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Tuesday Thoughts 1-29-19

On my recent return trip from training in Tampa, I joined in the long line of whiny waiters heading toward the luggage inspection, free personal x-ray, and pat-down (yes, they did pat me down) required to earn the privilege of boarding a flight.  I heard a fair share of complaining and nursed, inwardly, my own.  But halfway through, at the point where boarding passes and ID have to be shown for the final time, I was caught unprepared, and had to step out of line and frantically search in my bag (I could feel my face burning red).  Sunday morning’s Old Testament reading was a reminder of this incident.  In the fifth chapter of the book of Exodus, Moses, selected by God as the leader of the Hebrew tribe’s exit from Egypt, had his first audience with Pharaoh, calling out what he would have to repeat over and over, “Let my people go!”  Imagine, for a moment, how excited the Jewish people had been to hear from Moses that their long slavery in Egypt was over. Think of the anticipation that Almighty God would flex his unmatched muscles through Moses in one confrontational moment leading to the miracle of an unhindered departure.  The result, however, was crushing.  Not a gracious invitation to go and worship God.  Not a thunderous demonstration of power from on high.  Instead, their work load was made more difficult, and their task-maskers grew more cruel.  Hear the heart-cry of the people, “May the Lord judge and punish you for making us stink before Pharaoh and his officials. You have put a sword into their hands, an excuse to kill us!” Exodus 5:21 (NLT).   Are you feeling their pain?  Have you cried out for deliverance, provision, guidance, protection (and more), and only seen things grow worse (I already know the answer)?  Stay buckled in, because the truth for them is the truth for us too.  Unknown to the tribe, God had already filled Moses in on the process necessary to make freedom a reality.  Listen to this training session from the Creator, “But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand forces him. So I will raise my hand and strike the Egyptians, performing all kinds of miracles among them. Then at last he will let you go. And I will cause the Egyptians to look favorably on you. They will give you gifts when you go so you will not leave empty-handed. Every Israelite woman will ask for articles of silver and gold and fine clothing from her Egyptian neighbors and from the foreign women in their houses. You will dress your sons and daughters with these, stripping the Egyptians of their wealth.” Exodus 3:19–22 (NLT).  It’s important not to miss the key here.  The process wasn’t needed to convince Pharaoh to let them go.  It was needed to create an environment that would cause him, and the Egyptian people to beg them to go, to add every incentive to be rid of them, including food, clothes, and money.  It was the Israelite’s, the followers of God, that needed to be prepared! This huge undertaking of leaving a well-supplied home to become wandering nomads heading toward the Promised Land would have been a disaster without abundant provisions, and God’s love would not let it happen!  And while there was an initial worsening of circumstances, a special protection of God’s people was present as the ten plagues unfolded on the land of Egypt (read Exodus chapters 6-12).  So, what are you doing while you’re waiting in line?  I should have been pulling out my ID and boarding pass.  God’s Old Testament people had to continue with life and follow his will.  We have instructions, inspiration, and empowerment from the Spirit to live a vital, active life for Jesus’ glory.  Keep crying out for deliverance, provision, guidance, protection (and more).  Expect moments that will seem worse as well as a growing supernatural providence.  But don’t get caught up in grumbling.  As the brother of Jesus wrote in the book that bears his name, “Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2–4 (NLT)

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