Saturday, 31 October 2015

God's justice and mercy

And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.  – Exodus 34.6-7

We learn a lot about God in these couple of verses.

We learn the very sobering fact that God is righteousness and just. He can and must and will judge sin. If that was all we knew about Go things would be scary and hopeless. But we also learn that:

God is full of mercy
God is gracious
God is patient
God is full of goodness
God is full of truth
God is forgiving

The judgement for sin took place on the cross. God provided a way for us to escape the wrath that we all deserved. God poured out His mercy on the cross. God showed His grace at the cross. He patiently holds off His wrath to give everyone a chance to accept His mercy and His grace. God is good, every day and all the time. God is truth we can trust His perfect plan.

And God is forgiving. He gave His Son to provide forgiveness. All that is required of man is that we accept His forgiveness.

So though we deserve nothing but the wrath of God He has provided a way of escape. Through His mercy and grace and patience and goodness and truth and forgiveness we find our guilt covered by the blood of Christ. My guilt is still there – but God is happy to look on Christ and pardon me. Praise God for who He is. 

Friday, 30 October 2015

Show me Your glory

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." And he said, "Please, show me Your glory." Then He said, "I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before you. I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion." – Exodus 33.17-19

In this old world sometimes we can get lost in the darkness and tired in the troubles and weary of walking and only seeing bad and evil and wickedness. It seems like everywhere we turn we see only bad stuff.

And that is not all. In all of its ugliness the world has an appeal to our flesh and our lusts. Those things draw our eyes and tempt us to turn away from God. If we are not on guard we find our glory in our countries or our sports teams or our flags or friends or family or Facebook or video games or any number of things. We can even glory in our own works and efforts and accomplishments.

All of this glory is going to fall short of satisfaction. All of this glory is going to fail one day.

But Moses says ‘Lord, show me Your glory.’

What a wonderful focus for us to remember. Instead of seeing the earthly temporary stuff our focus should be on the glory of God. If we think in the light of God’s glory it makes all of this worthwhile. Paul reminded of this when we said ‘For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.’

The glory of God is all that matters.

‘But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD’

Let’s pray with Moses that God would show us His glory as we walk through this world today. 

Thursday, 29 October 2015

We will be separate

For how then will it be known that Your people and I have found grace in Your sight, except You go with us? So we shall be separate, Your people and I, from all the people who are upon the face of the earth." 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 33.16-17

I spent a lot of my time in churches where separation was a major part of the teaching. I think it was taken to an extreme at times. If we are not careful separation can become a type of Galatianism binding us to a set of rules and traditions. 

But taking separation too far is no excuse for the pendulum to swing the other way and ignore that it is a Biblical principle. Biblical separation must be Biblical, not based on human ideas or traditions or preferences or opinions.

True separation is not legalism or Galatianism. It is not a set of rules and man-made standards and dos and don’ts. It is also not antinomianism where anything goes.

Bible separation means that we do not allow ourselves to be dictated to by the world’s standards. We don’t walk after the flesh – we walk after the Spirit. We are not bound by ‘the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:’ We no longer have our ‘conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.’ It means we have been transformed from the darkness into the light. It means that we don’t respond to evil with evil. It means that we don’t live to satisfy self. It means that we are ‘in Christ’ instead of in the world and that our lives reflect Christ and no longer us.

Moses said ‘we will be separate’ and God said ‘my grace will be with you.’ ‘Come out from among them and be separate says the Lord.’ Will we live that separated life and live the grace life that God intends for us? 

Wednesday, 28 October 2015


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.”And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. Then he said to Him, "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here” – Exodus 33.13-15

Rest is something everyone longs for. This is a tiresome old world and everyone gets tired of the struggles.

Anyone who struggles with insomnia understands how it is to try and function without rest. Nothing seems to go right when we are weary. I get fussy and irritable. I tend to see everything from a negative and pessimistic manner. Nothing seems ‘worth it.’ I couldn’t be bothered to do anything.

The same thing is true in following Christ. God told Moses that as He went with Moses God would give Him rest. The only true rest comes for us when we rely on the presence of God. We wear ourselves out when we try to do things in our own power. If we only depend on our own strength we are going to fail. 

Jesus made a great promise – ‘call unto me all who labour and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.’

Just like God told Moses there is rest in the presence of God. We don’t have to do it all alone. The psalmist knew that when he wrote ‘I laid down and slept, I arose, for the Lord sustained me.’

With Jesus’ promise ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’ we can rest in Him. Surely, we have to work and, but we need now grow weary in well doing because we have the confidence that we will reap in God’s time.

God is with us – may we rest in His presence.  

Tuesday, 27 October 2015

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.”And He said, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.” – Exodus 33.13-14

Moses’ chats with God are always a blessing. I like the way that Moses talks to God with full reverence and yet speaking to Him like a friend talks to a friend. Sometimes God expresses His wrath to God and sometimes Moses vents to God. Other times you sense Moses’ deep desire to walk with God and obey Him and do things His way.

Here Moses is seeking God’s direction – something, by the way, that we as God’s people should always desire to see. ‘If I have found grace, show me your way that I may know you and find your grace.’

We know our own way. We know the way the world would have us to go. Are we really willing to seek God’s way and once we know God’s way are we willing to know Him and live in His grace? 

His way is the only way. All others will fail. We find His way in His words. 

Show me Your ways, O Lord;
Teach me Your paths.
Lead me in Your truth and teach me,
For You are the God of my salvation;

On You I wait all the day. – Psalm 25.4-5

Monday, 26 October 2015

Who 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 32.26

In this world of no absolutes there is a real need. The lines are clear drawn. One good thing about the world being a mess is that there is a clear difference between God’s way and the world’s way.

The problem comes when we, as God’s people, are unclear in where we stand. It happens when we want to live for God, but can’t bear to give up the world. We want one foot in the world and one foot in the Lord.

But we can’t have both. It is God’s way or the world’s way.

Joshua gave the people a choice – choose which God’s you are going to serve. He told them they couldn’t have the Lord and other gods. It had to be one or the other.

Before Elijah’s great contest with the prophets of Baal he asked the people how long they were going to try and go back and forth between God and Baal. ‘If the Lord is God follow Him. If it is Baal then follow him.

Jesus said we can’t serve both god and ‘stuff’ because we are always going to love one and hate the other.

Every time I read these words I am reminded of the great old hymn that asks the searing question ‘who is on the Lord’s side?

Who is on the Lord’s side?
Who will serve the King?
Who will be His helpers,
Other lives to bring?
Who will leave the world’s side?
Who will face the foe?
Who is on the Lord’s side?
Who for Him will go?

By Thy grand redemption,
By Thy grace divine,
We are on the Lord’s side;
Saviour, we are Thine.

Are we on the Lord’s side? Will we boldly declare and demonstrate it by giving God our bodies as living sacrifices to Him? 

Sunday, 25 October 2015


Now when Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them, to their shame among their enemies), - Exodus 32.25

Aaron had a lot to answer for. He was God’s man in the absence of Moses. He was supposed to lead the people to do right, but while he was in charge the people turned away from God to their own ways. He did not restrain them from the sin and wanton behaviour.

This word ‘unrestrained’ speaks of attitudes and behaviours that know no limits and has no control. It is a behaviour that knows no right and wrong. It is a behaviour that says ‘anything goes.’ A modern translation uses the phrase ‘broken loose’ to describe this behaviour. It means that the people had broken loose for any restraints and that every man did that which was right in his own eyes.

I can’t imagine a better description than that. God’s designs are ignored as the world seeks pleasure instead of principles.

Could there be a better way to describe the world we live in today? Doesn’t it seem like our world has broken loose of any sense of right or wrong? Our world is a world where we seem to have lost all absolutes. There is no longer right and wrong – our world has broken free of those restraints.

In these broken free world people are going to act like broken free people. We can’t expect them to act the way they think we should. We can’t expect an unrestrained world to do or know right from wrong. We can’t legislate or moralise a world which is unrestrained.

The only hope is Jesus. Without Christ this unrestrained world is just going to get worse and sin is going to grow more and more rampant. Jesus is the only answer to this messed up world we live in. 

Saturday, 24 October 2015

It's their fault

And Moses said to Aaron, "What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?" So Aaron said, "Do not let the anger of my lord become hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. For they said to me, 'Make us gods that shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.' 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 32.21-24

I can’t imagine how Aaron must have felt when Moses came down the mountain. He was caught with his hand in the biscuit barrel. He could not have been any more guilty of going against everything he was supposed to do as leader.

Moses left him in charge. All they had to do was to wait on God, and Moses, to give them their marching orders.

And yet, due to their impatience, the failed. As we now know they made their own god.

So when Moses came down Aaron had to give account.

‘It’s the people’s fault. They begged me to make a god for them. They were set on doing evil, and sure enough they did it!’

Okay, blaming the people was bad enough. But look what he said next.

‘I asked for their gold, they gave it to me, and when I threw it in the fire a golden calf came out!’

We know that was lie, not just because it is crazy, but because we are told later that Aaron crafted the calf.

Notice how quickly things digressed? Aaron failed to lead the people. He then laid the blame on them. Then we told a crazy lie to cover his sin.

What a mess.

But it is no more a mess than we cause in our own lives when we don’t own up to our sin and error. Once we refuse to admit our fault it just gets worse and worse and worse. When our pride keeps us from confession and repentance it only leads to retreating further in to our lies and deception to cover it up.

How different are our deceptions than Aaron’s gold calf story? 

Friday, 23 October 2015

Interceding in prayer

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? Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, 'He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth'? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, 'I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.' " So the LORD relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people. – Exodus 32.10-14

The communication between God and Moses is a special blessing. God allows us to be a part of a very private conversation.

In our feeble human terms God had had enough. He was ready to wipe out the nation for their rebellion. He told Moses what He was going to do ‘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.’

Moses had a chance here to become the new Abraham. God was going to wipe out the seed of Abraham and start over with a ‘seed of Moses.’

But Moses’ nature shines through here. Instead of personal gain Moses intercedes in prayer for the nation. Instead of becoming the new Abraham he ‘reminds’ God of His promises to the first Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.

There are a few things we could talk about here, but I think the thing that sticks out for us is Moses’ prayer of intercession.

Like Moses we too are surrounded by a world in rebellion to God. Like Moses we ought to be concerned enough for them that we forget about ourselves and be interceding for them in prayer as well. Our burden ought not to be for us and our self-promotion but for a world which is facing God’s wrath.

May I be a Moses like interceder in my prayer life. 

Thursday, 22 October 2015


And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play. And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: - Exodus 32.6-9

The people could not wait on Moses to get back. They could not wait on God to act. So they acted in the own and got up in the morning, brought their offerings to their false cow-god, and had a party as they ate, drank, and played totally ignoring the Lord who had delivered them.

They made this calf, they worshipped it, and they called it the god who delivered them. When we look back these are the same people who seem to never follow God or His way unless things are going well.

The description used here is a pretty good word. Nearly every major translation uses the same term – stiff necked – to describe these people. We all know what stiff necked is. It is the perfect word for stubbornness. It comes from two Hebrew words meaning, get ready, stiff and neck.

Even reading those words we get the picture of someone standing there with the jaw and neck muscles drawn taut and clenched and in rebellious opposition.

I hope most of us are not of a stiff necked nature, but I think most of us have those moments where we just simply refuse to submit to God and His will. Our rebellion and stubbornness take the place of sweet trust and submission.

Lord, help me to overcome, with your strength, my tendency to stiffen my neck against your will. 

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Tired of waiting

And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him. And Aaron said unto them, Break off the golden earrings, which are in the ears of your wives, of your sons, and of your daughters, and bring them unto me. And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them unto Aaron. And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD. – Exodus 32.1-5

I hate to wait. Mary and I were back in St James’ Hospital Monday for a follow-up after my operation. I didn’t have to wait very long for my echo-cardiogram and not too long for my x-ray. But when it came time to see a doctor it took ‘forever’ (actually, it was only a little over an hour, but you know what I mean). It never suits me to wait, and though I am ashamed to admit it, sometimes I get tired of waiting on God. Sometimes as week after week and month after month and year after year go by and we don’t see much happening (in our eyes) I get tired of waiting and even get tempted to quit or do things my way or whatever.

The Israelites must have had the same problem. They were waiting and waiting for Moses to come down with God’s instructions, but he didn’t come back in their timeframe. So rather than wait on God and Moses they just gave up and decided to make their own gods out of the gold they had brought out of Egypt. If God wasn’t going to act they were going to worship a god of their own design.

That sounds appalling doesn’t it? How can they do that? Why couldn’t they just wait on God? Why did they have to turn to their own devices?

The answer is simple enough. Waiting requires faith and if we are not careful faith can run thin after a while. We are proud arrogant creatures. If we have to wait too long we figure that we can sort it out ourselves.

But waiting on God is right and good and eventually has the only good result. Rushing ahead of God always brings disaster. ‘They that wait on the Lord will renew their strength.’ ‘It is good that a young man should wait.’

Teach me Lord to wait. 

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Aholiab and Bezaleel

See, I have called by name Bezaleel 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, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, To devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship. And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee; - Exodus 31.2-6

Aholiab and Bezaleel are two of my favourite less known characters in the scriptures. These are ‘just’ working class craftsmen, but God uses them mightily.

We tend to think of the great leaders or preachers or preachers or prophets when we think of the spiritual giants of scripture. But we know that God does not only use them. God uses anyone. Here Aholiab and Bezaleel are craftsmen who we find out are filled with the spirit of God and with His wisdom and understanding and knowledge.

And to do all manner of workmanship.

God gave them the ability to do the physical labour that needed to be done. Many, many years ago a friend and I were workers, not in gold or silver or brass, but we sheet metal. He was a Christian as well and we jokingly called ourselves Aholiab and Bezaleel. But I am not too sure it was unreasonable joking. Whatever work we do I think we need to acknowledge that it is God who is behind our ability to do it right and well and for His glory. I have done a lot of what we call ‘menial jobs’ but any job we do for God’s glory we need to depend on Him every day for the do that in a way that reflects the truth that He gives us the power to do it.

We are all needed, no matter that man tends to glorify.

So praise God for the Abrahams and Josephs and Moseses and Davids and Pauls – and praise Him for the Aholiabs and Bezaleels! 

Monday, 19 October 2015

Don't follow the crowd

Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment: - Exodus 23.2

We all remember the reasoning with our parents (and our children).

Child: Can I go to wherever?
Parent: No, I would rather you not?
Child: Why?
Parent: Because I don’t want you to be there.
Child: But everyone else is going.
Parent: If everyone else jumped off a cliff, would you?

Going along with the crowd has always been a temptation. If the whole is doing something we don’t want to be left out or miss the action or whatever.

So it is well worth a warning about ‘don’t follow a multitude to do evil.’ Peer pressure is especially tough when we are young, but we never get over it. With all the changes taking place in the world today it may seem at times like we are the only ones trying to do right and that everyone else is doing wrong.

But God says ‘don’t do it’ we don’t need to follow along with the masses. Look where the world is headed – it is headed to destruction. Their doom is sealed. When it is all said and done all that the world does is empty and futile and temporary. Why is that so appealing when our future is to spend all of eternity in the glories and joys of heaven?

‘Follow that which is good’ God says, even if everyone else is doing wrong.

After all – ..wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat and …narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.’

So follow the narrow way instead of the crowd. 

Sunday, 18 October 2015

An eye for an eye?

And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, Eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, Burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe. – Exodus 21.23-25

The Old Testament standard for revenge and retribution was simple. An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, and stripe for stripe.

It was not of course to be taken literally. It was a general standard. Retribution should be fair and equivalent. It was not to be too harsh or too lenient. As much as possible sentence in civil cases was to be fair.

 And to be honest that sounds like a pretty good law doesn’t. It is the standard that still should be applied in civil cases today. Of course we all hear about cases where this is ignored and ridiculous sums are given for minor loses, but that should be what the courts or arbitrators strive for.

But Jesus changed it all up for Christians.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also. And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away.

But that doesn’t really sound fair, does it?

Jesus’ words really sound impossible and it can be very hard to accept them and live by them. Imagine, if someone sues you you give them more than they ask. If they want you to carry a load a mile for them you give them two miles. Give what people ask of you.

Just like the original law what we are looking at here is not obedience to the letter of the law, but the spirit. The principle here is just as clear as the law was.

We are not to worry about revenge or retribution. We are to be dead to self. The law made sure we got what we deserved. Jesus’ law says we don’t worry about it because we can trust God to sort it all out.

It is a matter of faith. Do I really need to exact my eye for an eye, or can I trust God to take care of it for me?

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Be content

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's. – Exodus 20.17

People are wanters. It is part of our nature. And part of being a wanter is to want other peoples’ stuff. The problem of being discontent is another one of those issues that is almost universal and sadly God’s people are no exception.

God knew that of course. So He said early on that we are not to covet anything that anyone else has. It is a pretty good list in this verse, but just to be sure God wraps the verse up with ‘not anything that is your neighbour’s.’

There are a lot of problems with coveting. It proves we are not content. It proves that we think we know our needs better than God does. It proves that we are idolaters (see Colossians 3.5). It proves that Jesus is not enough to us because He promised that He would never leave us or forsake us.

Contentment is the opposite of covetousness. Contentment means I trust God to know what I need. Covetousness means that I trust me to know what I need. Contentment means I trust the all knowing, all powerful all wise God to know best – covetousness means I trust flawed and foolish and feeble me to know best.

Who knows best? Who should we trust?

Friday, 16 October 2015

Honour your marriage

Thou shalt not commit adultery. – Exodus 20.14

Marriage is God’s oldest institution. God laid out His plan early when He told Adam and Eve that a man will leave his father and mother, cleave to his wife, and they will be one flesh. And God never changed His standard. The world can redefine marriage anyway they want, but for God’s people it is one man and one woman for a lifetime. No matter how times change or cultural mores shift God’s plan is the same and even if no one else holds to God’s plan His children must.

It is put pretty clearly here – you shall not commit adultery. Jesus expanded the idea of what adultery was when He said ‘if you look on a woman with lust in your heart you have already committed adultery.' 

Why does God set such a premium on faithfulness in marriage? In a world that cheapens sex and makes it more of an entertainment than an expression of love why are God’s children told to treasure and honour their marriages by faithfulness and purity?

Part of it is out of God’s perfect love and compassion as our heavenly Father. Nothing is more precious than loving someone and having a lifelong relationship with them alone. There is joy and security and comfort in having a life-long partner to grow old with. Mary and I are approaching 38 years of love and compassion and sharing and joys and struggles and good times and bad times and faithfulness. I am so grateful that God has given us each other. God says to stay pure because it is key in protecting our marriages which should be the source of pure joy and contentment.  

But even more important is the picture that marriage was intended to portray. All through the Old Testament marriage was, as Paul called it, a great mystery. It was a hidden truth to be revealed in Christ.

What is this mystery?

Marriage is a picture of the relationship of Christ and the church. Therefore unfaithfulness in marriage pictures unfaithfulness in our relationship with God. It ruins the image if the purity between Christ and His bride.

It can be a struggle today to keep our marriages pure with all the images and ideas around us. We must protect our hearts and minds because if we can protect them we will protect our actions.

Do not commit adultery. Do not commit adultery of the heart or mind or eyes or body. Let us keep ourselves pure. 

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Honouring parents

Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. – Exodus 20.12

I know that every generation has accused the next generation of a lack of honour or respect. Cicero, for example, is credited with saying ‘“Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.’ That problem still persists, and no generation is immune.

The problem is simple. For a while children think their parents are everything. Parents are the be all and end all. But as they age and begin to think for themselves they begin to see things from their own perspective and it doesn’t always match up to what parents says and think. That is a good thing and we ought to encourage our children to think for themselves and respectfully express their views.

But honour and respect are always the key.

I like this little image of how life goes.

When I was 4 years old – ‘My Daddy can do anything’
When I was 5 years old – ‘My Daddy knows a whole lot’
When I was 6 years old – ‘My Dad is smarter than your Dad’
When I was 8 years old – ‘My Dad makes me so mad sometimes.’
When I was 10 years old – ‘In the olden days when my Dad grew up, things were so different’
When I was 12 years old – ‘Oh well, naturally Dad doesn’t know anything about that, he is too old to remember his childhood’
When I was 14 years old – ‘Don’t pay any attention to my Dad, he is so old fashioned’
When I was 21 years old – ‘Him? He just doesn’t get it.’
When I was 30 years old – ‘Maybe we should ask Dad what he thinks, after all, he’s had a lot of experience’
When I was 35 years old – ‘Let me talk to Dad about it!’
When I was 40 years old – ‘I wonder how Dad would’ve handled it, he was so wise’
When I was 50 years old – ‘I’d give anything if Dad were here now so I could talk this over with him. Too bad I didn’t appreciate how smart he was. I could’ve learned a lot from him.’

Author – Ann Landers (slightly adapted)

I do notice that honouring parents does seem to get better as the years go by. We learn that even with their flaws and weaknesses and failures that our parents are due respect. Of course, there are exceptions where parents are cruel and abusive, but even then I watch how children begin to see those slight glimmers of positivity in their parents as they age and approach death.

Parents are not always right. We (they) made mistakes, make mistakes, and will continue to make mistakes. But they are due our honour and respect.

I know one thing – I wish mine were still here to talk to and get counsel. 

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Honouring God's name

Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. – Exodus 20.7

When we read this verse the first thing we tend to think of is just using God’s name as part of a curse or a slogan it just say it flippantly. One that we hear all the time is ‘Oh my g___!’

I really hate to hear that and it offends me every time I hear it. We all hear that every day and unless we are careful the speech patterns of those around us become our own. I am not really even happy that I sometimes use the phrase ‘oh my goodness.’

People do the same thing with the name of Jesus and Christians can find our not quite as offensive phrases for those as well.

I think those things are wrong. I think it cheapens the name of our holy God when we use His precious name in our everyday common speech. We ought to be careful about those things.

But taking God’s name in vain can be even worse than that.

The real dangerous part of taking God’s name is when we put God’s name on our own efforts when it is just our own doings. Taking God’s name is using God for our advantage or to make political points. I think we take God’s name in vain when we try to determine God’s judgement in natural disasters. Who are we to determine when God is acting apart from His word? How can I say ‘God sent this disaster because the people here are sinning?’ We can’t use God’s name as a weapon in our discussions.

I am going to make some folks angry here – but can we say ‘In God we trust’ about a secular pagan state who obviously does not trust God? Isn’t that taking God’s name in vain?  Certain politicians know that if they don’t use God they won’t have a chance of being elected.

I could go on. God’s name is holy and needs to be protected. We can’t use it common or coarse conversation and we can’t use to score points in a debate or in social media memes. 

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Nothing between me and my God

I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. – Exodus 20.2-6

God starts the short list of the Law by reminding us of who is and how we should respond to who he is. 

When we first look at this we may be tempted to think that we don’t have this problem. Few, I any, of us would think we are guilty of worshipping false Gods. Few, if any, of us have a ‘god shelf’ where we keep out idols so we can bow down and worship them. 

But does that mean that we don’t have our own false gods or our own idols. All of us have things that we may be tempted to put ahead of the one true God. 

So what are our false gods and our idols? They are anything that we allow to come between us and our God. They can be the god of pride or self-indulgence or popularity or materialism or whatever. It is the idolatry of stuff or money or jobs or things or anything I pay more honour to or spend more time with that my God. 

What comes between ourselves and our saviour? If anything does that is our god and those are our idols. 

Can we sing with confidence the great old hymn? 

Nothing between my soul and the Saviour,
Naught of this world’s delusive dream;
I have renounced all sinful pleasure;
Jesus is mine, there’s nothing between.

Nothing between my soul and the Saviour,
So that His blessed face may be seen;
Nothing preventing the least of His favour,
Keep the way clear! Let nothing between.

Nothing between, like worldly pleasure;
Habits of life, though harmless they seem,
Must not my heart from Him e’er sever;
He is my all, there’s nothing between.

Nothing between, like pride or station;
Self-life or friends shall not intervene;
Though it may cost me much tribulation,
I am resolved; there’s nothing between.

Nothing between, e’en many hard trials,
Though the whole world against me convene;
Watching with prayer and much self-denial,
I’ll triumph at last, with nothing between.

Monday, 12 October 2015

The Law

The Ten Commanments

I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour's. – Exodus 20.2-17

The Ten Commandments are a summary of all the rest of God’s Law. As believers we have been freed from bondage to the Law. However, the Law still tells us what sin is and it shows God’s grace in His forgiveness of our offence. Those of us who are Christians should never knowingly sin so it is good for us to see a few things that God wants us to do and does not want us to do.

It is good to study the whole Law, but we need not necessarily do that to see how far short we fall of God’s standard. If we would honestly look at just this, forgetting about the other six hundred plus laws we would see that we all fall short of God’s perfect standard.

No one could stand up to this standard – but One has. Jesus is the perfect and sinless one who met every aspect of God’s Law. Therefore He alone is worthy to pay the penalty for our sin.

The Ten Commandments would be impossible for any of us, but I am grateful that our God is the God of the impossible. Thank God that Jesus lived the perfect life and was the perfect sacrifice and that God is satisfied to look on Jesus and pardon me when I put my faith in Him. 

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Whatever God says

And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD. – Exodus 19.8

Yesterday’s thought was all about the importance of preachers and teachers faithfully proclaiming all of the word of God and not picking and choosing that they will and won’t teach.

Here we have the response of the hearers when God’s word is proclaimed.

'All that the Lord has spoken we will do.'

It sounds so simple – but it can be so hard to live. Whatever God says we will do. I would like to say that. I would like to have that testimony.

But what if God says ‘love your enemy?’
What if God says ‘don’t respond to evil with evil?’
What if God says ‘obey those in authority?’
What if God says ‘feed the poor and needy?’
What if God says ‘go into all the world and preach the gospel?’
What if God says ‘be care-ful for nothing?’
What if God says ‘don’t worry about tomorrow?’

I guess I could go on and on and on. Sometimes I can hardly obey the easy stuff.

‘We will do whatever God says’ didn’t work to well for Israel as we will see. 

Sadly it doesn't always work for us either. 

Saturday, 10 October 2015

All of God's word

And Moses came and called for the elders of the people, and laid before their faces all these words which the LORD commanded him… And the LORD said unto Moses, Lo, I come unto thee in a thick cloud, that the people may hear when I speak with thee, and believe thee for ever. And Moses told the words of the people unto the LORD. – Exodus 19.7,9

Even though the people in the Old Testament didn’t have the Bible they still had prophets and men of God who proclaimed His word to the people. It has always been important that the word of God be faithfully preached to the people.

We read here that Moses laid before the people ALL the words which the Lord had commanded him. Moses was probably the first example of preaching the full counsel of God’s word and was able to ‘preach the word, be instant in season and out of season and to reprove and rebuke’ with God’s word.

Preachers and teachers today have the same task. We cannot pick and choose what to teach. We can’t overlook what we see as the hard parts. If we don’t get it we admit it and trust God with the bits we can’t grasp. We can’t just leave out portions of God’s word because they are ‘hard.’

We are to preach the word and proclaim the counsel of God – all of it. 

Friday, 9 October 2015

A peculiar treasure

Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: - Exodus 19.5

I like this old world ‘peculiar.’ I am sad that it has changed meaning, but I still like it. Peculiar today implies someone or something that is slightly strange or not normal or not just exactly right or questionable.

It’s old and archaic, but I still like the word and I think it is a better word somehow.

The Hebrew and Greek words translated ‘peculiar’ are similar. The English word ‘peculiar’ here has the idea of ‘belonging exclusively to one person.’ To the readers of the KJV it would have meant ‘distinguished or special.’ Most modern translation use ‘special’ but special doesn’t seem special enough to me. Peculiar seems capture to notion of notion of being unique and different and special in some kind of a special way.

The peculiarity of God’s people doesn’t stop here. The New Testament picks up on the same theme:

Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. – Titus 2.14

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: - 1 Peter 2.9

God called Israel a treasure which is unique and special and belonging only to Him. God calls us His unique and special people who belong only to Him and calls us to be zealous of good works to show forth His praises.

So I am happy to be peculiar for Him. 

Thursday, 8 October 2015

On eagle's wings

And Moses went up unto God, and the Lord called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles' wings, and brought you unto myself. – Exodus 19.3-4

The whole story of the Exodus from Egypt is a wonderful, beautiful, amazing picture of redemption, deliverance, and salvation. The people were trapped in slavery and oppression. Only God could deliver them because otherwise there was no hope.

And God did it – and uses a beautiful image to describe how He did it. ‘I bare you on eagles’ wings.’

God often uses the image of an eagle to describe how He cares for His people.

He carried the people on eagles’ wings – and where did he carry them?

To Himself.

God loved his people so much that He lifted them up and carried them away on eagle’s wings far above the troubles of the world and carries them home to himself.

And isn’t that a wonderful image of what He does for us today? We don’t have to be caught up in all the troubles of this present world. Our God will carry us over them and they will carry us all the way home to Him.

So all the trials and troubles of this present age are fleeting. We are being borne up by God and on our way to Him. Praise God for His care and for carrying us home. 

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Doing too much

When they have a matter, they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws. And Moses' father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good. Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. – Exodus 18.16-18

We rarely hear about doing too much being a problem. In our success driven world all we hear is ‘do, do, do, work, work, work.’  It seems that the more work we do and the more we take on ourselves the more spiritual we are.

Jethro found his son-in-law, Moses, caught up in this trap. Moses was doing it all himself. He was unable to delegate authority or task. He micromanaged every situation. Every little dispute between the people was brought to Him. He didn’t trust anyone to handle any matter. He had to do it all.

How many leaders get caught in this trap today? We can start to think that we have to do it all. Deep down is the problem that we think only we can do it. This kind of leadership is based on pride.

When Jethro saw the problem he told Moses, ‘the thing you are doing may seem good to you, but it is not good. You are going to wear yourself out and both you and the nation are going to suffer. It is too much, you can’t do it by yourself.’ He then went on to give Moses a plan to delegate authority.

Jethro was right. While there is no excuse for laziness or lethargy or laxness in our work we need to be careful not go to the other extreme. No matter what our task if we don’t learn how to share the load it is going to hurt both us and those we minister to and serve. We will be no good to them or others.

The last thing we need is burnout. Let’s be sure that we are wise in the amount of work that we take on so that we can continue to serve God and each other. 

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Now I know

And Moses told his father in law all that the Lord had done unto Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel's sake, and all the travail that had come upon them by the way, and how the Lord delivered them. And Jethro rejoiced for all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, whom he had delivered out of the hand of the Egyptians. And Jethro said, Blessed be the Lord, who hath delivered you out of the hand of the Egyptians, and out of the hand of Pharaoh, who hath delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods: for in the thing wherein they dealt proudly he was above them.– Exodus 18.8-11

Jethro is an interesting character. He is Moses’ father-in-law and when we meet him he doesn’t really know God. When you think about how it must have been to have his daughter married to this stranger with his strange religion it must have been hard on him.

All along Jethro was watching to see that would happen. At first he had heard all that God had done. He would have seen how Moses named his grandsons ‘I was an alien in a strange land’ and God is my helper’ and he had seen both names in reality.

Moses had talked about all that God had done, and now Jethro had seen God work. Moses had talked about how God had delivered, and Jethro saw God deliver. He had seen that God was greater than all the false gods. All the things that the false gods were proud of God had proved He was greater.

Our great God is the same God. He will do mighty works. We don’t need to be afraid of speaking of His mighty works so that the world sees that He is greater than all the gods of this world.

Let’s speak up about our God and let Him do His work so that others can see who our God is.