Live it! Blog

Friday, 23 April 2021 00:00

Exodus 7:1-13 

The exodus of Israel from Egypt portrays one of the great showdowns of history.    

Gooooooooooooood Eeeeevening, ladies and gentlemen!  Welcome to this title fight between the top contenders for Heavyweight Champion of the World.  

In one corner, wearing the finest white Egyptian silk and a solid-gold headdress, we have the self-proclaimed current champion of the world:  the divine Phaaaaaaaaaaaaroah!

In the other corner, wearing a worn shepherd’s costume and carrying a wood staff, we have the newcomer and challenger....what’s his name?...Oh yeah...Moooooooooses.  

The Egyptians considered Pharaoh a god, and he believed his own press.  Moses didn’t think anything like that about himself; however, the one, true God tells him, “I have made you like God to Pharaoh.”

So, we have two humans facing off, but they represent supernatural realities. Pharaoh thinks he is a god and is backed up by demonic forces (What else do you think the “secret arts” of the magicians entailed?).  Moses knows he is a human but is backed up by Yahweh, the one, true God. 

In the eyes of the contemporary onlookers, the odds were a thousand to one in Pharaoh’s favor.  Of course, in reality it only needed to be a one-round fight.  But God says he is going to prolong the bout: “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you” (vv. 3-4a).  

God makes Pharaoh stubborn to ensure that the rumble goes all ten rounds.  God does this to make a point.  He wants to change the minds and hearts of those onlookers: “the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord” (v. 5).   When the Egyptians see Yahweh’s “divisions” (that is a military term), God’s army of Israelites, departing Egypt, they will believe that He, not Pharaoh, is the one, true God.

God didn’t want just the Egyptians to know that He is the Lord.  He wanted His own people to know and believe it.  He wanted all the nations of the world at that time to know it.  He wants us today to remember this story and believe that He is God.    

For this to be true, this title fight had to be memorable.  And it was. 

The end of the first round is called a draw, even though Moses’ staff is the clear winner.  

The bell rings for round two...

Thursday, 22 April 2021 00:00

Exodus 6:10–30                

Matching bookends—today’s Scripture resource is held together with identical-twin statements. Moses’ words of self-description, “…I speak with faltering lips” are emotionally bracketing bookends within his soul (Exodus 6:12 & 30). 

When we repeat our words and phrases, when we repeat ourselves in the same conversation, passion resides within. As readers of Scripture we do not have the luxury of audibly hearing Moses’ words; however, careful observation in Scripture-reading draws our attention to his mental and emotional condition when he says, “…I speak with faltering lips.” Good news, God’s masterful plan includes the faltering-one and disciples of Jesus who also suffer from a treacherous swamp-surrounded faith.

For Moses, God was unwilling to leave him behind even as specific leaders were set in place (Exodus 6:13-14). The fearful one, the faltering-one is becoming the publicly identified leader of all God’s people. 

God’s Boldness

Reading today’s passage delivers us to a time when the pharaoh’s ruled Egypt. Disciples are aware there was more at work in those days than the pyramid and sphinx-building leaders of a humanly devised empire. 

The heritage of Messiah comes through the generations of the families, certified and publicly named in the historical record of Exodus 6. These are the Hebrews, the Jews, the family of Abraham of whom God spoke (Genesis 12); and we ask, “They are to be led by Moses-the faltering-one?”

The Spirit of God clearly invites readers to pay attention to the kind of persons with whom God works. Moses seems to have temporarily landed on center stage and feels like he is in a solo presentation. The spotlight feels like fire. The gaze of pharaoh burns him. 

The mind of Moses and his emotions fail him. As Scripture readers we know what is coming. Moses did not know. Mighty and terrible turmoil, plagues and blessings will happen as God establishes the people of the covenant in the covenant land.  For us as readers of Scripture the faltering bookends of Moses form an enclosure proclaiming God’s boldness in dealing with a disciple’s weakness. 

Life Application

            Do you have a strategy for times when your faith falters?

~ajs

Wednesday, 21 April 2021 00:00

Exodus 6:1-9

Have you been in a seemingly impossible situation? A series of tasks that don’t seem to have a conclusion. A child that has drifted from the truth. An illness that has overtaken your life.

Moses must have felt that way. He had pleaded multiple times with Pharaoh to let the Israelite people leave Egypt, yet the ruler was unrelenting, turning up the heat on them and requiring more with less. In our lives, it might look like added duties to the job, the child seemingly straying beyond the point of no return, or the doctor ordering another round of treatment to your medically-weary body. Any resolution, regardless of the situation, seems unattainable.

Moses left Pharaoh’s palace distraught. He shook his fist at God. “How can you mistreat your own people like this? Why did you ever send me if you were going to do this to them (Exodus 5:22 TLB)?”

But everything was working according to schedule – God’s schedule. He had stated plainly that Pharaoh would refuse. Yes, conditions were bad – as bad as they’d ever been – but it was not for Moses to look at the conditions and become discouraged. It was for him to look up and to recognize that God would care for his people.

It’s something I need to remember when another task is added to a job, the child moves further away, or that ailment continues like a pebble caught in one’s shoe.

Tom Julien writes in Spiritual Greatness: Studies in Exodus (BMH Books, 1979 out-of-print), “Our Lord would teach us that without Him, things are not only difficult – they are utterly impossible.” Julien points out that in Exodus 6:2-8, the splendor of God’s person and purposes are spread out before Moses in gracious review. “This passage is a gem for anyone who is passing through deep waters and needs to be lifted above the hopelessness of his circumstances.”

In these verses, God makes a pledge to Moses:

  • I am the Lord– God is sufficient for our needs. He can be trusted.
  • I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob– He is the same God who appeared to Moses’ forefathers. He is eternal. His purposes are unchanging. “They were willing to trust me, even though they did not know as fully as you the meaning of my name,” notes Julien. “You are not alone, Moses; are you willing to act on the same faith as they?”
  • I have also established my covenant with them– This little setback with Pharaoh won’t ruin things. God’s promises are based on an eternal covenant.
  • I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel– The people are surely confused. Julien expands these thoughts: “Their suffering has blurred their vision of My presence and of My power. Yet in their affliction they called out to me, and I heard them.” God knew their faith would be tested and perhaps hidden, but he recognized their sincerity in calling upon Him. “I am acting on the basis of this sincerity,” Julien imagines God saying. “My purposes do not change with the changing feelings of my people.”

God also makes a pledge to the Israelites:

  • I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.
  • I will rid you out of their bondage.
  • I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments:
  • I will take you to me for a people.
  • I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God
  • I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
  • I will give it to you for an heritage.

Those promises are just as applicable for the 21st century. Regardless of how hopeless the circumstances seem; God is always there. He will deliver us from our burdens; he will loosen the bonds that bind us. He will redeem us and provide for us in the future.

What seemingly impossible situations have you found yourself in?

How did God answer your prayers?

Do our reactions in times of crisi

Tuesday, 20 April 2021 00:00

Exodus 5:15-23

    Scripture points us to the ways we can become enslaved, enjoy misplaced dependence, and find freedom. Tiberius Rata referred to the Israelites as becoming “Egyptized”. As the Israelites continued to live in Egypt, they absorbed the culture around them and became more ensnared.  They became dependent on Pharaoh and Egypt.  We can also absorb the culture of what consumes our hearts and become dependent on that source for our success, happiness and fulfillment and consequently become enslaved. How do you see people being absorbed into the culture that consumes them?  They Egyptians were only concerned about controlling the economic benefits that they received on the backs of the Israelites.  Moses’s request to “Let my people go” was met with disdain from Pharaoh who did not acknowledge the existence of I AM.

Pharaoh’s responded by making the Israelites’ labor more difficult.

More Bricks, No Straw

    Once enslaved, it becomes difficult to see the full nature of your entrapment. “Then the Israelite overseers went and appealed to Pharaoh: ‘why have you treated your servants this way?’” (Exodus 5:15) The hope for rescue, for the Israelites, was in the, perceived, most powerful person; the very one who was exacting their enslavement.  When life becomes difficult for you, where is your hope for rescue? Who or what do you turn to for help?

(A good measure of where you are looking for help is how frustrated, angry, or disappointed are you when you don’t get the help you need from a source.) I find myself turning to ways to earn more money, open another line of credit, reduce expenses, reduce stress, and finding a person to unload my concerns on. It’s easy to put my hope for deliverance in the very source that enslaved me to begin with. This can quickly become a cycle of “making bricks without straw”.

Depending on my skills, my time, my energy (anything that has my before it) gives a false sense of security. “Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God or rather are known by God-how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” (Galatians 4:8-9) I can cry out to God in complaint, desperate for relief, like the Israelites. God heard the Israelites plea for relief, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt…and I am concerned about their suffering.” (Exodus 3:7) How have you seen God send an answer to your cries and ignored it and continued to try to find another source for relief?

More Bricks, No Straw

Unfortunately, the Israelites, would rather depend on Pharaoh and their pleas for relief to him, than on God, and Moses, as God’s rescue plan. The Israelites appeal to Pharaoh for relief was met with “Lazy, that what you are-lazy! That is why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’ Now get back to work.” (Exodus 5:17-18) Where have you seen people depend on their perceived most powerful source rather than depend on God?

    The dependence cycle on what consumes people’s hearts can be broken by choosing to turn to the Ultimate Deliverer. What consumes your energy? Who or what whispers, “lazy”, in your ear? After the Israelite overseers pled their case to Pharaoh, “The Israelite overseers realized they were in trouble…they found Moses…and they said…you have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh.” (Exodus 5:19-21) Instead of going to Pharaoh to complain, the foremen should have gone to Moses and Aaron and suggested that they summon the elders and have a prayer meeting. They had misplaced dependence that resulted in: 

More Bricks, No Straw.

Today, identify misplaced dependence and seek freedom with the Ultimate Deliverer “So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.” (Galatians 4:7)

lkb

Monday, 19 April 2021 00:00

Exodus 5:1-14

April192021BlogPic
We’ve all been there... thinking to ourselves, "What else can go wrong?" ...and then someone pulls the rug out from under us. And we think, "That's the last straw! I can't take one more thing!"

Can you remember a time like that? How did you handle it?

In today's reading the Israelites, who were suffering under the despotic reign of cruel Egyptian rulers, were told, “We will not provide any more straw for you to use in making bricks. Go find your own straw.”  We would like to think that this kind of barbaric treatment no longer exists, but unfortunately, one quick search on the Internet for "slave labor” reveals what we consider unthinkable, inhumane treatment.  The phrase, "Man's inhumanity to man" comes to mind. 

Here's a quote from "newtolerance.org" that might better be called NO tolerance. "Over the last two years, we’ve slowly been learning about how the [name deleted] government has been abducting, isolating, and brainwashing innocent people simply because of their religious beliefs. On March 1st, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute [people] are being rented as slave labor. . . . After being held in dystopian brainwashing camps, [these people] are shipped across the country to work in factories. They aren’t allowed to leave or practice their religion, and any time away from the factory floor is spent in indoctrination classes meant to strip them of their . . .  identity." *

Is your life full of hard things right now? Perhaps you're thinking, "This is the last straw; I can't take one more thing!" How can Israel’s suffering long ago or the suffering of people groups today speak into mine? 

Our ABF is discussing this very topic. Using Barb Wooler's 30 Days to a More Resilient Faith, we are looking at suffering from three perspectives: 

One:    How do we see God in our suffering?

Two:    What does my suffering reveal about Man (me)?

Three: What do sin and Satan have to do with suffering?

It is very obvious that it was within God's plan that the Egyptians would bring such unbearable suffering and hardship on the Jewish nation. So, are you wondering if what you're going through is his plan for you?  Ask yourself the three questions and then ask the Holy Spirit to reveal his answers to you. 

One more question: How is God using your suffering to prepare you to offer help to others in similar circumstances? (See 2 Corinthians 1:3-7.)  

 *This people group are Muslim. Please use this as a reminder to pray that many Muslims would come to Christ during the month of Ramadan, which began April 13.                                              

jbd & gmd

Page 32 of 39