What a Merciful God We Serve

Today’s Reading: Exodus 28-34

Moses went up on the mountain and received instruction from God. He received ten commandments from God, as well as specific instructions for His people. God emphasized over and over again how He is to be the only God. They should not bow to any other idol or worship anything else but Him. When he came down from the mountain, Moses found God’s people doing the very thing God had just stressed over and over again not to do – he found them worshipping an idol.

Moses knew how important it was to God that His people not defile themselves in this way and he understood God’s plan to destroy them all and start over. But Moses stood between God and the Israelites and begged God to forgive them, to allow them the opportunity to repent and try again. What a merciful God we serve that He allowed the Israelites to live.

Moses had a big job ahead of him and he knew it. He knew that he was called to lead a stiff-necked people. Moses knew he needed God if he was going to accomplish the task set before him. He knew what it was to be in God’s presence and longed to continue in His presence with God leading him.

Moses said to GOD, “Look, you tell me, ‘Lead this people,’ but you don’t let me know whom you’re going to send with me. You tell me, ‘I know you well and you are special to me.’ If I am so special to you, let me in on your plans. That way, I will continue being special to you. Don’t forget, this is your people, your responsibility.”

GOD said, “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end.”

Moses said, “If your presence doesn’t take the lead here, call this trip off right now. How else will it be known that you’re with me in this, with me and your people? Are you traveling with us or not? How else will we know that we’re special, I and your people, among all other people on this planet Earth?”

GOD said to Moses: “All right. Just as you say; this also I will do, for I know you well and you are special to me. I KNOW YOU BY NAME.”

Moses said, “Please. Let me see your Glory.”

GOD said, “I will make my Goodness pass right in front of you; I’ll call out the name, GOD, right before you. I’ll treat well whomever I want to treat well and I’ll be kind to whomever I want to be kind.”

GOD continued, “But you may not see my face. No one can see me and live.”

GOD said, “Look, here is a place right beside me. Put yourself on this rock. When my Glory passes by, I’ll put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with my hand until I’ve passed by. Then I’ll take my hand away and you’ll see my back. But you won’t see my face.” – Exodus 33:12-23 (The Message)

I don’t know what task God has before you today, but I pray you hear Him say that He will walk this journey with you to the end because He knows you well. You are special to Him, and He knows you by name. May you have the strength and faith needed to put yourself on “this rock” – this place right beside your merciful God. May you feel the protection of God tucking you safely into the cleft of the rock and covering you with His hand. May your heart’s desire always be to remain in God’s presence and allow Him to lead you each step of the way on this journey He has chosen for you.

Just as God knew Moses by name, He knows us by name. Just as God cared about Moses and invited Him to experience His presence, He loves us enough to be present – to allow us to feel His presence in the good times and in the hard times. He has a purpose for our lives and He calls us by name (Isaiah 45:3).

Can a mother forget her nursing child?
Can she feel no love for the child she has borne?
But even if that were possible, I would not forget you!
See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands…
– Isaiah 49:15-16a

I love these verses! I love the thought that God knows everything about me – all my faults and all my fears, all my regrets and all my sins – yet He loves me! My name is written in the palm of His hand and so is yours!

Today, January 22nd, is a tragic day in the history of our country. Today marks the anniversary of a decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court in the battle of Roe v. Wade – a decision to allow a woman to end the life of her unborn baby. In 42 years, our country has acquired the scars of more than 57 million abortions. This heart-breaking reality is hard to think about, hard to live with. Some of you are even frustrated with me for mentioning it in this blog. It makes us uncomfortable. So we look the other way and close our ears when anyone mentions the word abortion. We ban the word “abortion” in our schools and sit comfortably in our pews as the word “abortion” is absent from our sermons. Meanwhile, our pews are full of men and women who live with the regret of their own abortion decision.

In April, the ministry I have the privilege of working for will hold their third healing retreat for individuals who are struggling with the pain of a decision they cannot undo. This weekend allows a woman or man to go “Deeper Still” to find the forgiveness and healing God wants to give them. Will you help me spread the word? There may be someone you know who holds a secret tightly in the depth of their heart and they need to know that God loves them and has written their name on the palm of His hand.

For more information about the Deeper Still retreats, go to: http://hopeforafuture.com/services/deeper-still-retreats/

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is upon me,
for the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to comfort the brokenhearted and
to proclaim that captives will be released and prisoners will be freed.
He has sent me to tell those who mourn that the time of the Lord’s favor has come,
and with it, the day of God’s anger against their enemies.
To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes,
a joyous blessing instead of mourning,
festive praise instead of despair.
In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks
that the Lord has planted for his own glory.
– Isaiah 61:1-3

Oh, what a merciful God we serve!