My daughter loves to sketch and paint. She has a lot of talent. Yes, I’m biased but you can look for yourself. Talent can get you so far in life, but experience is always necessary. God gives us all talents, but He also takes us through many experiences in life to grow us to properly use our talent.
In Exodus 18 and Deuteronomy 1, we read of the leader selection process in the Old Testament. Listed character traits include those who fear God, who are honest, who are wise, who are understanding, and who are EXPERIENCED. The wisdom and the understanding comes as we continue to fear God and walk with Him. The experiences of life, the dark valleys and high mountains of life that God leads us through, teach us and stretch us. It is through experience that we become more capable.
Each of us are leaders. We are created to be leaders. But we aren’t where we are meant to be in life, and we certainly aren’t the leaders we could be to those we lead. Allow God to use you where you are at right now. Keep your ears and eyes open. Ask for Him to use you. Don’t be selective. Allow the Spirit to lead you. Serve where He places you. Soak up the experience. Glean from what He has placed before you. God wants to teach you. He wants to raise you up. Don’t let yourself get in the way. To be a better leader in your home, at church, in your workplace, on the field, you need to humble yourself as a servant of Christ, and forever remember that He both qualifies you and places you. Always stay focused on Him; always point to Him.
“But select capable men from all the people–men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain–and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.” – Exodus 18:21 [NIV]
“Choose for your tribes wise, understanding, and experienced men, and I will appoint them as your heads.” – Deuteronomy 1:13 [ESV]
These past two weeks, I continue to be reminded of floods. As we continue our series through Genesis, we were discussing Noah and the Flood, and the aftermath. As well, Facebook has reminded me of the flooding we had in 2011, with photos of local areas flooded from Tropical Storm Lee. I cannot fathom the view Noah would have had from the Ark as the earth was destroyed by flood waters.
When I look back on these flood photos from Tropical Storm Lee, I still cannot believe the area was flooded. I remember seeing photos of Knoebels Amusement Park underwater and thinking I would never again get to take a family visit to the park. Two years ago, I found myself walking around at Knoebels as if the place was never flooded. Some of the photos of the roads flooded by Lee I have driven on just last week. It was as if nothing ever happened.
All of this talk of flooding these past few weeks reminds me of the restoration of God. He is Jehovah Rophi, God who heals, Who restores. In Exodus 15, God proclaims this to the Israelites as they cry out because of the bitter water at Marah. Still today, God restores. Yes, we will suffer a little while; however, “He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.” Keep pressing forward. Restoration will come!
“He said, ‘If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, obeying His commands and keeping all His decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the LORD who heals you.’” – Exodus 15:26 [NLT]
“In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Christ Jesus. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support, and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation.” – 1 Peter 5:10 [NLT]
Remember how Aaron led the people to sin, while his brother Moses was up on the mountain with the Lord? Remember how Moses came down from the mountain and in anger, he smashed the tablets—“These tables were God’s work; the words on them were written by God Himself” (Exodus 32:16 NLT) God had called Moses to come on the mountain and remain so He could give him “the tablets of stone on which… inscribed the instruction and commands so (Moses could) teach the people” (Exodus 24:12).
When you read about the tablets, you will note that God provided the tablets. “When the LORD finished speaking with Moses on Mount Sinai, He gave him the two stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant, written by the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18 NLT). Something changes. The people sin. The people surround Aaron and he asks for their gold to make a golden calf to worship.
Moses found out and broke the tablets and things are different. God tells Moses to chisel out the tablets. No longer does He provide the tablets. The Bible doesn’t say why God had Moses chisel out the tablets instead of providing the tablets like the first time. Many scholars believe it has something to do with repentance. Last time Moses was handed the tablets; this time the people would need to repent to receive tablets from the Lord. Today, consider what God is calling you to chisel out, how God is calling you to repentance.
“Then the LORD told Moses, ‘Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones. I will write on them the same words that were on the tablets you smashed.’” – Exodus 34:1 [NLT]
I always get upset when I read Exodus 32, because as Moses is up on the mountain with the Lord, the people are again getting themselves in trouble. They surround Aaron and ask to make gods because they haven’t a clue what happened to Moses, the one who led them out of Egypt. Right after they approach Aaron, he immediately is asking for gold earrings. He doesn’t beat around the bush.
Aaron leads the people to sin. We see his immediate action is to answer their request and make a golden calf. He doesn’t stand up boldly for God. He doesn’t say, “Hey, let us wait for Moses.” He jumps right in headfirst. When Aaron’s sin is addressed, he is asked what the people did to him that caused him to “bring terrible sin upon” him. This leaves the door open for Aaron to confess to what he did. Instead, he points out “how evil these people are.”
In the case of Aaron, the people supplied the gold, but he fashioned the calf. When the people got excited, he built and altar and planned to worship the calf, just adding to the sin. When people sin, they are to blame for their actions. Even so, we never should be leading someone to sin. If we are bringing sin upon someone, we are guilty and in need of repentance.
“Aaron saw how excited the people were, so he built an altar in front of the calf. Then he announced, ‘Tomorrow will be a festival to the LORD!’ Finally, he turned to Aaron and demanded, ‘What did these people do to you to make you bring such terrible sin upon them?’ ‘Don’t get so upset, my lord,’ Aaron replied. ‘You yourself know how evil these people are.’” – Exodus 32:5, 21-22 [NLT]
There is a big difference from being told to give something compared to giving something from the heart. I am sure there were many times that I did not want to give someone something, but I was told to do so and obliged. It didn’t mean I wanted to actually do it. I cannot remember this, but I trust that it happened because I have seen the same thing with my children over the years.
When it comes to tithes and offerings, the same thing is true. There is a difference between someone giving because they are told to give, and someone actually wanting to give—actually delighting in the giving. Paul wrote, “You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully’” (2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT). If the heart isn’t in the giving, the offering is made for the wrong reason.
Today, ask for the Spirit to reveal what is on your heart. Are you giving just to give? Are you giving because you desire to give? Are you giving so people see you giving? Are you moved to give? Is it a joy to give? Are you cheerfully giving? If you aren’t giving, ask why not? Thank God for His blessings and ask Him to reveal how He desires you to be a blessing.
“Tell the people of Israel to bring me their sacred offerings. Accept the contributions from all whose hearts are moved to offer them.” – Exodus 25:2 [NLT]
Aaron had this sacred chestpiece that he had to have over his heart when he went into the Temple. This chestpiece was to remind him that he represented the people before the Lord. It was a sacred chestpiece. This was only one of many symbolic items we read about that we don’t follow today.
We no longer have a need to have someone wear a sacred chestpiece and go before the Lord to represent us. Because Jesus Christ died on the cross, the veil was torn. We no longer need a representative before the Lord. He fulfilled the Law. He is the Representative. He sits at the right hand of God. He intercedes on our behalf. The Spirit of God is poured out upon us so that even our groans can be understood.
Though nothing separates us from the love of God, we can allow our heart to keep us distanced (Romans 8:38-39). We can stifle the Holy Spirit (1 Thessalonians 5:19). We can neglect the blessing we have to come before the Lord. We can cling to our filthy rags, and not enjoy the opportunity we have to dwell in His presence. Today, consider the last time you approached the throne of God. Embrace this awesome opportunity.
“In this way, Aaron will carry the names of the tribes of Israel on the sacred chestpiece over his heart when he goes into the Holy Place. This will be a continual reminder that he represents the people when he comes before the LORD.” – Exodus 28:29 [NLT]
The Bible again and again mentions not making treaties with others. It might seem strange to us because we don’t usually go around making treaties. When we thinking of treaties, we think of government alliances. So what can we glean from all of these verses that tell us to “make no treaties”?
These alliances were seen as being bad because of the consequences the people would face for aligning with these people who did not worship God. The people would eventually lead God’s people to worship other gods. God’s people were to be set apart, to be holy. The people were to be a chosen people. If the people had a close relationship with those who did not follow God, they too, would not follow God. Time and time again, we have seen how the people you surround yourself with makes a big impact on your life.
Applying this to your own life doesn’t mean never being around non-believers. We are called to be out in the world, shining a light. We cannot isolate ourselves. However, we need to be careful who we keep close. Our inner circle should be strong God fearing people. Our close relationships should be with those who love God and will encourage us to love God and love His people. Keep people close who will empower you to live for Jesus, who seek your very best.
“Make no treaties with them or their gods.” – Exodus 23:32 [NLT]
As I study Exodus, I am preaching about Genesis. We just finished looking at the Creation story. As you review each day of Creation, you finally reach the seventh day. Rest. I love how God built this great rhythm of work and rest into His creation. This rhythm continues throughout the Bible, and today’s verse is one of these continuations.
God tells His people that the land needs renewal. As I take my morning walks, I often take note of the small things that I wouldn’t see rushing throughout my day. I look around the neighborhood, at the different gardens and flowers. I consider the different seasons, the way the growth patterns work. There is great rhythm in creation, and with it there is renewal that God designed within His creation.
We also need renewal. We need to have time to rest and time to renew ourselves in the Lord. Part of this means being intentional with your time. We have different seasons of our lives, just like there are different seasons of a calendar year. We have seasons of challenge, seasons of loss. We have seasons of growth and seasons of change. Each season is different, but each requires rest and renewal. More importantly, in each season we need the Spirit of God to lead us through, to mold us and grow us for the next season.
“But let the land be renewed and lie uncultivated during the seventh year. Then let the poor among you harvest whatever grows on its own. Leave the rest for wild animals to eat. The same applies to your vineyards and olive groves.” – Exodus 23:11 [NLT]
In Exodus 23, we read a lot about the commands of the Lord. Some of the commands might seem foreign to us. Do you usually see a “donkey of someone who hates you (that) has collapsed under its load”? Most people do not even know someone who owns a donkey.
Even so, we can glean something from these commands. In today’s verse, we can note that in our culture today, this would be like seeing someone who hates you with a broken down car at the side of the road. Do you go on by or do you stop and help? Do you care?
I’ve been considering that question a lot lately. God wants us to care. If we love God, we should love people like He loves people. He commands it! If we have a heart for God, it is a heart that feels for others. If we don’t care, if we have a heart issue, that can be helped by the Holy Spirit. Allow the Spirit to work on you from the inside out. Pray about it. If you care for only some people, but there are others you disregard, there’s still a disconnect. The “stop and help” command does not change from one person to the next. Today, look inward. When you pass someone with a broken down donkey (or car), do you walk by?
“If you see that the donkey of someone who hates you has collapsed under its load, do not walk by. Instead, stop and help.” – Exodus 23:5 [NLT]