The Way God Works

2/23/09 10:00am

Exodus 31-35

Pericope: Exodus 31:3

As I grew up in the church, I often wondered how God would use me in ministry. I remember hearing weird terms like “spiritual gifts”. What is a spiritual gift and how does God accomplish his work through them? How does God choose people to do different things for Him?

Today’s trek through Exodus walked me through the buidling of the Tabernacle. It was the exciting point in time when God began to establish a physical  place on earth where his glory would dwell among his people. In today’s first chapter I read, I discovered that when God chose people to use for his work, it was not because they were amazing people. Rather, each person was uniquely equipped for a special task. No person necessarily was greater than the other or more useful. God used Bezalel for artistic design, setting stones and cutting wood. Why Bezalel? It really does not matter “why”. I think, however, that the general observation can be made that Bezalel was uniquely equipped by God to do this work.

Since the fall of creation, God has been working to bring restoration and redemption of His people so that they may experience the blessing of being in community with Him. The buidling of the tabernacle was part of a bigger epic story. One day, evil will be destroyed forever and there will be rest for God’s people where we will enjoy His presence! However, until that point, God is at work through the hands and feet of His people. Every person on the earth has been uniquely outfitted to serve God with special gifts. The separating difference is that some people have been redeemed and sanctified by God’s work through faith in Him. That simply means that God’s people are those who recognize their inadequacy and understand the sufficiency of Christ and have placed Him as Lord of their life. The focal point for the believer is on Christ and no longer on self. The gifts that the believer have are now being used to bring glory to God instead of to man. Such gifts have been redirected from use for common purposes to use for God’s purposes: that is what holy/sanctified means.

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Ready to be Free

Yesterday I made a post about the recently passed “Bailout” plan. Of some sorts, it is a picture of an attempt for redemption from our countries monumential fiscal mistakes by consumers and businessmen. My ultimate opinion is that it is lacking. Only the future will tell. I had also read an article with a video which posed the question, “Do you think there has now been a permanent change in the spending habits of Americans?” It is a way too early to answer that question, although the gentleman in the interview answered yes. He believes people from now on will save more and only purchase necessities. History will tell. I am somewhat skeptical since it seems that this generation which I am a part of is a microwave generation. We have been raised with instant gratification. We want to have our cake and eat it too. But when it comes to being delivered from such a financial crisis as we are witnessing, there will be no cake. You cannot have both the cake and poor spending habits.

Our only outlet from this crisis will be hard work and sacrifice. There is no easy button, and I am OK with that. Why? Because the easy way out rarely teaches us lessons in life. In Exodus 13:17-18, God is delivering his people from the grips of their enemies. Scripture records, “When Pharaoh released the people, God did not lead them by the way to the land of the Philistines, although that was nearby, for God said, “Lest the people change their minds and return to Egypt when they experience war.”

What is “nearby” is not always what is best. This Scripture demonstrates that God knows the hearts of men. He knows that there are times when we are let off the hook too easy, we will be inclined to return back to the bondage from which we have just been redeemed. Sometimes the greatest grace in our journey of deliverance is pain.It turns us away from that which hurts us the most.

As our country works through this hard challenge, my prayer is that we would not become discouraged. Israel wandered in wilderness for 40 years. A generation died in the process. But even in such deep trouble they were not abandoned. It took them longer to get to the promised land because of their stubborn hearts and refusal to change. When they were ready, God brought his people to the land of promise. As a nation, or as individuals, God is working to deliver us from our bondage. When we have learned and when we are ready, we will experience the full freedom of deliverance.

Did God Forget?

2/16/2009 5:00pm

Exodus 1-5

Pericope: Exodus 2:23-25.

My wife and I attend Watermark Community Church in Dallas, Tx. A few months ago, our pastors returned from Congo, Africa, the most impoverished area on the globe. We have a justice ministry in different regions of Congo and in other parts of Africa which fight for the rights of the underserved- orphans, widows and impoverished. Our church helps bring food aid and other supplies, but what was amazing from this trip is the people’s response when they knew there was a Church thousands of miles away who was praying for them and loves them. Tears of joy were shed because they knew they were remembered.

One of the most devastating circumstances in life is hopelessness. There are several reasons why one would feel hopeless. Unrelenting stress at a job, poverty, victimization, and general aimlessness are just a few. In Exodus, the story begins with God’s people lost in the misery of slavery. The text shows how God is protecting his people, yet they are enslaved. God is making them multiply, yet only to be whipped. Israel was in slavery for over 400 years! What happened to God? Did God forget?

On face value, it seems that God does not care about his people. But the writer of Exodus (probably Moses) records, “God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob…” As the writer looks back in history, he attributes whatever happens next to God. God remembered not only his people, but the covenants he had established. In other words, there was never a time when God fell asleep and was AWOL. The writer is acknowledging that God knew his covenants and was sovereignly working not only to deliver his people, but to be faithful to the covenant. As the rest of Exodus unpacks, we will see that is exactly what happens!

Some of us may be in a bind. Sometimes we know God asks us to do something or has put us in a circumstance. Yet, we are caught up in a bind that we cannot be free of. It is in these moments we must remember that God is faithful! He never leaves us hanging. He is always knowledgeable, able and active in history. No one’s situation is unique. God was faithful to deliver his people in a mighty way. Ultimately he brought redemption to a people who were undeserving. We can look back on God’s past work and find hope for our present situation. God did not forget. God has not forgotten you!