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Tag Archives: Moses

Don’t Overlook God’s Providence

Immediately following the Exodus out of Egypt, the Israelites fled into the desert.  When Pharaoh changed his mind, Moses led God’s people to the banks of the Red Sea.  Against all odds, the Lord enabled Moses to part this body of water before collapsing upon and swallowing up the Egyptian army.  After witnessing this miracle, any event that follows would be obscure.  Thus, when God magically sent bread, manna from heaven, the Jews slowly began to overlook the obvious.

And the manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the Israelites no longer had manna, but they ate some of the produce of the land of Canaan during that year, Joshua 5:12.

Like any human being, time has a way of changing your perspective.  Initial awe, excitement and joy can fade when everything that follows is small in comparison.  Perhaps, this explains Jesus comment to one if his disciples, “blessed are those do not see me yet believe.”  The testimony of followers of Jesus immediately following his resurrection should have been enough.  Yet, doubt prevented Thomas from believing, needing to see with his own eyes.  When you live with a miracle worker every day for three years, at some point you begin to over look the obvious, expecting greater things.

Jesus said to him, “Because you have seen Me, do you now believe? Blessed [happy, spiritually secure, and favored by God] are they who did not see [Me] and yet believed [in Me],” John 20:29.

As holiday shoppers rush through life to get their Christmas preparations in order, it’s hard to keep track of daily mundane responsibilities.  Meanwhile, subtle miracles are glanced over as God provides this or that without any praise or thanks.  Unfortunately, I tend to be the type of person who allows themselves to be pushed to the limit, on the verge of mental exhaustion weekly.  Thus, instead of seeing subtle signs of God’s providence, I have ignored the obvious.  I guess I need to follow the advice of the Psalmist by being still before God, Psalm 46:10.  When you do, you will stop overlooking the obvious by observing the hand of God over your life.

by Jay Mankus

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You Only Get One Life

As the 2018 National Basketball Association kicked off their season in Boston this week, I am reminded of a tragedy from the past.  Len Bias was the second overall pick in the 1986 NBA Draft, selected by the Boston Celtics.  This former all American who played at the University of Maryland was primed for greatness.  Yet, during a post draft party, Len decided to try Cocaine, apparently for the first time.  This fateful decision induced cardiac arrhythmia resulting in Bias’ death two days later.

“Listen closely, I have set before you today life and prosperity (good), and death and adversity (evil); 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk [that is, to live each and every day] in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments (precepts), so that you will live and multiply, and that the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to possess, Deuteronomy 30:15-16.

I was about to start my senior year of high school when I first heard of Len Bias’ death.  Growing up ninety minutes from College Park, Maryland, this news was devastating.  To make matters worse, I lost one of my best friends to cancer during my sophomore year of college.  When my grand father passed away, it was tough to deal with, but at least he lived a full life.  However, when a young person, who hasn’t entered the prime of their life is taken away by death, this reality is hard to accept.  Unfortunately, human beings don’t have nine lives like cats who seem to escape death on numerous occasions.

But if your heart turns away and you will not hear and obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today that you will certainly perish. You will not live long in the land which you cross the Jordan to enter and possess, Deuteronomy 30:17-18.

During his farewell address as leader of Israel, Moses pours out his heart to his followers.  In the middle of his speech, Moses urges the crowd to be careful to make wise decisions.  According to the passage above, each choice you make on earth leads to one of two destinations: life or death.  Since you only get one life to live, choose life.  This isn’t a video game where you get to hit a reset button to receive a new life.  Rather, actions have consequences, especially when poor choices are made.  Therefore, may the words of Moses speak to your heart as you seek to make the most of the life God has given you.

by Jay Mankus

 

The Shadow of Death

Every morning and evening before sunset, shadows reflect the landscape of the earth.  Mountains, rolling hills and trees leave imprints of what is near or around you.  Once darkness exchanges day with night, shadows are limited to moonlight, stars and the northern lights.  However, the shadow of death can apear at a moments notice, signaling that your days on earth are numbered.  24 hours ago there was a murder suicide in my neighborhood, taking the lives of two twenty year olds.

Even though I walk through the [sunless] valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod [to protect] and Your staff [to guide], they comfort and console me, Psalm 23:4.

Psalm 23 is a common Bible reading at funerals.  As a shepherd living under the stars, shadows were a normal sight for David.  Yet, the painful reality of death inspired David to coin this chapter.  The only time I have witnessed death was just before my oldest sons birth.  Since my grandfather’s health was failing, family was noticed as everyone gathered around his bed.  Struggling to breathe, my sister Cindy began to read Psalm 23 to ease his pain.  A few minutes later, grandpa Kautz gave up his spirit.

“Listen closely, I have set before you today life and prosperity (good), and death and adversity (evil); 16 in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk [that is, to live each and every day] in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments (precepts), so that you will live and multiply, and that the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to possess, Deuteronomy 30:15-16.”

One of the forefather’s of Israel, Moses eludes to the shadow of death in his farewell address before Joshua takes over for him as leader.  Moses provides an unique perspective, using choices as an analogy.  According to Moses, the choices you make daily lead to one destination or the other.  Life and death are a series of choices that shape the path you will take in life.  If this is true, choose life so that the shadow of death will be held off until later on in life.

by Jay Mankus

Recounting the Stages of Your Journey

Back in 2007, I took my family on a month long vacation to see the Grand Canyon.  This trip took several years of planning and saving, but it was worth every penny spent.  From Skyline Caverns, Shenandoah National Park, the Great Smokey Mountains and the Ozarks, this was merely an appetizer before for the main course.  Along way, dining in restaurants across the south western part of the United States was fascinating and surreal.  This journey opened my eyes to the beauty of God’s creation within each of the 20 plus states I visited.  Bandera Volcano and Ice Cave in New Mexico, the Indian Rock Cave and Trail near Fairfield Bay Arkansas, the Painted Desert in Arizona and Wind Caves National Park in South Dakota are must see destinations if you travel via car or RV.  My one bit of advice is that you can’t see everything so pick a couple of places and savor each day you have while site seeing.

Moses recorded their points of departure, as the Lord commanded, stage by stage; and these are their journeys according to their points of departure, Numbers 33:2.

In the passage above, Moses recounts the journey Israel made from the Exodus out of Egypt to the Jordan River, waiting to enter God’s promised land.  Earlier in this Old Testament book, Moses records the numbers of people from each of the twelve tribes of Israel who make this trek.  Without modern equipment like moving vans and paved roads, the staging of half a million people was no easy task.  Yet, with the Lord’s help along with the elders, Israel was on the verge of seeing one of God’s promises fulfilled.  To a certain extent, recounting your previous steps helps you in the future if you face a similar project or task.  Failing to develop this sort of practice may result in repeating the same mistakes of your past.

You have heard of my career and former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to hunt down and persecute the church of God extensively and [with fanatical zeal] tried [my best] to destroy it. 14 And [you have heard how] I surpassed many of my contemporaries among my countrymen in [my advanced study of the laws of] Judaism, as I was extremely loyal to the traditions of my ancestors. 15 But when God, who had chosen me and set me apart before I was born, and called me through His grace, was pleased, Galatians 1:13-15.

In the passage above, the apostle Paul recounts the stages of his spiritual journey.  Paul refers to three aspects of his life: before Christ, his conversion experience and how the Holy Spirit has changed his life since beginning a relationship with God.  While this may be obvious to you, Paul realizes that everyone’s journey is different.  Sometimes you succeed and other tests you fail miserably.  Yet, its important to be real, reflecting upon the good and bad.  If the journeys of Christians are perfect, the average person will feel unworthy, unattracted to faith in Christ.  However, when believers publicly confess and share their shortcomings, James 5:16, healing can begin.  While most people want to put on a good front, the world is hungry for honesty.  Therefore, don’t miss out on the teachable moments the Lord gives you each day to recount the stages of your spiritual journey by sharing your testimony.

by Jay Mankus

A Life Without Relationships

Casual friendships will come and go depending upon circumstances in life.  Yet, everyone needs at least one permanent meaningful lasting relationship to get you through hardship, struggles and trials.  Unfortunately, some choose to become lone rangers, wandering through life alone.

When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”- Exodus 18:14

After leading Israel out of Egypt into the wilderness, Moses fell prey to this mindset.  Serving as the supreme judge, Moses worked from sun up to sun down, about sixteen hours a day.  During a visit from his father in law, Jethro made an obvious observation, “what you are doing is not good.”  Jethro’s advice was to train other judges, then delegate basic and simple cases to these men.  The decision to alter his course prevented Moses from living a life without relationships.

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her,” Luke 10:41-42.

Unfortunately, I have a tendency to follow in Moses’ footsteps, trying to do everything on my own.  Anyone who continues down this path is destined to become burned out or overwhelmed.  Some refer to this as the Martha complex, when you are so consumed with day to day chores you forget to enjoy the people God has blessed you with.  Heed the wise words of Jethro so that you don’t live a life without relationships.

by Jay Mankus

Hurry Up and Wait

Sometimes parents have a bad sense of timing.  Whether its getting a child out of bed for school, making it in time for church or an event, our sense of time doesn’t always match with the actual time.  Subsequently, there are days where quick reactions from children result in hurry up and wait for parents to get into their vehicle.

Tell the priests who carry the ark of the covenant: ‘When you reach the edge of the Jordan’s waters, go and stand in the river, Joshua 3:8.

There are moments in time when God uses a similar strategy.  During the Passover, the Lord instructed Israel through Moses to leave Egypt in haste.  This was the hurry up part of the equation.  The waiting part involved entering a promised land which the hearts and minds of Israel were not ready for yet.  However, when God’s followers step out in faith like the passage above, the only thing remaining is to wait for a miracle.

And as soon as the priests who carry the ark of the LORD—the Lord of all the earth—set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap, Joshua 3:13.

The hardest part of trusting an invisible God involves risking embarrassment and failure.  What makes matters worse is that the Lord does not honor a lukewarm spirit.  To step out in faith requires a full commitment, yielding to the God above.  If the priests did not enter the Jordan River with the ark, the promised land would merely be a dream today.  Nonetheless, this simple act of obedience set the stage for divine intervention.  If this blog finds you becoming impatient with God and the road He has chosen for you, may this hurry up and wait example from history give you hope that the Lord hasn’t run out of miracles.

by Jay Mankus

Jehovah Rapha

Israel spent 400 years in Egypt as slaves, enduring harsher conditions the longer they stayed.  When the timing was right, God chose Moses, a man with a severe speech impediment to represent Israel before Pharaoh.  Initially, Moses rejected God’s calling, as the Lord sends along his brother Aaron to address Egypt’s leader.  Although its not mentioned, Moses slowly takes control of these daily meetings with Pharaoh.  The absence of stammering suggests God healed Moses of his stuttering.

He said, “If you listen carefully to the LORD your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the LORD, who heals you,” Exodus 15:26.

Through Moses’ personal experience, set from from stuttering, the term Jehovah Rapha was coined.  This name for God means the Lord who heals.  After being eyewitnesses of the Passover, Israel saw the hand of God at work, passing over their doors to kill first born Egyptians.  The passage above serves as a reminder to work just happened as well as a call to action to carefully follow God’s commands while waiting to receive God’s promised land.

God heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds, Psalm 147:3.

Today, healing is one of those prayers and wants the sick desperately seek.  Yet, for those who have prayed for healing and sit helplessly waiting around to watch loved ones die, its hard to keep the faith.  While Jehovah Rapha is still actively at work, some never see the fruit of time on their knees.  Despite a lack of results, believers can not forget the words of Moses in Exodus 15:26.  Healing doesn’t always come instantaneously.  Rather, wounds take time to close.  When you back is against the door, cry out to Jehovah Rapha to mend your heart and soul.

by Jay Mankus

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