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January 2020

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Books for the Journey:

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Matthew 23:3 So practice and obey whatever they say to you, but don't follow their example. For they don't practice what they teach.

So often when I read about Pharisees, I dismiss them as false teachers and no more. Here Jesus seems to be affirming some of what they teach, and telling his disciples to practice and obey what they teach, but not to copy how they practically live their lives! It reminds me that you can find truth even from unlikely sources, but you need to be discerning.

Exodus 17:8-19:15

You are instructed by God to do something and in your carrying out the instructions you grow weary and you stop. The example of Moses being helped, having his arms held up while he sat on a rock, is an example for those who grow weary holding up their arms and hands in battle. We cannot do it alone; God has no lone rangers and someone is always called along side the visionary. So there seems to be a responsibility to both the visionary to recognize their need for help, and to those called along side to submit to the one carrying the vision. (Exodus 17:8-13)

The visionary also needs to take counsel from those that God sends to him. The hard part is recognizing the one or ones to accept counsel from because everyone giving advice have not been sent by God. I think that God placed on Moses’ father-in-law’s heart the desire to visit, but this was no ordinary visit it was a divine appointment to impart wise counsel to a man hand-picked for a godly assignment.

What I find intriguing are the Words God gave to Moses to the people which matched supported or complimented the counsel Jethro gave to his son-in-law

Chapter 18
20 You should tell them God's decisions, teach them God's laws and instructions, and show them how to conduct their lives. 21 But find some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as judges over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. 22 These men can serve the people, resolving all the ordinary cases. Anything that is too important or too complicated can be brought to you. But they can take care of the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. 23 If you follow this advice, and if God directs you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace."

Several things grabbed by attention. Moses was to give the people God’s decisions, teach them the law and impart godly behavior and standards. But he was to appoint others, honest men of integrity to judge behaviors based on the laws. The purpose was to lighten the load of Moses and insure that the people went home “in peace.”

And then God calls a Holy Assembly and tells the people to meet Him at the foot of Mount Sinai, giving them instructions on how to approach Him, that they would look and see but not to touch or else. Unholy people cannot touch a Holy God because sin cannot stand in the presence of God.

What really really intrigued me was how God’s Words, although conditionally based on Israel’s obedience and adherence to His Covenant with them, would help Moses “carry the load,” as well as help the people “go home in peace.”

Exodus 19:
6 And you will be to me a kingdom of priests, my holy nation.' Give this message to the Israelites."

If Israel became of kingdom of priests, they would not have to go to Moses, Aaron or the leaders that would come after them to know the will of God. This theme goes through the Book all the way to Revelations 1:5b, … To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, 6 and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father–to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

What we will find out as we continue reading is that Israel, the people, will reject the call to be a “kingdom of priests,” and they will ask that someone else, Moses, here from God for them and that they will listen to Moses. Which they do … NOT!

Matthew 22:34-23:12

8 Don't ever let anyone call you `Rabbi,' for you have only one teacher, and all of you are on the same level as brothers and sisters. 9 And don't address anyone here on earth as `Father,' for only God in heaven is your spiritual Father. 10 And don't let anyone call you `Master,' for there is only one master, the Messiah. 11 The greatest among you must be a servant. 12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.

Here again, like in today’s Exodus passage, we get a hint of a relationship that does not require an intermediary between man and God.
Psalm 27:7-14
10 Even if my father and mother abandon me, the LORD will hold me close.

This verse in Psalm brought a lot of healing to my life. Broken relationships that I couldn’t reconcile, hurts that I had hung on to I had to let go of because this verse said the Lord held me close even when I was abandoned by those who were suppose to protect me, watch over me and invest values in me. Whether or not we have received everything in our youth, whether or not we have been afforded the best education in the best neighborhood is unimportant what is important is that the Lord will hold you close.

I believe that sometimes we must abandoned our searches to restore the things that “life” short changed us on and let the Great I Am, Jesus, give to us everything we need.
Proverbs 6:27-35
30 Excuses might be found for a thief who steals because he is starving. 31 But if he is caught, he will be fined seven times as much as he stole, even if it means selling everything in his house to pay it back

These words are sandwiched between eleven verses dealing with adultery. Right after these two sentences the third one begins with “But …” implying that even though a thief may have reasons to steal he will still be punished when caught. Yet that punishment is nothing compared to what will be fall an adulterer. Yikes!

Grace and peace,

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