Friday, February 11, 2011

The Journey Begins :: Marah :: part two

Over the last several weeks in New Community, we've been looking at the Israelite's journey from Egypt to the Promise Land. Interestingly, God choose to take them on a route other than the one that would have been the most direct.

Why? What was His purpose in doing so?

There were lessons He wanted them to learn, principles He wanted them to understand. He was forming them into the kind of people He wanted them to become. 1 Corinthians 10 teaches us that they were given as examples for us to learn from.

What can we learn from them? Are there ways in which God dealt with them, that He also deals with us? Are there principles He wanted them to embody, that He also wants us to embody as well?

The following are a few reflective thoughts inspired by Exodus 15:22-26.

v. 22 :: Voices, Death & New Identity

22aThen Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur.

Our journey with God isn’t designed to always be comfortable.

We all need voices in our lives that remind us (regardless of how good our present circumstances look) that this is not our destination…

Who (or what) are the voices in your life?

22bFor three days they traveled in the desert without finding water.

Water baptism for a Christian symbolizes the death to our old self.
Discipleship is the ongoing process where we are continuously learning
to live out of the reality of that death and in particular,
learning to live out of the new life brought to us in Christ.

  (See also: Colosians 1:13-14 and Romans 6-8)

v. 23-24 :: Source, Dependence & Perspective

23When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) 24So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”

•    They believed He was great! (Just read the song they sang to the LORD 3-days earlier in Exodus 15:1-21.  Verse 13 they sang, “In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling… 18The LORD reigns for ever and ever…” But now, three days later (the forever is over) and they are responding as if He doesn’t exist!

•    Though they were slaves in Egypt, they had become comfortable in planting and watering their fields and reaping abundant harvests. Perhaps they had come to believe that they were responsible for their survival and that God had little to do with the details of their daily lives.

•    Deuteronomy 11:10-16
10The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden. 11But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. 12It is a land the LORD your God cares for; the eyes of the LORD your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end. 13So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the LORD your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul— 14then I will send rain on your land in its season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and olive oil. 15I will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. 16Be careful, or you will be enticed to turn away and worship other gods

The journey produces a shift of perspective that begins
to see God as our ultimate source… and not our selves.

(See also James 1:17)

•    24So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?” They look to Moses = a human solution.

The text challenges us to ask:

Where do we look (and who do I blame) when our thirsts (wants and needs)
have not been met according to our expectation?
Do we believe God, but try to figure it out all on ourselves?
•    How do we look – What’s our default perspective on situations?  
     Pessimistically or Optimistically in faith? (mental paths)

•    God is intricately interested in how we respond to situations, circumstances and relationships!

•    3-Days without water. The Midrash interprets “water” as Torah (since Torah is as essential for well-being as water), infers that it was three days without Torah that made them rebellious, and holds that the practice of reading the Torah every Sabbath, Monday and Thursday so that never again would one go three days without Torah.

(See also: Ephesians 5:26 - “Washing with water through the word.)

v.25 - Asking, Seeing & Doing

25Then Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

The first part says, “Then Moses cried out to the LORD."
25“Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him…”

When we pray, we must be careful to also create space to see,
to be shown something…
to listen and to hear the voice of God respond…

25“Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood.”

Most arguments, are about something other
than what's being argued about…

True intercession (and prayer / times of crying out) make room for a “,”
so that we can be shown the bigger picture…

Nonetheless, “Moses cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood.”

God often uses the unexpected to do the unexpected…
He’ll use the ordinary to do the extra-ordinary…
He’ll use the mundane to do the miraculous…

Is there an area of your life, where what used to “work” no longer works?

The whole transaction of religious conversion has been made mechanical and  spiritless.
We have forgotten that God is a person and, as such, can be cultivated as any person can.

A.W. Tozer

 Have you grown comfortable to the way you’ve always related to God?

25b“He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.”

Whatever God shows you – do something with it…

25b“He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.”

At times, we’re the stick.

Three Question to Linger:
  1. Who (or what) are the Voices in your life…?

  2. Is there currently space in your life (and times of prayer) to listen to God, see what He’s trying to show you, hear what He’s saying…?

  3. What “sticks” has he shown you, that you’ve yet to do anything with? Is there an area where God’s is calling you to be a stick and throw yourself into the water…?

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