Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Lasting Impact of Jethro’s Risk -- Exodus 18:24-27:


So Moses listened to his father-in-law, and did all that he had said.  And Moses chose able men out of all Israel, and made them heads over the people, leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.  And they judged the people at all times; the difficult dispute they would bring to Moses, but every minor dispute they themselves would judge.  Then Moses bade his father-in-law farewell, and he went his way into his own land.
 
Because of the advice that Jethro gave Moses, the way he delivered it, and his caution that it only be accepted if God told Moses to accept it as well, Moses listened to his father-in-law.  When I was younger and people did not understand me or like what I said, I used to think that the problem lay strictly with them.  “It was the receiver’s fault, not the speaker’s,” I would argue.  Now I know I was wrong.  You see the point of me (or anyone else for that matter) giving advice to someone you love is for him or her to accept your advice.  So why would I not want to say it in a way that augments the probability of them doing so?  Why would I not want to phrase my advice in way that shows them the value of what I am suggesting for them, and for those that matter to them?  And finally if I really believed in the advice I am giving, that it is indeed in accordance with what I believe God wants for them, why would I not want to have them ascertain that very thing from God Himself, leaving the matter of one’s acceptance strictly to God and the individual involved?  There is much we can learn from Jethro’s counsel to Moses, but also from the process that he employed to deliver it.  As a result, the text tells us Moses did all that Jethro had recommended for him to do.  Jethro succeeded in the purpose I believe God had laid on his heart to achieve.
It appears the people saw the good in all that Moses did and lived by rules he established for them in the matter of governance and dispute resolution.  Clearly when God lays a task to be carried out in the heart of someone, and he/she succeeds, the blessing is felt not only by those directly involved but sometimes entire nations.  What has God laid on your heart today?  Are you able to follow through and deliver for Him?
And Aside: Let us for a moment consider Moses’ wife Zipporah about which we will write more when covering Exodus 19.  You will remember that when Jethro arrived at Moses’ camp in the wilderness, Moses greeted him, but there is no reference to his greeting Zipporah or his sons.  Did he ignore her?  We are not sure.  But we also do not know, at this point in scripture at least, whether or not Zipporah and the boys remained with Moses when Jethro left.  The Bible is silent on all this.  It appears that the descendants of Moses played only minor parts in the history of the Jewish people and God had focused strictly on Moses to accomplish His will at this time.  
This 18th chapter of Exodus ends with Moses saying good-bye to his father-in-law who had come to visit him in the wilderness.  Earlier in the scriptures, God arranged for Moses to become related to Jethro through marriage.  Then God used Jethro to impact Moses perhaps more so than any other human being had impacted him to date.  People often come into our lives for a purpose that God has in mind.  We are either the one who has to carry out what God laid on our hearts to share with others, or we are the one who has to hear what God has to say to us through others.  Who is in your life right now and why are they there?  Or, whose life are you in right now and why are you there?
Clearly what Jethro was able to accomplish made a difference.  It made a difference to Moses, his son-in-law, allowing him to lead the people of Israel for many years without getting burned-out.  It made a difference to how the people of Israel survived their years in the wilderness and how they slowly became established as a people right up to the nation of Israel today.  Much of their governance and structure originated from Jethro’s advice to Moses.  And it made a difference to the world as it has adopted many of the same principles in the way it conducts its affairs at various levels of government, in its commercial organizations, its military units, and even its judicial systems.  All this started with Jethro caring enough for his son-in-law to take a risk and offer him godly advice.
My prayer for us is that we consider what risk God wants us to take with whom today.  Who knows, our success may impact the world.
_____________________________________________________________________

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Jethro’s 10 Management Recommendations are Classic -- Exodus 18:19b-23


“You be the people’s representative before God, and you bring the disputes to God, then teach them the statutes and the laws, and make known to them the way in which they are to walk, and the work they are to do.  Furthermore, you shall select out of all the people able men who fear God, men of truth, those who hate dishonest gain; and you shall place these over them, as leaders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens.  And let them judge the people at all times; and let it be that every major dispute they will bring to you, but every minor dispute they themselves will judge.  So it will be easier for you and they will bear the burden with you.  If you do this thing and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people also will go to their place in peace.”
 
Having prepared both himself and his son-in-law to whom he was about to give some advice, Jethro is now ready to share his recommendations with Moses.  After drafting my thoughts for this section, I noticed quite unintentionally that Jethro shared 10 recommendations with Moses as to how to govern the people of Israel.  With appropriate adaptation, we can apply these recommendations to our nation, to our organizations, and to our churches.
Recommendation No. 1 Be the people’s representative before God.  That has got to be the shortest and the best job description of a Christian CEO I have ever seen.  Just ‘be’ the people’s representative before God. Do not think of yourself as the boss, others will come to see you as that on their own and they will accept it better.  And remember, Who your own ‘Boss’ is.  Second, the purpose of your leadership is not about goals, products, services, finances, etc.  It is about people, first and foremost.  Third, remember that as a representative, you yourself are one of them.  You are not better, and relative to your Boss, you are not smarter.  You are one of those you represent, but you happen to have been given a different opportunity because of the way God wired you.  Finally, your key role is to draw upon the ultimate Source of wisdom and justice.  You (and those you place in subordinate leadership positions) are simply a conduit between the people and God, presenting Him with their challenges (family, church, organization, and country) that they face.  Recognize your role as such and then act accordingly.
Recommendation No. 2 Bring their disputes to God.  I know this sounds much like the first recommendation but I would submit that it is not.  Recommendation No. 1 speaks of who the leader is.  This recommendation speaks of what the leader does.  As a leader, you are to actual lay the challenges and disputes that people have before God’s throne and trust Him with the solution.  You need not fear the outcome or that He cannot handle them.  Hudson Taylor, that great famous early missionary to China, would tell you that his greatest secret for success was his ability to “turn his problems over to Jesus” and then leave them under His care.  As a leader and representative of those people looking to you for wisdom, direction, care, fairness, justice, and so much more, you need to simply take those problems “before God”.  When I was starting to learn that, and practiced it more and more, two things happened in my own leadership.  I enjoyed my work and my life much more and I could sleep at night much better.  There may often be a temptation to address brand new challenging issues yourself, but I caution you not to.  Doing so may result in two undesirable outcomes.  First, you will not necessarily have the best answer to the challenge. Secondly, you may get into the habit of “going it alone” – without God.  Both can have serious consequences.  (Note: I am not saying there are no problems that you should not be able to handle from experience or from your own knowledge of God’s Word; there are.  And Jethro’s list allows for that, as we will see shortly.)
Recommendation No. 3 Teach the people the statutes and laws. In the world of work, arbitrators who decide cases between employers and employees or unions have a rule of thumb: did the employer make his/her rules well known on a regular basis to the employees?  If he/she had, then the action that they may have taken against an employee for breaking the rules may be more justified.  While ignorance of the law may not be an excuse, certainly breaking the law when you know it, presents a harder case to defend.  But Jethro did not want Moses to teach his people the laws and statutes, just so that they could break them and be punished.  On the contrary, Jethro sensed God wants us to know them so that we will know what is required of us in order to live at peace with our Maker and our fellow man.
Recommendation No. 4 Teach them how to walk or live their lives – everything they needed in order to accept themselves, to carry out their associations with others, and to enjoy their relationship with God.  Life was hard in the wilderness; it was different than in Egypt.  New ways of interacting were critical to the survival of the group.  It is no different today, as the world evolves so quickly, as life becomes faster and faster – we, especially as believers, need to know how best to ‘walk’ in the midst of our ever-changing cultures.
Recommendation No. 5 Teach them what work they are to do.  Jethro recommended that Moses assign jobs to individuals.  We do not know if that meant every man, woman, and child – but certainly it covered all the men.  And if this was the case, realistically it could only be done as he implemented some of the other recommendations involving delegation that Jethro gave him.  It is interesting, however, that as a leader, Moses was to advised to provide jobs for people because Jethro realized that people needed a means whereby to contribute to their society.  God has made us in a way which requires us to be busy, employ our God-given talents and abilities, and bring forth results.  After all, we are made in the Creator’s image.  Leaders both in general life (politics), at work (industry) and in our churches (faith) need to give people work to do.
Recommendation No. 6 Select able men who fear God, are truthful, and hate dishonest gain.  Wow, do we ever need this today.  We need it in every aspect of our life – government, industry, education, research, retail, and in our churches.  You can read the political scandals that come out almost daily in the media to know we do not have it in our government.  You only need to read one issue of the Institute of Global Ethics’ newsletter to know we do not have it in industry, education, or research as much as we need it.  And certainly we hear about enough scandals in the leadership of our churches, that we know we lack it there.  But as a minimum, let us develop a means of selection that ensures the men and women we pick to lead our various institutions, especially our churches, are indeed qualified in the basic requirements suggested to Moses by Jethro.
Recommendation No. 7 Place these selected individuals over others as leaders.  Jethro realized the importance of delegation of authority.  Many top managers and lots of pastors do not.  Not only is delegation important for the person that you are giving an opportunity to show his/her leadership skills and to be aptly occupied in contributing to the process or the end product/goal, but as we see from the recommendations of Jethro that follow, it is also a God-given instruction that is good for the delegator.
Recommendation No. 8 Establish a governance structure, especially where the numbers are large.  Jethro recommended that Moses put these able leaders in charge of ten others (a good span of control as we call it in the Human Resources field), and then add leaders at higher levels appropriately so that all the work will get done and each person will have someone that is taking care of them even if they are a leader themselves.  This works for churches as well.  Imagine the pastor being responsible for the welfare, development and spiritual and personal oversight of ten associate pastors or elders, who each are responsible for ten other church volunteer leaders/families, and so on throughout the whole congregation.  Nobody would fall through the cracks.  If you were away one week, you would get a call from your leader who did not see you on Sunday.  He/she would know whether you were okay or sick, or just angry, etc.  Through a system akin to this, the whole church could be cared for.   People would feel responsible for their charges and all of us would be cared for.
Recommendation No. 9 Let these leaders actually make decisions (judgments) that involve the people, within their scope of authority and responsibility and let them escalate more critical decisions up the line to the top.  This was great advice from Jethro to Moses.  This is the principle upon which much of our decision-making takes place, whether it is in our businesses or our military.  In fact, our court system works in the same way, with the added process of appeals that can be made to a higher court by the litigants.  Moses could not possibly make every decision for all the Israelites.  A senior pastor cannot possibly make every decision for every program or ministry in his/her church.  Unfortunately, some try.
Recommendation No. 10 Let these leaders bear the burden of leadership with you.  People want to be well utilized.  People want to help their leader, their boss, and their pastor.  Let them.  You do not have to be a superhero all by yourself.  I have always felt that a leader that wants to do it all by his or herself, is getting awfully close to being an autocrat, rather than a motivator and influencer.
The Benefits of Heeding Jethro’s Recommendations  Jethro basically said to his son-in-law Moses that if he followed his recommendations (obeyed his instructions), he will end up enduring as a leader.  He will last longer, he will be able to withstand the pressures of leadership, he will enjoy his work, and above all, he will not burnout.  But note Jethro was not just asking Moses to obey him simply because he was his father-in-law.  No, rather Jethro says you only need to obey me if “God so commands you”.  That says a lot about how we should decide whether or not to obey someone who appears to give us wise counsel.  But it also says a lot of the wise counsel giver.  Moses had to know his father-in-law’s advice was in accordance with God’s will for his own life.  And Jethro knew that if God did not agree with what he was telling Moses, his advice would be of no real help.
But not only was Moses to benefit from advice that agrees with God’s desire for his life as a leader, but the text goes on to say through the words of Jethro that the people will be benefit as well for they shall live in peace.  Is that not the goal of every leader for each of his followers – that they should live in peace and prosper?
If you are a leader today – in a business or in a church, adopt Jethro as your own personal counselor and heed his advice.  Take a look at his ten recommendations and see if there is any area in your leadership that could benefit from your application of his sound and Godly advice.
_____________________________________________________________________

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Jethro Tells Moses That What He’s Doing Is Not Good For Him -- Exodus 18:13-19a


And it came about the next day that Moses sat to judge the people, and the people stood about Moses from the morning until the evening.  Now when Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing for the people?  Why do you alone sit as judge and all the people stand about you from morning until evening?”  And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. When they have a dispute, it comes to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor, and make known the statutes of God and His laws.”  And Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “The thing that you are doing is not good.  You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.  Now listen to me: I shall give you counsel, and God be with you.”
 
After being reunited with his son-in-law Moses, hearing of what God had done, sacrificing to the Lord, having a feast together with the elders of Israel, and we assume, getting a good night’s rest, Jethro went to observe Moses at what the leader of the Israelites had become accustomed to doing each day – sitting to judge all the cases of dispute that came before him from morning to evening.
Before we focus on what Moses was doing, it behooves us to notice how Jethro went about handling what he observed.  And in fact the very first thing he did was to simply observe, likely from morning to evening, what was going on.  Without saying anything.  Next, Jethro asked questions in order to get a better understanding of the situation.  Was there something that simple observation was not revealing to him?  Only after he saw what Moses was doing for an extended time and got answers to all his questions as to what and why (check out the actual questions in the text) from Moses’ perspective, did he consider sharing his opinions.
When Jethro did finally give his opinion with respect to what his son-in-law was doing, he gave it boldly and at the same time, with love and care for his son-in-law.  The statement “The thing you are doing is not good” is indeed bold.  Here is a father-in-law who had not been part of all that had led up to this situation now telling his son-in-law that what the latter was doing was not good.  That takes guts.  But he also, in giving his opinion, did not go after the character of Moses himself.  He did not say he was stupid, uncreative, egotistical, naïve, what have you.  He dealt with what he saw rather than attacking the person involved.  And then he went one step further and explained to Moses that the main reason it was ‘not good’ was that it would wear Moses out.  That was Jethro’s main concern.  He cared about Moses and what this action and behavior was doing to him.
These are the main steps to dealing with any situation where you either need to bring about change (as Jethro felt he needed to here) or you are asked for your advice (as I often am being a consultant) – you first observe extensively, then ask questions for clarification, and only after you indicate your concern for the those involved can you offer solutions.  My wife and I have the privilege of conducting marriage mentoring sessions with couples and we get a lot of chances to observe how people are quick to give solutions to their mates without really understanding where their spouse is coming from or without presenting options enveloped in one’s love for the other person.  Jethro was doing this right.
And we note that Jethro also appealed to Moses’ love for his people.  Jethro pointed out that what Moses was doing – adjudicating cases alone one at a time – would also wear out the people who had to wait in long lineups day after day to have their cases heard.  It reminds me of the long court delays here in North America with some cases taking years to go before a judge.  The frustration on the parties is incredible as it must have been then.  Perhaps this too had added to the grumbling of the people in the wilderness.
Then Jethro returns to his care and love for Moses and points out that the task was so grand that Moses needed to realize he could not do it alone.  He would ‘burn out’.  Have you ever tried lifting something that was too big for you to lift?  Someone comes along and says, “Wait, you need help.”  You hate to admit it; you want to do it yourself; but you know the other person is right.  It takes both humility and brains to face the facts and agree you need help.  Some people can do that easily; some cannot.  We see both types in management.  There are those that can delegate and those that cannot.  We see both types in our children and grandchildren.  Some refuse help and some welcome it.  But there comes a time in life when we need to realize no man is an island and the help of others is a positive thing to welcome.
If you are in church or mission leadership as a layperson, you have a responsibility before God and man to give counsel to those who are managing your organization in order to prevent their ‘burnout’.  Too many pastors and Christian leaders have fallen victim to this and often it is accompanied by a turning to behavior that is not what God would bless.  Too many individuals and families have been hurt as a consequence.  Too many faiths have been shattered.  I believe a lot of it could be avoided if we all made certain that our leaders had caregivers and wise counselors like Moses did.
Lastly, Jethro comes up with some suggestions.  He does not just identify the problem, but he has some counsel for Moses.  Jethro will not go down in history as someone who always complained about things or as a critic who could see what is wrong but has no concept whatsoever of how to amend things for the better.  And we know that Jethro’s counsel would be good because he wanted his son-in-law to go about his work in partnership with God.  That is, the counsel that Jethro was about to give was advice that would be pleasing to God.
How is your advice giving these days?  Would what you recommend be pleasing to God?  Do you fully observe, get clarification, and show love and concern for those involved before you make recommendations?  And is your ultimate goal that those who would heed your counsel have God as their partners?  If that is the case, you would make a great “Jethro” in someone’s life.
_____________________________________________________________________

[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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________________________________________________________________________

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

“Now I Know The Lord Is Greater Than All.” -- Exodus 18:10-12


So Jethro said, “Blessed be the Lord who delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of Pharaoh, and who delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians.  Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods; indeed, it was proven when they dealt proudly against the people.”  Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took a burnt offering and sacrifices for God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law before God.
 
After hearing how God delivered the Israelites from their bondage in Egypt, Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, shares in the joy and goes even one step further – he blesses the Lord and now believes He is greater than “all the gods”.  Now, before we judge Jethro too harshly for his reference to “all the gods” – afterall, wasn’t he Moses’ father-in-law? – let us take a closer look at the Midanites and their religion.
Midianites were descendants of Midian, who was a son of Abraham through his wife Keturah.  Genesis 25:1-2 tells us Abraham took “another wife”.  When Moses got in trouble in Egypt after killing an Egyptian, he fled to the land of Midian where the Midianites had settled.  [In Genesis 26:4 we learn Midian’s descendants were basically five families.  In Genesis 26:6 we learn that Abraham had given them gifts and “sent them away from his son Isaac eastward, to the land of the East”.]  Also of interest to us may be the fact it was Midianites that had bought Joseph from his brothers many years later, which sold him to the Egyptians (see Genesis 37); both events occurring way before Moses’ time.
But back to Jethro, who is also referred to as Reuel in Exodus 2:18 and as Hobab later in the Old Testament.  The Bible first refers to him in Exodus 2:16 and 3:1 as a priest. This was before Moses’s burning bush experience normally referred to by many as the time or point when the worship of Yahweh is deemed to have officially originated.
The potential dilemma with the multiple names of Jethro may be due to the fact that in the Hebrew language, the term referring to male ‘in-laws’ is non-specific, referring to a woman’s male relatives and could be used for her father, brother or even grandfather. [This kind of language phenomenon occurs in English as well. My own father used to tease me about who ‘poor the English language’ really was compared to Greek.  He would point out how Greek had two separate words for a brother-in-law that referred to one’s wife’s brother (i.e. by blood) and a brother-in-law that referred to one’s sister’s husband (i.e. by marriage).]  One possible (but uncertain) solution to the Jethro dilemma in this case is that Reuel may have been the grandfather head of the clan, Jethro was Zipporah’s father, and Hobab could have been the brother-in-law of Moses, Jethro’s son.  Another solution may have been that Jethro and Hobab were brother-in-laws to Moses, and Reuel was their father.  In any case, Jethro was a Midianite. 
We note also that there were interesting similarities in the way Moses met his wife to how others had met their wives in some earlier biblical accounts.  Moses met Zipporah at a well (as did Abraham’s servant who met Isaac’s future wife at a well) and he was met by daughters (as Jacob was met by the two daughters of his uncle Laban).
Midianites inhabited the desert borders in Transjordan from Moab down past Edom.  In Exodus 6:2-3 we learned that God was not yet know to Moses by the name Lord (or Yahweh).  Jethro may, however, have known Him.  It is possible Jethro was worshipping the Lord by a different name, as many of Moses ancestors had worshipped Him, as a deity with the prefix El.  You may recall God being called El Elyon in Genesis 14:18 and El Sheddai in Genesis 17:1.  In Genesis 16:13, Hagar called God Elroi, the “God who sees me”.
Whatever the historical background of Jethro’s religion was, he now blesses the Lord God of Israel who delivered Moses from the Egyptians and Pharaoh, and who delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians.  One may wonder why Jethro separates God’s act of delivery into the personal deliverance of Moses and the collective deliverance of the Israelites.  Two possible ideas come to my mind.  The first is that Jethro was responding first as a father-in-law blessing God for saving the husband of his daughter and the father of his grandchildren, and then as a human being caring for the people of Israel with whom he was connected ancestrally and soon to be connected in faith.  The second idea is that even here in these early writings of Moses, God wants to reinforce the fact that He is a personal God as well as a God of nations.  In the New Testament this theme continues, as His Son Christ Jesus is both a personal Savior as well as the King of Kings.  Jethro now blesses this God as he comes to know Him better.  Do you this Yahweh?
The next sentence is rather interesting and may help us with what Jethro may have believed before, as touched on above.  Jethro now knows the Lord is greater than all the gods.  It appears from this statement that Jethro, while he may have worshipped El as a deity, he did not see Him as the greatest of all the others.  The reference to the “they” that dealt proudly against the people is to the Egyptians who were so proud in their actions against the Israelites.  Jethro now sees that God is greater than all of them and their gods combined.  And in his condemnation, he likely included all the magicians that joined and abetted Pharaoh in opposing God and attempting to compete against Him.  Matthew Henry writes, “The magicians were baffled, the idols shaken, Pharaoh humbled, his powers broken, and, in spite of all their confederacies, God's Israel was rescued out of their hands. Note, Sooner or later, God will show himself above those that by their proud dealings contest with him. He that exalts himself against God shall be abased.
And what does one do when he comes to that realization in his/her own life?  Well, in Jethro’s case, and as a priest (but not of the children of Israel), he offers up a burnt offering.  The commentator Robert Jamieson says that this friendly reunion between two people, Moses and Jethro, ends up in “a solemn religious service” for all the chiefs of Israel, where burnt peace offerings were consumed on the altar in a feast of joy and gratitude, officiated over apparently by Jethro, now as a dedicated priest of the true God.  We may well ask ourselves how our periodic reunions with friends or family members end up.
Chuck Smith points out that this account verifies that “other people knew God and worshiped God, who were not the children of Israel in those days, Jethro being one of them. He was a priest of God.”  Matthew Henry says, “Here was a Midianite rejoicing”.  Jethro’s faith was confirmed and he made a public confession of it.  And what did he confess?  He confessed our true God is able to silence all the others and subdue them.  Smith says Jethro “knew it before, but now he knew it better; his faith [grew] up to a full assurance, upon this fresh evidence.”
Just to recap.  Moses and Jethro were reunited; they shared about what God had done; Jethro offers a burnt sacrifice and confesses the power of the Almighty as being above all other gods; and then together with the elders of Israel they ate a meal before God.  This was a means of expressing their joy and thankfulness – being in communion and peace and love with each other – not only in the sacrifice service that preceded, but also now in a feast.  Jethro, the Midianite, was now cheerfully admitted into fellowship with Moses and Israel.  (You will remember that the whole issue of the official priesthood in Israel that eventually went to the Levites was not yet settled.)
I love the observation Henry makes when he says, “Mutual friendship is sanctified by joint-worship.” What a delight it is to those involved and to God Himself when relations and friends who come together join in the spiritual sacrifice of prayer and praise, keeping Christ at the center of their own unity.  I was thinking about this, as many of our youth are meeting and developing good friendships with others of different faiths.  Sometimes these friendships turn into romance and ultimately marriage.  But if a mutual friendship has no hope of becoming an occasion of joint-worship, then one needs to be very wary of it.  As much as it may hurt, one needs to guard their heart in such cases to avoid either loneliness in their worship and service to God, or a walking away from their faith in order to support their relationship.  A big loss no matter which road is taken.
Those present with Jethro and Moses did indeed eat bread, likely manna.  Jethro as a Gentile had to see and taste the bread from heaven.  Together we as believers must share such meals with non-believers – showing the world how as Henry writes, “we eat and drink to the glory of God, behaving ourselves at our tables as those who believe that God’s eye is upon us.”  What is your table scene like these days?  I know mine can be improved.
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Wednesday, April 02, 2014

An Ideal Father- and Son-in-law Relationship -- Exodus 18:7-9



Then Moses went out to meet his father-in-law, and he bowed down and kissed him; and they asked each other of their welfare, and went into the tent.  And Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had befallen them on the journey, and how the Lord had delivered them.  And Jethro rejoiced over all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, in delivering them from the hand of the Egyptians.
 
Once he received the notice that his father-in-law Jethro, his wife Zipporah, and his two boys, Gershom and Eliezer, were on their way, Moses went out to meet them.  As far as Scripture records, the focus was on Jethro. “Moses went out to meet his father in law” our text reads.  That does not mean he did not greet his wife and sons – only that the author of Exodus (Moses himself much later) wanted the readers of his account to stick with the main thrust of this section, namely the advice that Jethro was about to share.
Moses bows down and kisses Jethro. Now I realize this is more due to the customs and traditons of the day, although the practice remains alive in a number of European and Middle Eastern countries today.  In our modern Western culture, a firm handshake and/or embrace with a big and sincere smile would be the equivalent.  Anything more than that would be a bonus.  And then they engaged in finding out how each other was doing – a two-way interest.  It was not all about Moses, and it certainly was not all about Jethro.
The text says that they “went into the tent”.  Even though it was a temporary setup, it was ‘home’ to Moses and he welcomed his father-in-law in it.  I am thankful my wife and I are welcomed in the homes of all our children and sons- and daughter-in-law.  How sad it must be for those parents who are not.  If you are a child or a child-in-law today that has for one reason or another been the cause of not having your parents or in-laws welcomed in your home, I ask you to reconsider what you can do to change that, and take appropriate action.  If you are a parent or an in-law whose pride or attitude keeps you from visiting your child’s home, I ask you to reconsider your stance and do whatever it takes to change that.  Life is too short to live it out the way you currently are.  This is not the way God meant us to live our lives.
I know there are some situations I just do not understand.  Fair enough; but God does.  All I ask is that you do your part again and again to bring about the God-honoring change.
Once in Moses’ home, Jethro is brought up to date on what God, not Moses, had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for the sake of Israel.  He shared what hardships the Israelites met on the journey and how the Lord delivered them.  What do you and I talk about when we meet our children or sons- and daughters-in-law?  In fact, what do we talk about when we meet with our friends for dinner?  I am amazed and greatly disappointed even in my own weakness in this regard.  Why is it so uncomfortable for us to talk about what God has been, and is, doing in our lives?  Why is that not a priority?  I would challenge us all to make a more concerted effort to talk about the One who really is what “it’s all about” in our lives when we meet with others.  And who better to start with than our own family members?
What was Jethro’s response?  The text says, he “rejoiced”.  But note what he rejoiced about – “over all the goodness that the Lord had done to Israel in delivering them from the Egyptians”.  If there is anything I want to rejoice about, it is the knowledge of knowing that God is active in the lives of my children through some very difficult trials and tribulations and that they are still in tune with Him enough to defeat the Enemy and be delivered from his evil.  To my children and to all the ‘children’ of the world let me say that you need to understand that is your Christian parent’s greatest desire.  You need to know that.  I pray that you will do your part in honoring it.

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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.