Exodus 19:3-7, 20:1-17
Monday, September 29, 2014
“The Lord called to him [Moses] from the mountain” (Exodus 19:3).
Toshi and Tyneal had been friends since grade school. Recently though they had a little spiff over a girl to whom they were both attracted. They had’t been speaking to each other for several days. Finally Toshi couldn’t take the silence any longer. He went up to Tyneal and spoke to him. Within minutes their relationship had been restored.
The Lord is a God of relationships. God speaks to us to guide us and to remind us of God’s love and presence in our lives. God may speak to us from a mountain like God did with Moses. More often God speaks to us through the pages of the Bible, the words of a sermon, the advice of a friend, or the still small voice in our devotional silence. The important thing is that God speaks. God wants to be a part of our lives.
Loving Lord, forgive us when your voice is lost in the cacophony of our lives. Give us both the will and the ability to stop and listen as you speak to us. Amen.
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
“You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles wings” (Exodus 19:4).
Karen discovers a vase of three roses setting on the kitchen counter when she arrived home from a hectic day at the office. It wasn’t her birthday or an anniversary. Her husband, Ali, simply wanted to remind her of his love. In the dry, draining activity of life, it is refreshing to be reminded that we are loved.
The Israelites had already experienced the harshness of life in the desert. Their lives were an unsettled time of wandering. They were uncomfortable, confused and disheartened. It was easy for them to forget that they were loved.
God spoke to Moses and invited him to remember how God had moved in the people’s lives. God had defeated the Egyptians and brought the Israelites out of slavery. God had moved powerfully in their lives because of God’s love for them. Not only was it good for Moses and the Israelites to recount the signs of God’s love, it is also good for us to look around and see the indications of how deeply God loves us.
O Lord who gave sight to the blind, open our eyes that we may see the reminders of your love and be refreshed and renewed by such knowledge. Amen.
Wednesday, October 1, 2014
“You shall be my treasured possession” (Exodus 19:5).
James took the baseball from its holder on his desk. He held it reverently, turning the ball slowly with his fingers. Holding this treasured possession in his hand always reminded him of going to the ballgame with his father and catching the home run ball, which won the game, as it flew into the center field stands. James had a special attachment to that ball and it had a special place in his office–and in his life.
We each have one or two treasured possessions; items that because of their sentimental value are more precious to us than more expensive items. We have a special connection to these items. Imagine we are God’s treasured possessions. This is more than God knowing the length of our years or the number of hairs on our head. God values us and we have a special, unique connection with God. Such a relationship is awe inspiring and humbling.
God of creation, it is almost beyond our comprehension to realize that we are your treasured possessions. Empower us that we may live so as to share this blessing with others. Amen.
Thursday, October 2, 2014
“You shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6).
What does a “holy nation” look like? Is it a bunch of self-righteous do-gooders who are judgmental and exclusive, because they think God loves them more than anyone else? Though a popular perspective in Christianity, many would say that it is not accurate. One idea that is conveyed by the term “holy” is that of being set aside for a specific purpose. It might be more accurate to say that a holy nation is a people chosen and set apart by God to do God’s will. In other words, to be God’s presence on earth.
And what about a “priestly kingdom”? During the Reformation, the Protestants shunned the idea that their clergy were “priests.” The word “priest” carries with it the idea of intermediary. A priest represents his or her people before God. The Protestant Church stresses that individuals can enter into God’s presence without the services of a priest. Still, isn’t the Church an intermediary between God and the people of the world? Christians are called to pray for the people around them and convey God’s love and grace to them.
Though these are ancient pictures of God’s people and sometimes difficult to understand, they still paint a powerful portrait of what God commissions God’s people to do.
Holy God and our great High Priest, don’t allow us to lose sight of the call that you have extended to us, and empower us to accomplish the ministry that accompanies such a call. Amen.
Friday, October 3, 2014
“Everything the Lord has spoken we will do” (Exodus 19:8).
During freshman orientation at her college, Cheryl signed up for a credit card–her first one. It was so easy. All she had to do was sign one piece of paper and carry away a team jersey, water bottle and coffee mug. Cheryl discovered that it was also easy to pull out her new card and pay for the pizza, a new pair of shoes and a few items at the bookstore. The hard part was paying for it. Cheryl was shocked when she received her first month’s credit card bill.
Like Cheryl, It was easy for the Israelites to make the commitment that they would do whatever the Lord wanted. They didn’t really consider the cost either. Doing all that the Lord spoke involved following where the pillar of cloud and fire led and trusting that the Lord would both provide for them and protect them. Doing everything that the Lord had spoken also involved covenanting with God and each other to live by a specific code of conduct. The Israelites learned quickly that committing to the Lord was more easily said than done.
We make commitments that we find hard to keep. We succeed sometimes, but more often than not we fail miserably. From those mistakes and failures, we hope we both learn and are able to renew our commitment. Whether we succeed or fail, we rejoice that the Lord never wavers in God’s commitment to us.
Forgiving Lord, it has been said that the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. We often find this all too true in our lives of faith. Forgive us, and give us the will and the way to recommit our lives to you. Amen.
Saturday, October 4, 2014
“You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3).
There are a lot of gods out there all of them claiming our allegiance. We can make that observation when we use Martin Luther’s definition of a god as anything in which we place our hope and trust. Our family, health, mutual funds, intelligence, religiosity and even our children can become gods to us–to name just a few. Denying the possibility that there can be other gods does not help us keep our allegiance to the One True God. It is only when we confess our duplicity and recognize our frequent temptations to give away our loyalty and place of trust in other things that we can make a conscious effort to keep the Lord, God number one in our lives.
Having no other gods before the Lord, is a lot similar to living as a person who is recovering from an addiction. We begin each day acknowledging that there are temptations all around us, but we commit ourselves to sobriety. Sometimes we have to do this every hour and at times every few minutes. There are times when we fall off the wagon and we need to pick ourselves up and get back on the wagon. With God’s help, our determination and commitment, and the support of our community of friends and family, we start our lives anew and keep the Lord number one in our lives.
God of all creation. we desire no other god but you and we commit our lives to loving you and serving our neighbor. Amen.
Sunday, October 5, 2014
“Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8).
There were always too many things to do in life; it isn’t a modern day phenomena. Our ancestors were always tempted to gather more food or more wood for the fire. Just when they thought they had enough, the roof started to leak.
Today our jobs are demanding–or we at least think they are. Though we are entitled to paid vacations, most workers in the United States take only a fraction of their vacation time. In addition to our work, we invest ourselves in a plethora of activities that demand our time and energy. The result is that we become exhausted, sleep deprived, depressed and we miss out on the abundant life that God has in store for us.
God’s invitation to remember the sabbath day; to rest and keep it holy is always there for us. When we accept the invitation, we admit that the world can go on without our constant effort. Rest is also a step of faith–that God is able to provide for us even when we don’t work 24/7. In a world that tells us to go, go, go, remember that the Lord quietly invites us to stop, rest, keep the sabbath holy and enjoy the abundant life that is ours–God’s gift to us.
Almighty God, we are on the merry-go-round of life and we can’t get off. Help! Give us the ability to jump off into your arms. Amen.