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Tuesday Thoughts 1-3-18

I am not much of a traveler.  Whenever I’m asked, “If you could go anywhere in the world, where would it be?”, my answer is always, “Home” (much to my wife’s dismay).  Honestly, I can’t understand the pull to discover new places that people often express in their attempts to pry me away from the peace and quiet of home.  Ah, but on paper, I’m willing to travel anywhere!  So, this week, we’re going to camp out in Egypt again.  Where the first installment (last week) about this journey dealt with its value, today we’re looking at the exit strategy.   The Old Testament book of Exodus (exit of a large group of people), is the story of breaking free!  The first four chapters tell the story of Moses from birth through what God did to convince him to accept the role of Israel’s leader. The next eight chapters (5-12) tell the amazing story of 10 divine calamities that were required before Pharaoh, the King of Egypt, would allow the Jewish people to leave the country.  I’m not talking about the specifics of those plagues today, but if you have never read that story, you really should, it’s spectacular!  What I’m interested in, is the reaction to these noticeably supernatural events.  I don’t know about you, but my attention is quickly grabbed when the Creator rips the boundaries of what we call “natural” (time and timing, thin-air provisions, lifting of roadblocks and much more).  But here in this foreign land, it was not until the fourth noticeably unnatural cataclysmic event that Egypt’s magicians exclaimed fearfully, “This is the finger of God!” (Exodus 8:19). You would think that upon the realization of who they were dealing with, their lives would be radically changed, but these enchanters did not stop worshiping the many false-gods of the culture—they had no moment of transformation.  And they were not the only people in this story that missed transformation.  The very ones Moses came to lead to freedom spent the next four decades in fear of the powerful Creator but unchanged in their self-centered lives (see Exodus chapters 15 – 40).  Here is what I’m getting at.  Knowing or accepting that God exists doesn’t alter the course of your life or secure an awesome eternity.  Neither does fearing God (though the Bible repeats several times that fear is the beginning, that is, necessary in order to gain wisdom).  Jesus, came to earth (God in person!) so that we could have a relationship with Him!  There is a verse in the last book of the Bible, Revelation, where this is expressed so eloquently in the words of the Savior himself. You may have experienced this verse in the context of calling non-Christians into a relationship with Him, but it is addressed to Jesus-followers, who, much like the Jews in Egypt, needed to rediscover the love of God. It goes like this, “Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (Revelation 3:20 NLT).  This is the place where healing happens, chains are broken, and joy…real, lasting joy is experienced.  Do you know about God, maybe even fear Him, or are you friends?  It is so simple to begin, as James, the brother of Jesus, wrote in the New Testament book that bears his name, “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” (James 4:8a).

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