Monday, August 31, 2009

The Eroded Areas

Frances Fenelon, a Frenchman who lived during the Reformation, compared Christian leaders to plateaus with gullies. Their spiritual life was inspirational—but they all had large eroded areas of sin they could not hide. He concluded this must be God’s plan—because if we saw others as perfect, we might admire them or become dependent on them. Then we would lose sight of God. Instead, when we see others as imperfect people, our hearts turn toward God.

Sinful human nature is painfully obvious whenever we look at people, even when we look at Biblical character in either the Old and New Testament. If we study their lives, we see they were not perfect. Regarding himself and others, Paul said, So then let no one boast in men . . . whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas. . . . (I Cor. 3:21a,22a ASB)

Paul referred to the wonder of God’s reality in sinful people when he wrote, But this precious treasure—this light and power that now shine within us—is held in a perishable container that is, in our weak bodies. Everyone can see that the glorious power within must be from God and is not our own. (IICor. 4:7 LB)

People are sinners with eroded areas. Only God is worthy of our complete admiration.

Originally published January 29, 1982.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wisdom from Above

Godly wisdom and worldly wisdom are not the same. Worldly wisdom is based on self-promotion. People controlled by desire for worldly status or wisdom will try to promote themselves. They cannot be trusted because their motives are warped—and they will use their influence for personal gain. They eventually cause problems, For where envy and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. (Jas. 3:16 KJV)

James warned against worldly wisdom when he said, This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. (v. 15)

Godly wisdom, on the other hand, is characterized by meekness. James has something to say about it, too: But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace. (v. 17,18)

Lord, help us desire godly wisdom.

Originally published November 28, 1986.
Picture: Viewed from the street, Winona, MN, 2009. Photo by Solveig.

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Spiritual House

When the followers of Jesus discovered their identity in Christ, New Testament writers provided several metaphors to help them understand their new status.

Some New Testament comparisons are extensions of Old Testament illustrations. John recorded Jesus when He used the vine as a metaphor: I am the vine, you are the branches. (Jn. 15:5a NIV) The Vineyard planted by God was an Old Testament image and familiar to people who grew up in the synagogues.

Paul compared the Church to a Body: For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body. . . . (I Cor. 12:13a) He looked to Jesus as the head of the body, and he emphasized the need for cooperation and love among believers united under Jesus.

Peter referred to the prophet Isaiah when he compared the Church to a house: As you come to him, the living Stone . . . you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house. . . . (I Pet. 2:4a,5a)

Each comparison presents a unique aspect of the believer’s relationship to Jesus. He is the channel of life and sustenance for His Branch, the Head of His Body, and the Cornerstone or foundation of His House.

Originally published July 1, 1983.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Search God's Word

It’s dangerous to build a belief system or doctrine on a single portion of Scripture. Unless we draw from the multi-faceted wisdom of our Bible, we become hard or narrow in our response to life.

For example, on one occasion Jesus supported an open confrontation. He said to His disciples, If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault. . . . (Mt. 18:15a NIV) His teaching was based on Leviticus 19:17, and it applied to settling disputes quietly and peacefully with another believer. Involving others was necessary only if agreement wasn’t reached.

Other Old Testament Scriptures seem to contradict that approach. For example, Whoever corrects a mocker invites insult; whoever rebukes a wicked man incurs abuse. (Prov. 9:7,8)

There are no pat answers to relationship problems; each circumstance requires individual attention and wisdom. We need to search God’s Word for direction—we need to search our hearts to determine our own error—and we need to be sensitive to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Originally published September 13, 1985.
Picture: Potted garden plants, West Fargo, 2009. Photo by Solveig.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Distill as the Dew

After struggling forty years as leader of the Israelites, Moses shared final thoughts with them before his death. Then he prayed a poetic prayer that many identify as the Song of Moses. (Deuteronomy 32) He said, Let my teaching drop as the rain, My speech distill as the dew, As raindrops on the tender herb, and as showers on the grass. (v. 2a NKJV )

We might have expected something different from Moses at this point—something harsh or judgmental. After all, the Israelites were the source of many trials for their leader. But at the close of his long and fruitful ministry Moses had nothing but gentleness in his heart. He didn’t ask God for lightning and thunder—for a display of power to set the people straight. He asked only that his words be received—and that they give life-sustaining nourishment to the people.

Ascribe greatness to our God, Moses said. He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice . . . Righteous and upright is He. (v. 3b,3c)

Originally published September 26, 1986.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A New Attitude

By the time the Israelites reached Canaan and prepared to enter the promised land, it was abundantly clear that God did not choose them because they were wonderful people. In fact, God told Moses to tell the Israelites, you are a stiff-necked people. (Ex. 33:5b NKJV)

Moses repeated the phrase again when he gave his farewell to the Israelites: understand that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people. (Deut. 9:6)

Stiff-necked means obstinate—unwilling to receive correction. The Israelites qualified because there were many times when they resisted God—refused to receive His Word. Nevertheless, they were God’s people.

There is a remedy for us when we are stiff-necked. We can ask God to give us wisdom. Wisdom includes bowing our necks before God, it moves us away from being rigid to being pliable. Wisdom brings us into a new attitude.

We will never be happy if we are stiff-necked, but Proverbs tells us, Happy is the man who finds wisdom. (Prov. 3:13a)

Originally published April 11, 1986.
Picture: Viewed from the street, West Fargo, 2009. Photo by Solveig

Monday, August 24, 2009

Opportunity to Trust

Moses said to the Israelites, remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart. . . . (Deut 8:2a NKJV)

When reading that verse, it is important to remember that God doesn’t send tests to see how well His people will do. He sends them as opportunities. We can choose Him or not choose Him. And no one—not even God—predetermines responses during a time of testing. Every person—or every nation—is free.

Nor is God a passive spectator. Because He cares so much, He interacts with individuals and with nations, working to bring them to a place where they have greater opportunity to make the right choices.

When the Israelites came to the end of their long journey through the Wilderness and were about to enter the Promised Land, God reminded them of the blessings He had provided: Your garments did not wear out on you or did your foot swell these forty years. (v. 4) That was the case even though he often allowed hardship before He provided. He allowed them to experience hunger, thirst, failure, attack from hostile armies, etc. Each trial was an opportunity to trust Him—to walk in his ways and to fear Him. (v. 6b)

Originally published July 3, 1987.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

He Became a Curse

Believers receive favor from God. But there is the nasty possibility of rejecting His salvation as a gift and coming under a curse.

We do not like to think about such things, but the Bible tells us that whenever we try to earn something from God rather than receive it as a gift, we put ourselves under the law.

We condemn ourselves when we choose to trust our ability to obey the law. In fact, Paul quoted Deuteronomy 27:26 when he wrote, All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law." (Gal 3:10 NIV) And no one can do everything.

This grates against most of us—and even against our upbringing. We want to think we deserve what we have. Many of us are performance oriented. We might look around and think we’re as good as most other people. And to make matters worse, if this is true, even though we can’t possibly fulfill the Law, the Law is still valid—still in effect.

But praise God! We can turn to Jesus. He fulfilled the law for us by always trusting His Father. He lived a perfect life. Yet in the end, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us. . . . (v. 13) And that is God''s greatest gift of grace to His children.

Originally published October 21, 1988.
Picture: Commercial display, West Fargo, 2009. Photo by Solveig.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Enter Into God's Rest

The Israelites who followed Moses into the Wilderness were actively engaged in doing God's work. They were His chosen vessels. Nevertheless, Scripture tells us, The messge they heard was of no value to them because those who heard it did not combine it with faith. (Heb. 4:2 NIV)

That is a sad statement. Hebrews 11:6 enlarges the concept. It reads, without faith it is impossibel to please God. God is looking for people who believe that He is real and who will come to Him in faith. The Israelites repeatedly failed to come to Him or to ask for help. They murmured against Moses instead.

The rewards of faith are not based on actitity or great works. Faith acknowledges and accepts our inability to earn any merit before a perfect God. He calls His people to seek Him and trust Him. Today, in our time frame, our hope is to look to Jesus, to His life, His death, and His resurrection.

There remains then, a Sabbath rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work. . . . (Heb. 4:9 LB)

Originally published September 23, 1983.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A New Covenant

It was impossible for anyone to live by all of the Old Testament regulations or by the early covenants God made with His people. When the Pharisees and Levites of Christ’s time (and earlier) tried, their lives became unbalanced. In fact, the Old Testament is a history of people who failed to keep their part of their covenant with God—because they could not.

Many New Testament passages quote Old Testament prophets that foretold the coming Messiah who would set things right. The book of Hebrews quotes Jeremiah: The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah . . . I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. (Heb. 8:8b,12 NIV)

Jesus understood the prophets and approached the Law differently than the religious leaders of His time. He never denigrated the Law or its practice—He shifted attention away from regulations to the reasons behind them. He emphasized loving, doing good, blessing, and praying—even when dealing with those who mistreat you. (Lk. 6:28b)

But in the end, Jesus fulfilled the Law when He made an offering we can’t make. He offered Himself as the final sacrifice for sin. He is our New Covenant.

Originally published February 24, 1984, and February 11, 1983.
Picture: Viewed from the street, West Fargo, 2009. Photo by Solveig.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Children learn to make amends when they’ve done something wrong—a necessary social skill because they (and we) will never escape sinful human nature. Perhaps this is why we tend to view God as a stern judge—and think we have to appease Him with sacrifices.

The Israelites literally sacrificed animals to pay the penalty for their sin. We don’t offer cattle or goats today, but we often think we must give up material possessions—or give up having a good time.

Even in the Old Testament, Scripture taught that God does not appreciate sacrifices that come from a desire to appease—a desire to earn favor. Sacrifices should come out of gratitude from a heart that has received and appreciated God’s favor.

A psalmist spoke for God when he wrote, I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens . . . He who sacrifices thank offerings honors me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God. (Ps. 50:9,23 NIV)

God’s blessings—i.e., favor—do not come because we sacrifice but because He loves us and gives Himself to us.

Originally published June 15, 1984.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Old Testament Law

Many laws given to the Israelites during their time in the Wilderness seem strange or even foolish to us, but they all had a purpose.

Some laws protected the Israelites by instituting important sanitation regulations—using a shovel when they relieved themselves, etc. Dietary restrictions identified animals that carried harmful diseases. (Lev. 11) Laws affected the way people handled their resources. They were instructed to offer hospitality, and no one should profit from another person’s misfortune. (Lev. 25)

Laws also depicted the concept of holiness. Because worshipping one God must have seemed strange to people who had been immersed in the polytheism of Egypt, God gave the Israelites concrete examples as teaching tools to illustrate purity. They should not plant two types of seed in one field or make garments from two types of material. (Lev. 19)

And laws set godly standards of mercy: Do not curse the deaf or put a stumbling block in front of the blind . . . Do not pervert justice; do not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the great. . . . (19:14a,15a NIV)

Many of the laws established in Leviticus seem strange to us today. But God had a purpose. With those laws He established standards among His people.

Originally published February 17, 1984, and July 5, 1991.
Picture: Potted plants on the deck, 2009. Photo by Solveig.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Temple of God

The Tabernacle was beautiful—a miracle on the desert. It taught God’s people that His Presence was with them—that He lived in their midst. Generations later, when the Israelites became a nation, they built a more elaborate Temple in Jerusalem. (When the first temple was destroyed, a second was built. Later, Herod built a third temple.) In their times, each of the temples in Jerusalem were also centers for worship and sacrifice—the place where people encountered God’s Presence.

But they were not the final temple. God’s temple is an ongoing construction project, and its spiritual reality is a deep mystery. The Bible tells Christians, Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (I Cor. 3:16 NKJV)

We look at ourselves and see flaws. Even mature Christians surprise us with un-Christlike behavior at times. Christians are not always beautiful—they are simply people who have received Jesus. Christians seem much less impressive than the Tabernacle or than one of the Temples.

The key is our foundation. Paul said no other foundation can anyone lay that than which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. (v. 11) Once the presence of Jesus comes to live in our hearts, the human temple is reality because His foundation is established. Then God builds His life on the foundation. His life is resident within us. For although we’re far from perfect, we belong to God and we carry His Presence.

Originally published November 7, 1986.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

To Build the Tent/Tabernacle

The Tabernacle was an elaborate tent built by the Israelites as a worship center. It could be assembled and taken down again so they could move it when they traveled through the Wilderness. When assembled, it housed sacred articles—including the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat—and it became the symbol of God’s Presence among His people. It was also the place where people brought their sacrifices.

Many factors came into play when the Israelites built their Tabernacle. They needed silver, gold, fine linens, colorful threads, incense, oil, and other materials to follow God’s plan. (Ex. 35) God told Moses to collect an offering. When he did, everyone came whose heart was stirred, and everyone whose spirit was willing, and they brought the Lord’s offering. . . . (Ex. 35:21a NKJV) They offered items given to them when they left Egypt.

Skilled craftsmen were necessary. Moses identified Bezaleel as the chief artisan. Aholiab was also identified by name. They joined together with every gifted artisan in whose heart the Lord had put wisdom. . . . (Ex. 36:2b)

The stiff-necked people of Israel were far from perfect—just like God’s people today. But they had God-given abilities, and God honored them by calling them into His service.

Originally published on October 16, 1981 and December 27, 1991.
Picture: Marigolds along I-90, Minnesota, 2009. Photo by Solveig.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Look and Be Radiant

One of the psalmists said, Look to Him and be radiant. . . . (Ps. 34:5a RSV)

That’s quite an order. Yet the Bible tells us Moses was literally radiant and did not realize it. After spending 40 days and nights with God on Mount Sinai without food or water, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. (Ex. 34:29b)

The radiance of Moses reflected God's glory and it came after deep fellowship with God. God trusted Moses, and He imparted much into His faithful servant. Moses received instructions concerning important laws. There were the Ten Commandments which is still the foundation for our law today—but there were other precepts as well. And Moses also received instructions for worship, sacrifices, and building the Tabernacle.

Moses brought God's instructions to the people and then the radiance served a useful purpose. He needed a divine infusion of God’s Presence to implement God’s plans.

Originally published October 30, 1981.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Direct Conversations

Before the Israelites built their Tabernacle, there was the tent of meeting. It wasn’t ornate, and it wasn’t a place for sacrifices or priestly service. This tent pitched outside the camp was the place where Moses met with God when he wasn’t on the mountain.

When he went into the tent of meeting, the pillar of cloud would come down and stay at the entrance, while the Lord spoke with Moses. . . . (Ex. 33:9b NIV) The people knew God was talking to him, and they gathered around the tent of meeting to hear what God had said.

Can your image what this was like? Although God performed many miracles through Moses, perhaps the most remarkable experiences of Moses’ life were his conversations with God—including those in the tent of meeting. We are awed by the direct communication. At one time Moses bluntly told God he would not lead the people anywhere unless God’s Presence went with them. God said, I will do the very thing you have asked. . . . (v. 17b)

When Moses asked to see God’s glory, God arranged a special display for this man who came to talk with Him.

Originally published September 24, 1982.
Picture: Viewed from the street, West Fargo, 2009. Photo by Solveig.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

And Moses Listened

Moses communicated directly with God, and God told him to do amazing things. When he did, miracles happened. It would be enough to make a person proud. But the Bible tells us, Now the man Moses was very humble, more than all the men who were on the face of the earth. (Num. 12:3 NKJV)

Moses demonstrated this humble nature more than once. When his father-in-law Jethro came to hear everything that God had done for Moses and the Israelites, Jethro was more than a little impressed. He concluded the God of Israel was the God above all gods.

Nevertheless, the next day Jethro offered advice to Moses after seeing the long line of people waiting for Moses to settle their disputes. He said, you will surely wear yourselves out. For this thing is too much for you; you are not able to perform it by yourself. (Ex. 18:18)

Moses listened. He didn't think God spoke only to him, and he willingly received from another person. Without a trace of pride he incorporated his father-in-law’s advice by choosing men to help him with the task.

Originally published September 4, 1992.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Spiritual Bread

God fed the Israelite when they were in the Wilderness by sending manna in the mornings. Because the manna was life-sustaining, and because it came at a crucial time, succeeding generations of Israelites always looked to it as a sign. People even asked Jesus what sign he would give so they could believe as the people believed Moses when God sent manna.

By that time Jesus had already performed many miracles—He had even multiplied five loaves of bread and two fishes to feed five thousand people just the day before! The crowds might not have realized they were participating in a miracle—they simply received food as the disciples handed it to them. Nevertheless, because they lacked spiritual insight, they didn’t recognize the supernatural ministry of Jesus.

Maybe that’s why Jesus didn’t talk about bodily food when he answered them. He focused on spiritual sustenance instead. He said, For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world . . . I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. (Jn. 6:33,35 NIV)

Jesus focused spiritual sustenance, because it offers the key to both physical and spiritual life. When we receive Jesus, we receive the life of God. He is our our daily manna, our spiritual bread.

Originally published May 30, 1986
Picture: Viewed from the street, West Fargo, 2009. Photo by Solveig.

Monday, August 10, 2009

There Was the Glory

God revealed His mercy and provision in many ways during the Israelites’ extended journey from Egypt to Canaan. Even the cloud that remained with them was a visible sign of His glory. It not only led the people; it revealed something about God’s nature. During the dark desert nights, fire from the cloud provided light. During hot days, the cloud provided shade from the hot desert sun. Some say the cloud provided an image of the blessings we receive through Jesus.

At one time, when the people grumbled because they were hungry, Moses and Aaron brought the people into a position where they would listen. Then, While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud. (Ex. 16:10 NIV)

The glory of God demonstrated God’s ability to be God. The people hadn’t remembered that He could take care of them. Instead of asking Him to provide food, they grumbled against Moses. But God surprised them by revealing His nature. He wowed them with a visual image of His glory. That night he sent meat in the form of birds, and in the morning the people discovered manna.

Originally published July 22, 1988.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

God's Protection

As soon as he did it, Pharaoh regretted setting the Israelites free. They were slave labor and the economy depended on them. So he gave orders to his army to follow with chariots—and he led the troops.

Imagine the Israelites’ terror when they saw Pharaoh with Egypt’s army closing in on them. They cried out to Moses who had an amazing word: Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring today. (Ex. 14:13 NIV)

The order would be repeated again and again throughout Old Testament history, and when the order originated with God, He delivered His people—every time.

During the Exodus, the people obeyed the word from God through Moses, and the story that followed is one of the most familiar of our culture. Even Hollywood capitalized on the drama of a pillar of cloud . . . hiding people who walked through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. (vs. 19b,22b)

The real drama, however, is God’s plan. His plan was and is salvation. Although the people’s faith was imperfect, He delivered them. And throughout their journey through the wilderness to the promised land, He continued to protect and provide for His people.

Originally published March 30, 1985.
Picture: Commercial landscape, Fargo, 2009. Photo by Solveig.

Friday, August 7, 2009

The Lord Brought You Out

Before the Exodus, during preparations for the Passover meal, Moses told the Israelites, Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out of this place. (Ex. 13:2a NKJV)

By definition, bondage involves servitude or slavery—subjection to force. The Israelites wanted to escape—sort of. People do not walk away from slavery easily. God knew that once the Israelites passed through the sea—had actually left the land of Egypt—they would suffer withdrawal pangs when struggling alone in the desert without familiar surroundings and familiar foods.

If deliverance was to be complete, the people needed to cooperate. God’s words through Moses looked ahead to tough times. Because the Israelites could not get out alone—nor stay out alone—God wanted them to remember the great miracle of their escape—and then remember that He could also provide the strength and provision they would need to go further and further into His plan for them.

Originally published March 12, 1993.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hard-hearted Pharaoh

Hard-hearted people are not impressed by others. Pharaoh remained untouched when God performed miracle after miracle through Moses. When plagues of blood, frogs, and gnats threatened to destroy the land, magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen. . . . (Ex. 8:19a NIV)

Plagues of flies, dead livestock, boils, hail, locusts, and darkness deepened the threat of destruction. Pain and hardship extended throughout Pharaoh’s kingdom, but Pharaoh remained unmoved. Not until the Lord struck down all the first born in Egypt, . . . (12:29a) did he finally respond. He hadn’t suddenly become tender or open to God—he was afraid. He called for Moses during the night, imploring Moses to take the Israelites and leave.

The Bible tells us God actually caused Pharaoh’s heart to harden. That’s a frightening thought. Hardness of heart can creep in with little warning.

The psalmist prayed, Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. (Ps. 51:10) May the psalmist’s prayer be our prayer.

Originally published July 15, 1988.
Picture: Commercial landscape, Fargo, 2009. Photo by Solveig.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Too Much to Grasp

Although the Hebrew slaves in Egypt knew something about God, they didn’t walk with Him or live in relationship with Him, and they had no understanding of His nature. God instructed Moses, say to the children of Israel: I am the Lord; I will bring you out from under the burden of the Egyptians . . . I will redeem you with an outstretched arm. . . . (Ex. 6:6 NKJV)

This was too much for the people of slavery to grasp, so they didn’t listen to Moses. Their pain was too deep to understand thoughts about a future and a hope.

It’s possible to live this way today. We might know something about God. But if we don’t have a vital connection with Him we cannot overcome our problems. When that happens, we are unable to hear God’s Word. We might even live in bondage.

While we struggle, God waits to reveal Himself. John the Baptist said to the people of Jesus’ time, There stands One among you whom you do not know. (Jn. 1:26b) The same is true today. The Spirit of Jesus is real. Ask Him to reveal Himself and move for you.

Originally published June 28, 1991.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A Strange Sight

God performed at least one miracle because He wanted someone’s attention. Moses noticed a bush when he tended his father-in-law’s flocks. The bush continued to burn and burn, and the sight made no sense. Because fire consumes or uses the energy or fuel, the fire should die when the energy stored in a piece of burning wood is gone. However, God’s energy infused the bush—provided supernatural energy. The bush kept burning.

Moses was 80 years old at the time—trained in Pharaoh’s court and in desert survival. He knew a great deal, but this was something different. He decided to get a closer look. Perhaps he tried to figure out if there was a hidden source of fuel. God saw him coming and called, “Moses! Moses!” (Ex. 3:4b NKJV)

And Moses said, “Here I am.” (3:4b)

Don’t you wonder how Moses felt when God spoke. God had his attention. The miracle initiated a new beginning for Moses and for the Hebrew people.

Originally published July 8, 1988.
Picture: Viewed from the street, West Fargo, 2009. Photo by Solveig.

Monday, August 3, 2009

God's Mountain

Moses, a Hebrew slave by birth, became an Egyptian prince through his adoptive mother. As a young man, he tried to help his fellow Hebrews, but he botched it by killing one of the Egyptian oppressors. Then he fled for his life to the Sinai peninsula.

While in the desert regions of the Sinai, Moses probably gave up all ideas of saving oppressed people. I doubt if he worried about whether or not people were of Hebrew descent. He built a new life for himself—married, fathered a son, and became a shepherd by working for his father-in-law.

But God still had his eye of Moses. Without sensing anything unusual, Moses led the flock to the back side of the desert, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. (Ex. 3:1b NKJV)

Think of it. God’s mountain. For Moses, this was a literal place. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush . . . God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” (v. 2a,4b)

But God’s mountains was and is more than a literal place. It is where God's people encounter God’s presence. Throughout history God has continued to keep His eye on His people. As we wander around, living our lives, we might stumble into a time and place where God speaks to us and calls us by name. We've come to God's mountain.

Originally published January 30, 1987.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Precious Blood

We do not generally think of silver or gold as perishable, but Peter said, it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed . . . but with the precious blood of Christ . . . . (I Pet. 1:18a,19a NIV)

Think about the value of silver and gold. Vessels or eating utensils made of sterling silver are often heirlooms, passed from one generation to another. As are gold wedding rings, watches, and other gold objects. In fact, the enduring qualities of silver and gold are such that they can be fashioned and refashioned over and over to suit our purposes.

Nevertheless, earthly treasures are only as stable as our temporary material world. Although the value of silver and gold is considered great, they have no value when confronted by the eternal or spiritual realm.

The precious blood of Jesus remains priceless in any realm. In this life, it brings “new birth into a living hope. . . .” (v. 3b) In the eternal realm, Jesus’ blood provides an “inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade. . . . (v. 4a) His blood is precious indeed.

Originally published February 25, 1983.
Picture: Commercial landscape, West Fargo, 2009. Photo by Solveig.