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Liz McKenzie and Kace Gunter, our children’s ministers, did the most amazing job pulling together games, food, and volunteers for a fantastic Fall Festival. We’re blessed to have them! Thanks, ladies!

*Each week, a devotional will be posted for the upcoming message and Scripture readings.

 

 

The Home God Wants For his Presence

It was perhaps the greatest opportunity ever. God tells Moses that he wants to come to his people and dwell right in the middle of their camp. Not on the outskirts. Not in the ‘burbs. But right in the middle of where they were living.

You might wonder, “What preparations would a people need to make for God to live in their midst?” Would it be like getting ready for weekend guests or someone special coming to dinner? You feel compelled to make sure your home looks as good as possible. You want to make a good impression and you want your guest to feel welcome.

God anticipated the question and told Moses what needed to be in place for his coming. First, he wanted to be close to them but there was the problem of sin that created a breach between them. So God provided Moses with instructions about the practice of sacrificing, offering a covering for the people’s indiscretions before a Holy God. Sin is serious stuff, not to be taken lightly, and the sacrifice of unblemished animals was necessary to give the people a picture of sin.

Second, he wanted to stay close to them. Moses was given the blueprints for the building of the Taber- nacle. It’s a big word for “tent.” A portable place of worship. Kind of a mobile Motel 6. And he wanted to camp out right in the middle of where they were camping. God wanted to be close to his people.

But he also wanted them to be close to each other. So he declared a third thing to get ready. He gave them Ten Commandments concerning relationships. The first four commandments focus on how we are to demonstrate our love to God. The second set of six have to do with how to show love to other people. In seeing these relationships of love it was God’s desire that people would come to know Him too.

Jesus said the same in John 13:34: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. . . By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

God gave the Israelites guidelines so that, when they sought to live by them, other nations would see them as different and know that they were God’s people. God gave us Jesus so that, when we live like him, others will know that we are his people.

For those who know him, God took care of our sin through the sacrifice of Jesus. He tabernacles in the hearts of those who have drawn near to him. Could it be then that the degree to which we are obedient to him in this command to love each other is the degree of his presence we will find among us? It could be our greatest opportunity ever.

-Zondervan

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David asked me to write about my faith story, in relation to the dreams I had for my life. And to be honest, it was a bit of a struggle for me. I never really had any major career ambitions. When I left for college, I told my parents I was only going to work on my Mrs. degree. They must have been so proud. But seriously, when I pictured my life, I dreamed of being a wife and a mom. While some days are less than glamorous, I am so thankful to say that I am living my dream.

 

Deuteronomy is my favorite book in the Bible. I love it because time and time again, God proves He is faithful and that He keeps His promises. As my husband Brandon shared on Sunday, we moved here about a year and a half ago from Ohio. This was the first time I had ever lived more than two hours away from my family. In the months preceding our move I kept chanting to myself “God is in Georgia, God is in Georgia.” I clung to and prayed Deuteronomy 31:8: The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” So we moved. And guys, guess what I found out? GOD IS IN GEORGIA. Every worry I had, every need, every desire of my heart God met and far surpassed. God was faithful to me and to my family. I should never have doubted Him, but being the worrier I am, I did.

 

When I look back on my walk with Christ, His faithfulness is so apparent. There was never a time in my life that I wasn’t without someone encouraging me in my faith. This isn’t to say that I’ve never wandered away or had a perfect, problem free life. I can just look and see how He protected me during those times. I wasn’t alone during my period of questionable choices in high school, or during my parent’s divorce, or as a naïve newlywed. He was there, all along, proving his faithfulness to me over and over. Our family will probably have more moves in our future, which is just one of the unknowns we are facing right now. While I do not know what is in store for my family, I do know that God will be with us, and will go before us.

-Katie Cramer

*Each week, a devotional will be posted for the upcoming message and Scripture readings.

 

When you’re walled in, look for the way out

There’s a wall in front of you. Behind you is a past you are running from. Beyond the wall awaits the promise of a new life. But you’re not moving because there is this “wall.” You feel trapped. No way out. This is just the sort of situation in which God does some of his finest work.

You need only ask the Israelites. Behind them was a life of back-breaking work and slavery. Ahead of them was a life in the land of Promise. Behind them was the fierce army of a fanatical Pharaoh coming towards them. Ahead of them was a wall. Their obstruction was made of water.

Your “wall” may be a fear of failure. Or maybe it’s a lack of confidence that has grinded your progress to a halt. Or it could merely be too many problems that have piled up in front of you at the same time. And you have no clue which one to tackle first.

So you stopped. And you aren’t sure if there is a way over, around, or under this imposing impediment.

At this point many people panic. Anxiety courses its way through the body, atrophies the movement muscles, and rigor mortis overtakes their resolve. Eyes which once had clear focus now only focus on the wall just inches away.

But some look elsewhere. The Israelites looked to Moses. They began belting him with blame. Have you done the same? Blame the boss. Blame a co-worker. Blame your dog. Blame God. Maybe even blame yourself? Blame all you want but the wall remains.

While the Israelites were body punching Moses, he opted to look elsewhere. His options? He could have looked at the enemy’s army. He could have looked at the ungrateful people he led. He could have looked at the wall of water spread out before him, sat down, and given up.

Instead he looked to God. And God opened an unlikely route through the wall of water. Safely on the other side, the very wall that had halted their steps closed in on and covered the sources of their fears.

The very name of the book where we find this story serves as a reminder when we face our “walls.” “Exodus” is a compound Greek word meaning “the way out.” And in case you might have missed it, the way out was not a better job, a different spouse, or a victim mentality.

No, the way out is God. Next time you find yourself up against a wall try looking to him.

-Zondervan

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