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Archive for Exodus

Jan
18

Make Your Mark:: 3

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As far back as I can remember, I’ve wanted to change the world. This is a sentiment that is shared by many people I know. There’s something compelling about leaving a legacy or making a mark, if you will. I think that many are deterred from such lofty aspirations because they automatically assume that changing the world involves something notable or publicly recognized. Aspirations to become a world changer gets overtaken by “visions of grandeur,” so the dream derails.

In heaven’s economy, little is much when God is in it. Take Jocabed, for example. When Pharaoh’s edict to have all male babies destroyed that were born to Hebrew families was handed down (cf. Exodus 2), Jocabed determined to make her mark. Through creative inspiration she “obeyed” Pharaoh’s order and put baby Moses in the Nile River. After all, Pharaoh never mentioned that the babies couldn’t be placed in baskets! Through the miraculous hand of God Moses was drawn out of the water by Pharaoh’s daughter and Jocabed was solicited to nurse him through his formative preschool years. The impact she made on one person’s life bore fruit in his 40th year when he wandered down to the brick making factory to check on “his people.” Moses’ mark on the world is know world wide. Jocabed, not so much.

The point is that you can be a world changer without media attention and cable news interviews. You have the potential to change the world for God and for good. The world may never view your contributions with common knowledge, but God sees and knows what you’ve done and continue to do.

So how about it? Is there a commitment you need to make that will change the world? Is there an opportunity to use your gifts and talents you need to accept? Is there an offering you need to make? Is there a person you need to serve? Is there an organization that needs a volunteer? Make yourself available to God, and let Him determine the size and scope of the impact. Don’t let the small things deter you from making your mark and leaving a legacy. You never know the kind of difference you can make!

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Jan
09

The Next Chapter:: 1

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History has a way of casting big shadows. Circumstances, events, and even personalities can become larger than life! Stories are told and told again until the stories become legends. Now there’s nothing wrong with history and legendary tales from yesterday. But if we’re not careful, we can come to a place where we pause and look at one another and lament like Elijah, “we are not greater than our fathers!”

The story of the Exodus was epic. It began, like all good stories, with the daring rescue of a baby from a tyrant ruler named Pharaoh. The deliverance of the baby from certain death foreshadows what was to come: the rescued becomes the rescuer!

The unfolding drama fast forwards eight decades. The baby, now an aged gentleman (by modern standards, at least), is challenged by God to become the emancipator of an enslaved people. Before you know it, this 80 year old man, armed with nothing but a stick, is standing before the most powerful man in the world, demanding that the people of God be released. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. After all, why should he give up a no cost work force? Plagues follow…first one, then another, until the climactic tenth plague elicits the desired response.

The disorganized multitude observe the first Passover and are on their way to the land of promise. Pursued by the fickle Pharaoh and his army, the people cross the Red Sea and are safely removed from harm’s way. Next comes the giving of the Ten Commandments followed by the construction of the first house of worship.

There’s obviously much more to the story, which spans four more decades. Though Exodus doesn’t give us the conclusion of Moses life, Deuteronomy does. Check out these final verses from Deuteronomy 34:10-12: “There has never been another prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face. The Lord sent him to perform all the miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt against Pharaoh, and all his servants, and his entire land. With mighty power, Moses performed terrifying acts in the sight of all Israel.” (NLT)

That’s quite a story, and that’s quite a reputation! It would appear that these words would serve as the perfect conclusion to such an epic action and adventure drama. But it’s not, for God’s purposes do not evaporate at funerals or rivers. All of the promises of God to the people of Israel are in the process of being fulfilled.

Joshua chapter 1 represents a turn of the page in the ongoing history of Israel. Joshua is not a new story. It’s simply the next chapter in same story.

Tomorrow I’ll get into the text of Joshua 1. But for now, think about this question: Do you believe God’s best for you is in the rear view mirror? Or is the best yet to come?

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For the past several days I’ve been re-reading the book of Exodus. I’ve always been fascinated by Moses, and thought I would read Exodus through the particular lens of Moses as leader. His story is famous, beginning with the thrilling narrative of his narrow escape from persecution by the bold rescue of the persecutor’s own daughter. Those first four decades would be lived in the comforts of the palace, learning all of the protocol of government and high society. But something is missing in Moses life, chiefly his own God given purpose. As Moses set out on his own quest to find himself, he finds himself on the run from everything he had known. Everything, that is, except his own mother’s faith.

Moses would spend the second four decades of his life in the Midian desert, tending sheep and starting his own family. Everything seemed to be comfortable until one day when God interrupted his life. There was nothing spectacular about a bush spontaneously bursting into flame in the desert. There was something remarkable, however, about a blazing bush that wasn’t consumed. The purpose that seemingly eluded Moses now became evident. He was called by God to emancipate the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage. Moses was 80 years old.

Deliverance would be no easy task, for Egypt was a formidable foe. God promised Moses that He would bring the deliverance about. After all, God himself had heard the cries of his children, desperate for freedom.

Now the irony of the story is Israel itself. They had cried out to God and pleaded to Him for deliverance from their oppressive bondage. They said they wanted to be free. They had prayed for their freedom. God even provided them a leader. Yet in the story of Exodus, with each and every challenge they immediately defaulted to thinking like slaves, and yes, actually preferring slavery. With each obstacle the chorus rang out, “Were there no graves in Egypt??”

Maybe we’re a lot more like Israel than we’d like to admit. Yes, we say we want to be free…free from sin…from self-destructive patterns of behavior…from codependent relationships…from toxic power structures… you name it. We say we want to be free, but freedom comes with a price. Freedom requires us to be strong individuals, eschewing group think and consensus which values the power of “we” over the power of “right.” Freedom requires us to be willing to take risks, to be open to change, and to let character guide our decisions. Israel illustrates a lesson that we continue to learn throughout history: it’s hard to leave the plantation. One of my favorite quotations comes from John Maxwell, who nearly 30 years ago wrote, “People change when they learn enough they want to, they grow enough they need to, or they hurt enough they have to.” Even though Israel had suffered greatly for four centuries, they remind us how hard it is to actually follow through.

Categories : Exodus, Leadership, Moses
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