Devotionals by Marilyn Daniels. Check back every week for a new posting...
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on June 9, 2019 at 10:40 AM||comments (0)|
The Apostle John is excited! His joy overflows as he writes. All the way down through the history of the Church, even into the twenty-first century, we recognize the source of John’s enthusiasm, from his introductory words.
He is writing to his “dear children” (2:1)…..children of the faith who have responded to the message that he declares in verses 5-7. It is a message about light. Jesus Himself claimed to be “the light” (John 8:12) in a world darkened by sin.
Turning back to John’s introduction: This specific “Light” existed from the beginning. Yet John had seen the Light with his own eyes. He had walked and talked with this man famous for preaching, teaching and healing. Did he recognize the challenges Jesus would send into the faith community of John’s day?
Standing at the foot of the cross, seeing all of his hopes for future ministry with Jesus nailed to a cross, what were John’s thoughts? Now his perspective has obviously changed! The “Life” had appeared! Jesus claimed to be the “Life” (John 14:6). John describes a distinguishing factor about that “life”….it is eternal (1 John 1:2). That phrase “eternal life” wasn’t familiar to Jewish worshipers. In the Old Testament God is described as eternal (Genesis 21:33); His love is an eternal blessing(Psalm 21:6-7). Daniel even makes reference to God’s eternal kingdom (4:3) but what that meant was rather vague.
Twice John’s excitement causes him to proclaim that which he is intimately acquainted with. He knew Jesus, the man, but now the resurrection revealed His glorious deity! All that the disciples had seen and heard must be preached “so that you also may have fellowship with us” (:3). Imagine – our identity as believers means we are in fellowship with those very disciples who walked and talked with Jesus.
Listen to Jesus’ prayer, recorded by John: “My prayer is not for them alone (the disciples of his day). I pray also for those who will believe in Me through their message (you and me), that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that You have Sent Me” (John 17:20-21). This is the Kingdom of God in all its reality, formed through centuries of time! No wonder John is excited! Eternal life, in Jesus Christ our Lord, is as present today as it was 2000 years ago, making us one in the body of Christ.
Meditate on Jesus’ words:
“In Him (Jesus) was life and that life was the light of men” John 1:4)
Does your heart resonate with John’s joy?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on June 2, 2019 at 11:00 AM||comments (0)|
Theologians have come up with a big word to describe one aspect of God. He is omniscient. Big words expand our vocabulary but when we are talking with one another about God we seldom use them.
Omniscience strikes awe into the heart of anyone who understands what it means, so what does it mean?
As I bowed in prayer this morning I was compelled to worship God because He hears and answers prayer based on all that He knows about me and those for whom I am praying. It really is a privilege for us to bring our cares to God, isn’t it? - our God who understands the bigger picture and all the forces that have caused us joy or pain.
Knowing the workings of the human heart, God can give direction that suits our particular need, and does so through the power of the Holy Spirit. The thought occurs – how does God who is perfect and Holy understand man’s propensity to sin? He is our Creator. As the great designer of mankind, God sees the weaknesses that cause failure and He tests our weak points to demonstrate His strength, which is made perfect in weakness! (2 Corinthians 12:9)
God knows us in every detail – physically, emotionally, spiritually, better even than we know ourselves. Throughout the Old Testament we see this all-knowing God providing for His people out of the wealth of His nature – rich in love, wisdom, mercy and patience. Time and again when His children cried out to Him God responded gently, kindly, in spite of the superficiality of their tears.
Often it was a matter of personal comfort that drove folks to prayer, then, just as now. With a deep sense of entitlement God’s people come to Him, knowing that He knows and cares about our welfare. What gives us that confidence when so much of the time we ignore His longing to be loved, to be in intimate fellowship, to communicate with joy? Is it because we know God is Omniscient?
The Bible is explicit:
Psalm 147:5 - God’s knowledge is infinite, endless, limitless.
1 John 3:20 – God knows all things
Matthew 10:30 – hairs of our heads are numbered – nothing is too small
Psalm 147:4 - nothing (universe) is too vast, beyond His knowledge
Hebrews 4:13 – no creatures are hidden from God – all things are open to Him
Psalm 44:21 – He knows the secrets of our hearts
1 Chronicles 28:9 – He knows our intentions, our thoughts!
Imagine that this omniscient God wants to be known by His creatures. He makes His righteousness and salvation known so that we can have a personal relationship with him (Psalm 98:2). God even wants His greatness and holiness to be known by the nations (Ezekiel 38:23). He is an inclusive God because love is the very essence of His nature!
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on May 25, 2019 at 11:00 AM||comments (0)|
Christians, it would seem, often like to discuss controversial subjects. Sadly these topics are not always worthy of the time and energy expended on them. The disciples tried it with Jesus. What was His response?
“Teacher” said John, “we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we told him to stop, because he was not one of us” (Mark 9:38). On the surface this might look very orthodox. Surely it was a good thing to guard the purity of the faith, the message and the messenger.
However, given the background of what had just happened, the controversy might be cast in a different light. The disciples had just failed a test; they had not been successful in casting out a demon from the boy who suffered seizures. Immediately following this they got into an argument among themselves, which they were unwilling to acknowledge to Jesus, about who was greatest (:33-34). It was the human attempt to regain self-respect by putting someone else down.
Unfortunately it proved they had not been listening to Jesus, who picked up a child to illustrate that He knew about their dialogue. He chose the child to teach them a lesson on humility. The subject Jesus pursued was ‘Welcoming others, even a little child’ (Mark 9:37). Little children might refer to spiritually immature people. They didn’t get it! They changed the subject.
Just like little kids they returned to fight over the cookie jar. Someone else was stealing a cookie – casting out demons in Your name. Behind this accusation was pride. If we couldn’t do it, then this person shouldn’t be doing it because “he was not one of us” (:38). Pride of place! Perhaps we all have it, in some form or other.
What a put-down as Jesus answered them…. Unexpectedly He authorized anyone who did miracles in His name! (: 39). He continued His lesson on humility by recommending that even those who give cups of water in His name, will be rewarded. The truth is that “No one can say ‘Jesus is Lord’ except with knowledge given by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3). Paul goes on to explain to the Philippians that it doesn’t matter if Christ is preached out of selfish ambition or out of love. “The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice!” (Philippians 1:18).
Bible Commentators amplify the truth by bringing various scriptures together to clarify a difficult point. We cannot ignore the differing situation in Acts where the sons of Sceva were punished for using the name of Jesus illegitimately. They were actually driving out demons by the power of evil, misusing the name of Jesus to achieve their magical exorcisms (Acts 19:13ff). The result of this event was a cleansing in the community where people who practiced sorcery brought the tools of their trade together to be burned. “In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power” (Acts 19:20).
The lesson to be learned here is to let scripture explain scripture, before we jump to conclusions. Each situation requires careful consideration and discernment, a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is quite possible that those promoting Jesus’ name do so for either right or wrong reasons. Possibly those mentioned in Mark were followers of John the Baptist, not officially linked with the disciples of Jesus. How easy it is to misconstrue the motives of another person while overlooking the real concerns arising from our own personal pride. Therefore, let us not be hasty to jump to conclusions!
Would you be able to explain the difference between the exorcisms done by the sons of Sceva and those done by the unnamed man?
How would you research your answer?
Do you ever find yourself jumping to conclusions about difficult Bible passages? What would safeguard you from mis-interpretation?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on May 19, 2019 at 5:10 PM||comments (0)|
History carries a certain charm for some folks, myself included. I love to study the nature of human beings throughout the ages, their intellectual accomplishments, the passions that drove them to do exploits, their gifts in art and music. It is fascinating to review how environment, education and experience form waves of thought that colour culture through eons of time.
Yesterday I watched a program on Alexandria in Egypt, developed and named after the great Alexander of Greece. Here, in the place where he put his name Alexander planned to bring all knowledge, to build a library like no other, complete in science, medicine, history, education and the arts. What a goal! Brilliant minds of men and women were drawn into his vision, making Alexandria the hub of the intelligentia of that day.
The hostess of my TV program enthusiastically led us step by step through stages of growth in this great city. Of course there was reference to religious ideology and the role it played. Many studied a variety of religious philosophies. When the new religion Christianity was brought by Mark, many converts were won to this faith. He became one of the first Christian martyrs because exception was taken to his preaching. Mark announced Jesus is the only way to God, in the midst of a multi-religious milieu. How daring! After all, it would seem, said our young hostess, that for centuries many religions had lived together there in peace and harmony, so why disrupt the status quo?
Years later a Christian leader came who was interested in more than just religion – he wedded it with politics, causing uproar in the city. This culminated in its final destruction. In the ensuing riots treasured historical artifacts were destroyed, and unfortunately, lives were lost.
I asked myself what our gentle Saviour would have thought. He came to bring love and peace and joy; the Holy Spirit produces this fruit in the lives of believers does He not? Was this the way Jesus recommended when He told His followers to live peaceably with all men as much as possible? (Mark 9:50).
Forward 2000 years. Today! Our world is in chaos. Even Canada has been under attack. There is uproar by the media when someone mentions the truth about one way to God.
The question is – How are we going to respond? Sadly I hear Christians talking hatefully about those people groups who disagree with the Bible. Jesus recommended a practical point. “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:44-45). This was a new doctrine, unknown in the Old Testament, where an eye for an eye was practised.
Today I remember that more than 65 years ago the love of Jesus touched my heart. I was well aware I was a naughty child. I have made bad choices from time to time and am sure I have grieved the heart of God. Did He give up on me? No!...and among those who do not yet know Jesus, even those who like Paul are persecuting Christians, there may be those who will become children of the kingdom. For this reason alone we must love them enough to pray for them.
But the Lord Jesus didn’t just sit in heaven praying for the Israelites to get their perspective on God right. He became personally engaged in their spiritual struggle. He loved, to the death. Is it possible that today He calls us, His representatives on earth to do the same?
How do Jesus’ ambassadors represent Him on earth today?
Are you His representative in word and in deed?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on May 12, 2019 at 3:15 PM||comments (0)|
1 John 4
So many people today seem to be starving for love. How many men and women will go to almost any lengths to generate a love relationship? Sadly they are often motivated by a desire to have their felt needs met, in order to feel complete. This imposes the impossible on other people. Only God can fill this void. When we know Him we have a new self-image because we recognize all the potential He has created. Though some fear this looks like pride, in reality this celebrates the love with which He created us. Jesus understood this necessity when He instructed His listeners to “love your neighbour as [much as you love] yourself” (Mark 12:31).
The apostle John had seen this type of love in action, had witnessed the remarkable love of Jesus for people of every station in life, the poor and marginalized, those who were oppressed, those who were socially unclean, physically challenged, demon possessed, the rich and famous. Jesus’ loving spirit, His compassionate nature reached out to draw people to Him. People followed Him in droves all over the countryside. They even forgot they were hungry as they gathered on the hillsides to listen to Him. Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles alike sought Jesus for His wisdom, coming to Him by day or by night.
When our needs drive our passions, values we believe in can quickly erode away. There are a dangers in making such personal sacrifices while trying to make someone love you. Jesus was devoid of any such personal agenda. His ministry was for the people whose lives He touched. He didn’t fear what people thought, but rather was committed to doing the will of God, day by day, person to person. His motivation for coming to earth was love. Paul describes it as humble obedience, servant-like (Philippians 2).
Look around you at those people who have a lot of quality friendships. Why have they been so blessed? What is lacking in lives that are virtually friendless and desperately lonely. How often have I heard people complaining about the church as a cold and uncaring place? In reality that perspective is often held by those who find it difficult to love themselves. Without a confidence in who they are, people often find it difficult to reach out to others, or when they do they only talk about themselves.
Love is interested in what makes another tick. For most, this is the essence of Mother-love. Moms want to understand what things their kids will enjoy? In Church we show interest in where people come from? What are some highlights of their lives, or is there anything they find challenging, need prayer for? Can you relate - laugh and cry together? Do you have a positive outlook on life that attracts others, because of what God is doing in your life? Has the love of God overwhelmed you with its purity and peace?
We can learn from the Apostle who writes that love is from God (1 John 4:16). He saw love teaching in the synagogue, challenging the heresies of that day, feeding 5,000, healing lepers, hanging on a cross. Perhaps you have never seen the love of God. When you do, you will understand how love begets love!
In our world today people crave attention and value the number of friends they have on social media. In the light of our discussion today, what would help them to resolve this tremendous “felt need”?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on May 5, 2019 at 10:00 AM||comments (0)|
Spring is the time of year when we focus on our gardens, isn’t it? In the words of our Lord Jesus, Himself, our heavenly Father is “the gardener”. He was speaking in regards to Himself being “the vine” off of which children of God grow as “the branches”.
“No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine” (John 15:4b)
What is the purpose of this unique garden?
“They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendour”
This righteous person is like a tree planted by rivers of life-giving water (Psalm 1:3).
”You who are rooted and established in love may have power, together with all the saints to grasp
how wide and long, how high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses
knowledge” (Ephesians 3:17b-19a).
Rooted….God planted each person in an environment perfectly suited to their needs. In sandy soil, in arid ground, some seeds produce better fruit in a humid environment….He knows why He has specifically put us into the homes, families, and culture where we find ourselves. That is one thing over which we have absolutely no control, but yield to the will of our Sovereign God, who planted us there for His purposes. Not only is this for our best growth and development, but that we also may impact the area around us. A mighty oak tree provides shade and nuts. ….etc.
When we are firmly rooted, spiritually, we become like the Gardener – established in love. We have mentioned before how God’s character is the essence of love! In a world which often distorts the very concept of love, how reassuring it is to know that God is infinite and unchanging in His love. “Love does what is for another’s ultimate good”! Therefore the Gardener lovingly prunes the branches (:2) so they will bear more fruit. Discipline may be endured for the moment, if we realize that ultimately we will show God’s glorious character described by the Apostle Paul in Galatians 5 as the (fruit of the Spirit”;).
Not only does God water His garden but life-giving nourishment comes from the Word of God planted in the hearts of believers by the Holy Spirit (James 1:21). There are weeds of course to be dealt with. Jesus told His disciples that every plant not planted by the Father, would be pulled up by the roots (Matthew 15:13). In spite of the weeds, God faithfully tends the plants in His garden. His mercies are new every morning! (Lamentations 3:22-23).
Can you recognize the Divine Gardener had your best interests at heart when He planted you?
How have you endured the process of Divine pruning?
Let us ask ourselves: What impact are we making on our present environment?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on April 28, 2019 at 3:35 PM||comments (0)|
Now hold on! This could be a book! Yes – but we are going to look at a few women in general, not specifically, for principles we are taught through their lives as recorded for us, in scripture. May is the month when we celebrate womanhood through motherhood. Let’s discover God’s plan.
In the beginning God created male and female, blessed both and consigned them to filling the earth and subduing it. Genesis clearly labels this woman as man’s helper. She shared the same DNA as Adam who found pleasure in calling her “bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.” (Genesis 2:23) He then named her “Eve, because she would be the mother of all living.” (3:20) Eve apparently shared with Adam the ability to make choices. She chose to believe the serpent rather than God, though He had not given the commandment directly to her; it had come through Adam (2:15-18). This was not the last time woman questioned the word of her husband.
Noah is remembered for his courage in the face of ridicule, willing to obey God rather than to succumb to the opinion of man. He had a wife, who is not named, but we must be sure that she supported him in his boat-building project, since she was privileged to be one of those saved on the ark. What was her relationship to God? Her sons Shem, Ham and Japheth give us a clue to the fact they lived in a Godly home. Even the wives they had chosen were saved in the ark, while evil men and women all around them perished in the flood! (Genesis 7:1, 8:18).
Many years later, the story of Sarai is told. She was barren (11:30). What untold sorrow is recorded in those few words. Sarai lived in an era when the main function of women was to produce children to carry on the family name and fortune. Whether it was more than her physical beauty that attracted Abram, we only know that he remained faithful to this woman who had not yet born him a son. Perhaps her beauty was a curse, because twice she was put into a compromising position – with Pharaoh and later, Abimelech. How did she endure such an experience? What did she think of a husband who didn’t have the courage to protect her from the advances of heathen kings, preferring instead to save his own neck? (Genesis 12:18-19, 20:5).
As the years rolled on Sarai became desperate. God had promised her a child, but perhaps He intended her to be proactive. Perhaps she would have a child according to the customs of her culture. So she did what certainly couldn’t have been easy, and shared the intimacies of her marital relationship with Abram, with her Egyptian maid, Hagar. We may never know if this was a lack of faith in God’s promise or a mistaken attempt to “help” the Almighty bring about His purposes. Sadly her maid gained what Sarai lost, and Hagar mocked her for her childlessness, once she became pregnant. Sarai paid dearly for her indiscretion and so do we, even today as the world turns upside-down with Arab/Israeli conflict.
We believe God has a plan for every life. “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I set you apart. I appointed you…” (Jeremiah 1:5) This was God’s plan for Jeremiah. The Psalmist says with assurance –“My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place…..Your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.” (Psalm 139:15-16) Male or female, our days are ordered by the Lord.
Might we conclude that some women in the Bible still make an impact on our world today? The consequence of Eve’s choice was pain in childbirth, as well as passing on a genetic flaw (sinful nature) to every human being. Noah’s wife helped to sustain the human race from annihilation and taught us team work within marriage. Sarai’s decision to have a child through her pagan maid has affected religious practices between Jew, Muslim and Christian until now.
One lesson each of these women teaches us is to listen carefully to the word of the Lord. When He speaks restraint, He means restraint – don’t eat it! When He predicts a flood He warns against disobedience and death. When He promises a baby, or anything else, let Him work it out in His own timing, in His own way.
How are we different from these women in the Bible? How the same?
Will we honour God’s Word written down through centuries of time for us to read today?
Do we believe God’s protection, predictions and promises?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on April 21, 2019 at 4:15 PM||comments (0)|
Isaiah 40:1-5, 10-11
Many years ago the Gaithers wrote beautiful lyrics addressing the need people have of a Shepherd. They perceived a need for strength, provision and guidance that comes from God alone. Like Martin Luther, they recognized there was no other that we can turn to for answers to the problems in our lives today. This Shepherd, they knew from scripture would be gentle.
Isaiah makes an astonishing contrast as he describes God’s power. “See the Sovereign Lord comes with power and His arm rules for Him” (40:10). Then, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Isaiah also describes God as a Shepherd, One who gathers the lambs in His arms and carried them close to His heart. What a tender picture! This Shepherd also “gently leads” (40:11).
Isaiah chapter 40 is described as one of consolation, reviewing the greatness of God. We do not often equate gentleness with greatness, but here it is. Paul also tells us the fruit of the Holy Spirit living within each believer, produces gentleness, among a host of other qualities derived from the greatness of God’s character. Isaiah begins the chapter with an injunction from God to “comfort My people” (:1), to “speak tenderly to Jerusalem” (:2).
There are hints of salvation as God’s voice calls “prepare the way for the Lord” (:3). Whatever did that mean? Matthew enlightens us in his gospel. John the Baptist, hundreds of year after Isaiah’s prophecy, was identified as the one who came to prepare the way for the Messiah. How did he accomplish this? By preaching repentance (Matthew 3:8).
Jacob was the first person who called God his Shepherd. As he blessed his sons on his deathbed he told them “God has been my Shepherd all my life to this day” (Genesis 48:15). Centuries later King David is famous for saying “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want” (Psalm 23:1). The Magi, visiting baby Jesus identified Him as the fulfillment of prophecy “who will be the Shepherd of My people Israel” (Matthew 2:6).
Jesus confirmed that “I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep” (John 10:11). “No one can snatch them out of My hand” (10:28). “My sheep listen to My voice; I know them and they follow Me” (10:27). Mark records Jesus’ rebuke when the disciples wanted to shoo little children away, thinking He would be too busy for kids. “He took the children in His arms, put His hands on them and blessed them”(Mark 10:16) What a sweet picture of my Gentle Shepherd!
Do you need a Shepherd in your life? Why or why not?
“Dear Father, What a comfort it is to be held close to Your heart. Thank You for loving me as only God can love, unconditionally. Thank You for forgiving me for all my failures and wrong choices. I pray that You will strengthen my faith as day by day I learn to lean on You for guidance. Help me to discern Your will for my life, day by day. Thank You for Your Holy Word that nourishes my soul! Thank You for protecting me from evil, as I follow Jesus day by day. May my life be pleasing in Your sight. Thank You for being such a gentle Shepherd”
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on April 14, 2019 at 4:45 PM||comments (0)|
I have often been challenged by Jesus’ question in the garden of Gethsemane asking “Couldn’t you watch with me one hour?” Today He might ask “Couldn’t you watch with me for 5 minutes?” Perhaps this is our #1 challenge. How much time do we spend each day watching for His will to be revealed, watching for His return?
The Bible records how He healed lepers, restored sight, made the lame to walk, delivered those possessed by demons, pointed adulteresses to a better life-style, even making a missionary out of the Samaritan woman. Samaritans and Jews weren’t supposed to mingle, but Jesus broke that taboo as He did in so many other instances. He was not inhibited by traditions or fears about what people would think. Our second challenge must be to fight our fears in the name of Jesus!
He hung out with losers, prostitutes, recovered demoniacs, tax collectors. He healed Jews and Gentiles alike, even honouring the faith of the Roman Centurion by healing his servant without seeing him. What kind of people would we find it difficult to visit? An atheist? A homosexual? A person with AIDS? “Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these….” (Matthew 25:40)
I was in a social setting with people of the youth sub-culture, when a young man tattooed and pierced, with spiked colourful hair discovered I had been a missionary. He sat down with me, showing the keenest interest in what I had been doing. Was I surprised! Do we understand our own unsettled feelings?? Do we fear being tainted by association? Do we feel a bit hostile towards those who mark their bodies? Are we disgusted by a foreign life-style? Have we compassion on those who have made such unusual choices? Jesus could say some rather challenging things. He called the Pharisees white-washed sepulchres, a brood of vipers, blind guides, fools, hypocrites, and serpents. I wonder if He could call me any of those things for the way I judge others?
A question came up at my Bible Study recently - who was the first Gentile convert to Christianity? Was it the Syrophoenician woman? Was it the Roman Centurion? Was it the Samaritan woman? Was it the Italian Centurion Cornelius? One important thing to note is that Jesus was not a respecter of persons. He met people at their point of need. Although criticized for hob-knobbing with out-of-favour Israelites like Zacchaeus, such criticism didn’t faze our Lord when it came to associating with other nationalities, with women, with the marginalized and oppressed (1 Peter 1:21).
Was the big challenge behind Jesus’ admonishment to “watch”, to check out the depth of His disciples’ commitment? Are we tempted to think God understands if we are too rushed to pray, to daily praise Him for who He is and for all that He does? What is our commitment to our Lord Jesus today?
Temptations hit us at our weakest point. Satan is an expert at zeroing into the most vulnerable areas of our lives and further weakening our confidence, through failure. Jesus knew the temptations that would face His disciples in the days ahead. He wanted them to be strengthened by watching, not so much for His sake as for their own. Let His words challenge each of His disciples today. “Watch and pray!” (Matthew 26:41).
How often do we react out of fear for what other people will think, will say?
How often are we challenged by our own assumptions?
Are we challenged to be more like Jesus when we read about His radical approach to everyday living?
What fears are holding you back?
|Posted by kelvinbueckert on April 7, 2019 at 7:35 PM||comments (0)|
You have been traveling on a long journey with a crowd of people and are naturally tired. It’s called the journey of life. If only you could rest for a week! But the urgency of your mission drives you forward, so you continue on. Suddenly you are confronted with an insurmountable obstacle! You believed that God was leading you, until now. You were sure your goal was His goal. Now what?
There is absolutely no way, humanly speaking, that you can move forward. Not only is the path ahead obstructed, but as you look over your shoulder you discover you are being pursued. Is it your past catching up with you? Are these demons sent by the evil one to taunt you in an impossible situation? It doesn’t take long for panic to set in.
How many of us have been in a similar state? Certainly the children of Israel knew what it was like. They began to doubt themselves….had they misinterpreted God’s direction for their lives? Could they trust their leader Moses? For that matter, could they trust God? All that seemed so stable began to fall away. Better to have gone back to slavery in Egypt where the known was at least predictable, rather than the vast “unknown” facing them now.
In front was the Red Sea; behind, the Egyptians. They were terrified! Easy enough for Moses to say “Do not be afraid” (Exodus 14:13). Didn’t he realize they had risked everything they owned, even their lives, to follow him and now look where it got them? When we are distressed there are always those happy people who will give us reasons why we should stand still and see God work. Don’t they understand the beating of our heart is going to explode our chest wall? We can hardly breathe for fear of what is going to happen. Will this troop of Pharaoh’s men slaughter us in the wilderness? How could Moses remain so calm? Weren’t his own wife and children at risk?
As we look around us we see there are many different responses to similar situations. We learn from observation that people make choices regarding their reactions to hard times. Some people beat upon the rocks with their fists. Some scream epithets at God. Others collapse under the pressure, knowing in their tired state they cannot swim across the Red Sea….better to just lie down and die.
As we face our own calamities, what motivates us to respond? Fortunately Moses was listening to God. God spoke into the situation. “Raise your staff over the Red Sea”(:16). What? Why? How? Aren’t these our usual questions? Moses had expressed his complete reliance on his God to find a solution. “Stand firm and you will see the salvation the Lord will bring you today” (:13). Do not waver in your faith; God is able to deliver you, he told the Israelites. In fact “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (:14). Now how easy is that? We have this driving urge to “do” something, don’t we?
How often do we focus on the rock, the obstruction? Or we look at our own inadequacy, our fatigue, our poverty and decide it’s all too hard for God. So we will fix it? What a joke! Moses had it right. Fix your eyes on God because even the Egyptians will know [learn through this scenario] that I am God! (:18).
Jesus, who is our greatest example, fixed His eyes on God in order to endure all that mankind could hurl at Him. Are your eyes fixed on Him?