Monday, January 31, 2022

             The Exodus was the central event in the Old Testament.  With Moses at the helm, God set about to teach Israel His ways.  The time in the wilderness was as much about getting Egypt out of Israel as the Exodus was getting Israel out of Egypt.  That sentence may sound like confusing double-talk but there was a significant amount of Egyptian influence that had settled into Israel through the many years the people had spent in Egypt following the deaths of Jacob and Joseph.  This influence had taken both hold and root in the lives of the people that He would deliver.  God had to remove the old ways and teach Israel His ways and the ways that would govern them in the land that He was preparing to give them.
              In Deuteronomy 5:1, we read “Moses summoned all Israel and said: Hear, Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them.”  Even today in early 2022, we still have a mission to learn and follow the ways of God.  It is a lifelong mission that we call sanctification or becoming more like the Lord every day and in every way.  This transformation does not happen immediately or overnight.  Israel roamed in the wilderness for forty long years before finally taking possession of the land God had chosen. 
            Building faith takes time.  We want to know and to learn the ways of the Lord.  As parents and grandparents, we want to pass along the ways of the Lord to children and grandchildren.  Our faith is a lineage or heritage that we do not want to end with us.  We want to pass it along to those who come after us.  The greatest blessing you can give to future generations is a passion for helping your children and grandchildren develop a relationship with the Lord and a fervent love for Him and His ways.  As we learn the ways of God, we become accountable for living out those ways.  We might call this inside-out living where the ways of God we have committed to our heart and mind become the pathways we walk each day.
            Be patient in cultivating your relationship with the Lord.  There will be both hills and valleys.  We are not finished products.  Likewise, extend grace to those around you who are also unfinished products.  Those you know may be further along in their faith journey than you or not as far along as you.  Show grace.  Pray for them and learn from and with them as you can.  While patience is important, we do not want to become lazy.  The Bible says in Deuteronomy 5:1 that we are to “learn” and to “follow.”  God expects us to take action.  Romans 6:13 says, “Do not let any part of your body become an instrument of evil to serve sin. Instead, give yourselves completely to God, for you were dead, but now you have new life. So, use your whole body as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God.”  As we learn and follow, we realize that we have a new passion or mission in life and that is living for His glory so that others see His glory in us. 
            It is amazing to consider that God can take us from where we are and make us what He wants us to be—His very own people.  Martin Luther once remarked that trying our best to be like God does not make us His people.  But being His people make it possible for us to live like Him.  Just as God redeemed Israel from Egypt and slavery, He has redeemed us from Satan and sin.  Because we have been remade, reborn and redeemed, we can become what He wants us to be.  Make this week a time to know and love the Lord.  Maybe you are beginning this process.  Maybe you are restarting it after a long time of absence and inactivity.  Maybe you are continuing a decades-long faith journey.  We are all somewhere on this road.  Learn His ways and follow them.  Have a great Monday!

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