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Category Archives: Exodus

The Elephant

Dear God, I’ve been praying through and thinking through these scriptures all week. I’ve looked at Moses on the mountain getting about eight chapters worth of instructions from you. I’ve looked at Peter talking in his second epistle about his experience at the Transfiguration. And I’ve looked at the Transfiguration itself. I’ve also layered on top of it the story of Naomi from the book of Ruth. These are the pieces of quilt I feel like you’ve given to me this week as I’ve prepared to preach tomorrow. So this morning, what I’d like to do is ask you to help me take these pieces and weave them together into the message that your Holy Spirit wants to deliver to the parishioners at the local Presbyterian church in the morning .

It starts, I think, with the old illustration of the blind men who each touch a different part of an elephant and then asked to describe the elephant. One describes the elephant as being a really long stump (the leg). One describe an elephant as an odd snake-type creature or really long, rough hose (the trunk). One describes it as a long smooth spear (the tusk). One describes it as a huge rough wall (the body). Another describes it as a thin, wiggly animal with some hair on the end (the tail). They are all accurate in their description of what they know, but they are wrong. They can’t see what we can see. They cannot see how the leg, trunk, tusk, body, and tail all work together to form one of the most majestic animals in the world.

That’s what you showed me in the story of Moses on the mountain. You were getting some business done with Moses. It was housekeeping time. It was paperwork time. You and Moses needed to spend some time together so that you could give him some marching orders for all of Israel. But the Israelites couldn’t see what was going on. All they saw was the cloud and the fire. For all they knew, you had grown angry with Moses and he was dead. If you would have asked them to explain what was going on they would have had no clue. Not even Moses really understood the whole picture, but you did. You could see what no one else could see.

Then we get the story of the Transfiguration. Another example of you tangibly showing up on a mountain and spending some time with your man. In this case, it was your son, Jesus, and he brought three friends (notably, you brought two friends of your own in Moses and Elijah). You know I’ve thought for a number of years that you did this because Jesus needed it. He was on his way to Jerusalem. He, at a minimum, had a good idea of what was coming if not complete knowledge of his impending future. I think he needed some affirmation and encouragement, and you provided it to him through your personal presence and affirmation as well as whatever he learned from Moses and Elijah. But what were Peter, John, and James doing there? If you asked them in that moment to describe what they had just experienced they would have said that Jesus is really powerful, and they had just gotten to see Moses and Elijah. Yes, Jesus kept talking about his death, but they didn’t really believe that. How could he possibly die? It’s almost like we look at the current stock market. How could it possibly start to lose? The piece of the elephant they could see what very small in the grand scheme of things. They didn’t understand the pressure Jesus was under or what he needed. They didn’t understand what you were doing for them in revealing the reality of Jesus being the Messiah to them through this story. That’s what the verses in 2 Peter are about. Peter, in retrospect, is telling his audience that he knows the Jesus story is real because of what he witnessed on that mountain. He and his two friends didn’t only hear some disembodied voice that could be explained away as a hallucination. They physically saw Elijah and Moses–so much so that it occurred to Peter to put up houses for them. You don’t build houses for spirits.

And then on the way down, they are still trying to make sense of what they had seen. They wondered if maybe seeing Elijah there was a fulfillment of the prophecy about Elijah preceding the Messiah. That’s when Jesus explains to them that they have already seen Elijah in John the Baptist. Jesus showed them just a little more of the elephant.

So why don’t you show us what is going on? Why do you keep us on a need-to-know basis? Why is it that I so rarely need to know? The answer is obvious. If we know any suffering or inconvenience that lies ahead we will most certainly avoid it. If I had known what answering your call to quit my stable job in 2003 would mean to my own discomfort and instability I might not have done it. If I had known some of the pain involved in parenting I might have avoided it. If Jacob had known that his relocation to Egypt would result in generations of slavery he might have let his family die in the desert. And that impoverished widow who Jesus saw put her two coins in the collection never knew that her faithfulness in the midst of her poverty would be a lesson to all of us for thousands of years.

And then there is Naomi. She was convinced you had turned on her. Mara. Call me Mara because God has made my life bitter. When I left I had everything, but now He has taken everything from me. The Lord has sent me nothing but tragedy and made me suffer. (Ruth 1:20-21) But she didn’t know. She didn’t know that you would use her situation and the loss of her husband and sons to bring Ruth to Bethlehem. She didn’t know that she would play a role, through her dead husband’s legacy, in setting Ruth up with Boaz. And she didn’t know that she would end up cuddling and raising King David’s grandfather, Obed. She didn’t know that Obed’s grandchild would kill Goliath and set up the country for its greatest period. She could only see a little piece of the elephant. But you were faithful to her.

What’s one other common thread in these stories. You gave each person affirmations along the way. They didn’t necessarily see them as affirmations. The Israelites didn’t understand that if Moses had just disappeared for 40 days with no cloud or fire they wouldn’t have necessarily believed him when he came back with the rules. Peter didn’t realize at the time that you had given him evidence of who Jesus was through witnessing the Transfiguration. And Naomi didn’t see it at the time, but if she had stopped feeling sorry for herself for a moment she would have seen that Ruth was there for her when she absolutely didn’t have to be. Naomi could have been left for dead, but you were there for her.

Father, help me to reach the level of faith where I don’t need to see what the elephant looks like to follow you joyfully. I don’t know what the lives of my children will look like. I can’t see how a decision they make in this moment will impact the next. I cannot see how my own actions will flow into history. But you have been good to me. You have been better to me than I deserve. I guess my simplest prayer is that I will decrease, you will increase, and I will worship you and do my best to love all of those around me with your love.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
 

Exodus 24:12-18

The LORD said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.” So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.” Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. The glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.
Exodus 24:12-18.

 

Dear God, this is one of those scenes that reminds me of the proverb of the blind men touching different parts of an elephant and then describing an elephant to someone. There are a lot of people involved in this story, and each one has a different perspective:

  • Moses: He is the one that went into the fire and saw you up close. He got to be in the loop and have first-hand knowledge of you. But he didn’t know what it was like to just see a mountain with cloud and fire, not knowing what was going on. He was just trying to figure out what you wanted him to do and getting to know you better. And he was getting several chapters worth of instructions from you down to some pretty specific details.
  • Joshua: He went only so far, but not all of the way with Moses. He saw some special stuff. He probably heard more than the Israelites did. But he didn’t see everything Moses saw. He had a unique experience.
  • Aaron and Hur: Moses left them in charge. They were caught between watching Moses and Joshua disappear onto the mountain, seeing the cloud and fire, and then having to manage the people–mainly being their judge–while Moses was away.
  • The elders: They were in a unique form of leadership. They were watching Moses and Joshua disappear, witnessing the cloud and fire, and then submitting to the two men Moses left in charge. We don’t know how they felt about Aaron, but we know that they will feel leaderless after several days and demand that Aaron build them a god (Exodus 32). But from their perspective, they were coming from a world where they probably didn’t have much faith and gods were tangible inanimate objects, the person that seemed to be leading them and talking to you was missing into a cloud of fire for over a month, and they apparently felt lost. It’s hard for me to imagine how seeing a golden calf would make me feel better about my situation, but there was obviously something about it that helped them. Almost like a child’s security blanket or a prized stuffed animal. You and I know that the security blanket and stuffed animal don’t offer any real protections, but there is something about its presence that is reassuring to a child. The same is apparently true for the Israelites in this story. Come to think of it, what is it about cows (sacred cows?) that people find worthy of worship? I think that Hindus have a special place for cows as well. Hmm. Interesting tangent for another day.
  • You (God): Yes, you are a witness to this whole thing as well. You saw your interaction with Moses. You saw Joshua, Aaron, Hur, the elders, and the people all respond to this situation. You know what was in each one’s heart. And like the parent who can see things that their small child cannot see, you could and still can see things that we cannot see. You know more than we know. You understand more than we understand. You also are capable of loving us more than we are capable of loving you.

Father, once again the theme of what I seem to be learning through these times with you is that my knowledge of the past, present, and future is so limited. Faith is something that is not only recommended for a relationship with you and a life spent worshipping you–it is a requirement. So please give me the faith I need to have to let go of my own wisdom and simply trust in you. Whether it be in how I manage my own life or try to have input into others, please guide me beyond my own wisdom (a.k.a. foolishness) and into your peace.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2020 in Exodus, Uncategorized

 

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Fathers of the Bible — Jethro

Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, heard about everything God had done for Moses and his people, the Israelites. He heard especially about how the Lord had rescued them from Egypt. Earlier, Moses had sent his wife, Zipporah, and his two sons back to Jethro, who had taken them in. (Moses’ first son was named Gershom, for Moses had said when the boy was born, “I have been a foreigner in a foreign land.” His second son was named Eliezer, for Moses had said, “The God of my ancestors was my helper; he rescued me from the sword of Pharaoh.”) Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, now came to visit Moses in the wilderness. He brought Moses’ wife and two sons with him, and they arrived while Moses and the people were camped near the mountain of God. Jethro had sent a message to Moses, saying, “I, Jethro, your father-in-law, am coming to see you with your wife and your two sons.” So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law. He bowed low and kissed him. They asked about each other’s welfare and then went into Moses’ tent. Moses told his father-in-law everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and Egypt on behalf of Israel. He also told about all the hardships they had experienced along the way and how the Lord had rescued his people from all their troubles. Jethro was delighted when he heard about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel as he rescued them from the hand of the Egyptians. “Praise the Lord,” Jethro said, “for he has rescued you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh. Yes, he has rescued Israel from the powerful hand of Egypt! I know now that the Lord is greater than all other gods, because he rescued his people from the oppression of the proud Egyptians.” Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God. Aaron and all the elders of Israel came out and joined him in a sacrificial meal in God’s presence. The next day, Moses took his seat to hear the people’s disputes against each other. They waited before him from morning till evening. When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, “What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?” Moses replied, “Because the people come to me to get a ruling from God. When a dispute arises, they come to me, and I am the one who settles the case between the quarreling parties. I inform the people of God’s decrees and give them his instructions.” “This is not good!” Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. “You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. Now listen to me, and let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing their disputes to him. Teach them God’s decrees, and give them his instructions. Show them how to conduct their lives. But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.” Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice and followed his suggestions. He chose capable men from all over Israel and appointed them as leaders over the people. He put them in charge of groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. These men were always available to solve the people’s common disputes. They brought the major cases to Moses, but they took care of the smaller matters themselves. Soon after this, Moses said good-bye to his father-in-law, who returned to his own land.
Exodus 18

Dear God, Jethro lived an interesting life. I’ve always wondered of which god he was a priest: “I know now that the Lord is greater than all other gods…”

In this story, we learn that he allowed his daughter and grandchildren to stay with him while Moses dealt with Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and the Israelites. We also know that he brought them back to Moses and that he apparently really respected Moses. Finally, he played the role of short-term advisor. Moses was so wrapped up in the trees that he couldn’t see the forest. I have a similar problem at my current job and the board of directors is trying to help me and play a similar role to what Jethro played for Moses here.

But I like this image of Jethro as father figure to Moses. I like the ole he is playing in his daughter’s life by 1.) helping her and her boys directly and 2,) helping her husband to keep his sanity which, in turn, will be of benefit to her as well. Basically, Jethro just seems like a good man who is offering himself to be used in whatever role you have for him.

On some levels, being a son-in-law to your father-in-law can be easier than being a daughter-in-law to a mother-in-law. The dynamics are different. But one of the hard things for either men or women is to humble themselves to take advice from their elder. Pride can get in the way. On the other hand, it can sometimes be difficult for the elder to know when to remain silent and let the young generation figure things out for themselves. The best lessons are learned through the experience of failure. Finally, there usually comes a day in the life cycle when the younger generation has to take over and start caring for the elder generation. That is an especially difficult transition because complete paradigms have to shift. My wife and I are moving into that phase now as the younger generation, but I am also trying to steel myself and prepare my ego and heart for the day 25 or so years from now when I will need to make decisions that will make life easier for my children when I am the aging elder and they are the younger.

Father, that last paragraph was a lot of words to just say that humility is important and a willingness to serve and step out in courage is important. I am sure that Jethro was at least somewhat nervous about giving Moses his advice. But he gave it well, and Moses was able to receive it. Help me to be both a good receiver and deliverer of your counsel so that I might be who you need me to be n the lives you have place around me.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2020 in Exodus, Fathers of the Bible

 

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Parents of the Bible — The Egyptians

So the people of Israel did just as the Lord had commanded through Moses and Aaron. And that night at midnight, the Lord struck down all the firstborn sons in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sat on his throne, to the firstborn son of the prisoner in the dungeon. Even the firstborn of their livestock were killed. Pharaoh and all his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night, and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died. Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron during the night. “Get out!” he ordered. “Leave my people—and take the rest of the Israelites with you! Go and worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds, as you said, and be gone. Go, but bless me as you leave.” All the Egyptians urged the people of Israel to get out of the land as quickly as possible, for they thought, “We will all die!”
Exodus 12:28-33

Dear God, it was the mass loss of life and their children that finally broke the Egyptians and Pharaoh. They were willing to pay any price after that. Even Pharaoh was brought to his knees by it. It reminds me of an 80s song by Sting called “Russians” in which he has a line about the Russians loving their children too.

Sometimes I marvel at how special my two children are to me. When they were small and playing sports or performing on stage, they were all my eye wanted to follow. Often, I couldn’t have told you what else was happening. I just cared about them. I’ve held one while the projectile vomited on me. I’ve flown across the country to help one (actually, I’ve done that for each of them now that I think about it). I was there when both of them were born. They look a little like me and a little like my wife. If you were to look at a bell curve of the things my wife and I discuss, they would be in the center. They are the center of my wife’s and my daily prayer time. And even with all of that, we can feel so helpless. Kobe Bryant couldn’t save his daughter the other day and I know he would have given all he had if he could have. I couldn’t even stop bullies from picking on them when they were little. I remember holding one in my lap and crying together, but I couldn’t completely shield them. I tried, but I couldn’t.

Father, thank you for this rich, joyful, painful experience called parenthood. You have used it to mold me. You are still using it. The Egyptians loved their children. The Israelites who had to watch their children live and die in slavery (and some be thrown in the Nile) loved their children. The Russians and everyone else love their children. I even saw a baby lamb next to its mother for safety when I was on a bike ride last Sunday. She loved her child too. And of course, you love us as well–even more than I can fathom. Thank you.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 

Mothers of the Bible — Moses’s Mother

About this time, a man and woman from the tribe of Levi got married. The woman became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She saw that he was a special baby and kept him hidden for three months. But when she could no longer hide him, she got a basket made of papyrus reeds and waterproofed it with tar and pitch. She put the baby in the basket and laid it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile River. The baby’s sister then stood at a distance, watching to see what would happen to him. Soon Pharaoh’s daughter came down to bathe in the river, and her attendants walked along the riverbank. When the princess saw the basket among the reeds, she sent her maid to get it for her. When the princess opened it, she saw the baby. The little boy was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This must be one of the Hebrew children,” she said. Then the baby’s sister approached the princess. “Should I go and find one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?” she asked. “Yes, do!” the princess replied. So the girl went and called the baby’s mother. “Take this baby and nurse him for me,” the princess told the baby’s mother. “I will pay you for your help.” So the woman took her baby home and nursed him. Later, when the boy was older, his mother brought him back to Pharaoh’s daughter, who adopted him as her own son. The princess named him Moses, for she explained, “I lifted him out of the water.”
Exodus 2:1-10

Dear God, isn’t it interesting that Moses’s mother’s name seems to be lost to history. His father too. It’s also interesting that we don’t get much about the father here, but who knows what his life was like. He might have been in hard labor and hardly around. No, these names are lost to history, but the are as important as any two people I read about in Genesis. They are responsible for saving the life of the boy/man who would lead your people out of Egypt.

I can’t imagine what it would have been like for the Israelite women to have to see their baby boys killed. Oh. Here’s a question I’ve never thought of before. I suppose that they circumcised Moses, meaning that’s probably how Pharaoh’s daughter knew immediately that the boy was a Hebrew. As mothers go, she’s as critical of a part of this story as Moses’s Hebrew parents. She was his adopted mother, and I don’t think we get her name either. In fact, the only name we get in these verses is Moses’s.

Why do I bring that up? Well, because we tend to think so much of ourselves, but it’s our actions that matter more than our words. These people all did the right thing. They had decisions to make and they did them. Whereas Jacob was so worries about his own name and his own convenience, these names are lost. It’s a reminder to me that my life isn’t about my name living forever, but the actions I take trickling through history.

Father, help me to do the right thing. Help me to be the husband, father, son, brother and uncle you need me to be. Help me to willingly decrease so that you can increase. Love through me above all else. Help me to stay in each moment and not be distracted by the future. Let your kingdom come and your will be done on earth through my life as you will.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on January 28, 2020 in Exodus, Mothers of the Bible

 

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The Lord Feeds His People — Exodus 16:13-17, 31-35


This picture is from the book Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-ups by Ned Bustard. The piece of art is done by Steve Prince.

Exodus 16:13-17,31-35 NIV
[13] That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. [14] When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. [15] When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. [16] This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’ ” [17] The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. [31] The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. [32] Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the wilderness when I brought you out of Egypt.’ ” [33] So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be kept for the generations to come.” [34] As the Lord commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna with the tablets of the covenant law, so that it might be preserved. [35] The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.

Dear God, I’ve heard and read this story since I was a kid, but I’ve always just heard it through my own ears. The great thing about an artist’s interpretation is that I get to see that same story through someone else’s eyes. So as I look at this picture, it is interesting to see what the artist has chosen to show me.

Before I get into the image, here is what is written in the caption to the bottom left of the image.

Manna was a mysterious thing provided completely by God for the good of his people. The Israelites were not to hoard it, for it would come to them new each day. This print is from a series that looks at the Old Testament through the lens of a love story. Or as the artist writes, “true love is like an Old Testament made New each day.” Here a couple shares some Myrr tea, while locked together in their marriage vows. The premise of this piece is: If God supplied for the Israelites as they wandered about for forty years, then what will God do for a couple that commits to one another, bound through the convenient of marriage?” God proved faithful to the Israelites in their wilderness, providing for their needs and therefore He will supply this couple’s needs as they wander through relational deserts as well as through lands flowing with milk and honey.

See what I mean? I had never thought about tying the Israelites wandering in the wilderness to the journey of marriage.

Given that as our cypher to decrypt the artist’s message, let’s see what I can see he did for us:

  • The people look African or maybe even Aboriginal from Australia. If African, I suppose this makes sense since the Israelites had just come from Egypt, which was in Africa.
  • The woman’s leg and feet seem to dominate the picture. Both of their legs are drawn to kind of reveal the bone underneath, suggesting to me that they are thin and malnourished.
  • Of the four feet in the picture, only one has a sandal. The other three are bare.
  • They look tired.
  • There are three signs of tenderness being expressed from the man to the woman. 1.) His right foot is resting gently on her left foot. 2.) He is looking at her while she looks off. And 3.) his left hand is touching her face. I wonder how hard it was for the men at the time to feel like they weren’t capable of providing for their families. Was it humiliating to have to collect manna every day? Was it frustrating to see their wife’s fear and be limited in their ability to assuage it? I suppose there are certainly times in my marriage when I feel unable to give my wife what she needs.
  • She has on a dress and he is wearing a shirt with a collar and pants. These are not Israelites.
  • What I’m really curious about this that keyhole on the wall over her left shoulder. What is that about?

Interestingly, today is World Marriage Day for the Catholic Church. As part of that celebration and emphasis this morning, my wife and I were invited to get up and talk about a couples group we joined through our church over five years ago. Part of my sharing was that that group came along at a time when my wife and I were walking through the darkest, most confusing valley of our 26 years of marriage (back then it was 21 years). We couldn’t tell up from down at that point, and it was good for us to get into intentional community with six other couples, all of whom were at different stages in their lives. Some were younger than us and just starting to have children, some were our age or close to our age, and some were older and experiencing multiple grandchildren.

Father, as I look at this image and I think about my marriage and the manna you have provided to my wife and me over the years, my prayer is that I will know how to show her the tenderness that you need her to have from me, but also that you will meet those needs of hers that I simply cannot meet. It was almost 20 years ago that I finally started to come to terms with the fact that I couldn’t (and shouldn’t) be everything she needs. If I was, and if she was that for me, why would we need you? No, you have put me here to nurture and love her with your love and affection. But I am also here to support the path she is walking in pursuing you. That’s one of the reasons I attend Catholic Church with her even though I am not Catholic. So guide me today. Give us this day our daily bread.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

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What are we selling?

Dear God, I am giving a sermon tomorrow morning at the Presbyterian church. It will be the first time I’ve done two Sundays in a rom, and I have felt the leading for a long time to give them a good serving of the Gospel–the Good News. But is it for them or is it for me?

A couple of years ago, I heard David Brooks say something that I’ve looked for online and I cannot find. He made the comment that Christians have this great message of grace, love, forgiveness, compassion, etc., but what we communicate to the world as a group is that all we really care about is what happens in their bedrooms. While I think there is a call to a certain level of purity by you and that cannot be overlooked (for example, porn is extremely toxic and dangerous), I completely agree with this thought. We do have this great message to give people.

I just stopped in the middle of writing this to see if I could find that David Brooks quote. I didn’t find it exactly, but I found a good interview with him. I found this quote in the middle of it: “Some of my more popular columns have been those about forgiveness, or the role of suffering, or what graciousness looks like. There’s a widespread hunger to hear people talk about those issues. When you touch upon those themes, I think, ‘I’m not the only person out there who is wrestling with these things and troubled by them or comforted by them.”

Later in the interview with him, the interviewer asked, “To grasp the beauty of a love for thngs that are unlovable, you have to recognize yourself as unlovable. If we don’t want to reckon with sin, is it possible to see grace?

Brooks replied, “I think you have to have a sense that you’re loved beyond what you deserve. I think we experience grace both in this world and in a divine sense when we have messed up and don’t deserve to be forgiven but are. That’s when grace becomes shocking.

So with all of that said, let’s look at the passage I have set out for tomorrow after praying to you and see if I can make some sense of the message you want me to share.

Exodus 34:29-35: When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai. // When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he entered the LORD’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD.

2 Corinthians 3:7-18: Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!//Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over this face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Matthew 11:28-30 [Jesus speaking] “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Father, it’s time for me to start to work on my outline, but I think it’s going to come down to this. We need to be reminded of what you are offering us and what we accepted:

  • Forgiveness of our sins and freedom from our shame
  • Peace to know that the circumstances in our physical world are all under your control, whether them seem to be working out for us or against us
  • Hope that even if tomorrow isn’t better, in the end, we win!
  • Joy that is driven by the freedom, the peace, and the hope

Then we need to be reminded that this is what we have to offer others. We have it to offer our friends and acquaintances. And as a church, they have it to offer their neighborhood and our community.

We aren’t selling morals and judgment. We aren’t selling condemnation. What we are selling is the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. And the only cost for the person is a willingness to humbly confess their sin before you, turn from their sin as they know it, and then pursue you. If those things happen, it won’t necessarily be an easy life, but the trials will shape us, and the fruit will be love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, and self-control. Who wouldn’t buy some of that?

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2018 in 2 Corinthians, Exodus, Galatians, Matthew

 

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