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Monday, August 30, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 19:10, The Lord also said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow, and let them wash their garments.”

Consecrate them. Prepare them. Warn them.

If they touch even the border of the mountain, they will perish, including the animals. Israel readied themselves for God’s own Presence; a holiness so pure, boundaries needed to be set for protection.

Covered by Christ’s blood, sin cleansed, curtain opened into the inner chamber of communion with God. We are invited by love to personal access, private prayer in God’s Presence.

Inspiring, awesome holiness. A place to be refined. His touch burns dross, buries, self, beautifies character. His fire flares through our souls.

Consume the casual, hasty manner in me, Lord, that I might enter Your Presence with respect. Forgive my off-hand attitude and forgetfulness at the price of this gift. May I reflect on Your words with consideration, with obedience, with commitment.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 63:2

Thus I have beheld Thee in the sanctuary,

To see Thy power and Thy glory.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 19:8, And all the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do!”

Excitement and enthusiasm in a crowd can be contagious; a mob can be dangerous. And they both may be made up of the same attendees. World sport events witness to the carnage of towns and property when a team loses. The party turns to plunder.

What induces citizens to participate? Why mass dis-order? A sense of anonymity, fear of rejection, peer pressure? When the purpose is ugly, devastation follows. But what of a generous purpose? Then does mob mentality produce positive results?

All the people-all Israel-accepted and agreed to God’s invitation. All spoke together. All chose obedience. All chose God. Good decisions-good intentions.

How many individuals prayed through, reflected through, planned through, God’s invitation to life and health and ministry? Positive steps towards God’s call and His character; for Israel and for us.

But if I accept God’s gift in the throes of excitement, what do I do when His reality doesn’t match my expectations? Do I turn away, reject Him, blame Him? Turn angry and destructive?

Lord, may I examine my motives each time I burn effervescent, especially in a group. Prayerfully lead me through the cost before the commitment, so I will have staying power, and not crumple in a defensive tirade against You. Speak Your words deep within me, so that my walk is grounded in You, in honest obedience, not fickle feelings.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 37:5

Commit your way to the Lord,

Trust also in Him and He will do it.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 19:6, and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

“Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men,” Jesus said to His first disciples. Throughout His ministry He continued the charge. The kingdom of God is at hand.

Did the disciples truly comprehend? Dreams of Messiah, dreams of dominion, dreams of peace danced through their beliefs. Dedicated to God.

Foxes have holes, birds have nests; the Son of God has nowhere to lay His head.

Follow in My covenant and become a kingdom of priests, God told Israel. My own possession, My own people, a holy nation.

Did Israel truly understand? Experiences in Egypt, exposure of false gods, exodus echoed through their memories. Extol God.

Forget not My teaching, but let your heart keep My commandments.

Follow in His steps, His example left, you have been called for this purpose.

Do I truly grasp the implications? Submissive servant, scripture nourished, holy priesthood, spiritual seed seep through my soul. A living stone.

Feed My sheep.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 107:22

Let them also offer sacrifices of thanksgiving,

And tell of His works with joyful singing.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 18:20, then teach them the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk, and the work they are to do.

One of the true joys of a toddler is the ability to dress themselves. They don’t see the emptied drawers, the backwards shirt, the mis-matched socks. They see success.

One of the true grief’s of the ill and elderly is the diminished capacity for self-care. They see collapse.

Physically we all desire autonomy.

Moses met with the people from morning till evening. Throughout the long day they came asking him to inquire of God on their behalf. Jethro observed in silence. He saw an unendurable burden for Moses. “You will surely wear out, both yourself and the people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.”

Spiritually Israel sought welfare.

Am I copying Israel? Waiting upon my congregation and friends to solace me spiritually. Waiting for someone else to feed me Your word, direct my prayers, counsel my decisions.

Am I burdening others with infant care when I am fully capable of responsible behavior? How am I ever to grow to maturity if I don’t look for Your plans, Your purposes, Your will personally? How then will I discover the work You have intended me to do?

Teach me, Lord, Your laws and Your statutes. Write them on my heart. May I become a burden-bearer instead of a heavy weight.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 119:24

Thy testimonies also are my delight;

They are my counselors.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 18:11, Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods; indeed it was proven when they dealt proudly against the people.

Jethro, priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, pronounces his acknowledgment of Yahweh. He had heard the rumors. He came to determine the truth for himself. He knew Moses’ word. Between Moses’ witness and God’s actions, Jethro believed.

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

Job directs his accusers to seek beasts and birds, speak to earth and sea to search mankind’s breath. He declares all are found in God. He added his witness to acts of creation.

Forgive me for silence, Lord. It is beyond my understanding that I have the opportunity to witness of You. But if I don’t share with the people who know me Your work in my life, how will they know it is of You? How else can they marvel with me?

Join my testimony, I pray, to Jesus’ redemptive accomplishment. Cultivate openness in me, a willingness to communicate Your truths, to share Your commitment.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 19:1

The heavens are telling of the glory of God;

And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 17:9, So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose men for us, and go out, fight against Amalek. Tomorrow I will station myself on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”

Sometimes the call comes to fight. To enter the fray, pouring our very lives into the battle. We can only go when God chooses and as He directs. Until then we stand our posts and wait. Clothed with breastplate, sword, and shield, ready to participate.

But other times the battle is behind the scenes. A silent station fighting a silent battle alone or in communion with others. A battle of prayer. “Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.”

Joshua commissioned to physical labor against the enemy. Moses commissioned to spiritual struggle against the foe. Both parts required to complete God’s victory. Both maintained their position until the combat ended. Both covered in God’s armor.

Lord may I be ready at Your call. Whether to wait and encourage, to enter the skirmish with time and energy, to silently watch with prayer. Strengthen me to stand my station.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 140:7

“O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation,

Thou hast covered my head in the day of battle.”

Monday, August 9, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 17:3, But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

It’s so easy to complain. In fact, it seems therapeutic sometimes. We let off steam, emit anger, verbalize frustration. We feel released, validated. And when we grumble against a person or circumstance we feel justified.

Israel did not desire to complain against God, again. But their interior volcano gained steam and Moses was quite accessible. So they blew their fears and doubts and confusion at him in angry bluster.

I don’t want to admit some of my grumblings are against God. If I did then I’d tell myself to be silent. So I too burst my steam at whatever’s handy. And break relationships and cause emotional pain.

The prophet Habbakuk took his concerns directly to God. “How long, O Lord, will I call for help, and Thou wilt not hear? I cry to Thee, ‘Violence!’ yet Thou dost not save.” He knew there was nothing he could not speak to You.

Before I work damage and destruction to others from my own insecurities, remind me, Lord, to come to You in prayer.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 62:8

Trust in Him at all times, O People;

Pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 17:1, Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin according to the command of the Lord,…

A journey in stages with time set aside to adapt to the new terrain, to explore the sights and sounds of plants and animals, to investigate the local history. To drink in atmosphere. Sounds like a great vacation. Opportunities to assimilate new freedom, new relationships with God.

Anticipation draws us forward though. We become anxious to reach our destination, begin our new life. Delays, slow meanderings, meadow stops can also serve as irritants.

Spiritual growth develops in stages. Except we desire instant maturity in ourselves and in others. On our life journey we luxuriate in sun warmed sandy beaches and grouse under pounding rain.

God brought Israel forward in stages. He brings us forward as we are able, step by step by step.

Lord, may I see all my days: sunny or dreary, fast-paced or snail driven, joyous praise or sorrowful petition, as all a part of Your plan for me to reach maturity, to reach my destination in You.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 16:11

Thou wilt make known to me the path of life;

In Thy presence is fulness of joy;

Monday, August 2, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 16:20, But they did not listen to Moses, and some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms, and became foul; and Moses was angry with them.

Suspicion seeps into our thoughts distorting our relationships, our energy and our mental health. It casts a shadow over all activities. We begin to wonder if others truly say what they mean. Are they hiding secrets from us? Do they have ulterior motives? Unchecked, suspicion can lead us into mental illness.

Some Israelites could not trust what they saw in tangible form. Was it real, was it true, would it disappear? Did God have any ulterior motives? Maybe this was all a plot to lead them deeper into the wilderness, then desert them.

Soon distrust produces disobedience. “To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled.” Worms of bitterness breed roots inside us.

Who don’t I trust, Lord, You or me? Why when You answer prayers and show me Your love, do I suddenly watch for the downside, or the other shoe to drop? Forgive my rude response to Your generosity. Forgive me for attaching to You my own diseased motives. Keep me, Lord, from worms of suspicion.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 40:4

How blessed is the man who has made the Lord his trust,

And has not turned to the proud, nor to those who lapse into falsehood.

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