Thursday | March 10, 2011

Along the way to the promise

Numbers 21:31-35 (NKJV)
So Israel settled in the land of the Amorites.
32 After Moses had sent spies to Jazer, the Israelites captured its surrounding settlements and drove out the Amorites who were there. 33 Then they turned and went up along the road toward Bashan, and Og king of Bashan and his whole army marched out to meet them in battle at Edrei.
34 The LORD said to Moses, “Do not be afraid of him, for I have delivered him into your hands, along with his whole army and his land. Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon.”
35 So they struck him down, together with his sons and his whole army, leaving them no survivors. And they took possession of his land.

The journey to the promised land was a long one, and one not without discouragement or confrontation. Beginning in Ch20, Moses first asked for passage through Edom and was "refused" (20:21). They were then attacked by Canaanites, whom God helped them to "destroy" (21:4). Bur since they had to go around Edom, it says that "the soul of the people became very discouraged on the way." But eventually they came to the land of the Amorites. After asking for permission to pass through as Moses did with the king of Edom, they again were denied. And like with the the Canaanites, the Amorites attacked. Not only did they win the battle, but established their first settlements as they took possession of the land. By the time they confronted the king of Bashan, they were no longer asking for permission to pass. Instead they went to the Lord for His instruction and promise and initiated a victory.

Anytime we have to continually battle, it is wearisome. Whenever God's journey takes us the long way around it is discouraging. But it is during these seasons we are being prepared to possess. There are times we have to know the frustration with the change in plans, when things don't go as we think they should. There are times that circumstances are thrust upon us that require extra effort and focus, just to be able to survive. But God's promise is not just to "pass through." His desire is that we possess and occupy. Sometimes, you have to get a little hungry for a win. Diversions and confrontations can discourage and frustrate. Yet they can be something God uses to develop our dependence upon His promise and a determination in our souls.

Lord, there are so many things right now in my life that seem to take longer than they should, are harder than they should be, require more effort and focus...But if its what it takes for me to get hungry for a win, then lets go. Because I want the season of possessing to begin.

Thursday | March 3, 2011

Creating a Legacy

Numbers 13:6,8 (NIV)
6 from the tribe of Judah, Caleb son of Jephunneh;
8 from the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea son of Nun

In the list of the leaders who we chosen to spy out the promised land, their tribal linage is noted. I focused on the two who not only got to go in to possess the land, but lead the people into the promise.

Caleb is from the tribe of Judah. In Genesis 49:8-12 is the blessing that Jacob pronounced on his son Judah:
8 “Judah, your brothers will praise you;
your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
your father’s sons will bow down to you.
9 You are a lion’s cub, Judah;
you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
like a lioness—who dares to rouse him?
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
and the obedience of the nations shall be his.

Now more than 400 years later, Caleb is a freed slave wondering in the dessert. But God's plan is at work. Caleb will become admired for courage, his legacy one of faith and tenacity. And as a "general" who leads God's people into the promise he sees his enemies defeated. To me, Caleb initiates the legacy of significance carried by the tribe of Judah as promised by the Lord (the tribal lineage of the Messiah)

Joshua is of the tribe of Ephraim. Ephraim is the second son of Joseph. The dream that God gave Joseph of his brothers (and eventually the world) bowing to him was not only fulfilled as the Lord raised Joseph us as a leader in Egypt, but all these centuries later as Joshua leads God's people into the land. Just as God used Joseph to preserve His people, so would He use Joshua to fulfill the promise given to the Patriarchs.

On the day when they were nearly killed for giving their report, I doubt Joshua and Caleb we thinking about the word God had given to their forefathers centuries before. While wandering in the wilderness for an additional 40 years, it probably didn't feel like they were contributing to a God-ordained legacy. As they waged was to possess a land, I doubt they did so with the intent of making a name for themselves. What was at work was not only for their own benefit, but the fulfillment of God's promise generations before that would have an effect generations beyond thier own.

I think of Shealyn Hamilton, an itinerant Baptist pastor and my great-great grandfather. I think of my son, and his son one day. I must keep in mind that it is my responsibility to the generations before me and the ones that follow, to live my life in faith and obedience. God has given a promise to my "tribe" and through my family line that has an eternal impact.

Lord, let me be known as a man who has the same heart and faith as Joshua and Caleb.

Wednesday | March 2, 2011

All I Can Do

Mark 14:6-8 (NKJV)
6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. 7 For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8 She has done what she could.

This is the story of the woman with the alabaster flask of perfumed oil who anointed Jesus.

"She has done a good work for Me...She has done what she could." Amidst all the call to social justice, Jesus is before us. There are "good works," "mitzvahs," that God even "prepared beforehand that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10) that we should be doing. But there is a good work for me to do: to come and worship Jesus.

I was so convicted this morning reading what Jesus said about this woman: "She did what she could." The implication I get is that this woman considered every option, considered every offering, and determined her best to bring to the Lord. I don't what to be known as a man who gives what is convenient, or easy. Whether it is 5 loaves and 2 fish like the little boy, or the expensive perfume that made up this woman's net worth, I want to to give all that I can in worship to the Lord. The ultimate good work is to acknowledge God's worth. The only way to do that is to give all that I can to Him.

Lord, you are all. There is no gift, no action, no response that can ever measure, that would ever qualify. But that's not what you require. So I will give what I am able - not the minimum, but the maximum. All that I can I give to you.

Wednesday | February 23, 2011

Taking Prisoners

Leviticus 24:12 (NKJV)
They put him in custody until the will of the LORD should be made clear to them.

In the middle of a conflict, an Israelite "blasphemed the name of the Lord and cursed..." So he was brought to Moses to determine what the man's punishment should be.

How many times have I rushed to judgment? There are many situations that I have a tendency to make immediate decisions based on the emotion of the situation, or my own intuition, or assumptions that prove to be underdeveloped at best. What caught me in this passage is that Moses and the elders found a way not only to buy time, but determined to to take any action until the will of the Lord was clear.

This brings to mind many scriptures...
* We can discover and "prove" the will of God: Romans 12:2 - Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
* We need to place our thoughts in "custody": 2 Corinthians 10:5
We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

* There's even the precedent set by the apostles when determining the biggest issue they faced addressing the inclusion of the Gentiles: Acts 15:28
It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us...

I've said in the past that I've never made a mistake by moving to slowly, but I have made big ones by moving too quickly. I need to place the pressing issues in my life in custody, not to forget about them, but to give me the necessary time to process with the Lord (and my counselors) and determine the will of God.

Thursday | February 17, 2011

New Routine

Leviticus 18:2-3 (NKJV)
According to the doings of the land of Egypt, where you dwelt, you shall not do; and according to the doings of the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you, you shall not do; nor shall you walk in their ordinances. 4 You shall observe My judgments and keep My ordinances, to walk in them: I am the LORD your God.

Leviticus lays out all of the rules and regulations for navigation life as Jew - clean and unclean, relationships, sacrifices, etc. These rules defined a people who other than for maybe a style of dress wouldn't be identified as unique for the other peoples of the region. It describes the way that the Lord wanted them to live because as He said, "I am the LORD your God."

There are so many things I do everyday that I dont even really think about. My routine of getting up, reading the word, having a cup of coffee, watching the morning news as the family starts moving, heading to the gym, coming home and having a 2 egg omlette...everyday stuff. I remember when my breakfast was a bagel. But since I wanted to lose weight I needed to cut some carbs and add protein. So I changed my routine, but only because I had a reason to.

All these regulations presented in Leviticus required a change in routine, and change in lifestyle. I would have been so easy to "love God" and still live with the old routine. But often we don't know why we have the routine we have. It's default living. And as long as Egypt lives in me, I won't make the Lord mine. If I get swayed by the way they do it here in Canaan, I placed myself outside of His covering.

I find that I add the Lord to my regular routine other than changing it. There's the tendency to modify my life's patterns, conforming in little ways as I'm influenced by what I see going on around me and not making intentional choices about why I am or not doing a particular thing because I don't hold it against the Lord's judgments or ordinances. Just because "we've always done it this way" isn't reason enough to hold on to what the Lord requires me to do differently. Nor is the excuse that "everyone else is doing it" reason enough to compromise the standards that God has established for me. This seems like BasicLife101. But I think it's more subtle than that. The Lord's requirements for living are often "other than" what has been my old routine. There's another way to do life. I need to pay attention, not living as an Egyptian or a Canaanite, but as God's.

Lord, continue to point out to me where I still carry habits and routines that are other than the ordinances and directives you've laid out of me. Let my life's choice and habits be a witness, if only even to myself, that I belong to You.

Wednesday | February 9, 2011

Spirits in the Synagogue

Mark 1:21,23-26,32-34 (NKJV)
21 Then they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath He entered the synagogue and taught.
23 Now there was a man in their synagogue with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, 24 saying, “Let us alone! What have we to do with You, Jesus of Nazareth? Did You come to destroy us? I know who You are—the Holy One of God!”
25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be quiet, and come out of him!” 26 And when the unclean spirit had convulsed him and cried out with a loud voice, he came out of him.
32 At evening, when the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him.

I included all the verses so that the whole story could be seen, but what caught my attention was v23 - the comment that a man with an unclean spirit was in the synagogue.

I wonder how many people are the congregation that I serve look clean on the outside, but are unclean on the inside. I'm not just talking about dealing with sin and overcoming the flesh. I'm talking about an oppression that requires the person to be delivered and the demon(s) to be cast out.

Thanks to the movies, it would seem like it would be easy to identify the people who are demon possessed (e.g. The Exorcist). When in fact, the entity of spiritual oppression wants to remain hidden. The minute it is identified, then it can be dealt with. I wonder if everyone in the synagogue knew about the problem in this person, or if they were completely caught off guard when Jesus took authority and set the man free from this oppression. I wonder how many people could be sitting in my congregation dealing with significant spiritual oppression and nobody knows. I would not be surprised to discover that people could be struggling (having unwittingly opened the doors of their life to this kind of influence) and no one would never know. What I hope is that as the truth is proclaimed and Jesus is glorified, the darkness would be exposed and people will be set free.

Lord, You came to set the captives free, for the unclean to be purified and whole. Don't let me be someone who averts his eyes from seeing, who avoids spiritual conflict. In the authority that has been given to me as a believer, help me to join you in delivering people into freedom.

Monday | February 7, 2011

"...despising its shame..."

Matthew 27:36-46 (NKJV)
36 Sitting down, they kept watch over Him there. 37 And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him:
38 Then two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left.
39 And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”
41 Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, 42 “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. 43 He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
44 Even the robbers who were crucified with Him reviled Him with the same thing.
Jesus Dies on the Cross

45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?

This scene gives us just a taste of what was said in Hebrews 12:2 - Jesus...endured the cross, despising its shame..." The shame placed about above his head in the ridicule of the sign. The mocking of the priests, scribes and elders. The soldiers left him completely exposed as the took his garments (as I think of Adam exposed in his shame after the fall). V44 says even the robber on the crosses next to him joined in with the ridicule. Most of all, the shame reflected in the separation Jesus endured during his separation from the Father, not only because of the sin, but because to identify with Jesus in that moment would have brought shame to God.

The crucifixion scene is so powerful not only for the fact of Jesus bearing the sin of mankind as our sacrifice, but also because of the shame he bore. Sin kept us from God. Shame kept God from us. God could not reach to us or it would have brought dishonor to Him. And if God was shamed, then His word meant nothing, his faithfulness and integrity could be questioned. So all the shame of mankind that we brought upon God was borne by Jesus. And as spoken in Isaiah 53:5 & 54:11 says, "He was wounded for our transgressions (sin), He was bruised for our iniquities (shame)...My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities."

The cross not only settled the payment for sin, but satisfied the the redemption of of our shame.

Lord, thank you for enduring the cross, the full weight of our redemption. Because you bore our shame, I now have honor restored, and You are glorified.

Friday | February 4, 2011


Exodus 29:29 (NKJV)
And the holy garments of Aaron shall be his sons’ after him, to be anointed in them and to be consecrated in them.

God dedicated the Aaronic line to be ministers before him. All of Aaron's descendants will now be priests. In fact, Aaron and his sons were dedicated to the Lord (Exodus 29:20). But Aaron's "uniform," the symbol of his position and responsibility, was to be passed down to his sons who come after him.

This week in Men's Fraternity we defined authentic Godly manhood as "rejecting passivity, taking responsibility, leading courageously, and expect the greater reward." In the mentioned passage I see that the legacy that God was entrusting to Aaron required authentic manhood. It requires that he "hands down" to his sons something more than just his name.

Aaron and his sons (and the generations that followed) were dedicated for service to God. But there came a time when Aaron passed on his assignment to his sons. Aaron job wasn't only to minister before God as a priest, but to train his sons in what being a priest means, what it requires. For one day, they would wear the uniform and with it the responsibility for God's people and the generation that would follow them. There would come a day that Aaron's sons would be recognized by the community ("anointed") and charged with the full responsibility ("consecrated"). This means that the time of training and the time when they lived for themselves was over, and now gave themselves to a lifetime of service. And also took on the added responsibility of preparing the generation that would follow them.

I wonder what my son will feel when he puts on the uniform of "manhood." Will he know what it looks like? Will he know how to put it on? Will he understand what comes with the job? He was dedicated to God's service as an infant, but when the time comes to be anointed and consecrated into the ministry that God has for him, will he be ready? Will he know what to do. Doing my job with him is every bit as important as doing my job for others. When that day comes and he puts on the uniform; cap & gown (graduation) / tuxedo (wedding) / burp rag (fatherhood) - I want him to stand proud knowing he's ready and willing to embrace the ministry God has for him.

Father, I wear the uniform you've given to me with pride. Let me care for it in such a way that what is passed down to my son is not a mess of filthy rags, torn and worn out because I didn't care for it. Let me take pride in the manhood/ministry you've anointed and consecrated me to, so that I pass down to my lineage something of worth that is cherished and taken pride that it can be passed down again.

Wednesday | February 2, 2011

The Wide Place

Psalm 31:8 (NKJV)
...You have set my feet in a wide place.
(The Message)
I'm leaping and singing in the circle of your love;
you saw my pain,
you disarmed my tormentors,
You didn't leave me in their clutches
but gave me room to breathe.

I don't know what the circumstance were that prompted the writing of this Psalm. Commentators say that this could have been written by David or by the prophet Jeremiah. Sometimes a phrase just catches your attention, and that is what happened to me here.

I love the way Eugene Peterson expresses the last part of v8: that God "gave me room to breathe." Sometimes life presses in in such a way that it's hard to catch your breath, like a prisoner to my circumstances, trapped and feeling claustrophobic. Not only will God deliver me, but as the NKJV says it, He "sets my feet in a wide place." One of the things I like to do is to find an open spot overlooking the beach, or a big park filled with trees. I sit and think, and breathe; its one of the ways that I clear my head. It's in the "wide place" that I can sort through my thoughts, address my anxieties, confront my fears, gain perspective, and get "a Word." Whenever life presses in, pressing back doesn't help. I call to Him to set me in a wide place, a safe place, where I can see and hear clearly.

Thank you Lord for the wide places.

Friday | January 28, 2011

Make or Break

Psalm 27:13-14 (NKJV)
13 I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.
14 Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD!

I don't know the specific context for this Psalm other that is was written by David. Verse 4 is the verse I'm most familiar with from this passage.

It's interesting that David attributes "believing" to sustaining him during what must be a time of trouble. He isn't just waiting for God to do something good in the "eternal", but for something in the temporal - "In the land of the living."

When times get tough and you don't see any relief or breakthrough, its important to believe. And in the time of waiting, what is being forged is your conviction about who God is and what He does. God is good. But when you're waiting (I'm waiting), the accuser attacks our resolve with the insinuations that although God is good, He's just not good to you. The other accusation is that you must not be good enough for God to work on your behalf.

Waiting is going to make or break you. You can lose heart and give up, give in. But if you, rest. It's in the waiting that you reflect on what God has done, and allow your own testimony of God's goodness to strengthen you, or you question God's nature or your standing with Him. J. H. Jowett comments, "To wait for the Lord is to make the Lord the clinging place of the soul, and therefore the resting place, and therefore the growing place." The growing is in the waiting. And the battle is in the waiting. Courage is required, faith is exercised in the intermission between the promise and it's fulfillment. When you doubt, fear begins to sap our strength, our joy (Nehemiah 8:10). But when we wait...when we wait (I feel a TD Jakes moment coming on), our faith is built, our resolve fortified, our joy renewed, and our heart strengthened! Waiting will make or break you. But those who wait on the Lord, as Isaiah says, shall renew their strength. so as the psalmist says at he end of this passage, "Wait, I say, on the LORD!" for in the waiting, is the making.

Lord, you know I'm not good at waiting. Help me to develop a greater resolve, a greater patience. I know that you are good - my life is a testimony of Your goodness. So in this time of waiting (for a home personally, for our church's future), I believe...I believe. Strengthen my heart, for I too believe I'll see these things come to pass in the land of the living.

Wednesday | January 26, 2011

"Fair" Wages

Matthew 20:1 (NKJV)
“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard..."

This is the uncomfortable, "unfair" passage where the landowner hire people to work throughout the day. Then at the end of the day, he pays them all the same wage whether they worked all day or only an hour.

The most important thing to keep in mind when reading this through is the fact that Jesus is describing what the Kingdom of God is like. This parable is painful at so many levels. It goes against my sense of fairness. But in the story, Jesus reminds me that its about the agreement - "‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong. Did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way. I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with my own things? Or is your eye evil because I am good?" (v13-15). God's goodness is not demonstrated in His parity. It is demonstrated in the way He keeps His word.

What this really confronts is my need to find my worth in comparison with others. I know I would have preferred to be the last person hired and received the full wage instead of having to labor all day. Is my effort, commitment, skill, time not as valuable as "Johnny Come-Lately"? I know this is especially true when I look at certain areas in my life: my housing situation, the size of my church, the amount of money I make...all of these things are frustrating because I compare my situation with other people who have something different; what is in my opinion, a "better deal."

What this exposes in my life is my desire to do as little as possible while expecting maximum return. It reminds me that I still base my personal value or significance in a comparison with others. I need to simply keep focused on giving my best effort for my work in God's field. I desire to find satisfaction in the quality of the work I do, instead of looking over my shoulder at what other are or aren't doing. And at the end of the day, God will keep His end of the agreement He's made with me...because He is good.

God, thank you that your goodness is demonstrated by the way you keep your agreements. Thank you for the privilege of working the Kingdom's field.

Monday | January 24, 2011

I Am Pharaoh

Exodus 8:8-11 (NIV)
8 Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to the LORD to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the LORD.”
9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.”
10 “Tomorrow,” Pharaoh said.
Moses replied, “It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like the LORD our God. 11 The frogs will leave you and your houses, your officials and your people; they will remain only in the Nile.”
Exodus 8:24-28 (NIV)
24 And the LORD did this. Dense swarms of flies poured into Pharaoh’s palace and into the houses of his officials; throughout Egypt the land was ruined by the flies.
25 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land.
26 But Moses said, “That would not be right. The sacrifices we offer the LORD our God would be detestable to the Egyptians. And if we offer sacrifices that are detestable in their eyes, will they not stone us? 27 We must take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God, as he commands us.”
28 Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the LORD your God in the wilderness, but you must not go very far. Now pray for me.”

These plagues could not be replicated by Pharaoh's magicians. Even they acknowledged that this was from God. So, since Pharaoh couldn't control it, he started negotiating with Moses. And each time after reaching an "agreement," Pharaoh reneged.

Too many times I've negotiated with God about my situation. If I cant put it off, that I'll agree to perform, but under my terms. Just as Pharaoh was considered to be "god-like," I must think of myself the same way if I think I can cut a deal with God. It's in those areas of my life that my own heart becomes hardened (or my "conscious seared" as the NT describes the condition).

In the areas where I'm just looking for an escape or relief, God is looking for change, submission, obedience.

Father, there is none as powerful or gracious as You. Forgive me for the areas in my life where I've become my own Pharaoh. Soften my heart.

Friday | January 21, 2011

Mind Your Own Business

Matthew 16:3b
You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.
Matthew 16:9
Do you not yet understand, or remember the five loaves of the five thousand and how many baskets you took up?
Matthew 16:23
But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.”

Jesus has just miraculously fed the multitude (Ch15). The Pharisees/Sadducee present came asking for another sign. Jesus told them how their life's experience has allowed them to learn how to predict the weather, but they had little discernment for things in the spiritual world.

In the next encounter Jesus is trying to teach the disciples a principle from His encounter with the Pharisees, but they weren't hearing Him correctly. They were so focused on the immediate (what they we're going to eat) that they missed what He was trying to teach them (although v13 shows they eventually got it).

Lastly is the discussion about "who Jesus is" with the disciples (which could be an exercise in helping the disciples develop some spiritual discernment). Peter correctly provides the answer and Jesus helps him understand how he got there. But in the follow-up conversation, Jesus tells Peter that he is "not mindful of the things of God."

Taken together, these three scenes bring to my attention the importance of developing a new (or additional) filter thought which to understand the circumstances of my life. Like the Pharisees, there are certain aspects to my life for which I've accumulated some practical knowledge. But if I only rely on my knowledge, then I'm going to miss the the other layer that is just as real - the spiritual layers. If God is working in everything, that I need to develop the ability to perceive what He's doing in the midst of everything else going on.

Other times I'm so focused on the immediate, that I can miss the moments when God is trying use the circumstances to teach me a spiritual principle. Why? Because like Peter, can often be mindful of earthly thing, and not the things of God.

I'm called to live in these dual (but integrated) world; the material and eternal, physical and spiritual. But as a "new man" I need to be able to live with a new discernment so that I don't miss what God is doing or teaching.

Lord, help me to be mindful of all of the layers if life. Help me to see You in all things. Help me to listen and learn.

Thursday | January 20, 2011

Moving Trucks

Genesis 45:18-21, 46:5
18 Bring your father and your households and come to me; I will give you the best of the land of Egypt, and you will eat the fat of the land. 19 Now you are commanded—do this: Take carts out of the land of Egypt for your little ones and your wives; bring your father and come. 20 Also do not be concerned about your goods, for the best of all the land of Egypt is yours.’”
21 Then the sons of Israel did so; and Joseph gave them carts, according to the command of Pharaoh, and he gave them provisions for the journey.

5 Then Jacob arose from Beersheba; and the sons of Israel carried their father Jacob, their little ones, and their wives, in the carts which Pharaoh had sent to carry him.

Pharaoh had been so blessed by Joseph, that upon hearing about his family (and Joseph’s request that his family come to Egypt) that he gave not only food provisions, but “moving trucks” (carts) to carry their people and possessions. The journey would have been between 200-300 mi. This task was also like moving a small city because of all the extended family members and employees.

Also, their departure point, Beersheba, was the location of Israel’s (Jacob) reconciliation with his brother Esau.

I don't know why I find it so interesting that Pharaoh sent carts to Jacob/Israel to bring them to Egypt. But here's my thoughts....

"Israel" comes into Egypt as a family, but leaves 400 years later as a nation. I'm not sure that's what Jacob (or his fathers) imagined when God spoke to them about what He was going to do in making them great. No one would think that it would take that long or under those circumstances. But upon their departure, they asked the Egyptians for gold and clothing. In fact the scripture records that the Israelites "plundered" the Egyptians (Exodus 12:35-36). Although the Bible doesn't mention it, I can't imagine transporting all those people and goods without...carts.

Lord, help me to always see the "carts" you provide in each situation; the simple things that make the circumstance easier and helps keep it moving. Though I'm always thankful for your provision of supply, I want to be thanks for all the assistance you give to help me move forward.

Wednesday | January 12, 2011

The "In"-side

Psalm 15
1 LORD, who may abide in Your tabernacle?
Who may dwell in Your holy hill?
2 He who walks uprightly,
And works righteousness,
And speaks the truth in his heart;
3 He who does not backbite with his tongue,
Nor does evil to his neighbor,
Nor does he take up a reproach against his friend;
4 In whose eyes a vile person is despised,
But he honors those who fear the LORD;
He who swears to his own hurt and does not change;
5 He who does not put out his money at usury,
Nor does he take a bribe against the innocent.

He who does these things shall never be moved.

The Psalmist makes a list of the kind of person who lives in God's presence. It's an interesting list, especially because it's so everyday life; Telling the truth. Don't talk behind someone's back. Staying out of someone else's business. Takes on for the team. Doesn't hold people in debt. Doesn't take advantage of circumstances and situations

I think more than God being present, the person who lives this way is aware of God's presence. God is Omni-present, so He isn't more present than He already is. I do know that how I live can affect my awareness of His nearness. That awareness helps me to override my natural inclination for self-preservation, self-promotion - all the things that put "me" first. My integrity is measured by the way I respond to others. So my integrity is dependent upon how closely I'm integrated with Him.

Lord, I always want to live with an awareness of Your presence.




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