The Moment You’ve All Been Waiting For

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The Moment You’ve All Been Waiting For

Exodus 3:1–15

Moses at the Burning Bush1

Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law Jethro, the priest of Midian; he led his flock beyond the wilderness, and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed. Then Moses said, “I must turn aside and look at this great sight, and see why the bush is not burned up.” When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then he said, “Come no closer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” He said further, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.

Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the country of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them. So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt.” But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”

The Divine Name Revealed

But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I Am Who I Am.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I Am has sent me to you.’ ” God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’:

This is my name forever,

and this my title for all generations.

Matthew 16:21–28

Jesus Foretells His Death and Resurrection2

From that time on, Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and undergo great suffering at the hands of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This must never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; for you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.”

The Cross and Self-Denial3

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?

“For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

Many grade-school teachers claim that leadership begins blossoming at very young ages. Kindergarten classes, sometimes even Pre-schoolers begin to show some basic signs of taking charge and inspiring others. However, leadership is not genetic. Aspects of it may be biological, but there are too many exceptions, where nurture alters the course of nature.

Perhaps the greatest evidence of this is the number of times that leaders fail early on in their careers and lives. Hollywood is filled with child actors who did not make it through their teenage years. Boy Scouts and the military teach leadership, yet some of them end up in prison in their later adult years.

Those with a compulsion for leadership often feel irritable in times of training and following others. Their ambition pushes them to jump at the initiative, often before they have the skills and training they need to back up their natural gifts. They fret and fail, sometimes loudly, sometimes silently, and many will never get back up once they have fallen down. They see the failure as a denial of their gifts.

The best leaders are not those who never make mistakes. They are those who persevere and learn from them. Usually the first two lessons they learn are patience and the importance of learning. (I’m probably preaching to myself a little bit here.) Mastering those two things opens doors to many other opportunities down the road.

For every leader though, there comes a moment that requires action and initiative. Something that grabs our attention and calls us to action. The whole thing works best when we are responding to an external presence rather than reacting to our own internal compulsions and insecurities. Moses had a burning bush that put him back to work after his failing, and subsequent lessons in patience and opportunities to learn how to live and lead flocks of sheep in the wilderness of Sinai.

Usually our burning bush moments are not about an invitation to the limelight, it is an invitation to sacrifice.Tweet: Usually our burning bush moments are not about an invitation to the limelight, it is an invitation to sacrifice.

Jesus took up his call initially by being born into the world, and then again following His baptism. His call to leadership was more than just an invitation to death on the cross. It was a call to bring others with Him. He may have died alone on that first cross, but he would soon be joined by most of those who followed Him. As Bonhoeffer writes, the call to follow Christ is the call to come and die. That is not far from the call of leadership.

What kind of burning bush moments have you experienced?

What sacrifices are God calling you to make?

What sacrifices are you calling others to make with your leadership?

How do you honor those sacrifices?

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  1. (Ex 6:2–7:7; 11:1–4; 12:35–36)
  2. (Mk 8:31–33; Lk 9:21–22)
  3. (Mk 8:34–9:1; Lk 9:23–27)

Gimmicks

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Gimmicks

Exodus 4:1–9

Moses’ Miraculous Power

Then Moses answered, “But suppose they do not believe me or listen to me, but say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’ ” The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” And he said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw the staff on the ground, and it became a snake; and Moses drew back from it. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Reach out your hand, and seize it by the tail”—so he reached out his hand and grasped it, and it became a staff in his hand— “so that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”

Again, the Lord said to him, “Put your hand inside your cloak.” He put his hand into his cloak; and when he took it out, his hand was leprous, as white as snow. Then God said, “Put your hand back into your cloak”—so he put his hand back into his cloak, and when he took it out, it was restored like the rest of his body— “If they will not believe you or heed the first sign, they may believe the second sign. If they will not believe even these two signs or heed you, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”

Matthew 8:14–17

Jesus Heals Many at Peter’s House1

When Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever; he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she got up and began to serve him. That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and cured all who were sick. This was to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.”

I have a theory that most preachers really have about three sermons they preach over and over again using different scriptures. I have met a few preachers that only have one, and if you have heard them more than once, you can preach it right along with them. Having only one sermon to preach is not a bad thing if you do it well and you preach it not just with your words, but with your life.

The other extreme is to be a preacher that goes around with a giant bag of tricks. This is the man or woman who constantly peruses Pinterest, follows the latest fads, and who pride themselves on being able to do just about anything. These are some of the best entertainers that we have today, and their secret is that they understand the psychology of our attention. They know the ebb and flow of shock and awe.

Moses was sent to Egypt to bring God’s word to Pharaoh, but he was afraid he did not have what it would take. He could still remember the Egyptian court and probably remembered that you did not show up there unless you were a master of entertainment or persuasion… or both. Those who came before the king worshipped as a God had best have gimmicks, and they needed to be top notch.

God gave him just what he wanted. Little tricks, mini-miracles if you will, to impress Pharaoh. Yet they would not be enough. Entertainers can impress us, but they do not often change hearts and minds. That takes something more. Tweet: Entertainers can impress us, but they do not often change hearts and minds. That takes something more.

Jesus brought more than just gimmicks. His followers would have loved to see fire from the sky, but instead Jesus gave them new eyes to see, new hands to feel, and new legs to follow Him. It was rarely flashy, if ever. His preaching and teaching was not loud, exciting, or uniquely entertaining. He spoke to people to get the truth, God’s Word in them, not just to them. It was not that Jesus did not have gimmicks. That water to wine routine would have made him very popular if He had repeated it. He chose to make change instead of gain favor with gimmicks.

What was the difference? Moses started off trying to impress Pharaoh, a person. Jesus only ever played for an audience of one. Jesus served God, and God sees through gimmicks.

When have you felt inadequate and wished you had a bigger bag of tricks?

Where have you experienced genuine change in your life?

How is God calling you to serve Him today?

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  1. (Mk 1:29–34; Lk 4:38–41)

Some Assembly Required

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Some Assembly Required

Exodus 3:16–22

Go and assemble the elders of Israel, and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying: I have given heed to you and to what has been done to you in Egypt. I declare that I will bring you up out of the misery of Egypt, to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey.’ They will listen to your voice; and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us; let us now go a three days’ journey into the wilderness, so that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God.’ I know, however, that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all my wonders that I will perform in it; after that he will let you go. I will bring this people into such favor with the Egyptians that, when you go, you will not go empty-handed; each woman shall ask her neighbor and any woman living in the neighbor’s house for jewelry of silver and of gold, and clothing, and you shall put them on your sons and on your daughters; and so you shall plunder the Egyptians.”

2 Thessalonians 2:7–12

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned.

Where two or three are gathered together… there the devil rears his ugly head.

We know God can be everywhere all at once. I’m not sure that the devil has that same ability, but he sure seems to get around. Leaders have the responsibility of keeping the devil out of their own lives, as well as the lives of those they lead. How can we do that, when we have such a difficult time pinning down the devil that causes chaos for us personally? What hope do we have to help others when we struggle to keep the devil out of our own homes?

I think scripture shows us that one of the best weapons we have is in the power of assembly. Our founding fathers, wisely kept this as one of our basic human rights and it has spread throughout the world as a cherished ability for all. How does assembly help us defeat the devil? It helps us in two ways.

  1. Assembly counters the devil’s own tactics of divide and conquer. When you look at the statistics and hear the stories of those who truly suffer from spiritual oppression, mental illness, addiction, and suicide – all of the many weapons of destruction the devil wields against us – a pattern of isolation emerges. Those who routinely suffer defeat are most often left alone, without the support of a loving, spiritual community of any sort. Even in the extreme cases of abuse at the hands of other people, those family or relational groups causing abuse and trapping their victims, tend to be isolated themselves from the greater population of people, hiding their victims away from the light of day for fear of exposure. The devil does his deeds in the dark because he knows that exposure to the light of day and the light of truth give his victims hope and power to break free. If isolation is the devil’s trap than association and assembly are the key to freedom.
  2. Secondly, as Paul remarks above, the lawless one, the perpetrators of evil, and the devil itself are revealed for who they are when we gather together. Sometimes this comes through intentional accountability – checking in with each other and sharpening each other as iron sharpens iron. Other times, it occurs without our own direction, as when evil spirits revealed themselves when Jesus preached in the synagogue. When truth is revealed and the light is shined, the devil cannot hide. Even if there is no preaching, there is opportunity to share and compare truth in assembly together, and as we begin to reflect on our common story together, forming healthy, loving relationships with one another, that darkness tends to be revealed as well.

The challenge we often have is not in the ability to get together itself, but the motivation to do so. This is compounded when we have had experiences with others where that darkness in our own lives was revealed. In those instances we can either claim that darkness for ourselves (which is what the devil tells us we should do) and run and hide, or we can give it up in surrender and let it go.

James 5:16 says

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

Confession releases us from that power of bondage, and while we can certainly confess to God in private, the real healing power of it is when we confess it before our brothers and sisters in Christ. Jesus paid the price for our forgiveness Himself, and He shares that power of distribution of that grace with us. If you have truly confessed your sin to God and it has no power over you, you should be able to share the truth of that sin and the forgiveness you have with others. That is when the devil has truly lost.Tweet: If you have truly confessed your sin to God and it has no power over you, you should be able to share the truth of that sin and the forgiveness you have with others. That is when the devil has truly lost.

As leaders, our best defense against the devil is a good offense, and the best play we have begins with assembling the people together. There, where two or three are gathered together, the devil will rear his ugly head… and there he will be confronted by the presence of Jesus Christ, the Risen Son of God living among us.

Where do you find spiritual strength and encouragement in the company of others?

‘Who is God calling you to call into fellowship?

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Empty Words

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Empty Words

Exodus 2:23–24

After a long time the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned under their slavery, and cried out. Out of the slavery their cry for help rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Ephesians 5:1–6

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Renounce Pagan Ways

But fornication and impurity of any kind, or greed, must not even be mentioned among you, as is proper among saints. Entirely out of place is obscene, silly, and vulgar talk; but instead, let there be thanksgiving. Be sure of this, that no fornicator or impure person, or one who is greedy (that is, an idolater), has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes on those who are disobedient.

We reap what we sow. Natural disasters are one thing, and largely outside of our control. Everyone lives somewhere that can be attacked by windstorms, floods, blizzards, or earthquakes, and if you happen to live in a tropical paradise free of these, you probably have a volcano to worry about, or perhaps an infestation of monkeys who steal your food and cellphones. Politically however, we reap what we sow.

Leaders set the standard as well. When the standards were lowered this past election year, that invited the masses to weigh in with their own vicious, violent, and graceless language – and so they have. Without boundaries, crowds will rush ahead in any direction their leaders take them, so that it is often not the party leaders, but extremist followers that get the whole group in trouble. Many people today want to see our President as that extremist, and by republican standards, some might consider him so. I however, am waiting to see the kinds of followers he makes himself and what kinds of extremes will follow after him, people he would not even claim himself.

I remember my first “D” in college: General Psychology. The first exam in the class was an overview of all the different kinds of psychology. I had taken Gen Psych in high school, had been and A and B student, and was certain I could ace this test without much effort. I have always had a decent memory of what teachers lectured about and was sure we would have some kind of study guide to help us know what to expect on the test. Little did I know… Some of the questions that appeared on the exam were things I had not read, nor even thought about before. I was horribly unprepared, and I paid for it on the final grade. I sowed nothing and that’s what I got back.

We as a nation have settled for empty words from politicians and not stepped up to make our nation better ourselves. Personally, I think it is ridiculous to think that one person can do it themselves, I don’t care if that person is Pope Francis, Mother Theresa, or truly even Jesus Himself (Who was killed and then got most of his followers executed by the very people He came to save!). One person can sow and reap their own rewards. I cannot expect President Trump to make my neighborhood great again if I’m not willing to jump in and do the work myself. We can whine and groan and complain all we want, but at the end of the day, we either make the world better or worse by being in it ourselves.

For too long, we as Christians have been content throwing the name of Jesus around vainly, as if he were our team mascot or star player, and bragging that our team is better than every other one. Yet we live according to the same standards as everyone else. When we face the real brokenness and evil of our world, it looks at us like the false exorcists we have become and tells us “Jesus we know, and Paul we know, but who are you?”

Who are we indeed?

I have one recurring nightmare about college. It is finals week and I walk into take the final exam for Advanced Physics. Now there are some kinds of math that I think are fascinating, but it is the kind of fascination with killer whales and great white sharks. You won’t catch me in the water working with them. I just like to watch other people work with them. I’ve never taken that class and that is my nightmare. I am stuck trying to answer questions when I don’t even understand the questions, and this is going to keep me from graduating.

That is our nightmare as well. If we dig in now we can make a difference and work to make things better. If we choose to not do the work, not show up, and refuse to learn anything, we may end up losing it all.

God calls us to use meaningful words that are backed with real action and commitment.

What problems do you see around you?

What does God think about those problems?

What is God calling you to do about them?

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Who Are My People?

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Who Are My People?

Exodus 2:15b–22

But Moses fled from Pharaoh. He settled in the land of Midian, and sat down by a well. The priest of Midian had seven daughters. They came to draw water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. But some shepherds came and drove them away. Moses got up and came to their defense and watered their flock. When they returned to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come back so soon today?” They said, “An Egyptian helped us against the shepherds; he even drew water for us and watered the flock.” He said to his daughters, “Where is he? Why did you leave the man? Invite him to break bread.” Moses agreed to stay with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah in marriage. She bore a son, and he named him Gershom; for he said, “I have been an alien residing in a foreign land.”

Matthew 26:6–13

The Anointing at Bethany1

Now while Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment, and she poured it on his head as he sat at the table. But when the disciples saw it, they were angry and said, “Why this waste? For this ointment could have been sold for a large sum, and the money given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. By pouring this ointment on my body she has prepared me for burial. Truly I tell you, wherever this good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”

We live in a tribal world, and Donald Trump is not the cause of it. The racial division in our nation goes back before our foundations… inherited from every nation that populated our country, including the Native Americans, some of whom engaged in tribal warfare even before European colonists gave them a common enemy. If there was one thing that the English, and perhaps the Spanish as well were able to do, it was to draw groups of people together, at least temporarily, under a common enemy. I say English and Spanish because up until the early 1900’s the Irish, Italian, Polish, etc. were not considered “white”. After WWI and WWII Germans were judged with much suspicion, even though it was their nation that helped market the idea of a superior “white” race. Scandinavians, French, and some of the Northern European cultures could pass in this country until they spoke, after which, their non-American, Non-British accent would give them away as a foreigner. So what we have called racism has really been more about hundreds and thousands of tribes that cannot seem to get along.

It goes even further when you factor in lifestyles. Economic status, job type, home neighborhood… these are all markers of identity by which we judge one another, and while someone from small-town Kansas might not care which part of New York City a person lived in, you better believe New Yorkers would. And they might judge the small-town Kansas person as being backward, unprogressive, and a whole line of prejudices that go along with it. Those outside our tribe are not always seen as a fully dignified human being, the way we consider our own people.Tweet: Those outside our tribe are not always seen as a fully dignified human being, the way we consider our own people.

Writers, musicians, and other artists celebrate this growing emergence of tribalism because it simplifies marketing and allows the artist to create and perform for their own chosen group, rather than diluting their work down to a more general appeal. Seth Godin makes a living teaching this very concept.

There is loads of tribalism in Scripture, and a lot of sin that stems from it going all the way back to Cain and Abel – brothers (or sisters) who cannot tolerate being part of the same family. Jesus retells the story as that of a family reunion… of every tribe gathering together to worship God.2 I don’t see an explicit condemnation of tribalism, certainly not enough to be consistently repeated. If anything, the prophets and Paul, in Romans 2 imply that God speaks to us in our own tribalistic language, letting us all know that we belong to the wrong tribe and need to come join His own group.

No, I think that our unique edges are something God celebrates. They are not wrong, but they are incomplete. We are all like puzzle pieces, and God is the only one who can see the big picture of how we all fit together. We can exist on our own, but we miss our true purpose. It makes us all like Peter Pan and the Lost Boys who never really grow up, wanting to stay just as we are forever, but after awhile we begin to see that it just means that we don’t really fit in anywhere but among ourselves.

God wants our tribes to grow up. The tribes of rich and poor, the tribes of political alliances, the tribes of ancestry and neighborhoods… we all need to figure out how we fit together. We need to learn from each other and we need to lift each other up, because I am convinced there will come a day when the truth will be revealed: that we need each other.

Who do you identify as your tribe?

What other tribes do you interact with?

How is God leading your tribe to bring others closer to Him?

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  1. (Mk 14:3–9; Jn 12:1–8)
  2. See Revelation 7:9 and Prodigal Son

The Right Way of Being Right

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The Right Way of Being Right

Exodus 2:11–15a

Moses Flees to Midian1

One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and saw their forced labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsfolk. He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. When he went out the next day, he saw two Hebrews fighting; and he said to the one who was in the wrong, “Why do you strike your fellow Hebrew?” He answered, “Who made you a ruler and judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses.

Romans 11:33–36

O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

“For who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been his counselor?”

“Or who has given a gift to him,

to receive a gift in return?”

For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.

There is a time and place to stand up and step out. Many leaders are born in the fires of injustice and are often some of the first to take a stand and speak out against it. Unlike those who only talk, or who choose to take personal stands against things privately, real leaders pair speech with action that inspires others to see things according to their perspective and motivates them to do something about it themselves. Leadership can be a powerful, persuasive force in our world – for both good and bad.

It is not only a matter of knowing when and where to act that is important. It is just as important knowing how to act when you get there..Tweet: It is not only a matter of knowing when and where to act that is important. It is just as important knowing how to act when you get there. This is what separates the temporary leaders from the leaders who leave a strong legacy. Leaders for the moment focus on what will get the job done right now, and they generally have an immediate following up until the moment that there is pushback against them. Then they bail… or in some cases even attack their former leader.

That is how Moses started. He had position and some degree of power, and may have even had a modicum of respect from the Hebrew community. He was in a situation much like Esther who also used her position and power at the right time and place to save the lives of the Jewish people. Moses tried that. It didn’t work. He may have been in the right time and place to see injustice and take a stand against it, but the way he took a stand completely backfired and he lost influence from both the Egyptians and his own Hebrew people.

How do you learn how to lead well? You spend time soaking up the depths of God’s grace and wisdom. Moses had decades in the wilderness to contemplate his actions. Paul took several years himself to relearn what it meant to follow God and lead other’s to Christ. Even Jesus Himself spent 40 days in the wilderness to drink deep from God’s well. It is in that time of separation from the role of leader, and opportunity to realign ourselves as God’s children that we can best remember that all is grace. Everything opportunity we have and every tool we use to lead are gifts from God. Tweet: Everything opportunity we have and every tool we use to lead are gifts from God.Without that perspective, every act we make will miss the mark and undercut our ability to truly lead with God’s grace.

What opportunities have you missed or mishandled?

What opportunities do you have to lead today?

How is God directing you to act in those situations?

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  1. (Heb 11:24–25)

Suffering Your Inheritance

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Suffering Your Inheritance

Exodus 1:1–7

These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. The total number of people born to Jacob was seventy. Joseph was already in Egypt. Then Joseph died, and all his brothers, and that whole generation. But the Israelites were fruitful and prolific; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

Romans 2:1–11

The Righteous Judgment of God

Therefore you have no excuse, whoever you are, when you judge others; for in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, are doing the very same things. You say, “We know that God’s judgment on those who do such things is in accordance with truth.” Do you imagine, whoever you are, that when you judge those who do such things and yet do them yourself, you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will repay according to each one’s deeds: to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

God’s grace goes before us, creating paths that meet our needs.Tweet: God's grace goes before us, creating paths that meet our needs.

It doesn’t always work out the way we want, nor does it often work out in a way that is fair, but we cannot deny that God works and moves in our world.

Everyone has mixed baggage from their childhood and from the ancestors that came before them. The choices that our great-great grandparents made have huge effects on our own lives. Often they, not we, determined where we would be born, what kind of home we would live in, what kind of job opportunities we would have early in life, who we would be able to connect with socially, etc. For instance, I was born in rural Illinois because my great grandfather decided to leave his own rural home in Kentucky and move up to work in the fields in Illinois as a teenager. Instead of finishing school and learning to read, he went for a place with abundant work and food, during a time when our nation had little of either. That limited his ability to afford schooling for his children, which carried on to my own parents as well. Two generations struggled to make it through high school with one decision.

In terms of hurdles, that is nothing compared to what many other people face. It just shows that life requires effort. We cannot expect everything to be handed to us without giving up strength, maturity, and wisdom. Mind you, it is not just the trials of life that shape us, it is the mundane, day-to-day routines every bit as much. Our “normal” life teaches us what “normal” looks like and encourages us to create more of it around us.Tweet: Our

So whatever we build, we build on the foundation that our predecessors laid for us. It is our context. The context of Moses was that he came from a people who were immigrants in a nation that had welcomed them in with mercy. Within several generations though, the Hebrew people vastly outnumbered the Egyptians who had let them in. The Egyptian Welfare eventually dried up and things became tense between the landowners and the visiting Hebrews, who were probably working those lands before they were officially made slaves along with all the other immigrants of Egypt. Moses was born into a mess.

Paul tells us in Romans, that we are all born into some kind of mess or another. We all start off in the wrong context, thanks to all those who went before us. But God’s grace even then, creates a path for us to the right place, the right context. The trouble is, just because a way is made, does not mean we have to take it. God can make the way. We have to walk it.

Where has God made a way for you in the past?

What foundations in your life do you need to move away from?

Where is God’s grace leading you today?

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