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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 16:15, When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.”

Unidentifiable, unnamable, unaccustomed nourishment from the Lord’s own hand. New every morning. Needs met. Unless they rejected God’s manna.

Without it, they would starve.

Unexplained mystery. Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.”

Without Him, I will starve my soul.

Spiritual manna every morning offered to sustain my days. Often I do not understand it, or even recognize it, but, I must be willing to accept it, if I am to live. “What is it?” I ask, and sometimes the explanation is made clear, and sometimes I am asked to step into the day in faith.

Lord, help me to trust, to take hold of Your spiritual mysteries from Your own hand each morning that I might live fully alive and alert to Your possibilities.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 107:9

For He has satisfied the thirsty soul,

And the hungry soul He has filled with what is good.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 16:4, Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.”

Israel was to gather the food God provided each day, enough only for the day’s needs. No more, no less. Not to indulge, and not to hoard. But it was food, there was plenty, it covered the ground. So some took extra, perhaps for a snack later, just in case the evening meal didn’t arrive. And it became wormy and foul.

Growing up in snow climate we sometimes learned the hard way it was wise to keep a supply of canned gods and candles on hand for when storms came. A hard-hitting blizzard could leave a blanket of fresh snow, cold air, and often no electricity, no heat, no water. When without proper resources, we went hungry.

Israel did have food, morning and evening, provided by God. God asked Israel to trust Him, to obey Him, to follow Him.

Lord, I too place my security in visible things. It’s a comfort to know whatever I need is there, whenever I want to use it. And it’s also so easy to start worrying about what will happen when things run out, so I gather more. Instead, help me to place all my trust in You, knowing You will provide all my needs, when the time is right. Let me not be like the man in Jesus’ parable who wastes his time “laying up treasures for himself, and is not rich toward God.”

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 78:24-25

And He rained down manna upon them to eat,

And gave them food from heaven.

Man did eat the bread of angels;

He sent them food in abundance.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 15:26, And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians; for I the Lord, am your healer.

Twenty bodies sat poised, eyes focused on their teacher, waiting for the signal. As one, they raised their instruments, paused, then played the movement; notes rising and falling, slower then faster in accordance with her hands. She held their earnest attention.

Jesus speaks to Pilate telling him, “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” And Pilate replies, “What is truth?” He was not prepared to listen.

Am I listening to You, Lord, in earnest? Or do I come to hear Your word, Your voice, on the run, half-hearted, scattered?

You called Israel to a relationship, a commitment, a healthy life. If they would heed Your voice, obey Your words, walk with You.

Lord help me to heed Your voice in earnest, so that my life will be an act of decision to follow in Your ways. Help me to choose the melody of an obedient walk with You and not a flighty engagement, when I feel like it, which is so easily broken.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 95:7

For He is our God,

And we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand.

Today, if you would hear His voice,

Monday, July 19, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 15:24, So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”

Three days earlier, Israel sang songs of praise, thanksgiving, and love to the Lord. Their hearts burst with joy at freedom from slavery, freedom from Pharaoh’s army. All the Lord had promised, He had delivered.

And now they journeyed. And now they met their first obstacle. And now they complained.

No preliminary prayer. No seeking faith.

Last week the Lord gave me peace in my heart over a long-term prayer. I was finally able to release the circumstances and sang internal praises all day long. Yesterday was cold and wet and I ached all over. My head was woolly and the people around me irritable. I grumbled and fussed all day long.

No prayer. No faith. No praise.

Forgive me Lord, for being so susceptible to the atmosphere around me, and so out of touch with You. You are still present, Your promises are still available. You will provide the drink today just as You did for Israel. Open my eyes to see with faith.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 107:35

He changes a wilderness into a pool of water,

And a dry land into springs of water;

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 15:2, “The Lord is my strength and my song,

And He has become my salvation;”

Through a week of difficult decisions, the sun shone. The next morning I wakened to a deluge of rain, wind, and cold. As I sipped tea next to the cascading stream on the window, a sense of despair crept throughout me. The situation was already fragile. To add worrisome driving conditions and health concerns was more than I could handle.

Then through the sheets of water I detected a clear vibrant note. Buried in the tree branches outside a lone bird was trilling joyously. His song pierced the storm’s symphony. His delight poured out to his Creator.

To the Lord be the glory. It is His doing, His work, His plan. He is our salvation, from beginning to end. His name is to be praised above all others.

The day ahead did stretch beyond my capabilities but as I listened to my invisible companion I realized I had forgotten my place. I was responsible to meet my obligation only, and to trust God for the outcome.

Thank you Lord for reminding me to praise You as much in the storm as in the sun, for You are present in both. It is in the storm when I most recognize Your victory and Your salvation.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 66:1

Shout joyfully to God, all the earth;

Sing the glory of His name; Make His praise glorious.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 14:15, Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward.”

Lists of positives and negatives have been repeatedly written, torn up, re-written. Pro’s and con’s assessed and argued. Data detailed in all aspects. Decision making process completed. We have all the information before us to make our choice. Now is the time to choose.

Go forward. God is leading. He knows the way. It is time for Israel to leave. The path will be shown but--first, they have to move, take a step, and walk.

Faith is a walk. We move out to move into. We are in motion. Sometimes, though, light is given just one measure at a time and my steps hesitate, stall.

Go forward, God says. But, Lord, I can’t see where the path goes. Is it uphill, along a sandy shore, through a dark valley?

“Follow Me” Jesus said, and one by one the disciples left the familiar to walk in faith. Step by step.

All my information is in the Lord. I’ve processed and prayed. Protect me on this new journey; pour Your strength into my faltering feet. Step by step.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 119:133
Establish Thy footsteps in Thy word,
And do not let any iniquity have dominion over me.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 14:5, When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?”

Despite the clear hand of God, the death of loved ones, and the destruction of their land, Egypt set out to reclaim Israel. Without Israel, the mighty Egypt was without slaves. With Israel’s departure, they lost prestige.

Is such the lure of power and control? No matter the consequences it becomes necessary to maintain the status quo at all costs. Any means to not suffer financial hardship, to not suffer loss of face.

Daily we are bombarded by advertisements demanding we buy, eat, dress, according to this or that, promising our lives will attain perfection and pleasure. Everyone will recognize us as eminent, experienced, elite. We will reach the pinnacle of success.

How many of my decisions are based on the threat of economics? How much is my self-esteem based on my relationships to others and their opinion of me? Do I grasp too tight, Lord, to my securities, afraid to let change enter my life, even when Your hand clearly marks a new way? Let me put my faith in You, in reality, not in the illusion of power and control.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 25:10

All the paths of the Lord are lovingkindness and truth

To those who keep His covenant and His testimonies.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 13:22, He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.

Israel walked through the wilderness in sight of God. Day and night His Presence led them. They had no recourse to doubt or to discern. They followed a living signal.

Before them, behind them, above them, over them, God led Israel into situations and circumstances always providing His Presence, His protection, His provision.

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

We cannot see Him as Israel did. We are called to walk by steps of faith and inner vision. Often our vision becomes blurred and we are confused. We lack confidence. We lack direction.

I need to focus my vision on Jesus. Not to run ahead of Him or lag behind Him. He will lead me in the right direction at the right time.

Forgive me, Lord, for fearful paralysis. Forgive me for refusing to walk by faith. Open my eyes to see You. Open my mind to follow only Your path.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 44:18

Our heart has not turned back,

And our steps have not deviated from Thy way,

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