance this inequity?  Should we not see people who prosper because they follow their calling from God?

Moses, Elijah and Jesus all confronted their communities with the words of God but He did not protect them from the retaliation that ensued.  Then to top it all off the people did not listen.  Pharaoh was the quintessential blockhead.  Everything Moses said was God’s word, and everything Moses did was backed up with a miracle.  But still he did everything that he could to mollycoddle Moses into changing rather than recognizing the wisdom of subjecting himself to the will of a Supreme Being.

All the while Moses continues to obey, and continues to suffer for it.  Even beyond the plagues and Passover and the parting of the Red Sea, Moses does everything right but his world is turned upside down by the responsibility of his call and the radical change that happens because of God’s plan. Right up until that one little emotional outburst with the rock when God’s death sentence was pronounced.  Even Moses had not earned a special place in God’s eyes so that He could wink at sin and let it go without consequences.  None of his obedience mattered when it came down to disobedience.

You and I have both seen the ministers whose lives have been devastated because of disobedience.  Perhaps they thought about being special or exempt because they followed God’s call, or perhaps they just had an emotional outburst, or maybe the heart is just wicked. But my question is: Where are the ministers who suffer for doing what is right?  Are they not cast aside into a ditch of irrelevance in favor of those who can play the political games and who succeed at marketing attractiveness over the long term?

Where are the men and women who will not compromise?  Where are the prophets who declare “thus saith the Lord” and then face the backlash without giving up?  Are there any who remain who can face the wrath of a culture that focuses on the humanity but discards the divinity?  Where are the deliverers who will not stop until the deliverance is complete?  Are there any who remain in the ranks of the ordained?  Surely there must be those who do live “just as the LORD commanded them”. The Master God told Elijah that He had reserved for Himself people who refused to bow their knee at the cultures mandated no-god Baal.  In the book of Ezekiel chapter 48 God remembered the descendants of Zadok “the Zadokites who stayed true in their service to me and didn’t get off track as the Levites did when Israel wandered off the main road…” and of course Jesus spoke to his disciples as to “those who lost…for my sake” in a promise set in the future.  But none of the disciples have shown us that life becomes easier.  I wish they would, but no amount of wishing will make it so.  All of them died martyr’s deaths except the exiled John.  No amount of fantasy can change reality.  Life is difficult, and obeying God makes it even more difficult.

So the question remains.  Why bother obeying God at all?  If peace and prosperity does not come from following the beautiful plan that the Father has laid out for our lives, why not just listen to the heathen “eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die”?

I can think of only two reasons today.  The first is because only God is good.  To follow any other course of life is self-destructive because it is by definition wicked and evil. Refusing to follow God’s good rule is socially destructive because self-interest breeds communal degradation and rampant lawlessness that consummates in chaos.  Just look at the impact that our sexual freedoms have had on families and you can see what I mean.

The second is because human life is not about human life.  We are not here to pursue comfort, ease and prosperity, despite the swan song of materialism.  Human life is about being part of the answer that God gives every time we pray in the manner that Jesus taught us.

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name
Thy kingdom come;

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven…

The lesson of Moses is that Exodus is not about Moses, it is about God’s terms of deliverance and Kingship over His people.  It is about focusing on how we are to interact with God first (have no other gods before me) and how we are to live with others (thou shalt not…).

Jesus made it clear that the whole point of human life is that God sets the standards on how we are to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our fellow humans the way that we treat our own bodies, carrying one another’s burdens and so fulfill the love command.  Remember that He said if we try to save our own lives we will lose them, but if we lose our lives for His sake, we will find our life in Him.

Look up and see the prophet in your midst, those suffering for living and speaking God’s bold word of truth.  Do not be frightened by their suffering, but give unto them, and you will not fail to receive the prophet’s reward.

Remember, your life is not about you.

January 19, 2010

Exo 1-3: Freedom? For what?

Posted in Fear, Revelation tagged , , , , , , , , , at 8:47 pm by Steve

The Tribes of Israel that go into Egypt

  1. Reuben
  2. Simeon
  3. Levi
  4. Judah
  5. Issachar
  6. Zebulun
  7. Benjamin
  8. Dan
  9. Naphtali

10. Gad

  1. Asher

12.  Joseph  —  Ephraim and Manasseh

“The Egyptians used them ruthlessly” [1:14]

“Pharaoh-type” individuals come in many disguises in our culture. They can appear as the boss of your company, finances that oppress and slaves to credit card debt, health concerns and pursuit of youth, and relationship that force us to act in ways that are contrary to our basic natures. There are pressures to work longer, harder and with less family time. There are more and more demands to run the kids to every event to achieve more, to be more, and have more. This life is ruthless to our wellbeing. We are slaves of our own choosing with no way out, until we cry out to God for help, guidance and deliverance.

What is the Pharaoh in your life?  There are simply some things you cannot do without God’s help!

What we remember most from Exodus narrative is the Charlton Heston version when Moses says to Pharaoh “Let my people go!” We assume that Moses comes to free the slaves, but free them to do what? It is extremely important to read the text carefully. God tells Moses that He wants to liberate the slaves to go and worship Him. The focus of the Exodus is not freedom, if we define freedom as the ability to do whatever you want, but freedom to serve God. Exodus is not about freedom to do anything, but freedom to worship and serve God alone and not Pharaoh. That’s why God tell Moses to go to Pharaoh and say ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.’” [3:18] God wants the freedom to worship God alone.

I will let other tackle God’s self-revelation of Himself “I AM THAT I AM”

Let me know your thoughts.

January 18, 2010

Gen 48-50:The End of the Beginning

Posted in Anxiety, Israel tagged , , , , , at 11:19 pm by Steve

Have we come to the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?

 Since Genesis 1, just think how far we’ve come. Here’s a short list of what we’ve learned, experienced and marveled at as its unfolded. We will have to contend with this list and its meaning for the rest of the year.

  •  God’s Sovereignty and purposeful design
  • Man’s propensity for self-delusion and self-aggrandizement
  • Sin’s consequences
  • God’s Covenant
  • Abraham’s faith
  • Human frailty, and
  • God Providence

 If you have other’s I’d love to hear what they are. Please add to this growing list.

 Christ is revealed in the following blessings of Jacob’s son Judah.

 “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs  and the obedience of the nations is his.” [Gen 49:10]

 The father blesses his sons, but the “blessing” is less of a look to the future as it is a reflection of the past. I can’t imagine Reuben being particularly thrilled when Jacob reads the family will and Reuben’s behavior is revealed.

 What legacy or blessing have you received from your parents and what blessing are you creating for your children?

 Faith is a tough for Jacob’s family. As soon as he dies the brother’s fear Joseph’s vengeance. Don’t they know him yet? Hasn’t his heart been revealed, or has their distrust said more about their hearts and than his?

Father God, You have blessed us when we were in rebellion. Through the example of your son Jesus Christ, we learn that we can trust Your heart. I pray for all those who still doubt, still wonder, and still wait. May we be your voice of hope. In Jesus’ Name we Pray, Amen.

January 15, 2010

Gen 41-42:Integrity Speaks Volumes

Posted in God's Character, Integrity tagged , , , , , , , , , at 4:56 pm by Steve

Integrity – doing what is right even when no one but God is watching

 

Joseph had integrity even in prison. Betrayed by his brothers and thrown in prison because of Potiphar’s wife, Joseph still uses his spiritual gifts to help those that needed his help. In time, Joseph’s integrity will be remembered because of an act of kindness two year earlier.

We cannot always know the ramification so our actions and we certainly won’t always be applauded for doing good. Sometimes just the opposite. But we know that as followers of Jesus we must true to our nature, but salt and light in a dark and weary world.

One of my favorite quotes is by William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania!

“Right is right even if everyone is against it. Wrong is wrong even if everyone is for it.”

So how can we know what is right and good? Trying Reading Micah 6:8

Pharaoh dreams the same dream twice to provide this an important message and not as Scrooge would say, “a bit of undigested beef.” In a moment of crisis they remember Joseph. Isn’t this typical. We don’t remember God until we’re in crisis mode. The story of Israel is one of abundance leading to idolatry leading to crisis. Will we ever break this cycle?

Joseph stand before Pharaoh, the monarch of all Egypt and might easily have taken the credit, the reward, and the fame for his wonderful ability to interpret dreams.  BUT HE DOESN’T. Even though he is in prison and has no prospects yet of release, he praises God for the gifts he has. When was the last time you praised God for the work of your hands, mind, or heart.

Believe me when I say, I can’t preach! But God can through me! Mother Teresa once said she was nothing but a little pencil in God’s hand writing a love letter to the world. I like that!

Joseph tests his brother by asking them to bring Benjamin, the youngest who Joseph had never seen. I found it interesting that Joseph imprisoned the brothers for three day. And on the third day brought them out to offer them a solution.

Redemption comes after three days.

 

What do you think?

Next page