Thursday, 31 December 2009

Another chance for 2010

And the LORD said to Moses, "Cut two tablets of stone like the first ones, and I will write on these tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke. – Exodus 34v1

Israel really blew it the first time around. God had provided for them over and over and over. They came to Mt Sinai where God would meet with them and provide a way that would eventually lead to knowing Him intimately.Still they were led by their flesh and instead of waiting on God they made a false god and resorted to wild orgies of satisfying their every desire.

Moses had enough and destroyed the tablets that established God's relationship with His people. You might think that God would agree and just let Moses start all over again. But no, that is not God. God still loved His people and still wanted them to have a relationship.

‘Do it again Moses. Get two new tablets and let me give the Law again.’

Why would God give them a second chance when they had so completely followed their flesh instead of Him?

Why would He continue with us when so often in 2009 we followed our flesh instead of the Spirit?

Because He loved them. Because He loves us.

He is the God of ‘one more chance.’ Praise God for that or we would all be doomed.

May each of us take advantage of another chance in 2010.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Show me Your glory

And he said, "Please, show me Your glory." – Exodus 33v18

This is a really fascinating section of Scripture. There is an interesting exchange going on here between God and man. It looks to me like Moses only desire here is to know God completely so here he asks God to show him His glory.

What a tremendous desire. To see the glory of God ought to be the heartfelt desire of each of our lives. We get so caught up with all the stuff that the world has to offer. We are enamoured with our games and sports and frivolities and concerns and carks and cares but we really don’t seem to have a desire to see Him in His glory. We glory in our national banners and the successes of our sports teams but do we really glory in Him?

As 2009 draws to a close I have to ask myself if I have really sought to see and know God’s glory in this eventful year. God has had a few shapings and mouldings for us and our family this year. Have I sought to see in His glory in those situations, or have I been so focused on them that I have missed His glory?

Oh that I would seek to see His glory in every situation in 2010!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

I know you by name

So the LORD said to Moses, "I will also do this thing that you have spoken; for you have found grace in My sight, and I know you by name." – Exodus 33v17

A few years ago...wait, let me start again. Many years ago, back in 1977 there was a 'Christian Athletes Sunday' at Tennessee Temple University where Mary and I were students. Amazingly I knew one of the athletes. Billy 'White Shoes' Johnson was a Chritian who was a star player for the Houston Oilers, a professional American football team.

I decided to go see him so joined the queue to get an autograph. Suddenly he looked up and looked into the queue. Our eyes met and he shouted 'Roger Parrow, what are you doing here?' as he waved me up

I was so chuffed with myself. Mary and I walked up and chatted with Billy catching up since our days at another school. Everyone looked on in amazement. A 'somebody' knew Roger Parrow by name!

It is nice to be known by name. It makes us feel special when others can remember to call us and use our names.

How amazing it is that God could tell Moses ‘I know you by name.’ This is not the only time God refers to knowing those who are His by name. It is simply astounding to think that the God who created and sustains the universe by His power would know His people by name.

When I read passages like Psalm 139 it is obvious that He knows us intimately. Isaiah 45v3 confirms the fact that God does indeed know us by name – ‘I will give you the treasures of darkness and hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the LORD, Who call you by your name, Am the God of Israel.’

It was great to be known by name by a famous American footballer. How much greater is it to be know by name by the great I AM.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Not without You

Then he said to Him, "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here. – Exodus 33v15

Moses had an attitude here that we far too often forget about. After asking God to show him the right way God replied that He would go with them and give them His peace. Moses’ responded with what seems like a logical and obvious answer – ‘If You are not going with us we don’t want to go.’

Obvious, right? I wish it was that obvious. How often do we ignore that concept completely when it comes to our own plans and ambitions? We have an idea that we think we work based on our assessment of a situation and we head off without any regard to what God wants us to do or if He is in the plans.

Taking God with us is far too often the last thing we think about when making our plans. In this we need to remember Moses and say ‘If God is not with this I don’t want any part of it!’

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Show me your way

Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight. And consider that this nation is Your people." – Exodus 33v13

I am growing to appreciate more and more about Moses as I read through his life and adventures this time. In Exodus 33 he just didn’t know what to do. The people he was trying to lead were God’s people, yet they rarely acted like it. They rebelled and complained about their condition. When left alone they turned away from God. What was he supposed to do?

He did what I tend to not do often enough – He went straight to God with his question. In the previous verse we sense his frustration as Moses tells God that God has given him an impossible task. ‘You have told me to do this job Lord, but nothing is going the way You said. You have told me I have your grace, but I don’t see it.’

I think God expects our honesty when we are confused or frustrated, as long as we have the right spirit as Moses did. ‘If I have Your grace Lord, show me Your way.’

I appreciate Moses’ humble spirit here. Confused and unsure he still had the wisdom to humbly ask God for His leadership. Just think of the problems we could avoid if we sought God’s way with the same spirit.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Joshua did not depart

So the LORD spoke to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. And he would return to the camp, but his servant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, did not depart from the tabernacle. – Exodus 33v11

I enjoy history. Part of that enjoyment is studying the lives of the history makers to try and figure out what moulded them to be the people they were. What happened for good, or bad, that worked in them. What were the history makers like when they were children and young adults?

We have a hint here about one of the history makers of the Bible. Joshua would go on to bigger and better things, but we have a chance to see him here as a young man. While Moses was meeting with God and going back and forth to the people we see young Joshua plugging away in the tabernacle.

I don’t know much about what he did there, but I think it is an early indication of the kind of man Joshua was. He was always in service. He was what Paul would later call a ‘faithful man’ while instructing Timothy in who to teach and train up to serve the Lord.

‘Not departing’ in a key character trait for any person, but especially for God’s people. I wonder if it could be said of us that we did not depart from our place of service.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Making atonement

Then Moses said, "Consecrate yourselves today to the LORD, that He may bestow on you a blessing this day, for every man has opposed his son and his brother." Now it came to pass on the next day that Moses said to the people, "You have committed a great sin. So now I will go up to the LORD; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin." – Exodus 32v29-30

What a perfect Christmas Day reminder!

Moses had what I am sure he thought was a great idea. Since Israel had made such a mess of things maybe he could go up to God and give his life as an atonement for the lives of the people of Israel. Maybe God would put the punishment that was due to the people on him and let him take the consequences.

Great idea possibly, but it was not going to work. Moses was also a sinner, and besides, every man must pay the penalty for his own sin. As a result God’s wrath was poured out on the people for their wickedness.

Moses had the right plan, but he was not the right man. The Right Man came later and it is His birth we celebrate today. The Atoner had to be perfect, sinless, spotless, and undefiled. Only Jesus qualified for that position.

In the fullness of time God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law that He might redeem those under the Law and that He might adopt us as His children. Now because of His Spirit we can cry out to our ‘Abba Father’ – our Daddy.

Great idea Moses, in fact, it was the perfect idea. Praise God that in the fullness of time He sent the One who was qualified to make atonement.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Whoever is on the Lord’s side

then Moses stood in the entrance of the camp, and said, "Whoever is on the LORD's side—come to me!" And all the sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him. – Exodus 32v26

'Whoever is on the Lord's side - come to me!' There could be no question about that call. A line in the sand was drawn.

'This call is not unique in the Bible. Joshua challanged the people with a choice between the false Amorite gods and the true Lord. ‘Choose you this day who you will serve,’ he said. They could not have both. Elijah said, ‘How long are you going to waver, if Baal is god follow him, but is the Lord is God follow Him.’ Jesus said, ‘You cannot serve God and the stuff of the world. You will love one and hate the other one.’

We simply can’t have it both ways. We can’t love our pagan gods of the world, the flesh, and the devil at the same time as we serve the true God.

We tend to want to keep just a little bit in the world while we serve God. We don’t REALLY want to do what Moses challenged the people to do. Apparently most of Israel was no different. Only the sons of Levi went to stand by Moses.

How may are willing today to do what Moses wanted? How may are willing to take the step of faith, separate from the world, and line up, once and for all, on His side?

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Passing the buck

Passing the buck

And I said to them, 'Whoever has any gold, let them break it off.' So they gave it to me, and I cast it into the fire, and this calf came out." – Exodus 32v24

He did it! It’s not my fault! I didn’t do it! They made me do it!

It sounds like something children would say doesn’t it? How rare it is to hear someone say – ‘I was wrong. I did it. It is my fault?’

Aaron’s excuses here have to be among the worst ever issued. When Moses came down from the mountain he was furious at Aaron for all that was going on. Israel was partying and in the midst of a wild orgy of fleshly pleasure when Moses returned. When he confronted Aaron this was the answer he got: ‘It is not my fault Moses. The people made me do it! They brought me their gold, I through it into the fire, and this golden calf jumped out!’

What a sorry excuse and a miserable story! But in reality are our excuses any better? God knows the truth and our silly excuses make no more sense to God than a gold calf jumping out of the fire.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009


Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation." Then Moses pleaded with the LORD his God, and said: "LORD, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? - Exodus 32v10-11

It is interesting to see the interaction between God and Moses when it comes to dealing with Israel. Sometimes Moses gets angry with them and God reminds them to care for them and sometimes God gets angry and Moses needs to intercede for the people.

Here God has seen the party spirit of the people and the wickedness of their actions. It appears that God has had enough – ‘Get out of my way Moses. I am going to wipe them all out and start again with you instead of Abraham!’

Just think. Here was Moses’ opportunity to get rid of these troublesome people and to have a whole new nation with him as the patriarch.

But Moses didn’t seem to hesitate. He stepped up and prayed and interceded on Israel’s behalf. When he was done God relented and did not destroy the nation.

No picture for Christ is perfect, but here we see an illustration of Christ’ intercession for us. We deserve destruction, just like Israel.

But we too have an intercessor. As great a man as Moses was out intercessor is even greater. Our intercessor is perfect and His intercession never has a chance of failure.

Praise God that He is a God open to intercession!

Monday, 21 December 2009

When the cat’s away…

Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. – Exodus 32v6

…the mice will play. We use that idiom all the time to talk about how people act when an authority figure or one who holds power is not present.

Look how powerful the flesh is. Moses was gone, and with him any kind of reminder about who God is. So what did they do? Did they remain faithful to God and trust Him? Did they rest in Him and carry on in their faith?

No – they offered to their false god, sat down to eat and drink, and then they rose up to play. What was going on? How could they do this, with a man like Aaron supposedly still God’s man for the job?

It really is pretty simple. These were flesh focused people. When God was out of their lives their first thought was to gratify their flesh.

Sadly, we can do the same type of thing even when we KNOW God is here. If we are not careful our flesh can be so powerful and we can be so weak that instead of following Him we too ‘rise up and play.’ We somehow think that we can actually hide from Him!

The problem is that God saw their actions. Even a bigger problem for us is that God sees our actions too. We cannot hide our ‘playing’ from Him.

May we choose in those time to follow the spirit and not ‘rise up and play’ ignoring the One who died for us.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

‘Walk by sight, not by faith.’

Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, "Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." – Exodus 32v1

‘Walk by sight, not by faith.’ That seems to be the theme of Israel as they wandered in the desert. Here we have yet another example. Moses went up to the mountain to meet with God. The people had seen God manifest His power. They had once again affirmed their decision to follow and obey God.

But a problem arose. Moses was gone longer than they thought he should be gone. So they went to Aaron, someone who should have known better. ‘Where is Moses? He led us out of Egypt, but we don’t know where he is. Lets go make some gods of our own.’

Of course Aaron sorted them out. Not at all! He told them to bring their gold and he made a golden calf – ‘Okay, here is the god that brought you out of Egypt!’ Then he went on to build an altar.

How could this happen? How could they reject the God they had just seen manifest His power? The key is at the start of the verse – ‘When they saw that Moses delayed.’ There are two problems there. The based their faith on what they saw and they based their faith on their timetable.

No faith and no patience. I don’t know if there is a great recipe for disaster than that.

The problem is that we are afflicted with the same two problems. We see things that trouble us or God doesn’t work in our time frame so we start to doubt Him. Our desires and our timetables become our gods instead of the true God.

When will we ever realise that what we see and how long we have to wait are not what really counts. Walk by faith. Wait on God and His perfect timing. Doing anything else is a sure recipe for disaster.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Bezalel the blessed builder

See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, - Exodus 31v2-3

Sometimes we can think that only those doing what we consider to the ‘spiritual’ work to be called of God. Sure pastors and missionaries and such are God-called, but the not the everyday working guy or gal. They are just, well, working folks.

I am not so sure about that. I am the first to admit that I don’t have the whole ‘call of God thing’ figured out. I am not sure of the balance between God’s call and our choices. Still, God’s call runs throughout scripture so it is worthy for us to consider.

Anyway, there is at least one place in the Bible where God called and man and He called him to do things that we would not necessarily consider to be ‘spiritual.’

Bezalel was called by God to a special task. God says that He filled Bezalel with the Holy Spirit. He gave him wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and ability in workmanship. The passage goes on the say that he worked with all manner of materials such as wood and metal.

God has a special task for Bezalel. It appears that he was what we would call a builder today. He was not a spiritual leader. It does not look like he was a spiritual teacher. His job was the physical work of the tabernacle and it was a job that God had called him to do.

We talk about people being ‘called to the ministry.’ Might that call to the ministry include a call to enter the workplace and use the skills with our hands that God gives us?

Friday, 18 December 2009

The shall know

And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them up out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am the LORD their God. – Exodus 29v46

As we read the accounts of Israel in the wilderness we might be tempted to ask why God even bothers with them. They are rebellious, stupid, thick headed, fleshly, and self centred. They couldn’t trust God unless they could see physical results of their trust.

Yet God kept loving them. He wanted them to know that He was the Lord their God. He wanted them to know that He was the Deliverer. He wanted to dwell among them. He was the Lord their God.

Why would a perfect holy God want to dwell among a sinful people who constantly reject Him and His promises? It doesn’t make any sense to me. But isn’t it the very fact that it doesn’t make sense that makes it so wonderful?

He just keeps on loving. The high and lofty One who lives in eternity loves His people. His desire is that they know that He is God. What better proof is there than that He is not bound by our reasoning skills?

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Don’t’ go along with the crowd

You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice. – Exodus 23v2

I don’t intend to take too much out of the Law for these thoughts, but this one grabbed my attention.

In the middle of all kinds of laws and regulations we find the simple instruction to not go along with the crowd when they do evil.

It is interesting that God throws such a practical instruction in the midst of all these laws. Though many of the laws were specific ceremonial laws that have no impact on us, the parts of the Law that we might call the ‘moral law’ are principles that we are wise to take to heart.

This little note here comes to heart. I have a special friend who was saved and really seemed to be growing in the Lord. Circumstances changed in their life and they were in a new situation. Almost immediately they chose to ‘go along with the crowd.’ Their life as changed and we have watched church and such drop way down the priority list.

Part of the reason this is so sad is because I did the same thing shortly after I was saved. For a while I ‘hung around’ with Christians at the school and was faithful to church. Pretty soon though I drifted back to my friends who were certainly ‘running to do evil.’ One night one of that crowd confronted me with a statement that sticks with me to this day – ‘After tonight Parrow don’t you ever try to give us that religious stuff again, now we know it is not real.’

Christians had better be careful about who we ‘hang with.’ This is not to say we will not have lost friends, but lets be sure that we are not following the crowd to do evil

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

That you do not sin

And Moses said to the people, "Do not fear; for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin." – Exodus 20v20

Here we see just a hint of the purpose of the Law. After the Ten Commandments and before the details of the Law God told the nation why they were being given the Law. 'That you do not sin' God said.

The problem is, as we find out in out study of the word of God is that this is an impossible standard. We cannot ‘not sin.’ Sin is in our nature – it is what we do. God gave the law to show people what sin was so that we too would know that we cannot not sin.

There is none that does righteousness, not a single one. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Born as sinners we are doomed to sin.

Why then set a requirement that we cannot keep? The Law’s purpose was to be a teacher to show us our need of Christ. The command to not sin showed us that we cannot do it alone.

But Jesus could. He is the only Sinless One. Since He is the only One He is the only hope for man who falls far short of the goal.

The penalty for sin is death – but the gift of God is eternal life though Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Able men

Moreover you shall select from all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. – Exodus 18v21

It looks like Moses was something of a workaholic. He also appears to think that he was the only one who could do the job of leading the people. When his father-in-law asked him why he was doing it, his response was ‘The people need me.’

Jethro was old enough and wise enough to know that what Moses was doing was not wise. He knew that something had to be done to get some kind of organisation or Moses would destroy himself. On top of this God was preparing His people for the Law and that would take massive organisation.

So Jethro had a plan. Organise some men into organised levels. He had to set men up at various levels to handle various issues. This type of organisation has had a tremendous impact on governments and organisations ever since.

For our purposes however I want to examine the character of the men chosen for the responsibility. Those chosen needed to be able, qualified men. They needed to have a fear of God. They needed to be truthful men. They needed to hate covetousness.

I personally think these are good things for us to watch for today when we are looking for leaders. Obviously we are not always going to find them among secular leaders, but I think they are good guidelines even in the secular world.

We can however apply these principles to leaders in our churches. We need to be careful when we seek out and choose our leaders. They must have ability, the must be godly, they must be honest, and they must not covet.

It is interesting that covetousness is on that list. But when you think about it how many problems in leadership could be solved if there were no covetousness? Most poor leadership comes about when leaders themselves cover either prestige or possessions.

Able men. Men who fear God. Truthful men. Men who hate covetousness. The list makes these guys sound a lot like the ‘faithful men’ that Paul instructs Timothy to teach so that they can teach others.

Character counts.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Now I know

Now I know that the LORD is greater than all the gods; for in the very thing in which they behaved proudly, He was above them." - Exodus 18v11

Until recently I did not know much about Jethro. I knew he was Moses’ father-in-law, that he was a shepherd, that he advised Moses on how to delegate authority, and that he had he same name as Jethro Bodine from the Beverly Hillbillies.

As I studied him a bit in preparation for a message I began to see some more great truths about this man. He was indeed Moses father-in-law. He was Zipporah’s dad and he had two grandsons through Moses and Zipporah. He is called a ‘priest of Midian.’ This indicates at least that he was a part of the pagan Midianite religion. At some point Moses had sent Zipporah and his boys to live with her dad.

During this time they were hearing amazing things about what was happening to Moses and Israel. Stories of the plagues, the Red Sea, the provision of manna and water, and the victory over the Amalekites all came to their ears so Jethro decided to take the family and go see for himself.

There was a great family reunion, the Moses and Jethro went into the tent to talk things over. Moses shared with Jethro how the Lord, not himself, had accomplished all these great works. His testimony had an impact on Jethro – ‘I have heard all the reports, but now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods.’ Jethro followed that up by sacrificing and worshipping Jehovah.

Moses was the one who made the connection between hearing the stories and knowing God. He was bold enough to share with his father-in-law that it was the Lord who had done the great works. His humility allowed him pass the credit on instead of taking it for himself.

What a picture of the importance of being a faithful witness to God’s power before our families!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Rally 'round the flag

And Moses built an altar and called its name, The-LORD-Is-My-Banner; - Exodus 17v15

God knows exactly how to evoke just the right images in our mind through His word. He gives us truths that allow us to see exactly what He is trying to get across.

Here is a case where my mind floods with images. The battle with the Amalekites was over. Israel had won the battle. As was his custom Moses set up and altar there and called the place Jehovah-Nissi, the Lord is my banner.’ The banner was a sign of victory and support.

A few images come to mind immediately. I have a mental image of Roman troops returning from battle in the great Triumph Parade with their banners and emblems proudly displayed. I have an image of a World Cup final where the supporters from both sided are fervently waving their national flags to spur on their side and then the mad waving of the victorious side.

I have to admit though that one image is clearer than the others. Hanging on the wall of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington is an American flag with fifteen stars and fifteens stripes. It old and tattered and shows the effects of time. It sticks out in my mind because of its history.

It was the 3rd September 1814 and the young United States was in serious trouble. They were involved in a terrible war with Great Britain. A young man named Francis Scott Key was seeking the release of an American prisoner. He was sent out to a ship in Baltimore Harbour and negotiated the release, but was held on the ship until the battle was over.

As he and another agent watched the battle they could see the American flag flying over the harbour. As night fell and the battle raged they really did not know the fate of Baltimore, and possibly their nation until the next morning.

As dawn broke the next morning they looked to the shore, and their they saw that the American flag still flew over Fort McHenry. The day was saved, the battle was won, and the Star Spangled Banner still waved in triumph.

From that Francis Scott Key wrote a poem which has since become the national anthem. The words of the first stanza are:

O! say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

The Star Spangled was a sign of hope and confidence for a country in serious trouble. Many years later the world saw the importance of the flag as a nation symbol to American as fire fighters erected a flag in the ruins of the World Trade Centre after the terrorist attacks of 911. On the news the next morning I saw a well known American actor being interviewed. In the background was a government draped with a massive American flag. Americans all over the world could not miss the symbolism. A new day had dawned. America was in trouble, but the flag still flew.

As inspiring as these stories are, especially to Americans, they quickly pale in comparison to the image of God being our Victory Banner. No matter what troubles we face, no matter what battles we encounter, no matter how dark the night our Jehovah-Nissi, the God who is our Banner, still waves.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Aaron and Hur

But Moses hands became heavy; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. And Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. – Exodus 17v12

Israel had her challenges, but now it was time for a real battle. As they travelled through the wilderness they were attacked by the Amalekites. A battle ensued. Moses went up to the mountain to pray for the nation. As he lifted his arms to heaven the battled swayed in favour of Israel. When he dropped his arms the enemy took the advantage. The fate of Israel was literally on Moses’ shoulders.

As the day wore on Moses grew weary. Aaron and Hur were nearby and it was obvious that something had to be done. They brought him a stone to sit on then they took their place one on either side. When Moses grew tired and his arms dropped Aaron and Hur each took an arm and held his arms up for him. Israel won the day and the God gave them victory.

I have loved this account since the day I first read it. Israel depended on Moses but he was only human. He was tired. His strength was gone. He needed someone to stand by his side and hold him up for the fight. Praise God that Aaron and Hur were there.

There are times when we all need an Aaron and Hur to stand by our side and lift us up. There are times when someone we know is in the battle and needs us to act as an Aaron or a Hur and lift them up with support.

Praise God for the Aarons and Hurs who have stood with us in prayer and support through the years. Their faithfulness and strength has kept us going time after time after time.

Praise God as well for the blessed opportunities to be an Aaron or a Hur for other. What a joy it is to link up with them and hold up their arms for the battle.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Is the Lord here or not?

So he called the name of the place Massah and Meribah, because of the contention of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, "Is the LORD among us or not?" – Exodus 17v7

Massah and Meribah, Testing and Provocation; that is what Moses named the place where God gave water from the rock. In a moment that should have been full of joy and excitement Moses saw a real problem. In the time of crisis Moses saw that the people continued to test God and provoke Him with their lack of faith.

The greatest evidence of this is their question, ‘Is the Lord among us or not?’

It is hard to imagine how they could even ask that question. After all they had seen God do they still questioned His presence.

My problem with this passage is not so much Israel, but me. I think back to time when things have been tough I myself have wondered if God was really among us or not. The issue is something we see over and over again. We judge God not by who He is but by what we see. Judging from Israel this is part of human nature. People have a history of doubting God when they are in trouble.

How often do we have our own Massah and Meribahs? How often to we test God and provoke Him with our lack of faith and that terrible question in our hearts?

Is God really here? He is here. May we never test Him by doubting His presence.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

What am I going to do with these people?

So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, "What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me!" – Exodus 17v4

Poor old Moses was frustrated. Every time he turned around the people were attacking him and criticising and complaining. They had left slavery. God had turned bitter waters sweet. God had provided meat and bread in the desert in a miraculous manner. And now, the first time they get low on water they complain again.

‘Why are you trying to kill us Moses?’ was their cry. Why would they even think that after all he had done?

People have short memories. All they could see was the here and now. They could not even remember back a few weeks. We look at them and because we are reading chapter after chapter it seems silly that they could possibly forget, and really, it is ridiculous. Who could possibly forget the blessings of God in the past while in a present crisis?

Well, that’s not my point today. My point is dealing with the challenges of leadership. Leadership is a great blessing and a great joy. But it can be fraught with trouble and trials. Because leaders deal with people they deal with problems and issues. Leadership can be frustrating. Sometimes leaders just want to quit.

But Moses did the right thing – he went to God. ‘What am I going to do with these people?’ was his cry. How did God respond?

‘Go back to them and let me meet their needs’ was God’s response. His love and patience amaze me. God is the perfect Leader and His leadership skills and patterns are a challenge to any one who leads. He just kept being patient with the people.

I would have been fed up with them by now. It is a good thing that I am not God. I have a lot to learn from God’s School of Leadership.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Lord who heals you

"If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you." - Exodus 15v26

Jehovah-Rapha- the Lord is my healer. This is the name revealed to us in Exodus 15v26. God saw the great need of Israel as He cured the bitter waters. He also promised that if they would follow Him He would protect them from the diseases of the Egyptians.

Too many charlatans and quacks have taken advantage of the physical aspect of God’s healing. They focus on ‘healing revivals’ and claim to knock have the power to heal the sick, mend the lame, and give sight to the blind.

My point, thought tempting, is not to attack those men. God does do physical healing miracles. We have seen plenty of them ourselves.

There is, however, a more important kind of healing. We are all more with a disease more serious and more fatal than any cancer. We are all born with the disease called sin. We read of this when Peter quotes the prophet Isaiah – ‘who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.’

Jehovah is our Jehovah-Nissi in that He is the great sin healer. Jesus went to the cross to take our punishment. Our healing was not free. It came at the cost of His stripes.

Praise God that He is my Jehovah-Nissi. Praise Him for healing my sin disease through His stripes.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

The Lord will reign

"The LORD shall reign forever and ever." – Exodus 15v18

The response of Israel after the Red Sea may very well have been emotion based and they may have quickly forgotten what they said, but they said a lot of great things in their victory song.

The way we sometimes respond to difficulties today you might think we have forgotten who our King is. We are so concerned about worldly rulers that we can often forget who our King is and think that He has somehow been dethroned.

Our does God indeed reign in our kingdom. Yes, we have to live in this present world system for the time being, but this is not where our kingdom lies. We dwell in a heavenly kingdom and as the kingdoms of the world fall apart we can rest in the knowledge that our God does indeed reign.

He is in control. He still sees me as His servant sojourning in a foreign land. I can’t expect the kingdoms of this world to agree with my King. This present world is not going to go His way, it never has.

But my King still reigns. He is on His throne. He will only let this world go so far then He will step in and reign not only in my life, but literally and physically in this world.

What a day that will be.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Doing wonders

"Who is like You, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like You, glorious in holiness, Fearful in praises, doing wonders? - Exodus 15v11

We had a great Bible study last night. We are looking at the names for Christ from Isaiah 9. After some introductory thoughts we camped on the word ‘Wonderful.’ It is a word that we can take almost for granted. We have heard it in Handle’s ‘Messiah’ and we have probably heard it preached on. As time goes by the name ‘Wonderful’ sadly loses some of its ‘wonder.’

The word is really a wonderful word and as one of the folks in Bible study said last night, it makes for a ‘wonderful’ study. As Israel praised God for His deliverance one of the things they pointed out was that He was above all gods; glorious in His holiness, fearful in His praises, and doing wonders. He does these wonders because He is Wonderful.

The word used here is the same word used in Isaiah 9v6. The word speaks of miracles. It speaks of doing the impossible. It speaks of Godness because it speaks of doing things that man cannot do.

The English word ‘wonder’ in a sense cheapens the Biblical word. We can speak of a wonderful meal or a wonderful time or a wonderful game.

The Bible word for ‘wonder’ though is exclusive to Deity. God is the only one who can truly do wonders. Praise God for the One Who is called ‘Wonderful!’

Sunday, 6 December 2009

I will exalt Him

The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father's God, and I will exalt Him. – Exodus 15v2

As I read this today I could hear Christie Galkin singing ‘Let Christ Be Lifted Up.’ The words of that song rang through my head as I contemplated Isreal’s song of praise on the crossing of the Red Sea. ‘The Lord is my strength and my song. He has become by salvation…I will praise Him…I will exalt Him.’

I thought about that in relation to my own life and experiences. We find it easy enough to exalt our nations, our families, our schools, our favourite brand product, or our favourite sports team. We proudly identify with those kinds of things. But what about exalting Christ?

I saw an interview on Youtube this morning. A young man who is a noted American footballer had just seen his team defeated in a very important game. In the face paint used to dim the reflection on his cheeks he had the reference for John 6v33. This player grew up as a missionary kid in the Philippines and is a great testimony for Christ. This guy is a great player, but in all he does he seeks to exalt Christ. That verse talks about how we are going to face trials in life, but Jesus has already overcome the world. What made it powerful was the life that he lives before the cameras and in the shadows.

We all have our chances to exalt Christ, but do we take them?

I wonder how many of us life our lives in a way that truly exalts Christ, that truly lift Him up for all the world to see?

Spurgeon put it this way – ‘And note this, we must have Christ lifted up, Christ crucified, without the trinkets and trivialities of knowledge, without the trappings of attempted eloquence or rhetoric. If Christ Jesus is seriously preached he will draw all men to himself.’

If we will truly exalt Him before men He will indeed draw men to Himself.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Thus Israel saw…so the people feared

Thus Israel saw the great work which the LORD had done in Egypt; so the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD and His servant Moses. – Exodus 14v31

At first this may sound like a great picture of a nation following God. God part the Red Sea, Israel saw it and they feared the Lord and believed God and Moses. What a great example, right?

I am not so sure. This is the beginning of Israel’s pattern of only believing God when they saw Him do something that focused on them. The feared God and trusted Him when He took care of them according to their whims and desires. When they did not see Him act they did not believe.

Is that really faith? Is that really what God wants?

I suspect not. Remember Thomas? Remember how he did not believe and Jesus told him that was fine, but that there is a greater blessing when we believe without seeing? Remember what Hebrews tells us about faith being the evidence of things not seen?

Faith means we fear and obey God even when we don’t see. That is such a challenge. It is easy to trust Him when things are going well. It is easy to trust Him when He works in a great visible way. But how do we do when we don’t see what He is doing?

I am learning that I can really fear and trust God only when I do that before I see Him work.

Friday, 4 December 2009

I’ve got your back

And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. – Exodus 14v19

I find this account fascinating. Just at the time you might think God would stand out front and lead Israel across the Red Sea He does just the opposite!

As they get ready to move through the Red Sea the Angel of God (probably a pre-incarnate Jesus) and the pillar of cloud that guided them moved from the front of the people to the back. That doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense at first. Why would He move to the back when it seemed they needed His leadership the most?

One of the great lines from police or military films is the phrase, ‘I’ve got your back.’ It means ‘As you move out I am watching out for you. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.’

You would really want to trust the guy who says, ‘I’ve got your back.' Before you headed out you would want to be sure that he was on your side and he was going to watch out for you. When you head out like that you are vulnerable and need someone you can trust.

As Israel moved forward they had to do so by faith. God moved to the back to protect them from the Egyptians. He in effect said, ‘Go ahead folks, I’ve got your back.’

We are not always going to see God leading out in front. In fact it seems to me that most of the time we just have to step out and trust God to guard our back.

The old King James mentions the word ‘rereward’ especially in relation to God’s presence in the book if Isaiah. I like old words so I always remember that one. A ‘rereward’ is like a modern day rearguard.

When we, like Israel, have to move out by faith we can trust that God is our rereward!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Stand still

And Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace." – Exodus 3v13-14

If there are any two words in scripture that I have a hard time with they are the words ‘be still.’ Anyone who knows me can tell you that I hate to just sit back and wait. If something needs dealt with I want it dealt with now! Worse, I want to be the one who does something about it.

Moses and Israel find themselves in an impossible situation. Before them was the expanse of the Red Sea. Charging up from behind was the powerful Egyptian army. Many bible scholars think there were closed in on both sides by mountains. There was no way out and their destruction seemed certain.

Of course they blamed Moses for their dilemma. ‘Weren’t there enough graves in Egypt for us? Why did you bring us out here to die.’ They wanted something done and they wanted it done quickly.

But God wanted them to rely on Him. His instructions were clear. ‘Don’t be afraid. Stand still. See God’s deliverance. God will fight for you. You will just be quiet and let Him work.’

God allowed them to be a situation where they would have to watch Him work. He wanted them to realise that they could trust Him. More battles were to come and they needed to know that He would be there for them.

God will never allow us to be in a place where there is not a way to escape. He will always deliver us and He will always use those situations to make us more reliant on Him for future deliverance.

Moses had done all he could do. Now it was time to wait of God. Whatever Red Sea we face we can trust Him to do the same for us.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

That they may know that I am the Lord

Then I will harden Pharaoh's heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD." And they did so. – Exodus 14v4

I still don’t fully understand the concept of God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. Perhaps it is something as simple as knowing that He knew the state of Pharaoh’s true heart and was simply arranging things so that his true heart came out in God’s timing.

Anyway, there was a purpose in God doing what He was going to do here. From our human perspective it may appear that He is doing something that is self centred, but that is only as we try to see things from our human perspective.

God’s purpose was simple enough – that the Egyptians would know that He was the Lord. Why would He do that? Is He so self important that everyone has to know that He is the Lord to the exclusion of all else?

When God does things like this, to show that He is the Lord it is actually an act born out of His love for man. God is God. He is sovereign. Being sovereign He knows that the best choice for anyone is to know that He is the Lord. In order to bring men to that point God may have to do things that we don’t always understand.

Israel’s deliverance from Egypt is one of the great illustrations of His power. A few Egyptians already had recognised the power of the Lord. God’s desire was not the destruction of Egypt, but that Egypt would know Him.

Our difficulty here is that we see things from an earthly, temporary view when God see things from eternity. There is nothing more important to man than truly know God.

God’s desire was that Egypt would forsake their worship of Pharaoh. He knew that their worship of Pharaoh would lead to their eternal suffering. He knew that only if they knew Him as Lord could they have eternal joy.

Our desire should be like God’s that all around us might know that He is the Lord.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The Lord went before them

And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people. – Exodus 13v21-22

Israel was headed out into the great unknown. The bags were packed, the wagons were loaded, all everyting was set for the big move. It would have been an exciting, but also a scary time as they lined up to head out into the wilderness. They and their ancestors had lived in Egypt for over 300 years. Hard work or no at least the place had familiarity, And yet, what might lie beyond Egypt?

They were not going out alone though. ‘The Lord went before them.’ As a mighty powerful pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night His presence led them into the unknown. They had already grumbled and complained about Moses. God knew that more was to come and still He led them on the way.

Though God’s leadership today may not be in a pillar of cloud or a pillar of fire it is no less real. Today we have the Word of God and the leadership of the Holy Spirit in our lives. God never leads His people leaderless or directionless. The only question is whether or not we will follow.