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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Stretch Forth Your Hands"

(Part 2 of 2)

“So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. As long as Moses help up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up-one on one side, one on the other-so that his hands remained steady till sunset. So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.”

                                                                                                            Exodus 17:10-13

Joshua went to the battlefield. Moses went to the mountain. Moses, with his staff in hand, stood in intercession on the hill as Joshua, with his sword in hand, battled the Amalekites in the valley below.

Countless sermons have been preached on this passage. Songs have been written, books published and paintings have been drawn of Moses’ arms being held up by Aaron and Hur as Joshua battled in the valley below.

However, this story is not about Moses, Aaron, Hur or Joshua! It is about the worn out, weary, and hurting people that needed someone to realize they were under attack and come to help them. Too often we romanticize passages of scripture, focusing on the main characters, but forgetting the context. Moses, arms lifted, with Aaron and Hur supporting him makes for a great portrait, but in reality it was designed by God to teach us a lesson.

Moses couldn’t do it alone! Aaron and Hur recognized Moses’ humanity and realized that he could not save these people alone. They had to stop and help. Imagine if there had been no one else on the hill that day. How would the day have ended?

Joshua didn’t go into battle alone either. He chose the strongest men to go with him. Imagine if no one had gone to the battlefield with him. It took all these men, doing their part, to “utterly destroy” the enemy.

Ask yourself this…Who is missing? Who is lagging behind in our church family? Who are the worn out; weary and vulnerable? Some people are missing out of rebellion. They have no interest in following God any longer or are dissatisfied with the leadership God put over them. So they have chosen to leave. Others, however, desperately want to be connected but have lost hope and direction. They have been beat down by the weight of this world and are just worn out. 

Was Moses to blame for this? No! Was he to blame for them getting picked off? No! There was no way for Moses to know who was “lagging behind.” He was out in front leading. He needed everyone to keep watch, to encourage, strengthen, and stretch forth a hand to the worn out and weary.  He needed Aaron and Hur on the mountain and Joshua in the field.

If we are going to be effective as a Body of Believers, we too, have to break the herd mentality. We need people in our churches praying and interceding for each other. We need people reaching out in practical ways- taking meals to the sick, visiting the lonely, encouraging the distraught, helping those in need. When we take time to turn back and fight for the worn out and weary we will see great victory in our communities.

Pastor Scott Burr


"Stretch Forth Your Hands"

(Part 1)

The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim.”

                                                                                    Exodus 17:8

Israel, in its thousands of years of history, is no stranger to being under attack from a foreign enemy. The Amalekites were descendants of Esau. During the time of Israel’s 400 years of captivity in Egypt, Amalek grew into a great nation. When word of Israel’s exodus reached Canaan, they began to feel threatened. They refused Israel passage through their land and attacked Israel at a place called Rephidim.

No real details are given here in Exodus about Amalek’s strategy for defeating Israel, but Deuteronomy 25:17-18 spells out for us what happened:

Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and cut off all who were lagging behind, they had no fear of God.”

What was Amalek’s strategy? Pick off the stragglers! It was like something straight off of the Discovery channel or a National Geographic special. You know the scenes I am talking about where a pack of lions or tigers is chasing down a herd. Their primary targets? The stragglers!

When those who were worn out, tired, upset, or in poor health broke off from the pack and began to lag behind, the Amalekite raiders would sweep in and destroy them. The Israelites were being picked off! As I read this the Lord stirred my Spirit. This is how the enemy is still destroying God’s people today.

In large part, there are very few frontal attacks against the church, however every day the church is being compromised as “worn out, weary people” are being picked off. One family here! One family there!

What I have discovered is that this type of defeat can be more physically, emotionally, and spiritually draining than a full on attack. Why? Not everyone is immediately affected. In fact, it is possible that their loss could even go unnoticed. Only when it hits closer to home does it become an issue.

We wander into dangerous territory when we begin to develop a “herd mentality”. In the wild when the attack comes, the herd runs off together, never looking back to see who got left behind. It is every animal for themselves.

 Moses, however, was not driven by a “herd mentality”. He didn’t turn a blind eye to those who were missing. He didn’t encourage the group to just “stay closer together next time.” Instead Exodus 17:9 states:

Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”

Moses recognized the danger and responded to it. He went to war for the worn out, weary and hurting people those who were lagging behind that were vulnerable to attack and defeat.

 Pastor Scott Burr


Thursday, August 9, 2012

“Speak To That Rock”

(Part 2 of 2)

“Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, grapevines or pomegranates. And there is no water to drink!”

                                                                                                            Numbers 20:5

Forty years later, Israel, once again, is faced with the prospect of having no water. What captured my attention, when I read this passage, was that their complaint was identical to the one they made 40 years earlier. In fact, reading their response, you would not know that it had been 40 years since they left Egypt. Even with 40 years behind them, they were still in bondage, in their hearts and minds.

In Numbers 20:6-8, Moses approaches God again regarding their dilemma:

“Moses and Aaron went from the assembly to the Tent of Meeting and fell facedown, and the glory of the Lord appeared to them. The Lord said to Moses, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to the rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.”

Although Moses carried with him the tool by which God used to bring forth water out of the rock the first time, and although the situation was the same, God’s expectation for them, 40 years later was that they “walk by faith” and “not by sight!”

Verses 9-10 tell us that Moses took the staff out of the Lord’s presence, took Aaron, and gathered the people; but when it came time to bring forth water:

“Moses said to them, “Listen you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock? Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.”

Instead of speaking to the rock, as he was commanded, Moses chose to rebuke the people! And in his frustration, took the staff, as he had done before, and struck the rock. Not once! But twice! How many of you have been guilty of operating in disobedience, because you were frustrated?

That single moment of disobedience cost Moses greatly:

But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.”

How much of God’s blessings do we forfeit by assuming what God wants instead of doing what He says? How God moved in your life 20 years ago, in a situation, may not be the way he moves today in that same situation. Why? Because He expects us to grow spiritually! God had Moses use the staff the first time because they were young in their faith. They had just begun their journey with God. However, forty years later, after experiencing God’s tremendous provision and protection…He expected them to have grown to trust His Word! God wanted to display His power and authority to them by having Moses, simply “speak to the rock” and the water come forth. Instead he reverted to what he knew and dishonored God in the process.

Where will you be 40 years from now? Will you still be striking the rock looking for water, because that’s how God did it back then? Or will you have grown to trust the living Word of God?


Thursday, August 2, 2012

"Speak To That Rock"

(Part 1)

The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped in Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.”

                                                                                                                                    Exodus 17:1

Shortly after their Exodus from Egypt, the Israelites found themselves in the Desert of Sin near Mt. Sinai. The place was called Rephidim, which means resting place. However, there was no water there for them to drink, so the people began to complain:

But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst.”

                                                                                                                                    Exodus 17:3

Moses cried out to the Lord for direction and God gave Moses an instruction. God told Moses to take his staff and go to the rock at Horeb, strike the rock and water will come out for the people to drink. Moses did as God commanded and water poured from the rock. This was a significant teaching moment for the nation of Israel, pointing them towards God as their all sufficient source. In fact, time and again God demonstrated His faithfulness towards Israel in an effort to move them toward greater spiritual maturity.

Fast forward thirty nine years:

In the first month the whole Israelite community arrived at the Desert of Zin, and they stayed at Kadesh. There Miriam died and was buried. Now there was no water for the community, and the community gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron.”

                                                                                                                        Numbers 20:1-2

This begins Israel’s 40th year in the desert. And after nearly 40 years, the Israelites, when faced with the exact same situation react the exact same way!

They quarreled with Moses and said, “If only we had died when our brothers fell dead before the Lord! Why did you bring the Lord’s community into this desert, that we and our livestock should die here? Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to this terrible place? It has no grain or figs, or grapevines or pomegranates. An there is no water to drink!”

                                                                                                                        Numbers 20:3-5

As I read this in my devotions, I thought to myself, “Where am I at spiritually?  Because, unlike Israel, I do not want to still be here 40 years from now”!