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Posts Tagged ‘hiding’

 

 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” ~John 3:1-2

We.  Nicodemus speaks in plural.  This religious leader is not just speaking for himself.  He says, “…we know…”  It is very likely he is speaking on behalf of himself and several, if not many, religious leaders of his day.  The Pharisees.  They knew.  They knew, at the very least, that Jesus was from God – yet – they still hated him.  They still sought ways to discredit and undermine him.  They still publicly challenged and slandered him.

This is amazing!  Jealousy makes power-hungry religious men do terrible things even though they know better.

Jesus takes Nicodemus immediately to the reason and the solution for why he doesn’t know him for who he actually is.  Jesus is not just from God – he is God.  The reason Nicodemus doesn’t know that is because he has not been regenerated by the power of God.  He is a just another guy who is interested in religion.  He lacks spiritual insight and wisdom precisely because he has not come to know Christ truly yet.  He knows all about religion.  He fails to know God.  This is tragic.

What does Jesus do?

He wastes no time explaining who he is or setting Nicodemus straight about his identity.  Jesus gives him the solution.  “You must be born again.”  He proceeds to preach the gospel to Nicodemus adding that it is quite peculiar that he is in a position and in fact is a teacher of God’s people and yet has no understanding of the things of God. (verse 10)

Nicodemus is bewildered.  He is confused.  He is astonished at what Jesus tells him saying, “How can these things be?” (verse 9)

After Jesus makes the point that a teacher of God’s people ought to know these things, he reveals the real issue in Nicodemus’s life.

 “Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony.12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?”~ John 3:11-12

You don’t believe me, Nicodemus.  I have repeatedly told you and showed you the truth in simple, lisping lessons but you simply do not believe it.  If you don’t believe me about things on earth – things you can see – how will you believe about things in heaven – things you have not seen?!  He gives Nicodemus the gospel as well as the reason men just like Nicodemus do not believe it.

We tend to forget that this whole John 3:16 business is in the context of Jesus talking to one of the most religious men of his day.  Think about that.  Consider the implications of that truth.

So what does Jesus say to this very religious teacher guy?  Grace is here – but, as Jesus has already told this man, it is for those who believe.  You do not believe.  Light is here.  The problem is not that you do not have enough light.  You love darkness.  That is the problem.  And why do you love darkness?  Because you’re hiding.  You are afraid that your wrong deeds will be exposed.  You care more about how you look on the outside than you do about whether you are in God’s favor.  You would rather hide behind religion than come into the light and be made clean.

The main idea here is that Jesus is not the one hiding.  God is waiting and willing no matter how or when we come to inquire of him.  We are always the ones who hide from God.  Nicodemus comes at night because he is hiding.  Likely he fears his religious friends seeing him talk to Jesus – because God forbid one of them get to know Jesus rightly and for who he truly is.  They were much more content to make him who they needed him to be in order to keep their sin hidden and their people – their followers – deceived about who they really were.

Jesus is not the one hiding.  The religious men are hiding.  When asked indirectly who he really is, Jesus pulls no punches.  He tells the inquirer the solution and the problem for why he does not know the answer to his own question.  Jesus does not have to say, “I am God” because it is extremely clear that Nicodemus has already repeatedly refused to believe the truths that would lead to that conclusion.  Instead, Jesus mercifully gives him the solution.

Here’s your problem, Nicodemus.  Here’s what needs to happen in your own life, Nicodemus.  There’s grace, Nicodemus.  Believe and be saved, Nicodemus.  If you do not believe, you are already condemned despite all your religious work and knowledge, Nicodemus.

Have you ever had someone try to be your friend secretly?  Or treat you differently when others were around vs. when they were not around?  Religious people are infamous for this kind of behavior because they not only fail to recognize and believe who God is, they fail to know who they themselves are.  Therefore, they are not genuine in their dealings.  Jesus shows us how to deal with this kind of pretense.  Say this:

Here’s your problem, religious man.  Here’s what needs to happen in your own life, religious man.  There’s grace, religious man.  Believe and be saved, religious man.  If you do not believe, you are already condemned despite all your religious work and knowledge, religious man.

Jesus deals with pretense, fear, a religious spirit, and sin all in one blow.  He tells this spiritually impoverished soul the truth of the gospel and the solution to his sin problem.  He makes sure that guy knows exactly what is required of him and shows him that he has not yet been willing to do it.

God’s grace is waiting.  He wants people to come to the light.  We must believe, confess our sin in the light, and repent of our hiding it in the darkness.  God is faithful to meet us there and do a great work in our lives.  He will change us from religious pretenders – people who have (as the Bible says) a form of godliness but deny its power – and false friends to real sons and daughters; brothers and sisters of his very own.

Come to Jesus.  Confess your sin to him.  Ask forgiveness.  Allow his Holy Spirit to do his work in you and you will be a new creation.  You will be born again.  Amen.

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murderer

Moses, a baby marked out for death, instead grew up as royalty under the care of those who once sought to kill him.  He was given a stellar education, position, power, and all the pleasures of Pharaoh’s house.  Still, Moses never forgot that he had been born a Hebrew.  Nothing he gained from his adoptive Egyptian family was enough to cause him to forget who he was, who they were, or where he came from.

One day, when Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and looked on their burdens, and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his people. 12 He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. ~Exodus 2:11-12

Moses observes an act of injustice against a Hebrew slave.  All allegiance to Egypt disappears in an instant.  Moses chose to forsake all he’d been given by Egypt in order to side with his own people.  Hebrews 11:24 calls his alliance with God’s people “faith.”

Although Moses’ delivering his Hebrew brother from an abusive Egyptian foreshadows the great deliverance God would bring about through him later, it is clear that Moses’ impulsive act was actually a sinful result of righteous anger.  In an effort to stop abuse, Moses became an abuser – an not just an abuser, a murderous abuser.

It is  good that Moses grew up and matured.  It is good that Moses considered the burdens of God’s people.  It is good that Moses recognized evil and injustice.  It is good that Moses had righteous indignation over the mistreatment of his brother.  Moses likely had the right motives.  He had the right perspective.  He even had the right beliefs.  But Moses sinned.  He murdered a man.  He acted unjustly on his quest to bring about justice.  He is a prime example of doing the right thing in the wrong way.  His sin led to fear, hiding, forty years of delay, and isolation from the very purpose he was raised up to accomplish.

For a moment, let’s consider what might have been different if Moses hadn’t sinned in his anger on his mission for justice.  Is there anything Moses could have done aside from killing the abusive Egyptian man?

Perhaps he could have implored Pharaoh for justice on behalf of the Hebrews.  He could have had the abusive ruler dismissed.  Maybe he could have tried to use the position and power he had to bring about positive change in Egypt or prayed earnestly before taking such rash, irreversible action.  Would his innocence have stopped the mouth of his Hebrew accuser who asked, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us?…”  rather than repenting when Moses confronted him?  Surely he would have had more credibility in the eyes of both his Egyptian counterparts as well as his Hebrew brothers and sisters.

I digress.  Who really knows what atrocities could have been avoided if Moses hadn’t sinned so grievously in this case.  All we know is that he did – and we do, too, at times.  What we do know is that Moses’ sin delayed him.  He spent forty years in the desert.  It caused a long period of isolation from everyone and everything he knew.  That’s what sin does – even to those who begin with righteous anger, right beliefs, right perspective, and right motives.  It drives us away from the people and places we are called to love and serve.  We end up in the wilderness at the the mercy of God alone…

And maybe, just maybe, that’s not such a bad place to be when you’ve got some long, hard lessons to learn about doing things God’s way.

God redeemed Moses in that wilderness.  He gave him a family and some necessary training.  When the time came, God restored Moses and brought him back to Egypt for the very purpose he’d raised him up there for – deliverance.

When I think about Moses the murderer, I think about myself – a great sinner with a greater God.  There’s no telling what good purposes I’ve missed and delayed because of my sinful reactions to other people’s sinful actions, but I know that the God I know is the same God Moses knew.  The God who preserved baby Moses at birth preserved me at birth.  The God who gave Moses severe, unique, and serious life circumstances as prerequisites to his calling is the same God who gave me severe, unique, and serious life circumstances as prerequisites to my calling.  The one who allowed Moses to sin greatly, be restored fully, and become a real help and encouragement to his people is the same God who allowed me to sin greatly, be restored fully, and, I pray one day, will allow me to become a real help and encouragement to his people.  The same God who gave Moses a beautiful, undeserved family out of the blue clear sky gave me a beautiful, undeserved family out of the blue clear sky.

How unworthy we are!  Moses and I, that is.  How good our God is to save us, grow us, forgive us, teach us, redeem us, and use us despite our great folly and faulty foundations!

Seeing Moses as a murderer is what led me to choose to study Exodus.  There is hope in the ministry for people who fail royally – even if we’re not royal-ty like Moses.  When I see Moses, I see hope – and rightly so – Moses the deliverer is a picture of Christ our deliverer.

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Image

“Did you see her behind the tree?”

“Yes.  Of course I saw her.  I wanted her to think I didn’t.”

My eight-year-old was mad at her daddy.  So mad, in fact, that she marched half-way around the lake where we were fishing and parked herself alone on a bench to cry.  She had lost her shoe in a patch of mud and her father had made her walk back through the mud to get it.  

She cleaned her shoe, cleaned her feet as best she could, and then, ran away crying.  With the help of mom’s keen eye and persuasive encouragement, Daddy realized he had better set the poles down and attempt to reel in a somewhat bigger fish.  

He walked towards her as she yelled, “Leave me alone!  I just want to be alone!”  

The closer he got, the more she cried.  Finally, she began to run again.  She ran away and hid behind a tree.  He walked past, still pretending to search for her.  He turned around and ran straight for the tree.  She took off, but knew she could not outrun her daddy.  She laid down on the ground and cried as he stood over her and began explaining and apologizing for her latest mistake.

As we got into the car she said, still sobbing, “I just want to go home!”

“Why?” 

“Because my feet are dirty.  I put my feet in that mud and now I can’t go anywhere that’s clean.”

“Daddy is sorry this happened to you.”

“No, he’s not!”

“Yes, he is.  Your feet are fine.  We’re going to play outside anyway.  Don’t worry, everyone’s feet will be dirty by the end of the day.”

She played until dark with a dozen shoe-less children outside in the yard.

I’ve always called her her father’s daughter.  That, she certainly is, but this day, perhaps, she has personified her mother most closely.

Or, maybe we all get a little frustrated when we step into places we know we ought not.  Maybe we all blame our father when he inevitably sends us back into those places to retrieve what we’ve lost.  Maybe we all run away when we’re angry and hide when we’re hurt.  Maybe we all just want to go home when we feel dirty and uninvited.  Or maybe it’s just me…and Mia.  

Either way, she taught me, once again, some profound lessons about myself and about life yesterday.

My father, God, always sees me.  He’s willing to watch me get dirty if I need to learn something important.  He won’t ever leave me alone no matter how much I yell at him to do just that.  He is sorry for all my pain and loss.  I do not have to worry about being imperfect no matter where I have to go.  Everyone I will ever meet is just as unclean as I am at the end of the end.  Daddy loves us anyway.  

So, who wants to go home when we’ve got the rest of the day to play outside?  Last one to the field is a rotten egg.

 

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 Image

Nearing the end of the last stop on my one-to-many-errands-with-three-small-children-in-tow list, Addie, my six year old, decided it was time to play hide and seek.

With patience worn paper thin from sheer mental exhaustion as well as the insomnia of the night before, all patience and pretense was as spent as my very empty bank account.  Making a scene wasn’t even an afterthought as I began to shout her name throughout the moderately crowded aisles of the store.

 “Addie!”

No answer.

“Addie!  Where are you?!”

No response.

Diligently searching every last aisle while carrying a giggling four year old and half-answering an inquisitive eight year old who repeatedly informed me it was time to call the police, minutes felt like hours as every Amber Alert I’d ever seen played like a horror film in the back of my mind.  I began to look at people, cars outside, suspicious bumper stickers, employees.  I’m sure I felt time stop as everyone and no one saw me in my desperation.

Finally, in the moment just before full blown panic took over, an accomplished, smirking Addie emerged from her well-planned nook.

“I win!”

After attempting to restore proper oxygen and blood flow in my anxiety ridden body, and holding back the temptation to use my last stitch of physical energy to discipline mid-supermarket, I responded.

“Come here.”

With smuggish smile she folded her arms and stood still.

“Addie Elaine.  Come here, now!”

She sat down on the dirty floor mid-aisle.

The gig was up.  Placing my squirming four year old down and hoping to God she wouldn’t follow suit, I walked towards Addie, took them both firmly by the hand and attempted to purchase what no longer seemed to be necessities.  Realizing I’d left my bank card in a jacket at home, I exited the store with only, but thankfully, the cargo I had entered with.

Once the seat belts were all buckled and I began to recollect what on earth just went wrong, I was wrecked by the revelation of my own heart and the realization that I am Addie.

I am the one who hides defiantly as my Father seeks me diligently.  I am the little girl with the rebellious smile who sits down across the room when he calls me to come stand next to him.  I am the liar who denies my own deviant dereliction.  I am the insurgent who disregards the voice of my Daddy to the place where he must drag me out of my improper position kicking and screaming.

I start the car and I hear him.

“Come here, Lori.”

I emerge from my hiding place and with grateful tears I finally come.

“Forgive me, Father.  I know not what I do.”

And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” ~Genesis 3:8-10

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1T-VfypD8j4

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ImageAs a result of David’s need of provisions for himself and his men, God has given him…two more wives (1 Samuel 25:43-44.)  His first wife, Michal, had betrayed him and Saul has now given her to another man.

David also took Ahinoam of Jezreel, and both of them became his wives. 44 Saul had given Michal his daughter, David’s wife, to Palti the son of Laish, who was of Gallim. 

Then the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is not David hiding himself on the hill of Hachilah, which is on the east of Jeshimon?” So Saul arose and went down to the wilderness of Ziph with three thousand chosen men of Israel to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul encamped on the hill of Hachilah, which is beside the road on the east of Jeshimon. But David remained in the wilderness. When he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness, David sent out spies and learned that Saul had indeed come. Then David rose and came to the place where Saul had encamped. And David saw the place where Saul lay, with Abner the son of Ner, the commander of his army. Saul was lying within the encampment, while the army was encamped around him. ~1 Samuel 25:43-26:5

So let’s just get this straight…the man needs provisions and God gives him more responsibility.  He needs food and God gives him more mouths to feed.  Not to mention the fact that he is still in the barren wilderness without the means to obtain what he desperately needs on his own.  He simply cannot provide it for himself.  His would-be friends, the Ziphites, are still his enemies.  Saul, his king who had put away his rage against him for a moment, is now pursuing him full force once again. (more…)

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ImageDavid is in the wilderness.  His own countrymen have just betrayed him and told his whereabouts to Saul – his fiercest enemy.  What does David do?  Better yet, what does God do?

Now David and his men were in the wilderness of Maon, in the Arabah to the south of Jeshimon. 25 And Saul and his men went to seek him. And David was told, so he went down to the rock and lived in the wilderness of Maon. And when Saul heard that, he pursued after David in the wilderness of Maon.26 Saul went on one side of the mountain, and David and his men on the other side of the mountain. And David was hurrying to get away from Saul. As Saul and his men were closing in on David and his men to capture them, 27 a messenger came to Saul, saying, “Hurry and come, for the Philistines have made a raid against the land.” 28 So Saul returned from pursuing after David and went against the Philistines. Therefore that place was called the Rock of Escape. 29  And David went up from there and lived in the strongholds of Engedi. ~1 Samuel 23:24-29

David was told that he had been found out.  As soon as he knew how severe the force against him was, he relocated himself near a rock in the wilderness.

David wasn’t standing next to a pebble, he was hiding behind a mountain.  Saul was on one side of the mountain pursuing David, and David was on the other side running away from Saul.  What Saul found to be a frustration, David found to be a fortress.

As the enemy closes in on David, he is distracted.  It was told to Saul that another enemy – the Philistines – were raiding his land.  Funny how Saul suddenly became concerned when it was his house that was being spoiled by these evil men.  Where he failed to concern himself with Keilah, he now seriously concerns himself with…himself.  National security and the people’s protection are not on this man’s mind – self protection and security are.  Here, God used one enemy to frustrate another.

Anyway, God knows this raid is enough to send Saul packing, thereby preserving David.  God’s timing and providence never fails.  It is always perfect according to the needs of his people.

And I guess God doesn’t always use light to destroy darkness.  Sometimes God uses darkness to deter darkness.  I think of my own sin.  When the evil and injustice of the world rages against me, I am often brought to my knees over my own evil.  Sometimes God uses the sinfulness of other sinners against us to eradicate sin in us…or at the very least to distract us from the worse evil we were planning.

It often becomes very difficult to fight over the throne you’re sitting on.  Apparently, soldiers have no business fighting over thrones.  Soldiers, rather, are called to stand by the Rock and, even, wait in the wilderness sometimes.

It really isn’t all about what David did in this case.  It’s all about what God did.  God provided the rock.  God distracted the enemy.  God frustrated the evil.  God preserved David in the wilderness.  Wait.  Jesus is the Rock.  Jesus destroyed the enemy.  Jesus delivered us from evil.  Jesus preserves his people.

Don’t fight over the throne.  It doesn’t belong to you.  Stand by the Rock.  Wait in the wilderness.  You don’t have to deliver yourself.  God will deliver you.

“The wisdom of God is never at a loss for ways and means to preserve his people.” ~Matthew Henry

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