Archive for the ‘Exodus’ Category

h1

“SABBATH – Here’s Your Sign” – Feb 7

February 7, 2014

“Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I, the Lord, sanctify you.”  Exodus 31:13

Cover of "Here's Your Sign"

Bill Engvall is a comedian best known for his “Here’s Your Sign” comedy routine.  His routine rests on the premise that stupid people need to wear signs that just say, “I’m Stupid”.  That way we won’t rely on them.   We wouldn’t ask them anything.  It would be like, “Excuse me…oops, never mind. I didn’t see your sign.”  I don’t know if it is funny or sad that his stories are mostly true.  Here are a couple links to Bill Engvall’s routine:

Bill Engvall – Stupid People
BILL ENGVALL – Here’s Your Sign

 My friends and I have very ungraciously followed Bill Engvall’s lead with each other.  Maybe it is a guy thing, but there is nothing quite like the joy of making your buddy feel like an idiot.  It has become a rare occurrence for a stupid statement to escape the recognition of a “sign” in various forms, which got me to wondering how many times the angels have thought “Here’s your sign” when God’s people have done some horrendously stupid thing.

Why would any of us need a sign to remember
that it is the Lord who has sanctified us?

God gave the Sabbath as a sign between me and you.  It was a sign to remind them that God had distinguished them from all other people. I find it difficult to see how the need of the Sabbath can be viewed as a compliment.  It is like God saying:

“In a manner of a week, you will start to forget about me… here’s your sign.”

“I can part the Red Sea but you will turn away when you get hungry… here’s your sign.”

“I visibly descended upon a mountain but you made a golden calf when my prophet was delayed… here’s your sign.”

“I defeated the army of Egypt but when you see some big people you doubt my ability… here’s your sign.”

Some think that the observance of the Sabbath was only for those under the old covenant and that we don’t need a Sabbath since we are under the new covenant.  I can only speak for myself but I need to be reminded of the sanctifying work of my Savior more regularly than I care to admit.  I need to be grounded and refocused on the gospel of Jesus Christ at least once a week and often more frequently than that.

The purpose of the Sabbath as a reminder that God has set me apart is still necessary.

“In the course of a week, I can be swamped by the cares of the world…here’s my sign.”

“God has transformed my life but when I suffer a bit and I am quick to grumble… here’s my sign.”

“God has forgiven all my sin but when I struggle with temptation, I can start to doubt… here’s my sign.”

The fact that I need Sunday to remind me of who I am in Christ and what He has done for me is not a compliment.  It frustrates me that I still do spiritually idiotic things.  However, I am thankful that God continues to love an idiotic sinner such as me.

He loves me enough to give me signs for my own good.  He does not give me a sign to make me feel like an idiot.  He gives me a sign because I am an idiot and He lovingly has given me what I need to stay close to Him.  The Sabbath is a gift that every child of God needs because we are all prone to devalue the sanctifying work of Christ.  May we thankfully accept His gift in acknowledgement of who we really are and what we really need.

We all need our Sabbath more than we need a free weekend
…Here’s your sign.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for knowing what I need and giving it to me.  Forgive me for not seeing that a weekly day of rest is a gift from you.  Forgive me for not recognizing that the Sabbath is for my good.  Thank you for this sign.  Thank you for giving me signs in my life that are intended to keep me close to you.  Keep me from becoming legalistic about them.  Help me to always value the loving giver behind the gifts that you have given me.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Enhanced by Zemanta
h1

“GIRL WITH THE CROSS TATTOO” – Feb 3

February 3, 2014

“Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.”  Mark 1:6

While worshipping Sunday morning, I noticed the back of a young lady.

Female Cross Back Tattoo

I noticed it because she was making what I presumed to be a statement with her clothing.  She wore a blouse that had a strategic bit of fabric missing in the back.  The  small hole in the blouse revealed an oval of her back between her shoulder blades.  It is a type of shirt that I see many young fashionable ladies wearing. However, the absence of fabric is not what drew my attention.  My attention was caught by what was framed within that oval frame of fabric.  She had framed a tattoo within the center of that oval.

Tattoos are prevalent.  They are a much more commonly accepted mode of expression than when I was growing up.  They are so common that I am now more surprised by the ink-free athlete than by the inked.  A trip to Wal-mart will make one wonder if tattoos have now become adulthood’s right-of-passage.

I find tattoos an interesting case study of expression.  I am fascinated by the images people are willing to associate the remainder of their lives with.

Most images are frivolous and nearly meaningless.
Some images are purely evil.
There are images that appear to have hidden meaning.
Others are just an attempt at being cool and hip.

The choice that caught my attention at this Sunday service was that of a tattooed cross revealed by a fashionable blouse.  It was a statement.  I do not know how many blouses this young lady tried on in order to find one that framed her chosen expression but I assume that it was not mere coincidence.

Wei Tchou / Foter / CC BY

I realize that tattoos elicit strong opinions.  Regardless of the debate on tattoos, I appreciated the statement of this young lady.  She had selected a cross as the image she wanted the world to associate with her person for the remainder of her life; a solitary, simple, beautiful cross.

Ann Althouse / Foter / CC BY-NC

John the Baptist was clearly identified by the clothes that he wore.  Clothes of camel-hair and a leather belt associated John the Baptist as a classic type of Old Testament prophet.  John the Baptist chose the clothing of a prophet and then backed it up with the actions and lifestyle of a true prophet even to his death.  His life confirmed the statement of his chosen clothing.

Tobyotter / Foter / CC BY

I hope that the young lady with the cross tattoo chose it with as much intentionality as John the Baptist selected his garments.  My hope for this young lady is that her actions and lifestyle confirm the statement on her back throughout her life.  May her life be such a statement to the glory of God that when people see the cross on her back that they will know it is more than just a tattoo.

I hope it is a statement.

I hope that we all make similar statements in our lives.
I hope that we all live in such an intentional manner:

That our clothing makes a statement,
That our language makes a statement,
That our joking makes a statement,
That what we value makes a statement,
That our business practice makes a statement, and
That even our tattoos make a statement.

PRAYER: Lord, I lift up the young lady who I saw in church.  Father, I hope that what I saw was a statement of a child of God telling the world that she is yours.  I pray that you have captured the delight of her heart.  Lord, help her to learn to live in the strength of your Spirit to be a woman of God to your glory.  Father, help me to look beyond my own proprieties to see the true statement that my brother or sister is trying to make.  Help me to be gracious to the freedoms in Christ that other may choose.  Help me to be less concerned with other people’s statements and more intentional about the statements that I am making.  Lord, may those statements be consistent with the life I desire to live for your glory.   I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Enhanced by Zemanta
h1

“RICHNESS OF TRUST” – Jan 31

February 1, 2014

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you , and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not.””  Exodus 16:4

A backwards boy lived in a time not long ago.  DJ was his name and the delight of his eyes was all that wealth could provide.  He dreamed of the comforts that luxury would afford.  He envied the attention women offered to the fashionable.  He coveted the respect granted those who had buildings bearing their names.

DJ desired riches.

0122 Welcome Stranger Gold Mine, Baileston, Vi...

The backwards thinking of this immature boy led him to believe that riches could be had by anyone willing to pursue them.  His world preached to him a strident individualism that he could be anything that he wanted to be.  The resources necessary to fulfill his desires already resided within him.  He merely needed to release his potential.  Therefore, he believed that riches lay in the deposit of potential within his very constitution.

The willingness to prospect those inherent riches from within oneself was the inferred difference between the rich and the poor.

Those who inherit wealth are like the miners who pick nuggets from a stream bed.

Other seekers of wealth must dig a little deeper into their deposits of intelligence, physical ability and/or charisma to sieve out the talents that DJ’s society readily rewards.

Gold-Bearing Quartz Veins

Still others must labor harder through limited potential pay-dirt but the inherent promise, that every person can be anything they want to be, can be claimed through hard work and dedication.

DJ lived in this paradigm of backwards thinking for decades.  It was while digging in the depths of his potential, prospecting for his fortune through hard work and diligence, that his Father joined him in his search.

As he labored in the presence of His Father, he was slowly shown the futility of his search.

DJ discovered that not one of the talents that he had labored to the surface in expectation of reward was ever a natural deposit.  All the riches that he had sieved and sorted were not a result of genetic chance or cosmic circumstance.  They had all been  specifically placed so that they would be discovered and developed for a specific time.

English: The door to the walk-in vault in the ...

DJ’s thinking was backwards.  While he had thought that he had within him vast deposits of unexplored potential, he was actually an empty vault.  An empty chamber filled periodically with treasures from his Father.

During a time long before DJ, his Father had other children who seemed to be treated differently than DJ.  The Father overtly provided for these other children.  They were given food on a daily basis but only enough for a day.  They always had enough and if they took too much it would perish with the rising sun.  The Father’s provision created an equally overt dependency.  Those children had to trust their Father daily for the provision of their food.  It was a trust that was tested by their Father.

That was the relationship the Father wanted – trust.

DJ’s Father corrected his backwards thinking by showing DJ that He still provides completely for His children.  The treasures placed in DJ’s vault are as overtly a gift of the Father as the manna He caused to fall in a desert many years ago.  It may not perish with the breaking of day but it comes from the same source – a loving Father.

DJ still struggles with backwards thinking even though he has been shown the true source of all that he has.  The temptation to store enough for tomorrow is always strong.  It takes a lot of trust to believe that the vault will contain tomorrow’s needs, to give away the security of next season, and to rely upon someone else.

However, DJ’s Father is still working on getting him to that proper relationship – trust.

To get there, DJ’s Father will periodically treat him like His other children by testing DJ as He did those in that long ago wilderness.  It is good for all that DJ values to periodically perish like that manna because it keeps him thinking in the correct direction and trusting his Father.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for all  that you have given me.  Thank you for patiently correcting my thinking.  Father, all that I have is yours.  Forgive me for clinging to the security of your gifts rather than to you.  Forgive me for not trusting you with my future.  You know all that I need.  You have shown yourself loving to me.  I know that you give good gifts.  Teach me to trust you with everything I value in this life.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Enhanced by Zemanta
h1

“THE SPECTACULAR ORDINARY” – Jan 28

January 28, 2014

“The time that the people of Israel lived in Egypt was 430 years.”  Exodus 12:28

Snow Valley

My calendar contains much anticipation.  Days are designated for future purposes, months in advance.  Yesterday, I took my kids snow skiing.  It was an event that occupied a spot on my calendar for months.

However, calendars never seem to diminish of special days and obligations.  Even while my children and I were sliding down snow covered mountain sides, my wife registered my son for his next NCFCA speech and debate tournament.  One special day was replaced by another.

A page of a calendar.

I understand that this experience is merely a result of living in an organized and responsible manner.  However, a fixation on  future special days can steal the exceptional from the intervening days of ordinary.  That is a great loss.

The ordinary typifies the children of God.  Consider how long the descendants of Abraham resided in Egypt.  Centuries pasted from the time  Joseph welcomed his father and brothers to Egypt to the time  Moses came to lead them to the Promised Land.

The Bible is silent about these intervening years but that does not mean God was not at work.  He created a nation in those silent years.  A family came into Egypt and after 430 years of ordinary, a nation left.  That is pretty special.

God still creates the special in our ordinary.

God sanctifies us in the day-in and day-out of the ordinary.  It is through the reliance upon Him in the mundane that the Spirit transforms our hearts by an imperceptible degree or two.

God draws our children to Himself through the faithful everyday examples of parent and grandparent who are living a real and vibrant faith.

God is magnified before those who don’t know him by His followers’ unusual reactions to everyday difficulties.

God still builds for Himself a nation in the ordinary.  He is doing it today as I prepare to go to work.  He will be doing it today as my wife teaches our children.  He will be on display as I respond to clients and coworkers.  It will happen in the ordinary evening I spend with my family before I go to bed.

God will be doing glorious works throughout this very ordinary day.

May we not lose the blessings of the ordinary in our addiction to the spectacular.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for all  the special days that you have blessed my family and I with.  Thank you for doing wonderful works in my life that have caused me to praise and draw close to you.  Father, I equally thank you and am grateful for all the ordinary days that you have given me.  Thank you for the spectacular work  you will do in me and my family today even though I may scarcely notice it.  Thank you for the incremental transformations in my life that you are continually blessing me with through these long ordinary day.  Father, continue that work in my life and the lives of my family.  Lord, open my eyes so that I never diminish your spectacular work in the ordinary.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.

Enhanced by Zemanta
%d bloggers like this: