Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fickle People - Fickle Me Exodus 32:1

Exodus 32:1 ESV

These are the same people who told Moses you meet with God, tell us what He says, and we will do it.

Has much changed since that time?

Moses goes up, hears from God, comes down the mountain with words of God on stone tablets only to find the people making their own God.

They didn't want to wait on God or for Moses so they took matters in their own hands.

Ex. 32:1 When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain...

Ok, stop, time out the people knew where Moses was and what he was doing. They where right there at the base of the mountain. They were close enough to know something was going on and far enough away not to be impacted by it.

Again, we have to remember what they had experienced up to this point. It's not like God hadn't totally validated and confirmed Moses as their leader. They certainly can't say they hadn't seen the power of God at work. So, now things are taking too long and they call foul-delay of game- and completely turn their backs on Moses.

Does this sound familiar?

The truth be told, I like to think I'm the good guy. I'm the godly one. It hurts to admit it but I respond pretty much the same way. I am the "Fickle One" God takes too long and doesn't show up in my alotted time frame. I don't agree with or like what He is saying or doing. So, what's my response? I justify my actions and rationalize my rebellion.

It is so much easier to point the finger at the Israelites and others. The truth is I am just as wretched and rebellious as they were. It's like looking in the mirror. I can't ignore what I see. The beauty in this is that despite this reality God loves me. It also reminds me how much I need Him. He is enough!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Small Group of One

Monday, February 21, 2011

Beyond Control Acts 6:1-10

Beyond Control
Acts 6:1-7

Organic and structure are two words that might seem to be diametrically opposed to one another. The reason some are totally uncomfortable with the word organic is the implication that it is too fluid or disorganized for us to control. On the other hand, structure can be so overly rigid and organized that it stifles and kills whatever it seeks to control. God is both organic and structured. The creative order demonstrates this pretty well.

When it comes to organizations, the church included, we organize and structure for growth. We attempt to understand all the variables, determine the risk factor, package it in a strategic plan, and then communicate it for the purpose of mobilization. I totally get that and am all for it to a point.

In this passage we can see that organization and structure came as a result of what God was doing. It was necessary because thousands were coming to faith in Christ. In addition the widows and the poor were being lost in the shuffle. When the Apostles learned of the need they responded and adjusted immediately. They didn't seek control. They empowered and released it.

Be honest, if we were planting a church we would do our homework, get our strategy together, create the systems, recruit and train volunteers which is all good. Rational thinking, operating in our understanding, organizing according to our plan can produce extraordinary growth but it really doesn't require God's involvement. This is why I think we should create, organize, and structure in ways that allow for rapid response to an ever-changing world and our God that is all about expanding His Kingdom.

What if 3000 came to faith in a day and then another 5000 or so would your organization be able to expand and adjust to accommodate that kind of growth? It can happen and it did in the chapters before this one. The problem is we limit God with our need for control and living in the realm of our own ability. We need to let God breathe His life into our small dreams and visions and allow Him to stretch us in ways that requires His involvement, power, and provision to accomplish what He inspired.

When I think about it, why would we ever want to try to create a system, structure, organization that we could control, manage, or even contain? As if we could ever really do that. Thankfully, God is beyond our control and He will never be contained in our structures. Plan yes, prepare yes, expect yes, but let's not try to reduce God to our size. Adjust and flex in the rhythm of what God is doing and Where He is going. After all, it is His church and He allows us to play a small role in His story. Enjoy the ride because He is beyond control!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

He is Mindful of Me

He is Mindful of Me
Psalm 8:3-4 ESV and Psalm 8:9 ESV

Whenever I read these verses it always blows me away. Here's why: The God who created heaven and earth and all that is and will ever be knows and considers me. Every day when I see the sunrise or the sunset, the moon and the stars, and the beauty of all His creation I marvel at the fact that He loves me. Out of all the beautiful things that He has made He chose to make us in His own image. This same God chose to take the form of a man so that we could see, know and experience Him. When I think of these things it causes me to echo what the writer tries to convey, "Oh Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth."

Did I Miss Something

Exodus 5:22-23 Did I Miss Something?
Exodus 5:22-23 ESV

This is another example of how we can obey everything the Lord has asked of us and totally lose sight of what He promises us. It's not like the Lord didn't tell Moses that Pharaoh would have a hard heart and reject and deny his request. Moses was not prepared for increased hardship of the people he was sent to deliver from their cruel bondage. From their prospective Moses, the one who committed murder and fled shows back up to attempt to be, and proclaims to be God's man and plan for their deliverance. I might respond the same way. My response would probably go something like this: Who do you think you are claiming to be our deliver saying God has sent you. Ever since you showed up things have gone from bad to worse. If God sent you to be His messenger and our deliverer then things would be getting better not worse.

On the other hand I can see how I would respond if I were Moses. My response would probably go like this: Yeah, I heard you. I knew it was going to be difficult. I never thought my own people would reject and turn against me.

My take away: Whether I am the leader or person being led I must stand on God's word. I have heard it said between the promise and the provision there usually is a problem in between the two. I think the reason for this so all will know that God and God alone has delivered us. To God be the glory great things he has done!

The Long Way

The Long Way
Exodus 13:17-18 ESV

First of all I couldn't even imagine what it must of been like to have seen God do all that He did to bring about Israel's deliverance. Then after years of slavery and bondage Israel is free. Think about it 400 years living in captivity. Generations were born and raised in these conditions. I can only imagine the mindset and baggage those kind of conditions would produce. It reminds of a scene from the movie "Shawshank Redemption." The prison librarian, after years of imprisonment, is freed. Once free, he tries to overcome the baggage of his incarceration. His new found freedom would become the stool from which to hang himself. He just could not handle life outside of prison because he had become so accustomed to a life of confinement. In all actuality he was more free behind bars than he was with no bars.

He was only imprisoned for a short time compared to the length of time the Israelites were enslaved. I wonder if God's reasoning to take the long way around the wilderness rather than a short journey to their destiny was to deliver them from a bondage mindset? If God had taken the shorter route and Israel had to face opposition chances are the mindset that was formed under oppression and bondage would have led to miserable defeat. So, rather taking what would seem to be the quickest road to freedom God takes them the long way. Why? My guess is that God knew He would have to lead them this way to workout and deliver them from a prison mentality cultivated by generations of slavery and bondage.

My take away: First of all I prefer taking shortcuts so I can get to my destinations. I race against time to beat past times or others traveling with me. Ok, that's probably something right there that I need to be delivered from fast. Not only that I really don't like the pain of admitting my faults or dealing with my own mindsets that keep me imprisoned to my old man.

So, today I'm thankful for the journey and the potential to become the man of God He created me to become.

Sunday Morning Sinai

Exodus 20:18 -20 Sunday Morning Sinai

I have to say that Exodus is one of my favorite Old Testament books. It is a beautiful picture of God's redemptive plan and His relentless pursuit of relationship with us.

Remember all that God has done up to this point. He has delivered Israel from Egypt, destroyed Pharaoh and His army in the Red Sea, gone before them with a cloud by day and fire by night, fed them with manna and quail, and caused water to flow from a rock to quench their thirst. Now, the very one who did all of those things wants to reveal Himself to them personally. I don't know about you, but I would want to experience that myself.

So here's the deal, God speaks to Moses and tells him what He wants to do. He tells them to consecrate themselves over a period of three days in preparation to meet God. After Moses receives the Law he comes down shares the plan with the people. Then God comes down and the people shrink back in fear. They tell Moses you listen to God, tell us what he says, and we will do whatever tells us to do.

I titled this thought "Sunday Morning Sinai" because that is still happening today. Many are content to rely on the Pastor to represent us before God and then represent God to us. Rather than the people enjoying and taking advantage of all that Christ has done to consecrate us-make us holy and acceptable before God-for the purpose of restoring right relationship with God Himself. When we come to completely rest in God's marvelous Grace and realize that Christ is enough we can begin to experience a rich and intimate relationship with God.

What's really sad is the number of people who still shy away from God in fear because they still believe they have do the work that Christ already completed. As a result many still rely on Pastor to be their Moses. You know, Pastor, you hear from God for us, labor and toil in God's word to feed us, and we'll do whatever He say's. For the most part we are experiencing the same results today as Moses did in his. As you would see if you continue to read on in Exodus.

The Take Away: God desires me, us! He doesn't want me/us to rely on a Pastor or any other person to have a relationship with Him for us. God has removed the barrier of sin that separated us from Him through Jesus so we could separated to Him in Jesus. God is speaking today and He really wants me to hear and understand what He is saying. He has provided His living word to feed us. Trust Him and walk with Him today. Don't be content to live off of others experience. Go to His word, seek His face, trust in God's grace and mercy, and get to know the lover of your soul.