Being Still — An Old Challenge for a New Day — Exodus 14:14

English: Johnson Bible College chapel

English: Johnson Bible College chapel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Being Still — An Old Challenge for a New Day – Exodus 14:14

Big.  The little college I attended in Tennessee has grown big.  It is so big that it has become a university with three campuses – one in Tennessee, one in Florida, and one online.

I was recently invited to a regional rally for Johnson University on a Friday night.  Anyone who knows the history of the campus would expect that there would be stories galore at an assembly of the alumni of the school.  This night did not disappoint.

Among the alumni present was one Mary Beth, the daughter of a prominent professor of the school and a class president.  Her class was 1975 or 1976.  I do not recall the precise year, since I was among the  underclassmen.

Mary Beth held forth with a story about prayer.  As class president she was tapped by the administration to spearhead a prayer vigil for the school.  It was not uncommon to have prayer vigils then.  Some were conducted in small groups, and others were round the clock vigils stretching on for several days.  I could recall how we would scramble to get a decent time, but don’t let me get started.

Mary Beth was charged with the responsibility of praying for the debt retirement for two new dormitories during a Fall prayer vigil.  Prayer was the opportunity to step back, be still, and let God do the work of God.  Mary Beth recounted that the answer followed in the early Spring.   The debt was retired, the construction cost of the dorms was paid in full.

The prowess of my memory is a matter of debate.  Some of my female friends may declare I have a short memory, and some students may argue the opposite; but I regress.

This recollection dates from about 1976.  I was seated in the back of Alumni Memorial Chapel listening to Dr. Floyd Clark.  As he led the singing he interjected his challenge, “Stop.  Listen.  Can you hear them? I can hear the angels.  Can you?”  We were then to go on singing one round and another of the chorus he had chosen with the expectation that we would hear angelic voices.

White coral bells upon a slender stalk,

Lilies of the valley deck the garden walk.

Oh, don’t you wish that you could hear them ring.

That will only happen when the angels sing.”

I cannot say that I did hear angels singing other than the angelic voices of the congregation.  In the men’s dorm, Brown Hall, I could not find anyone who heard celestial angels that night.  Nonetheless, the message was important.  There are times when you must be still.  In stillness you let God do the work of God.

I cannot say whether the students of the big university have yet come to understand the lesson.  It was a lesson Moses knew time and again.  Exodus 14:14 says, “the Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

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Signs and Works in John’s Gospel — John 3:1-5, 14-15 — The Sign of the Snake

English: Jesus and Nicodemus

English: Jesus and Nicodemus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Signs and Works in John’s Gospel – John 3:1-5 & 14-15

S – N – A – K – E

See also: Num. 21:8-9; John 7:50; 9:16; Matt 12:39-40; Rms. 6:4

Sign – v. 2 – Nicodemus like the rest of the generation could not help but notice the works of Christ. Have you taken the time to see them today?

Night – v. 2 – Nicodemus was a high ranking official. He could not afford to be seen with Jesus just now. Nor could he afford to not consult Jesus about his ministry.

Again – v. 3 – To Nicodemus Jesus said, “You must be born again.” Today as then we must be born of the water and we must be born of the spirit.

Kingdom – vs. 5, 10, 12 – The man who came to Jesus was an earthly lawyer. What Jesus had to teach was about a spiritual kingdom. So often we get caught up in the order of the day that we forget what Jesus was about . He was about teaching that that there is a spiritual life.

Eternal life – v. 15 – Something that could never be found in the law was now promised. Jesus was promising that he would bring eternal life. The rescue by Moses in the wilderness was just a shadow of what was offered now.

Exemplary story: On the farm we would often have a patch of sweet corn planted in one of the outlying fields. On particular season when I was very small the field corn patch was planted in the east acre patch. I remember hearing that the crop was in danger of being lost to marauding crows. My dad managed to shoot a crow. He nailed the crow to the longest pole he could find, and he nailed that pole to a fencepost in the sweet corn patch. The uplifted crow saved the remaining harvest. For us today the uplifted Christ is God’s promise to save us from our sins if we believe and obey.

The Thrill of Reverence — A Communion Meditation

English: Communion setting at an Evangelical L...

English: Communion setting at an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America worship service: an open Bible, both unleavened bread and gluten-free wafers, a chalice of wine, and another containing grape juice (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our reading comes from Exodus 24:1-2, 9-11

(1) Then he said to Moses, “come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel.  You are to worship at a distance, (2) but Moses alone is to approach the lord; the others must not come near.  And the people may not come up with him.”

(9)Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up (10) and saw the God of Israel.  Under His feet was something like a pavement made of sapphire, clear as the sky itself.  bud God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.

While we were in college and still dating, my late wife invited me to go home to meet the parents.  The meeting included a sit-down meal at the family dining table.  For my part I was on my best behavior.  My wife had asked her parents to be on their best behavior.  As we dined we sensed a thrill of reverence.

When Moses was preparing to receive the commandments, we are told that he took Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the Elders along to participate in a sacred feast.  The text says they ate and drank and were not harmed.   At this banquet with the Lord of Israel they experienced the thrill of reverence.

As you approach the communion table to receive the bread and the cup, do you sense the thrill of reverence?