Friday, May 24, 2013
Even I find it strange that this week’s posts have moved backward each day, looking at a different aspect of Moses’ life and those around him. Yesterday’s look at Miriam’s self-inflicted wound brings to mind her initial bravery.
Moses lived because Miriam was old enough to watch and care. From a distance she watched the ark of bulrushes that held her baby brother. When it was found, she became brave enough to speak to royalty, reuniting mother and child:
Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? (Exodus 2:7)
What did she think about as they grew up, he in the palace while she remained in slave quarters? Could there have been jealousy that he had so much and she had so little? The Bible doesn’t address that at all. Apparently, though, she or her mother told Moses the story of his birth, for he recognized himself as a Hebrew:
And it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out unto his brethren, and looked on their burdens: and he spied an Egyptian smiting an Hebrew, one of his brethren. And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian, and hid him in the sand. (Exodus 2:11-12)
Moses knew he had done wrong. He knew it even before he killed the man, looking this way and that way, trying hard that no one would see the evil he he had in mind. However, our sins cannot be hidden, specifically from God, but almost always from men. They are discovered.
And he said, Who made thee a prince and a judge over us? intendest thou to kill me, as thou killedst the Egyptian? And Moses feared, and said, Surely this thing is known. (Exodus 2:14)
There are consequences for us as news of our own errors spread. For Moses, that spread to Pharaoh, the head of the house he was raised in. The man with all the power of Egypt at his beck and call.
Now when Pharaoh heard this thing, he sought to slay Moses.
Moses could not face Pharaoh. He could not admit what he had done or why it was wrong. Instead, he ran away.
But Moses fled from the face of Pharaoh, and dwelt in the land of Midian: and he sat down by a well. (Exodus 2:15)
If we are so certain that what we do is right, why can’t we take responsibility for our actions? From childhood our answers lay blame on someone else’s words or actions, causing a reaction on our part.
Moses saw an Egyptian abusing a Hebrew. Instead of working within the palace, his response was to kill – planning on no one ever knowing. There is no mention of God or God’s intervention in Moses’ life to this point. There is no indication that God might have used his life in the palace to institute changes – what if he had been brought to the kingdom for such a time?
Not many people are called the way Moses and Paul were, stopped in their tracks with specific God-given instructions for their lives. Even they required correction and direction through communication with God. We have that, too. Through Bible reading, prayer and service to His glory, we can know and understand where He leads, where it is to our advantage to go.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
Mark Dohle’s blog left me with a question, his answer and some continued thoughts:
What happens to our hearts when we mock, gossip and belittle others? It is a self inflicted wound that will only bleed and become more infected until the time we seek forgiveness and mercy for the damage done.I thought first of those who do self-harm, most often cuts on their limbs. Not suicidal cuts, and pretty much defined as cries for help for a wide variety of reasons, too numerous to list here. That reminded me of the Bible story I’ve been reading through the last few blogs.
And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman. (Numbers 12:1)
It wasn’t about Moses’ leadership, it was because of his wife that Miriam spoke against Moses. We are not told why she became gossipy and backbiting about her sister-in-law. It may simply have been because she was Ethiopian. Miriam's offence was sufficient that she, Moses and Aaron were called into the tabernacle.
And the LORD spake suddenly unto Moses, and unto Aaron, and unto Miriam, Come out ye three unto the tabernacle of the congregation. And they three came out. And the LORD came down in the pillar of the cloud, and stood in the door of the tabernacle, and called Aaron and Miriam: and they both came forth. (Numbers 12:4-5)
What did she think when she got the summons? That God would vindicate her? Did she still believe that she was equal to Moses’ calling? Did she expect accolades and honors? Or was she filled with trepidation, fearing – knowing – she had been wrong? Did she expect punishment for being so hurtful?
God explained to them that Moses was special. Others may hear God through dreams, but to Moses, He spoke face to face. God did not chastise Miriam, did not call attention to her error, did not call out a punishment upon her. He simply left, and her self-inflicted wound was evident:
And the cloud departed from off the tabernacle; and, behold, Miriam became leprous, white as snow: and Aaron looked upon Miriam, and, behold, she was leprous. (Numbers 12:10)
Her verbal attack on God’s spokesman was without merit. She had taken an earthly desire, voiced it in front of God’s people and had to live with the consequences of going against God Himself. Her disease was self-inflicted, by her own mouth she was convicted and punished.
The consequences of our actions are often similar self-inflicted wounds. Some may be physically painful, but the spiritual wounding we do separates us from God. Prayer and a contrite heart brings us back to Him. We are not told that Miriam said anything – but Aaron cried out for her, as did Moses:
And Aaron said unto Moses, Alas, my lord, I beseech thee, lay not the sin upon us, wherein we have done foolishly, and wherein we have sinned. (Numbers 12:11)
And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, Heal her now, O God, I beseech thee. (Numbers 12:13)
Seven days passed before she was healed and was able to return. How long will we wait before we will ask God’s forgiveness for how we wounded ourselves?
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace. (Psalms 37:11 KJV)
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. (Matthew 5:5 KJV)
What is this meekness we should be achieving? Top definitions are patience, humbleness, gentleness, enduring injury without resentment. Some would assume the word denotes weakness – it does not.
I ran across its first use in the KJV while preparing yesterday’s blog:
(Now the man Moses was very meek, above all the men which were upon the face of the earth.) (Numbers 12:3 KJV)
Moses was not seeking God. He wasn’t looking to be used by God, for certain. He backed away, telling God he wasn’t good at public speaking. But God had a plan for this meek man. Perhaps his meekness came after his remorse over killing a man, after living with the consequences of what he thought was right, but could not have been.
David wasn’t seek God nor to be used by Him, either. David made many mistakes, but he understood meekness. David used the word in another Psalm:
The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. (Psalms 22:26 KJV)
Think of the fruits of the spirit:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 KJV)
Meekness is not at the top of the list. Love comes first. With God’s love in our hearts we can have joy and peace fairly quickly, but longsuffering takes a while, often the result of our own errors but sometimes injuries from others. Both Moses and David suffered consequences of both kinds. I don’t believe that has changed for us today. How then can we achieve the meekness God uses so well?
Christ is our first example. As a child He knew He was to be about His father’s business. As an adult He knew how to answer temptation:
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4 KJV)
While it is absolutely true that I believe the Bible is our final authority on questions of faith, I agree with Paul’s farewell to Ephesus:
For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. (Acts 20:27-28 KJV)
That whole counsel of God includes the failures of godly men that match or surpass our own, and include God’s continued relationship with them through His mercy, His grace and their humbling before Him. That example is evident through His book – strong men, capable and honorable – bending their knee before God, humbly confessing then accepting His mercy, ever extended.
Listing them would name so many – Adam to Noah to Abraham to Jacob to Moses and on through to Peter and Paul, even those who crucified Him. This is our great cloud of witnesses. May God grant that we learn from them how to be what He can use to the best of His abilities, not ours.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
(Numbers 12:16 KJV)
And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt? (Numbers 14:2-3 KJV)
Why would they think it have been better to die in Egypt or the wilderness? Why were they concerned about where they would die? God had made - and kept - promises.
Moses, in my opinion, had already made a mistake when sending out the spies.
And see the land, what it is; and the people that dwelleth therein, whether they be strong or weak, few or many; And what the land is that they dwell in, whether it be good or bad; and what cities they be that they dwell in, whether in tents, or in strong holds; And what the land is, whether it be fat or lean, whether there be wood therein, or not. And be ye of good courage, and bring of the fruit of the land. Now the time was the time of the firstripe grapes. (Numbers 13:18-20 KJV)
God had promised them this land, just as He had promised them release from Egypt. Now Moses was looking at that gift to judge whether it was worth it or not? That should have been part of the decision in leaving Egypt. These orders display a doubt that proved very costly. Moses backed away from his leadership responsibilities as well as backing away from God’s command.
It was a good land:
And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it. (Numbers 13:27 KJV)
Instead of moving forward, the people whimpered about dying elsewhere – and they did.
Caleb and Joshua tried to convince the congregation:
And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land. If the LORD delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, and give it us; a land which floweth with milk and honey. Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.(Numbers 14:7-9 KJV)
Are we any different? Do we have sufficient faith to know that God has plans in our life? Do we stay in touch with Him in prayer and Bible reading to create that spiritual closeness for communication? Do we attempt to read His mind instead of listening to His direction? Or do we miss out, facing death without His direction?
I know some of the placed where I missed listening, I just don’t know about what I missed. Fortunately, He is a forgiving God. For that I am grateful and will spend time with Him to learn more.
Monday, May 20, 2013
We had three graduates celebrated Sunday night. One whose family chose our church years ago, raising him from childhood in this congregation. Another who chose to come as a youth, though his family was not active members. The third a fairly new member. All face what our Youth Pastor described as the "Mistake Zone."
True, serious mistakes can be made as a teen, but there's a greater opportunity for forgiveness and correction as a teen than there is as a high school graduate, to all intents and purposes – an adult. Mistakes made in this zone have greater consequences. The biblical example given included Psalm 90:
Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. (Psalms 90:1-2 KJV)
Nope - not one of David's -- this is labeled "A Prayer of Moses the man of God." The example had to do with the "Mistake Zone" decision of an entire generation of the Children of Israel.
Moses led them out of Egypt toward the land God promised to them. He told them He would see to it the land would be theirs. Their initial mistake was sending twelve men to verify what God had already told them. Then, they ignored the report. All twelve gave a good report of how fertile the land was, bringing samples of the crops with them. Only two, however, were willing to comply with God's command.
Ten were too frightened by the physical world to trust the spiritual. They ignored the plagues against Egypt. The forgot the dry land between the waters of the Red Sea. They erased the memory of the pillars both day and night. Perhaps they had even forget Mount Sinai and the commandments given from the Lord. Instead of seeing God’s possibilities, they saw themselves as grasshoppers:
And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight. (Numbers 13:33)
David, on the other hand, faced a giant and trusted the Lord:
David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee. (1 Samuel 17:37)
David certainly didn’t live happily ever after – but he was a man after God’s own heart:
But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee. (1 Samuel 13:14)
Oh, he entered that Mistake Zone, too. Just as an entire generation of Israelites were kept out of the Promised Land, David was kept from building the temple for God’s house because of mistakes he made by not heeding God’s word, God’s plan for his life.
How much better, more blessed, easier – all those opportunities!! – it would be for each one of us when we stay close enough to our Lord to hear, then heed, His word.
Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee. (Psalms 119:11)
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Note the yellow push pin above. The pin part is supposed to be touching our property, just south and a hair east of Lake Bridgeport in Wise county, Texas. The raincloud icons indicate where tornados caused damage on May 15 in the countryside of Wise and Montague counties, Millsap and greater damage to homes in Granbury, Cleburne and Ennis.
Yes, we have a cubbyhole, but not an in-ground storm cellar. We depend on there being an EF-3 or less. If it’s an EF-4 or more, only our foundation would remain, as occurred in Granbury, where at least six people lost their lives, in spite of twenty minutes warning.
I heeded the warning, calling Beloved Husband from his workshop, and followed the storms’ progress as they moved from west to east, with the heaviest to our south. We have a closet under a staircase that remains free enough from the junk-collected stuff to hold both of us and give our two cats room to explore an area that is usually off limits to them. No, we only checked it out to be certain it was ready (Okay, so sometimes items accumulate in the floor!), then returned to watch the skies and listen to the weather channels.
We were prepared for storms. We have lived the majority of our lives in what is termed tornado alley in Oklahoma and Texas, though this graphic from the same site gives a slightly different view based on frequency. When my family lived in California, we had a different concept of being prepared for earthquakes. Preparing for east coast hurricanes is different than preparing for ice storms. Those with heavy snows prepare in other ways for being cut off during winter months. Being able to function following a life-changing event remains our goal.
Why, then, do new Christians often believe they’ve done all they need to by making a public profession of faith? True, that’s all the Bible says is required for salvation:
And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. (Acts 16:30-31)
That truly is a life-changing event! Lives do not cease to function once we’ve made that decision to place ourselves into the Lord’s will. We do continue to function following that event, and there are some instructions given in the Bible as to how.
Peter, Andrew, James, John and the other disciples followed Him, literally – though one did not believe, but did so for his own advantage. When it became obvious there was no earthly advantage in following this teacher to the cross, Judas first abandoned Jesus, then left this life altogether. There are some professing Christianity that do the same.
Others, though, like the eleven disciples, falter a bit in their faith, deny a bit as Peter, doubt some as Thomas, but continue throughout with a faith that sustains them through error and doubt. They continually updated their state of preparedness for all of life’s storms. It gives a strong foundation.
He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built an house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great. (Luke 6:48-49)
Saturday, May 18, 2013
The question came up: Are these blogs written for someone in particular?
Well, not so much. What I write each day is something I’ve thought about. This blog is dedicated to putting Bible reading into every day situations – making application of verses to my life. However, I do think about how specific readers might perceive the subject.
Part of the problem with the internet, personal blogs, social networking, comment sections, etc. is that we all tend to treat others online as objects, never considering what we would say if we were sitting face-to-face communicating with a loved one, friend or slight acquaintance. Because of this, there are some very uncharitable postings.
Most of the mainstream media sites have lost my use of their Comments section due to the abject hatred displayed. Words and concepts unacceptable in person-to-person discussions are thrown at opponents, without consideration for how they would sound aloud. Sadly, this is true of some social media postings.
A very kind aged woman ‘Shared’ on Facebook a cartoon that was funny. Unfortunately, the title of the page originating the cartoon was a totally unacceptable pejorative curse word which she overlooked. If it were spoken aloud among her friends, there would have been gasps of disbelief, but displayed on a screen?
Because of this internet culture, I do think of specific people as I type. I think of a reprobate Christian, an avowed atheist, a faithful deacon, a curious youth, a Sunday School girl (for whom these writings began.) I think of what words I would use in talking to them – how the conversation would flow, even try to anticipate some of their questions and seek to answer them as they occur. I use the word “Readers”, but I put specific faces, actual names, into these conversations.
Why? Because I really do talk this way and hold such conversations. I would be more than happy to sit down with anyone and discuss any subject I’ve placed on this site. You see, I believe the scripture:
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: (1 Peter 3:15)
How can I be ready to give answers if I haven’t studied the subject? How can I answer every man if I haven’t considered specific people? How can I tell anyone about my hope unless I can explain its source?
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
Give a voice to the backslidden. Put a face to the unsaved. See the smile of the servant. Enjoy the curiosity in the eye of a child. Do not allow the objectification of the world turn us into “us” or “them”. Do not speak or write to a blank mask. Above all, consider who hears all:
Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. (Psalms 5:1)