Morning Musing: Exodus 5:15, 17, 20-22

“So the Israelite foremen went in and cried for help to Pharaoh: ‘Why are you treating your servants this way?’ . . . But he said, ‘You are slackers. Slackers! That is why you are saying, “Let us go sacrifice to the Lord.”‘ . . . When they left Pharaoh, they confronted Moses and Aaron, who stood waiting to meet them, ‘May the Lord take note of you and judge,’ they said to them, ‘because you have made us reek to Pharaoh and his officials – putting a sword in their hand to kill us!’ So Moses went back to the Lord and asked, ‘Lord, why have you caused trouble for this people? And why did you ever send me?'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We like stories that have a happy ending. Just nearly all of our stories do too. In order to get to that happy ending, though, there is often a journey involved. And while sometimes that journey is short and smooth, there are other times when it is anything but that. Sometimes, in the beginning, it looks like there won’t be any journey at all. Instead, it appears that we are simply bound for failure, and everyone around us is worse off for our efforts. Let’s talk today about Pharaoh’s reaction to Moses and Aaron, and when our best efforts just seem to make a mess of things.

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Morning Musing: Matthew 10:16-18

“Look, I’m sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as serpents and as innocent as doves. Beware of them, because they will hand you over to local courts and flog you in their synagogues. You will even be brought before governors and kings because of me, to bear witness to them and to the Gentiles.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

One of the most pernicious lies about the Christian life that has nonetheless remained popular in our culture over the last 100 years or so is that the center of God’s will is the safest place to be. Although the person invoking that kind of idea may or may not actually mean it this way, the way it is generally received by audiences is as an assurance that when we are endeavoring to be faithful to God, nothing bad can happen to us. Not a few people have had their faith wrecked because they bought into that idea only to discover by experience that it isn’t even remotely true. In this passage, Jesus reminds us of just how untrue it is while at the same time giving us a bit of a perspective shift for how to handle some of the hard times we face so that we come out with our faith intact. Let’s talk about it.

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Morning Musing: Amos 7:12-15

“Then Amaziah said to Amos, ‘Go away, you seer! Flee to the land of Judah. Earn your living and give your prophecies there, but don’t ever prophesy at Bethel again, for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.’ So Amos answered Amaziah, ‘I was a not a prophet or the son of a prophet; rather, I was a herdsman, and I took care of sycamore figs. But the Lord took me from following the flock and said to me, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.”‘” (CSB – Read the chapter)

We so often give attention to the messages of judgment the prophets brought to the people of Israel that we forget about the fact that they were real people living real lives and delivering messages to powerful people that they didn’t necessarily want to hear. Speaking truth to power is something we celebrate nowadays, but we like to tell the stories when doing it has a happy ending. It doesn’t always. Let’s take a look today at some of the pushback Amos received and how he responded.

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Morning Musing: Hebrews 11:35b-38

“Others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated. The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and on mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Sometimes when we step out and exercise faith in God, everything goes great. In fact, it goes better than great. We get not just what we wanted, but far more than we could ever ask or imagine. Those kinds of outcomes to our faith are the stories we like to tell. Many of the stories in the Scriptures have these kinds of happy endings. Every story of faith Hollywood tells ends this way. At some point it may look like things are going to go poorly because of faith, but then God saves the day, and they all live happily ever after. But what if things don’t turn out that way? Because in real life, sometimes they don’t. The second set of stories of the results of faith the author of Hebrews shares with us aren’t happy endings. At least they don’t seem to be. Maybe you have a story of faith that didn’t appear to end well. Let’s talk about when we have faith and nothing goes according to plan.

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Morning Musing: Hebrews 10:32-34

“Remember the earlier days when, after you had been enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to taunts and afflictions, and at other times you were companions of those who were treated that way. For you sympathized with the prisoners and accepted with joy the confiscation of your possessions, because you know that you yourselves have a better and enduring possession.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

One of the things Jesus made clear over the course of His ministry is that following Him was not going to be easy. In fact, it was going to be hard…really hard. When we give our lives to God’s kingdom, the authorities of the kingdom of this world aren’t going to take the loss of their power over us lightly. To the extent they are able, they are going to make our lives as difficult and miserable as they can. The obvious question here is why anyone would sign up for this. Because there’s more to life than this life. Let’s talk about it.

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