Notes from Fred
Your Meadowlake Family has not missed a beat this Summer. In fact, it has increased “its beat” – we pulled in extra chairs on Sunday; our Preschool Camp (“Let’s Go Camping”) is in full swing; our Tuesdays at the Movies have been fun and meaningful; our Couch to 5K has energized many; and our support of our East Huntersville Revitalization Ministry is well underway, focusing now on the Back-to-School Rally on August 18!
And more is in store beginning on August 19, with our Christian Education Fall Fellowship Kick-off Picnic. So, in the words of Christ’s Vision for us – Come together, to be transformed, by his love, which flourishes so much, and offers so much, here…
Trust In God - To Interceded for Others
On Sunday, Moses offered us a powerful invitation, to Trust in God to intercede for others – to ask for God’s mercy; to affect God’s actions that give mercy; to give us love enough to intercede. (Exodus 32:1-14)
- Moses has been on Mount Sinai with God for 40 days, receiving the tablets bearing the Ten Commandments and other rules for living that will bless the people of Israel. Unfortunately, the people become restless without their leader. They violate the First and Second Commandments (not putting God first in their lives; worshiping the gods of the world); making a golden idol in the form of a calf; worshipping it as their God; turning to revelry, (in the words of The Message) into “a wild party!” God is so angry, that He prepares to destroy them.
- Unfortunately, the sins of the people are familiar, worshipping gods other than God: money; pride; sex; “stuff;” alcohol; self-indulgence; partying as a priority…. The consequences of their sins are also familiar – short term “happiness” that will ultimately desert us and destroy us. These consequences are either the natural results of our sinful actions (that God allows) or the results of God’s punishment – either way, the consequences are determined by God. But Moses shows us that there is a way that can reverse these seemingly irreversible consequences – with three Truths.
- The First Truth is this: We have the opportunity and responsibility to intercede for others to affect what God does for and to others! God has decided that He will destroy the Israelites, but He is compelled to say to Moses – “Leave me alone so that I can destroy them!” God reveals that Moses stands in the way of His actions. Moses does not leave God alone. He implores God to turn from destruction, to give the people mercy. As a result, “God turns, relents” and does not destroy them.
- Moses prays a prayer of intercession, which means to “stand between the one with the problem and the One with the answer – to bring them together for something better, a new life together.” It is a mystery as to why God lets it be this way, but this is God’s truth, that God has given us the opportunity to intercede, to affect what He does to others. We see this revealed through Moses and through many other Scriptures – most powerfully in the Book of Ezekiel, where God speaks, condemning the people of pride, greed, and injustice for the poor. Then God adds: “I search for anyone who will stand in the gap between the people and me, so that I will not have to destroy them. But I found no one. So the evil they have chosen will consume them.”
- God urges us to “stand in the gap” on behalf of those who need His mercy. Although it is true that the move from sin to salvation is complete when we confess, repent, and let God change us – the change begins when God turns, to mercy, which begins when we intercede…. God turned from destruction to mercy before the people did anything, because Moses interceded on their behalf. God wants us to intercede, to turn Him away from the destruction He is preparing to inflict, to turn away the destruction we inflict on ourselves…
- God wants so much for someone to “stand in the gap” for those who need mercy. Will you be that person? Will you trust in God to intercede and save someone from destruction?
- This is our Second Truth: What God does is affected by our interceding! As Moses shows us, our prayers move God, to mercy, healing, saving from destruction. This is the point of my prayers for you, our prayers of intercession in Worship. Jesus urges us to believe and live this truth, in his Parable of the friend knocking on a door at midnight (hear it on our website). Jesus promises that “God will give you what is good, if you ask, with boldness!”
- Yet, too often we pray but do not believe this truth – qualifying our prayer, “if it is your will…” But Moses does not qualify, and neither do I when I pray for you. And I urge you to pray as Jesus told us, with boldness. For it is with boldness that God is turned to give mercy. This is affirmed over and over again in my experience. It was affirmed by the story of Maria. (Hear it on our website.) In summary, her story is this: Because of her worship of alcohol in her Freshman year in college, Maria fell, hit her head on a concrete curb and was in a coma that the doctors said appeared to be permanent. A pastor simply reflected that this is a consequence of bad decisions; a Chaplain simply prayed for her to come out of her coma “if it is your will.” But her friends and family were led to pray (24 hours a day) with boldness that she would wake up and walk out. Three days later, she woke up; one week later, she walked out…
- For reasons unknown to us, it does not always work out that way. But our interceding prayer, with boldness, without qualification, is the best hope we have for mercy. And it does not matter whether someone asks for mercy; or how someone came to need mercy…
- What does matter is our Third Truth: Whether we will trust in God to intercede for others for mercy, depends on whether we love the one in need of mercy! Moses interceded for his people, I intercede for you, because of love. I know that it is not always easy to intercede for others who have hurt us, who have brought the need for mercy on themselves (hurting others in the process). Yet, God calls us to intercede: “I search for someone who will stand in the gap!”
- If you find it hard to love, and therefore to intercede, begin with a prayer for God to give you a heart to love them. Jesus’ promise (and my experience) is that God will give us what is good, which is love (or at least understanding, which is enough) to intercede.
- Sallie and I are experiencing this truth now. A member of our Small Group has made some unhealthy decisions. But, because we love them, we are bathing them in interceding prayer, asking for God’s mercy on them – and already they are being healed, because 12 people are standing in the gap for them.
- Is there someone in your life (whether you like them or not; whether they are “at fault” or not) who needs God to turn and give His healing mercy? Then trust in God by interceding – for saving them from destruction (self-inflicted, or God inflicted) is in your hands!
Connection for the Week: Ask God to lay on your heart someone who needs His mercy; stand in the gap and intercede for them; and watch as His mercy begins to flow.