Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Lenten Devotional

I will be on my way to Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya for a while. 
In the meantime, Here is a Lenten Devotional- day by day 2/13- 4/1. 

The theme of the Lenten Devotional is "Bearing Fruit and Finding Peace." 
It has a focus on the Fruits of the Spirit. 

Please say a prayer for Dr. Sloan and the Trinity Presbytery South Sudan team as they minister to the South Sudanese in the refugee camp in Kenya.  Pray for them to bear fruit and that there will be more peace in the camp and in South Sudan too. 

Note: Ash Wednesday (2/14) there will be a worship service (sanctuary) at 7 PM
Each Wednesday there will be a meal and a worship service in the Fellowship Hall.
Blessing will be at 5:45, worship 6:20, Programs 6:30 nursery and children's program provided. 
Holy Week we will have our meal and worship on Maundy Thursday 3/29 worship at 7. 

Monday, February 12, 2018

Fat vs. Shrove Tuesday

1It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery…13You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself. (Galatians 5:1,13-14)

Thoughts: Mardi-Gras, Fat Tuesday is one of the biggest parties in the world.  1.2 million (twice the normal population) will swell New Orleans.  There’s a whole lot of over indulging, and purposefully forgetting of identities.  But ironically it is a decayed piece of Lent.  The Roman Catholic idea was that you were supposed to fast and repent during Lent, so many took that as meaning you do the opposite on the day before Lent.  It is, they would say, the last chance to over-indulge, be overtly consumed with the things of the flesh.  For some, the 40 days of Lent are spent regretting the one night of Mardi Gras!  This is one of the reasons Calvin and Zwingli did not like Lent.  Christians are supposed to be Christian not just during Lent/Easter or Advent/Christmas.  All time and all life belong to God.  Jesus certainly taught nothing that insinuated we should only be holy or seek to follow God at certain times.       Shrove Tuesday (from Shriving Tuesday) got its name from eating up all the foods that would not last the forty days of Lent- especially food with fat in it (Thus the French "Fat Tuesday").  But while this idea may have had religious significance, it came to mean the feast before the fast- or the party before repentance.
      "Shrove Tuesday" gets its name from the English "Shriving": the practice of going through the house and eating up the food that would not last the 40 days of Lent.  This would especially include foods with fat in it (thus the French "Fat Tuesday"= "Mardi Gras").  Obviously even such pure beginnings became corrupt.  So that it evolved/decayed into the feast before the fast- or the party before the time of repentance.  Calvin and Zwingli especially winced at the abuses that went on in the name of religion here. 
     In the passage above that introduces the Fruit of the Spirit it speaks of real freedom.  Real freedom does not mean giving into sin- which we will regret later.  Real freedom means to love.  The Christian view of love stands in stark contrast to the world’s selfish view of love as a type of selfish pleasure.  So, here’s a thought- prepare for Lent by having a little fun.  Come out and support our youth with their pancake dinner (raising money for the Youth Facility Renovation- “The Cove”).  Look for a way today to do something for someone else as you prepare for a time of thinking of the Fruit of the Spirit. 

Prayer:  Lord, may your love that sets me truly free, fill me today.  May I grow in love with you and neighbor every day of the life you give me. 

[Below- Folly and Death at a Mardi Gras festival] 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Moses Prepares to Go to Pharaoh

27The Lord said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he met Moses at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28Then Moses told Aaron everything the Lord had sent him to say, and also about all the signs he had commanded him to perform.
29Moses and Aaron brought together all the elders of the Israelites, 30and Aaron told them everything the Lord had said to Moses. He also performed the signs before the people, 31and they believed. And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped. (Exodus 4:27-31)

Thoughts: Moses got his father-in-law's permission to go back to his people.  Moses got his wife's permission- and showed it by her willingness to circumcise their son.  Moses then met his brother Aaron who would help him speak to Pharaoh.  Then he met the elders and got their backing.  You see that Moses will go through the due process.  The momentum is building and will batter down the gates of Pharaoh's hardened heart.  The Lord is at work. 
    Sometimes to do God's work we have to jump through the hoops and visit the right people. For something important, we need to do things the right way. 

Prayer: Lord, help me to know how to do your will in the best way possible.  Help me to get going and do your work.   

Saturday, February 10, 2018

I am sent us

13Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14God said to Moses, “I am who I am.c This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I amhas sent me to you.’ ”
15God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord,d the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’
“This is my name forever,
the name you shall call me
from generation to generation.
16“Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. 17And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.’ (Exodus 3)

Thoguhts: God tells so much about Himself in this calling of Moses to bring his people back to faithfulness and the promised land.  He says that He is the God of their fathers.  He is not a strange God, but an intimate God who has cared for their family in the past. 
   He tells them that He has watched over them.  He has multiplied their numbers.  He has also seen their misery.  He remembered the promise of the promised land- as part of His love and His plan.  
He says his name Yeh weh= Yahweh- I am who I am.  He is the meaning of being- the reason of being. He is the one who was, is, and is to come- all tenses of the verb to be.  We are alive because the God who gives life also sustains life.  So let us also trust in Him and follow Him. 

Prayer: Lord, help me to trust and follow you to the fulfillment of your promises. 

Friday, February 9, 2018

Moses Excuses

7The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
11But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
12And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, youb will worship God on this mountain.”
13Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14God said to Moses, “I am who I am.c This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ”
15God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord,d the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ (Ex. 2)

Thoughts: Moses had killed an Egyptian, and fled to the desert for a long period of exile.  He had been alone and learned the life of the Bedouin/desert people.  God called Moses to back and make a difference.  Moses gave various excuses to not go. 1) He said, “Who am I” or “You’ve got the wrong guy.; 2) “I’m not ready yet” He felt he didn’t have enough know-how- God said, “This is what you are to say.”  3) I might fail- what if they don’t believe me? God showed his power;  4) I don’t have the skills- I am slow to speak- stutter; 5) Someone else will do it- Moses says, “Please send someone else.”  Anyone can say this about anything. When we look at what Moses did, we say, “How can you possibly say that you were the right person at the right time for the right calling.” 
Let us not give excuses, but give ourselves tot he Lord without excuse.  Lord, let me believe in you and your call to me. 

Prayer: Lord, give me ears to hear your voice calling me.   

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Moses- Drawn from the Water

22Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”
 1Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 2and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basketa for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
5Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. 6She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
7Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
8“Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother.9Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses,b saying, “I drew him out of the water.”

Thoughts: The Egyptians were trying to cut the Hebrew population down bu killing the boys (infanticide).  Judeo-Christian religion has always valued life and did not believe in child sacrifice, or in infanticide.  Moses' mother loved him but had to protect him by hiding him and then floating him down the mighty Nile river in a basket.  Pharaoh's daughter found the baby and adopted him.  She named him "Moses" which meant "Drew" , for she drew him out of the water.  Moses' sister, Miriam made sure Moses was nursed by his own mother. 
    Moses was not only saved and nourished by God, but he was being groomed to free his people.  
He would be in the palace of one of the greatest kingdoms in the history of the world.  He would learn to be a leader and to read and write.  He would have the education of a prince, and the knowledge to lead his people. 
    Sometimes a terrible environment can be a place where we can grow and be used by God.  

Prayer: Lord, may your love lead me through the hard times of life, trusting you.  

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

From Joseph to Moses

6Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, 7but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.
8Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt.9“Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. 10Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”
11So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13and worked them ruthlessly. 14They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly. (Exodus 1) 

Thoughts: In 400 years the people of Israel increased from 70 to around 2.5 million (600,000 men Ex. 12:37-38, Nbrs. 1:46).  God had indeed blessed them in the land of plenty in Egypt.  Rameses was a magnificent stone city built by slaves.  Both Pithom and Rameses were in the northeast section of Egypt near Goshen (the settlement of the Israelites).  The number of Israelites scared the Egyptians.  They obviously did not assimilate into the Egyptian culture- keeping their language, customs, and religious faith.  The Egyptians enslaved them out of fear.  In our day of much debate about immigration, we should remember the folly of the Egyptians.  We should also recognize this is not a new problem- it has been around for thousands of years.  

Prayer: Lord, let me trust in you and remain faithful to you, even if all around me do not believe.