Friday, August 30, 2013

Exodus 21 - Social Justice

God has laid out for us here in Exodus 20 a standard of justice as we relate to people around us. Let's see if some of the same principles don't apply to us. 

In the text I read they are called servants or slaves. We learn that if the servant is a Hebrew he has some rights to freedom after a term of service. This kind of reminds me of a military enlistment. The servant agrees to remain under authority for a period of time and can choose to re-enlist or go free.  

Bottom line for employers or if you contract labor, you should be fair in your dealings with them. They are working for you for a living and you should pay them what is right and not take advantage of them. You shouldn't skew a labor contract in your favor but do what is right and honest. 

Relationships in Community
Starting in verse 12 we see a series of rules around personal injuries. It is clear that to restore justice we are to evaluate crimes and execute judgments. List after list of judgments for particular crimes are given. I believe that this has become the basis for our justice system today.  The crime must be met with equal judgment but not more than what the crime demands. This is where we get the "eye for an eye" measure of judgment. 

God cares that we treat people fairly and be a good bearer of justice. God established justice and gave us these commands so that we could live together in peace knowing that we will be made right if we should become victimized. 

Hope for Us
We can be assured that our future is secure in God's hands and He established justice and he measures out grace. There will be a judgment day coming where our allegiances and our deeds will be assessed. For those who accept God's provision of a Savior there is grace applied. For those who reject the offer of Salvation by grace alone, justice will come. You can know for sure that you are secure in God's hands and that Heaven is your home; and it isn't based on the laws you kept but on the works if Jesus Christ. He is our only hope of Heaven and his offer if forgiveness of sins is available to each of us. Will you choose to serve him and obey him in love and not out of securing your righteousness before God?  

We need to confess our sins daily before God  and receive his forgiveness.  In exchange he gives us his Spirit to keep us close, to comfort and correct us as we live for Him. 

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Exodus 20 - God's Direction

I think everyone has at one time prayed for God's wisdom for our lives. We want to hear "Do this; don't do that" from the one who knows all. When God gives the Ten Commandments that is precisely what he is doing. The wisdom of God for living life here on earth. 

The Commandments are so much more than that however. They are the measuring stick of our love for God in that if we love God we would keep His Commandments. They are also the measure of our condemnation as no one measures up to God's Holy standard and we are left acknowledging God's Holiness and our unrighteousness. 

The law points uncovers the naked truth about us - we are without any merit before God. Even if we were able to keep one law, we are guilty of breaking so many more. Our lives are soiled; we have offended God in so many ways. There was only one who met the laws requirement and He is able to save not only Himself, but gives himself for all to have the hope of Heaven and a relationship with God here. He creates the means for us to receive God's wisdom, fellowship, and forgiveness. Jesus Christ was that One!  

The law provides us a way to see ourselves as God sees us - utterly destitute in our sin. The law also is given to keep us from sinning and to reveal to us the Holiness of God. 

Since this Blog is centered in our stewardship, what does this mean as we manage the time, resources and talent God has given us. It means we take the high road. We apply ourselves to obedience. We make righteousness our aim. We don't live the way the world does, but the way God directs. We yield even our own desires to God and wait for his clear direction. When we fall, we come to our Father in Heaven and receive forgiveness and renew our fellowship with him. We live in right relationship to the people around us, never harming but honoring them. 

I think the Commandments have something for us each day. The first four are centered on our relationship to God. Put God in His rightful place in our lives and other things fall into place. The last six are dedicated to our right relationship to our fellow man. If we give honor to God and our fellow man we have joy and our life has purpose. 

The Commandments are not given to steal our joy but to give directions along the pathway to it. 

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Exodus 19 - Approaching a Holy God

Moses returns to the area he once encountered God. God instructs Moses to speak to the people. God reminds the people how He miraculously brought the nation out if Egypt and offers to make the nation treasured above all nations if they will only obey Him. 

God then has the nation cleanse and consecrate themselves. They are not to approach the mountain but assemble at the base while Moses went up. For three days they prepared themselves to stand before a holy God. Violation of the commands was on threat of death. 

We don't stand very long in the presence of a Holy God before we recognize how base and vile we are and how utterly dependent we are on His mercy toward us. In today's churches, rarely is the Holiness of God the main topic.  I personally think that if God is held high and holy more sinners would see how short they fall and would accept the offer of salvation. 

More and more churches offer a "come as you are" message in order to proclaim a watered down message of the gospel. There is something to be said for preparing ourselves for worship - body, mind and soul. We are coming together to worship almighty God and we should not take that lightly. 

It isn't the clothes that make us acceptable before God. We come as beggars to the Master unworthy to receive any of His grace, but if we will show our devotion through obedience then He will call us His own and we will be His people. 

The whole earth is the Lord's but there is a special relationship He offers to His people. When we out our trust in God for our righteousness and decide in advance we will obey Him we become a treasure I His eyes. 

Let's hold God high as we go about our day today. 

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Exodus 18 - Delegation Advice

Rarely do in-laws get a good rap, but in this chapter we see Moses' father-in-law, Jethro receives a very warm welcome and offers some advice to Moses. Jethro was a pagan priest and did not worship the God of the Israelites, but the works God did for the Israelites in delivering them from Egypt apparently bring Him to a saving faith in God alone. 

Moses had developed a great admiration for his father-in-law and shared with him the personal concerns Moses had in leading a large group of Israelites. Jethro gives recommendation to Moses to establish judges among the elders of the nation and divide the labor. 

This chapter has a couple of examples we can follow as we live out our faith. We should seek out advisors in our own lives and listen to the wisdom they have to offer. In the midst of trials our emotions can block our clear thinking and having someone trusted to offer wisdom can keep us from succumbing to our temptations to act rashly. When we seek out advisors however, we should look for people who can offer godly wisdom - disciples of The Lord so that you don't get diverted by worldly rationalizations. 

The second principle here is that it is not good to bear all the load when you can train people to assist. I have witnessed parents who will not train their children to assist with home maintenance. Maybe they think they are being kind or maybe they don't want to go through the process of training. Sometimes in church groups there will be a leader who wants to maintain control and does not delegate authority. This person becomes unbalanced and can find his/her team unwilling to serve under them. Delegation does not mean waiving our responsibilities and giving them away, but it prepares the next set of leaders with the skills needed to continue after you have completed your tasks. 

As stewards our ego can get wrapped up in our financial decisions which is all the more reason why we should have good and godly advisors to keep us focused on the eternal and not the temporal. Identifying godly advisors before a crisis of decision allows us to be thoughtful in our choice. Having a partner at work who can look objectively at the challenges that you may face can help you to excel in ways that you never could alone. 

Build a team of godly advisors around you and search God's word together for direction and you have a combination that is sure to succeed. 

May God richly bless you as you seek Him and as you serve Him.