Archive for February 23rd, 2021
Read: Numbers 13:25 (NRSV)
Moses sends a reconnaissance party to spy on those who are living in the Promised Land. Most likely the Hebrews assumed that the land flowing with milk and honey would be uninhabited and ready for them to walk into without effort. This is not the case. We see the fruit of this struggle in the region today.
It is notable that it takes forty days for them to check out the situation and return with a report concerning the land of promise. Our spiritual health requires more effort than we give to it.
Imagine someone trailing you for these forty days, watching the things you said and did, and making notes of the places you go, and recording your every choice, what would be their report at the end of the forty days? The tech giant’s algorithms do a great job of this and we don’t seem to mind. But what is in our record?
If our faithfulness were to be measured by one twenty-four hour day? Is there one day in the past month and a half that we would rest our salvation? We have work to do. It is persist work.
In the spirit-focused season we are our own spies. This journey is for our benefit. Take seriously the opportunity to review the status of your spiritual health and see the areas that are tired, empty, or lifeless. This Lenten journey is that kind of reflection and report on your life, if you will allow it to be.
Action Plan: Try journal writing as an instrument in accountability for your thoughts and actions throughout the day. Use it to look back and hold your self accountable.
Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank you for knowing my thoughts, fears, sins, and rekindling my salvation and assurance. Help me remember and trust your loving me that I might grow, share, and live in you most fully. Amen.
Read: Exodus 34.28 (NRSV)
Fasting is doing without one important thing in order to give more time, attention, and intention to another important one.
Moses chooses to not eat as an opportunity to trust God’s providing presence. In only a matter of hours after breaking our routine of eating our body’s system begins to make noises and share its discomfort.
Part of becoming more spiritually active is sometimes seen through our physical experiences. Jesus fasted in the wilderness and after his time of retreat, he was hungry.
When we fast for a day, we can easily begin to feel a lack of energy and fatigue. Try to make note of the feeling, attitudes, and perceptions when we are not eating spiritual food regularly.
Spiritual fasting becomes a spiritual discipline, not just from depriving the body but when we also shift our attention to the time and energy needed to grow in God.
As a contrast, imaging the reverse of spiritual fasting for a moment, what if you spent forty days growing in spirit, could you tell the difference in your life? Why not give it a try?
Would you feel closer to God for having done so? When we lay aside our physical necessities do, we feel closer to God’s work and witness in our daily living? Moses gives a radical act of spending forty days with God.
Imagine going on a spiritual retreat from your family, work, duties, and responsibility and entrusting someone else with all those demands, and giving your full attention to God.
Action Plan: Pick a set time to be with God. Set a timer for an hour or two. No watches, no Weather Channel, and no Facebook. No texts, posts, No coffee, no soda. No news channels, no distractions. One you, or you and your household, and God. Take the time to be complete with God. Some moments in silence, some singing, some reading scripture, always listening for God. When Moses fasts he comes down the mountain with the Ten Commandments.
Prayer: Jesus, take my life and let it be consecrated Lord, to thee. Amen.
Read: Exodus 26.14-26 (NRSV)
One of the amazing features of the Hebrews wandering in the wilderness is that their place of worship was a mobile tent of meeting. It had tall walls made of multiple frames and panels stretched over poles of cedar. Silver bowls were located at the lower ends of the poles. In our current experiences of digital worship, we get a sense that this mobile format needs some special work to separate it from the ordinary work on our devices and our spiritual work through the same devices. The instruction was to separate the tentpoles from the ground in silver bases. The people were called to make forty bowls as the foundation of the holy mobile sanctuary. The bowls reminded the people that God’s presence was feeding their spirits.
How can we define what is ordinary and what is specially set aside for God? What do we place at the foundation of our daily choices? Start and end the day in prayer. In spending more time at home or alone, where is our worship space? Could we pick a place to keep our bible, our worship music, or bible study materials together? Sometimes times the church has gone overboard with defining holy spaces and sacred things, but the intent is helpful. Finding the place of worship and fellowship with God was right with them wherever they traveled and that’s good advice for us.
Take a bowl that you use for breakfast or soup and set it aside with verses of scripture to read and re-read. Place prayers and review them to see when the prayers are answered or need more attention. We can make these weeks a time of worship and fellowship wherever we go. Keep your bible and hymnal handy or move your apps to the home screen. Make going to the mountain easy, accessible, and be fed often.
Action Plan: Gather songs that you enjoy singing or hearing and play them often – while you work, travel, clean, or play. Build the foundation in words and songs of faith.
Prayer: O God, keep your words in my heart, in my hands, on my mind and at your feet. Amen.
Read: Exodus 16:35 (NRSV)
As slaves, the Hebrews ate from the “fleshpots” in Egypt. Yes, they were slaves, but the food bar was as dependable and easy to find as Golden Corral. On the journey out of Egypt and toward the Promised Land, God provided daily bread called ‘manna.’ Every day manna appeared on the ground. The Hebrew travelers were to gather exactly what they needed for the day; any extra manna would spoil if they tried to gather more than what they needed for that day. The manna was God’s form of MRE and an ongoing lesson about trusting God in daily life. Part of the “promise” of the Promised Land was that it would be a land filled with milk and honey. They were being taught faithfulness, trust, and patience. If the people could find a shortcut, there would be no need for the journey or God.
Central to our spiritual journey is turning to God at the start of each day to find what we need for that day. The day we wake and not need God is a day that will be empty, lifeless, and without hope. [KJV: Hebrews 13: 8] “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.” God promises to be revealed in our daily reading and studying the Word just as the manna. We know where to find the word. It is in books on our shelf, apps on our devices, and parts are even loaded in our memory.
Action Plan: Look up and write down a verse of scripture that helps you remember to trust God throughout the day. Place it at your seat at the table, on your lunch bag, on the dash of your car, as a screensaver, or where you will see it regularly as a call to faith and prayer. Prayer: God you are with us every day, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, fifty-two weeks a year. Help us trust your leading as often as you are present with us. Amen.