What Blessing is He Offering?

The blessing God offered required their trust in his faithfulness.

In Exodus 16 we find the Israelites in the wilderness just a few short months after God had brought them out of slavery in Egypt. He had parted the sea so that they walked on dry ground and then the waters had rushed in and drowned the Egyptians. Now two months later their supplies are running thin and they are hungry. They began to complain and even had the audacity to say they would have been better off dying in Egypt! God heard their grumbling and gave them meat (quail) at night and bread (manna) in the morning, every day for 40 years. The only requirement was that they only gather what they needed for that day. They were not to take more and try to save it for the next day.

The blessing God offered required their trust in his faithfulness.

God then introduced a completely new concept. A day of rest. He wanted to bless them with a day off from work. The Israelites had been working slaves for 430 years in Egypt. The idea of having a day off was unheard of. God wanted to bless them and give them time to rest and reflect on all the blessings he had given them. God told them to gather their food on the sixth day like always, but told them that it would be enough for two days and would not spoil. They were to rest and not gather food on the seventh day. This blessing required them to trust that he would supply their needs during that day of rest.

There is a lot of meaning that can be taught from this chapter and the principles in it, but I am not going to get into that today. I want to focus on the big picture instead of all the implications in the details.

How many times has God had a blessing for us, but in order to receive the blessing, it required faith and trust on our part?

I challenge each of us to examine our lives and see where God has offered a blessing but we weren’t willing to trust him for it.

We as people haven’t changed much since the days of the Israelites in the book of Exodus. God shows his faithfulness and love and helps us out of our bondage. After a little time passes, we are faced with another problem and many times, instead of trusting that God will help us, we complain and doubt.

In scripture we see this scenario over and over again. Each time God shows his faithfulness and comes to their aid.

Just as people have not changed, neither has God! He is still faithful. He is the same yesterday, today and forever! (Hebrews 13:8)

How many times does he have to prove his faithfulness before we will have the faith to trust him and expect his faithfulness?

The good news is, that how ever many times it takes, that is how many times he will be there, showing us his faithfulness. What is his agenda? “Then you shall KNOW that I am the Lord YOUR God.” Exodus 16:8

What blessing is he offering you that requires you to trust his faithfulness?

What Does Love Feel Like?

God loves us even though he knows we won’t love him back as perfectly as he loves us.

Exodus 13:17 “When pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.”

God knew even after he rescued them from slavery that they would easily forget, get scared and turn to go right back into bondage. He knew they would not be faithful and love him the way he loved them, but he loved them anyway and he made accommodations along the way to remind them of his love and faithfulness and guide them to the promised land.

Exodus 13:21-22 “He went before them day by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.”

He loves us even though he knows we are not going to love him back in the same way and be faithful.

What is love? The Bible tells us that love is patient and kind and that it always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:7)

What this verse is saying is that love is faithful and forgiving when the other person doesn’t love them back in the same way; when they don’t deserve it. THAT is love.

We see God’s love played out many times in Scripture. He loves Adam and Eve even when they are unfaithful and they don’t deserve it. He loves the Israelites even after they are unfaithful and don’t deserve it. He loves Abraham and Sarah when they are unfaithful and don’t deserve it. He loves David after he is unfaithful and doesn’t deserve it. I could go on and on, but I’ll just mention one more example. The most beautiful example of love ever recorded. Jesus.

Mankind at its worst is evil, depraved, selfish, perverted, ego centric, prideful, hateful, lying, cowardly and completely unfaithful to God over and over again.

In the privacy of your own mind, picture Jesus in the garden before he is arrested. He’s kneeling and praying. You stand before him and every sin you have ever committed is played out in front of him like a movie. Think about the things you have done that you are most ashamed of, that you don’t want anyone to know about. There they are in front of him. He sees them and his flesh is crying out in dread of the humiliation and excruciating death that is before him. He looks at you and your sin and then says, nevertheless, and his emotions mind and body submit to the overwhelming love of God that is in him and he willingly lays down his life in love for you and for me.

41And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22:42-42

He loves us even though he knows we won’t love him back as perfectly as he loves us. He loves us even though we are not a faithful bride.

There truly is no feeling like being loved so wholly and completely.

“He left the splendor of heaven, knowing his destiny was the lonely hill of Golgotha, there to lay down his life for me. If that isn’t love, then the ocean is dry, there are no stars in the sky and the sparrow can’t fly. If that isn’t love then heaven is a myth. There’s no feeling like this!” “If That Isn’t Love” by Dottie Rambo

I love that sweet simple song. There is an old video of Dottie playing the guitar and helping Michael English sing it. The video is poor quality but it is still my favorite rendition of the song. To me, the emotion in his voice captures a glimpse of the love of Jesus and maybe the emotion of David singing his psalms to the Lord. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Close your eyes and listen with your heart.

Nothing Is Wasted

“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, this month shall be for you the beginning of months. It should be the first month of the year for you.” Exodus 12:1-2

In Exodus chapter 12 we find the Israelites have been in slavery for 430 years. Moses and Aaron have been asking Pharaoh to let them go and God has brought many plagues upon Egypt. In verses one and two of chapter 12 the Lord speaks to Moses and Aaron and declares a new beginning in the midst of their slavery.

If you haven’t read Exodus chapter 12, I urge you to do so. It is a beautiful story of God‘s redemption of the Israelites and a foreshadow of what Jesus would do for all of us.

“ Then they shall take some of the blood (from the lamb) and put it on the two door posts and lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They should eat the flesh of the lamb that night roasted on the fire with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it.” Ex. 12:7-8

Leaven is another word for yeast. If you take flour and water, knead it well and leave it in a cool place for a long time, the dough will rise. This process will speed up if you save a little dough each time you bake it, to add to your next batch. This reserve is called a ‘starter.’ It is a good way to preserve yeast that makes good bread. Once the yeast gets into the new lump, it spreads throughout the lump.

So, we can see that yeast bread involves a lot of work and reliance on our past bread making. Making unleavened bread is much easier: once the flour and water are mixed, the bread is ready to bake in a short time. There is no ‘starter’ from yesterday, so unleavened bread has no past. It is a new beginning!

“In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste.“ Exodus 12:11

The symbolism of the unleavened bread and the people being dressed and ready and eating in haste is extraordinary! Every single detail has meaning and purpose. God is definitely in the details. Nothing is wasted.

When I read the Old Testament I am always blown away by the things God does and how much he loves and forgives over and over again. He always keeps his promises. Many times it seems to take longer than we expect, but he is always working and the result is redemption!

Scripture assures my hope and teaches me to be patient and wait on the Lord. It encourages me to look at the little details in my own life and try to find the truth and lessons that are tucked in to them. Nothing is wasted.

Prayer: Lord thank you for your faithfulness. Thank you for Jesus! Please make me strong and my heart take courage as I wait for you to work out the details of my life. Please help me see the truths and lessons tucked into those details.

The Secret to Success

This morning I was reading about when Peter and Jesus walked on the water. It’s found in Matthew 14. Peter actually walked on the water to Jesus! How amazing that must have been. While he was focused on Jesus, his faith was strong enough to step out on the water. He kept looking at him and thinking about him and began to walk on it! When he stopped focusing on Jesus and began looking at the storm, fear came in and wrestled with his faith until it won. Fear took over and he began to sink. Then with the faith he had left, he cried out to Jesus, believing he would rescue him and of course Jesus did.

What a beautiful picture of what our Christian life looks like. Sometimes we are focused on the Lord and our faith is so strong! Sometimes when the troubles and trials come, we look around at our circumstances and fear enters in and steals our peace and we can begin to sink under the weight of our problems. This life in Christ can be exciting, powerful and amazing at times, but it also has its ups and downs. The Bible tells us the enemy is always watching for a way to defeat our faith. (1Peter 5:8)

The most beautiful part of this story is when he stretches out his hand and rescues Peter. He is also with us, ready to rescue us if we need him. He is there when we are focused on him and our faith is strong and he is there when we give in to fear. He is always there. He is always faithful.

A few years ago I was talking with my husband‘s grandmother. She was a prayer warrior and a woman of strong faith. I was gleaning her last bits of wisdom before she went on to be with the Lord. When I asked her what her secret was to having success in this difficult life of raising children, marriage and living a righteous life, she gave me this scripture;

Isaiah 26:3 “You keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusts in you.

It’s so true! This is the secret to a victorious life! We see it played out in the story of Peter and Jesus on the water and we see it played out in our own lives every day.

Prayer: Lord God our faithful Father, thank you! Thank you for loving us and always being there for us. Please help us keep our mind stayed on you and who you are. Fill us with your peace that passes all human understanding, and is anchored in faith and trust in you. Thank you for your faithfulness.

Our Own Exodus Story

This Exodus that we see played out in scripture, is so intricate! There are so many layers to Gods plan and what it will accomplish.

It will touch the lives and hearts of the Israelites.

Exodus 6:7 “I will be your God and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens…”

It will touch the lives and hearts of the Egyptians.

Exodus 7:5 “The Egyptian’s shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.

He even reaches the servants of the evil one…

Exodus 8:18–19 “ The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce the gnats, but they could not… then the magicians said to pharaoh, this is the finger of God…”

It says in later books of the Bible that other countries heard of the God of the Israelites and we’re afraid. (2 Chron. 20:29)

We must learn this Exodus story and hide its lessons in our hearts, so that our faith and our steadfastness do not fail in the midst of the trials we face in this life.

We each are living out our own exodus story. God is working in our lives to bring us out of the bondage we live in. What are you a slave to? Could it be image, greed, self gratification? (which can take many forms) Is it pride or hatred? In this 21st-century the list of sins people are slaves to is very long. God is still working in in our lives today, just as he did in biblical times. God is working in ways we may not understand or even see, to bring each of us to the place where we will know that he is the Lord our God. He is also working in the lives of others involved in our story so that they too, will learn that He is The Lord God.

Prayer: Dear Lord, please help us to be faithful to you. Help us to be strong in our hearts and take courage as we wait for you to lead us and free us! (Ps. 27:14)

Psalm 27:1-3 “The Lord is my light and my salvation: whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who will stumble and fall. Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.

Emphasis On the Wrong Syllable

Have you ever tried to learn a new word? Maybe it’s another language or just a word you’ve never heard before? It’s quite possible in this situation you would miss pronounce the word by putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable.

Today we find ourselves in Exodus 3 & 4 where God commissions Moses. In chapter 3 God tells Moses in great detail exactly what he’s going to do for the Israelites. In chapter 4 Moses proceeds to tell God how unequipped he is and how God should choose someone else instead of him. Moses tells God that people won’t believe him, how he is slow of speech and is simply unfit for the job. He tells God he has chosen the wrong guy, as though the God of the universe can’t accomplish the things he wants to do, if Moses is a part of it. We find God‘s response to Moses in vs. 11.

Ex. 4:11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? “Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I the Lord? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

In chapter 3 Moses listens to what God said He was going to do, but he was focusing on the wrong part of the story. Instead of focusing on what God was going to do, he was focusing on his own part of the story. It’s like Moses was putting the emphasis on the wrong syllable. He got all the characters right but he was focusing and putting the emphasis on the wrong part of the word.

Let’s try something. Read this next sentence while putting the emphasis on the bolded part of the word… “He put the emphasis on the wrong syllable.” Now try it again this way… “He put the emphasis on the wrong syllable.” Isn’t that what we do sometimes in our life? All the characters were there, but we were focusing and putting the emphasis on the wrong part. Sometimes we look at our circumstances, our inabilities, the evil in the world, and we get distracted and stop focusing on the most important part. We must focus on God, on his ability, his power, sovereignty, holiness, and most of all, his great love for us.

In verses 14 through 17 it says that Gods anger is kindled at Moses’ response. I expect at this point that God will say, “Fine! If you don’t want to be part of this, I’ll choose someone else!” Isn’t that the way we would respond? I know I certainly would be tempted to respond that way. However God does not respond that way. God controls his anger and finds compassion for Moses and his insecurities and he graciously allows Aaron to assist Moses. He does this because he loves Moses and doesn’t want him to miss out on the miracle. He knows this miracle, this amazing event, will prove to Moses that it doesn’t matter what he brings to the table. The only thing that matters is that God is in it. God is looking for Moses to be obedient and trust him. That is all. God will do the rest.

Prayer: Dear God, we appreciate your love, grace and mercy towards us. Please help us each to trust you. Help us to keep our hearts, our minds and our eyes on you and not ourselves or our circumstances. Help us to trust you and follow you wherever you want to lead us.

Let’s focus on Him now as we listen to this song.

Remember Who Your With

“My own peace I give to you.” John 14:27

Peace is not attained by the absence of a storm, but by the presence of the Spirit.

My mind goes to Matthew 8:23 where we find Jesus and the disciples on a boat in the middle of a storm. The disciples were looking at their circumstances, thinking only of their ability to handle the situation, as though they were on the boat alone. They did not factor in the reality that because Jesus was right in the boat with them, they were safe. They looked at the storm and panicked. They could have looked at Jesus and taken their cue from him. He was at peace in the midst of the storm. So at peace that he was sleeping right through it!

Today we don’t have the luxury of having Jesus in the flesh walking around with us, but we are not alone.

John 14:15-17 “If you love me and keep my commands I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever, the Spirit of truth. The world cannot except him because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”

On that boat in the middle of a storm, Jesus’ physical body rested, because the Spirit of the living God was in him, and he knew that anything that happened, he was equipped to handle. When they woke him he said, “Why are you afraid? Oh you of little faith.” Matthew 8:26

Whatever situation we find ourselves in, the Spirit will be there to help us face it and he will walk through it with us. Accepting that – BELIEVING THAT, is where peace comes from.

Don’t look at where you are, look at who your with. Peace is not attained by the absence of a storm, but by the presence of the Spirit.

Remember who you’re with!

THEN I am Strong

I just read Exodus chapter 3 where God speaks to Moses for the first time. He lays out the whole plan and all that he will do, after Moses doubts and questions him.

Unfortunately God doesn’t usually tell us the whole plan from beginning to end. Nevertheless, he is the same God to us that he was to Moses, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

We can trust that he has it all worked out, including the parts where the people involved do the wrong thing. There is no obstacle, no mistake, no rebellion or evil plan, that can shake or ruin God’s agenda. We would live in perfect peace if we could just believe that and remember it every minute of the day. However, we don’t, because we are human. We will need God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit continuously, moment by moment, to get through this life, until we meet him face-to-face in our new heavenly bodies. Until then…

“He said to me, my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, and insults, and hardships, in persecutions, and difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Cor. 12:9-11

“Eat the Word”

“Your words were found and I ate them.  Your word became to me a joy and the delight of my heart.  For I am called by your name, Oh Lord God Almighty.”         Jeremiah 15:16

Don’t just read the Word of God.  Eat it!  Post it on your mirror and on your walls.   Memorize it.  Sing Psalms to the Lord in worship.  Know Isaiah.  Love Paul like a brother.  Learn to pray like David.  Squeeze the scriptures like fruit and drink in its bounty and inhale its fragrance.  Devour it. Feast on it!

“How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.”                Psalm  119:103

Prayer:  Lord give me a voracious appetite for your Word.  Plant your words deep in my soul.  Like David, I want to be a person after your own heart.  “You have said, seek my face; my heart says to you, your face Lord do I seek.” (Psalm 27:8) Amen.

 

 

Portrait of Jesus

I have been reading my Bible through chronologically and this morning I started reading Revelations.  It starts by saying in Rev. 1:3 “Blessed is the one who reads this prophecy aloud.” So I decided to read it out loud!  In verses 12 – 16 it paints a portrait of what Jesus looks like now that he is in heaven.  As I read it aloud I was overcome with emotion and tears spilled down my cheeks.  It was true, I was blessed by it!  If you are in a position to read these scriptures aloud, I hope you will.

Revelation 1:8, 12-16  vs.8  “I am the alpha and omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come.  The Almighty.  vs.12-16  “Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lamp stands and in the midst of the lampstands, one like the son of man, clothed in a long robe with a golden sash around his chest.  The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow.  His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice like the roar of many waters.  In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.

Isn’t he magnificent?  I think most of the time we tend to picture Jesus the way he was on earth, because that’s the time period we have been taught and studied the most.    He is no longer walking around in earthly flesh.  He is so much more! He is the alpha and omega.  The Almighty.   When I picture him in the way he is described here, it stirs my spirit and strengthens my faith and my courage to withstand the trials of this world.

I think my favorite part is in vs 17-18 “When I saw him, I fell at his feet though dead.  But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one.  I died and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”

HALELUJIA!! HE HAS WON!!!!  We have nothing to fear!  This loving, compassionate Savior who is my constant friend is so much more!  In verse 20 it tells us that the stars are the angles of the seven churches and that the lampstands  are the churches.  Now don’t miss this…He is standing in the midst of them, governing and ministering to them. He also reached down and put his hand on his shoulder and encouraged him not to be afraid and reminded him that he has already won the battle. He holds the keys! Whatever we have to walk through in this life, we can do it in honor of him, knowing he is The Almighty and he is in the midst of us with his hand on our shoulder, encouraging us to fear not.

This holiday season, as you think of the birth of the Messiah and think of his ministry and sacrifice for us here on this earth, don’t forget to think of him the way he is now, with eyes like fire and a voice like the roar of many waters, with his hand on our shoulder, encouraging us and reminding us he already has the victory.