Faith Partners with Others

LifeLink Devotional

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Far too many people are trying to make it on their own in this life. For reasons of insecurity, fear or pride, they take on the responsibility, burden, and outcome of everything and share none of the load with others, except in the cases where there is personal benefit and advancement. Moses was one such man, and in the process of growing his faith, God was about to change him.

Exodus 17:8-13 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 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.” 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 held 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.

I can relate to Moses. I naturally move to the authoritarian style of leadership and try to handle everything on my own. I did that for many years and discovered that after the honeymoon period that is granted to every new leader by the group being led, things begin to fall apart. People become discontented because they feel unneeded, unnecessary, and unfulfilled.  They respond to such feelings by either withdrawing or attacking, and I have experienced both. The pain that results on both sides does not easily heal.

I am so very blessed to have been granted the grace to change, and to learn the life-changing principle that great leaders surround themselves with people who are better than themselves. When I return from a vacation I realize how relaxing it was to not have to be concerned about anything at the church because of the gifted and qualified people who are in charge of their specific areas of ministry. I have been blessed with great partners who see what needs to be done and then get it done.

That’s the lesson Moses had to learn, and the doorway to change was opened a crack in today’s story about the Amalekite attack on the Israelites.

Moses started out by proclaiming that he alone would stand on the top of the hill and direct the battle with the staff of God in his hands. But Moses allows two other men to go with him, and when he grows tired he allows these men to partner with him in the action. We see no indication that Moses asked for the help, but he humbled himself to accept the help when it was offered. His partners saw a need, they developed a plan to meet the need, and they carried out the plan to completion. They put their faith into action. Moses took the first step of change when he allowed himself to be served.

There are two main challenges for us from this lesson today:

  1. Don’t let pride, insecurity, or fear cause you to be a control freak. I see so many people who are compulsive controllers, and they kill relationships and ministries. Remember one of the foundational statements of a church’s existence – “It’s not about me, and it’s not about now: it’s about God and His glory.”
  2. Become a faith partner of action. Don’t wait to be told what to do – take the initiative to get involved. When you see a need, develop a plan, put it into action, and stick with it until it’s done.

Faith initiates activity in partnership with others. There’s no need to do it alone. There’s no benefit either.

Pastor John

The Direct Route

LifeLink Devotional

Friday, May 10, 2019

When I travel anywhere I really enjoy taking the scenic route. If I’m going someplace I’ve been before I will usually take the direct Interstate route. But if it’s a new destination I will take the scenic route, which may not be the fastest route. In fact, when the kids were younger, and we went on a family trip or vacation, they used to harass me about going on another one of dad’s “adventures.” We did wind up in some pretty remote places sometimes – just ask them about the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

As the final leg of the 40-year journey to the Promised Land begins, the Israelites are faced with a trip-planning decision: do we take the freeway or the scenic route. The freeway led them through the territory of the Edomites, the descendants of Esau. The scenic route led them a long way around to the east of Edom and Moab. Moses thought it would be nice to go the direct route and save time, but God wanted them to take the scenic route for safety.

Numbers 20:14-17 Moses sent messengers from Kadesh to the king of Edom, saying: “This is what your brother Israel say: You know about all the hardships that have come upon us. Our forefathers went down into Egypt, and we lived there many years. The Egyptians mistreated us and our fathers, but when we cried out to the LORD, he heard our cry and sent an angel and brought us out of Egypt. Now we are here at Kadesh, a town on the edge of your territory. Please let us pass through your country. We will not go through any field or vineyard, or drink water from any well. We will travel along the king’s highway and not turn to the right or to the left until we have passed through your territory.”

Moses sent out a message to the Edomites and asked permission to go through their land on the king’s highway, and made certain guarantees about the trip. He promised that the people would not use any of the rest areas, and would not stop at any of the McDonald’s for food, and would not stop at any of the convenience stores for water. Most of all, the people would not stop at any of the scenic overlooks or take time to visit any of the points of interest along the way, thus avoiding all contact with the people of the land.

Why would Moses make such promises? If you read the instructions of the Lord given to Moses in Deuteronomy 2:4-6 you will find the answer.

Then the LORD said to me, “You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north. Give the people these orders: ‘You are about to pass through the territory of your brothers the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, but be very careful. Do not provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land, not even enough to put your foot on. I have given Esau the hill country of Seir as his own. You are to pay them in silver for the food you eat and the water you drink.”

God told Moses to avoid the people that were contradictory to God’s purpose. God knew that any point of contact would give the enemy a foothold from which to thwart His divine plan. Moses implemented a potential plan of disobedience. Fortunately, God intervened and used the Edomites to stop them.

There is a deep spiritual lesson in this for us today. God has called us to come out and be separate from all that is evil in the eyes of the Lord (2 Cor. 6:17). We have been commanded to be pure, even as He is pure because of the higher hope of heaven that we have (1 John 3:2-3). We are urged to not let our emotions give Satan a foothold in our lives (Eph. 4:27). There is a consistent theme in Scripture that the people of God are not to turn to the right or the left in their temporary journey through this evil land on their way to the permanent residence of God’s presence.

We must take the time to evaluate our life’s trip planning. Are we taking the scenic route, turning off the main road at any location that looks appealing to our flesh, so we can indulge our appetites? Or are we staying on the Interstate, taking the most direct route to God’s presence? I am not talking about avoiding all contact with unsaved people along the way. That would be disobedience to God’s purpose for us until we reach glory. I am referring to the sinful attractions of the world’s activities that distract and disqualify us from accomplishing God’s purpose.

We must not take these side roads. We must not turn to the left or to the right. We must stay on the King’s highway and keep our eyes fixed on the Promised Land of God’s Presence. Be strong and be pure, for the Lord your God is with you.

Pastor John