Today: Psalms 19:41-6; Matthew 26:1-30; Exodus 1, 2, & 3
“The heavens tell of the glory of God; and their expanse declares the work of His hands.” Psalms 19:1
I always worship God the most when I am out in nature. Even before I was actively seeking God, I never doubted His existence. Just one glimpse at the intricacy of our universe has always been proof to me that there must be an intelligent Creator. It is all too complex and perfect to be chance. I think it would be difficult to live surrounded by God’s glorious creation and not innately understand that God exists.
I’m not surprised that every atheist I’ve ever encountered lived in the city. People who live separated from nature are deprived of that critical proof. We don’t miss something that we don’t know exists. They have no idea that an important piece of their innermost soul has wasted away.
Living surrounded by man’s contraptions tempts us to believe that we humans are mightier than we really are. Our lives are so pampered and easy; many of us might live for decades without ever experiencing hardships that would reveal the true fragility of our status. The absence of struggle feeds arrogance. Our world of concrete and steel is indeed impressive. But all it takes is one earthquake, one tornado, and all our mighty fortresses come tumbling down.
The disciples were indignant when the woman anointed Jesus with expensive perfume. What a waste, they said, “This perfume could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” (v.9)
Nicky Gumbel notes that people will understand our social work (volunteering at food pantries, visiting prisoners, etc.) but they will think our worship of Jesus is a waste of time. How true this is! The world cannot understand our love for Jesus. They cannot fathom why anyone would enjoy praying or singing to some make believe god. Works are fine. But worship is scoffed at.
There has always been this tension between works and worship. Make no mistake, this is exactly according to the enemy’s plan. He always tries to twist this pesky Christianity thing into just a bunch of rules to follow rather than actual faith. He wants to get us so caught up in doing good deeds that we don’t have time to waste focusing on our relationship with Jesus. What a devious plan that is! Most people would agree that a criminal’s deeds are bad. But a hardworking volunteer is admired. No one would ever suspect there might be a problem, not even the volunteer themselves!
Don’t misunderstand… we SHOULD do good works. They are very important. But not when they come at the expense of our relationship to Jesus. Good deeds cannot replace relationship. When we put our time with God first, the good works will flow out of that relationship. But when we switch that order around, our works are hollow.
Enter Moses, my favorite Old Testament character! Moses was God’s friend; they spoke face to face. I love the haunting story of the baby Moses’ mother hiding him in a basket in the river so that he would not be discovered and killed. When Pharoah’s daughter finds Moses, his sister, Miriam, suggests that Moses’ own mother nurse him. Miriam will have a great role in God’s plan for the Israelites and it begins with this brilliant intervention.
God’s divine fingerprints are all over this beautiful story. God protected Moses as a baby, arranged for him to grow up as a member of the Egyptian royal family, yet still be raised and taught by his own Jewish mother. We see God’s perfect workings so clearly here as he orchestrates all the pieces of his plan.
Moses & the Burning Bush
The story of Moses and the burning bush continues a pattern we see in the Old Testament. Each of the founding Israelite fathers has a defining encounter with God that shapes their lives. In each encounter, God reveals himself and usually explains his plans. The usual response is fear (that is indeed the most appropriate response when confronted by the omnipotent God). Usually after God discloses his plan, the response is doubt, fear, questions… but Lord, my wife is old and can no longer have children… but Lord, they won’t listen to me. And God always replies that “assuredly, I will be with you.” (v.3:12)
This same order of events has repeated itself millions of times. God meets each one of us some how, some way. Did you have a moment when you were first aware of God’s attention? Maybe you have had many such moments. How amazing that the almighty Creator of the universe would bend down to earth and engage with us mere mortals. Like Moses, he sends us out, foreigners in a hostile world. We are his emissaries. Be we aren’t sent on our journeys alone. He always promises to go with us.