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Did You See What He Did There? a lenten sermon on Exodus 17


church at communion 2Did You See What He Did There?
Exodus 17:1-7

I.H.S

 May the Grace and Peace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ teach you that He will always provide for you, even when you can’t see that He is, and has planned to do so!

 Did you see what Israel did?

Have you ever met people like the ones Moses tried to lead in the Old Testament reading this morning?  A little of what went before.

In chapter 13, after more miracles than we can remember, Pharaoh lets the people of God go.

In chapter 14, a sea splits apart long enough to let 2.4 million people cross through it, and then swallows a half-million-man army chasing them with the intent to kill them all

In Chapter 16, the Lord provides them with the makings of quail tacos, as every morning he provides with the Manna and quail that would sustain them for 40 years.

After all that, after all God did, they doubt He knows what He’s doing?

Just because they don’t have enough water, and are so thirsty they can’t thing straight,  Just because they are struggling with the thirst,  they forgot the most important thing we need to know in life, they go crazy and become demanding and complain and whine to Moses, their pastor. Led by a pillar of fire and a cloud, they forget all that…tormented by thirst, unaware that the answer is so close….

Did you see what they did there?  Do you know people so overwhelmed by their place in life that they forget what makes life, life?

Did you see what they did there?  Yeah – that isn’t important.

Did you see what Moses did?

What about Moses?  Did you see what he did there?

He’s just as much of a whiner! Even as God leads them, Moses vents to God!  Why me Lord?  Why do they want me to suffer? Why are they going to kill me?  He too is overwhelmed by fear and anxiety!

He didn’t see that they were tormented by their thirst, he wants them to just stop their whining and be quiet. He takes their reaction to their stress personally, their cries to God as if they are personal attacks.

God go get them….. they don’t like us. Who cares what they are going through! Did you ever know anyone like that?

Did you see what he did there?

That isn’t important either,  There is only one Person whose actions we need to see in this story

Did you see what God did there?

God’s actions are really what everyone is concerned about, or is

Do we see what God is doing?

First He’s the One guiding them, He’s the one who brings these wandering people to the place where they are at, the place where He’s going to make eternal promises to them, and bring them into Abraham’s covenant in ways they will not understand until the resurrection of Jesus.

Then, God doesn’t bat an eye at the complaints.  He deals with Moses first – directing him to get back to caring for the people God gathered around him.  Walk out in front, gather them around.  Get your staff, the thing you’ve always had at hand when I worked through you, gather around the elders and all the people to see what happens.

Oh yeah – I will be there, standing before the cliff face..

And then for those miserable, tormented, thirsty, complaining people, God does something wonderful.  He provides what they need, as He planned.

He hadn’t forgotten them, He hadn’t forgotten to provide for them, He didn’t want them to die, but live, in peace, in relationship with Him.  So he tells Moses to take the staff and hit the rock face and water comes out, enough for them, and all their animals.

To give you and idea of how much water, quick calculations gave me the number of at a minimum. 500 backyard pools worth comes spilling out of rock face…or if we walled in the church property and made it one big pool, the water would be 7 feet deep. (and that’s not counting evaporation!)

Did you see what He did there?

People that whined and complained, led by a shepherd who didn’t care for the problems they were in, who forgot He was there. People just like you and I, people that were overwhelmed, who couldn’t function, who despite the miracles, who despite the things testifying to God’s presence, doubted.  People who scripture says tested the Lord by saying, “Is the Lord here with us or not?

For those people, God again provided what they needed.

Even though they struggled to realize it, He was there, He heard their cries, and had already provided for them.

Did you see what He did there?

So what?

The reason I want you to see what God did there, is often we forget.

It’s time to see what God is doing, no longer concentrating on our failures, or on the weakness of our leaders.

We need to see what He’s doing here, which isn’t much different.  Indeed, His faithfulness, His loving care, His giving life, is always there.  He is faithful.

I could focus on Christ being the rock that the Holy Spirit shepherds us to, or that He is the living water that cleanses us and gives us life.  That He does so, because He is faithful to His promise, to His plan, even if we struggle.  I would focus that he does work through weak and tired leaders, even when we think no one is listening.

But I would like us to focus the most on this, the answer to Israel’s question.  He is with us!  The Lord is with you!

Yeah – He is here! He promised to never leave us, to never stop providing for us.

That He is here is we need to know, with more than our mind; to experience deep in our souls the comfort and peace that God gives us, and letting that comfort and peace work its way from our hearts into our minds, overcoming the doubts, the fears, the pain, the hunger and thirst for life, that seems unquenched.

That is what the cross and the grave, the resurrection, Ascension and Pentecost are about.  He went through it all to show us His presence, giving us evidence that backs up His promise of love, His promise to care.

Lent does, for this is the time when we realize our thirst is not for water, not for manna, but for Him.  And He hears our cries… and reminds us, “I am standing right before you..”

He is our LORD – the one who stands before us, calling us home, welcoming us home, welcoming us to His feast…. Where we remember His presence and rejoice and rest.

AMEN!

Why Do You Insist On Struggling Alone?


Devotional Thought fo the Day:
22  “The Son of Man must suffer many terrible things,” he said. “He will be rejected by the elders, the leading priests, and the teachers of religious law. He will be killed, but on the third day he will be raised from the dead.” 23  Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. 24  If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.    Luke 9:22-24 (NLT)

26  And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will. 28  And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.    Romans 8:26-28 (NLT)

252      Grant me, Jesus, the Cross with no Simon of Cyrene to help me. No, that’s not right; I need your grace, I need your help here as in everything. You must be my Simon of Cyrene. With you, my God, no trial can daunt me… But what if my Cross should consist in boredom or sadness? In that case I say to you, Lord, with You I would gladly be sad.  (1)

Occaisonally I hear the complaint, “no one knows what I am going through, and no one understands, no one cares.”  Sometimes I want to argue the point, confronting the opinion with that which proves it is not true.  Other times I simply want to say, “stop whining, trust in God, you know that is not true!”  And sometimes I want to walk away, tired of the complaints, which seem more an excuse for not living as one should.

But how do I walk away from myself?

Though I have heard such as a pastor and as a friend, I have heard it often in those internal arguments we have when we have that moment to think, when we have a moment where we are not recoiling from the constant stress that life provides. Even as I’ve shepherded others through those times, (some have even suggested I have a talent for it?) applying the same truth to my own life is difficult.

Part of me just wants to accept it, it’s part of taking up my cross, and I will get through it, eventually. After all, good Christians endure all things, right?

No.

We are not meant ot bear our burdens alone.  We are meant to share them, with God, and as our trust in God grows, with the people He’s called to be His own.

St Josemaria’s words that I read, that I need to inwardly digest this morning confront me in my struggles.They don’t dismiss the cross I’ve got to bear, but they remind me that a Christian doesn’t walk through such times alone.  And we certainly aren’t the heroes who bear the weight by our own strength.  We need to let Jesus be our Simon of Cyrene.   We have to let the Spirit intercede for us, even as we are too overwhelmed to know what to pray.

We have to know we walk with God, we walk in Christ, the Holy Spirit dwells within us.  We need to depend on a God who reveals Himself to be not just in a relationship, but to be the Relationship.

This is how we find ourselves to be able to rejoice in all things, and to not be anxious about anything.  In order to survive, it is not about bearing up with things bravely, it is about depending on Jesus, about living, not in view of that would crush us, but in view of the cross and the love revealed to us there.

For taking up the cross, our cross, is found in being united to His suffering and death, and His life. That is where our peace comes from.. a peace that doesn’t make sense.

A peace that is ours, as we let Jesus be our Simon, as we let Him be our Paraclete, our Comforter,  as we let HIm be our Lord and Savior!

AMEN!

(1)   Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1060-1063). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Dangerous Thought on Tax Day: A Day of Repentance


Devotional Thought of the Day:

1  Remind the people to respect the government and be law-abiding, always ready to lend a helping hand 2  No insults, no fights. God’s people should be bighearted and courteous. Titus 3:1-2 (MSG)

13  Make the Master proud of you by being good citizens. Respect the authorities, whatever their level; 14  they are God’s emissaries for keeping order. 15  It is God’s will that by doing good, you might cure the ignorance of the fools who think you’re a danger to society. 16  Exercise your freedom by serving God, not by breaking the rules. 17  Treat everyone you meet with dignity. Love your spiritual family. Revere God. Respect the government. 1 Peter 2:13-17 (MSG)

13 Later they sent some of the Pharisees and some of the Herod-party to trap him in an argument. They came up and said to him, “Master, we know that you are an honest man and that you are not swayed by men’s opinion of you. Obviously you don’t care for human approval but teach the way of God with the strictest regard for truth – is it right to pay tribute to Caesar or not: are we to pay or not to pay?”  15  But Jesus saw through their hypocrisy and said to them, “Why try this trick on me? Bring me a coin and let me look at it.” 16  So they brought one to him. “Whose face is this?” asked Jesus, “and whose name is in the inscription?” 17  “Caesar’s,” they replied. And Jesus said, Then give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God!” a reply which staggered them. Mark 12:13-17 (Phillips NT)

67 The scene of the parable is being repeated: it is the same as with those people who were invited to the wedding feast. Some are afraid, others have their own concerns, many… make up stories or give silly excuses. They put up resistance. That is why they feel the way they do: fed up, all in a muddle, listless, bored, bitter. And yet how easy it is to accept the divine invitation at every moment, and live a happy life, full of joy!  (1)

It is April 15th, the day annual tax documents are do in the USA.

It’s also a day where we should confess our sins, and be absolved for them.

For disobeying the law, not man’s law (though some of us are guilty of that!), but God’s law.  The law which tells us the government is something God has established as a blessing for us.

Now some of you are thinking – but the government uses our money for evil, the government is trying to persecute the church, the government is giving our hard earned dollars to those that do not deserve it, the government is, and the slander and disrespect goes on and on, without end.  Unlike Jesus on the cross – who could have called down 10,000 angels while he was hanging on the cross, we want to call down God’s wrath on those who would take our idols, our Benjamins, Franklins and Lincolns.  Heck we begrudge even the littlest Lincoln upon which the government has a claim.

Dare someone quote the words from scripture above, and ridicule and scorn will shift, from the government, to the one writing them.  People (and pastors too) will start justifying their actions, and especially their words and their thoughts.  In do so, they deny that sin occurs in thoughts and words, beside in the things we do.  We toss our theology out the window – in order to protect the “rite” to free speech.  Even when that speech is sinful.

It’s time to repent, its time to realize that in keeping the fourth commandment, (honor thy Father and Mother) that includes the blessing of the government God established, the government that has the right to tax us, and to set what those taxes are.  It’s time to stop stealing, stop bearing false witness, to stop coveting our governments stuff.  Instead we should pray for them, bless them respect them (and not just “the office).

We’ve got a much better thing to be doing, we can revel in the presence of God, we can rejoice at His love and mercy. That’s what it means to find our place in the wedding banquet, rather than in the marketplace complaining and slandering.  It is what it means to live as forgiven, baptized children of God – to do things (like obeying the government) that we do – for God’s sake.

It’s a time for us to hear our sins are forgiven, that God has rescued us, that we no longer need to protect our idols.

It’s a day to know God’s mercy so well, the we show it to others….

May our Lord Jesus Christ walk with us this day, and may the Spirit of God, dwelling within us, empower us to keep these words above.

AMEN.

I am tired of it. 

(1)  Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). Furrow (Kindle Locations 500-505). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.

 

 

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