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Monday, March 29, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 4:29, 31, Then Moses and Aaron went…So the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord was concerned.., then they bowed low and worshipped.

Abandoned. Any time a newspaper heading includes this word we cringe. The image cuts too close. Ignored, rejected, shut out are all painful emotions we have experienced. We identify with them. But abandonment sounds so final, so forlorn.

Moses and Aaron took God’s promises to heart, and then acted upon them. They brought their people hope and the knowledge of God’s love. The people worshipped. In gratitude. In relief. In response.

When we know someone cares enough to ask after our needs and to acknowledge our lives, our spirits lift. A caress hugs us inside. Somehow the burdens we carry lighten.

How many people to-day live lives colored with a sense of abandonment? Almost every person we meet is lonely. How can I/we tell them God has heard their pain and answered their cries for help? He has answered with His love through Jesus’ cross. “I have come that they might have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”

Lord, open my heart to love and my ears to listen.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 94:14

For the Lord will not abandon His people,

Nor will He forsake His inheritance.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 4:19, “Go back to Egypt,…”

After wrestling with the authenticity of God’s call, Moses accepted. He had made a new life for himself in Midian; a wife and family, work, and now a restored relationship to the God of his fathers. Did peace descend on Moses like a sun’s warm ray?

“All the men who were seeking your life are dead,” God told him. Physically, it was safe for Moses to return. Emotionally, it meant a return to a place of pain, with memories of broken relationships and broken dreams. The place Moses left in fear and hurt. Now God asked Moses to face it again through His perspective, with new eyes.

To relive painful incidents in God’s Presence opens the door of healing to wounds. God can smooth out the sharp edges of splintered hurts. He can restore life and bring new beginnings where death, destruction, slavery, abuse and desertion once existed.

Whether we are called to physically return, or to emotionally or mentally reconnect to buried wounds, we too have to go back long enough to recognize and receive healing. “..He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”

Whenever the pain rises to the surface Lord, please remind me to place it in Your hands and watch for Your renewal.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 51:10

Create in me a clean heart, O God

And renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 4:1, Then Moses answered and said, ‘What if…’

Moses brought the Lord a question many prophets have echoed throughout time. What if they don’t believe me or listen to me? What then? Moses struggled to comprehend God’s message, he also questioned his ability to succeed.

And God answered. Patiently, one detail at a time, God spoke to Moses’ queries, doubts, and fears, confirming His supply. God knows our frame, knows we are dust and knows that sometimes we need tangible answers to take the next step. He know our minds whirl with ‘will I be competent’ and what if I can’t do this’.

Jesus told His disciples their faith was too little to heal the demonic boy in Matthew and with faith the size of a mustard seed they could move mountains. In Mark, Jesus amplifies His answer. They need to pray.

God acknowledged Moses’ struggle of faith without anger and with concrete promises.

Still Moses continued to question until there were no excuses left. God had provided for all of Moses’ initial confusion and stumblings. Now God’s anger burned. Despite God’s sufficiency, Moses trembled. He hid behind smoke screens. He attempted to talk himself out of serving by shielding himself with arguments.

Lord, I can work up excellent reasons and debate why I should not serve when the truth is I’m afraid and unwilling. Please expand my faith to mustard seed size so I will respond in obedience and trust when You tell me all my ‘what ifs’ are provided for by You.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 121:2-3

My help comes from the Lord,

Who made heaven and earth.

He will not allow your foot to slip;

He who keeps you will not slumber.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 3: 12, When you have brought the people out of Egypt

Fresh baked aromas permeate the air. A hungry child pleads with his parent “When?” The answer “Soon” doesn’t satisfy. A few minutes later “When?” is repeated. Waiting takes forever states the cliché to all ages.

A limit is implied though. We are waiting for something to happen. Once the when is accomplished our wait is over. The object needs to be reached, the decision made, the commitment acted upon.

When God saw that Moses turned aside to look, then, deliverance from Egypt began. Moses’ task could be set before him. When Moses completed the immediate call and brought Israel to the mountain, then, the sign-worship. When you go, you will go empty-handed. Then, God would release the recompense from Pharaoh’s hard grasp.

Jesus “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross”. Then, salvation. Then, spiritual riches. Then, inheritance.

Forgive my impatience Lord as I implore results and rewards in prayer. Show me first where I have forgotten Your when, of obedience. Then, hold me in Your keeping until Your time is right.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 145:15

The eyes of all look to Thee,

And Thou dost give them their food in due time.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 3:6, He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

God did not speak to Moses until Moses turned to look. Why? Did Moses’ curiosity indicate an open mind and heart to hear God? God already knows our thoughts. He knew Moses was ready to listen. But Moses needed to know now he was ready to be God’s servant, to serve God.

“I am the God of your father. I have seen the affliction.” Moses’ earlier attempts to deal with the Hebrew’s sufferings resulted in his run to the desert from criminal charges, and Israel continuing in anguish. Moses knew that his methods had failed, his concepts of how God could use him, perhaps even his perception of God’s character was mistaken.

Now that God had Moses’ attention He gives Moses His name. I AM. God wanted to tell Moses who He was. Not the gods of Egypt, not the God of Moses’ imagination; the Lord, God of Moses’ ancestors, God of the promises.

Moses had to be willing to listen.

Am I willing Lord, to ask to know You as You are? Can I move beyond stereotypes, myths, and wishful thinking? Your name is still “I AM”. And to-day You still call Your people to freedom, to salvation. Open my ears, Lord, that I may listen to Your call.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 85:8

I will hear what God the Lord will say;

For He will speak peace to His people, to His godly ones;

Friday, March 12, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 3:3, So Moses said, “I must turn aside now, and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.”

Agendas drive our days. Either by choice or by demand work fills our time. Our clocks pulse to the routine daily rhythms.

Moses pastured his father-in-law’s flock, a familiar everyday duty. On this day he came to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God. Was this the first time? Did Moses often bring his flock on this route of wilderness? Scripture only tells us of this day when God met Moses in the midst of his common responsibilities. The bush burned but was not consumed, and Moses turned aside to investigate.

Would I be so flexible, so curious? Do I even expect to see God in the ‘thick of things’ or have I a time and a place reserved for church or prayer, hoping to hear God’s voice there when I am ready to listen? Would He, I wonder, arrest my concentration?

Moses, attuned to his surroundings, his curiosity peaked, chose to seek an answer. And when God saw Moses taking the time to see, then He spoke.

Lord, am I willing to take the time to investigate the unusual interruptions, to see if You are present in them, or do I ignore them, in an attempt to control my day? Keep me flexible and open to You. May I not be so bound in routine that You cannot catch my attention.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 123:2

Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,

As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress;

So our eyes look to the Lord our God,

Until He shall be gracious to us.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 2:23, Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died..; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God.

Pleasant times pass too quickly. The day spent with a friend, a week-end getaway, a quiet solitary retreat all end before we’re ready. Our sigh is ‘so soon’. As the rush of mainstream living catches us up, our memories may just be a fleeting sense of well-being, or a feeling of connectedness.

But time spent living with pain and affliction slows to a crawl. We can feel abandoned, lost, and uncared for. How do we reconcile these days with scripture’s word, “I will not fail you or forsake you.” Our sigh is ‘where are You, when will this end?’

While Moses shepherded in Midian, the king of Egypt died but Israel’s plight did not lift. They continued in bondage. Their anguish ascended to God’s ear. He heard them, He noticed them, He remembered His covenant with them. Not that He had forgotten them, His plan was going forward; “it came about in the course of those many days.”

Sometimes I forget that God has a course for me far above my plans. His course is one I cannot fathom and when that course is difficult I forget His promises that resolution will come in His time. Continually throughout His ministry Jesus stated, “My hour has not yet come.” With His face set toward Jerusalem, Jesus kept to God’s course.

Lord, remind me in these long days to hold onto Your Presence. Let me stick fast to Your side as I wait upon the completion of Your course.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 34:4

I sought the Lord, and He answered me,

And delivered me from all my fears.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 2:22, Then she gave birth to a son, and he named him Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”

Names drift through our minds evoking memories of place, person or occasion. We smile, frown, chuckle, wince at wisps of experience. Moses engraved his remembrance on his son’s name-Gershom, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”

Moses first sojourned in water. A natural habitat for Nile crocodiles and egrets, but not for babies. Taken from his family he sojourned in his pitch basket awaiting a decision. Next he sojourned as an Egyptian in Pharaoh’s household. There surrounded by wealth and opportunity he grew in scholarly knowledge and military prowess. But when faced with choice his Hebrew heart called him. From Egyptian prince to runaway shepherd, Moses sojourned as a stranger in the desert of Midian, in a land he did not know, amidst a family of foreigners.

Separated from God, removed from our spiritual heritage by sin, we sojourn in the world. We look as if we belong. Act, talk, play out the roles we aspire to until the day our hearts betray us. For some of us the pain of separateness leads to even more painful experiences, as we try to bury our losses. Like Soloman we try all the world’s ways, love-power-pleasure, in our obsessive search for meaning in life.

Until we come to an internal desert. And there God speaks. And there He restores us to Himself.

Lord, please don’t let me forget I am a sojourner, an alien, in this world. Keep me from seeking false roles and wrong roads. Keep me in Your family, called by Your name.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 39:12

Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry;

Do not be silent at my tears;

For I am a stranger with Thee,

A sojourner like all my fathers.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 2:3, But when she could hide him no longer…

Exodus 2:4, ..stood a distance to find out what would happen to him.

Did her hands tremble as she lined the tiny vessel with tar and pitch to keep out the water? What about the crocodiles? It would not stop their strong jaws but perhaps the odor could repel them if they too hid among the reeds. What other predators lurked in the Nile?

For three months Moses’ mother did all she knew how to do but when she reached the end of her resources she gave her infant son into God’s keeping. Her faith gave God the opportunity to override her personal fears.

Her faith also gave her courage to stand and watch God at work. She looked upward to Him. Jochebed stood on His promises and counted on His character.

How did she reach this point? She knew the scriptures, stories, promises. She reacted in faith, yes, but not a leap of faith. Jochebed knew upon whom she could depend. Her actions resulted from her prayers so she moved forward with the confident knowledge of God’s overriding protection.

Amy Carmichael says that we need to be willing to allow our loved ones to go to Jerusalem-to see divine love instead of safety.

How can I learn to let go like Moses’ mother? Not trying to put my children’s lives into my pre-conceived plans but, instead, to seek out God’s direction and purpose. Then go forward with confidence to cooperate instead of resist.

Lord please give me the strength to trust like Jochebed, then, stand and watch in faith.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 33:4

For the word of the Lord is upright;

And all His work is done in faithfulness.

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