Tag Archives: Phrase

Marching To Rephidim

In April of 2008 I wrote the following post in two parts. It’s been a great blessing to me and to many others over the years. I thought I would share it with you once more….

Part 1

There is a passage of scripture that I often go to for comfort and reminder. It’s a very strange place to go for such things, but it has proven to provide them to me. It is part of the story of the Exodus of Israel from Egypt. They have left Egypt, crossed the sea on dry land, and are being led by God with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. In the middle of this odyssey we come to this passage, Exodus 17:1 Then all the congregation of the sons of Israel journeyed by stages from the wilderness of Sin, according to the command of the LORD….. . Day by day, led by the cloud and the pillar, they are following God’s leading…following him and trusting him. Then, in this short verse we find these words, and they camped at Rephidim… . They camped here by God’s leading! But you must see the end of the verse to understand how important this passage is,and there was no water for the people to drink. When this passage first became clear to me this last phrase stopped me, and my response was, “WHAT?!?! You took them to a place where there was no water? And you took them there ON PURPOSE!?” Yes he did. And he will lead us to places like this….places in the desert where there is no water. Dry places, places where we ask, “why did you bring me here?” That will become clear in a moment, but you need to know that dry places are in God’s plan for our lives. When you find yourself at your Rephidim know that it didn’t happen by accident, God has led you there. He’s working in your life….he has a plan.

Let me make this one thing clear- they were led to a place where there was no water. There were 2,000,000 of them with millions of animals, and God led them to Rephidim on purpose….to a place where there wasn’t any water. Did I make that part clear yet? Why? That’s a most important question to ask. Go back with me a few chapters to a shepherd in the wilderness who comes upon a burning bush. It’s the same Moses who now comes to this same wilderness with the nation of Israel in tow. Why did God bring them here? Here’s the reason, Exodus 3:1 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb (Rephidim), the mountain of God. Let’s skip down the visit with God a bit to this verse, Exodus 3:12 And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.” God led them to this very place to meet with him, to worship him! But here is what they saw, Exodus 17:2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?” Exodus 17:3 But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” All they saw was a desert with no water in sight. What they missed was the fact that God was there waiting for them! In the next few verses God resolves their water problem, Exodus 17:5 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Exodus 17:6 “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. This Horeb is the rock that was split in the middle and from it came water to quench the thirst of millions for months. God provided water, but they had missed the opportunity to ask a really important question, “Lord, why are we here?” They completely missed God in their thirst for water! How often I do that. I miss God in the midst of my “needs.”

So, as an expert in wilderness spirituality, let me suggest that when you come to a spiritual desert and find that you have no water the next thing you say is most important. Having been here many times let me suggest this as your next response, “Hello Father, I see we are in the desert without water. What are we working on today? How can I best glorify you through this time in the wilderness?”

When you find yourself out of work, hurting, wounded, left alone, discouraged, depressed, unhappy or simply thirsty for God and find that he has brought you to a dry place don’t fall into the trap of focusing on your need. Look around, God is there waiting for you….he has brought you to this place on purpose!

 

Part 2

Yesterday I left you in the middle of the desert with the nation of Israel in a place where there was no water. They were led there on purpose by God. Let me make this clear- they were led to a place where there was no water. There were 2,000,000 of them with millions of animals, and God led them to Rephidim onpurpose….to a place where there wasn’t any water.

Did I make that part clear yet?

Why?

That’s a most important question to ask. Go back with me a few chapters to a shepherd in the wilderness who comes upon a burning bush. It’s the same Moses who now comes to this same wilderness with the nation of Israel in tow. Why did God bring them here? Here’s the reason,

Exodus 3:1 Now Moses was pasturing the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he led the flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb (Rephidim), the mountain of God.

Let’s skip down the visit with God a bit to this verse,

Exodus 3:12 And He said, “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.”

God led them to this very place to meet with him, to worship him!

But here is what they saw,

Exodus 17:2 Therefore the people quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water that we may drink.” And Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the LORD?”

Exodus 17:3 But the people thirsted there for water; and they grumbled against Moses and said, “Why, now, have you brought us up from Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”

All they saw was a desert with no water in sight. What they missed was the fact that God was there waiting for them! In the next few verses God resolves their water problem,

Exodus 17:5 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.
Exodus 17:6 “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink.” And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

This Horeb is the rock I posted in part 1, the rock that was split in the middle. God provided water, but they had missed the opportunity to ask a really important question, “Lord, why are we here?” They completely missed God in their thirst for water! How often I do that. I miss God in the midst of my “needs.”

So, as an expert in wilderness spirituality, let me suggest that when you come to a spiritual desert and find that you have no water the next thing you say is most important. Having been here many times let me suggest this as your next response,

“Hello Father, I see we are in the desert without water. What are we working on today? How can I best glorify you through this time in the wilderness?”

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Waiting….

Waiting. It’s one of the hardest things we do. Waiting for answers, waiting for the phone to ring, waiting for someone to arrive. Waiting is loaded with expectations and anticipations. We are waiting for something, someone and things will change when the waiting is over.

Waiting is a pause in our lives, as if the picture is frozen on the screen and we wait for someone to once more push the play button. Waiting is hard.

Waiting involves the passing of time as we anticipate the thing, the one we wait for. Anticipation. Expectation. Frustration at times are all part of this thing called waiting. As I read Psalm 37 this morning, one of my favorite Psalms, it’s clear that God invites us to wait….to wait for Him. Several times in this chapter the invitation is given to wait for the Lord. There are good reasons for this. We conclude God is late, has gotten busy somewhere else, has forgotten us, but the truth is that we have simply missed God’s ways and timing and so we find we wait for the one who is never late.

“Wait for the Lord and keep his way” David writes. In this short phrase are the instructions for those of us waiting, while you wait walk with God until he arrives. The truth is he is always with us, never leaves us, but waiting involves a patience with God’s timing, God’s plans, God’s ways. It involves my choices to walk well while I wait.

“But those who wait for the Lord, they will inherit the land.” There is a reward for waiting. The reward is God’s business, but the waiting is ours.

There is a reason for the waiting. We may not always know what that is, but wait we must and trust God to work while we wait.

There is a rest in waiting. It means I have someone I’m trusting for what’s ahead and I dare not proceed until he arrives. It’s an awareness that I must not walk alone the road ahead, but wait for God to walk with me, to lead me and guide me.

 

There is a peace in waiting. It’s the realization that I wait for one who will accomplish all I wait for. The God who made heaven and earth asks me to wait for him. Why wouldn’t I? How would I dare proceed without him? Waiting for God is the most logical decision of all!

What are you waiting for? Direction? Answers to prayer? A job? Healing? Peace? God’s response to your waiting? “Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret….” In other words, don’t worry. God’s coming. He will sort it all out for you. Rest in him, relax, don’t worry, he’s coming….he’s never late.

Wait for the Lord.

 

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

The Purpose Of Messiah

Luke 1 tells the story of the gospel from the beginning. Luke did a wonderful job describing details of the gospel we don’t see in the other books. As I read chapter one this morning I was captivated by the prophetic words of John’s father, Zacharias, as he spoke about the birth of his son and the events that would follow. Here are his closing words, spoken through the Holy Spirit’s inspiration,

“To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us, to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death. To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

The whole purpose of Jesus coming is encapsulated in these few words. They are amazing words. Notice the keys to these few sentences- to give, to shine, to guide. Let me use these three keys for my thoughts today.

To give- To give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,”

Everything happens because God is a giver, it all comes from his tender mercy. God is the initiator. God starts it all by giving. His gifts come from his tender mercies. That very phrase captivates me- his tender mercies. Out of his tender mercies he acts, he gives, he provides forgives He gives us knowledge of something we desperately need based entirely on something he does to solve our need. He gives us knowledge of salvation. It’s a salvation based on forgiveness of sins. What does it save us from? The penalty of those same sins. God’s tender mercy brings a solution and provides the knowledge of that solution to us.

To shine- to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.”

The one thing darkness needs is light. The one thing we needed is light to see, to know, to realize where we were. I love the commercial where they have sprayed a room fragrance in a horrible place and brought blindfolded people in to “smell the air.” They take off the blindfold and cannot believe where they are! This is what happens when the light of Christ shines on our sin soaked lives and worlds. We suddenly see how horrible the place is where we had made home. It’s his light that shows us our need. We have no idea how close we are to death until the lights come on and then, suddenly, we see how horrible this place really is.

To guide- To guide our feet into the way of peace.”

The one thing we need most is peace, but to find it we need two things- light and a guide. Thankfully God has provided both! How amazing that he has provided all we need; knowledge, light and a guide to the way of peace. There is so much to be written on these simple verses, but for today I just wanted to spend a few moments on these words and invite you to meditate on them for your own walk with God. To know that God has provided all we need to go from ignorance to knowledge, from wrath to mercy, from darkness to light, and from fear to peace is more than I can comprehend. It’s wonderful for me personally to realize that God has made such great provision for us through his great mercy.

To give, to shine, to guide. All we need to know Him. How wonderful!

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Abounding Grace

God’s grace is a big deal to me. It’s the most important thing to understand in all that God has provided in Christ. Many, by not understanding it, have resorted to works to please God and frankly God is not at all pleased by that response.
He has provided grace and wants us to live in it, but few understand its implications, even fewer are comfortable with how that is lived out. If you want to know a bit about what God has done and what it means in your life here are Paul’s words in Romans 5 about that grace,

15 But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17 For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

Abounding grace. That very phrase should make you want to know what that means, what’s the implications, why did it need to abound? Grace is one of God’s most profound works, and one that few are comfortable with. It means that in Christ God has done all that needs to be done for us to please him. There’s nothing more to do to find favor with God. If you have trusted Christ as savior you are his child, his son or daughter and you DO please him. He not only loves you he actually likes you just as you are right now. His grace has abounded above all your need and provided everything required to bring us into relationship with God, to provide forgiveness of sin, to give us security for eternity, to do all that needed to be done so there is nothing left for us to do.

Books have been written on this topic. I know in these few paragraphs I will not satisfy many hearts and minds with answers, there’s simply too much to discuss, but there is a reality in our Christian world that needs to be resolved- Do you believe it’s all been done or do you believe there’s more that you must do? It’s one or the other.
I know, as I write this, that many are saying, “Yeah, but….” And here begins the discussion about what I must do. Frankly, to please God there is nothing you can do. All that was needed to please God was done by Christ at the cross. The harsh reality of grace is this- there is NOTHING you can do to please God other than to say “yes” to the grace he has already provided.

Justice says I get what I deserve. Mercy says I don’t get what I deserve, but grace says in Christ I get what I don’t deserve. In this abounding grace I come to God and find that by simply trusting Christ I please God! That’s it. Nothing more to do. Grace says it’s all been done already. My response? Worship. Praise. A life that obeys him, but these are all just responses. They merit nothing for my salvation. That’s been done. Now, all that I do is respond to grace and in that response I find God’s joy.

Many in our culture call this simple idea “cheap grace,” but what they don’t understand is that it must be this way. If any of my works, my deeds, my performance for God are part of grace it’s a statement to the world that what Christ did on the cross wasn’t enough. When he said, “it’s finished” he just didn’t understand. You can’t have it both ways. Either he did it all or he didn’t. And if he did it all then your only response it to simply say “yes” to his gift and bask in that grace.

Abounding grace….abounding far above my need, abounding far above my understanding, grace to do for each of us what we could never do on our own.

Today I joyfully rejoice in God’s abounding grace to me!

Visit Mike at Finishing Well.

Who Do You Answer To?

1 Cor. 11:3 Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ,

This morning I came upon this phrase in a passage I am reading and it caught my attention in a new way. Suddenly I saw that it doesn’t say Christ is the head of every CHRISTIAN man, but in fact the claim of this passage is that Christ is the head of EVERY man. Every man answers to Christ because he is their authority, their boss, their Lord. The great battle of mankind is this battle over who do we answer to. The world claims, “I’m my own boss! I answer to no one! I have no head over me.” But this verse claims that every man is accountable to Christ, he is the boss. It’s this rebellion against his reign in their lives that is the great battle of the human race. It was Satan’s rebellion. It was his temptation to Adam and Eve. It’s his temptation to me to rebel and be my own boss. It is his invitation to you as well….you don’t have to answer to anyone. You are the lord of your own life, but it’s not true. Paul is not vague on this when he writes, I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ. What we see around us is the great cosmic rebellion against the Lord of heaven and earth, but one day….one day soon….

at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Visit Mike at Finishing Well.