Monthly Archives: January 2014

Exodus 25-25; Matthew 21:1-22

It amazes me that the infinite, holy, wild, untamable God longs, craves to live within and among us.

Then have them make a sanctuary for me,

and I will dwell among them.

Exodus 25: 8

He doesn’t burst on the scene with fireworks, sounding horns and choreographed dancers. He comes gently, quietly on the back of a donkey.  The crowds know who they want him to be. They gather in numbers to give him a reception worthy of king. When Jesus enters Jerusalem, the city wonders and asks who this man is. The crowd answers with partial understanding,  “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”  Matthew 21:11

But Jesus is so much more. He is the Messiah sent by God, yet he is not the world’s idea of a messiah.   Instead of working from the outside in, he works from the inside out. He is on his own terms.  He is not impressed with our wealth, power, importance or our schemes to control the future. Jesus rejects all of that and literally turns the tables over.

He has come to claim what has been stolen from the God…broken hearts crying out for meaning, needing healing and looking for a love that will stay and never let go.  For that,  Jesus is hung on a cross.  His love for us, his desire to claim the sanctuary of hearts is so strong that he breaks the power of sin and death. All we have to do is call out to Him and invite Him in.

Lord,  forgive me when I try to make you into the messiah I want, not who you are. I surrender this heart to you. I give you the things I have tried to replace you with. Come live within and take hold of this heart. Make it beautiful for you. Amen.

Klueh

Let me live that I may praise you. Psalm 119:175

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Exodus 22-24; Matthew 20:17-34

A friend of mine has been posting lately about loneliness. This stays with me.

https://twitter.com/John_Dukes/status/423625237192654849

***

Jesus is leaving Jericho with his disciples. And a big crowd follows behind. With moderate exposure to the Gospels, you get the impression that Jesus could do some pretty amazing things: feed thousands of people, turn water into wine, quiet a storm, drive out demons, bring people back to life. And maybe you reach a point in reading that the miracles become commonplace–Oh. Jesus does another healing.

Or you read on in anticipation: what’s he going to do next?

***

I step into the scene. Dusty road. Hot sun. Jesus is moving on, and people are following. There are two blind guys. I wondered for quite a while what it was like to be blind: was it a legal blindness? Was it always black? Did they feel like the world was going on around them, without them? Did they feel like, because they couldn’t see, they also couldn’t be seen? Is blindness a metaphor? Were they lonely?

The rush of the crowd approaches and hope rises. These two blind men call out for mercy.

And I don’t know if the crowd was a bunch of Jesus lovers or gawkers, but I do know this: they told the blind men to shut up.

If these blind men could hear the crowd yelling at them to shut up, I’m sure Jesus heard it too. But he also heard the blind men crying out. The scene becomes very small. That crowd is anonymous and blurred out, because now it is just Jesus and two blind men.

“What do you want me to do for you?” Jesus asked.

“Lord,” they said. “We want to see!” Matthew 20:32-33 NLT.

And when I think of what blindness is, I fill in this restoration with color. To see, and to be seen. To engage in a world around them. To be part of the world around them. To live in community and not isolation. To stop feeling alone. Or lonely. When all these people are yelling SHUT UP, does anyone care?

34 Jesus felt sorry for them and touched their eyes. Instantly they could see! Then they followed him. Matthew 20:34 NLT.

Jesus gets personal with two people the world would overlook. He feels for them, and touches them. Reaches right out. Who wouldn’t want to follow this man who hears their cries, who notices them, who stopped his journey that day to reach out to them?

Sam’s depiction of a disciple really stuck with me: someone who imitates the teacher.

Jesus, thank you for keeping me in this scene–to have compassion. To reach right out and touch someone. To hear a cry–and acknowledge it! To stop and help. I want to walk with you and learn from you. Thank you that you don’t pass us by when we call out to you, like we’re invisible or don’t matter.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 19-21, Matt. 15:1-16

Allegiance to adultery in 60 seconds.

God tells Moses to deliver the message:

You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

The Israelites respond:

We will do everything the Lord has said.

God gives Moses the pinnacle of the Law, His opus of legislation in the Ten Commandments.

Summed up: Love God (1-4), Love People (5-10)

In the terrifying drama and mortifying glory of God’s presence, the people stand at a distance from the mountain and say to Moses:

Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.

In essence, the Israelites are communicating that say what they need to say to get good things–God’s provision and protection as a holy nation. But they stay at a distance with Moses as a proxy to avoid God’s wrath. Favors dictate their good behavior and terror compels their abstinence.

God reiterates His first point in the Ten:

Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.

Spoiler alert: Flip to the end of the book and the people have constructed a golden calf in Moses’ absence. It’s like they’ve committed adultery before the honeymoon could even end.

Empty lip service and hollow resolutions fall short when any real temptation or doubt creeps on the scene revealing the Israelites true outward motivation: seek pleasure, avoid pain.

The story of Exodus challenges me to examine my own heart for my motivation to obey God. Do I obey because I get something from people around me? Because I’m offered benefits? So that I can avoid God’s wrath? Or do I obey because I truly love God and am concerned with bringing Him glory in everything?

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Exodus 16-18; Matt.19:16-30

I sat down with a heavy heart to have lunch with a friend. She listened and told me that we all have things we wish were not a part of our story. It felt like a weight was lifted . There are times when I wish my life would read like one of those mystery novels I read as a kid. The ones where I could change the ending. Instead of giving the control over to God and trusting that He will weave beauty into it…I hold on to it, I complain and gripe. But, I have come to realize that is a part of my story too, the wrestling with God in an honest and authentic way. It’s OK, He hears my complaints, like He heard the Israelites. He wanted the Israelites to know, like He wants me to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that…

It is God who brought you out of Egypt; and in the morning you will see the Glory of God. Yes, he’s listened to your complaints against him. You haven’t been complaining against us, you know, but against God.” Exodus 16:6&7 MSG.

Because the thing is, if the bad/ugly parts were not in my story…than redemption, restoration and the freedom that only Jesus can bring, wouldn’t be a part of my story either. These are the times when I really meet with Him, where my relationship with Him is so tight because I know that I can’t do it on my own…as many times as I try.

He was holding on tight to a lot of things, and he couldn’t bear to let go…Jesus looked hard at them and said, “No chance at all if you think you can pull it off yourself. Every chance in the world if you trust God to do it.” Matt. 19:22&26 MSG

What am I really giving up if I get to know the one who made me intimately? Am I afraid I will miss out or miss the boat?…“God knows how everything will turn out. And, for every single person who belongs to Him,it turns out well. We are not the exceptions” (Beth Moore, James).

Jesus replied, “Yes, you have followed me. In the re-creation of the world, when the Son of Man will rule gloriously, you who have followed me will also rule, starting with the twelve tribes of Israel. And not only you, but anyone who sacrifices home, family, fields-whatever-because of me will get it all back a hundred times over, not to mention the considerable bonus of eternal life. This is the Great Reversal: many of the first ending up last, and the last first.” Matthew 19:28-30 MSG

Dear Jesus, Thank you for Your faithfulness, Your unfailing love. I am thankful for how I have seen Your hand throughout my life. I want to know You. Amen.

Amy(amyctanner)

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Exodus 13-15; Matthew 19:1-15

Exodus 13:14-16 

“In the future, when your son asks you ‘What is this?’ You are to tell him, ‘With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out from Egypt, from the land of slavery. When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to release us, the Lord killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of people to the firstborn of animals. That is why I am sacrificing to the Lord the first male offspring of every womb, but all my firstborn sons I redeem.’ It will be for a sign on your hand and for frontlets on your forehead, for with a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.”

————— 

There’s a great many things that make me wish I was Jewish. The history, the culture, the deep roots in the scriptures, and the dedication to the Lord, to name a few.

And as I read through the story of the exodus, I’m reminded again of one of the major things that we as Christians have access to, which we tend to miss out on (or at least I do).

The signs and symbols that draw his people to remembrance are something that God instituted for a purpose. God knows exactly what will happen if we don’t remember the things that he has done.

In Judges 2 it says this:

After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what he had done for Israel.

——————- 

And you know, or can tell, where the story goes after that happens.

The people fail to listen the Lord, because they do not remember.

If someone were to sit and ask me right now, to tell them of the things that the Lord has done in my life, how many could I even remember?

The Jewish people celebrate festival after festival, their whole calendar was laid out so that they would never forget what the Lord their God had done for them.

——

The problem, for me at least, is that I don’t have to celebrate the festivals

I don’t have to redeem my firstborn, as God teaches the Israelites after the exodus

I don’t have to make burnt offering to the Lord

I don’t have to do pretty much any of those rituals that are so important to our Jewish brothers and sisters

I don’t have to take a Sabbath day either.

Here’s what I’m realizing:

I get to take a Sabbath

Jesus tells us that we were not made for the Sabbath, it was made for us

And I tend to mistake that for Jesus saying ‘You don’t have to bother with that old thing anymore’

Which isn’t at all what he was saying!

 —

Of course I don’t have to do any of those things,

But I get to

So I ask myself, what will I do so that I never forget all that the Lord has done for me?

What times and days will I set to help me remember his faithfulness?

What will I put in place so that my children never stop asking me why?

So that I can tell of all the mighty works the Lord has done, and bring them up to know and fear God.

So I don’t forget his Loving-kindness,

that I might not sin against him.

I’ll seek to make that part of my daily routine, to remember, to write down, to change the way that I live, because of what he has done. So neither I nor my children turn aside to the left or to the right. May we always remember what he’s done for us.

sam.

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