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When Moses thought that he would be the leader of Israel he met with disappointment but when God said he would it was a different matter.

“This is the same Moses whom they earlier rejected, saying, ‘Who put you in charge of us?’ This is the Moses that God, using the angel flaming in the burning bush, sent back as ruler and redeemer. He led them out of their slavery. He did wonderful things, setting up God-signs all through Egypt, down at the Red Sea, and out in the wilderness for forty years. This is the Moses who said to his congregation, ‘God will raise up a prophet just like me from your descendants.’ This is the Moses who stood between the angel speaking at Sinai and your fathers assembled in the wilderness and took the life-giving words given to him and handed them over to us, words our fathers would have nothing to do with. Acts 7:35-39 (The Message)

The Moses who fled from Egypt was a completely different person from the Moses who returned. Although he did not have confidence in his own ability and, as a result God assigned his brother Aaron as spokesman, through Moses God gave sign after sign to the people of Israel of his presence and purpose with them. It is hard to say but the same Israel that venerated the work of Moses and built their religion on his teaching rejected the one that Moses said would come after him. Stephen was refering to Jesus, of course, and his whole intention in speaking to the religious leaders so was to emphasize that their faith, and the basis of Jesus’ message, are one and the same.

I wonder if today we have the same desire to keep the integrity of our faith in the sight of others? Are we quick to distance ourselves from the hard parts of the journey for the Christian community as a whole and look for the immediate personal impact alone? Are we willing to say that, despite our commitment to a religious tradition or denomination, we will seek to give our all to follow Jesus and keep the integrity of Christian discipleship, shown here by Stephen, in the sight of those who agree with us and those that do not agree?

Peace and grace to you as you follow the faith of Jesus with integrity and place the importance of that integrity firmly front and centre in the journey. Amen.

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In our building centred Christian sprituality we look for holy places with four walls. Moses found his in a wide, open, space.

“God said, ‘Kneel and pray. You are in a holy place, on holy ground. I’ve seen the agony of my people in Egypt. I’ve heard their groans. I’ve come to help them. So get yourself ready; I’m sending you back to Egypt.’ Acts 7:33-34 (The Message)

It is the presence of the Holy that creates a holy place. Because we put up a building and put a roof on it, consecrate it with words, worship in it on a Sunday, this does not create a holy place. When we encounter God, whether that is in a building, a field, on a mountain, or in the eyes of a loving friend, this is the place of holiness. What do I mean? Well, it is the presence of God without and within that creates the holy place. We encounter God when we turn our face toward him and we can do this any where. Churches have been places of worship with special significance to Christian communities for millenia. To focus our attention on the structures of men is limiting God, however, and God is not to be limited. So, I encounter God whereever and whenever I take the time to pray or otherwise pay attention to my walk with God. To this end the Christian should be aware that all the ground we walk on is holy when we follow Jesus and God calls us to walk carefully, without covering ourselves from the potential cuts and bruises that can afflict our very souls, as we walk on holy ground in the presence of the holy God.

May we walk with Jesus as if we are walking on holy ground, bare feet open to the snags and snares, conscious of the presence of God in every step. Amen.

We expect that others will see us as we see ourselves, but they rarely do.

The next day two of them were fighting and he tried to break it up, told them to shake hands and get along with each other: ‘Friends, you are brothers, why are you beating up on each other? The one who had started the fight said, ‘Who put you in charge of us? Are you going to kill me like you killed that Egyptian yesterday?’ When Moses heard that, realizing that the word was out, he ran for his life and lived in exile over in Midian. During the years of exile, two sons were born to him. Acts 7:26-28 (The Message)

Moses had reclaimed his identity as a Hebrew and had a zeal from God to bring about their deliverance. Unfortunately his fellow Hebrews saw him as a murderer, someone without the moral authority that he felt he now possess. Moses sought to speak to two of his fellow Hebrews who were fighting in order to get them to stop. Their response was to focus, not on Moses’ new found sense of calling from God, but on his actions in killing the Egyptian the day before.

I remember when I first became a follower of Jesus, I expected that everyone would see the transformation that was taking place in my heart. Instead, the remanent of the old life still remained as their predominant understanding of who they saw before them. My words of encouragement to faith and following Jesus often fell short because they remembered the vain, selfish, stupid, actions of my former years. In time, some of those people have come to see the transformation and others still remain more comfortable remembering  my past life. I, through the passage of time, have come to surrender my expectations of others and increase those of myself.

May our expectations of what others see in us today be measured by our expectations of ourselves to lead others in following Jesus by the example we set above the words we speak. Amen.

A friend of mine bemoaned the approach of their fortieth recently. There is a lesson to be learned in the example of Moses here I think.

When Moses was forty years old, he decided to visit his fellow Israelites. He saw one of them being mistreated by an Egyptian, so he went to his defense and avenged him by killing the Egyptian. Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not. Acts 23-25 (The Message)

Steven is still recounting the connectedness of Christ to the heritage of Israel. He is keen to show that the faith he is expounding has its roots and branches in Hebrew history. Now he has reached Moses. The brief recount of the significant part played by Moses begins when he was forty. Why? because, other than when he was a baby found in the bullrushes by the river bank by Pharoah’s wife, he wasn’t significant. His life began at forty when he decided to act on his conscience. Instead of living comfortably as an Egyptian in the royal palace Moses answered the call of God to visit his fellow Israelites and he was changed by what he saw.

Sometimes we can live for an age in the comfort of our own misconception of what God inteded for us. Then, when we least expect it, God moves to unsettle us and bring us into the reality of his purpose for us. Moses was not to be ruler of Egypt, as Joseph had been, but leader of a pilgrim people to lead them into the  promise of God. Ever been so surprised? May be you are still living in the age of misconception and need a shake up from God today?

May the life we life be filled with surprises that shake us up and make us move with God. Amen.

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