17.5 Moses 17, Day 5

Holy Heart not Holey Heart

God has tremendous blessings in store for all of His children.  Bounties of harvest so great that farmers would need to move the old crops out to make room for the new ones coming in.  They would not need to build larger store houses, because there was so much security in God’s promise they didn’t need to worry about storing up more.  God promised them peace and safety, from war, from wild animals, from enemies.  God promised might and victory.  Unprecedented might and victory, where 5 people could defeat 100.

Even more so God offered to dwell among His people.

But, that isn’t where this chapter starts.  This chapter starts with specific commands.  No idols, no graven images, observe the sabbaths, have reverence for the sanctuary.  How do these things go together?

This isn’t quite equivalent, but try this as an explanation:  You have been invited to the top artisan ice cream shop in the world.  You are given free access to every flavor, every topping ever accompaniment you can imagine.  But it is BYOB – Bring Your Own Bowl.  How would you feel if you showed up and your bowl was dirty, broken, cracked, with holes.

In this case, though, the bowl is your heart.

God wants you to enjoy the bounty He has in mind.  God has carefully prepared for you the things your heart craves.  He really doesn’t want you to show up with a bowl that is broken and full of holes.  If you don’t get the message from the promise of the blessing, then He will provide other forms of discipline.  If the carrot doesn’t work, then maybe the whip will.  God does not want to punish you, no more than a loving parent wants to punish a child, but if that is what it takes to get you to show up with a clean and ready bowl – that is up to you.

Leviticus 26:40-45 confirms this.  Repent.  Get your heart back in line, and God freely hands you the golden ticket to His ice cream shop.

What is the state of your bowl (your heart)?  Have you asked God to “create in me a clean heart”?  Have you asked God to help mend your broken heart?  Have you repented and showed the chips and holes to the one who can fix them. ?  Do you have a Holy Heart, or are you showing up with a Heart full of Holes?

 

My Answers:

10.
a.
1. do not make idols or bow down to carved stone, 2.observe the sabbaths and have reverence for sanctuary

b.
3-5: send rain in its season, ground will yield crops, trees fruit,… you’ll eat all the food you want and live in safety
6-8 peace and safety, remove wild animals, no wars at home, defeat military enemies (5 chase 100) 11-13 God dwell with them, safety and freedom – He would be their king

c.
14-17: Illness, famine and defeat
18-20: Drought and bad harvest
21-22: Multiplied afflictions and destructive wild animals
23-26: Diseases and destruction by enemies

11.
a.
If repent and approach with a humble heart, God will remember His covenant

b.
That the holy of holies is open, Jesus is my high priest and He is redeeming me daily, despite my sin

12.
a.
2. a person (child or otherwise), 9. an animal, 14.a house, 16. family land, 22. purchased land/fields

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11.5 Moses 11, Day 5

Take off the ornaments

We have been blessed to have had the opportunity to support and serve an organization in our town that helps bring homeless women and men in off the streets.  Many of these men and women have exhausted every other support option.  They have been to jail.  They have drug addictions.  They are prostitutes.  They have lost hope.

The Christian woman who founded and runs the organization came out of that same environment.  She knows and her ministry is built on the fact that these individuals do not have the strength to get out of their situations on their own.  It is only with the strength of Jesus Christ that their lives can be turned around.  She will take them in, feed them, shelter them, care for them, teach them, help them find work, make them birthday cakes, share life and love and the good news with them.  In return they simply need to accept this gift and submit to follow a few house rules.

One day we were talking with the founder and discussing what rule was the hardest for people to follow.  I was surprised to learn it was the rule about cell phones.  She has a requirement that someone new to the house must give up their cell phone for 60 days and must agree to allow them to erase all the contacts on the phone.  This is the single biggest hurdle.  The reason they require this is her time proven belief that you cannot continue to play in the same playground with the same playmates and think you are going to play a different game of life.  She said that, despite the fact that it breaks her heart each time it happens, they have learned to not bend on this rule.  If someone who needs their help refuses to cut ties with their old life, they fully intend to go back to that old life.

The Israelites didn’t have cell phones, but they had jewelry and ornamentation.  Is jewelry and ornamentation bad?  Are we restricted from wearing earrings?  I don’t think that is what this is trying to say.  Instead, the message was to remove the temptations.  If wearing earrings causes your mind to return to the golden calf, get rid of the earrings.

You may not have a drug dealer on speed dial or a penchant for golden calves, but you may have ongoing repetitive sin in your life.  Are you so foolish to believe that you can expose yourself to the same playground and playmates and not keep doing the same things?  Clear out the ornamentation in your life that pulls you back into the same old things that you regret.  It is OK to let it go, Jesus has way better things in store for you, but He needs you to grab ahold of Him with both hands – not one while you refuse to let go of your old way of life with the other.

 

My Answers

10.
a.
They sought to seek God’s forgiveness for others by offering themselves as an atonement for their sins

b.
Jesus

c.
His was innocent blood, He was God, He gave Himself as a ransom

11.
Self responsibility.  (also that there is punishment for sin and a book of life to be blotted out of)

12.
a.
Before He said the angel would protect them along the way, they angel would wipe out the inhabitants, God’s blessings on their food and water, no sickness, no miscarriage, a full life span,

b.
stiff-necked people

c.
they mourned and took off their ornaments

d.
be humbled in my sin, repent and seek God’s forgiveness.  Make restitution where possible. – Leave the old temptations behind.

06 Moses 6, Day 4

The Biggest Gun

There is a famous scene of the Cairo Swordsman in the first Indiana Jones movie.  After a chase scene in a crowded market, Dr. Jones is faced with a trained assassin, a skilled swordsman prepared to meet this outsider.  In the scene, Indiana Jones watches the moves of the assassin for a few seconds then takes out his gun and shoots him.

The Israelite people left Egypt fully armed for battle (13:18) or at least battle as they knew it from their time in Egypt.  But God had something bigger and more powerful than they could even imagine, if they would put their trust in Him.

He couldn’t just tell them about it.  It was a power they would not have been able to fathom and believe.  Let’s face it, thousands of years later many still have a hard time understanding and believing it. No, the only way was to show them – and what better way to demonstrate it than against the most powerful army of the most powerful nation they could imagine: Egypt.

He placed them into a position that was contrary to any military logic.  He had them wander about to feign a message to the Egyptian army that they lacked direction and leadership and a mission.  Then he positions them in an indefensible camp with their backs to an impassible body of water.  At which point He demonstrates that not only is His power greater than all the gods of Egypt, but it is even more powerful than something the Egyptians put even more trust into than their 8700 gods.  God is more powerful than the entire Egyptian army, chariots and all.

He parts the water and the Israelite people cross over walking on dry land with walls of water on each side of them.  When they have all safely passed, he allows the Egyptians to pursue, but then confuses them so they run in circles and get stuck and break down in the midst of the parted sea, then He simply closes the sea around them, destroying and defeating everything about the army.

Now, that is a bigger gun!

 

My Answers:

8.
a.
God recognized the weakness of their faith and did not lead them through Philistine country.  They went up out of Egypt ready for battle.  He led them by day and night and was teaching them to trust fully in Him.

b.
He put them into a position, by wandering around and then camping with no avenue of retreat, that their own power and strength was futile, but through His mighty hand He provided a safe passage and defeat of their enemies.

c.
Pharaoh and all his army and all the Egyptians know that “I am the LORD.” when he freed the Israelites and destroyed the entire army

d.
I am totally unequipped to minister to those in foreign lands, I am not equipped, I do not speak any other languages, I do not know the culture – I am a man with faltering lips in this area.  But less than a week ago, with 3 days notice, God placed the main leaders of the house church movement in a closed communist nation in my house along with 40 people from that country who are here on student and work visas and God allowed me to be a small part of demonstrating His compassion and hospitality so that He could do His work through the connections of these people.  Buses were showing up full of noted Christian authors, pastors and house church leaders along with non-believers and seekers.  If this occurred in their home country they would have been persecuted and imprisoned for even being in the same room.  Many of the leaders in our home had spent years in prison and suffered brutality and torture in the name of Jesus.  But on this day, dozens of people were on their knees being prayed over in their native tongue and hearing the word of God spoken.  The hardest thing I had to do was the dishes!

9.
a.
the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant

b.
He is truly mighty and wonderful.  He does not need me, but has allowed me to have a part and to see how He is moving in the lives of others, especially the children.

04.5 Moses 4, Day 5

Part I: Pass the Burden and Part II: Outlaw to Obedience

In life we have burdens.  Some burdens are physical.  Some are injuries from situations or other people.  Some are products of our own fears, inadequacies and insecurities.  We know they are there.  They interfere with our health, our sleep and our relationships with others.  And, like those in our reading today, we often try to pass them to others.

When Moses told Pharaoh God’s command to “Let my people go”, Pharaoh became burdened.  Who is the Lord that Pharaoh should obey?  Is Pharaoh’s authority being questioned?  Is he at risk of losing power or prestige?  Do people think him weak?  Is he making the right decision?

Pharaoh attempts to shift his burden to the Hebrews.  He feels burdened so he increases their burden.  He tells the slave masters and overseers.  They tell the slaves.  When results wain, the burden on the slave masters increases and they increase the burden on the overseers by beating them.  When the overseers are beaten they go to Pharaoh and attempt to shift the burden to “your people”.

When that is not successful, the foremen pile the burden onto Moses and Aaron as a curse.  Moses feels burdened and passes it to God.  Why? Why?

But there it stops.  God doesn’t pass the burden, He simply says “I am the Lord.”

The interesting thing about this progression is that up until the last step burden wasn’t off-loaded, it simply multiplied.  When Pharaoh increased the burden on the Hebrews it in no way decreased the burden he felt – there was just more burden.  When the overseers blamed Moses, their burden didn’t decrease, but Moses’ increased.  But when Moses passed it to God everything changed.  Not only did God take on the burden, but he actually removed it from Moses.  How things would have been different if Pharaoh had stopped and taken his burden to The Lord instead of denying Him.  How things would have been different if the overseers turned directly to God instead of blaming Pharaoh or cursing Moses.

We face these same challenges daily.  We are tempted to try to pass our burden to others: to be mad a co-worker, short with our spouse, harsh with our children.  But none of those “pass the burden” tactics make anything better – taking it to the Lord is the only source of relief.  Matt 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

———————

Bonus:  Moses’ Outlaw Roots

When we think of Levites we think of priests.  But, as we read these verses starting at Exodus 6:13 we need to keep in mind that was not yet the case.  Jacob’s first three sons were the outlaws of the family.  In Genesis 49, Jacob brings his sons together for a final blessing before he dies and, in essence if not in direct words, curses the linage of his first three sons: Reuben, Simeon and Levi.

How interesting that these three sons are the ones Moses includes in this strangely placed lineage.  But all of us have lineage.  We are a product of our parents and our grandparents and great grandparents and the choices they made.  Like Moses, we can continue down the same path or we can face the road in front of us and go a different direction.

God was shifting into a higher gear and Moses was choosing a new direction.  His heritage was anger and fury.  His ancestry was killing others in anger.  His curse was to be scattered.

But his choice now was to change from outlaw to obedient servant of God.  From fury to faith.  From being scattered to being used by God to gather His people to Him.

We have the same choice.  Are we defined by the actions of others or are we defined by our obedience to God?

 

My Answers:

8.
a.
He talked about His mighty hand and that He is The LORD.

b.
I am The LORD

c.
His commitment to them.  His singular might (not relying on anyone else and no doubt present)

9.
a.
I will bring you out. I will free you. I will redeem you. I will take you as my own people. I will be your God. I will bring you to the land. I will give it to you. I am the LORD

b.
Ezek 36:26 – I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you.

10.
Discouragement over our circumstances can prevent us from receiving the comfort we desire.  It can also stand in the way of us accepting God and His will for us.

11.
a.
Amram – Kohath – Levi

b.
Elisheba.  Ndab, Abihu, Eleazar, ithamar.  Eleazar married one of the daughters of Putiel, had Phinehas

02.2 Moses 2, Day 2

Tourist

Acts 7:23 says, “When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his own people, the Israelites.”

I think one of the key words in that verse is the word “visit”.  He didn’t go to live.  He didn’t go to support or to serve.  He went to visit.  This may be one of the first recorded instances of what we often call “mission tourism”.

How often do we, as modern day Christians, fall into the same traps Moses did?  We go on a visit, either to the inner city or another country.  We go to be with our brothers and sisters in Christ.  We go because we have been blessed with so much. We go to feel better about ourselves and what we possess.

Just like Moses.

And when we see the persecution and oppression, we, in our superior wisdom, take it upon ourselves to do something, to take action.  We decide we must fix things.  And, like Moses, we simply make things worse.

God does call us to reach out to our brothers and sisters wherever they are.  The examples set by the early church to go and make disciples are still relevant. The fellowship of support between churches in different areas and situations is documented throughout the epistles. But we must do it with respect and understanding.  If we swoop in, with an attitude of superiority and an expectation of gratitude, we too will be asked, “who are you?”

But if we come along side our “own people”, fellow believers in Christ, and we share in their burdens and support them and give them aid and encouragement and build long term lasting relationships and teach others and build influence for them, then, we won’t be asked “who are you?” because they will see Christ in us.

 

My Answers:

3.
a.
“He looked this way and that and seeing no one”

b.
40 years old.  Decided to visit his own people the Israelites.  Killed to avenge.  Thought his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not

c.
Prophecy, teaching by his parents – clearly Moses had education outside of what was taught in the Egyptian schools about God, His promises and covenants

4.
a.
Choice to identify with them.  He decided to visit his own people

b.
He grew to know that he was not Egyptian, that he was adopted, that his birth parents were Hebrew

c.
Choice to visit did not cost him, choice to act on his own and murder cost him his home, eduction, adopted family, power

d.
Would you rather have 1 marshmallow now or 2 marshmallows in 3 minutes?  how about 1 now and 20 in 3 minutes?  what if the one now was plain, but the ones to come were coated in chocolate and everything yummy?  That was moses choice.

5.
a.
Wanted to help, wanted to rescue, He was strong, brave, bold, not afraid to act, identified with an oppressed people

b.
lack of patience, eagerness to rely on his own strength, can’t go around killing people

24 BSF Matthew Week 24, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

From the old testament scriptures and prophecies, the faithful were expecting a Messiah who would rule as King.  As Jesus approaches His final days it has become important for clarification.

There are only 3 possibilities.

1. The scriptures and prophecies were wrong

2. The followers understanding and interpretation of the scriptures and prophecies was wrong

3. Jesus was not the Messiah

Jesus clarified that the prophecies are true and all will be fulfilled, through Him.  However, instead of this happening in a single event, as followers thought they understood, He explained to them about His second coming.  This was in no way a contradiction or a change to anything in the scriptures, it was, instead, an illumination on a perspective that they had not previously understood.

They had put their faith and trust in the physical church; the building (temple), the infrastructure of the pharisees and teachers of the law, the courts and offerings.  So Jesus started with that.  It would all be destroyed, but His word would live forever.

My Answers:

3.
a.
2. not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.

b.
when will these things happen? And what will be the sign that they are about to take place?

c.
End of the age = That Christ’s reign as King and Lord would not be a continuation, but a new beginning

d.
70 AD

4.
a.
1. Persecution of the believers, trials and betrayal (12-19); 2. Desolation of the temple, flee (20-21); 3. Time of punishment(22-24) 4. Signs in the Heavens and the return of the Son of Man (25-28)

b.
Until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled

5.
a.
(from Luke) seize, persecute, handed over to synagogues and prison, trials, betrayal, everyone will hate you, dread, distress, tramples, faint with terror, apprehension, (from Matt): False christs, wars, rumors of war, nation rise against nation, famines, earthquakes, persecution, death, hatred, false prophets, deceit, wickedness, love of most will grow cold.

b.
this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations

c.
Missionaries have reached almost every unreached group –  Local/International Missions

21 BSF Matthew Week 21, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

There is an old joke:

There once was a rich man who was near death. He was very grieved because he had worked so hard for his money and he wanted to be able to take it with him to heaven. So he began to pray that he might be able to take some of his wealth with him.

An angel hears his plea and appears to him. “Sorry, but you can’t take your wealth with you.” The man implores the angel to speak to God to see if He might bend the rules.

The man continues to pray that his wealth could follow him. The angel reappears and informs the man that God has decided to allow him to take one suitcase with him. Overjoyed, the man gathers his largest suitcase and fills it with pure gold bars and places it beside his bed.

Soon afterward the man dies and shows up at the Gates of Heaven to greet St. Peter. St. Peter seeing the suitcase says, “Hold on, you can’t bring that in here!”

But, the man explains to St. Peter that he has permission and asks him to verify his story with the Lord. Sure enough, St. Peter checks and comes back saying, “You’re right. You are allowed one carry-on bag, but I’m supposed to check its contents before letting it through.”

St. Peter opens the suitcase to inspect the worldly items that the man found too precious to leave behind and exclaims, “You brought pavement?!!!”
(thanks to ahajokes.com)

I thought it was so fitting that Jesus used the analogy of a camel.  A camel is a beast of burden.  But we don’t recognize that the things we carry around with us are truly burdens in the economy of heaven and the things we can see as burdens are true joy.  Wealth, prestige, pride, are all burdens that we can’t take with us.  They are not going to fit through the portal of the grave, the eye of the needle.  But the things I find myself grumbling about having the discipline to do every day, like praying, studying the word, testifying to others, teaching, leading, investing time in worship – these all carry through and bring everlasting joy.

My Answers:

3.
a.
People with wealth have a very difficult time putting God first in their lives.  There is so much energy required to maintain and build wealth.  Anything we are unwilling to give up is something we value more than God.

b.
Nothing is impossible for God – no matter how hard hearted, while it may seem impossible for them to change – don’t give up on God

4.
a.
100 times as much

b.
Eternal Life

5.
a.
homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions

b.
Rom: children=heirs with Christ, if share in suffering also share in His glory
2 Tim: Everyone who wants to live a godly life in Jesus will be persecuted
1 Pete 2: Blessing is in unjust suffering, undeserved but endured for God
1 Pete 4: do not be surprise by “fiery ordeal”, rejoice in sufferings so overjoyed in His glory

6.
Through the joy of communing with other believers.  Through the work He gives us to do, such as bringing others to Christ.  Through the blessings of prayer, study, teaching, leading, worship