Equipped

“What if they don’t believe me?” Moses asked God in Exodus 4 as God mapped out Moses’ mission of freeing the Israelites from slavery in Egypt.

Moses had all kinds of questions and doubts about this huge task that God was setting before him.Jan 22b Equipped

God replied to him, “What is that in your hand.”

God had already equipped Moses.  God was going to use Moses’ shepherd staff and it was already in his hand.

God says the same to us today when we have doubts about what he is calling us to do.  We often don’t think we’re good enough to make a significant contribution to the kingdom of God.  We wonder what we could possibly do for God.

God responds with “What is that in your hand.”

What do we already have that we can use for God’s purposes?  Our house?  Our car?  He also gives us our passions – do we have a passion for kids?  A passion for the hungry?  A passion for new believers?  A passion for mentally or physically challenged people?  A passion for the grieving?  A passion to help where ever we can help?

God has given us both material things to use for his kingdom and he has given us the things we’re passionate about – to use for his kingdom.

We just need to step out in faith alongside Moses using whatever is already in our hand.

When we do our part, God always comes through with his part.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Our Burning Bush

While he was out doing his job of herding sheep, Moses saw a bush that was on fire but didn’t burn up.Jan 22a 2015 our burning bush

It caught his attention.

He went over to look.

And God spoke to him.

God opened Moses’ eyes to what he had planned  for the people of Israel and he gave Moses an outline of the mission that God was sending him on.

Moses was reluctant to do what God told him.

He was standing on holy ground next to a supernatural phenomenon.  He was up close and personal, talking with the Creator of the Universe.

And Moses was reluctant to serve.

Today, it’s not every day that we get a burning bush moment with God….but it happens.  God still knows how to get our attention if we’re not giving it to him.  He throws up red flags like letting situations go terribly wrong, allowing issues to get really messy, and letting people hit rock bottom where the only place they have to look is up.

But, most of the time, God speaks to us first in whispers.  That’s why we need to be listening.  If we’re paying attention, the Holy Spirit will open our eyes and urge us forward in the purpose God has planned for our lives.

Many times, this happens to us as we’re reading God’s word or talking with God because that’s when he’s got our attention.  We’re focused on him so we can hear him.

As we grow closer to God, his voice gets louder and we can hear him more clearly.  We are gradually thinking more in line with God and he’s renewing our hearts so that we care for the things he cares about.  More and more, we love the things he loves.

So, we  are naturally more in tune with what he’s saying.  God has room in our hearts and minds to work and communicate.  The farther down this road of faith we travel, the easier it is for God to get our attention.

We don’t need a burning bush.

We’re listening closely, Abba Father.

Retribution

Sometimes things happen to us by chance and, other times, people actually do things to hurt us on purpose.Jan 21 2015 Retribution Jan 21 2015 Retribution

When bad things are done to us on purpose, it’s very hard not to want to strike back.  The bad thing that happened to us creates negative consequences that change our lives and this fills our hearts with negative emotions.

After Israel (Jacob) died, Joseph’s brothers immediately feared retribution from Joseph.  They had done an extremely harmful thing when they sold Joseph into slavery.  It was evil and selfish.  Now that their father was dead, they feared that is was payback time for Joseph.

I have found that this kind of thinking happens in people’s minds because this is what THEY would do.  It’s not because they’ve evaluated the actions of the person they are worried about and see indications that this is going to happen.  They just know how they would react and so they assume this other person is going to act like they would.

In this situation, the brothers hadn’t really taken into consider how Joseph was caring for them or how he had grown and matured.  They were still stuck in their selfish and mean mode.

So, they told Joseph a made-up story that, before he died, their father had left Joseph instructions to forgive his brothers. (Are they ever going to stop the lies?)

After telling Joseph the lies, they threw themselves down at his feet, asking to be his slaves.

Joseph was a man of God.  Joseph had already looked back at what was done to him and he had seen God’s hands in everything.  God had orchestrated it all so that Joseph would be in Egypt in a position to save a multitude of people along with his family from dying in the famine.

So Joseph said to his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.”

What a great role-model for us!  When bad things happen to us, we know that God is in control and even this has come through his hands.  He has a purpose for everything – a purpose we may understand some day or maybe we’ll never understand.

Because we trust God, we can face any circumstance with faith and perseverance.  The grudges fall away as we forgive others like God has forgiven us.

We can live our lives resting on the Rock of our Salvation and it doesn’t matter how high the waves are that crash around us.

God has a purpose for all of it.

We are secure.

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

Sword Fighting Class – Focus on the Right Things

Consider if pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  James 1 1 -9Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

“If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without fault and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord, he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”

“The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.  But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position because he will pass away like the wild flower.  For the sun rises with  scorching heat and withers the plant; it’s blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed.  In the same way, a rich man fades away even while he goes about his business.”James 1= 13-18

” Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial because, when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.”

“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me,” for God cannot be tempted by evil nor does he tempt anyone,”

Yeah!  We’re memorizing James 1 and we’re almost half the way there!  God is blessing our perseverance!  Here’s the next verse:

but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.”

We are tempted by our own evil desires.  When it’s all about us, we’re in trouble.  When we’re in ‘me first’ mode, we’re off target.  We’re doing what we want.  We’re listening as Satan and his team whisper in our ears…..dragging us away from the truth.

Enticed.  Interesting word. So I looked it up and it means to attract (someone), usually to do something, by arousing hope, interest or desire.

When we give our attention to our evil desires, they will entice us farther from God.

When we give our attention to God, he will renew our minds and transform our desires with his truth.

Our eyes are on you, Abba Father.

Very Difficult

Waiting

Wondering.

Waiting some more.

Trying to be patient.Jan 18 2015 Very difficult

Wondering what’s going to happen.

Wondering if anything is going to happen.

Joseph was in prison.

For something he didn’t do.

He knew God was with him – God had proven that to him over and over.

Now Joseph was put in charge of the prison so he had a lot of freedom…..but he was still in prison.

Joseph had interpreted the baker and cupbearer’s dreams and asked them to remember him when they got out of prison.  They forgot.

And, two years later, Joseph was still in prison.  Two years.

He had to be wondering if anything else was going to happen.

It’s been a long time.

A very long time.

Am I supposed to take care of it on my own?

We get these thoughts, don’t we?

So we try to take control of situations and we mess it all up.

I recently had a family situation happen and I wanted to intervene.  I need to say something.  I needed to do something.  I even had myself convinced that it was my responsibility to do these things.

But, when I prayed about it, I could never get the ‘go ahead’ from God.

Very frustrating!

So I prayed some more and I knew I was not supposed to get involved.

Even more frustrating!

Finally, I received a call and found out that God had worked it all out – without me saying or doing anything!  And he had orchestrated it all in a much better way than I would have ever been able to.

Waiting.

Wondering.

Trusting.  That’s what it comes down to – trusting God.  We don’t have to wonder if he’s at work – he has promised that is taking care of it for us.

As he was for Joseph.

Two years later, Pharoah had a dream and the cupbearer finally remembered Joseph who is still sitting in prison.  When Joseph correctly interpreted the dream, Pharoah made him ruler of Egypt second only to himself.

How’s that for a plan?

In this role, Joseph was able to save Egypt and his own family from starvation in the great famine that was coming.

Waiting.

Knowing God is at work.

Trusting – that’s the key.

Please help us grow our trust in you, Abba Father.

From This Day Forward

We drive a stake into the ground.Jan 14 2015 From this day forward

This is it.

From this day forward.

Sometimes God shows us we need to make an abrupt change in our lives.  Something happens and God uses it to significantly change the direction we are headed.

Most of the time, God transforms us gradually – baby steps.  But, every once in while, we get an epiphany from God – our eyes are opened to God’s desire to make a big change in us – and we are compelled to drive a stake into the ground.

From this day forward, we will be different.  There’s no going back.

I had one of the epiphanies 6 months ago about eating right and daily obeying God’s commands in the Bible regarding food.  I am forever changed.  My eyes are opened to how God wants me to use food in my life and there is no going back.  The stake is in the ground.

We read in Genesis that Laban and Jacob made a covenant and Jacob set up a pillar to remind each of them of their promises to one another.  From this day forward, we will not harm one another.

A pillar in the ground.  From now on, our behavior is going to be different.

There is no going back.

God is transforming us as we walk this road of faith.  The Holy Spirit is convicting us of the truth in God’s word which we need to apply to our lives.  God is teaching us.  He is guiding us.

If we are listening, we should be experiencing these epiphanies and working with God has he transforms us from the inside outside.  We should be more like Christ today than we were a year ago.

It doesn’t matter if we’ve been on this road of faith for 50 days or 50 years, God is renewing our minds and remodeling our hearts.

Changing us.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Teaching Deception

Rebekah coached Jacob on how to deceive his father, Isaac.Jan 11 2015 teaching deception a

Later in Genesis, Laban deceives Jacob.

Then Jacob deceives Laban.

And then Rachel, Jacob’s wife, steals from her father, Laban.

Deception.

Trickery.

Lies.

Stealing.Jan 11 2015 teaching deception b

This is what Rebekah taught Jacob and what Laban taught Rachel.

When adults do these things, for whatever reason, children are watching….

and learning.

It’s not a legacy to be proud of.  Rebekah taught Jacob how to deceive his father to get what she wanted.  Laban taught Rachel that stealing was the way to get what she wanted because he tricked Jacob and stole from him to get what he wanted.

I’m sure both Rebekah and Laban rationalized all of this in their minds.  We tend to do that when we’re planning to sin.  The end justifies the means.  It would be so unfair the other way – we’re just evening the playing field.

And I’m sure they both complained about what their deception actually gave them.  Both of them were separated from their children and their grandchildren as a result of these actions.

We can see this legacy of deception show up over and over in Isaac and Rachel’s lives.

And we can learn from it.

We definitely don’t want this in our lives, right?

We want a legacy of honesty and truth and love in our family.  With our friends.

So, today, we confess any of our behavior that has not been honest and true and done in love.  We commit to set that standard in our lives so that we can teach and role-model it with our family and friends.

Today is the start of a new legacy.

Please help us, dear Father.

Sword Fighting Class- Stop the Blame Game

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, when you face trial of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you can be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”James 1 1 -9

“If anyone lacks wisdom, they should ask God who gives generously to all with fault and it will be given to him.  But when he asks, he must believe and not double, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.  That man should not believe that he will receive anything from the Lord, he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does.”

The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.  But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wildflower.  The sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the plants; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed.  In the same way, a rich man fades away even as he goes about his business.”James 1= 13-18

Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to all who love him.”

Awesome!  We are memorizing James 1 and it’s getting really challenging!  With God, all things are  possible!  Here’s our next verse,

When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.”

When we sin, there is no one to blame but ourselves.  Sometimes that’s a hard thing to admit – we’d like to blame anybody else…even God.

There is nothing evil in God, this temptation to sin does not come from him.

He sometimes tests our faith – that’s not the same thing.  He tests us in order to grow us, to mold us, to help us persevere and become more wise.  When he tests us, we can step up to the plate or we can disobey.  It’s our choice.

Dear Father, We choose to grow and to persevere – please help us.

 

The Immediate

Esau sells his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of stew in Genesis 25.

This doesn’t make sense.Jan 11 2015 The Trade Off

Esau was going to inherit the majority of Abraham’s wealth and he trades it for a bowl of stew?

Not smart!

We would never do something like that!

Or….would we?

Are we doing this when we fill up our calendars with good things and we have no time for the best things?  The best things that bring long-term benefits? Benefits that we don’t see right away?

Like regular 1 – on 1 time with God?  Are we too busy?

Like significant time making memories with our family?  Memories that don’t include running from calendar item to calendar item?  The memories that include lots of laughter and fun like playing poker on a rainy day in Italy with elbow macaroni as chips. (My family will smile at that one :).

When we buy items with credit cards that we can’t pay off right away, we’re doing the same thing.  We’re trading off a happier, debt-free life in order to have something right now.

The ‘immediate’ calls to us.  It’s very loud.

We have a hard time not listening and responding.

God promises us in James 1 that he will give us a generous amount of wisdom……when we ask.

We just need to take the time to ask and then obey as he guides us.

None of this happens immediately.

We need to turn down the volume on the ‘immediate’ in our lives and turn up God’s volume.  How do we do this?  We’re doing it right now as we read and study and internalize God’s word to us.

Forget the immediate – we want God’s best.

So we’re focusing on you,  Abba Father.

Growing

Mistakes.

We all make them as we travel this road of faith.Jan 5 2015 Growing

The important thing is to learn from each mistake and grow from it.

We see Abraham making a big mistake in Genesis 12 when he shows a lack of trust in God.  He asked Sarai to lie to Pharoah, saying that she was Abram’s sister, not his wife.  Abram was worried that Pharoah would kill him in order to marry Sarai if he knew she was Abram’s wife.

Abram didn’t trust that God would protect him.  He still had to learn that God is in total control of everything – even Pharaohs.

Because of the lies, God had to step in and get Sarai out of Pharoah’s household.  He had to fix the mess that Abram had made.

And we’ll see later that Abram does the exact same thing later.

What?

We’ll even hear him rationalize away his lies – trying to make them not sound so bad.

When is he going to learn?

Does any of this sound like us?

Do we ever make the same mistake twice?  Or 3 times?  We didn’t learn the first time?

Fortunately for us, God has patience with us just like he had patience with Abram.

The good news for Abram is he eventually learned to trust God with everything – even with the life of his promised son, Isaac.

Please help us trust you, dear Father.