Bigger…

and stronger.

As the Israelites prepare to enter the Promised Land, Moses tells them that God is going to “drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you.”

The Israelites were going to be fighting against enemies with huge armies of men who had built tall walls around their cities.  And God was going to give them victory.  He was headed into battle with them – there was nothing to fear.

God is saying this same thing to me today –

and to you.

You and I have some big battles coming our way.  If we aren’t in the middle of them now, we probably don’t have long to wait.  That’s just how it is on this broken planet.

God promises us that he will go with us and guide us through.  In some situations we will see a clear victory and other times it’s what we learn and how we grow through the battle that makes us a winner.

Because God, our Father, has already won the war.  Jesus defeated sin and death for us.

As a believer, I know how this story ends for me.

Happily Ever After.

Thank you, Abba Father.

I Have to Believe

I have to trust.

Otherwise I’ll act like the Israelites as they wandered around in the desert.  Whining. Stubborn.  Forgetting all the things God had already done for them.  Showing no gratitude for how God was currently leading them and providing for them.

I don’t want to be like them.

It’s a fact that I have even less excuse for this kind of bad behavior than they did because, as a believer living under the New Covenant, I have the Spirit of God living in me.  They didn’t have the Holy Spirit.

Yes, I have the Holy Spirit, but if I don’t trust in the love and grace of God, I will be just like them.  If I don’t let God lead me and fight my battles for me, I will cut myself off from his blessings just like they did.

If I forget how faithful God has been to me all of my life, I will become a bitter grumbler just like them.

I’m not going to do that.  I choose to believe, trust and put my faith in the One True God, Creator of the Universe.

What do you choose?

I love you, Abba Father.

 

A Cloud of Guidance

A Cloud of Guidance.

I would like one.  Wouldn’t you?

As the Israelites start moving across the desert, we read more in the book of Numbers about the Cloud of God which initially covered the tabernacle.  Now the cloud begins to guide the Israelites – step by step – on their journey.

When the cloud lifted from the tabernacle, approximately 2.5 million Israelites would break camp and follow.  When the cloud settled back down on a spot, they would all stop, put up the tabernacle and then set up camp in their assigned places around it.  We read that sometimes the cloud was over the tabernacle only a few days before moving on and other days the cloud stayed only from evening to the next morning.  Whether the cloud remained over the tabernacle for 2 days or a year, the Israelites stayed until it lifted.  Then they packed up and moved on.

At night the cloud became a pillar of fire.  Of course it did!  That way the Israelites could see it in the dark and know they were exactly where they were supposed to be.

Wow!  There are alot of situations in my life where I would love to have such clear guidance!

On second thought, as a believer, I know I have the Spirit of God living in me – my own cloud!

I just need to tune in and be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s moving and prompting.  The easiest way for me to do this is to spend time reading and thinking about what God is telling me every day through his Word.   Sometimes I’m supposed to move and other times I’m supposed to be still, focused on my relationship with him.

It’s amazing how clearly he speaks when I’m listening carefully and consistently.

Thank you for giving me my own Cloud of Guidance, Abba Father.

It’s Done

Complete.

All the weaving, measuring and hammering was done.  Moses set up the courtyard around the tabernacle and put up the curtain to the entrance.

Finished.

“Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”

Awesome!

There are times during the praise part of worshipping God with my spiritual family when I visualize a cloud billowing into the room.  As I watch, the glory of the LORD fills the space around me.  God’s word tells us that he ‘inhabits’ the praise of his people.

God is always near but there are two places in my life where he feels most near to me –

  • the first place is right now with my Bible open in my lap and my ears and heart open to what he wants to say to me.
  • the second is when I’m joining with God’s people in praising him.  This is especially true for me when a praise song includes pivotal truths that have been game-changers in my life.  This last Sunday we lifted our praise up to our ‘Good, Good Father’ while tears streamed down my face.  A cloud of God’s grace and love filled the room and my heart.  God is good, he loves me and always wants the best for me even when I can’t see it.  These are all facts that have gotten me through the last 3 1/2 painful years since my son was killed.

And the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

The Light Wins

Secret Arts.

Those are the words my Bible uses when explaining how the Pharoah’s magicians did the same ‘tricks’ as God did through Moses.

It’s interesting to replace ‘secret arts’ with the name of who was really behind the magician’s powers – Satan.  It’s always a battle of good versus evil and most of those battles are fought in the spiritual realm.  This one was very visible on earth.

It started when Aaron threw his staff down in front of Pharoah and it became a snake.  Pharoah’s magicians did the same thing with their staffs with Satan’s help.

But here’s a twist – Aaron’s snake swallowed up the other snakes.  In the writing world, we would call this foreshadowing – this is how the whole battle is going to go.  God is all-powerful, Satan is not.

Even after his snakes are eaten right in front of him, Pharoah remained stubborn and unmoved.  That’s just who he was.

Next, God changed the Nile into blood. (Yuck!)  But then Pharoah’s magicians did the same thing – again with Satan’s help.

Of course, Pharoah’s heart remained hard and stubborn.

So God sent a plague of frogs which covered the ground as well as the insides of their houses.  Once again, Satan helped Pharoah’s magicians do the same thing.

Pharoah’s stubborn refusal to let the Israelites go continued, so God sent a plague of gnats.  But – get this.  The magicians were unable to produce gnats.

What happened, Satan?  Run out of steam?

Or did the Creator of the Universe get tired of playing your games and shut you down?

Suddenly, Satan no longer replies but we read the deadly result of his continued whispers into Pharoah’s ear.  Pharoah’s heart becomes more and more stubborn so God ups his response with the next plague of flies.

Do you notice?  Now the plagues start to only affect the Egyptians, not God’s people.  The 9th plague of darkness is truly amazing to me.  The land was in total darkness – they couldn’t see their hands in front of their faces – except God’s people.  The light still shone down on the people of Israel.

I feel that is true today.  Our world can be such a dark and confusing place – full of disappointment and heartbreak.  Only God brings true light into the darkness.

We can fool ourselves into thinking that money or recognition or a relationship with the right person brings light.  But all of those will eventually feel empty – ‘is this all there is’ – without God.

Have we figured this out yet?  Our lives will be ‘plagued’ by darkness until we put God in the center.

Thank you for being ‘The Light of the World”, Jesus.

 

Please Send Someone Else

It’s true.

I’m reading Exodus and Moses – one of the major ancient Patriarchs of Faith – asks God to “Please send someone else.”

What?

God has heard the cries of his people and he chose Moses to lead the nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt and Moses replies, “Send someone else?”  Moses went through the whole burning bush experience and he still says “Send someone else?”

Do I ever do this?

Do you?

I think one of the areas that many of us will ask God “Please send someone else” is when God gives us an opportunity to share our faith and share our story.  “Oh, I’m not sure what to say.”  “We might get into a complicated conversation and I won’t have the answers.”

“There is someone else who would be better at this than me.”

Any of those excuses come into your head when people around you start asking questions about God or church or religion or spirituality?

By the way, I love it when someone tells me they are into ‘organized religion’ because I tell them I’m not, either.  But I’m totally into having a personal relationship with God.  And God is very clear in his Word that part of having a relationship with him is also having relationships with other Christians – a spiritual family.  Many of those of those families meet in church buildings.

I love it when people around me start asking spiritual questions because that means God is moving in their lives.  He is opening their eyes and softening their heart – making them think about him.  Even if the person expresses their searching aggressively like, “How could you possibly believe this stuff?”, God is moving in their brain, stirring things up.

So when people around you or I show any type of interest in God or ask any kind of question, that is God inviting us to show his love to this person, be a witness to what God has done in our life and plant a seed.  We can be authentic when we don’t know all the answers and admit we’re on the journey of faith ourselves – seeking God and growing in our knowledge and love for him.  That’s where faith comes in – believing and trusting even when we don’t understand it all.

So the next time someone around one of us starts talking about ‘spirituality’ or God, let’s share a short, recent story about an experience we have had with God, trusting that the Holy Spirit will give us the right words and help us to be quiet and listen at the right times.

Let’s not say, “Please send someone else.”

Please help us be faithful witnesses to your power and grace and love, Abba Father.

The Pieces……

are falling into place.

He’s creating one piece, changing the shape of another and he is moving all in the pieces in the direction they need to go.  Gradually – piece by piece – they will fall into place.

God is the Master Conductor of the Orchestra of Life for those of us who have accepted salvation through Jesus Christ.  God has promised that he is working all things out for the good of those who love him.

His children.

Me.  Piece by piece.

God has been doing this since the beginning of time.  It’s interesting to read how he orchestrates his purpose all through the story of Moses.  When Moses was born, Pharoah had ordered that all Hebrew baby boys must be killed.  Pharoah thought there were too many Hebrew men already and was concerned they could rise up and overpower the Egyptians.

Moses’ parents were able to hide their infant son for 3 months.  When his mother could no longer hide him, she made a water-proof basket for him and placed him in the Nile River.

Very soon, Pharoah’s daughter came down to bathe in the Nile and she saw the basket.

Of course, she did.  God made sure of it.

When she opened the basket, she saw the baby and realized he was a Hebrew child who was very hungry.  Moses’ sister had been watching the basket so she came up to Pharoah’s daughter and asked her if she wanted her to “get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you.”  Pharoah’s daughter agreed and she said she would pay the girl for taking care of the baby.

Of course, she did.  God had this puzzle all figured out.  Only he could arrange a situation where Moses’ mother could publically take care of her son until he was older – and she got paid for it.

This was just the first puzzle piece for Moses.  As we read Exodus, we see God’s hand moving in every step of his life from them on.

This same God wants to be a part of everything that happens to us, too.

Looking back, I can see God orchestrating my life – moving mountains, parting rivers, putting the pieces of my life together in a unique way which only he can do.

As I start a new year, he has told me some of the things he has planned for me but I’m just going to need to trust him for the rest.  I know he loves me and wants the best for me so I am prepared to watch….

and see the puzzle pieces fall right into place.

Thank you, Abba Father.

A Long, Precious History

Since I was born –

from then to now –

God has been my Shepherd.

So Israel’s (formerly known as Isaac) words echo through my mind as I read in Genesis about how he describes God during his last days on earth, ” God who has been my Shepherd all my life to this day.”

Israel and I share the experience of having a long family legacy of faith.

In Genesis 48, Israel is blessing his grandsons – Joseph’s sons – before he breathes his last breath.  This was very serious business and Joseph isn’t happy when Israel switches hands and gives the younger son the greater blessing.

But I know that one of the biggest blessings these grandsons and all of Israel’s grandsons are receiving is the long family history of belief and faith they have been nurtured in since their birth.  It started with their Great, Great Grandfather Abraham and it is being passed down to them.

They have had years and years of role models in their lives of people who followed God and obeyed.  This is a precious blessing that will change their lives forever if they choose to follow in the steps of those who have gone before them.

I have received this blessing as I pursue a life of following God and being faithful to him….

as my mother did….

and my grandmothers…..

and my great grandmothers – on back through history.

If this isn’t true of your family, you have the awesome opportunity to get it started.

Thank you for giving me the blessing of having a long family history of faith, Abba Father.

He is With Me

All the time.

Blessing me.

Guiding me.

Loving me.

As I read the story of Joseph in Genesis, I notice that one phrase keeps repeating itself – over and over.

“The Lord was with Joseph.”

Joseph lived in Old Testament times so the Holy Spirit had not yet come to live inside of every believer.  God’s relationship with his people in the Old Testament was very different from now because sin was in the way.  It explains why the Old Testament is full of violence, bloody animal sacrifices and killing.  Our Righteous Father had to keep his distance.   Jesus had not yet given up his life on the cross to pay for all of the sins of the world.

Even so, as we read through the Old Testament, God’s Spirit did come to earth at special times to be  ‘with’ chosen people.

Joseph was one of them.  And Joseph prospered even when his circumstances were not good.

I am so thankful to be living on earth after Jesus came because now the Holy Spirit is ‘with’ everyone who has accepts the free gift of salvation offered by Jesus and puts their faith in him.  Everything good on earth comes from God – even when he doesn’t get the credit.

I am so grateful that the Holy Spirit is ‘with’ me every day – caring for me, counseling me and walking beside me.

And I prosper despite my circumstances….

because God is good, all the time.

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

I Am One of Them

Tonight, let’s all go outside and look up at the stars.

Most of the stars we will see are the same stars Abram (God changes his name to Abraham later) saw when God took him outside and told him to ‘count the stars’.

Then God said to Abram, “So shall your offspring be.”

As we read the Old Testament, it appears like these stars represent the Israelites who became the Jewish nation.  In Galatians, Paul clarifies for us the identity of Abraham’s children.  “Understand, then, that those who have faith are Children of Abraham.”

I am a child of Abraham!

I am represented by one of those stars in the sky on that night over 2,000 years ago when Abram looked up…..

and believed.

Are you?

Thank you, Abba Father, for your faithfulness to Abraham and your faithfulness to me.