Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Words of Encouragement

"Celebrate the Feast of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering at the turn of the year. Three times a year all your men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD, the God of Israel. I will drive out nations before you and enlarge your territory, and no one will covet your land when you go up three times each year to appear before the LORD your God. - Exodus 34:22-24

God’s Sovereignty. God requires for relationship. This scripture from Exodus is when Moses goes back before God to have he re-write the tables after they have been destroyed. Before God speaks to Moses about what is required of the people, he gives a short list of his abilities and attributes.

Starting in verse 6, this is what God says about himself, “And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, ‘The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.’”

God reminds Moses of his goodness and then he tells Moses that even still he will not allow wickedness and sin to go unpunished. God then tells Moses of what he requires from the people. He warns Moses to keep the people separate from the nations that will surround them. Do not intermingle in marriage, customs or worship. Do not seek to partake in seeking after their gods. He also as we get to these verses, requires the people to come before him at certain times each year. This is a requirement, not optional.

What does it speak to us today? As Christians there are some requirements for relationship with God. We cannot say we are in a relationship with him, yet do not follow his ways. He requires us not to intermingle in this world we live in. In this case he is speaking about taking up the customs and the religious practices. We cannot seek to worship the god’s of our time because they will cause us to turn from the true God. God reminds us that he is slow to anger and loving, but he still will not leave the guilty unpunished. If we refuse to turn, we stand to receive the punishment of our sins.

He also requires us to come before him. Whether is 3 times or 300 times is not the point, what the significance is, God is requiring consistence participation from us in a relationship with him. It is not something he is asking or begging us for, it is a non-negotiable requirement.

Today, let us go to God to find out what his requirement is for us to have a right relationship with him. I pray that we do not miss understand the attributes of God as saying he’ll be patient with our foolishness forever. Not so. In fact it is only his mercy he is extending to us, but in his time he will require you to stand before him and face the results of your sin. So I pray that we heed him while he is extending mercy and grace to us.