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Numbers 9-10 The Cloud: When to Move 11-22-15

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©1998-2015
Fellowship
Life of Moses
The Cloud: When to Pull Up Stakes and When Not To
Numbers 9-10
11/22/15
 
Introduction…How does one know if one is following the Cloud? Not the internet cloud, but the presence of God…i.e. for us, members of his church…his Spiritual gathering of saints? What do you think that means—to move and do when God leads, as well as, to rest and worship when the Cloud or Spirit ceases to move? I mean, how does one know if what I am doing is just me or from God? Do you think that God wants us to sit still sometimes…i.e. rest? And listen for or to his voice. I know, it seems for me when I have rested, it seems that God does inspire me with refreshed insights that I didn’t have before I rested and was Spiritually refreshed? Do you think that God does want us to go, go, go all the time? If God did say to sit still, could you? How would you? Would that sitting still at some point in time involve worship?
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If I were a teacher, I might even play a competitive game of still water to see who can be the stillest and why? Afterwards, I would ask my students, how it felt to be still for a few moments? Was it comfortable or uncomfortable and why? What were the greatest distractions to remaining still? 
 
General Study Introduction…
 
Note: Today’s passage represents a major transition. 
 
We are skipping over the later portion of ExodusLeviticus and the beginning of Numbers
 
Both Exodus and Leviticus contain significant sections dedicated to the establishment and construction of the tabernacle or movable tent where Yahweh God intends to Spiritually dwell with his bride, Israel. 
 
Also prescribed are special sacrifices, along with offerings, that Israel was to bring to her divine husband, either as acts of devotion or to atone for her sins committed against the Law or her covenant with Yahweh. In turn, these sacrifices and offerings were ritually received by and offered by the Levites (one of the 12 tribes of Israel), as well as a set apart subset of the Levites, the anointed Priests. The Priests were descendants of Moses’ brother Aaron, both of whom were members of the tribe of Levi. 
 
Numbers gets it’s title from the national census that begins the book. Ultimately, the book of Numbers takes Israel from God’s mountain at Sinai where she receives her Covenant or Law, to her promised ancestral lands in Canaan. Along the way, there are several major plot twists that dramatically shape the biblical narrative. 
 
It has now been almost one year (see Ex 19:1; Numbers 10:11) since Israel first arrived at Mt. Sinai to enter into her covenant with her Divine Sovereign, and almost 15 months since she first left Egypt (Ex 12:1). 
 
Now with her law in hand and having committed a major spiritual debacle, under the leadership of her mediator, Moses, Israel prepares to leave for her promised ancestral lands.
 
Pray…
 
Read Passage several times…
 
Ask Questions…
 
9:15 On the day the tabernacle, the Tent of the Testimony, was set up, the cloud covered it. From evening till morning the cloud above the tabernacle looked like fire.   
 
What kind of cloud? Was God in the cloud? Why a cloud? And why did the cloud appear like fire at night? Was this to reveal that this was no ordinary cloud, but the glory of God? 
Mountain in cloud

The Mountain in the Clouds

The peak of Mt. Olivia emerges briefly from the morning clouds behind Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego. Mt. Olivia can be seen behind Ushuaia in yesterday’s picture, and is part of the Southern Andes of Patagonia. https://www.flickr.com/photos/12496504@N06/8520510333/
16 That is how it continued to be; the cloud covered it, and at night it looked like fire.   
 
Why over the tabernacle, the set apart place where God chose to meet with his bride Israel via their mediator Moses?
 
17 Whenever the cloud lifted from above the Tent, the Israelites set out; wherever the cloud settled, the Israelites encamped.   
 
No doubt, this represents a repeated pattern. When the cloud lifted, the bride knew it was time to pack up and travel. When it did not, she would remain camped. Follow the cloud. Israel’s total dependence was upon this God…this manifestation of God. 
 
18 At the LORD’s command the Israelites set out, and at his command they encamped. As long as the cloud stayed over the tabernacle, they remained in camp.   
 
The cloud was everything. Everything. 
 
19 When the cloud remained over the tabernacle a long time, the Israelites obeyed the LORD’s order and did not set out.   
 
What was a long time? And why? What was God up to when the cloud remained stationary for extended periods of time? 
 
20 Sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days; at the LORD’s command they would encamp, and then at his command they would set out.  
 
A few days…
 
21 Sometimes the cloud stayed only from evening till morning, and when it lifted in the morning, they set out. Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out.   
Tent City
Tent city: An aerial view of the thousands of campers that Prince Charles witnessed at Glastonbury
 
Sometimes even just one day…

22 Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out.   

Sounds like obedience to me. Heaven’s timetable—do we understand, or does it make any difference? To us, it is solely about being and undertaking life with the presence of God, our direction, power, love and refuge. 

23 At the LORD’s command they encamped, and at the LORD’s command they set out. They obeyed the LORD’s order, in accordance with his command through Moses.

Now that a Spiritual rationale has been giving of why they traveled or not has been given, it is time for Israel, armed with her covenant and God’s presence, and much as believers in the New Testament, armed with their New Covenant and the Spirit of God, to take her next step, as God’s bride, towards her promised destiny.
 
(Skipping to 10:11…)

10:11 On the twentieth day of the second month of the second year, the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle of the Testimony. 

Just over a year after Israel departed from Egypt—since the Passover plague occurred freeing Israel from her Egyptian slavery on the fifteenth day of the first month (Ex. 12)—Israel prepares to depart Sinai. 

12 Then the Israelites set out from the Desert of Sinai and traveled from place to place until the cloud came to rest in the Desert of Paran.   

How far was Paran from Sinai? Notice, this is from one desert to another. How many days was this journey? 
Wilderness of Sin Map copy
(Skipping to 10:33…)

10:33 So they set out from the mountain of the LORD and traveled for three days. The ark of the covenant of the LORD went before them during those three days to find them a place to rest.   

Their covenant with God leads them to their next temporary place of rest…

34 The cloud of the LORD was over them by day when they set out from the camp.   

35 Whenever the ark set out, Moses said, “Rise up, O LORD! May your enemies be scattered; may your foes flee before you.”   

No doubt a confession of faith….

36 Whenever it came to rest, he said, “Return, O LORD, to the countless thousands of Israel.”

The cloud descending and enveloping the tent of meeting? 

Summary… Through Moses’ command and the visibility of the fiery cloud, Israel strictly followed the Lord’s leading and presence.
 
Bottom line…The Lord leads his people through the wilderness via his fiery cloud.
 
What truths do I learn about God, man, people, myself, life?
 
• God was present with his people in a very visible way. 
 
• God directed their journey, including how far they would travel and how long they would rest. Does not the Divine do the same with us, beginning with our Spiritual rest forever in Christ’s atonement for our sin, thus ensuring us…God’s children…the promise of heaven forever? So both in Christ’s atonement for sin and the giving of the Holy Spirit, the church and its individual members are given both daily and eternal Spiritual leadership and rest at the same time and forever. 
 
• And, in this case, the people were obedient. They did stick close to God, and thus his direction and protection. 
 
• Moses pronounces a blessing or confession upon the Divine who is both leading and protecting Israel’s dangerous journey. 
 
• In the end, God both protects and leads his children through the haunting deserts of this world to their promised objective—rest with God forever in his presence. As God leads and move, so we move and live. As God rests, so we rest. And as he leads and moves or rest, we worship or confess the truth that it is God that lead, protects and rests, an no other. 
 
So What? 
 
2015 Application…Ironically, over the years, little has changed in the way of dealing with the changing seasons and motivations. These days, thank God, I do have a part-time executive assistant that God has sent my way and that works with me to overcome my seasonal fatigue and rebellion. We are learning that because there is so much, I have to be held accountable for smaller tasks over smaller amounts of time. In other words, such as writing, we break huge tasks into smaller bites in order to fit into what can feel like a very demanding schedule at times…demanding not just in time, but emotionally-draining as well. For instance, I spent four hours with a couple last night. I had not intended to, but it just worked out that way. They were referred to me by a member of our body, thus they have not attended our church, but I am teaching them about love and marriage. I help them sort out and untie their marital and relationship knots. At the same time, I am not kidding myself concerning the mental and emotional energy required to focus this intensely for this amount of time. So it is not just time, but how I spend that time.  
 
Thanksgiving…So appropriate, now that we are at this culturally seasonal moment for giving thanks. I am thankful for so so so much. 1) God’s financial provision still remains amazing, and I certainly don’t want to take this for granted. 2) It seems like everyday God is also providing for me Spiritually. I mean every day something amazing takes place—some answered prayer, a great counseling session, someone being broken and coming back to God, a truth I have never thought about before revealed in his word, a song…some kind of seemingly more mystical revealing of God’s presence, a crucial text…It’s like I am beginning to see God in so many thing and in so many ways…I am very very very blessed. 
 
Struggle…My counseling load seems demanding and at times draining, but I just keep on going everyday, thankful whether an appointment makes it or not. I just pick up one counseling foot and place it in front of another. At the same time, it has been difficult to focus on writing, as well as, other crucial pastoral duties. In response, I am attempting to leverage my part-time executive assistant, and that is what she certainly is, because of her over-the-top competence and Spiritual sensitivity, into more and more accountability with respect to either doing or managing all the tasks, lists, needs, dreams, hopes, goals and demands that fill my mind. My prayer and hope is the work, dreaming and planning that we are doing now will translate into my better empowering the Body to do whatever the heck the Spirit has in mind for our precious body…
Truth…I think as I relook at this passage 12 years later, almost to the day, and certainly to the week, is both the unrevealed, but clearly-communicated, day-by-day plan that Yahweh God had for his bride. In other words, whether she was to travel or rest for a day or a year, that was what she was supposed to do. Oh for a people of God that would be that obedient to the Spirit or the Cloud’s leading and protection. Are we supposed to sit still, rest and wait or are we to pull up stakes and follow the Cloud for this day. Heaven has a timetable for all things, but it is our temptation to NOT watch the cloud and either do it all on our own or sit stubbornly, when we ought to be moving. What an amazing paradoxically and beautiful plan of truth, trust, presence, rest and risk…all with the expressed purpose of bringing us through the world’s wildernesses to our promised destiny and rest in the real presence of God. What a plan! What a journey! What a Divine! Amen. 
 
Application…Today, I will finish the lesson; get some rest…and then see what God has in store. A few pastoral contacts perhaps. Some writing…simplifying almost seven hundred references concerning what is ultimately implied as Spiritual love…not just love, but Spiritual love…not just agape, but Spiritual agape. Hopefully a walk. God, I will move and rest as you lead. I trust you. I pray my Body will also follow my lead and trust you with going and resting as well. Amen. 
 
Your servant,
Joseph M. Cross

Your Struggle?
 


Your Truth? 



Your Application? 
 
 
Scripture quotations, unless noted otherwise, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version‚ NIV‚ Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. All rights reserved.

Exodus 34:27-35 Glory Reflected! 11-8-15

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©1998-2015
Fellowship
Life of Moses
Glory Reflected!
Exodus 34:27-35
11/16/3; ed. 11.8.15

Introduction…When is the last time you really felt the presence of God? Or when you saw God’s power and glory at work? What were the circumstances? Can you think of some Old or New Testament stories or occasions when God’s glory was witnessed? What were the attending circumstances? What do you think is required to see God’s glory or for others to see God’s glory in you?

Pray for Insight…

Read Passage several times…

Ask Questions…

27 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write down these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.”   

28 Moses was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights without eating bread or drinking water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant –the Ten Commandments.   

29 When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD.   

Stained glass moses Continue reading

Exodus 34:10-26 God’s Do’s & Dont’s of Living Safelty 11-1-15

 

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©1998-2015
Fellowship
Life of Moses
Exodus 34:10-26
God’s Major Dos and Don’ts of Living Safely…
11/9/3; 11.1.15

Introduction…Have you ever noticed how you become like, good or bad, those whom you hang with? Why is that? So what if you are hanging with someone that says or does something that you strongly disagree with? No way is this good. This is BAD! Do you speak up? Do you voice your opposition? Abruptly? What does that do to the party? Make you look like the bad guy? Or are you silent for fear of the mob turning on you, perhaps making fun of you or telling you to chill? Makes you think doesn’t it?

Repeatedly, I have had to watch most everyone that is successful at coming off drugs or addiction change friends and acquaintances. It just goes with the territory. At first we resist it, and then we have to learn the hard way. Why is this? Is it fear? Fear of rejection? Isn’t this instinctual—don’t we want to be accepted? But what about when things get out of hand. Do you think God was aware of this when he was telling the Israelites that if you want to dwell safely within your new borders, you are also going to have to have internal moral boundaries as well..?

do not cross

 

While God chooses to forgive his Bride for her sin and reaffirms his promise to take her to and place her safely witihn her Promise Land, there are two important stipulations. One is negative, and one is positive. Both are meant to protect his bride from further dangerous Spiritual unfaithfulness: 1) the first has to do with those who don’t or will not worship Yahweh God within Israel’s Promise Land borders, and 2) the second has to do with respect to how Israel will preserve and sustain her active worship of her Spiritual Groom within their Lands.  Continue reading

Exodus 34:1-11 Advocate for the Weaker 10-25-15

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©1998-2015
Fellowship@CrossCreek
Life of Moses
Ex 34:1-11
Advocating for the Weaker
Orig. 11/2/3; ed. 10.25.15

Introduction…We talked about this last week, that is, why is intervention of one on behalf of another so important with God’s economy? Why does life so often require one person, who is stronger, standing up on behalf of someone who is weaker, younger or less mature?

Advocate for weaker

It certainly seems true in life as well as with God. After all, Christ stands up for us before God. Is it because the nature or our existence requires protection of the weak, such as embryos, infants and children, as they mature? If there was not someone to stand up for them, they would more than likely die or be destroyed, but somehow God has placed within nature and man this instinct that for the most part we are to protect our young. Why is this? How do animals instinctively know to do this? Why does the lioness protect her cubs from non-family male lions? Why is this such a strong instinct within all of us? Where does this come from?

And how does this apply to helping others that are not just physiologically young, but young with respect to life skills or knowledge or even Spiritually young or immature or even rebellious or defiant?

Is there a time when advocating for another is wasted or useless endeavor? How does one know when this is the case?  Continue reading

Divine Love

Divine-love

Excerpt from Sustainable Love® by Joseph M Cross

The New Testament contains a daring and dramatic rescue of God’s people. Via the supreme act of divine love, the covenant’s mediator, the Son of God, obediently and sacrificially offers himself as human-divine payment for the forgiveness of every human being on the planet’s sins for all-time.  And at the same time, as God’s Son is offering his life as an atonement for sin, the Greatest Change Agent in history, the third person of the triune Godhead, God the Spirit, is also breathing upon the sons of man the truth and self-realization of their own sinful disobedience before a holy and perfect God, as well as, a desperate need for His divine help in obtaining sustainable relief and forgiveness from their sins, so that when they do hear the truth about the God the Son’s atonement for their sins, they now Spiritually trust his offer of forgiveness, become God’s eternal children and receive His Spirit.

Now, because these Spiritually-reborn children of God are forever safe within their Father’s love and mercy, they begin–along with many other Spiritual siblings, as well as, with the dynamic help and love of their Holy Tutor, the Spirit himself—to Spiritually grow up. And as they begin to Spiritually grow up, gradually, over time and via lots of sin-atoned-for trial and error mistakes, they also begin to take upon themselves their adoptive Father’s divine values, truths, thoughts, motivations and approach to loving or attracting others (John 13-17; 1 John; Romans 8; Col. 3; Eph. 5).

Thus, having the Spirit of God involved, intertwined and inspiring their new approach to living and decision-making, the newly-reborn child of God begins a renewed effort at learning how to loyally, insightfully and accountably love or be attracted to another human being. Because without the Spirit, man’s attempt at loving is nothing more than a cheap, fake, easily exposed and fragile imitation of heaven’s love. It’s NOT real love, not God’s love, not true love, not redeeming love and certainly NOT divine love. But with the Spirit of God, human love, over time, and via thousands upon thousands of daily interactions, can be, is and will be eventually transformed into something much more resembling the Godhead’s divine love, not only for each other, i.e. the Father and Son for one another, but their love for man himself.sundoghand-sm

 

And, in the end, this is mankind’s only hope against evil’s deadly and destructive terrors. In fact, I would make the case that the opposite of evil is not just good, but love—divine love, a love of the Spirit, a love or attracting that the Spirit of God births, teaches and inspires, a love like no other–Spiritual love. Thus Good or God’s greatest weapon against evil is in fact, in the end, divine love itself—the love the divine seeks to equip every child of God with in order that they might successful  wage Spiritual warfare against evil, just as their Savior and God’s Son waged for our redemption from sin.

Joe Cross

Exodus 33:1ff The Bargain 10-18-15

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©1998-2015
Fellowship@CrossCreek
Life of Moses
Ex 33:1ff
The Bargain
10/26/3; ed. 10/18/15

Introduction…Ever had someone like a friend, parent, grandparent, child, teacher, coach, pastor or perhaps even an attorney intervene or stand up on your behalf, especially when you really really needed it—like if no one stood up for you, you had no hope with respect to the matter in question?

Have you ever chosen to intervene or stand up for someone else’s behalf—a child, a grandchild, someone broke or destitute, someone whom, for whatever reason, you felt needed a second chance?

Ever cosigned a loan note for someone else? Did you offer to sign or were you asked to sign? How did it work out? Was it a good experience or did you feel used in the end?

Ever had your own mind changed because someone else decided to step in and intervene on another person’s behalf before you?

In the end, why does anyone standup for another? And does the intervener serve as a type of hero? Do all rescued people get it in the end? Do their lives or thanks reciprocate the act of kindness and generosity?  And if they don’t, does that negate or invalidate the intervention?

Within this study, you are about to experience or witness one of the great acts of intervention of one party on behalf or another before another. The intervener will be Moses. The persons being intervened on behalf of will be the God’s unfaithful nation-bride, Israel, and the party whom the intervention is before? The divine Groom, Yahweh God. Notice how all three play their role within this crucial dramatic moment. Does anything you learn or experience here shape your thoughts and feelings on the act of choosing to intervene on another party’s behalf?

Finally, how might we intervene on others’ behalf before God?  Continue reading

Exodus 32:1-35 The Bride Betrays Her Vows 10-4-15

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Fellowship at Cross Creek
Life of Moses
The Bride Egregiously Betrays her Vows and her Groom…
Ex 32:1-35
10/12/3; ed. 10.4.15

Have you ever experienced a major disappointment. Everything seemed wonderful. All seemed to be going wonderful, and then the surprise and shock of your life happens? You didn’t see it coming? How could it have gone so wrong? And why did it happen? Been there? Welcome to life. People can be fickle and evil is always, ever present. It would seem anyone who has ever attempted what he or she believed was a holy mission, whether it was raising a godly family or shepherding a church, has been sideswiped by evil and disappointment. But even in those moments and, perhaps even more so in those moments, God is just as real and alive. Perhaps in those seemingly ridiculously incongruent moments, like a blacksmith forging out a piece of metal, the Divine forges out his holy leadership—holy leadership that is desperately needed within broken, fallen humanity.

Continue reading

Exodus 24:1-18 Alone with God 9-29-15

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©1998-2015
Fellowship at Cross Creek
Life of Moses
Alone with God…
Ex 24:1-18
10/5/3; ed. 9/20/15

Introduction…What does a good relationship truly cost? Are good relationships expensive? If so, why?

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What about the costs associated with a royal wedding? Ever seen one? Why do nations and royals go to such lengths to get married? Do such weddings always work? Why or why not?

kate-middleton-white-wedding-dress-sarah-burton-for-alexander-mcqueen

What about you? Do you have a costly, but deeply meaningful relationship? What did this relationship cost both parties? How has it been maintained over time?

As you study and observe this passage that for all intent purposes is a royal wedding of sorts, why do you think God goes to so much trouble, time and expense to not only bring his bride, Israel, to himself but to enter into a covenant with her? Why the big deal?

What about you and God? Has this been a costly relationship? If so, how so?

Your servant,

jc Continue reading

Exodus 23:20-33 Follow the Angels 9-23-15

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©1998-2015
Fellowship at Cross Creek
Life of Moses
Following the Angels…
Ex 23:20-33
9/28/3; ed. 9/13/15

Introduction…How do you think God leads and protects us? How has he lead or perhaps directed or guided you? Do you have any experiential evidence of how God may have led or protected you? If you think or suspect God has perhaps a specific purpose for your life, what might it be?

Pray…

Read Passage several times.

20  “See, I am sending an angel ahead of you to guard you along the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.   

So is this the Angel of the Lord? Was the Angel of the Lord, the pre-incarnate (before flesh) Christ or second person of the Trinity? And if one does subscribe to a triune Godhead, is God the Father speaking to Moses and God the Son serving as his angel or messenger?

Why do I ask all this? Because in Judges 6 and the calling of Gideon, the Angel of the Lord and God seem to refer to the same person. It was also the Angel of the Lord who spoke to Moses from the burning bush years earlier [Ex. 3].

Seems to point out our need for Spiritual or heavenly or divine leadership and help along life’s way, and yet, just like Israel, we still sin and rebel against this Spiritual leadership.

PIC BY MARC SZEGLAT / CATERS NEWS - (PICTURED: The mordor looking volcano) - This incredible scene looks just like Mordor from the Lord of the Rings but its actually a volcanic eruption so powerful it created a lava fountain one kilometre high. Looking like the mythical evil land from the books by J.R.R. Tolkien this volcano is definitely reality erupting this month in Kamchatka, far eastern Russia. Known as the Land of Volcanoes Kamchatka - which is more than 5,000 miles from Moscow - is home to 29 active craters. SEE CATERS COPY

PIC BY MARC SZEGLAT / CATERS NEWS – (PICTURED: The mordor looking volcano) – This incredible scene looks just like Mordor from the Lord of the Rings but its actually a volcanic eruption so powerful it created a lava fountain one kilometre high. Looking like the mythical evil land from the books by J.R.R. Tolkien this volcano is definitely reality erupting this month in Kamchatka, far eastern Russia. Known as the Land of Volcanoes Kamchatka – which is more than 5,000 miles from Moscow – is home to 29 active craters. SEE CATERS COPY

Deut. 1:31 and in the wilderness where you saw how the Lord your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.’ 32 But for all this, you did not trust the Lord your God, 33 who goes before you on your way, to seek out a place for you to encamp, in fire by night and cloud by day, to show you the way in which you should go.

Pillar of Fire…KAMCHATKA – With a pillar of fire stretching up into the clouds, this spectacular image captures the moment a volcano erupted in remote Russia. The stream of lava rose up to a kilometer above the summit of Klyuchevskoy, one of the active volcanoes on the Kamchatka peninsula in the east of the country. The volcano, which erupts around every two years, is one of the largest on-land active volcanoes, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. It stands at 15,584 ft on the north end of a belt of 30 active volcanoes. The dramatic picture of Klyuchevskoy was captured by photographer Marc Szeglat on October 16 at a distance of approximately 9.5 miles from its concealed cone, as the volcano erupted for the first time in three years. The explosion triggered by the eruption could be heard from 20 miles away. In September 1994, an eruption caused disruption after it affected airline routes across the Pacific Ocean. The active nature of the volcano, which first began erupting in 1697, means it is still rarely a target for climbers. Continue reading

Exodus 23:1-13 Defending Truth; Maintaining Rest

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©2003
Fellowship
Life of Moses
Ex 23:1-13
More Laws: Defending the Truth; Maintaining Rest.
9/21/3; ed. 8.29.15

Intro…

What is peer pressure? Why can the mob or crowd or social media today seem so intimidating? What are people afraid of?

lady justice

When’s the last time you found yourself pressured to NOT stand up for the truth…or what you felt to be the truth? What was the subject matter? Did you stand up for the truth? Were you ridiculed? How did it feel? Were you frightened? Did you lose some friends over the matter? Or did you give in and not stand up for what you believed to be the truth? Again what was the subject matter? Why did you not stand up for the truth? How did it make you feel to not stand up for the truth? Did someone else stand up for it? How were they treated? Did you speak up later? Continue reading