Moses and the presence of God

English: Border collie dog Deutsch: Border Col...

English: Border collie dog Deutsch: Border Collie Hund (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

15 Then Moses said to him, “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. 16 How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” Exodus 33:15&16

I am challenged by the thought that Moses was not prepared to move anywhere without God. He insisted on following the presence of God himself, saying, “If your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here”. He wasn’t satisfied just to make things up as he went, he was not content to keep on going and hope God would turn up at some point. The presence of God was so vital to Moses that unless the presence of God went with him he wouldn’t move, he wouldn’t just guess, he wouldn’t carry on. No matter what the pressure or the embarrassment – he was happy to wait for God.

This is mirrored in my collie dog Gemma. When I take her for a walk she is constantly checking to see where I am. Now and again I try to hide from her, it is very difficult, but if I manage it as soon as she realises she has lost me she comes charging through the undergrowth to find me again. She is not prepared to go anywhere unless I am walking with her, unless she is aware of my presence.

‘We need to pay a price to see God more clearly. Moses’ whole life groomed him to see God. His success as Israel’s leader depended entirely on his ability, moment by moment to perceive and follow the presence and voice of the Lord.’ Bill Johnson Face to Face with God p86

Am I prepared to pay the price to follow the presence and voice of God? Will I lay down everything at the call of His voice? Will I be prepared to wait on God again and again for as long as it takes? Does the desire for His presence bring tears to my eyes with longing? It is challenging to ask these questions. It is easy to be in a meeting full of habits and empty of presence where there are no risks and we are in control. It is easier to follow the clear loud voice of man than the small whisper of God we may have to wait for.

The presence of God is so special we should hold it in high esteem. We should give time to it, cultivate it and enjoy it. In his presence we are changed, set free and find our identity. In his presence we glimpse heaven, see eternal truths, experience revelation and receive dreams. In his presence we find unity, freedom and flow together. In His presence we receive healing, experience miracles, sense his breath, know his touch and laugh with joy. We should never ever undervalue the importance of the presence of God.

‘Moses was the great leader he was because he was not focused not personal success but on the God who could be known.  Moses preferred the wilderness with God to the Promised Land without God, a noble choice for sure’  Bill Johnson Face to Face with God p87

Today: How much of your daily life relies on the presence of God?

A new way of being

Egypt: Gizeh

Egypt: Gizeh (Photo credit: Brooklyn Museum)

We looked yesterday about how God called us out of Egypt. Let’s take a closer look today at what that means.

Egypt in the bible is a picture of worldliness :  materialism, fashion, keeping up with the Jones. We find competition, striving, control, petty mindedness and selfishness. We see Solomon was warned by God about having horses and chariots as it represented strength in power and riches, fighting for yourself and being proud of your own achievements.

The tragedy is Egypt creeps into the church. There is control, labels of position, traditions, loneliness, keeping up with the Jones, striving,  judging each other, religion, apathy, self-loathing, depression, selfishness, jealousy, tussling and tribalism. Members of different groups say I am a Baptist, I am NFI, I am Catholic, I am Vineyard –each believing themselves to have the keys to revelation.

God is calling us out of churchy and worldly culture into a kingdom way of being. He is re- aligning our hearts to the ways of heaven. He is giving us space and room to learn a kingdom culture – a wide and open place of exploration. Coming out of one level of understanding into something new

I have had so much re-learning to do at the moment. This adventure is life changing and dramatic. Come and walk it with me.

Called out of Egypt

I recently heard on radio 4 that ‘a traveller doesn’t know where they are going and a tourist does not know where they have been’. One journeyer does not appreciate the way ahead, the other does not recognising the importance of the path behind. I do not wish to be like either one; wandering aimlessly in life not knowing how I get to where I am heading or nor having any idea how I came to be here in the first place. I want to be one who looks both ahead and behind and finds strength, solace and direction in understanding.

Culture Change

 ‘You have seen what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to me. If you will listen obediently to what I say and keep my covenant, out of all peoples you’ll be my special treasure. The whole Earth is mine to choose from, but you’re special: a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.’ Exodus 19: 3-6 (MSG)

The Israelites had been slaves for many generations since their ancestor Joseph had died. They had become slaves and been ruthlessly treated. During their time in Egypt the passing generations had gradually adopted the customs of this culturally rich nation. They dressed and put make up like the Egyptians, ate their tastes in food, became used to living in the style of housing, they ate on Egyptian designed plates with Egyptian style cutlery and drank Egyptian speciality tea.  They read the language, spoke the language, understood the traditions and worshipped the same gods. They even walked like an Egyptian ( 🙂 )

God was calling them out of the land and out of a nation of people. They were not Egyptians they were Israelites and they needed to find their own identity again.

Not only did the culture became ingrained in their way of thinking they had become accustomed to the role of slavery. They were told where to go, what to do, given boundaries to live in, ordered to follow certain rules and to obey without question certain people. They had become so used to taking on the mantle and chains of slavery in a foreign land that God had to call them into a wide free space to find out their personal and co-operate identity.

We see God speak to them to start kick-start the truth of their identity in the verse above. He tells them “You are not to be slaves to men, you are a free people. You are not objects to be owned with a number – you are precious children, my special treasure. Far from being nothings and nobodies remember you are a chosen people, a priesthood, holy nation. Not only have you been chosen there are times when I carried you myself to freedom and made a safe place for you. “ This was Father God calling imparting truth into his children

The life in the desert was to be a time of re-adjustment for the people. They had to learn afresh how to be free, loved, powerful, holy, treasured and Gods. This was time to learn a whole new way of being, way of thinking to a new way. God’s way.

Today: Say out loud to yourself ‘I am not to a slave to men, I am a free person. I am not an object to be owned I am a precious child, God’s special treasure. I am not a nothing and a nobody but I am part of a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. Not only have I been chosen there are times when has God carried me himself to freedom and made a safe place for me. “

Freedom and Creativity

English: old craft

English: old craft (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills— to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze,  to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts Exodus 31:2-5

This is first time that we see someone as being described as being filled with the Holy Spirit in the bible.  He was filled with all wisdom, ability and expertise in all kinds of crafts in the Holy Spirit. When was this expressed? After freedom had come. Freedom looked like an individual overflowing with decisions and choices, these choices created something from heaven – a spiritual beauty on earth.

There is something about freedom that causes people to find their core identity from which they can express themselves fully. We were made in the creator’s image and when we express our true selves it is full of creativity. We were beautifully and wonderfully made so what we create in the spirit reflects this like a mirror.

Bezalel was filled with the Holy Spirit for practical skills, gifts and knowledge. It wasn’t for experience but for expression. We find the same explosion of expression and release when we speak in tongues. It wasn’t for abstract intensity but for a supernatural reality. It was for ….

  1. Creating beauty out of the ordinary
  2. Skilled engraving –making a mark, writing lasting words, impacting lives with permanence
  3. Mounting gemstones –taking a rock from the dirt, seeing potential, honing it patiently, bringing out its beauty and then put in the best place to show its glory
  4. Working with gold, silver and bronze -adapting to different metal  resistance and properties and bringing the best out of each material
  5. Carving wood  -working with that which people think as base and plain and make out of it something of beauty

First we need to find our core identity. Until we know what this we cannot express who we really are. Who are you and what are you all about?

Today: Start a discovery to the core of your being. Become filled with wonder as you find out who you really are.

The Golden Calf – identity

When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain,

P question

P question (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt.” Exodus 32:2

What had happened to the chosen of Israel? Those whom God had said of them ‘I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to me. If you will listen obediently to what I say and keep my covenant, out of all peoples you’ll be my special treasure. The whole Earth is mine to choose from, but you’re special: a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.’ Exodus 19:4-6 (MSG) When did they forget that they were a chosen nation – a  special people? Did they forget what God had done bringing them out of Egypt?

Moreover had they forgotten the vital role Moses took in laying his life down to rescue them from their strong oppressors?  He had been a skillful communicator, a powerful advocate and a caring leader. He had been willing to lay his identity down as a Prince in the palace to lead a group of lost ragamuffin slaves out into the desert. He had been faithful, consistent, strong, obedient to God and showed incredible courage. He had been the man who had met God face to face and spoken with him as a friend. Wow what a guy. Let’s look again at how the Israelites described him – ‘this fellow Moses’. How disrespectful, what a lack of honour and appreciation for who he was.

When we loose sight of all God has done for us, loose respect and honour for the anointed of the Lord  we loose our own identity

 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off!  9

If you are the Son of God prove it. If you are God’s chosen people prove it. If you are a special nation prove it. If you are holy priesthood prove it. The enemy would like us to doubt who we are. He would love it if we felt we had to prove ourselves all the time. This leads to squabbling, jealousy, back biting, pushing ourselves forward and self promotion. He wants us to forget where we have come from, forget the miracles he has done for us, forget the journey we have been on, forget the times he has carried us and held our hand.  The enemy would like us to break heart connection with our Father and each other. When we are isolated and bitter we are no longer effective.

Let us instead honour one another, speak well of each other, remind each other where we have come from, speak highly of one another – this is the way we find ourselves and our Father. We are special, chosen, holy and royal – this is your identity.

Today;  Ask these questions of yourself: who are you, where have you come from, what has God done for you, what are here for and where are you going? For if you are confident in who you are you will be affirming and honouring of others and who they are.

The Golden Calf – possessing 2

Let us explore further the reason why issues of ‘having’ caused the nation of Israel to

English: My Desk

English: My Desk (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

backtrack so dramatically on all the vows they had taken before God.

When Moses went and told the people all the Lord’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” Exodus 24: 3

They had  promised to obey him and be His people just a month before and now they are reveling before a golden calf in idolatrous worship. (chapter 32)

We have considered the idea  that emptiness and lack of direction was felt by the nation due to the fact their leader (Moses) was away for 40 days and nights. This meant that the people tried to fill a leader sized hole with ‘doing’ and with ‘having’. The children of God were not used to making their own choices, having been slaves for so long, and the freedom they now experienced in wide open places caused an unease and insecurity. They tried to fill the new culture with the old ways. It is said that some wild animals are kept in cages for so long when they are released in the wild they will stay put in the cage because freedom is too daunting for them. We hear stories of prisoners so overwhelmed with freedom  and choice  they  re-offend in order to stay within the security of bars.

What if the ‘having’ things includes  people over you for feeling of security. They may be bars on your windows and locks on your personal doors of freedom – but they bring positions of security. This having secure positions means wanting labels for people so that we know who is who and what is what. We call people elders, pastors, evangelists, administrators, leaders, stewards, musicians and may give them badges such as lead musician, trustee etc. We are comfortable then with their label, we know we have all areas covered, we have people in the boxes we have put them in, the role they are now allowed to move around in, we  can understand how everything fits together. We have understanding, we have positions, we have control. Our labels link in with ‘doing’ – doing things for identity. I know that I ‘do’ the PA and that is who I am  – it gives us purpose, meaning, usefulness and sense of achievement.

What if church is to be organic, a family of people. If everyone has freedom to do what is on their heart  there are no boxes to contain people in or pedestals to put people on. There are no clear boundaries in which you have to adhere, a flow of heart connections and Spirit leading. What if everyone is free and powerful to do what is on their hearts?

In a culture of honour and serving there is no hierarchy, no patriarchy, no matriarchy and no uniformity. There is place for  clear leadership but this is done without labels at times – eg someone could lead worship from within the congregation without a stage, microphone or label. The shepherding and leading  is done from a foundation of serving and not from a place of control.  There are no power struggles as each family member honours gifting, call and freedom of others. There is no jealousy as each feels fully loved and accepted.

The onus is on people with anointing to lead well. This means that leaders cannot  rest on a label until they retire or lean on their position to feel that they have a right to make decisions or think they understand. In this organic family all have a voice, all are comfortable to express their gifts and those who are anointed for the moment are given room to clearly lead with deference in their serving. Jesus the King of Kings lead by example and serving – he gave people choices without persuasion.

For all of us it is a challenge to stay fresh in the Holy Spirit. To not just do the things we are on a rota for, or asked to do – but to be what we are. There is a difference between doing to gain acceptance and purpose, and knowing what your purpose is and just being who you were made to be. However eccentric, crazy or bazaar our anointing may seem to others we need to let the real us out. Let’s be who we truly are.

Today: Ask the Holy spirit to show you if there is anything you do to gain acceptance through what you do. Start by recognising your anointing and who you were made to be and start to deliberately to rest in who you are.

Panic strikes! The Golden Calf is born

Dont Panic

Dont Panic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

4 months into the journey and crisis hits! What is the dramatic news? Enemy attacks, drought, famine, pestilence? – no Moses goes up a mountain for 40 days. The people see him go up – but now don’t know what to do.

The people are learning to stand up on their own for first time. In Egypt they were always told what to do, where to sit, where to sleep – they had no choice of there own. Moses then led them with a strong arm out of Egypt – they followed him and his faith in God. Now they have been left on their own with their own thoughts, time on their hand and choices to make. Panic strikes!

When the people saw how long it was taking Moses to come back down the mountain,they gathered around Aaron. “Come on,” they said, “make us some gods who can lead us. We don’t know what happened to this fellow Moses, who brought us here from the land of Egypt. Exodus 32:1

Why did the people struggle so much?

In the next few days we will unpack what it was that caused this crisis and how we can learn from it. We will draw parallel with Jesus time in the wilderness. It is interesting that even the Son of God has his training time in the wilderness. A time where God called him close for intimate, undistracted fellowship.

1.        Make us = doing

Then the devil said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell this stone to become a loaf of bread.” But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say, ‘People do not live by bread alone.’ Luke 4: 3&4

The Devil was saying to Jesus “Don’t just sit there Jesus listening to Gods words spending time with God – do something”.

The Israelites were bored from spending day in day out working until the dropped – now they have so much time on their hands. They felt useless, a spare part, not valued because they were not doing something.

Doing is where I have found solace sometimes. I can  find or hide myself in doing. I can find on days when I am angry, upset or confused that I just want to clean and tidy – or do something to distract myself. Do I measure my self worth on what I achieve. I have notice that when people greet each other they ask “What have you been doing?” The underlying message is “How have you demonstrated your usefulness? What have you achieved? Are you worthwhile? We give labels we give ourselves as doers as this adds meaning to our life – I am a gardener, a cleaner, a children’s worker, a steward etc.

Business is not godliness. We were made for spending time with God throughout the day– not meeting God in meetings. If we can’t fit time in our day to meet with our Father then we are doing something wrong and need to adjust our lives. We were made to be children of God, to be new creations, to be lovers of God

Today: think soberly about your life. Do you find identity in what you do or do you find your identity in the presence of God. Make sure that being with God is prioritized over doing.