Monday, June 25, 2012

True Power and Authority

Psalm 78:40-55
40 How often they rebelled against him in the wilderness
and grieved him in the wasteland!
41 Again and again they put God to the test;
they vexed the Holy One of Israel.
42 They did not remember his power—
the day he redeemed them from the oppressor,
43 the day he displayed his signs in Egypt,
his wonders in the region of Zoan.
44 He turned their river into blood;
they could not drink from their streams.
45 He sent swarms of flies that devoured them,
and frogs that devastated them.
46 He gave their crops to the grasshopper,
their produce to the locust.
47 He destroyed their vines with hail
and their sycamore-figs with sleet.
48 He gave over their cattle to the hail,
their livestock to bolts of lightning.
49 He unleashed against them his hot anger,
his wrath, indignation and hostility—
a band of destroying angels.
50 He prepared a path for his anger;
he did not spare them from death
but gave them over to the plague.
51 He struck down all the firstborn of Egypt,
the firstfruits of manhood in the tents of Ham.
52 But he brought his people out like a flock;
he led them like sheep through the wilderness.
53 He guided them safely, so they were unafraid;
but the sea engulfed their enemies.
54 And so he brought them to the border of his holy land,
to the hill country his right hand had taken.
55 He drove out nations before them
and allotted their lands to them as an inheritance;
he settled the tribes of Israel in their homes.

Reflections: We will see a theme emerging in all 3 readings today. God wants to do powerful things through His people, but often we don’t trust Him enough to let these things happen. God had already delivered the Israelites in an amazing fashion by parting the Red Sea and closing it in on their pursuers, the Egyptians.

We also see God drove out all the nations before them in the Promised Land, and yet over time the people forgot and turned to other gods. God’s unfailing mercy is amazing isn’t it? Despite all the things he does in our lives, our tendency is to forget easily and ask “What have you done for me lately?”

Deuteronomy 3
Moses Forbidden to Cross the Jordan

21 At that time I commanded Joshua: “You have seen with your own eyes all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. The Lord will do the same to all the kingdoms over there where you are going. 22 Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.”23 At that time I pleaded with the Lord: 24 “Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? 25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon. ”26 But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. 28 But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.” 29 So we stayed in the valley near Beth Peor.

Reflections: Here we see the bittersweet story of Moses getting to the edge of the Promised Land and not being able to go over and conquer it with the Israelites. Moses is confident in the charge he gives to Joshua to go over and take the land. He has learned through experience that God will deliver on His promises, despite his reluctance at times.

One last time, he practically begs God to go over let him see the Promised Land. But just as Moses has always enjoyed a very personal relationship with the Lord, the Lord gently rebukes Him by saying, “Enough is enough Moses, do not bring this up again!” (Remember Numbers 20:12, where Moses struck the rock with his staff twice, rather than speaking to the rock as God had commanded him.) We see the very personal nature of Moses relationship with God, but also that God is holy and Moses is not to question God’s sovereign judgments.

Do you see the balance here? We pursue God and cry out to him, and yet we strive like Jesus to say, “Not my will but your will be done!” As we trust in the authority God has given us we can be a part of carrying out His plan for the world. But as we shrink back and think only to our human power, we will miss out on being a part of God’s great plan to win the world back to himself!

Luke 4:31-44
Jesus Drives Out an Impure Spirit

31 Then he went down to Capernaum, a town in Galilee, and on the Sabbath he taught the people. 32 They were amazed at his teaching, because his words had authority. 33 In the synagogue there was a man possessed by a demon, an impure spirit. He cried out at the top of his voice, 34 “Go away! What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are —the Holy One of God!”35 “Be quiet!” Jesus said sternly. “Come out of him!” Then the demon threw the man down before them all and came out without injuring him.36 All the people were amazed and said to each other, “What words these are! With authority and power he gives orders to impure spirits and they come out!” 37 And the news about him spread throughout the surrounding area.

Jesus Heals Many
38 Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 39 So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.40 At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying his hands on each one, he healed them. 41 Moreover, demons came out of many people, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew he was the Messiah.42 At daybreak, Jesus went out to a solitary place. The people were looking for him and when they came to where he was, they tried to keep him from leaving them. 43 But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” 44 And he kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea.

Again we see the theme of authority and power. This time Jesus is showing us how he carries out God’s authority and power, by first rebuking the demons, who had taken domain, even from the man who was from the synagogue. Note the demon went after God’s people. Notice too that the demons notice Jesus’ authority, and who he is, and realize that they are in the presence of a power much greater than themselves.

Remember too Jesus is modeling for the disciples, the power He will confer upon them when He sends them the Holy Spirit, the same power by which He lives out His calling as the unique Son of God. As we grow in our discipleship in following Jesus and His commands, the other area of growth for us as believers is living in His power and authority. As sons and daughters of God, we are children of the covenant. We are part of God’s holy family, and as such we not only have a relationship with God but we also represent God. And as we represent God in the world and try to move forward His kingdom there will be resistance. The same enemy that recognized Jesus’ authority will recognize our authority as we live out our lives in the power and in the name of Jesus.

Bottom line: As a son or daughter of Jesus who has been baptized in His name, you don’t have to fear anything. You can live confidently, as one who uses his or her power and authority to serve others and pray for those who are sick in Jesus’ name.

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” Exodus 3:14

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Revelation 21:6

Lord, may we never question the infinite presence that is you, the great I Am. As we value you, may we also value all of your creation, remembering that all are worthy because all are from you. Amen.

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