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Sunday, May 2, 2010

Our Becoming One

God said to Moses, “Now you’ll see what I’ll do to Pharaoh: With a strong hand he’ll send them out free; with a strong hand he’ll drive them out of his land.” God continued speaking to Moses, reassuring him, “I am God. I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as The Strong God, but by my name GOD (I Am Present) I was known to them. I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the country in which they lived as sojourners. But now I’ve heard the groaning of the Israelites whom the Egyptians continue to enslave and I’ve remembered my covenant. (Ex. 6:1-6)

It is possible to go head-to-head with God and still resist his powerful hand. Pharaoh had been given one warning after another about the Lord’s plan to release his people and to allow them to leave their position of slavery in the courts of Pharaoh. Yet, in the midst of such tremendous warning, Pharaoh resisted the plans of God. It is utterly impossible to escape his plans – even the hardest of hearts can be softened in his hands.

Slavery occurs anytime an individual submits to a dominating influence. Israel had been dominated by the Egyptian government for many years. They had been held in a position of servitude – a life of drudgery and toil. God’s plans for his people always begin with deliverance. Sometimes we think of God’s delivering hand simply “setting us free” from that which had dominated us for so long. I challenge you to see the additional aspects of deliverance – the powerful ability of God to convey us from one point to another; the come through when all hope seems to be lost; to send us to his intended destination for us. It is not enough to be set free – we must be conveyed from one place in our walk to the next – all by the powerful hand of a mighty God of deliverance.

God revealed himself to Moses in a fresh way – as the “I am”. Up to this point, he had been little more than the God of his forefathers – Elohim – the creative, governing and sovereign God; the one who is absolute in power and who reveals himself in covenant relationship. Now he reveals himself to Moses as the “I am” or GOD – Jehovah – the one who is unchangeable in those promises; the one that is righteous and holy in all ways; the one that is divine compassion embodied and exhibited in even the most difficult of actions.

Moses was being walked through all his experiences with Pharaoh – experiences that were designed to reassure him that God had not forgotten his covenant with his people. God was also providing a deep sense of peace that he would accompany Moses in all that he was asking him to do. He was not abandoning his people to a place of servitude, but was coming into their daily lives in a mighty way to deliver them completely from that which held them captive. It is the yearning of God’s heart to make us his own special people – and he redeems us each with a great show of his power.

“I am GOD. I will bring you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I will rescue you from slavery. I will redeem you, intervening with great acts of judgment. I’ll take you as my own people and I’ll be God to you. You’ll know that I am GOD, your god who brings you out from under the cruel hard labor of Egypt. I’ll bring you into the land that I promised to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and give it to you as your own country. I AM GOD.” (Ex. 6:7-8)

There is nothing selfish in God’s plan because it is done solely from a heart of deep, passionate, adoring love. When God redeems, it is with mighty acts and a great show of his power. Bondage becomes an entrenching thing that robs us of our joy and our hope. It wraps us up in a sense of helplessness. God “breaks in” on our bondage in times when our own efforts have proven futile – our own plans for deliverance often leave us deeply sensing our helplessness and our utter hopelessness. The “I AM” stands before us in our place of helplessness and reveals himself as the “becoming one” – the one who will become all we need him to be. This revelation of God restores hope to an otherwise hopeless situation. Deliverance is not only possible, it becomes probable.

But when Moses delivered this message to the Israelites, they didn’t even hear him – they were that beaten down in spirit by the harsh slave conditions. (Ex. 6:9)

Sometimes we are so “beaten down” that we cannot even look up. We have received one blow after another in our spirit, emotions, or mind – each cleverly crafted by the enemy of our soul. We have been walked on through criticism, dashed emotionally, whipped in spirit, pounded by circumstance, and ground down by the cares of our daily lives. In the process, we have been shaped by our servitude. We have been conditioned in our responses to that which has come to hold us captive. In this place, God calls us out – he offers us hope. Yet, although we deeply yearn for our deliverance, we often cannot hear the quietness of his offer of deliverance.

Then GOD said to Moses, “Go and speak to Pharaoh King of Egypt so that he will release the Israelites from his land.” Moses answered GOD, “Look – the Israelites won’t even listen to me. How do you expect Pharaoh to? And besides, I stutter.” But GOD again laid out the facts to Moses and Aaron regarding the Israelites and Pharaoh King of Egypt, and he again commanded them to lead the Israelites out of the land of Egypt. (Ex. 610-13)

The plan of deliverance is simple – Go and Speak. God will do the rest. In the simplicity of the plan, we are lost in complexity of our response; the complexity of our perceived inadequacy. All God looks for is a yielded vessel – not a great orator (because we all stutter at times – faltering to find the right words, the right timing, the right method of delivering the message). He is not looking for that one who will stand strong in his or her own ability - he looks for the one who will yield to whatever is asked. In God, we can do what seems utterly impossible – we can demand release. We can stand before our overwhelming circumstance and speak deliverance into it – all because our “becoming One” stands with us. God blesses his chosen ones with his presence and his power.

We can resist that presence, and in turn, resist the power that is readily available for our deliverance. Resistance takes many forms: pride, fear, unbelief, and even apathy. Pride keeps us anchored in our “self” life – that part of us that demands its own way, sets its own course, looks for its own needs to be met. Fear keeps us paralyzed in a place of inactivity – stagnant, polluted by the sediment of the continually churning of our lives. Unbelief keeps us in that place of continuous questioning – never fully grasping the possibility of God’s ability, his willingness, or his love. Apathy keeps us in the place of ease – not reaching out for anything that challenges our status quo.

Each of these tactics is cleverly designed by the very enemy of our souls to keep us from being effective in our walk. We must learn to discount the negative influences, to push beyond the surface of our resistance, in order to embrace our deliverance. Hearing the still small voice of the “I AM” requires a response. We cannot under-estimate the power of obedience. It is in obedience to his voice that we are delivered. It is in the obedient response to his leading that we are set free. The “I AM” stands before us today. He challenges us with, “Let me become all you need” – our response today determines our deliverance both now and in the future.