Monthly Archives: August 2008

GOD WAS THERE ALL THE TIME

JUST A THOUGHT 

 

          In attempting to understand Moses’ life as a “comeback kid,” I tried to take an overview of the personalities and events as they’re reported in Exodus.  I read the account of his life in several translations, relying primarily on Scripture.  As I’ve reflected on what I read, it seems to me that God was working “behind the scenes” and “beneath the surface” in every phase of Moses’ life.  But not in obvious ways.  When Moses’ anger erupted like an angry volcano and spewed hot, murderous hatred out on that Egyptian guard that day, I expect almost all pundits would have considered him “finished.”  Certainly so after he vanished from the stage of history and spent four decades in obscurity out at the edge of nowhere.  FORTY YEARS!  No doubt, around town folks wondered what ever became of “ole whasshisname.”  Maybe they’d seen his mug shot in the post offfice or on a John Walsh program.  But, for all intents and purposes, he was long gone and forgotten.  By everyone except God, apparently.  Even Moses may not have realized at the time that God had picked him for an assignment and was in process of getting him ready for the task.

          God was there all the time.   Unnoticed in the shadows, perhaps, but never absent.  Long before Paul penned the comforting words contained in Romans 8:28, God was doing what He does best: caring for His own.  Preparing and protecting them, and forcing even bad circumstances to serve good purposes.

         Do you think it’s too much to believe He might be working in such ways in your life and mine. . . even today?  For my part, I believe that’s a conclusion we could reach very logically and almost inevitably.  God doesn’t throw us onto the rubbish pile of humanity because we make mistakes…even serious mistakes.  His grace is greater than all our sin!  (And that isn’t simply a beautiful sentiment from a beautiful Gospel song.)

         I’ve had to make myself understand, though, that God doesn’t wear a chronograph (watch. I had to find a way to use that word somewhere!).  He isn’t swayed by world events or public opinion.  He is faithful to His children, even when they do not return the favor.  

         If I have any understanding at all of Scripture, these facts are clear to me:  God has a place for you (and me.)  He loves you (and me.)  He has not kicked you off the team because you fumbled in an important game.  Get those facts fixed firmly in your mind.  Stop pouting. Stop doubting.  Quit the blame and shame game.  Stop rummaging in the  moulded memories and mistakes of your past!  I don’t mean to sound like a Dutch Uncle, but sometimes I’ve had to talk tough to my own self that way.  God didn’t “fire” me; I failed when I simply “walked off the job” harshly judging and condemning my own self as being unworthy.   I strayed away and stayed away too long.  But, I’m back, and it is a tribute to the patience and love of God and the prayers of people who loved me and never gave up on me. . . even when I did!

        Forgiven, and with faith restored, I’ve come to believe that if God “sets before me an open door, no man can close it.”  When I fall, or feel I’ve failed, or been accidentally or unfairly knocked on my backside I need to stay there only long enough to catch my breath.  Then get up and go back to serve!  

         MOSES CERTAINLY DID!! 

 God’s servant, your friend and fellow student  ~donkimrey

 

 

 

 

 

MOSES WAS CHOSEN

MIGHTY MOE: YOU HAVE NOT CHOSEN ME

 

          (Writer’s note: You’ll notice no chapter/verse references in this “study.”  What I’ve tried to do is keep the entire account of Exodus under consideration, and try to figure how Moses finally emerged from obscurity.)  

          One thing, which strikes me as being supremely important in Moses’ “Comeback,” is the fact that he was chosen for the task.  We must not overlook that.  Also worth nothing is the fact that Moses had nothing to do with that part of his “comeback.”  He did not choose.  He was chosen.  From among all the people on the planet, God chose him for that important assignment!

          I don’t much believe in “coincidences.”    As I’ve been dwelling on the life of Moses, I’ve thought how he “dropped off the radar” and then reappeared at possibly the most critical time in Jewish history.  Just a day or so ago, I saw a church sign that caught my attention.  The Baptist Church across the street from us in the little village were we own property had this notice:  “God does not choose the ‘qualified.’  He qualifies those whom He chooses.”  Everywhere I see God at work, that seems always to be the case.  He chooses those whom He uses!   And he uses those whom he chooses!

          When we look at Moses’ life from our vantage point in history, we can see a lot of “stuff” which seemed to fall into place like pieces of a puzzle:  The way he was protected from the wrath of Pharaoh by being hidden in the bulrushes;  his being discovered by Pharaoh’s daughter; then his own Mother was hired and paid to raise him.  In the palace, of course, he was afforded the highest possible quality education and standard of living.  Because of that, he was not “bowled over” with eyes bulging and mouth agape when he reappeared on the Egyptian scene with the magnificent architecture and the trappings that accompany royalty.  He’d already “been there, seen and done that.” 

           Even when there was an unexpected turn of events and he found himself a fugitive, he fled to the backside of the desert.  Personally, I do not believe that was accidental.  There he learned the meaning of hard work, discipline, sacrifice, how to navigate in the harsh wilderness and how to eke out an existence and find water.  Although we can look back from our “safe” perch in history, Moses did not KNOW what was going on at the time it was happening.  God had chosen him, and was preparing him for his great leadership role in the history of the Jewish nation. . . and he may not have been “saintly-certain”at the time!  

          It doesn’t take a great stretch of the imagination, or such a huge leap of faith to believe that same God could just at this very moment be working this kind of miracle in my life today.  And in yours.  Does it?

          Let’s think about this just a bit further.   Have you ever thought about how world events seem to be swirling, tottering on the abyss?  Has it ever struck you that, at times such as this, that there is an uncannily strange convergence of events and the emergence of a great leader?  Isn’t that strange?  Can you really attribute such things as mere coincidences?

           Take Britain, for example, in the dark days that preceded their being dragged into World War II.  Neville Chamberlain, their Prime Minister at the time, had sought to appease the madman who led the Nazi war machine.  He came home from one of his futile missions and announced proudly that through negotiation he’d “achieved peace in our time.”  Even as he spoke, Hitler was raping another victim nation. With the light of hope almost extinguished in all of Europe, England wisely turned to a tenacious, brilliantly eloquent, cigar-chomping, Sir Winston Churchill.  As nearly as I can recall from reading several works by, or about him, Sir Winston said that night for the first time in a long while, he slept peacefully.  “It seemed,” he said later, “that all my life was but a preparation for this hour.”

           Perhaps you can think of other comparable situations.  It seems that in every crisis God has a plan and a man.  I’m not being chauvinistic when I write that.  I believe you grasp the point I’m trying to make.  In my mind, I cannot help but think of Billy Graham in a context such as this.  The idea of a young “farm lad” being chosen as God’s spokesman to nations and generations, assembling a loyal team about him, and their working faithfully together for more than half a century!  By any account, that kind of sterling leadership, never besmirched by scandal of any sort, is more a tribute to the Sovereign grace of God than it is to any mere man.  And Billy Graham would say the same thing.  He was chosen.  As were those who served so faithfully for so long with him.

           So, something else occurs to me as I contemplate the importance of being “chosen.”  Not everyone is Moses.  Or Sir Winston Churchill.  Or Billy Graham.  Other members of those “teams” were also chosen.  It only takes a smidgling of common sense to understand the importance of a great maestro to conduct a great symphony.  But what about the first chair in the violin section?  Or the Trumpet section?  What about the person who sits at the grand piano?  Don’t you see they were chosen, too?   And if you are more into athletic analogies, how about the Coach?  Wouldn’t you say he is chosen?  And the quarterback?  Are they the only ones on a team who are “chosen?”   Oh, no.  Not by a long shot.

          I’m not being very subtle, and I realize that.  What I think we ought to understand as we consider Moses’ being chosen for a specific role in history, is that WE ALSO ARE CHOSEN.   I have an idea I’m not telling anyone anything which you don’t already know.  Just reminding you of your opportunity.  And your responsibility. You’re chosen, and your assignment is important.  Incidentally, before these comments ever got “online” they went through my heart and mind. 

 

          That’s enough to think about for a while, isn’t it?   If you’ve read the Exodus account of the events and personalities we’ve been considering, you’ve probably drawn the same conclusion.  It seems to me that a current of logic is flowing here, and if followed to its destination, each of us can see God has a plan for us.  He has chosen us for a specific purpose. 

           Serious study of scripture is not a “spectator sport.”  It is not intended for us simply to see facts and acquire little bits of interesting, entertaining information.  It appears quite clear to me that the “Author” intends that we apply truth to our lives and operate as though the “message” was meant for  each of us as much as for the original participants!  

           Seriously, I don’t know how God works.  I do believe He works, though, and my responsibility is to try to understand how I fit into His plans.  I cannot honestly claim to have seen a “burning bush” or heard God speak to me audibly.  Ever.  Perhaps God feels it is enough for someone like me to read about someone like Moses.  And through such an experience understand that He intercepts me on my path today and calls me to do His will.  The “burning bush” then, doesn’t really seem to be the most important thing about this step in Moses’ “comeback.”  It was, instead, his personal contact with the living God, and his bending to the will of his Creator.

           You and I can experience that . . . “burning bush” or not! 

                                     His servant, your friend and fellow student   ~donkimrey

IN MY ABSENCE. . .

(From Don: Some of you know I’ve been “slaying some dragons” and waging a few personal battles.  I don’t feel it’s necessary to go into details, but one of the things I appreciate so much about the Apostle Paul is that he was pretty much an “open book.” He didn’t whine or complain, but when he was hurting you pretty much knew what he was thinking and feeling.  I’ve always been transparent and those who know me usually could tell if I had something on my mind.  I HAVE had some things on my mind and have simply lacked the time to crystalize and verbalize my final thoughts on Moses.  Fortunately, you don’t have to have a desk or computer to meditate and pray, but I’ve been busy with some personal things and haven’t been able to concentrate on posting anyting “officially.”  I’ll have that behind me soon and be back on track.   In the meanwhile, I’ve asked “Ebby Dickens” for permission to use some of her observations.
I’ve NEVER told anyone what to think, but have always encouraged them to think.  One of the great blessings of this effort has been to hear from some of you.  It’s humbling when someone tells me I’ve said or done something helpful.  Even more humbling when they come up with insights which I’d probably never have discovered.  I’ll be back “on task” shortly.  in the meanwhile, enjoy “Ebby” and let me know what you think.)  
Once again, Don, your study and thoughts on Moses inspired me to study and think as well.  And while none of my thoughts/comments answer your questions in Scripture Student, I thought you might appreciate what your own study inspired.  (smile) 
 
When digging a little deeper in this study, one just cannot help but see that the life of Moses is full of ironies. Chockfull!  In order to save her son, Jochebed had to let Moses go – and float him right into the arms of the enemy, daughter of the Egyptian Pharaoh.  Hence, Moses identified with both Hebrew (by birth) and Egyptian (by upbringing) and ultimately, his Hebrew identity enabled him to feel the pain of enslavement and beatings of his people.
 
(Remember Clinton’s 1992 comment, “I feel your pain”?  Well, Moses really did!  And killed an Egyptian while feeling it!! I still maintain this was righteous anger on behalf of his Hebrew people.)  He then ran to Midian and was there 40 years (that number will become very, very familiar to us as we study scripture). 
 
But perhaps the biggest irony of all in the life of Moses is that the man who murdered an Egyptian, would be the same man who would later inscribe with chisel and carry to the people, God’s sixth commandment: “You shall not murder”. (Ex 20:13)
 
And because I believe nothing is left to chance in scripture, I believe God was in each irony, preparing Moses to lead His people out of bondage and into the Land of Promise.  If ever there was a Comeback Kid – it was Moses.
(Don again.  This is a “study,” remember.  We’re in this together, aren’t we?  Love to hear hour thoughts.dk)
  

dk wrote:
“Think about Moses, now.  Explain his comeback.  What relevance does it have to your life today?  To mine?  Etc.”  

 

 
Fear = Bondage.  In commanding Moses to confront Pharaoh, God was sending him right back to the very one Moses fearfully ran and hid from for so many years.  (That brings facing-our-fears to a whole new level, doesn’t it?)  However, Moses placed more importance on Trusting and Obeying God, than staying in hiding and nursing his fears. Letting go of fear and learning to trust is oftentimes the hardest thing to do; but trusting and obeying God are necessary stepping-stones to the path to becoming a Comeback Kid.
 
I always had a difficult time with God continuing to “harden Pharaoh’s heart” thinking that a bit unfair.  But I learned in disciple class that “God hardens no one’s heart who has not first hardened it him or herself”.  So it is to Moses’ credit that he didn’t allow his heart to become bitter and hardened those many years he stayed in Midian.  Perhaps another lesson and stepping-stone to coming back is a softened-heart, even in the throes of a painful experience.
 
In addition to the influence Moses’ mother had in his life, do you believe his father-in-law, Jethro, had a positive impact on Moses?  Jethro gave Moses his blessing and allowed him to return to his people in Egypt- and follow the will of God.  We can never under-estimate the influence Holy hospitality and godly people have in our lives and should endeavor to surround ourselves with them.  They can be instrumental in helping someone comeback to Christ when they’ve strayed.

 
So lets see…. learning to trust and obey in the face of fear and bondage; keeping a softened heart and not becoming bitter in the face of whatever-life-throws-our-way; surrounding ourselves with(and extending!) Holy hospitality and godly people and their influences are all worthy lessons-learned.  They were relevant in the life of Moses – and still are today in the life of Ebby.  (smile)
~Ebby Dickens, “GUEST EDITOR”

MOSES’ MESSAGE AND MISSION

(Writer’s note:  We’re considering God’s “Comeback Kids” currently.  Moses is our focus, and the context is pretty much the entire book of Exodus.  It’s my belief that God chose and empowered mere men to carry out His work.  They were not saints.  Far from it, in fact.  If anything, you’ll find many of their lives were as spoiled and soiled as our own.  Perhaps even more so in some instances.          My prayer and hope is that each of us (I include myself) will grasp that important fact.  And that we will draw a logical conclusion that: If He could use them, then He can also use me. . . in spite of my flaws and failures, public or private.                                                                                 If you read the stories of the great personalities of Scripture and view them as merely interesting, even exciting accounts of really outstanding people, you miss the point.  Entirely.                                                                                                                         If you see their lives as examples of what God can (and will) do with surrendered lives, you are beginning to see the light!                                                                                                                                                                                                    We don’t have to be perfect.  We can not be perfect.  The point is that a loving, merciful God can forgive sin, cleanse and mend broken hearts and lives and use them as instruments to inspire and lift others. ~dk )

 

Mighty moe:  his message.  I’m convinced this figured largely in his “comeback” and continued success.

          The message was so clear and simple.  That is key.  Suppose Moses had made a “comeback.”   And didn’t have anything to say.  Certainly nothing understandable or convincing.  If he were unsure of himself.  If he weren’t convinced, clear and confident, would anyone have listened to anything he had to say?  Much less the Pharaoh?  

          When Jesus stepped across a man’s path and said, “Follow me,” the disciples stopped what they were doing.  Dropped their nets (their ‘careers,’) and FOLLOWED HIM.  Do you think anyone would have followed Him anywhere, if they felt He had no clue about where he was going? Or simply could not understand what He said?  

          The instructions Moses received were quite clear:  I want you to go see Pharaoh.  The message he was told to deliver was very plain:  “LET MY PEOPLE GO.”  Turn them loose.  Set them free.  

          Before we simply “scoot” by that, think of the impact such a move would have on the Egyptian economy.  The figures and statistics quoted in this story aren’t required to meet the U.S. Census standards, but we must be talking about 600,000+ men, “beside women and children.”  God did not tell the Egyptian ruler to LET MY PEOPLE GO because it was the best thing to do in terms of economic policy.  Or the politically expedient thing to do.  In the minds of some, such an act on Pharaoh’s part may have in fact been tantamount to political suicide.  His advisors may have felt they had reason to have Pharaoh committed to the “Looney bin.”  

          Something else I believe figured in the comeback.  That was Moses’ patience and courage.  Once he got it in his mind what he was supposed to say and do, he stuck to the task no matter what the risks or demands may have been! How many times did he go right back into the face of Pharaoh with that simple, single sentence speech?   Knowing full well that Pharaoh considered himself above all others and perhaps a god himself, how much courage of commitment do you think this man had!?  Moses knew full well that, at the slightest provocation and with a flick of Pharaoh’s wrist, his doom was sealed.  

          Think about Moses’ willingness to work with difficult people. Downright ornery, in fact.   They wanted to be free and able to eat plenty, but they didn’t want to plant, or plow, or reap corn.  And they grumbled and whined and complained.  Couple times Moses complained to God about why he’d inherited such an assignment with such a hard-headed, hard-hearted, rowdy crowd.  And the murmuring turned a six-week to-two-month-trek by foot as the crow flies, into a forty-year jaunt while they looked like a bunch of silly adults playing “ring around the roses,” grumbling and wondering around in aimless, endless circles, and then they all fall down in the sand!  Dead!!  An entire generation of Israelites blocked from realizing their dreams because of sullen, lousy attitudes.  Surely, there is a lesson in it for me somewhere about the ignorance and futility of stinking thinking!  The foolish absurdity of failing to follow God’s leaders as they follow God!  The failure on our own part to seek and find and follow God’s will for our own lives will always run into a dead end. More often than not, a bottomless pit of failure, guilt, and shame and plaguing thoughts of “what might have been.”

         While still pondering the factors which contributed to Moses’ “comeback,” I’ve become convinced that much of his early training had MUCH to do with the kind of man Moses became.   And thus, later in life, were prominent factors which figured in his “comeback.”   There’s a Biblical principle, which, although written in Scripture much later, must have come into play here:  “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”  He may stray away.  But he won’t stay away.  Apparently, that was what happened in Moses’ case.  In spite of his angry outbursts, principles had been instilled in him deeply, early, and permanently.  His character, undoubtedly, was influenced mostly by his mother.  Don’t ever overlook that.  She helped him establish his true identity and worth.  And if you had the blessing of having a good Mom, never discount the value of that lasting influence.  It will follow you all the days of your life!  Also, if you have opportunity to be a good Mother now, rest assured that God places a premium on your service and a stamp of approval on that influence!  The lessons you teach by words and with your life, are indelibly imprinted on your child’s character forever.

           There was also the contribution which Pharaoh’s daughter made.  She wasn’t just an “air head” or a dumb blond (We’re in Egypt, not Sveden!).  You know she probably spoiled young Moses rotten.  He was her “little toy.”  Her “hobby.”  In spite of that, though,  she, or certainly someone, had taught him manners and social skills which stood him in good stead shortly after he fled from Egypt.  And, by osmosis, he must have absorbed some of the courtly conduct- a sense of how to properly deport your self in almost every situation.   He became a gentleman, which by my definition, is a “gentle man.”  Remember how he “took up” for the daughters of Jethro Reuel  when the shepherds bullied them at the well?  Then, in another gentlemanly gesture, he drew their water for them?  The girls were so impressed they told their Dad, who insisted that the polite stranger be invited to their home for lunch.  One of them later became his wife!  You might have done the same thing, but rest assured common courtesy to women in that day and age was uncommon as snow in the desert.  Women were little more than chattel.  Beasts of burden.  They bore children, did chores, and were considered useful for little more than that.  

            The gentlemanly grace and courtly bearing appears evident again when he comes back to Egypt years later to confront the king. (He has stood, you remember, directly in the presence of God ( El…carried on conversation with Deity. Check on name of God used here).  Even argued his point.  So you’ve probably correctly gathered the same impression I did, namely that he knew his way around town.  He was not ‘country dumb,’ newly come to town with a fresh load of turnips or tobacco or watermelons.  He knew whom to approach, how to gain an audience with him, and how not to be awe-struck or intimidated by even earthly royalty.  Incidentally, the Pharaoh (like other kings and Caesars in Rome, china, and other nations) was conditioned early on to believe he was descended from the “gods.”  He believed he was one of them.  And his subjects were routinely brainwashed with the same hogwash.  Hence, the false notion of “the divine right of kings.”  Moses, then, on these occasions, was not simply having a chamber chat with a royal chum.  He was in the presence of Deified Royalty.  Even if wrongly perceived, it was firmly believed!  It would be a very wise idea, if he valued his life, for Moses to tone down the rhetoric.

          But he did not do that.  He said:  “GOD told me to tell you:  LET MY PEOPLE GO!”  And he did not stutter.  And he did not whisper.  Pharaoh understood perfectly whom Moses was addressing and what he was saying.           

          I tend to examine some things closely, and just because I don’t discuss them at length doesn’t mean I don’t think about them carefully.  For instance, I’ve wondered how Moses must have felt after he killed the Egyptian.  I know how I felt when I killed a little rabbit first time.  You’d have thought I shot Thumper!  And I could never have  gone deer hunting . . . with a gun!  No way would I have run the risk of shooting Bambi!  Under some conditions, there’s no doubt in my mind I would do what I felt I had to do.  If necessary to defend my family, I’m sure I would be compelled to kill.  Perhaps I’d do the same in self-defense.  But enjoy it?  Take it lightly?  Shrug it off and forget it happened?  Never in a thousand lifetimes!

          Hold that thought for a while.  I want to ponder it further, and will be back online shortly.  In keeping with my objective stated early in the “history” of this blog, I want to be clear about my purpose.  It is to bring hope.  Help restore faith.  To offer positive assurance of forgiveness.  Some things I feel are very clear in my study so far have been: (1.) God is at work in your life.  Even if it is behind the scenes and unrecognized by you.  Please remember that.  There is no wasted effort, and God was determined even then that “all things would work together for good (Be sure you read the entire sentence in context, Romans 8:28 ff.). (2.) He can cleanse and use even those whom the world has cast aside.  Even those who consider themselves not worth being salvaged or used.  (3.)  Your “failure” does not mean God is through with you!

          Now, I hope that doesn’t sound like “preaching,” or a “sermon.”  It seems to me to be perfectly logical conclusions which can be drawn from repeated instances in Scripture. It is especially visible in the lives of the “Comeback Kids.”

          Even if you don’t need to hear that for yourself right now, one of your friends does.  If the power of that realization dawns upon you, I expect you will feel compelled to share the good news of your discovery! 

His servant, your friend and fellow student, donkimrey