Painful Growth Rewarded

Gen 15 13,14

Moses: Introduction and backdrop

 

Hey i’m Chris Mattison and I would like to take this week to look at Moses and his incredible life story. First, though I would like to take today to look at the situation into which Moses was born.

 

God had made a covenant with Abraham that his descendants would be numerous and would inhabit the promised land (Genesis 15).  In this promise God did tell Abraham that his people would have to leave to a strange land and be enslaved for 400 years, but that they would return to their own land.  As we know countries do not like to have foreigners moving into their land, so God moved Joseph into place as the right hand of Pharaoh so that he could guide the nation through a seven year famine and so that he could provide a place of protection inside of Egypt for the Israelites (Genesis 45:8-11).  As they continued to live in Egypt they prospered and grew in numbers so much that the Egyptians became worried that they would pose a threat to them someday so the Egyptians enslaved the Israelite people. Through all of this their numbers continued to grow as their nation was being painfully incubated inside the protection of Egypt (Exodus 1:8-14).

 

It is difficult to form a new nation in the ancient world because groups always intermarry with those around them and we see this as a major issue for the Israelites for the rest of the Old Testament, and later on God uses the laws and customs that he gives them to keep them separate and unique, but at this time God uses their enslavement to keep them as a single coherent nation of people.  This is maybe one of the most “tough love” ways to keep a promise.

 

During this time the Israelites began to forget about God’s promise and to worship the gods of the Egyptians, because in their minds those gods must be more powerful if the Egyptians are more powerful than them.

 

God’s people always seem to thrive in adversity.  In the early church the numbers of Christians continued to grow even though they were being fed to lions for spectator sport and were being persecuted in every manner imaginable.    Today in areas like China where Christianity is viewed as a threat to the government and is actively repressed the number of Christians is estimated to be around 30 Million and growing rapidly.

 

Maybe you feel like your faith in Christ has set you apart and alienated you from your friends, and that is probably very difficult for you to deal with.  Following Christ means dying to self and maybe that means you have to die to your social group and put up with some ridicule and rejection from society. It can be easy to be worn down by the world and give in and start following the gods of society, and many people do that.  But we need to have endurance to run the race to the end (2 Timothy 4:7).

-Chris Mattison

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Fear Not

psalm 27 1

Psalm- 27:1 “The LORD is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life- of whom shall I be afraid?”

Growing up in Minnesota and a large city too, I didn’t understand what a stronghold was. Until I watched Deadliest Catch. The Bering Sea has strong, violent storms and one of the ways the fishermen find safety is to drop anchor in a protected area of shallow water. The anchors are designed to dig into the ocean floor and prevent the ship from drifting. The anchor provides them safety.

After leaning that, I find the image of God as the anchor that holds me safe. The thing is I need to remember to drop the anchor, so He can hold me safe. As long as I lean on Him, I have nothing to fear. He is always on my side and seeing to my wellbeing.

 

-Susan Johnson

God’s Peace

Phil 4 7

Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I find myself to be a world champion worrier. This skill started when I was a child: storms terrified me! I soon learned as long as I could hear the airplanes (I lived under a flight path!), everything was ok. As I grew up, my fears changed: what kind of job would I have? Would I find a good husband? (I did!) And now, I worry about my sons. Are they safe, will they find a good spouse, and will they continue to follow God?

I finally made the decision to turn my fears over to God. Many times, the Bible tells us God is on our side. He knows what is going to happen: both good and bad, he is in control no matter what! I am still unsure and often frightened, because I’m human. As long as I don’t stay in the place of me taking control. I need to move towards God and give Him the control, as it should be. Take a moment to examine a place where your worries are preventing God from being in control. Give God the control and leave it with Him.

-Susan Johnson

Let God Lead

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Isaiah 41:10 “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

We all have times when it seems nothing is going right. Many times, I have felt like all my plans were failing. The main thing I now realize, that was the problem: MY plans. When I take a step back and allow God to take the lead, things fall in place. This doesn’t mean things are easy, it just means God is in control and I am held safe. My fears and failures come most often from thinking I am in control instead of letting God have the control. Take a moment to allow God to take control of your problems. Thank Him for protecting you and keeping you safe.

-Susan Johnson

When Our Plan is Failing

Jer 29 11

Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

We all have times when it feels like nothing is going right. School is hard, and you think maybe you should take a break. Your job is going nowhere, and it seems like your boss doesn’t like you. We’ve all been there! These are difficult times to trust God has a plan for all of us and even those times we feel like all our plans are for nothing. Take some time to reflect on the people you have contact with, could they be the people you need to share the message of Jesus and the salvation He offers. Sometimes when our plans seem to be failing, it is really God’s plan coming together!

-Susan Johnson

Waiting – Patiently

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Psalm 37:7 “Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes.”

Waiting, especially for a response to prayer, is always hard. How often have you asked God for guidance, only to be met with silence?  It is hard to be patient when others around you are succeeding. How do you respond to the times the answer to prayer is “Wait”? God will always help those who call on Him, sometimes He is waiting for us to be obedient.

Often when we are unsure of the direction God has for us, we seek help from other Christian friends.

Reflect on a time an answer to prayer was “Wait.” How did you respond? Do you have a trusted friend or mentor to help you be patient as you wait for God’s direction? Take some time to pray for them. Work on being patient as you wait on the Lord.

-Susan Johnson

 

How to Have Peace Instead of Anxiety

phil 4 6 (1)

Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

My grandma Kenney was widowed in 1946, with 11 children. This was before welfare or food stamps. She had to find a way to support herself and the children. Being a devout Catholic, Theresa found work at the church across the street. Her job was to do the laundry: the church housed 8-10 priests and had daily mass, she was responsible for their laundry and the alter linens. While to some this wasn’t important work she took it very seriously. The same pride she took in starching the alter linens, went into the priest’s boxer shorts!

I knew my grandmother when she was retired, yet she still attended mass as often as she could. Life had been hard, yet she trusted God and his word. She kept her iron and ironing board next to her chair. And on the ironing board was her Bible, and as she talked with visitors, her hand was always on the Bible. To the very end, she brought her needs to God and trusted He would always be there for her.

Take some time to reflect on a person of faith who you admire. Thank God for the example they have provided for you.

-Susan Johnson