Thursday, July 25, 2013

Inaction vs. Action

I am on Day 5. I have read and answered everything pertaining to the first half of this day’s assignments. Today, I am just about all on board with the author. There is only one question that I question; but I will get to that later. I see many correlations between the part of Moses’ story revolving around the separation of the Red Sea and my life’s journey in obeying God and using prayer as a path to God’s will being performed in my life. This will be shared in Dove's Landing

The opening of Day 5 encompasses the purpose of prayer to allow an outlet for God’s will to be realized within this physical world. That the purpose of prayer is allowing God’s hands to reach down into our hearts in an effort to help us to obey His commands of us.

Upon reading the list of questions to be answered, and their subsequent bible verses to be used as a launching point for answering these questions, I decided to read the entire chapter 14 of Exodus, and then read the notes in my bible before answering the questions provided within the prayer study. Chapter 14 of Exodus is about Moses leading the Israelites through a series of movements that take them to the Red Sea that is parted for their escape from the Egyptians. Ultimately for the purpose of giving God His Glory.

Here are the questions, written out verbatim from the prayer study:

Read Exodus 14:15-18 and think through these questions:

Exodus 14:15-18
15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17 I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”

When Moses found himself in this difficulty, was it a surprise to God? 
My thoughts: No! God knew Moses' heart, better than Moses himself. God knew before this transpired what He would be up against. He also knew how Moses would respond to His commands. God does not guess, or go with the flow. He has a plan and He knows every move to make to accomplish His plan. 

Did God passively allow the situation, or did He actively engineer it? (Read Exodus 14:1-4.) What was His purpose?

Exodus 14:1-4
1 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. 3 Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around t he land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.

My thoughts: He actively engineered it. His purpose was to save the Israelites, while gaining the Glory deserved Him. Again, God has a plan. Certain things must happen in order for Him to carry the plan out. God knew Pharaoh's heart. He hardened Pharaoh's heart because Pharaoh would never give his heart to God. God actively guided the Israelites into position, knowing how Pharoah would react, and perpetuated Pharaoh's action through the hardening of his heart. God moved all of the pieces to specific places for the purpose of His glory.

Before Moses and the Israelites arrived at the Red Sea, did God already know what He was going to do to save them? 
My thoughts: Yes! There are no accidents made by God! God is never early, and He is never late. He knew exactly what was to transpire and how and when. He orchestrated it, through the participation of Moses leading the Israelites into place. 

Did God do what He planned to do and wanted to do without Moses’ active participation? Read Exodus 14:16 and 21-22.

16 Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22 and the Israelites went through the see on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

My thoughts: This is where I become confused. I honestly do not understand the question, especially in correlation to the verses I am to read. Yes, God did what He planned to do. But, while Moses had a moment of inaction, I believe he ultimately became active again. Moses was active in obeying God in moving the Israelites by the sea. When they got there, the Israelites began to complain, losing trust in God’s ability to provide for them. In this case: provide a way out of Egypt; provide protection from the Egyptian army.
Moses prayed. This was his moment of inaction. While active in prayer, Moses was not active in physical action. 

As I said previously, I also read the notes provided by my bible. The notes touch on how we come to a place where prayer is not enough, acting on prayer becomes necessary. We need to be able to discern when it is time to make a move. How many times in life have you known that action is necessary in order to change circumstances or situations, but have opted to do nothing out of fear? We become discontent and want change. We pray for change, for guidance. But there comes a time when we need to make a move to get the ball rolling. We must trust that God will continue to provide even when we become active in something that is uncomfortable for us. If we choose to sit back and wait for everything to unfold when the moment has come for us to stand up and move, then we are tying God’s hands. Prayer is half of the battle. Obeying God is the other half.

Moses, once commanded/reprimanded by God, stopped praying and moved. He obeyed God in raising his staff for the purpose of God to separate the Red Sea. Then, Moses actively led the people through the dry land, sandwiched between two walls of water, trusting in God’s promise.

When Moses found himself in this difficult situation, what was his role?
a. To figure out how God could rescue them and suggest it to Him.
b. To talk God into rescuing them.
c. To figure out a way to get the people to the other side of the sea, where God wanted them.
d. To respond in obedience to God’s voice and let his praying life be the conduit to bring into the situation what God had always planned to do.

My thoughts: The answer is d. Moses never had the responsibility to solve the riddle of how to save the Israelites. It was never up to Moses to come up with a plan and then present it to God in hopes He would approve. Moses’ sole duty was to pray the will of God, then obey the commands God put before him. Moses knew what to do: cross the Red Sea. Moses had to stop praying and get moving! He had to obey God by acting on the will of God.

The last section of Day 5 is a summary of the purpose of prayer: “…to release the power of God to accomplish the purposes of God.” From the prayer study. 

My thoughts: This has been my mentality for much of my life. God planted seeds within all of us for His purpose. We need Him to mold us into the people He intended for us to be, for the execution of His plan. When we invite God into our lives through prayer, we are asking God to nourish our hearts, revealing to us His glory, His strength, His purpose. Prayer gives us the opportunity to obey God. The more we pray for God’s will to be done, the more we will obey the will of God.

A question posed by the author, in her reflections of her inner prayer journey:
Could I learn, like Moses, to make my heart available for God’s purposes? Could I learn to trust His purposes more than my own perceptions?

My thoughts: Think of the perceptions the Israelites had when they were backed up against the Red Sea, in the middle of the desert, and a mountain in the other direction. Their perception was they were going to die: either from the heat of the desert, or the Pharaoh’s army. The reality was that God had a way out for them; they just needed to trust that God would continue to provide for them. 

In closing, verbatim from the prayer study: 
As you behold His glory, you are changed so that your heart is a reflection of His. His concerns are your concerns. His desires are your desires. His will is reflected in your prayers. In His presence, your prayer life becomes consistently powerful and effective. This is not because you now have more influence on Him, but because He now has more influence on you. The secret of prayer is not how to change God, but how to be changed by Him. 

Following the assignment, I see the familiar prayer:
 ~ Psalm 25:4-5 ~
4 Show me your ways, O Lord, 
teach me your paths;
5 guide me in your truth and teach me, 
for you are God my Savior.

The emphasis today is on the words: your paths; And, on the words: your truth. What I felt was, May I never stray; the only truth is God's truth.

Prayer Study Day 6 here. 
For credit purposes, the Prayer Study I am using is: 
Live A Praying Life, New and Revised Anniversary Addition 
Jennifer Kennedy Dean ~ 
This is not an endorsement. This just happens to be the prayer study I am using, and I have decided to share my study experience, here on The Paisley Butterfly

My Bible: Life Application Study Bible, New International Version 
Why I like this bible: There are extensive notes on the verses. Each page has more notes:bible verse ratio. 

Here is a link to an online bible -- there are other online bibles out there, this one just happens to be the one I use most. 

Again, listing my bible references is not for the purpose of endorsement, but an effort to appropriate credit to materials used.

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