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Posts Tagged ‘leading’

wilderness1

In Exodus 23:20-33, God gives Moses and His people instructions and promises about how to obtain the land to which he was taking them.  They had already been in the wilderness for some time.  Here, they are promised a home and great blessings.  They are given a guide and a few contingencies at the front of their conquest.  Let’s consider this.

In verse 20, God promises to send a guide to go before His people.  The guide is described as an angel and his job was to bring them to the place God had prepared for them to go and to live.  Some believe this angel was the preincarnate Christ.  Regardless, they were commanded three things pertaining to this angel guide.  They were told to pay careful attention, obey his voice, and to not rebel against him.  Their failure to do these three essential things in their attitude and behavior toward this guide would result in his failure to forgive them for it.  The reason given was that God’s name was “in him.”

The promises for obedience were guidance (23:20), possession of a good land in which to live (23:23-24), blessed food, water, healing of sickness, fruitful wombs, long life (23:25-26), and victory over many kinds of different, powerful, strong enemies (23:22, 27-28).  The victory was to be a slower, more gradual take over rather than an all at once overcoming of their many enemies.  The text says, “little by little,” as they were growing in number and moving into the new land, God would drive their enemies out.

Finally, in verses 32-33, they are given one final warning against idolatry.

Here, we find not only the instructions for the success of the people searching for the promise land, but also the skeleton outline for the life of every successful Christian.

When we are called out of the wilderness and into the promised place God is preparing for us, we are given a guide.  His name is Jesus Christ and we are called to pay careful attention to Him (and Him alone), obey His voice (His sheep know His voice), and to not rebel against him.  If we fail to pay attention to Him, disobey Him, and rebel against Him those actions are indicative of refusing Christ as Our Lord.  If we refuse Christ, we forfeit the forgiveness and grace he offers and will not be pardoned for our sin. Because he is the Way as well as our guide, to refuse Him is to forfeit all of the blessings that following offers.

If, on the other hand, we do pay attention, obey, and not rebel, we are promised victory, protection, the bread and water of life, healing, fruitfulness in regeneration, and life everlasting.  Our victory, like theirs, is little by little.  All throughout this life through many toils and snares, we are moving toward the promised land of eternal life; the place He has prepared for us.  We are growing and our enemies are being eradicated little by little by God Himself on our behalf as we become sanctified thus gaining victory over sin in our own lives.   No other gods are permitted during any part of this journey.

How gracious a God we serve to give such tender care and guidance to us as we walk home through this worldly wilderness!  We are his children and he will fight for us if we but pay attention, obey him, and stop rebelling against him with our sin.  What a beautiful picture of Our Father’s mercy we have in Exodus 23.

 

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lovejesus

I’ve been thinking on yesterday’s sermon on John 21:15-25 considering why it is that Jesus asked Peter whether he loved him.  Why did he ask so many times?  Aside from the comparison to the thrice denied Christ by Peter, was there another reason for such questioning?  Didn’t Jesus know Peter loved him?  Of course he did. Even Peter said as much. So why?

Jesus’ interrogation was for Peter’s sake.  It was for our sake.  Jesus’ is showing us something about how to love.  He is showing us what the love of God looks like, both by restoring an unlovable failure and by teaching him what love looks like in the face of his failure.

Christ is conveying these truths about how we must love by telling Peter to feed his lambs (twice), tend his sheep, and adding that no one else’s call is relevant to his call which is to simply follow him:

Loving me is other-centered, Peter Lori.

Loving me is not a popularity contest, Peter Lori.

Loving me is not a power trip Peter Lori.

Loving me has nothing to do with pride, Peter Lori.

Loving me is sacrificial service, Peter Lori.

Loving me is willingness to suffer, Peter Lori.

Loving me has nothing to do with competition and comparison, Peter Lori.

Loving me has nothing to do with your leading, Peter Lori.

Loving me is following wherever I lead, Peter Lori.

These are the things you failed to understand before.  That is why you fell.

Peter had grief over this interaction.  He had a certain sadness over Jesus’ questioning and doubtless his own culpability and regret.  He still had questions and some residual contest with his contemporaries in this heart.  Still, Peter was changed.  He was humbled.  By the power of God, Peter did follow Christ and change the world through his restored witness.

The grace displayed by God and the gospel toward Peter here is tremendous.  I know because the grace displayed by God and the gospel towards me, too, is tremendous.

I have been a doubter, a denier, an egotist, and a bombastic, just like Peter.  I look back with grief and a certain sadness.  When the Lord reveals the hard parts of his plan, I still pine over senseless questions about fairness and folly sprouting from a sinful nature .  I don’t know about Peter, but my biggest fear is falling away again.  What if my call is that which I find most unfavorable?  What if his love isn’t enough to keep me and what if I don’t really love him the way I think I do; the way I want to; the way he calls me to?

Foolish doubts and fears rooted in distrust and unbelief are silenced by the truth.  I know that he is the sustainer of all things, including my salvation.  I will not fear.

For Peter, martyrdom and death was the fear that caused his betrayal.  Peter’s restoration is proof that perseverance is possible.  He was afraid to die when he denied Christ, but later he died indeed for Christ by the power of God.

The love of God changes people.  It makes the unwilling, willing; the unloving, loving; the prideful, humble; the doubting, trust.  Our hope is found in forgetting our failures, formulas, fears, and trusting him to keep us from falling.  Our hope is found in following Christ wherever he leads.

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