Archive | October 2014

Insights from Exodus 17 – Exodus 33

Exodus 17:1-7
Quarrelling with a leader is the same as testing God. As soon as the Israelites suffered a lack or a want, they immediately accused God of not being among them. God wants us to know that He is always with us. He wants us to trust Him and wait for Him to provide. Ask. State the need. Don’t complain or quarrel. Stand on the rock (Jesus). Inside is life-giving water and God will let the water out when we need it most. He is willing to share.

Exodus 21:13 “…but God let him fall into his hand…”
We only fall into someone’s hand if God allows it. Nothing can come to us unless God allows it. Nothing can happen to us unless God allows it. If God allows it, there must be a good reason. Somewhere, sometime, somehow, someone will benefit from it. Some good can come from every bad thing. Perhaps much good for many people.

Exodus 24:9-11
Aaron sees God, beholds and gazes at God – yet he makes a golden calf? Nadab and Abihu see God, behold and gaze at God – yet they burn their own incense? Seventy elders see God, behold and gaze at God – yet they don’t speak up for Him when the spies return? They don’t side with Joshua and Caleb?

Then seeing isn’t always believing. Peer pressure, self- importance, and the desire for popularity and acceptance can become more important to us than God, and can overshadow and overtake what we know and have seen. Earthly frequently outweighs heavenly. Immediate overtakes eternal.

I wish I could say, “I would never…” but I know I can’t. So then, seeing God probably won’t make a difference. Having seen, there are no excuses. It’s better to have faith without sight (Hebrews 11:1). They saw, but didn’t really believe. If they believed, they certainly didn’t act on their belief. Faith without works is dead (James 2:17). They didn’t stand up for God.

The people too saw and heard God. In Exodus 19, they witnessed thunder, lightning, a thick cloud, a loud trumpet, and they trembled. They saw Sinai covered in smoke and quaking. And yet a short time later, they were begging for a god they could see. Perhaps they wanted a god less intimidating (Exodus 20:19 “Don’t let God speak to us lest we die.”)

Exodus 32:7-14
I find it interesting that God would say to Moses, “your people, you brought up”. Sounds like Adam with “the woman You gave me”. God tell Moses He will destroy the people and make a great nation of him. Moses reminds God that He brought His people out, that the Egyptians and all the other nations won’t think highly of Him if He destroys the people, that He promised Abraham, Isaac and Israel. So God “changed His mind”. Maybe He was testing Moses to see if he’d take the opportunity to be rid of his headache of unappreciated leadership, and become the next Abraham. I’d say Moses definitely passed the test. He thought of God and the people more than himself.

Perhaps “your people, you brought up” was to remind Moses to identify himself with the Israelites. Forty years an Egyptian prince, forty years a Midianite shepherd – time to be an Israelite.

Just as Moses interceded for the Israelites, so Jesus intercedes for us now.

Exodus 33:1-6
God distances Himself from the people lest He destroy them – for their own protection. Perhaps that’s why God is not as actively present now as He was then – for our own protection lest He destroy us.

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Meditate in His Temple

“One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the delightfulness of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple.” Psalm 27:4

This verse was part of a song in church, but the phrase in the song that struck me was “meditate in His temple” and the word that stood out was “temple”. An instant connection was made to the verses that say we are a temple of God. I Corinthians 3:16 says “Do you not know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” I Corinthians 6:19 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”

To meditate in His temple, we don’t have to go any further than our mind, heart and spirit. We are a temple of God, with the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16), a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26) and a new spirit. We can inquire in the same way, with God’s Word close at hand.

Since we are a temple of God, we can behold the delightfulness of God just by appreciating the beauty of His handiwork all around us.

Since the Spirit of God dwells in us, we are in essence, dwelling in the house of the Lord all the days of our life!

Isn’t it amazing how the Old Testament connects with the New? Isn’t it amazing how God provides for the innermost desire of our heart – to be close to Him? How easy He makes it for us. We don’t have to travel to Jerusalem or even to our local church – all we have to do is seek Him intentionally with our mind, heart and spirit. But how difficult it is to sit still and be quiet enough and focused enough to hear Him!

Psalm 51 for a loved one in rebellion

Be gracious to them, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out their transgressions. Wash them thoroughly from their iniquities and cleanse them from their sin. Make them know their transgressions and show them how their sin is ever before them. May they come to realize that against You, You only, have they sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that they know that You are justified when You speak to them and blameless when You judge them. May they clearly hear when You speak to them.

May they come to know that they and everyone else was brought forth in iniquity, born with a sin nature. Show them that You desire truth in their innermost being, and in the hidden part make them know wisdom. Purify them with hyssop, and make them clean; wash them and make them whiter than snow. Make them to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from their sins and blot out all their iniquities.

Create in them a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within them. Do not cast them away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit away from them. Bring (or restore) to them the joy of Your salvation, and sustain them with a willing spirit. May they teach transgressors Your ways and may sinners be converted to You because of their testimony.

Deliver them from bloodguiltiness, O God, God of their salvation; may their tongues joyfully sing of Your righteousness. O Lord, open their lips, that their mouth may declare Your praise. Teach them that You do not delight in sacrifice, that there is nothing they can do to earn their salvation. Show them that You are not pleased with their efforts. Break their spirit, break their heart, and break their pride. May they come to know that You do not despise a broken and contrite heart.

Build up the Wall and Stand in the Gap

“And I searched for a man among them who should build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, that I should not destroy it, but I found not one.” Ezekiel 22:30

There stands God, about to destroy the land of Israel. He doesn’t just move out in immediate destruction. He doesn’t just casually look around to see who’s out and about. He stops and searches for a man willing to build up the wall and stand in the gap – terms totally foreign to me in this day and age.

The phrase “build up the wall” give a cross reference to Ezekiel 13:5 where God is speaking to the prophets, kings and public officials about “going up into the breaches and building the wall around the house of Israel to stand in the battle on the day of the Lord”. In those days, the inhabitants of a city would build a wall around the city (Jericho is the one we know best). The wall kept the wild animals out and allowed the people to patrol the wall and keep watch for visitors, both friendly and unfriendly. The higher the wall (and the city), the more advance warning the people got when trouble (or stormy weather) was coming.

So today in our culture, we need to build a wall to keep out our wild animals – Satan and his minions. The wall needs to be high enough to afford us the ability to see whether or not those approaching our lives are friendly or harmful, and to see the approaching storms. Makes perfect sense and sounds like something I really need, but what’s the wall made of? Bricks of God’s Word and our prayers, and if the prayers are God’s Word, they are doubly strong. The mortar would be the Holy Spirit, for we are told in the New Testament to “pray in the Spirit”. Praying as the Spirit directs and guides would make a super strong mortar. Praying like Abraham did for Sodom and Gomorrah and Moses did for the Israelites in the desert – from God’s perspective and for what would bring glory and honor to His name would also make for an impregnable wall.

If I need to build a wall of prayers and God’s Word around myself and my loved ones, the more I pray and the more Bible verses I apply to myself and my loved ones (and those I don’t love – yet), the higher my wall will be. The more heartfelt my prayers, the more I am praying in and with the Holy Spirit, the stronger and tougher the mortar will be. Short, unthinking prayers yield bricks like shale – thin and easily breakable. The gut-wrenching, on my face, pleadings yield boulders for the wall. The persistent prayer yields a section where all the bricks are the same size and shape – a sturdy wall indeed.

The phrase “standing in the gap” refers me to Moses and Samuel who prayed regularly and consistently for the people of Israel. I remember Jesus on the Mount of Olives and His prayer for His disciples (and us). All of them prayers that reminded God of the greatness of His name and how helping the people would bring glory to His name.

Standing in the gap is a very important job. Sometimes a crisis or a sin, blows a hole in the wall of protection around us or someone we know. Sometimes neglect or a persistent sin just wears a weak spot in the wall that gets bigger when the first rain comes and washes away entirely in the first storm. The owner of the wall may not even realize the danger or may be unable to take on the repairs. A crisis in a friend’s life will have them focused on a different section of their wall. That’s where we come in. Especially with our unsaved lived ones and friends – remember, before God brings judgment, He first searches, checking every nook and cranny for someone standing in the gap.

Sounds like a tremendous responsibility I have been terribly neglectful of. When God was revealing this verse to me early this morning, He brought the Lord’s Prayer to my mind:

Our Father – may Chris come to know You as his/her loving and caring Father.

Who are in heaven – may Chris believe You exist and there is a heaven and hell. May he/she recognize Your authority and sovereignty in his/her life and being willing to believe in You, trust in You, and surrender his/her life to You.

Hallowed be Your name – may Chris stop taking Your name in vain and may he/she come to know how precious Your name is and seek to bring glory and honor to Your name.

Your kingdom come – bring Your kingdom into Chris’ mind, heart and spirit. Bring Chris to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Allow me the pleasure and the privilege to be a part of his/her decision. Bring an intense desire to Chris to learn about You and Your kingdom, and to be part of Your kingdom.

Your will be done – Your will be done in every part of Chris’ life. Your will be done in Chris’ health, home, finances, work. May Chris recognize Your plan for his/her life and may he/she want Your will in his/her life.

On earth as it is in heaven – Chris could bring so much glory to You Father through his/her testimony. Please give Chris whatever he/she needs to wholeheartedly live for You and follow You. Remind Chris that the sufferings, trial, and heartaches of this life are only temporary. Remind Chris that this is not our home and keep Chris’s focus on heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread – give Chris what he/she needs for this day. Reveal Your Word to him/her. Provide for Chris’ intellectual, physical, emotional and spiritual needs. May Chris learn to depend on You, recognize Your provision, and have a grateful heart.

And forgive us our sins – please forgive Chris for the sins I name here and for the sins only You know about. Bring to Chris’ mind anything and everything that is hindering his/her relationship with You. Help Chris to confess and repent. Bring Chris into a saving relationship with You. Restore Chris’ relationship with You.

As we forgive those who sin against us – help Chris to forgive those who have hurt him/her. Don’t allow any bitterness to take root in Chris’ heart. I pray especially for …

Lead us not into temptation – do not allow Chris to fall into temptation. Help Chris to stand firm. Don’t allow Chris to give in or give up. Show Chris the way of escape You have provided and make his/her heart and feet swift to follow it. Protect Chris from Satan’s flaming arrows. Strengthen Chris’ shield of faith.

But deliver us from evil – deliver Chris from evil. Protect Chris from Satan’s attacks. Fill Chris’ mind and heart with Your word so that he/she may repel Satan’s advances. Plant a hedge of protection around Chris and if that is not what Chris needs, then protect Chris and bring him/her safely through.

For Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory – may Chris enter Your kingdom and be richly rewarded. May Chris recognize and seek Your power working in his/her life. May Chris bring glory to Your name.

Forever – may Chris recognize Your faithfulness and may Chris earnestly desire to spend eternity in heaven with You.

Amen – make it so Lord.