Every Monday night, there is a group of Christians that meet in Jorge’s house in Jocotenango. We meet together with the specific purpose of developing a greater understanding of the Bible and through that, developing a deeper relationship with God so we can share God with others.
Our group started out studying about God and who He is and some of the things that make God, God. We have continued on with a study of the Old Testament. As we study the Old Testament, we don’t want to just learn stories about specific people. We can learn specific things from studying specific people, but if we stop there, we miss the point. For example, we learn a lot about faith from Abraham. We can learn about obedience from Noah. We learn about forgiveness and integrity from Joseph. I think God wants us to learn these specific things, but there is a bigger picture that we have to grasp. In all of these stories, there are two sides. There is what is happening in that persons life, but there is also how God is working through those things to show the world more about Him and His purposes. In other words, we can learn how to be more faithful, more obedient, more forgiving, or how to be men and women with more integrity, but we also need to see how we can learn more about God and who He is and how He deals with people to accomplish His purposes.
Recently, we have been studying the book of Exodus. It’s the story of God liberating the descendants of Jacob (Israel) from the slavery of Egypt. The story continues as the Israelites wander around in the desert. Again, there are specific teachings we can pick up from this time period in the history of the nation of Israel, but there is one theme that keeps showing up.
It comes from a phrase that is repeated over and over and over in the first few books of the Bible, see if you can pick it out from the following references.
Exodus 6:7, Exodus 7:4-5, Exodus 7:17, Exodus 8:22, Exodus 10:2, Exodus 14:4, Exodus 16:12.
Did you see it? It has to do with people knowing that God is God and that He is with the Israelites. God said this over and over. He doesn’t waste His words. He doesn’t talk just because He likes the sound of His voice. Apparently, this is a concept that He really wanted His people to grasp. Apparently, this is a concept that He wants us to grasp.
God knew that Canaan, the land that He was going to give to the Israelites was full false gods and people who worshipped them. He knew that His people, the Israelites, would be tempted to follow those other gods. God started to prepare them for this battle early.
This same lesson shouldn’t be lost on us. If we haven’t learned anything about the Old Testament, we should learn this: The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, who rescued His people from Egypt, who led them across the Red Sea, who led them through the desert, who gave them the “promised land”, He is God. No one or no other thing can take His place. He is all powerful. He is loving. He is just. He is the provider. He sent His Son to pay the price for your sins and for my sins on the cross of Calvary.
This fact that God is God, is applicable in every single part of our lives. Let me ask some questions. Where does the roof over your head come from? We have a roof over our head because God provides it. Did you eat today? Who provided the food? God did. Where does our health come from? It comes from God. How about our relationships where do they come from? We have our friends, our spouses, because God has provided us with them.
Why does God provide all of these things? He does it because He loves us, but that’s only part of the picture. The other part is because He wants us to know that He is God. Sometimes we want to take the glory for these provisions away from God. Sometimes we start to think that we have our house, because we have such a good job. Sometimes we start to think that we have such a good job, because we are so talented. Sometimes we start to think that we have our food because we are such good providers. Sometimes we think we have the relationships we have because we are so much fun to be with or because we are so good looking. That’s all wrong. We have all of these things because God has provided us with them.
God recently provided a new vehicle for our ministry here in Guatemala. Who provided it? God did. Did He provide it so that we can cruise around Jocotenango with the radio blasting and our hats on backwards so that everyone will know how cool we are? No, God provided a vehicle to show how great He is. That vehicle is to be used for His glory, not ours.
In the example of a new van, we have to be careful to put the emphasis on God, not on the vehicle. In the other examples, if we have food, we have to make sure that the emphasis is on God not the food. If we have a place to call home, we have to make sure the emphasis is put on God, not on the shelter. When we get this wrong, it can be as if Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt for a trip to the sea because they all needed a vacation. (They had been working really hard.) They would see the beauty and power of the sea and not see the power of the God who created it. They would see the sea being held back as they crossed through but not see the power of God holding it back.
Israel’s purpose was to show the glory of God. Only He had the power to deliver. He had the power to provide. He had the power to protect. Our purpose is to show the glory of God. He has the power to deliver us from whatever we need delivered from. When He does, we should give God the glory. God alone has the power to provide for us, and when He does, we should give God the glory.
This is an important part of our lives that we shouldn’t neglect. God knows that the land we live in now, whether it is Jocotenango, or the United States, or wherever, is full of false gods. He wrote these words in the Bible for us to read them today, because He knows that if we don’t make a conscious effort to recognize His hand in our lives, we will be tempted to live like He doesn’t exist. We will be tempted to give the glory that belongs only to God to people or things. We will be tempted to take the glory that belongs to God for ourselves. (Romans 1:18-23)