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Posts Tagged ‘Moses’

Today is Palm Sunday, and in churches all over the world, talk of a parade was paramount.

Recorded in all four of the New Testament gospels, is the event of Jesus riding on a donkey, as he entered the city of Jerusalem (the City of Peace … ironic don’t you think, that a City, so very mired, today, in conflict was named a city of peace? … but, I digress).

Some in the crowd laid down their cloaks for his donkey to walk on (maybe this was the first red carpet event in history?), some in the crowd waved palm branches as he went by, and many called out, “Hosanna (meaning ‘save now’) to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9)

This all happened as the festival of Passover was beginning. Exodus 12 tells the story of the original Passover (Passover). The Israelites had been enslaved by Egypt, for many generations. God instructed Moses to have His people slaughter lambs, and cover their door frames with the blood. Then, in the night, the firstborn of every family would be killed, except for the households whose door frames are covered in the lambs blood, because the destroyer would ‘pass over’ those homes (this was the final of the ten plagues used to convince Pharaoh to let the people go). 

Moses did as God asked, the Israelites obeyed, and the Passover story came to be. Even in the home of Pharaoh, the firstborn of every Egyptian household was slaughtered. But the people in the homes that were covered by the blood of the lamb, were spared, and Pharaoh set the Israelites free.

Later this week, on Good Friday, in churches all over the world, talk of a parade will be, again, paramount. Again there were crowds of people. Again there was shouting. This time, there was no “Hosanna”, there was no ‘save now’, being sung out. Instead the shouts were “crucify him.” This time it was all a parody, all a mockery of the earlier parade.

Each of the gospels mentions his walk to Golgotha (the place of the skulls), where Jesus was nailed to the cross that he and Simone of Cyrene carried there. That walk, that parade, was after being wrongly tried, convicted, flogged, and had a crown of thrones pushed onto (into) his head.

This parade was the parade of the lamb of God (the Son of God) to the slaughter. And his blood, shed for all of humanity, is what sets us free.

“And when your children ask you,
‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’
then tell them,
‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD,
who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt
and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.'”
Exodus 12:26-27

Watch the Lamb

 

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Reaching Down

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In the the book of Exodus, the story is told of God coming down to Earth, down to where Moses was, to present His desires, His plans for this Israelite-born, Egyptian-adopted man. God ‘appeared’ to Moses in a bush that was burning but not burning up.

“God said, “you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your ancestors. I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (3:5) …“now I am sending you to Pharaoh. Go! Lead my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” (3:10)

God confirmed who He was in the language of the time, in the language of the genealogy of the Jews, naming three great men of God, whose power and might came from Yahweh himself. God came to Moses … Moses was pursued by the Creator of heaven and Earth.

But Moses said to God, “I am not a great man!
How can I be the one to go to Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt?”
(3:11)

Moses does the ‘gosh, darn, golly I just don’t think I’m your man’ response. Humility … it can be attractive, but God’s response might indicate that Moses wasn’t understanding that his abilities would not come from within himself, but that Moses would be the vessel through which God would work (hum, kind of reminds me of a post from last week, False Boasting).

God said, “You can do it because I will be with you.” (3:12)

God is not only pursuing Moses, but He promises to be by His side … he won’t be left alone.

“Then Moses said to God, “But if I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors sent me,’ then the people will ask, ‘What is his name?’ What should I tell them? Then God said to Moses, “Tell them, ‘I Am Who I Am’ … Tell the Israelites that you were sent by Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob” (3:13-15)

This Moses guy either had spent too much time in the home of Pharaoh or really did not understand his people (that list of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is pretty much the all star line-up for the Jewish people). After all, Yahweh is largely a title normally written YHWH … no vowels, and, when said, one is not really speaking, but simply breathes … YHWH is breath.

“Then Moses said to God, “But the Israelites will not believe me when I tell them that you sent me. They will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’” (4:1)

I thing that what Moses is saying is … “if you like it then you should put a ring on it” … aka if you’re serious make it public!

After this God provides Moses with signs and wonders (kind of like an engagement ring) to show to others that Moses is His main man!

“Then Moses said to the Lord, “But, Lord, I am telling you, I am not a good speaker. I have never been able to speak well. And that hasn’t changed since you started talking to me. I am still not a good speaker. You know that I speak slowly and don’t use the best words.” (4:10)

As a mom, I can honestly say, that Moses was whining!

“Then the Lord said to him, “Who made a person’s mouth? And who can make someone deaf or not able to speak? Who can make a person blind? Who can make a person able to see? I am the one. I am the Lord. So go. I will be with you when you speak. I will give you the words to say.” (4:11-12)

Seriously, does anyone have the patience of God? Anyone in their right mind would drop Moses and find someone with better abilities, and more worthy of this task.

“But Moses said, “My Lord, I beg you to send someone else, not me.” (4:13)

And finally, finally, God busts a gut …

“Then the Lord became angry with Moses and said, “All right! I’ll give you someone to help you … Aaron will speak for you … you will speak to him, and he will tell the people what you say.” (4:14-16)

God altered His plan, because His plan was as important as His man.

“So go and carry your walking stick with you. Use it and the other miracles to show the people that I am with you.” (4:17)

And Moses went, following the plan that God pursued him to fulfill.

Folks, God doesn’t only pursue the spiritual greats of the Bible. He pursues His people even today.

The other morning I snapped the picture at the top of the page. What I loved what how the rays of the morning sun were not just peeking through the trees, but they were reaching down to touch the Earth.

God may not speak to you and I through a burning bush, but He pursues us like no other lover on this Earth. He reaches down to touch us, His creation, to reveal the plan that He has for our life.

Sometimes that means we need to look up, in search of the light that is reaching back at us.

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A few days ago I shared (Got a Dementor in Your Life?) that I had been learning all about Harry Potter, from my son who is loving his new-found adventure series. Well I am back to Hogwarts again, after watching The Chamber of Secrets movie the other evening.

The quote, above, spoken by the wise and kind Dumbledore (the name does not sound so wise) grabbed my attention, I was furiously jotting it down, when I heard it, so I would not forget (that is the stage I am currently living).

When I first heard it I thought …

ahhhh!

In a world where we are valued, promoted and given higher pay for our credentials, experience and strengths this quote immediately took me to an example of choice over ability in the Bible.

In Exodus, the story of God calling Moses into a position that required, not Moses’ abilities, but his choice to say yes.

In Exodus 3-4 the story of God speaking to Moses through a burning bush is told. God wants Moses to step up and lead the Israelite people … his people, from their bondage and slavery in Egypt.

“Then Moses said to the Lord, “But, Lord, I am telling you, I am not a good speaker. I have never been able to speak well. And that hasn’t changed since you started talking to me. I am still not a good speaker. You know that I speak slowly and don’t use the best words” … Moses said, “My Lord, I beg you to send someone else, not me.” (4:10, 13)

Ever said something similar? To God, or to another person? Something along the lines of “oh, I just couldn’t do that … I don’t have that skill, or gift, or enough education, or enough experience?”

God offers to send Aaron along with him as his personal assistant!

This is where Moses had received and offer that he simply could not refuse!

And he CHOSE to accept the job, fully aware that his choice was one made in faith, not made from the strength of his abilities.

Moses chose to move his family to Egypt, went to find Aaron, and they met the Israelite elders, Aaron speaking and Moses performing the miracles God had shown them. The Israelite people knew that Yehweh had sent them, and that their time of suffering was coming to an end.

Moses was successful because he CHOSE to obey, CHOSE to trust, CHOSE to have faith that God would do all that he said he would …

… no ability required.

 

 

 

 

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A covenant is more than just a promise. A covenant is something agreed upon by at least two parties … both knowing what they are agreeing to.

The Bible speaks of a handful of covenants between God and people.

God made a covenant with Noah that He would never again destroy the Earth with a flood (Genesis 9:8-11), and gave the rainbow as a reminder of his covenant.

“By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.” Hebrews 11:7

God made a covenant with Abram (later Abraham) when He said that Abram would be the “father of many nations” (Genesis 17:4).

Poor, old Abram, with his old wife Sarai (well beyond childbearing years) … this covenant sent Sarai into laughing hysterics. But, God did as he promised, and Sarah bore Isaac to Abraham, and God’s covenant flowed through his descendants.

By faith Abraham fulfilled his end of the bargain, and he went where God sent him (Hebrews 11:8). By faith, Abraham was circumcised, along with all males in his household, as a sign to set he and his descendants apart (Genesis 23:27). By faith, Abraham lay Isaac on an alter, willing to do whatever God asked of him (Genesis 22:8) … and so thankful that the Lord did provide.

God made a covenant, through Moses, with His people (not all people, but the children of Israel … the Jewish people), in the form of the Ten Commandments. This came after God, with force, brought His people our of slavery in Egypt. Before Moses had even written these laws in stone, the people, by faith, said, “everything the Lord has said we will do.”

And after he read the Book of the Covenant, Moses took the blood of young bulls that were sacrificed as offerings to God, and “Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”” (Exodus 24:8). The people, who, by faith, said “we will obey” were, quite literally, covered by the blood of the covenant … their sins were covered by God’s promise.

God made a covenant with David, that the Messiah would come through the lineage, the house, of David. David wanted to build a house for God. Instead, God sent a message to David, a house would be built, through the One who would come after him, through his very own bloodline. This builder “is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son” (2 Samuel 7:13-14). David responded to God: “your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant” (2 Samuel 7:28) … David trusted his God, he had faith, that that which God promised, and David would never see in his lifetime, would come true.

Over and over we see that when it comes to a covenant with God, the equation is :

Covenant = Blood (Faith + Promise)

I suppose we should consider that fulfillment of God’s covenant with David :

“The days are coming, declares the Lord,
    when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel (the Jews)
  and with the people of Judah (the Gentiles).
I will put my laws in their minds (not just knowing, but understanding)
  and write them on their hearts (intimacy).
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
(Hebrews 8:8-10)

A new covenant, “has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself” (Hebrews 9:26). Previously, “the law required that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22). Jesus Christ was the final blood sacrifice for sins. “He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit” (Galatians 3:14).

Jesus’ blood covers God’s promise and our faith.

And now, our part in the covenant:

Do we have the faith to follow, and obey? to be His?

 

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imagesAs I sat down to write this post, I was tempted to title it ‘nothing’ because that is what I felt I had to offer … nothing.

Nothing is a place of emptiness, overwhelming, and discouragement. It is a place that each of us finds ourselves in from time to time. It can be a sense or feeling of lack of energy, lack of desire, lack of ability … it is a lacking.

When I think of nothing, I think of Moses.

When God called Moses to be the tool in freeing the Israelite people, “Moses said to God, “I am nobody (the personification of nothing). How can I go to the king and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?

Moses felt the task was far too overwhelming for someone like himself to accomplish. He did not feel that he had anything to give, to offer … that he had nothing to give.

Then “God answered, “I will be with you, and when you bring the people out of Egypt, you will worship me on this mountain. That will be the proof that I have sent you.” Exodus 3:11-12

Basically, I think God was pointing out the obvious to Moses … that this task was not one that God asked of him because Moses was the only way, but because Moses needed to learn to offer himself, no matter how small or how pathetic his offering was … his job was to offer, God would take that offering and multiply it, as only he could do.

That is all any of us is called to … to offer ourselves, our gifts, our hearts … the rest is in the hands of our God who knows the pain that is in the offering.

The following is a post by Brian McConaghy, Founding Director of Ratanak International (Ratanak), whose goal is “to help the Cambodian people rebuild their country and in so doing show them the love of Jesus Christ in a tangible way.” I love what this organization is striving to do, to honor our Creator and His creation … an impossible task, guided by a God of possibilities!

Being Broken
Phnom Penh, 2:45AM, I’m up and wide-awake with my mind racing. So many issues, so many problems, so much hurt in this country it is completely overwhelming. I am once again confronted that I just don’t have the resources to deal with this place. How on earth can anyone cope with being called to serve and love such a country?
It is easier to love Cambodia from afar. Being here the issues, the trauma, the brokenness is personal, up close and overwhelming. The magnitude and complexity of the task is so far beyond any skills I bring to the table.
I get up and kneel to pray for all that is before me – how can I possibly keep loving this place? Tears come quickly as I think on the 23 years of hard work through civil war, poverty and trauma, as I contemplate the magnitude of all that remains to be done. I see the faces of individual lives so in need of hope. Have we even made a dent? Shouldn’t we be farther along after so many years …of struggle? Shouldn’t at least some of the issues be solved?

In prayer my mind stops racing, calm returns as I once again confront the fact that this is not about me or my skills or even my expectations. I am called to serve this place and embedded in this process is the call to be broken for it even as Christ is broken for it. How could I possibly love Cambodia and not know grief? So re focusing on the tasks at hand I bring the issues before God and hand them to Him for it is His skill, His determination, His love for these people that is relevant not my pathetic offering. Yet in this context Christ reveals that He will do more than I could ask or imaging even with my pathetic efforts. Irrespective of how I feel, He counts my efforts as gold and honors even my frail attempts to serve. How I ‘feel’ about my service to Cambodia has absolutely no bearing, whatsoever, on the value God places on it. He is in the business of doing great things with our little. And so, as I re focus, there is a strange comfort in grieving for this place – a strange beauty in the thought that I may just be privileged to share in a tiny portion of the brokenness of Christ for Cambodia. The tears turn from those of grief and hopelessness to those of a strange joy – of being in the fight for this nation – of being counted a warrior by God while being but a child. What a privilege.

I should get back to bed for an hours sleep before getting up to tackle the challenges of a new day. But I’m calm once again, content in my brokenness for this place and resolved to keep going. For Cambodia is not my burden – it is Christ’s.
Brian.

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7ee97921ff712da3685331b1bc56d6a1One day a verse was read and the words ‘freewill offering’ stood out to me like neon lights in the black of a night.

What is a freewill offering?

According to my research, it is what it says; a gift of money, time or resources that is given without being forced, without the receiver even knowing that it would be given.

So, if you stay late after work to help a customer, a student, a patient … you have given a freewill offering.

If you put cash in your ‘offering’ envelope, above and beyond your normal ‘tithe’ … you have given a freewill offering.

If you make your dinner, and double the recipe, and take it to the house of a neighbor … you have given a freewill offering.

But, the concept of there being a freewill offering also indicates that we are expected to give, without choice (free will), a certain amount first.

That means we are expected to give of our time, our money, our resources.

Expected giving …

That means that some part of our whole (our whole bank account, our whole waking hours, our whole life) is not, nor has ever been our own.

It is expected that we give to our governments (“So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” Matthew 22:21), and for those of us who are followers of Christ, we give to His work, in both (not one or the other) our time and our physical resources.

And after all that ‘expected’ giving, then we give from our own free will.

To do so as a group would mean that, like the Israelites whose “hearts were stirred” to give to the tabernacle (Exodus 35), we might need to be told to stop giving.

They received from Moses all the offerings the Israelites had brought to carry out the work of constructing the sanctuary. And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.” Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.” Exodus 36:3-7

Imagine if we lived in such a way that our freewill giving exceeded the needs!

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These words come from God, in Exodus 9:1, when he told Moses that he needed to declare (not request) to Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” Now the people God was referring to were the Israelite people who Pharaoh had been using as the equivalent to pack mules, working in fields, building the kingdom for a king who seemed to forget that they were the majority people group in his land. It could be said that the Israelite people were singing “another brick in the wall,” (Pink Floyd) with all the brick making they were to do.

The words God instructed to Moses came into my thoughts the other night when I attended church with my eldest daughter. She has been attending a different church, of a different denomination from us, for over a year now. I was eager to go with her to church, to worship together, and to see her in her ‘own place.’

I am a strange mother, when it comes to church. I tell my kids, once they are in middle school, that they are free to attend any youth group, of a Christian church, that they choose. I tell them they are free to attend, or not attend, the youth programming at our own church. All that I ask is that they go, and participate in a youth program, on a regular basis.

I am stranger still, because hubby (aka. their dad) is a pastor of a church.

He has also been a youth pastor, many years ago. From that experience, he, and we have come to understand that our kids experiences with God and church do not have to be isolated to where we attend (and where their dad works). It is far more important to both of us that our kids worship and serve sincerely than to worship and serve with us, just because WE want them with us. We want them to never think that God is only where we are. We want them to see God as there for them, as individuals, not through the experiences and choices of us, as parents.

Over the years we have worked intentionally in broadening our kids experiences of church, and christianity. When hubby is off, we attend other churches, of varying denominations, of varying worship styles, and of varying means of expression. We have encouraged awareness to things of the christian sub culture (music, literature, camps, missions). We want them to know that God is bigger than any church, any denomination, any method of expression, and any pastor.

Exodus 9:1 … the entire verse says, “then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may worship (some versions say ‘serve’) me.'” God does not want US (as parents) to be worshiped, or served, but God, who we are all called to go and serve.

And so, with all that said, last night, I was longing to worship with my daughter, for a change. My mother heart just wanted to sit and stand beside her, worshiping and serving our God … together. And, it was good. But, it is better knowing that she is seeking God, for herself, not to please me or her dad. She is on a journey that we, as her parents, blanket with our prayers. It is a journey that does not stop when a person finds ‘their’ church, but when one finds themselves in the arms of our Savior, at the end of their earthly life. And it is there, in heaven, that I will get to worship and serve my God, with all my family around me. And it is there that longing will be no more.

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