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Friday, August 22, 2014

Pentecost 11: The Way of Deliverance




Today the lectionary has us looking at the beginning of Exodus at the story of Moses.  Moses is regarded by many as the greatest of the Old Testament characters.  Many Old Testament characters can often be summarised or mainly remembered in one graphic story:

So with David, it is: David and Goliath
            Noah – Noah & the Ark
            Daniel – Lion’s Den
            Jonah – Whale

But with Moses – there’s the story of him in the bulrushes
                             then the burning bush
                            the 10 plagues
                            then parting the Sea
                            the 10 Commandments

He is a giant in the Old Testament, isn’t he……
Just as Jesus is the giant or main character of the New Testament …… so is Moses the giant of the Old Testament.
You know there is no New Testament without Jesus.
There is no Old Testament without Moses.
So we are going to spend some time on Moses.

Like Jesus, Moses survives persecution at the time of his birth.
Herod had all babies under 2 murdered when Jesus is born.
Pharaoh has all Hebrew boys murdered at Moses' birth.
No nation has known and survived such ongoing and persistent persecution as the Jewish people, and they have survived not because of any goodness of their own....... but purely because of the grace of God.  
The Grace of God.

What is the Grace of God – there are many definitions.  I want to lift one from the story of Moses.  Grace is undeserved blessing.  Grace is undeserved love.
It is something happening to me that I haven’t earned or deserved.  That’s grace.
Moses was just another Jewish boy....not deserving of salvation any more than any other little Jewish boy.
When the Pharaoh’s daughter sees him, she knows that.  But she has compassion on him (not on all Jewish boys – just him.  Never underestimate the value of your indiscriminate acts of compassion) and she brings him into Pharaoh’s Palace and he is adopted by her and he grows up as an Egyptian prince.

That is grace and it flows from her compassion.  Moses has done nothing to deserve this.
We see in this story how God deals with you and with me.

We have done and can do nothing that would ever compel the God of Creation to seek us out in the bulrushes that are our existence, to seek us out on the river that is our life.  The Psalmist asks, “What is man that You, God care about him?”

But God does care about you and me, because of His love, His compassion – in fact because of who He is, not because of who we are,...... He seeks us out.  That’s grace.  
The New Testament says that we are saved by grace through faith.
He pulls us from the river of this life, which if we stay in it leads to the sea of eternal death, he pulls us out from that river and say I want to adopt you as my own child and I want you to come and live in my palace......life in my Kingdom, now, in Alberton, as you work and pray for my kingdom to come in Alberton. 
That’s grace.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many mansions and I’m going to prepare a place for you and when it is ready, I’ll come and get you so that where I am you might be also.”
That’s grace – undeserved love shown by God to you and to me, to sinners.
Paul reminds us that it was while we were still sinners that Jesus died for us that we might have eternal life – we just have to believe it, believe that what happened on Calvary to Christ, saves me, saves you.  
Just believe with a belief, a faith, that leads to action.

This means recognising our need for salvation, that we need to be saved from the river of life which is not in Christ, we need to be saved from the way we are in when we realise that the way we are in, is not the way God wants us to be in; but recognising also that just as the Pharaoh’s daughter saw through the black tar basket and saw the innocent child within, so too God sees our blackness which is our sin, deals with it on Calvary and then says believe that I dealt with your sin on Calvary, and from that moment I see through the blackness and in fact I see you as born again, as a new creation and I adopt you into my family.  That’s the story of salvation offered to you and me.  
Please believe it.

What have we looked at today?
Well,  in the story of Moses we see the beginning of the deliverance of God by  the grace of God.....we see Ephesians 2:8-10....we see the gospel:

 We are saved by grace;
We need to recognise our need to be saved.  Imagine if Moses thought he didn’t need to be plucked from the river.  I’m happy as I am, I’m comfortable here – leave me alone. Do you sometimes believe that.....that where you are and how you are living is exactly as God wants it....do you recognise the need to be saved from the rut you've got into?  
 Recognise your need for the salvation Christ offers.

And finally, a challenge:

A people who have experienced grace must show grace – who can you reach out to this week?

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