Devotions for September 28 – October 4, 2015
Exodus 1:8-14, 3:1-15
Monday, September 28, 2015
“A New King arose over Egypt” (Genesis 1:8)
Heraclitus was a six century BCE Greek philosopher, who first observed that, “The only constant is change.” How right he was. Things had changed for the Israelites. The had arrived in Egypt and had been given the choicest of land on the Nile Delta. They were Joseph’s family, who was second only to the Pharaoh. The condition of the Israelites changed over time. Joseph died and the Pharaoh whom he had served. Circumstances began to deteriorate and over the course of centuries the Israelites became slaves. The Lord had not abandoned them, however, even though drastic changes had come in their lives.
Our lives change, also. They sometimes change for the better and sometimes for the worse. We change jobs and move to different communities. We may lose our jobs and be forced to sell our home. We may experience the birth of a child or grandchild, or experience the death of a loved one. Through all of our live’s experiences God is with us. Not only is the Lord with us, but God is moving in our lives in ways that we may not perceive or understand. For God’s presence and movement in our lives, we are able to give God thanks and praise no matter what our circumstances are.
O God who doesn’t change, thank you for your steadfast love and for your continual presence in our lives. Amen.
Tuesday, September 29, 2015
“She placed the child in the basket among the reeds on the bank of the Nile” (Exodus 2:3).
It has been said that a coincidence is a miracle where God wants to remain anonymous. Today we might debate over how much God is involved in our daily lives. The writer of the book of Exodus, though, had no doubt that God was directing Moses’ mother Naomi, and the daughter of the Pharaoh, and that God’s hand was upon Moses. Moses’ sister just happened to place the basket containing Moses in the reeds just before the daughter of the Pharaoh came to bathe. Moses cried at just the right time, and Pharaoh’s daughter had compassion on the baby even though she knew her father’s decree about Hebrew boys.
Today we can celebrate the mystery of God’s involvement in our lives. There are times when it seems that God is directing every one of our steps. At other times God appears to be distant and uninvolved. Coincidences occur in our lives in which God might be involved–but we’re not sure why they happened. People pop into our lives when we
need them most. At other times troubles and inconveniences happen when we are least prepared for them.
We will never understand God’s movement in our lives, but we can still celebrate. We are the Lord’s. God’s hand is upon us, and the Holy Spirit is using us to spread the kingdom of God.
Ever Present God, we thank you for your presence and involvement in our lives. May our faith in the truth give us comfort, strength and boldness as we live daily for you. Amen.
Wednesday, September 30, 2015
“Mose was keeping his flock of his father-in-law Jethro” (Exodus 3:1).
Moses wasn’t doing anything special. He was engaged in what he did every day– keeping watch of his father in-law’s flocks. It was while he was herding sheep that he encountered God in the burning bush. We learn an important lesson from this story of Moses and the burning bush.
There have always been arguments (heated discussions) in the church about where we encounter God. Most Christians would say that we encounter God in worship, and this is true. We encounter God in God’s Word and also in the sacraments. God doesn’t limit himself to the confines of the church, though. Like Moses we often encounter God and God’s guiding presence in our daily lives.
God may speak to us in a conversation with friends giving us an idea of how we might serve. When we see a need such as children who need help in school, the thirst of the homeless on a scorching hot day or the need for companionship that people have who recently lost loved ones. The Spirit may whisper in our ears and in our hearts that we can minister to those needs. Usually we do not need to go searching for God, but we do need to be alert to perceive God’s movement and to hear God’s voice. We are God’s hands and feet and we are on this earth so that we can be used.
Speak Lord for your servants are listening. Amen.
Thursday, October 1, 2015
“There the angel of the Lord appeared to him [Moses] in a flame of fire out of a bush” (Exodus 3:2).
Frequently the Lord is portrayed as fire. God appeared to Moses in the burning bush. God led the Israelites in the wilderness as a pillar of fire at night and a pillar of cloud by day. When the Holy Spirit was given to the disciples on the day of Pentecost, God’s presence was demonstrated by the flame of fire that appeared on the disciples’ heads. Fire is a fitting apparition of God.
Fire is formless. We can see and feel fire, but when we attempt to gather it up and contain it, we discover that we can’t. Fire is somewhat uncontrollable, and when we do attempt to fence it in fire often jumps our barriers. Fire is powerful and it can accomplish both great good and horrendous evil, and people approach fire with respect.
As disciples of Jesus Christ we have a tendency to try to make God in our image and put God in a box. We tell ourselves and others that God moves in this specific manner. When others disagree with us and share examples of God moving in different ways we claim that they are theologically incorrect and that what they suggest can’t be supported by the Bible. But God busts out of the boxes in which we try to put God. When we say, “God can’t,” God shows us that God can.
God comes to us and speaks to us. God calls us into service. When we hesitate God reminds us that God will be with us and that God is a God who can.
Almighty Lord, forgive us when we attempt to confine you with our small faith, small minds and weak hearts. Jump the barriers we place around you and move powerfully in our lives and in our world. Amen.
Friday, October 2, 2015
“God called to him out of the bush, ‘Moses, Moses'” (Exodus 3:4).
Our name is important to us. We are affirmed when people call us by our name. Many businesses understand how important hearing our name is to us and train their personnel to say our name several times in their conversation with us. Congregations have started using name tags so that members and guests are able to address each other by name. Worship guest are impressed when the pastor remembers their name from their first visit. Perhaps one of our frustrations with the various government offices with which we do business is that only know us by a number xxx-xxxx-7934.
One element of the story of Moses and the burning bush is that the Lord calls Moses by name. It implies intimacy, involvement of understanding of the person. Moses wasn’t a number drafted into service, rather, Moses was a person individually selected by God for reasons only God knew.
God comes to us as God did to Moses. At our baptism God calls us by name. God calls us by name and assures us of God’s love for us. In the trials and tribulations of life God often calls us by name and assures us of God’s presence with us. When we are called into service, God’s doesn’t ask for volunteers to raise their hands. God calls us by name and charges us with our task. To be called by our name empowers us. It is a mind boggling thought that God knows our name. It is also something for which we can give thanks and praise.
Loving God, you know us by name. You know us better than we know ourselves. Call our names. Tell us what you want us to do and then empower us with your presence. Amen.
Saturday, October 3, 3015
“I have heard their cry” (Exodus 3:7).
The Israelites had been crying out to God for decades if not centuries. There were times– perhaps more times than not–when they wondered if God heard their prayers. Certainly, it didn’t appear to them that God heard their prayers. Instead of getting lighter their burden grew heavier. Their suffering was not relieved, but it increased. Their faith grew weak and their hope flagged. But God in his conversation with Moses revealed to Moses that God had heard the prayers of God’s people.
Prayer is part of the life of disciples of Jesus Christ. There are those times, however, when we wonder if God hears our prayers or if God is too busy with global warming, ISIS and the billions of people who are hungry. Certainly, God is not our errand boy who waits on us in order to answer all of our prayers. We are assured, though, that God does hear our prayer. Like the Israelites, God hears our prayer and will answer our prayers at the proper time and in the proper manner.
All hearing Lord, thank you that you hear our prayers and are aware of our circumstances and needs. Enable us to trust that you are walking beside us and that you will provide our daily bread. Amen.
Sunday, October 4, 2015
“God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14).
It took fifty-three chapters in the Bible before God revealed God’s name to Moses and to the Israelites. Before this we have read about “adonai” “Lord,” and “Elohim” “God”–titles but no name. Knowing a person’s name was a big deal in this time of history, it was believed that a name gave others a certain amount of power over the individual and embodied the essential character of a person. The Jews certainly believed in the power of the name. Even after they knew God’s name they didn’t say it. They substituted other words for God’s name so that they wouldn’t break the commandment, “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord you God in vain.”
In reality when Moses learned God’s name it didn’t give him any more power over God than he had before–which was none. But what a name God has! God’s name is Yahweh, “I am,” or “I am who I am.” God’s name can also be translated, “I will be present where I will be present.” God’s name shows the uncontrollable nature of God. God will be whatever God wants to be. It also reveals that God is approachable and available.
Moses welcomed this revelation from God. As he stood up against Pharaoh it assured him that God stood with him. When Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt into the wilderness and toward the Promised Land, he was again assured of God’s presence. God is the great “I AM” in our
lives. We begin each new day with the knowledge that God is with us, and that God will be whatever God wants to be. We walk in faith in this truth.
I AM, we thank you for your presence in our lives. May we walk in faith that you walk with us and may we serve you encouraged and empowered that you are by our sides. Amen.