Summary: If you want to keep from sinning, grow to love the One who values you even as He shakes up your world: appreciate the relationship you have with God; give yourself completely to God; and learn to fear Him.
Thomas Fountain, of Vidalia, Georgia, was with his family in Mexico City several years ago. Now, Mexico City is 7,500 feet above sea level, so it rarely gets hot, but one of the days they spent there was a scorcher. Trying to cope with the heat, their youngest daughter, Debbie, shed all but her panties.
Tom asked his daughter, “Debbie, what are you doing running around half naked?”
“Well,” she replied, “you want me to be half decent, don’t you?” (Thomas E. Fountain, Vidalia, Georgia, “Kids of the Kingdom,” Christian Reader; www.PreachingToday.com)
I think that’s what most of us want not only for our children, but for ourselves, as well. We want to be decent, human beings, living lives that are worthy of the Lord who loved us so much. But that’s hard sometimes. Our sinful, human natures get in the way, and we become self-absorbed, irritable, or anxious, which leads to all kinds of bad choices.
So how can we, as sinful human beings, learn to live holy lives? How can we grow to live lives that please the Lord who saved us from bondage to a worthless life?
That was a problem the children of Israel faced after God rescued them from bondage to Egypt. They were self-absorbed, irritable and anxious, and that was leading them into sin. So God had to do something that would keep them from sinning.
Exodus 19:1-4 In the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on the very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. (NIV)
I remember walking home after worship one Sunday, looking up, and seeing a pair of eagles swirling around in the sky between the church and the parsonage. I was awestruck! Let me tell you: there is nothing more majestic than watching a pair of eagles soar over our beautiful island, but they don’t start that way.
They start as little eaglets in nests perched high above the earth. Then mamma decides that her little eaglets need to learn to fly. So she takes her little eagle out of its nest, flies up as high as she can go, and then drops the little fledgling, letting it fall. Now, the fledgling has never flown in his life, and the ground is coming up fast. No doubt, his heart is ready to burst, and he knows there is no way he is going to survive.
But the mamma eagle is watching, and at the last moment she swoops down and catches her baby eaglet. Relieved, the baby eagle thinks, “I’m saved, I’m fine, I’m gonna survive.” But mamma flies up as high as she can go and drops him again, and she continues to do this until he learns to fly. (Ron Mehl, pastor of Foursquare Church, Beaverton, Oregon; www.PreachingToday. com)
That’s the picture we have here when God tells Israel, “I carried you on eagles’ wings.” When they came to the Red Sea with the Egyptians hot on their heels, God swooped down and parted the waters. When they didn’t have food, God swooped down and provided manna. When they didn’t have water, God swooped down and gave them water out of the rock. God wants his people to know that He carried them on eagles’ wings. Then he says to them…
Exodus 19:5-6 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” (NIV)
God wants His people to know that He treasures them. They are special to Him, holy, set-apart and uniquely His, but only if they obey Him fully.
Exodus 19:7-8 So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord. (NIV)