January 24

Exodus 22-24, Psalm 24

Obedience and patience are not popular words in our vocabulary. Everyone wants a reason for why something must be done before they are willing to do it. After our children learn the word, "no" at a very early age, one of the next words they seem to learn is, "why". But at such a young age, most don't have the capacity to understand. Children don't fully comprehend that if they don't hold our hands in the streets that a very heavy vehicle will run them over and hurt or kill them. They don't understand the mechanics behind the injury, nor possess fully what that injury might mean. When our children run into the street, that is not the time to explain these matters to them, we simply grab their hands, pull them back and tell them to never do that again. We are telling them essentially that we know something they don't, just obey us. We are no different in our level of sophistication with God. His ways are so much higher than our ways. Sometimes God chooses to explain the reason behind a law or command. Other times, He simply says "don't" or "do". Many of us can't humble ourselves in submission and want to know answers, but, just like our children don't always need an explanation, neither do we. For our children, it takes many years, until they reach adulthood and can begin making important decisions on their own. For us, when we come to Christ, we want instantaneous results, but it takes years to reach a mature level.

In Exodus 19:5, we read, "Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine." We read the people's response in 24:3, "So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, "All the words which the Lord has said we will do." The people seem sincere in their commitment, but we will see that completely following the law is impossible. David's words in Psalm 14:2-3, which are repeated by Paul in Romans 3:10-12, say, "The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God. They have all turned aside, They have together become corrupt; There is none who does good, No, not one." James said in James 2:10, "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all." Paul states in Galatians 3:24, "Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith." So, we, His children, know that the law is good, and we are to be obedient, but we often can't. It is through this that we learn to lean on Him and realize our need for a Savior. Notice that God is letting the people know that this is a process. We read in Exodus 23:29-30, " I will not drive them out before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beasts of the field become too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land." We saw earlier in Exodus 13, that when the Israelites left Egypt, God took them the way of the wilderness, not a direct route. God knows that they and we can make a quick statement of acceptance, but, the process of getting the flesh or our old sinful habits removed is a slow and sometimes painful process. This is a necessary process as we learn to lean less on ourselves and more on Him.

When God commands us to obey Him, He is giving us a principle in which to live by, as well as establishing a framework for our lives that forms a hedge of protection from evil. He commands our obedience, not because He is a strict taskmaster, but because He knows the devastating effect that disobedience and sin will have on our lives. Satan, of course, has another goal in mind for us. He will tempt us to disobey God, telling us not to trust God, that ignoring Him will lead to more enjoyment of life. While sin can never change God's eternal and unconditional love for us, His children, it can disrupt our fellowship with Him and remove us from His blessings. We must never forget, that this life of faith is not a sprint as so many desire. Our life in Christ is a marathon, as we slowly learn to rely on Him and become more like Him in the process. This process is not necessarily easy but will lead to so much more fulfillment than anything the world has to offer. James tells us in James 1:2-4, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster