Entries tagged with “Lord”.


Moses with the Tablets, 1659, by Rembrandt.
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Friday night David continued the series “The Gospel According to …” at Seward Church.  This week was an exploration of the Book of Exodus.

I’ll admit I haven’t read much from Exodus in the last few years and often turn to Deuteronomy to get a copy of the 10 Commandments, so this was an interesting exploration and refresher of the book. Exodus has 40 chapters so David broke it down into three parts.

God Who Saves – Grace (Exodus 1-18) Some of the background of the book is God fulfilling His previous promises to Abraham (1:5-7), remembering the plight of his chosen people (2:23-25) and He had concern for their plight.  Some interesting thoughts come from this section as well such as before Abraham and any promises were made was the “I AM”. In John 8:12 Jesus said “I am the light of the world…”  This section of Exodus reminds us that Jesus draws near to us and is with us no matter our condition.

What do you think of this statement David made: “It seems when God shows up things seem to get worse.” I think I might have it a little out of context, but the point he was trying to make is that we expect God to remove all the pain from our life – we expect at the moment of salvation to have all of our troubles erased and life to be perfect.  God never promises us freedom from pain and suffering – but He does promise that He will never leave or forsake us no matter what trial we might face.

Did you know that God systematically destroyed Egypt’s gods? Maybe I knew this and forgot but basically the 10 plaques and all the other hardship Egypt faced in Exodus were direct frontal attacks on their most important deities.  A personal aside, I wonder if this is something similar to what we are experiencing now in the US?  A final thought from this section that I really like is that God saved Israel before the law was ever made. It is as if God wanted to make absolutely clear that we could never work for salvation but that it is His to freely give.

God Who Guides Us – Truth (Exodus 19-24) Like I just mentioned the law was created as a guide for the Israelites to live by, not a means for their salvation. Our salvation is only through God alone and His grace. 20:2 makes this clear, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” Our obedience to the law and to God’s desire in our life is a way to enjoy blessings (shalom) and wholeness that comes from submitting to God’s might and power. That was David’s paraphrase of 19:5 and here is the fulfillment of that promise from John 1:17:

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

God Who Is With Us – Glory (Exodus 25-40) You may recall that this last section of Exodus talks mostly about the Tabernacle – building it, decorating it, and knowing what to do with it. David drew the connection that this is God wanting to be with and near us. Unfortunately, God can’t be with us, because our sin makes it impossible – “… But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way” (33:3). Moses challenged God and He responded with this great promise in 33:14 “The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”  Yes, thank you for the rest, Jesus talks about this rest as well in Matthew 11:28.

Even with this rest that God is giving us and the grace He has shown us, we like the Israelites are quick to forget His goodness and turn the golden calves or other earthly desires.  But God promised that He will always be with us (34:6-10):

And He [God] passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness,  maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.”

Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. “O Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes,” he said, “then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.”

Then the LORD said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you.

That is a great promise.  God has shown Himself trustworthy.  He says He will save us if we trust in Him.  He says “I am the way… I will never leave you.”

During the closing songs the singer asked something to the effect of “do we trust God enough to fall back into Him – like in the trust fall.”

David ended the night with this quote which I really like and is a refreshing reminder:

It is not my grip on God that is my hope, but His grip on me.

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In this bestseller, James Dobson attempts to help those going through pain or struggles in life, understand a little bit better what God is thinking!

The age old question addressed by many pastors, theologians, and individuals about “why bad things happen”, is answered, to a degree and in a way that is easy to understand.  I don’t know if it is enough to really help someone struggling with questions of their faith, but it is definitely a great tool and starting point for someone who doesn’t know where else to turn. 

Using a variety of writing styles, the book begins and ends with the premise, that we will never truly understand why bad things happen, because we can never understand God’s planning process.  We should have hope and faith that God will take care of us who believe in Him.  Dobson shares lots of stories from his vast experiences with people in turmoil.  He also looks at the Bible as a reference tool as well as the source of hope and inspiration during trials.  Finally, he also dialogues with the reader during 2 Q&A sections, which is similar to a FAQ, posing a question and then answering it for the reader.

A quote from the end of the first chapter (pg 21) details some of what Dobson hoped to accomplish with the book:

For the heartsick, bleeding soul out there today who is desperate for a word of encouragement, let me assure you that you can trust this Lord of heaven and earth.  There is security and rest in the wisdom of the eternal scriptures.  We will discuss those comforting passages in subsequent chapters, and I believe you will see that the Lord can be trusted –even when He can’t be tracked.  Of this you can be certain: Jehovah, King of kings and Lord of lords, is not pacing the corridors of heaven in confusion over the problems in your life! He hung the worlds in space.  He can handle the burdens that have weighed you down, and he cares about you deeply.  For a point of beginning He says, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

I think Dobson does a great job of not just providing pat, “Sunday School” answers to this serious topic, but shares from his own pain and struggles in an attempt to persuade others that they should not give up hope.

I really like this quote from page 196: “God is not against us for our sins. He is for us against our sins.  That makes all the difference.”  Think about that for a minute….

In the final pages of the book, Dobson summarizes his potion (pg 236):

If you were sitting before me at this moment, you might be inclined to ask, “Then how do you explain the tragedies and hardships that have come into my life? Why did God do this to me?” My reply, which you’ve read in previous pages, is not profound.  But I know it is right! God usually does not choose to answer those questions in this life!  That’s what I’ve been trying to say.  He will not parade His plans and purposes for our approval.  We must never forget that He is God.  As such He wants us to believe and trust in him despite the things we don’t understand. 

My final thought, if you are in a point of pain or struggle, take some time to read this book and use it as a stepping off point for your understanding of what it all means and also read my recent post about Hope.

 

 

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