Blog Archives

STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND

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         Every real Christian must make a difficult but rewarding decision. He or she must leave home and all that is familiar in order to enter the kingdom of the Lord.

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         This world is not my home I’m just a passing through

         My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue       

         The angels beckon me from heaven’s open door

         And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore [1]

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         And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a stranger in a strange land. [Exodus 2:22 KJV]

         Gershom was the firstborn son of Moses. Moses named his son after his current experience. He had arrived in a new land about a year before and was still trying to find his way. This was a man used to the high life and lofty standing of being the adopted grandson of the Egyptian Pharaoh. He went from prince to pauper in a fortnight and had to flee Egypt with his life on the line.

RUNNING ON EMPTY

         Never having time to catch his breath, he headed east across the blistering sands of Sinai and kept traveling onward toward the rising sun in his own early version of the Texan’s runaway scrape. “What happened to me?” he thought. A fleeing fugitive, sottish with fear and disillusionment, on the run from Egyptian justice, he had killed a man in a fierce fury after seeing a Hebrew kinsman being beaten up without mercy.

         One may wonder what God saw in an avenging man slayer but what He did see was a man who had great pride in his heritage. God saw him as a man who would go to bat for his people. But at that time, with sweat pouring and fright raging, Moses looked like anything but a hero.

THEN CAME MOSES

         He came into the land of Midian. These were distant relatives of his ancestor Abraham. Abraham was the first stranger in a strange land:

         “I am a stranger and a sojourner among you… [Genesis 23:4]  

         Girls were trying to water their flocks but the other shepherds kept running them off. In reading the historical text we find that this was an everyday occurrence. It always took these sisters much time to gain access to the well because of the others who were intent on hindering them. Sound familiar?

         And suddenly Moses was fighting for justice again. This was a powerful man, a man who demanded respect. He saw to it that the girl’s flock got their water and one can picture the other shepherds looking on from a distance knowing that there was something about the new stranger, that one better not mess with him, that one could see by that look in his eye that he meant business.

         The sisters went home and told their dad. Their dad jumped their case. “What is wrong with you! Go find him and bring him to dinner!” This began an entirely new chapter in the life of Moses. He married one of those sisters and when his son was born he still felt like a stranger in a strange land after a very strange turn of events. But regardless of the desert remoteness, his home a million miles away, and thoughts of palace living gone forever, the blessings kept flowing. The Lord had a plan.

         Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God… [Exodus 2:23] [2]

         © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] This World Is Not My Home © 1952 by Albert E. Brumley, Acclaim Music

[2] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

HOW YOUR PROVISION HAPPENS

         All real Christians have God-given talents and gifts, and are called into some form of ministry. Our purpose is to fulfill our callings. Here is how the Lord provides for us in that process:

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A VERY IMPORTANT DISTINCTION:

         The spiritual harvest brought forth by our work for the Lord is not the same as our personal compensation.

         Real Christians are noteworthy for putting the work of God first regardless of any recompense they may or may not receive at the time. They know the Lord will always provide but they don’t necessarily wait around for the provision when there is work to be done.

         Now, this must be explained a tad. The Lord Jesus never calls anyone into His work without taking caring of him or her. He always provides for His disciples. As I have written about on this site several times, when the Lord called His original twelve to leave all and join His ministry it also involved leaving their present means of making a living. He told those who were fishermen, for example, to drop their nets and follow Him. There is no way He would do this unless He had the wherewithal to provide for them through an alternative means, and this is key.

YOKED TOGETHER WITH THE LORD OUR PROVIDER

         For it is written in the Law of Moses, “YOU SHALL NOT MUZZLE THE OX WHILE HE IS THRESHING.” God is not concerned about oxen, is He? Or is He speaking altogether for our sake? Yes, for our sake it was written, because the plowman ought to plow in hope, and the thresher to thresh in hope of sharing the crops. [1Corinthians 9:9-10]

         The Lord will always do His part. He will always provide His portion. Consider it this way: A real Christian is in covenant with the Lord. The two share the same yoke. The yoke will fit only two people [See my post: The Yoke’s On You].

         When two oxen are yoked together there must be time for these two massive and powerful animals to learn to work together. They are each independent with strong wills. The person who is plowing never wants to diminish the power of his oxen or emasculate them in any way for the sake of making them work together, as this only defeats the purpose. He does not want their strength reduced but if anything, he wants to maximize it. That is the entire point of attempting to yoke them together.

         The Lord Jesus does the same with each of us. Rather than regiment us and remove our personal power, strength, individual gifts, talents, personality, and independence (all of which He gave us when He made us) for the sake of conforming us to a very low common denominator, which causes us to become essentially spiritually worthless within a mass homogenized group (sound familiar?), He attempts instead to redirect us and put us in a place where all that we are may be utilized fully and where we can be fully developed and fulfilled.

         But in the beginning, before salvation, He knows each of us is otherwise hopelessly lost in sin and thoroughly compromised, so He first seeks to bring us to repentance, bless us with a new birth, wash away our sins, fill us with His Spirit and strength, and welcome us to His kingdom. This must start with our own personal hunger. We must seek Him. We must begin manifesting faith in Him. Of course, He is already seeking us and in fact sacrificed His very life for us, but unless we do our part anything He wants to do for us is rendered impossible.

         This is why each of us must also sacrifice our life for Him. This dynamic connects two lives sacrificed for the other, yoked together as a team, which makes possible the coming forth of great spiritual production and fruitfulness.

         Here is a simple way to see it: The Lord will always do His 50%. He is ever faithful. We must also be faithful and do our 50%. When a disciple does his or her 50%, which is something vitally necessary but often overlooked, then great and powerful things happen. We see then, that the reason such great and powerful things do not happen is because we are simply not doing our 50%. Consider the establishment of the 100% as that which brings forth the fruit of covenant.    

SOWING SPIRITUAL THINGS FIRST

         If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ. Do you not know that those who perform sacred services eat the food of the temple, and those who attend regularly to the altar have their share from the altar? So also the Lord directed those who proclaim the gospel to get their living from the gospel. But I have used none of these things. And I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one. [1Corinthians 9:11-15]

         I’m going to stop here and reveal the aforementioned distinction further. There are many ministers of the Gospel who consider themselves professionals. In other words, they see ministry as a career. They see it as a job. They will not perform their jobs without a paycheck. They also do their level best to cover themselves within society as legitimate members of society. They do not want to be seen as persons without standing. This is part of why they demand a salary and position. These people, which make up the majority of ministers, would never last a day working with Paul (he’d run ‘em off), which probably means they would last less than a day working with the Lord. Real ministers of the Gospel know they came into the world with nothing (that they had anything to do with), that they came into the kingdom the same way, and that they are incredibly fortunate to have any blessing beyond that.

         Real ministry is rigorous. It is not for those who make selfish demands. We are called as babes but must become spiritual adults ASAP or we will get wiped out in battle. Therefore, we must be fully trained by the Lord. The New Covenant writings explain very well what this training looks like. We are bought with a price. The Lord Jesus has purchased us with His own blood.

         Once we sign up we not only gain the benefits of living for God but we primarily gain the opportunity to work for Him and with Him according to His will and not our own. In other words, real ministry is not like going off to college and choosing a major or deciding on our own what job we want. The Lord has already decided those things. Our job is to say “YES SIR” and do what He says in accordance with the way He made us, and with respect for our individual giftings and callings. This is in part why Paul relays the following very hard but incredibly fruitful truth:

         For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel.

         For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have a stewardship entrusted to me. What then is my reward? That, when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel.

         For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I may win more. To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, so that I might win those who are without law.

         To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some. I do all things for the sake of the gospel, so that I may become a fellow partaker of it.

         Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. [1Corinthians 9:16-24] [1]  

         © 2017 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

The Miraculous Red Sea Crossing

         Today is Friday the 13th, a most superstitious day on the calendar. This is the second of three Friday the 13th’s this year. We had one in January and will have another in July, so the day isn’t all that rare.

         But today also happens to be Nisan 21 on the Hebrew calendar. Nisan 21 is the seventh and last day of Unleavened Bread. It is a holy day, as was Nisan 15 last Saturday.

         Traditionally, these seven days marked the time between the nation of Israel exiting Egypt and crossing the Red Sea. It was a time of unleavened bread because they were on the run, first to simply pack up and get out, and secondly to stay ahead of Pharaoh’s army. The king of Egypt first decided to let them go at last, but then changed his stubborn mind yet again. It was a fateful decision, as was every other decision he made against God. If he had left well enough alone after any of the ten plagues, he would have been better off. But because he kept fighting against the will of God and God’s people, he eventually lost everything.

         We can find such a place in Egyptian history when the nation was devastated, but that’s another story for another time. Today, we will remember a miracle.

         If the Red Sea miracle did not happen, there would be no Israel. If there was no Israel, there would be no Messiah Jesus. There would be no sacrifice for our sins. We would all go to hell. But it did happen because there was purpose in it. It was not only to save the nation for the sake of the future birth of the Sacrifice Lamb, it was to save the nation. God loved Israel and He still does, of course.

         But at that last moment, when the world-class army of Egypt was bearing down on them, and when they had no perceivable means of escape, God came through.

         And this is always the point: The more difficult and impossible the circumstance, the greater the miracle, the more love shown through the miracle, and the more glory gained by the Lord.

         In another words, the more magnified God is in one’s life, the more life one has. Our Lord Jesus called it abundant life. It means super-abundant in quantity, and superior in quality. It means the best. One cannot have the best without having the Lord. He proves His love by giving us His best. He proves His love the best by giving us Himself.

         This is what He did for the nation of Israel that day almost 3,500 years ago. It was not God that enslaved His people, and it was not God that decided to go after them one last time. That was strictly Pharaoh’s decision. It was God’s decision to set His people free, which He did, and it was God’s decision to protect them from certain death.

         He didn’t want to wipe out Egypt, but He had no choice. He loved His people.

         And He loves you and me.

         Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the LORD swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. [Exodus 14:21-22][1] 

         I don’t know what your miracle might be this day, but I believe there is a miracle. It might not be as dramatic as the crossing of the Red Sea, but it will definitely show God’s love. I learned a long time ago that the Lord never spoils His children. He wants to bless us and does, but we must be able to receive properly and not let the blessing go to our head or be distanced from God by it. So the Lord must be prudent. His ultimate goal is to get us to heaven with Him forever. He also wants to bless us in this life but such is secondary.

         I read a true story about a young preacher once. He was living day to day and largely hand to mouth, preaching here and there. He didn’t have much money, and never knew what he might receive through offerings, but the Lord always took care of him. One evening after preaching he received a sizable offering. It was enough to pay his bills for an entire month.

         As he was beholding the check with shock and awe, the Lord spoke to him. He told him to give the giant check to a missionary who was also there that night.

         What would you do?

         The young man knew he heard God. He knew He had to obey. And he gave away the offering.

         Imagine the scene. He had already seen his future a lot more brightly, and then saw it all seemingly snatched away. About an hour later at a restaurant, he and a bunch of people from the church were having dinner. The young evangelist was approached by a man who knew what had happened, not because the young preacher told anyone—he had made it a point to keep it all secret. The older man knew because God told him. And God also told him that the young preacher was to learn a valuable lesson about giving.

         Long story short, the man gave the young evangelist another check. It was ten times the amount of the first one, to the penny!

         Now, God’s blessings are not always that dramatic, but that particular one was made to serve a purpose. The Red Sea miracle was also made to serve a purpose. It was to show His people how much He loved them. And it was to scare the daylights out of every other nation in the region.

         Today, on Friday the 13th of all days, will be a day of miracles for those who love the Lord with all their heart and obey Him. It could very well be something out of the ordinary. Or it could be a seemingly simple but profound, “I love you.”

         Will you recognize it? Give the Lord Jesus the glory. He loves to come through for His people!

         © 2012 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.