Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanks be to God!


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

I will rain down bread from heaven...Promises for the Wilderness #18


Israel's third test came exactly one month after they left slavery in Egypt (the account is found in Exodus 16) - but there is still evidence of the "slave" mentality; that conditioning of blindly accepting what only the eyes can see (and then perception altered so that what is really lack and leanness is redefined as abundance). They still haven't developed the "son" mentality that knows it can go to their Father with requests and needs and desires. 

It is always His inclination to "rain down on us" all that we need...

He allows the nation to become hungry - to allow them to see His provision.  When they KNOW they are hungry, do they look towards their Father in eager expectation; or do they look to their own lack and experience fear and frustration?   

What is it that I do, when I am hungry...hungry for ~
love, 
attention, 
 acceptance, 
recognition, 
peace, 
or ___________?  

And when the people I look to, expecting them to meet my need, do I grumble against their "failure" instead of recognizing it wasn't their place to give it to me at all?

We can see in Exodus 16 some traits of slave mentality:
  • grumbling
  • longing for the old life when things get hard in the new 
  • speaking out against earthly authority
  • expectation that our most basic needs will not be met even in the face of incredible evidence that contradicts such thinking
  • an inability to see beyond the temporal and embrace the spiritual
The children of Israel complain against Moses and Aaron without even once speaking to their Deliverer in prayer...yet God knows this heart condition.  He has delivered them at the Red Sea, He has cleansed them at Mara, and allowed them to rest in Elim.  Now it is time for the work to be "proved" and the wilderness journey reveals they still haven't learned to lean on Him in trust.  And they grumble.  But it is God's desire to rain down blessings on them...and He gives them the tangible bread of heaven because He wants to lead them to the intangible Bread of Heaven...

...and He teaches them that He will always given them more than enough for each day, 
and He will always give it every day...

...not just the nourishment for our bodies, but the deep nourishment our souls are hungry for...

He commanded the clouds above And opened the doors of heaven;
He rained down manna upon them to eat And gave them food from heaven.
Man did eat the bread of angels; He sent them food in abundance.

 Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, 
but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven.  
For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”
 
“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 
They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.
They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; 
for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, 
and that rock was Christ.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. 
Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, 
and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.
John 6:35


"Rain down on me, my Jesus!
Let my hunger always be for You." 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I am the Lord who heals you...Promises for the Wilderness #17

The second wilderness test (Exodus 15):  refining...
Processed with two layers of Kim Klassen's 1111-unscripted at "overlay" blend mode.


After seeing the army of Pharoah defeated by the Lord at the Red Sea, the small nation travels for three days in this wilderness, led by God Himself.  He is leading them to the beauty and provision of the palm grove of Elim, but it is necessary in God's plans that they pass by Marah on the way...

It is at Marah that the test comes - this is the first water they have come to since the Red Sea, and they need water.  It could be that the nation has been fasting for these three days, but we don't know for sure.  If they had been fasting, they are at the end of the human body's ability to survive.  The water at Marah feels necessary, but it is bitter...

How many times do we drink from the cup of bitterness, believing it to be "necessary"?
How long have we pushed down* feelings of anger, fear, worry, stress because we haven't been free to express these strong emotions? 

The "root of bitterness" defiles.  In other words, it corrupts what it touches, making it "unclean" or "unholy".  God has called Israel to be a holy nation, but He knows the years of slavery have produced roots of bitterness in their hearts.  If left hidden, these roots will continue to spring up and hinder their spiritual growth; for us today, that means that the springs of living water that flow out of our hearts when we are saved would become bitter from the root of bitterness if left untouched. 

But the bitter waters of Marah are made sweet by a simple tree being thrown in...a picture of the work of the Cross. When we bring our hurts, angers, fears, etc. to the foot of the cross, the place of death, the intense emotions can be released, the original wounds healed, our memories neutralized, they become part of our testimony and can become a source of encouragement to others having experienced the same things, instead of continuing to spread defilement in our lives and those around us.

Here at Marah God issues a command and a promise; the verse says it is a form of testing - of "proving" or "assaying".  Think of this type of testing as a refining, a cleansing of impurities...the new nation was out of Egypt, but Egypt has to be cleansed out of the nation. 
"If you diligently heed the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the Lord who heals you."                                                                 Exodus 15:25
 
Modern medical research has confirmed that bitterness is the source of many physical, emotional and behavioral problems. (See here and here and follow the links).  Tho' modern medicine gives good steps to forgive and reduce our bitterness and stress, only obeying the Lord's command here carries the promise of "none of these diseases".

After the work at Marah, the Lord finishes leading them to Elim where there are 12 springs of water and 70 date palms.  Here they can rest.  God has accomplished all that is needed for the Israelites to move ahead in their journey with Him...He has delivered them from slavery, and has healed them.

This camp at Elim is a beautiful picture of the Sabbath rest that God intends for His children. Simply put, the symbolism** of this place at Elim is an Old Testament type and word picture that encompasses these two New Testament truths:

 "He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'"  John 7:38
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellenc,... 2 Peter 1:3-8 

The wilderness is a place the Lord has prepared a place of rest.  And as we journey, it is by His design that we be released from bitterness, receive healing, and learn to live stress free as we develop trust in His provision.  I want that...how about you?

* The word "bitter" is derived from another meaning "to press; press down".  What a good picture of how bitterness develops - by pressing down emotion that really needs to be expressed appropriately!
(This is the needed work of so much counseling!)

** 
There are 4 symbolic numbers designated as "perfect" numbers when it comes to Biblical types and symbols...3, 7, 10 and 12.  This one verse contains each perfect number, reinforcing the idea that there is nothing to be added to what the Lord has provided.

Palms represent "flourishing" (and more!)
Seventy is another combination of two of the perfect numbers, 7 and 10. Hence 7 x 10 signifies perfect spiritual order carried out with all spiritual powerNothing is lacking; the number and order are perfect; that the whole cycle is complete. 
Twelve is a perfect number, signifying perfection of government, or of governmental perfection.  In other words, fully under the Holy Spirit's control/rule.
Springs refer to the flow of Holy Spirit life coming from our inmost being after receiving Jesus as Savior.  It is a life that cannot be constructed by one's own power, but comes from a deep, unseen source.

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Lord Will Fight for You...Promises for the Wilderness #16


The first wilderness test:  Opposition from the "world"


While peace, comfort, and security are promises the Christ assures us are part of our new lives in Him, it isn't always evident at first.  The journey out of slavery, through the wilderness struggle of becoming "new" - or the wilderness journey of being refashioned "anew" again and again - and emerging in the place of being able to "take possession" of our promised land, is awash with lessons to be learned; and these lessons help us to take off the cloaks of false identities we have wrapped around ourselves so that we can receive the mantle of our true identity through Christ.

In the Biblical language of "types and shadows", Egypt is a "type" which represents our old lives before salvation.   The first test occurs when they are barely out of "Egypt"...the ruler of Egypt (a type of Satan) begins to pursue the Israelites with vengeance - even to the point that the children of God cried out in despair that it would have been better to remain as they had been - slaves in Egypt!

Awareness can be frightening at first.  The territory of the unknown is frightening.  Old ways haunt us; old friends or habits seem appealing because at least that is familiar.  We cry out and it doesn't seem that God hears because we are so frightened...hear what the Lord says through Moses:

Perhaps it is the roar of Satan through old friends and family that are furious at you for your new choices, and the harsh words pouring over you seem like an army in pursuit...hear what the Lord says through Moses:
“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians (the cravings, the familiar old ways, the pull of the old life, the anger of others about your new choices)* you see today you will not see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
The children of Israel needed to hear comfort from someone else.  They weren't chastised for being new in their journey with God, but comforted by one who knew Him intimately.  Who can you call on to give you sound and Godly wisdom?  Call them when the opposition of the world seems to be too much!

*the underlined words are my additions

Thursday, November 7, 2013

You shall remember...Promises for the Wilderness #15


Endurance, testing, miracles, strength, a sure faith in the Lord's care...these are just some of what we learn in the wilderness...

There are tests in the wilderness - specific circumstances designed to purify our hearts and strengthen our confidence in the Lord's care for us and to give us understanding so we can encourage others in their wilderness journey...those are the things coming in this series...it may be hard, but His Presence will still be with us!

I don't know the source of the following information, but I received an email years ago with it, and I have hung on to it as a reminder of the miracles in the wilderness.  I hope you enjoy it!  (I totally understand why manna was the Lord's choice of food!)


MATHEMATICAL MIRACLE
 
Moses and the people were in the desert, but what was he going to do with them?  They had to be fed, and feeding 2 or 3 million people requires a lot of food.  According to the Quartermaster General in the Army, it is reported that Moses would have to have had 1500 tons of food each day.



Do you know that to bring that much food each day, two freight trains, each a mile long, would be required!  Besides you must remember, they were out in the desert, so they would have to have firewood to use in cooking the food.  This would take 4000 tons of wood and a few more freight trains, each a mile long, just for one day.  And just think, they were forty years in transit.



And oh, yes!  They would have to have water.  If they only had enough to drink and wash a few dishes, it would take 11,000,000 gallons each day, and a freight train with tank cars, 1800 miles long, just to bring water!



And then another thing!  They had to get across the Red Sea at night.  (They did?)  Now, if they went on a narrow path, double file, the line would be 800 miles long and would require 35 days and nights to get through.  So, there had to be a space in the Red Sea, 3 miles wide so that they could walk 5000 abreast to get over in one night.  But then, there is another problem….



Each time they camped at the end of the day, a campground two-thirds the size of the state of Rhode Island was required, or a total of 750 square miles long…think of it!  This space just for nightly camping.



Do you think Moses figured all this out before he left Egypt?  I think not!  Moses believed in God.  God took care of these things for him. 



Do you think God has any problem taking care of all your needs?

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Lord is concerned for us...Promises from the Wilderness #14

How precious this verse is!  How relieved the Israelite slaves must have been to know they were noticed, "seen" by their God...the Scripture even says, after Moses and Aaron spoke to them:

...so the people believed, 
and when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them 
and had seen their misery, 
they bowed down and worshiped.

He had seen their misery.  He knew and was now beginning to move on their behalf, exactly as He had fortold their patriarch, Abraham.  The word from which "He had seen" is translated, "raah", means "to see, consider, to experience, to observe, to look intently, to search" to name just a few.  In this phrase, the Israelites realized that He wasn't ignoring them, that they were not forgotten, but that He was intricately involved with them.  

"Raah" contains a powerful word picture; it is part of one of the names of God, Jehovah-Raah, The Lord my Shepherd!  

This deserves a Selah moment...

The Lord has been closely attending to the development of the nation, even if they hadn't seen, as a Shepherd tends His sheep.  

Not only that, but He called forth a shepherd to lead the people out of the wilderness of slavery and into an encounter of intimacy with Him...

Feeling prompted by the Spirit (and always enjoying a good search for a word's meaning), I wondered what the word "Goshen" might mean...I was anticipating maybe something like "pastures in the wilderness" or some similar thing.  But, even better, it means "drawing near".

Another Selah moment...

But it is good for me to draw near to God:
I have put my trust in the Lord GOD,
that I may declare all thy works
Psalm 73:28

 How blessed is the one whom You choose
and bring near to You to dwell in Your courts.
We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house,
Your holy temple.
Psalm 65:4

The LORD is near to all who call upon Him...
Psalm 145:18
How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You To dwell in Your courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple. - See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/drawing-near-to-God#sthash.EbW0JZOi.dpuf
How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You To dwell in Your courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple. - See more at: http://bible.knowing-jesus.com/topics/drawing-near-to-God#sthash.EbW0JZOi.dpuf

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 (out of slavery, out of the land of Goshen)*, 
you will worship God on this mountain.”
Exodus 3:12


The time of "drawing near" comes to an end 
when we find ourselves at the foot of the Mountain of the Lord, 
or in His courts 
in a state of worship...Selah


*Parenthetical thoughts are added by myself

Friday, November 1, 2013

Before they call, I will answer...Promises from the Wilderness #13

Love this quote by Elizabeth Barrett Browning:
Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God, but only he who sees takes off his shoes...


Exodus Chapter 3 is where the encounter of the  burning bush and God's call/recall to Moses is found.  Moses is at the backside (KJV), the far side (HCSB), the west side (NASB) of the wilderness.  Not only is he in the wilderness, but he is so deep in that he is really as far away from where his calling is as possible.  It is there that he comes to Mount Horeb, the mountain of God.

Horeb is the lower summit of the two peaks that make up the entire mountain of Sinai.  The name "Horeb" means desert, dry, wasteThe wilderness isn't a place of total barrenness.  There is pasture and water in the wilderness, as well as sparse, rocky and dry areas - that is why vast flocks of sheep and cattle are shepherded in these places.  It is open, a place that is yet unclaimed. And just so we don't mistake that Moses is still in the environment of the wilderness and not some lush oasis, the writer makes sure that even here, at the mountain of the Lord, "Horeb" is used as the correct description of where God is speaking to Moses...because we need to KNOW that He will speak to us while we are still in that waste place, He doesn't wait for us to "get to the right place" or to "pull ourselves together"...He speaks to us right where we are...

It is here that Jesus appears as a consuming fire to him. But not until He knows that Moses is paying attention.

40 years have passed since Moses fled Egypt.  He isn't longing to leave this wild place according to the text, but seems to be at peace serving his father-in-law (whom we saw was a type of Jesus).  Has he really learned to be content in all things, as the Apostle Paul later wrote?  Had he stopped hoping for his destiny, and was only living out the remainder of his days "stuck" in the wilderness?  Did he believe (hope?) God was ignoring him due to his poor choices years before?  Was his heart crying out "I know there is more for me than this?"  Had he stopped asking God to use him?  Did he know that God still watched over his every breath?  Did he know he was constantly in God's presence, that there in the wilderness, there was no place he could flee from it?  We aren't told for certain, and it is in these possibilities that we can find our own stories...

When Moses has noticed the marvel of the bush that burns but isn't consumed, that is when Jesus calls to him.  And this calling isn't the "still small voice" that Elijah heard and is preached about as the way the Lord usually speaks into our hearts...this calling cannot be mistaken!  It is a calling out, a cry, a loud sound!  It is a summoning, a proclaiming, a commissioning, an appointing, a calling and endowing.  It is the same crying out of a town cryer, announcing some sort of news.  That is what a call from the Lord is like!  You cannot mistake Who it is and what it is -  the only condition is that you become aware there is something extraordinary happening. And Jesus makes sure it is pretty hard to ignore that there IS something supernatural at hand!

And thus the choice of promise for today...Jesus had met Moses when he first fled into the wilderness, was constantly with him every moment of those 40 years, and at just the right time He called out to Moses, answering his heart's cry before Moses had uttered it out loud...

Is it time for your "burning bush" experience?