No Other God Before Me–Exodus 20 Part 1

One of the truly great things God gave us was the Law. By any name, the 10 commandments put a framework around the two great commands—Love God and love one another.  In God’s direct discussion with his people, he set the tone of the discussion by stating the obvious—I AM the Lord your God—who brought you out of Egypt and bondage.  Clearly, he had the right to set some parameters to keep them free.

He spoke directly in the 1st 5 commandments about the love of God.  The 2nd 5 speak directly to love of each other. Each of the commands approach that love from a different perspective.  The critical point that God was trying to teach a free nation was– they could only remain free if they were willing to become selfless and humble.  So to put a fine point on the principle—God said—YOU SHALL HAVE NO OTHER GOD BEFORE ME. As they faced the mountain, the Israelites could easily see God was large and in charge. In the days ahead they would have to decide if each of their actions would put anything ahead of the God that freed them.

Today, we should ask the same question—what am I doing that God would perceive as putting another God ahead of him. We all face that question—Is God first. God knows that if we submit to him—he will make our lives full and free.  But the blocks we stack between us and him serve as walls to our own spiritual prison.  Each day we must be willing to look honestly at our lives and clear the blocks away—and embrace the idea that we shall have NO other God before the Lord our God!!!

God Bless You

And God spoke all these words, saying:

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

“You shall have no other gods before Me.

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image—any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.

“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you.

God Is Not Mocked–Exodus 7 Part 1

It would be so much simpler to obey and trust God. It would not necessarily be easier, but it would definitely be simpler. God is not mocked—whatever a person sows, that they will also reap. As the Israelites suffered at the hands of the Egyptians, God was keeping an accounting. There would be no doubt, at the end of the Exodus, that God avenges his chosen ones.

Pharaoh did not have a chance. He had become so ruthless to Israel, that human reason would not guide his choices. In addition, as the days progressed, Pharaoh’s self-absorbed pride would deal out the punishment for Israel’s treatment. Could Pharaoh have chosen differently, in a word—NO. He was a prisoner of his own heartlessness and pride. God was simply allowing Pharaoh to be himself. Now, apart from God, Pharaoh would experience the chaos his heartless foolishness bought.

God is still not mocked. ISIS thinks it is having its way with the church; it is not. Muslim leaders who are killing and selling Christians are not surprising or outsmarting God. World leaders that are refusing to intercede on behalf of the Christians being slaughtered will be held accountable and yes, even those of us that simply turn our heads and look the other way will have to give an account.

As with Israel and Moses, IT IS TIME to take the current events seriously and seek God’s mercy and intervention on behalf of our family that is spread across the globe. The persecution we shake our head about today will be the persecution we face tomorrow—apart from God’s merciful intervention.

God Bless You

Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”

Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord commanded them. Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Perform a miracle,’ then say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh,’ and it will become a snake.”

10 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. 11 Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: 12 Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. 13 Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.

I am Who I Am–Exodus 3 Continued

Credentials are important for any leader to be successful. Resume, experience and presence–all frame the leader in the sight of those he leads and those he must oppose. God had spent 80 years preparing Moses for his mission; now as he is charging him with the details, Moses wants clarity about his credentials. In the next couple of verses, God sums up credibility and credentials for Moses and all who follow God in the days to come. 

“I Am who I Am” is the title and name of the God that sent Moses and each leader since. All at once, Moses and his pedigree became of little value compared to the surpassing greatness of God. Note that God’s name speaks nothing of the past, though his history is remarkable. It speaks nothing of the future, though he will lead us to a remarkable eternity. 

In a word-God simply is– not affected by time, place or person. He is all knowing, all powerful and in all places and times at once. He called the universe into being. And details each atom and cell within it. For Moses, that was ample credibility and resume for his mission.

What’s more, it is equally complete for us in our missions. We need never rely upon our credentials or record to complete God’s call on our lives. In fact, his word says our credentials and righteousness are as sickening blood soaked bandages compared to him. God will not only prepare us for our journey, he will precede us, provide for us and bring to bare all the tools necessary to complete the mission he has assigned. What a beautiful gift, and what an amazing God!!

God Bless You

So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’“This is my name forever,the name you shall call mefrom generation to generation.

Table for 5000 Please–John 6 Part 1

Can you imagine the staggering impact Jesus’ question must have had on the disciples…How are we going to feed these folks. The buzz among his men must have been a mixture of shock and awe.  Clearly, there was no way either economically or logistically for the disciples to feed this crowd.  Yet, they have seen Jesus do amazing things every day.  So the brainstorming begins–it will take a half year’s salary, but that does not even deal with who will have that kind of supply! Andrew found a boy with a fish–kid’s meal–I am sure Jesus smiled at that one and said, “Okay, that should work!”

Remember, this same Jesus called the universe into being.  Light, earth, vegetation, sea creatures, birds, land animals and ultimately man. He has turned water into wine.  He has healed the sick, raised the dead, made the lame to walk and the blind to see. He has cleansed lepers, and astounded Rabbi’s–So what’s a little bread and fish among friends!!!

We need to remember–God has faced countless and impossible challenges for thousands of years.  He can handle the big ones like parting a sea or feeding a mob.  But, he takes equal care in  protecting his kids and meeting their needs.  He gets giddy about feeding a family.  But nothing brings him more joy than restoring that eternal bond with one of his own. We do not always know how God will execute his plan, but, with a little faith, we can rest easy that he is absolutely going to do so with excellence and power. What a guy to have a picnic with…right?

God Bless You

Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the signs he had performed by healing the sick. Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. The Jewish Passover Festival was near.

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

Romans 8:28–Really? Genesis 38 Final

When I was in Royal Ambassadors (RA’s) as a small Baptist ragamuffin–I memorized the verse Romans 8:28, “For we know all things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to his purpose!” I believed it then and I still believe it today! 

But, even I would never have guessed that Tamar and Judah meeting at the sheep pins under the most deceitful circumstances, could ever have good come of it! BUT it sure did! PEREZ, the child of the encounter probably scorned and talked about his whole life–was the patriarch of the lineage that led to the birth of our Lord and Savior.  SAY WHAT??!!

Had Judah done things differently… well God would have sent the Lord, but amazingly he used this incredible scene.  God loves to take the impossible and use it to show he works through the impossible. Gideon, 5 loaves and 2 fish, the parting of the Red sea and manna just a few of the most unlikely things God used to prove his power and authority.  What’s more, when ever God used the obvious–Like Saul as King, the people thought they controlled the circumstances and screwed everything up!

What are your “All Things” circumstances–health, job, finances or marriage? Do they seem so impossible that nothing good can come from them? That is the time God does his best work. We have to remain faithful, prayerful and ready to respond to his lead.  And while we may never know the good our “All Things” circumstances cause–we can be confident that God does! Keep the faith!

God Bless You

Then Judah said, “Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn’t find her.”

24 About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.”

Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!”

25 As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.”

26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.

27 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 28 As she was giving birth, one of them put out his hand; so the midwife took a scarlet thread and tied it on his wrist and said, “This one came out first.” 29 But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she said, “So this is how you have broken out!” And he was named Perez.[a] 30 Then his brother, who had the scarlet thread on his wrist, came out. And he was named Zerah.[b]

This Place Rocks! Genesis 28 Part 3

Jacob woke up a changed man.  He was running for his life but fell asleep just in time to come face to face with God.  When he awakened, he realized he was in God’s presence and that God was committed to him and his family. One cannot encounter God and not be different, it is simply impossible.  Jacob committed to follow God and to give him a tithe, as God protected and provided for him.  He set up a place of worship prepared to follow God’s lead.  He had little idea what was ahead, but now knew who should lead.

When we encounter God, we also become different.  It is inevitable. That is why the church looks skeptically at those who claim to be committed to God, but, show little or no life change.  Some claim we are judgmental,  others argue that if one had to be perfect to be a Christian–no one would be a Christian.  But God neither asks or expects us to be perfect. He simply wants us to submit and trust him.  Like Jacob, we may not know what is ahead, but, we will trust the one leading us.  Then we know we are in his presence and that as in Bethel, God will protect and lead us where we need to be.

God Bless You

16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.” 17 He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it. 19 He called that place Bethel,[e] though the city used to be called Luz.

20 Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear 21 so that I return safely to my father’s household, then the Lord[f] will be my God 22 and[g] this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

Enough is Enough–Genesis 18 Part 3

It is never really all that close! God is a patient Father.  His desire is that none should perish.  So on the warm Canaan evening, when God told Abraham Sodom and Gomorrah’s sin was so flagrant that he was going to wipe it out, God did not make the decision easily or lightly.  God knew they were beyond redemption.  Nothing would please God more than seeing these people turn their lives around and follow him, but he knew I would never happen.

It is so easy for us to blame God for all that is wrong in the world.  When people suffer loss or are treated poorly, somehow it becomes God judging or arbitrarily doing evil to ruin lives.  Truth is the evil in our lives are usually a result of the world state and our personal choices.  We want God to somehow absolve us from the consequence–but, he does not. He allows the world and all in it to remain independent and choose.  But n order to do that, they have to live with the consequence. 

It is my prayer this last day of the year, that unlike Sodom and Gomorrah we are still redeemable and will repent and follow him.  He will forgive and restore us–if we follow him.  If not–we will fall.

God Bless You

So the Lord told Abraham, “I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. 21 I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard. If not, I want to know.”

22 The other men turned and headed toward Sodom, but the Lord remained with Abraham. 23 Abraham approached him and said, “Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked? 24 Suppose you find fifty righteous people living there in the city—will you still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes? 25 Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the righteous along with the wicked. Why, you would be treating the righteous and the wicked exactly the same! Surely you wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?”