Circumstances Matter

Scripture Focus: Exodus 5.22-23
22 Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me? 23 Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.” 

Exodus 6.6, 9
6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment…

9 Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor. 

Reflection: Circumstances Matter
By John Tillman

The people believed and accepted Moses at first, but then the suffering increased.

After Moses spoke to Pharaoh, Pharaoh cracked down hard on the people, repeatedly calling them “lazy.” (Exodus 5.17) Oppressors often accuse those who are longing for freedom of laziness. It is a well-worn argument and, usually, an ironic one. 

In Pharaoh’s case, the Israelites had been doing the hard labor of Egypt for generations. If anyone was lazy, it was Pharaoh and the ruling class at the top, not those at the bottom. Those who labor the hardest for the least are often accused of laziness by those whose labors are light while earning the most.

Pharaoh claimed they were lazy, but what he really feared was any thoughts of freedom. He sought, by increasing their suffering, to drive out these hopeful thoughts. To a certain degree and for a time, it worked. The Israelites were unable to listen to Moses in the midst of their emotional and physical trauma. (Exodus 6.9

God’s message to the Israelites is a gospel message. “I will bring you out.” “I will free you.” “I will redeem you.” But even the seed of the gospel can fail to take root in soil that is pressed down by hard traffic or, if it sprouts, can be choked out by the concerns of life. (Matthew 13.3-9)

For some, usually the wealthy and privileged, suffering can lead them to the gospel but for others, the downtrodden, forgotten, and abused, suffering can hinder the gospel. 

Circumstances matter. Housing. Food. Work conditions. Wages. Disease. Abuse. These affect not only the physical realities of people’s lives but also emotional and spiritual receptivity to the gospel. Work that churches, individuals, or governments do to alleviate these sources of suffering and pressure can be of great aid to the gospel.

We shouldn’t be bent out of shape when people reject our message due to extraordinary suffering in their lives. What happens to people, good or bad, can significantly affect faith. Many people reject the gospel for experiential rather than intellectual reasons.

May we have grace and mercy toward those who are suffering and work with them patiently.
May we not minimize their suffering or blame them, but seek to bring them relief, ease, and healing.
May we also consider suffering in our own lives and see whether the presence (or lack) of suffering is affecting our faith and our actions.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not stray from your commandments. — Psalm 119.10

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Exodus 6 (Listen – 3:15) 
Luke 9 (Listen – 8:05)

Read more about Treasure in Our Sacks
We come to God with the false belief that we must buy blessings from him and the false pride that we have the means with which to do it.

Read more about Hearing the Groans of the Prisoners
Physical salvation is always top of mind for the persecuted and God’s wrath only sounds harsh to those who have rarely suffered.

An Amazed Faith :: Worldwide Prayer

Luke 8.25
“Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Reflection: An Amazed Faith :: Worldwide Prayer
By John Tillman

We can become complacent about Christ’s nature. The disciples did. Being so close to him—seeing him sweat, and eat, and wearily lie down to sleep in the back of the boat—they often saw only the man. But in the storm, they see him for who he is.

Seeing Jesus truly is always shocking. No matter how great a grasp of the incarnation we think we have, our intellectualism has a hard time grappling with Jesus rebuking the wind and waves. 

A Jesus this powerful is frightening. If he rebukes the wind and waves what about us? 

He might ask us to do…anything. He might send us to save…anyone. He might ask us to give…everything.

This prayer of redemption confesses our position, and expresses wonder and thankfulness that Christ, despite our weak faith, works his redemptive power in our lives.

Prayer for Redemption from Ukraine

God Almighty,

When my mind rejects earthly vanity
And when I raise my soul to you
I tremble and feel joyous.
I see you in awakening nature,
In the stream’s murmur and the mighty ocean’s waves.
You rule all the universe, everything is created by you and is subject to you.

Nobody, nothing can resist you.
Every creature who breaks your laws perishes.
And me? How dare I not obey you,
To seek something of my own.
I sinned, but you loved me, looked for me, found me, forgave me, and adopted me as your child.

I cannot comprehend the depth of your love!
How could you for the sake of someone like me,
Send your son, Jesus Christ?
How could it be that despite my weak faith
Jesus suffered and died and
Gave me the right to unite with you 
And be yours for all eternity?

My precious Jesus,
What a great joy it is to rely on you,
To confide in you,
To love you and to wait for you every day!

Help me, my Lord, to always carry in my body
Your death, so that your life may be revealed
In me daily till we meet with you in Heaven!

*Prayer from Hallowed be Thy Name, L. A. (Tony) Cupit, ed., Hallowed be Your Name: A collection of prayers from around the world

Prayer: The Greeting
You have rescued my soul from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living. — Psalm 56.11-12

Today’s Readings
Exodus 5 (Listen – 3:15) 
Luke 8 (Listen – 8:09)

This Weekend’s Readings
Exodus 6 (Listen – 3:56), Luke 9 (Listen – 8:05)
Exodus 7 (Listen – 3:29), Luke 10 (Listen – 5:40)

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Read more about Fear in the Boat :: Readers’ Choice :: TBT
This devotion spoke to me in a moment where I almost forgot where I was. The words reminded me of the faithfulness of Jesus. I pictured myself in that ‘boat’, and Christ showing me who he is, I was on the Rock. — Azikiwe Calhoun

Read more about Faith After the Storm
Jesus asleep on the pillow is a punching bag for our emotions. Asleep, he cannot hear or dispute our complaints, our fears, our version of events. But Jesus standing and rebuking the storm rebukes us as well. “Quiet. Be still.”

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