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Monday, June 28, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 13:7, Now it came about when Pharaoh had let the people go, that God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war, and they return to Egypt.”

Our family once had a dark blue station wagon that was prone to overheating. This condition was not caused by length of trip, elevation, windy roads, or even warm weather. It just happened, and we simply never knew if we would reach our destinations on time, or if we would find ourselves on a roadside, waiting for the steam shooting from under the hood to subside from its billowy tantrum. Often we were pressed to pass the time creatively.

Waiting is frustrating. Detours are aggravating. We are set to go from point A to point B in minimum time. Why delay? Waiting seems such a waste, so purposeless.

Israel had a direct, clear route to Canaan, the Promised Land. A flush of freedom, of escape, propelled them forward. Anticipation tasted sweet. And God led them by a side passage, a longer less satisfying route: to protect them, to preserve them, to prepare them throughout the journey.

“A bruised reed He will not break, and a dimly burning wick He will not extinguish; He will faithfully bring forth justice.”

God knew a people fresh from slavery could handle only certain circumstances. They would require strength before facing war and dangers. The simple route hid deadly snares.

Thank you Lord for setting me on the roadside to sit a spell until it’s safe to travel again. Help me remember that when You direct the detour, or the delay, You are protecting me.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 103: 14

For He Himself knows our frame;

he is mindful that we are but dust.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 13:1, Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Sanctify to Me every first-born, the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast; it belongs to Me.”

Death came to Egypt’s first born. Doubt, derision, disbelief, culminated in despair; “and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead.” No division of sin’s sentence between high-born or low-born, rich or poor, master or servant. No distinction between Egypt and Israel except for God’s covering sign.

Every first-born son to be sanctified from this time forward as a reminder that God alone saves.

Redemption.

“But when the fulness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that you might receive the adoption as sons.”

Debt paid.

Every believer to be sanctified from new birth onward as a witness, in God’s word, in heart.

Thank you Lord for delivering each of us, male and female, Jew and Gentile, slave and free, to be one in You.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 56:13

For Thou hast delivered my soul from death,

Indeed my feet from stumbling,

So that I may walk before God

In the light of the living.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 12:41, And it came about at the end of four hundred and thirty years, to the very day, that all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.

Abraham was the first patriarch of Israel to whom God’s promises are recorded. God promised him a great name, blessings, a great nation, and multiplied descendants as the stars of heaven and sand on the seashore. Israel passed these promises along to each generation. They knew them to be true. God also told Abraham his descendants would be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years.

Had Israel forgotten God’s word? Had they become so enamored of Egypt’s gods that they thought God’s prophecy a myth? The time had come. God knew the very day Israel would leave captivity. He had promised a limit, a release.

We are reminded in Ecclesiastes “There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven”: for birth, death, plant, uproot, kill, heal, tear down, build-up, mourn, dance, throw stones, gather stones, search, keep, throw away, tear apart, sew together, be silent, speak, love, hate, war, “and a time for peace.”

I need my vision prodded to look beyond the immediate. My own memories repeat time after time that You have interceded on my behalf, Lord, and brought Your limits to bear on my circumstances. Forgive me my forgetfulness.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 69:13

But as for me, my prayer is to Thee, O Lord, at an acceptable time;

O God, in the greatness of Thy lovingkindness, Answer me with Thy saving truth.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 12:39, For it had not become leavened, since they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay, nor had they prepared any provision for themselves.

Laden with parcels and packages while shopping, we reach a point where we stop. We are filled up. Errands, chores, activities, pleasures, obligations load our hours, days, weeks. We are pressed for seconds.

What a contrast to Israel. Called by God to move in haste, they left with no provisions. Except one. His promise to lead and provide. They walked a wilderness in faith, looking to God alone.

Lord I know that I often rely on tangible foundations. Qualifications, quantities, quotas establish a safe environment for me to serve You. Like a soft blanket for a child I can clutch them in my mind and carry them into new situations.

Wrapped up in self-made plans leaves no room for You, though. I need to be empty in order to be filled. I need to be un-encumbered in order to travel light. I need to be enabled to pray “Thy will be done.” Teach me Lord to walk with empty arms and eyes of faith.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 81:10

“I, the Lord, am your God,

Who brought you up from the land of Egypt;

Open your mouth wide and I will fill it.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 12:14, Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance.

During family feasts, children often love to eavesdrop on grown-ups. They hear stories passed on from generation to generation, the antics of now staid adults, the memories of their parents.

Joyous ones, funny ones, favorite ones are usually embellished. Once the youngsters grow bored and leave, sad moments and dark days are told in lowered tones. They combine fact grounded events with a mysterious, once upon a time, distance. These threads of heritage form bands that last a life-time, providing identity and foundation.

“Observe this event” God told Israel. The Lord God Himself descended from heaven to execute judgment, to free His people. Not a story, not a dream.

“Observe this rite.” Pass it on to each family member that the Passover may not be forgotten or lost in dulled memories. Keep it fresh so each generation may know His name, His power, His love, His possibilities.

I forget to worship as I should, Lord, with honor and thanksgiving for Your heritage to me. You continue to save throughout the ages, grafting each of us into Your family, Your stories, Your truths. May I acknowledge and celebrate You, everyday.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 100:5

For the Lord is good;

His lovingkindness is everlasting,

And His faithfulness to all generations.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 12:13, “And the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.”

Powerful forces form against us,

envoys of Satan’s realm:

sin, sickness, evil deeds

cloaked in luring lies.

Provision found flowing through

the blood, executed by law.

Streaked on door-posts, down the

cross, pass over lives.

Payment furnished, freedom’s given

gift endowed, by Sovereign grace.

Salvation sent, evidence

Christ: limitless love.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 55:18

He will redeem my soul in peace from the battle which is against me,

For they are many who strive with me.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 12:3-4, …a lamb for each household. Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb.

A close friend often cooks and caters special gatherings. Her main measure is an anticipated number of participants. From that figure, regardless of menu, she calculates the quantities necessary to feed each guest plus a few last minute arrivals. Each person is fed. It is only necessary that they choose to participate.

God provided for Israel. He requested they prepare a lamb, which was readily available, share household to household, eat the meal. Not one person was to be exempt. Not by family size or social standing or economics. Infant to elderly, all were invited, to partake: by choice, by faith, by self, within community.

And we are still invited to the Lord’s table. He asks us to partake by faith, as individuals amidst congregations, choosing to affirm God’s Passover Lamb, Jesus.

Thank you Lord for Your personal invitation to Your family. Help me to remember that no one is excluded. Help me to remember that my neighbor is the one closest to me and that I am to share responsibly.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 22:26

The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied;

Those who seek Him will praise the Lord.

Let your heart live forever!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 12:2, “This month shall be the beginning of months for you;”

Beginnings: from this time on, new life, new start, new birth, anticipated with joy.

Life begins at the end of a cold, dark winter with tiny buds and pale green shoots.

Life begins at the end of a long wait.

Life begins for Israel with separation from Egypt to life with God.

Life begins with separation from sin and selfishness to a life lived unto God.

Life begins when we are plucked from death into eternity.

Life begins when that which is old is passed away and behold all things are new.

Life begins with a second chance-to begin again.

Life begins with a baby in Bethlehem.

Life begins, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to the one who thirsts from the spring of the water of life without cost.”

Beginnings: a smile, forgiveness, reconciliation, a hand held with love.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 133:3

It is like the dew of Hermon,

Coming down upon the mountains of Zion;

For there the Lord commanded the blessing-life forever.

 
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