15. God’s Word as a Doorway

Lessons in Growth Meditations: 15. God’s Word as a Doorway

Rev 3:20    I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

The Different Perspective: Because I believe we very often take these thigs for granted, I am seeking to view these ‘spiritual disciplines’ through the perspective of living a resurrection life, a life brought alive and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Two meditations back we considered prayer as a doorway into God’s presence, a doorway into new possibilities, something far more than just a ritual of uttering words into the air. In yesterday’s study we considered an extension of that, the fact that we have a God of provision (which is often highlighted as we pray), again transforming the possibilities from the old life into a new life of security in being loved.

“God’s Word”? But now we come to “God’s word” and for many of us this will just mean the words of the Bible, but I would like to suggest that if we are living in resurrection life awareness, although that will be the foundation of all our belief, it is not all there is. The other day I woke feeling rather worn and weary and as I looked into something I had to do that day as part of a family experience, I was aware that I was grumbling inside. I didn’t want to do it, I was too tired, and as easy as it is to speak about God’s resources, sometimes it takes an effort to take hold of them. That was my frame of mind when the Lord spoke: “Son, see this time as a time of opportunity.” And that was it. I was changed, and the day and the event turned out to be great.

God still Speaks: Now in that mini-testimony I am aware that for some I will be presenting a stumbling block because they may have come from a background that teaches that the word of God ceased to be added to with the completion of the canon of Scripture. Sadly for such people, that speculative and insecure teaching means they miss the realisation that the living God is speaking to them in their daily lives. Now as much as I would not put such simple words as in that little testimony above on a par with Scripture, I nevertheless equate them with the word of God because I am convinced God spoke them into my mind and brought a transformation about in me that brought blessing in a variety of ways.

When God speaks, transformation should follow: Now what I’ve just said, highlights something about the word of God. When we take it as the word of God, it should always bring transformation. Consider those words of our starter verse above, very familiar words from Revelation 3 to the church at Laodicea. Jesus is saying, through the prophetic words that John is bringing, that as he speaks it is like he is knocking on the door of the hearts of John’s readers and he is inviting them to let him come into their hearts and minds to share. To the one who hears it and responds to it and basically says, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening” (to quote Samuel in 1 Sam 3:9), he pictures the two of them (Jesus and the listener) sitting and eating together. This is an act of fellowship, and when we read God’s word AS God’s word that is alive to us today, we will find ourselves fellowshipping with Him.

Now this doesn’t mean that God doesn’t sometimes speak to believers who are being casual with His word (just reading by habit with little thought) and even unbelievers (I know of a number of instances where the word of God has arrested and brought to repentance unbelievers who then became believers!). However, great effect comes when we stop and break into the ‘habit’ approach and pause before we read and acknowledge the Lord’s presence in the same way I spoke about in respect of prayer. When I first started writing Bible studies, I always prefaced them with a challenge to pray before reading and a challenge to pray afterwards. By doing both things you are focusing on the Lord and looking to Him for His enabling as you go to read. Today I will be more prescriptive in speaking about being aware of the Lord’s presence.

Eating the Word? When the prophet Ezekiel met with the Lord we find, “And he said to me, “Son of man, eat what is before you, eat this scroll; then go and speak to the people of Israel.” So I opened my mouth, and he gave me the scroll to eat. Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat this scroll I am giving you and fill your stomach with it.” So I ate it, and it tasted as sweet as honey in my mouth.” (Ezek 3:1-3) The scroll he was to eat was clearly the word of God.

Eating Changes Us: Now the thing about eating something is that it changes you. If it was poison it would either make you ill or kill you. If it is ordinary food, it will nourish and sustain you. Now if, in these biblical illustrations, God’s word is being portrayed as food to be eaten, then the logical conclusion is that the intent of ‘eating’ God’s word is that we are changed and transformed by it.

A Transformation Encounter? Instead of the ‘daily quiet time reading’ being simply a habit (assuming you do it), this time becomes a divinely supernatural encounter, a resurrection encounter, where the power of God is released and the ‘word element’ of such a time becomes a time of divinely supernatural provision and such provision brings about change.

Go beyond Notes: Now I have to make a strange comment here, which I have made a number of times in the past, and that is as a young Christian you may use Bible notes (which may include these) but they should only be as a starter, a support or a backup, and as you grow they should not replace the possibility of you having this direct encounter that I have been speaking about whereby you read and study and meditate upon the word directly and such notes either fall away or simply become backup or support notes I just said.

Basics!  There are times, I must confess, when I am feeling very tired and worn out and such times are not conducive to study. At those times I will simply read a passage of Scripture slowly and may then use notes as ‘supplements’ to the main meal. Even in such tiredness, we should be able to apprehend something of the Lord’s presence and greatness.

Distractions: One further thought: distractions.  Many of us may have busy lives and lives involving family. Let’s be honest; settling down to know the Lord’s presence in peace and quiet and with His word, is not easy when you have young demanding children.  Such times become times of mini-prayer: “Lord, show me how I can grab five or ten minutes alone with you. Please grant me this wisdom.”  It only needs five minutes and although longer may be better, under pressure, five minutes is enough to encounter an oasis of the Lord’s presence and His life-changing word. Don’t let the enemy tell you these things are not possible. They are.

28. Slow Learners?

Meditations in Hebrews 5:     28.  Slow Learners?

Heb 5:11,12   We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.

Teachers in my life: Our writer is a theologian of sorts, at least a man of understanding but he is also pastoral and as such is aware of the people who might end up reading this letter. I, as an aging Christian writer in the UK, am aware that I have lived through a period, during which in the earlier part at least, there was a proliferation of excellent Christian teachers. I have no trouble remembering the ministries of a large number of men, Spirit-filled leaders who had insights, who took us into the truths of the body of Christ back in the 1970’s before the concept was truly understood. Similarly, through a period during which understanding and experience of the gifts of the Spirit expanded from merely the Pentecostals. Then came teaching on discipleship which, as so often happens initially, went over the top. And there, scattered along the way were a variety of incredibly godly and gifted men (and one or two similar women) who brought a depth and breadth to our teaching which is rare today. Several years ago, one of my grown up Christian sons said to me, “You know Dad, the trouble with my generation is that we are just not so well taught as your generation was.” I found that an amazing insight at the time but as I have reflected on it, it worries me that he was right.

A Challenge to his Readers: The writer to the Hebrews was speaking about Jesus’ high priestly ministry and adds, We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain,” (v.11a) and I have commented earlier in this series that, certainly by today’s standards, some of his rabbinic teaching has already seemed quite complex and difficult. But he isn’t taking captives, he is quite in your face about it: “because you are slow to learn.”  Whoops! That’s unkind. But he wouldn’t say it unless he knew something about his readers.

So what does he mean, what does he really think about them? “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” (v.12) These people that he has in mind are clearly not new converts as indicated by his words, “by this time”. In what follows there is an assumption that many in today’s church might struggle with – that the Christian life is all about change, about growing up and about coming to maturity so we no longer sit there like sponges taking in, but are out there serving God, blessing others. “You ought to be teachers.” Do you prefer just sitting in the pews to that thought because if we are to mature it means a) we have learnt and b) we are available.

My Testimony: Within the first year of coming to Christ in my early twenties I was leading seven different Bible studies a week. It was the natural thing to do and there were other young people who were hungry for God’s word. I learned as I went along. Yet I am aware of how limited I was. I became a church leader and a number of years later found myself in a position where I was invited to teach in a church in Malaysia for three weeks on “The New Covenant.” I am not quite sure what I taught and how I got away with it but they seemed blessed. I suspect I am much more well equipped today to teach on such things. Yes, it can be a nervy thing to step out but that’s how we learn – by doing it.

The Challenge again: He presses it in: “you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again.” Now he is going to list some of those things he thinks are ‘elementary truths’ when we get to chapter 6 so it will be interesting to see what we feel about those things because, remember, he is saying we ought to be past those things. Then he says something interesting: “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.”  (v.13) That is fascinating! Do you see what he is saying? All of that other stuff we’ll see in chapter 6 is ‘the basics’ and we should NOT keep on going over and over those things but move on and teach and learn how to live rightly (righteousness)  i.e. how to live in this world as one of God’s children and how to serve in the kingdom of God, ‘doing the stuff’ as John Wimber used to say.

And in case we didn’t take it in he goes on, “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (v.14). Solid food is a wider understanding of Scripture, knowing how it applies to everyday life so that it produces lives of righteousness, lives that live to the glory of God, revealing the goodness and compassion and love of Christ, lives that are holy, utterly different from those living in the way of the unbelieving and ungodly world.

The Challenge to us today: In the so-called Great Commission, Jesus taught his followers to go out and make disciples, followers in the mold of Jesus, “teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you,” (Mt 28:20) and ‘obey’ is the same as “do”, so why don’t we do a few little checks before we finish. As we said before, this is to be a ‘doing’ faith.

Jesus said, “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (Jn 13:34,35) Jesus showed love by being with his disciples, accepting them and blessing them, guiding them and teaching them and pushing them out to do the same things he did. Is this what our church community is like? Do we major on relationships and how they can build a strong, secure, genuinely loving ‘body of Christ’ that risks ministering in word and power as Jesus did?

Jesus said, “seek first the kingdom of God,” and “Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (Matt 6:33 & Jn 15:4) and so we might ask, do we put God’s will first and do we seek to draw near to Jesus and know him in all we do in his name? This has very practical outworkings. For instance, many churches have prayer meetings, so suppose yours does, what is it like? Have you learnt (been taught) to listen to God, to be sensitive to His Holy Spirit, to hear His heart so that prayers flow out of that and come with a confidence that is born in heaven?

We could go on with many similar examples. These two speak of a community of God’s people who have learned what a Jesus community means and have learned to be a people who know and respond to Him and are thus able to be used by Him. Consider our weekly preaching and teaching. Yes, we need basic Bible exposition but if that is all we have, we produce a bunch of nice and good people (which is not to be despised) but who are just that and nothing more. Is our preaching the same stuff over and over again, or do we seek maturity in the people of God, a people who both ‘know’ and ‘do’?

25. God has spoken and sees

Meditations in Hebrews 4:    25.  God has spoken and sees

Heb 4:12,13   For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

The two verses before us now give us even greater pause for thought. They are ones often quoted in respect of the Bible or God’s word, and because of that may appear familiar, but the question arises, why are they here, how is this part of the ongoing flow of the writer’s teaching and argument?

The starting word, ‘For’ is another of those link-words we so often come across that show us that in the writer’s thinking this is a logical ongoing flow of thought. The use of the word, ‘word’ has not been seen except very briefly in the opening prologue in chapter 1 but as we have noted as we have gone along, this writer’s teaching has been full of references from the Old Testament, mostly from prophetic psalms.

Now we tend to think of ‘the word of God’ as written words in the bigger text which evangelicals believe is actually all the word of God, but in the writing of Hebrews there has been this constant use of Old Testament quotations which, we emphasise, are prophetic in nature and the writer uses them in that sense; they were spoken by God specifically referring to His Son who would one day appear on the earth. But here is the thing, the writer considers ‘the word of God’ to be vibrant and alive, active and having effect and they come directly from God and cannot be seen separately from God, they are God expressing Himself.

In the beginning at Creation we see, God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” (Gen 1:3) It is God speaking by fiat, He speaks it and immediately it is done. His authorization also creates. There is no distinction between Him, His authorization (His word), and His act of creating. And so it is, that the writer has been placing all these ‘words’ before us, spoken by God prophetically through His servants in the Old Testament.

The apostle Peter clearly caught something of this process when he wrote, “the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven.” (1 Pet 1:10-12) but that tends to show more the yearning that the prophets found within themselves that brought forth the divine utterances of what would come. In his second letter he wrote, “For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Pet 1:21) This was God urging His people to speak out His word, and when it is spoken as from Him, it comes with power and effect.

So, to emphasise it yet again, this book so far has been peppered with prophetic quotes from the Old Testament and the writer is pointing that out, somewhat indirectly, as he speaks of the general effect and power of God’s words, and the implication must surely be that if this is so – and it is – then we should surely pay all the more attention to it. This is not just a nice little theological treatise that he is writing, but a call to faithfulness because of what has been revealed by God.

Look what it does: “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (v.12) Let’s do it the easy way and see how the paraphrase version put these all too familiar words:  For the Word that God speaks is alive and active; it cuts more keenly than any two-edged sword: it strikes through to the place where soul and spirit meet, to the innermost intimacies of a man’s being: it exposes the very thoughts and motives of a man’s heart.” (JBP version) and “God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defence, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it—no matter what.” (The Message version) Wow! God’s words penetrate to the innermost being, cutting through our defences like a surgeon’s scalpel or we might say today, like a hot knife through butter.

Yes, this is the point, we may put up all these defensive barriers, making excuses galore, reasons why the truth should not apply to us and God speaks and it goes like an arrow and pierces deep in our hearts and we are changed. Indeed, says the writer, Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (v.13) i.e. not only does God’s word penetrate to the depths, but it can do that because God can see to the depths, He knows exactly what we are like on the inside.

Perhaps the greatest illustration of this truth is seen on the story of Samuel being sent to Bethlehem to anoint a new king who God will reveal, from Jesse’s family. When Samuel started assessing by size and age the Lord told him, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Sam 16:7)  God looks on the inside and He sees and knows what we are like and He sees and knows the excuses we make and so speaks a word that penetrates and pierces the excuse and we fall in submission.

That is the power of the word of God, but sometime God speaks it and still we fend it off and sometimes we shrug it off by lack of concern (and what is terrifying is that the Lord allows us to do this!) and so it is almost as if the writer is saying, “Look, I’ve been presenting you again and again with the word of God and those words should be impacting you and releasing faith in you, but if you are just reading them casually, God will not force you, it’s up to you!”  Hence such words as we saw in verse 11 – “make every effort.”  i.e. YOU do it. Or there was “let us be careful,” in 4:1 or “See to it,” in 3:12 and “fix your thoughts,” in 3:1 and “pay more careful attention,” in 2:1. All of these were calls to heed the word of God that had been coming and DO something about it. May we do it!

122. More Scene Setting?

Short Meditations in Mark’s Gospel: 122. More Scene Setting?

Mk 6:45,46 Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.

We have commented before abut how sometimes the Gospels seem to be made up of a number of acts or scenes and it seems that Jesus is the director who orchestrates what is happening so that God’s word is taken to the people, God’s love is experienced by them, and the disciples are taught and trained. Very often there is no warning of what is about to happen but it happens as a result of Jesus instigating it.

Our verses today seem simple and straight forward and there is no indication of what will follow but it is almost as if Jesus is setting the scene for the disciples next learning exercise. They have just fed the five thousand and are no doubt exulting in the wonder of what has just happened. Now what follows must have appeared somewhat strange to them because as soon as they have cleared up – and the crowd is still there – Jesus sends the disciples away. Here we have one of Mark’s ‘immediately moments’. Straight away before anything else can happen Jesus sends them away.

They had been tired and in need of rest when they first came to this spot; that was the reason Jesus had brought them here, so maybe he has it in mind that if he goes with them in the boat, the crowd will just follow once again, so he separates himself off from them so they can get away on their own. Maybe that’s how it seems at the time, but it does set the scene for something spectacular to happen.

Once the disciples are off in the boat and the crowd realise Jesus is not going with them, Jesus turns to the crowd and sends them home. It is as simple as that. No I’m not going to heal anyone, no I’m not going to teach. It is the end of the day and you ought to go home – so they go. So at last we have Jesus separated off from the crowd and the disciples are separated off from both the crowd and Jesus.

The crowd may be slightly reluctant to leave for we read that Jesus left them rather than they left him. So he tells them to go and he walks off. No one follows and so Jesus climbs up the mountain side to be alone so that he can pray. He has just spent the day giving out and so now it is time for him to take in of his Father’s presence so he prays. It may also be that he seeks his Father on behalf of his disciples who, we will see, can be seen by him. He still watches over them.

17. Word of the Lord

Meditations in 1 Peter : 17 :  The word of the Lord

1 Pet 1:24,25   For, “All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.” And this is the word that was preached to you.

As I have studied Scripture over the years, one of the secondary benefits of it, I have come to see, is that I have learned to appreciate words, For example these two verses above start out with that simple word, “For. But then I notice that the previous verse also started out with the same word: For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.” (v.23). “For” is a link word that ties together sentences or verses. This particular little string started in verse 22 which concluded with: “love one another deeply, from the heart.”

So the meaning becomes, “love one another (v.22) because you have been born again by God’s word (v.23) and because God’s word is always the same and so applies just as much today as when He first spoke it. (v.24)” There you are, we’ve given away the meaning without looking at it deeply, so we’d better go back and examine it and see why we have concluded that.

The end result (loving one another) comes about because we are new creations, who have been born again, and we’ve been born again because of the impact of God’s word, applied to us by the Holy Spirit. In this Peter described God’s word as “living and enduring.” It is alive and it remains or goes on. When God speaks a word, it always has impact. The world came into being by God’s word. He spoke and things happened. When God spoke prophetically in the Old Testament the word was ALWAYS fulfilled. There was often a fulfilment in the immediate future, but often the fulfilment was centuries later. God never wastes words, He never speaks meaningless words. Often we may not understand what He says or we may misinterpret what He says, but when He speaks of future events they will always come about.

To emphasise this Peter quotes Scripture. He does this a number of times in this letter. Bearing in mind that originally he had been a simple fisherman, this suggests that he probably had the traditional Jewish upbringing with learning at the local synagogue. If not, he has certainly learnt something along the way in life. His master had justified all that had happened by use of the Scriptures (e.g. Luke 24:25-27) and so he had come to understand the foundational purposes of the Old Testament.

So we find him now quoting Isaiah 40 verses 6 to 8. It is a word that contrasts human beings with God’s word.  Human beings are frail and last only for a time on this earth: All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall.” That is the clear message of these words. We are compared to the grass or to the flowers in a field. There one minute, but gone the next. That is the way of human life. We look into the possible future and think eighty years or so is such a long time – we’ve got all the time in the world, we think – or we look back over a ‘long’ life and think how much has happened, but in comparison with eternity it is less than a drop in the ocean. The older you get the more you tend to find timing rushing by. Where did that year go, we exclaim?  Or maybe we find ourselves declaring, “How fast the children have grown up!” This is nearer the truth. Time seems to fly by and suddenly we are counting days that must be left to us. The grass is withering and the petals on the flower are falling. That is what human life is like. But God’s word is completely different.

Human words are spoken – and forgotten! Human words can create or destroy but they are so limited and so easily forgotten, but when God speaks His words are embedded in the very existence of life and reality, and will remain there for the rest of time.  When God speaks His words become part of the world and they will remain there as a living reality, becoming part of the energising force of life, waiting for their time of fulfilment and even perhaps becoming part of the energising that brings about the fulfilment, and once fulfilment has occurred, they remain there as a testimony to the One who planned it and brought it about. The words change from their energising power to create or bring about the fulfilment, to words that confirm, ratify and testify to the fulfilment.

So, when God speaks about His coming Son and all that he will achieve through his work on the Cross – that WILL come about and the fulfilment will be an ongoing thing so that when the Gospel is spoken in the first century it brought forth a fruit – the fruit of salvation of many, and when it is spoken in the twenty first century it STILL brings forth fruit – the fruit of salvation of many. It was originally declared by God before the foundation of the world and was then spoken by Him again and again through His prophets in the Old Testament period, and then His apostles in the New Testament period, and then His saints through the Church period. Thus it remains and continues and continues to have effect – the salvation of souls. How wonderful!

13. Difficult Fulfilment

Lessons from Israel: No.13 : Difficult Fulfilment

Ex 5:1,2 Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the desert.’ ” 2Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and I will not let Israel go.”

When we were discussing, in a previous meditation, the content of the Lord’s conversation with Moses at the burning bush, we commented then that really Moses should not be surprised about all that was to follow, because the Lord had simply laid out what would happen and part of it was that Pharaoh would not accept Moses’ pleas on behalf of his people. Our problem is that when God says something to us, we don’t get the whole picture and we tend not to think through the ramifications of what He has said.

For instance when the Lord brings a prophetic word that says something like, “I am going to make a great warrior out of you” what we tend to forget is that warriors only become great when they overcome in great battles! That was a word that says that you are going to find yourself in great battles!  Or there is the word that says, “I am going to make you strong.” What we tend to forget is that strength is only built when we make great effort, so this is the Lord warning to get ready to make effort! Or the word that says, “I will work patience in you.” This simply means you are going to have to wait! All of these sorts of things come as a result of a process and the process usually means that we are going through tough stuff so that we will learn in a new way to receive the grace of the Lord in whatever form it comes.

Do you remember we read God’s strategy: “But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go. “And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed.” (3:19-21) We like to focus on the wonders that God will perform and the fact that He will make the Egyptians favourably disposed towards us, but we forget the initial bit that the signs and wonders will only come because Pharaoh is going to refuse Moses’ requests. Worse that that, we don’t think about how he will feel when he refuses our requests.

What we didn’t realise was what he was going to say: “That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and foremen in charge of the people: “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’ Make the work harder for the men so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.” (Ex 5:6-9) i.e. part of his refusal is to make life harder for Israel. Oooops, we didn’t see that coming!

The way this works in our lives is that suddenly things seem to get worse, or in the case of promised healing, the sickness seems to get worse. We didn’t realise that when the Lord said, “I will set you free” or “I will heal them” He didn’t necessarily mean immediately. So often He allows there to be a process involved during which we change. Oh yes, we read about and think about the fact that the Lord wants us to grow and change but so often we don’t realise that changes take place in us by us coping with the trials of live and learning to receive the grace of God in a new way. Often we have to learn to cope with and battle through the thing getting worse, before it gets better. When the Israelite foremen realise what is going on, they said, “May the LORD look upon you and judge you! You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” (Ex 5:21) Oh yes, even the people of God can turn against us while we are waiting the outworking of God’s word. The enemy will find some vulnerable soul who will mutter, “Oh right, so you heard God did you? Doesn’t look like it from where I’m standing!” Don’t worry about them; they just don’t understand the process!

But when we come to the end of this chapter we see something that makes us realise just how much Moses has got to learn: “Moses returned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.” (Ex 5:22,23) Excuse me, Moses, isn’t that exactly what God said would happen? Well the best we can say is that at least he went to the Lord with his complaint. Very often people just mutter to themselves as they struggle to work out their misunderstandings. Go to the Lord with your confusion because then, at least, you’ll get an answer if you are willing to listen, which is what we’ll see in the next meditation. Talk to God about it! Learn to press on!  Understand the process!