Tag Archives: knowing God

Ezekiel 34-36; Psalm 86; John 12

My husband and I were having a discussion the other day about the state of our nation. Perhaps most aging generations reflect similarly in comparing what once was with what is now, and pondering what will come. Our ruminations based on opinions and media hype invariably give way to God’s word, for He alone has authority over nations. In Him are truths, promises, and enlightenment that supersede the norms, deceit, and smokescreens of man.

Because my husband and I believe in both God’s judgment and His mercy, we wondered what our nation may become in the near future. Of course, we are talking American politics and culture. Being unsure, we sought (and continue to seek) answers from God.

Ezekiel, who was an Old Testament prophet sent by God, had much to say about God’s involvement in building up and tearing down nations. In Ezekiel 34:25-31, God assured His exiled people, “I will make a covenant of peace…” with them. “…they shall know that I am the Lord.” The people were promised security from foreign aggressor, prosperity and productivity, and His lasting relationship with them. Does God consider America as His chosen or are Christians in America becoming the remnant of an exiled people?

On the other hand, Ezekiel said that God would “stretch out His hand” against those who had taken advantage of His people, all “who gave My land to themselves as a possession, with wholehearted joy and spiteful minds, in order to plunder its open country.” By their destruction, God said, they “will know that I am the Lord.” (35:3-4).

At this point in reading Scripture, my husband and I were nodding in agreement with God’s judgments, but before we could say, “Yes, Lord, go get’em!” we read further. For in Ezekiel 36, God provided an explanation for intervening on behalf of His people. God did not save them because of their piety or righteousness; in fact, He said, “I do not do this for your sake, O house of Israel, but for My holy name’s sake, which you have profaned among the nations wherever you went.” Ouch! Like Israel, can it be that our complacency, complicity, and crumbling beneath pressure contributed to the problems we now see in our nation? Thankfully, in spite of disobedience by His people, and through God’s desire for all to know Him, He sanctified His great name. God said, “when I am hallowed in you before their eyes…the nations shall know that I am the Lord…”

Hallowed in them – in us. What a privilege to be the undeserved object of His affection! Now because of Christ’s redeeming work on the Cross, God will cleanse us. He “will give [us] a new heart and put a new spirit within [us].” By His Holy Spirit we are helped to walk in His statutes, keep His judgments, and do them. In John 12:27-28, Jesus, talking about His agony over impending death said, “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? Father, save Me from this hour? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.” When our souls are troubled by what we see happening in our nation, can we become the instrument of change? Can we say, “Father, glorify Your name.”

We can start by praying Psalm 86: “For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul…teach me Your ways,” (for Your ways are not like mine). “Unite my heart to fear Your name,” (so that I may not be double-minded).  Help us by Your Holy Spirit to stand up against “the proud and the mob of violent men who have not set You before them.” Then we can be confident that, “All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.”

Amen!

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Ezekiel, John, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

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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Exodus 7-8; Matthew 17

Too often, I have absolutely no idea of who I am dealing with when it comes to God. Isn’t that so true of the characters in today’s passages?  The Lord demonstrates to Pharaoh that He controls Creation. A staff turns into a snake. Water turns to blood. Frogs, gnats and flies take over and  Pharaoh persistently hangs onto the illusion of power and control even though it is pretty clear to the casual observer that God could decimate Pharaoh in the blink of an eye.

Jesus takes Peter, James and John up to a high mountain and while there, his physical body is transformed; his face and clothes become brilliantly bright. Moses and Elijah appear and talk with Jesus. Clearly, this moment radiates heavenly glory, power and mystery. Peter is so absorbed with suggesting to Jesus what should happen next that he misses the magnitude and meaning of the moment.  God has none of that.

While he was still speaking, a bright cloud enveloped them, and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love;  with him I am well pleased. LISTEN TO HIM!‘ Matthew 17:5

It’s then that the disciples understand just who they are in the company of and they fall to the ground terrified and shaking.

How easily I forget who it is that I follow. Like the disciples, I rely on the grace of God to follow Jesus.

Holy Spirit, What a gift it is that you live within me. Give me the fear of God that stills the heart and quiets the soul so that I can listen when you speak. Fill me with awe and wonder. Keep me from meaningless busyness and self preoccupation so that I can follow wherever you lead.  Amen.

Klueh

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

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Deuteronomy 13-14; Psalms 99-101; Isaiah 41; Revelation 11

It is the LORD your God you must follow, and Him you must revere.

Keep His commands and obey Him; serve Him and hold fast to Him.  Deuteronomy 13:4

Hmm…Deuteronomy…What does Deuteronomy have to do with me?

I must confess; I’ve been quick to shelve certain Old Testament books like this one.  I would much rather revel in grace than contemplate the gravity of sin.  I’d rather delight in God’s mercy than feel the weight of His judgment.  I love the Lord, but do I truly revere Him? – I’ve been challenged to pause and press in here.  I might be tempted to write this off as ancient history – lengthy passages of laws that (thankfully!) no longer apply to me.  But this “2nd law” is actually a 2nd telling.  It’s an opportunity for Moses to tell the next generation – these post-wandering exiles now entering the Promised Land – who Yahweh is and what He has done for His people.  Since I’ve been grafted into this family tree; it stands to reason there’s truth here for my generation as well.

These chapters contain harsh consequences for false prophets and rebellious nations; both particular and peculiar descriptions of what can and cannot be eaten; and instructions on tithing – all to maintain the purity of a people set apart unto the LORD.  But something that caught my eye was the repeated warning against “other gods, gods you have not known”.  The word used here for “known” is the Hebrew word yada’ – meaning “to know”, “to see”, or “to perceive with the eyes”.  There is a connotation here of knowing by direct observation or through personal encounter or experience. 

These foreign gods are gods that they and their fathers have not known, or observed, or seen in action.  But Yahweh, the God of Israel, has made Himself known.  He has gone before them, fought for them, and shown them His mighty hand time and again.  This is an opportunity for Papa Moses to give an eye witness account of God’s faithfulness and provision, and to share with this generation an opportunity to know this God – and to respond to Him in faith and obedience.  Indeed, the common thread amongst all four passages is God’s personal and powerful interactions with His people – demonstrating His faithfulness from generation to generation, even unto the end of the age.  See Psalm 100:5; Isaiah 41:4; and Revelation 11:15.

I love Philippians 3:7-11.  Like Paul, my heart’s cry is to know Christ.  And if, as Paul shares in this passage, nothing compares to the surpassing worth of knowing Jesus, than there is no greater threat to me than that which competes for my affection or would draw me away from Him: modern-day idols.  That is why I must take sin seriously.  That is why I must take a good, long look in the mirror of the law to grasp how utterly lost I am without Jesus.  John 1:17-18 says, “the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.  No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father’s side, has made Him known.”  For me, this is a call to whole-hearted devotion – to a life spent knowing, believing, pursuing, and clinging to God, as revealed through Jesus Christ – and to making Him known by sharing the hope we have in Him!

Amy C. (guest on 66 books)

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