Wednesday, July 15, 2009

God and Moses Face-to-Face

It's an exciting time right now, as the Summer studies at CHPC are in full swing and plans are being made for the Women's Fall Retreat and Fall studies too. It's official - I will be leading Genesis PUP on Monday evenings. I started a one-month reading plan on Genesis just this morning myself.

It's amazing how God intertwines my studies to complement one another. Once again something I learned in my Wednesday night class, He Speaks to Me, has opened up a wonderful thought on the book of Genesis. Author Priscilla Shirer directs us to Numbers 12:5-8, where God tells Aaron and Miriam that He speaks face-to-face with Moses, rather than in visions like the other prophets.

Now we all know the story of the burning bush and Moses' trip up the mountain to receive the Ten Commandments. And yet in the Numbers account, we get this rich insight that God and Moses speak on a regular basis. Considering that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible, a fact that Jesus points to many times in the New Testament, we can imagine that the account we have of the creation of the world, came through Moses, directly from God Himself.

Ok, I know the verse in 2 Peter 1:21 that says "No prophecy is a matter of one's own interpretation . . ." but in Moses' case, he had a verbal line of communication in addition to promptings by the Holy Spirit! This puts the creation account in a whole new perspective for me.

As I was reading Genesis 1 and 2 this morning, it was easy to see where Moses makes the transition from giving an account of the events, to expounding on what happened. In verses 1:1-2:3 Moses' unfolds the events saying "And God said . . .," "And God created . . ." In verse 2:4 he concludes this account and begins a narrative that refers to the LORD God (Jehovah Elohim). Here he begins to fill in the details of what he has already explained to us.

I'm not usually one to speculate about how certain events unfolded in Scripture, but I do wonder if God gave Moses the creation account and then Moses, who was known to question God on occasion, began to ask "Well, how did you make that man? I mean, what was he made of?" And in the process of speaking face-to-face with God, he had the makings of the very first history book ever written!

Don't you wish that sometimes God would speak to you face-to-face? It would make some things in my life much more clear! Until that great and glorious day that we do get to see Him face-to-face, we must content ourselves with interacting with His Living Word, the Bible. And striving to be in fellowship with His Spirit that we might follow His promptings, as well as interacting with each other for encouragement and stimulation. (Heb. 10:24-25)

For reflection:

Here are a few verses about listening and hearing the voice of God: Exodus 19:5; 1 Samuel 15:22; 2 Kings 18:11-12; Luke 8:4-15; John 10:27; Hebrews 4:7

I hope you hear His voice today!

Listening for His Word,


Friday, May 15, 2009

Hinds' feet on high places

There are only three instances in Scripture where this phrase appears - 'he makes (or has made) my feet as hinds' feet' - 2 Samuel 22:34; Psalm 18:33 and Habakkuk 3:19. I wonder what the odds are of doing two separate studies, started at different times, having lessons that incorporate these references fall during the same week? In week 10 of Kay Arthur's "Lord, Where are You When Bad Things Happen," the theme is Habakkuk 3:19. In a Precept upon Precept study of 2 Samuel, lesson 6, references both the Samuel passage and Psalm 18. I am not a brilliant mathematical mind, but I would guess that the odds are staggering.

Did I know that these passages would all converge on the same week when I started these studies? No. Did the God who is on His throne in His holy temple know? You bet He did. He also knew that my husband and I would be at a very precarious spot in the sale of our home during one of the worst economies in recent years. If ever there were a time when I needed to hear the truths of these lessons - it is now. I can't wait to see what God will teach me through this time!

This is what never ceases to amaze me about studying the Word of God. No matter what I am studying, no matter which portion of Scripture, no matter what is going on in my life - it is relevant, it is awe-inspiring, it brings me to my knees in gratitude that God would provide such wisdom and knowledge for us to hang on to.

On a recent visit to my daughter in San Diego we visited the world famous zoo and saw an unusual animal called a 'Klipspringer' whose uniquely shaped hooves made it easy to climb in treacherous terrain, to higher ground, avoiding dangerous predators. This is the picture I have in my mind as I begin these lessons. Knowing the lives' of David and Habakkuk, each one faced enemies and circumstances that seemed threating at every turn - how could they possibly feel the safety that being in a 'high place' afforded? Did they know the secrets of the Klipspringer's flexible hooves that adapt to rocky terrain?

Will I be able to feel that kind of peace as the second of two deadlines passes without closing papers being signed and our bank accounts are dwindling? I must admit it seems difficult right now. I have cried out to God as Habukkuk did, wondering 'How long, O Lord . . .?' My prayer is like that of the Psalmist "My soul cleaves to the dust; revive me according to Your word." (Ps. 119:25) I do believe He will meet me where I am at and I can't wait to share it all with you next week!

For reflection:

Read Habakkuk 3:17-19

God had told Habakkuk to warn Judah of the coming judgment that He was sending at the hands of the Chaldeans - a 'fierce and impetuous people' known for their violent practice and idolatrous ways. One of the consequences of Judah's own idolatrous attitudes would be famine and desolation to the land. Apparently even godly people, such as Habakkuk would feel the effects of it.

Doesn't this sound like what is going on with our nation's economy right now? Matthew 5:45 says, "He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Even godly people whose ways are pleasing to the Lord have been affected by the questionable practices that led up to the events of our crumbling economy.

But how does Habakkuk respond to the impending calamity that is to fall on the people? Does he run away with his hands flailing in the air, or curl up in a fetal position with the covers over his head?

If you read verse 16, you will notice that he does express his weakness, his distress at knowing what is coming, but in verse 18 he says what we must all come to . . . "Yet I will exult in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. The Lord God (YHWH - I AM) is my strength, and He has made my feet like hinds' feet, And makes me walk on my high places." It's a process but I am coming there too. When I reach those high places, will I find you there too? I hope so!

On my hinds' feet,

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Feeding Sheep

Several years ago I co-taught on Titus 2:3-5 at a women's retreat with my friend Becky. We discussed the ways we conduct ourselves, not only to avoid dishonoring the word of God, but also how to "adorn the doctrine" (Titus 2:10) It was a custom in the Greek and Jewish traditions to decorate the monuments of those who had suffered an undignified or undeserved death. Our Sunday morning communion service included a time to reflect on ways that, as women, we could "adorn the doctrine" One of our leaders brought a large rugged cross and had encouraged us over the weekend to spend personal time in prayer and at the time of communion come forward and nail to the cross a folded piece of paper that expressed what we felt God had spoken to our hearts at that time.

Leading up to the retreat I had been experiencing an intense time of Spiritual warfare. I was being bombarded with thoughts of my past and my inadequacy as a teacher, and in short, I felt Satan was doing his level best to intimidate me so that I would not be effective in my teaching. With fear and trepidation I did teach at the retreat and realized that God had called me to do so. In my prayer time, which was wrought with more warfare, I was imploring God to show me what a woman with a tainted past could be useful for in His kingdom.

As I cried out to Him, a still small voice in my heart said, "Feed My Sheep." I knew then that He was calling me to continue teaching His word and to disciple women in the church. It has taken many years of my own learning process, and facing some opposition from even godly men and women, for God to lead me to a place where I can use my gifting in this area. It has also taken a few years of stopping and starting for me to realize that my own misgivings have prevented me from being fully committed to this service. I have to keep claiming one of my life verses to remind me that this is a process, that "He who began a good work in [me] will be faithful to complete it" (Philippians 1:6)

These days I fill in as a substitute leader for my Precept Bible study and I lead a group of about 10 women in a small group at our Wednesday night Women's Life. It has been beyond rewarding and well worth the wait for a place to serve. I still struggle with my own inadequacies, but I recognize more and more that His Spirit supplies me and guides me, and that what I do is a very small part of the picture. Even my obedience is a gift of the Spirit, and I can only boast in what He does through me.

My prayer is that you would feel nourished . . . fed, by His word while you are here; that you would be drawn closer to His presence and encouraged to love and serve Him more.

For reflection:

Read John 21:15-17.

Jesus asks Peter three times "Do you love me?" In the Greek, the first two times Jesus asks "Do you love me?" using a form of the word agape' - an unconditional love that has the best interest of the person loved at heart. Peter answers, "You know that I love you," using a form of the word for love - phileo - meaning, in simple terms, friendship. The third time Jesus asks, He also uses the form of phileo, making it easy for Peter to be truthful, but frustrated "Of course I 'phileo' you!" Jesus replied, "Tend my sheep."

Do you agape' Jesus, or phileo Him? In other words, do your actions show that you have His best interests at heart or do you just value His friendship in your life? The answer may not be easy to come to terms with. But remember even Peter, the rock on which Jesus built His Church, had trouble answering this question at one time. By the end of Peter's life, one would never have known that there was a time that he struggled so. It took the Holy Spirit's presence and learning to walk by faith and obedience for him to come to a point of being willing to follow Christ whole-heartedly, even to death on a cross. It was a process. May He who began a good work in you be faithful to complete it.

Feeding His Sheep,