He is Amused

When we don’t stand our ground,

we give in, and

we go along with the crowd.

Satan watches and he is amused.

He knows our weaknesses.  He and his team figure out the easiest way to entice us to rebel and disobey God.  And, when we give into temptations, Satan smiles.

I see Satan working all through the historical account of the Israelites waiting at the bottom of the mountain when Moses left them to go to the top to speak to God.  The Israelites became impatient with how long Moses was gone (does that sound like you and me?) so they asked Aaron to “make us some gods who can lead us”.

They asked Aaron – who was supposed to be leading the people with Moses.   Aaron – whom God was intending to anoint as head of his holy priesthood.  Aaron – who crumbled immediately to peer pressure and made a golden calf for the people to worship.

Can you visualize the big smile on Satan’s face as he watched all of this go down?

When Moses came back down the mountain, Aaron made the bad situation worse by lying to Moses by saying that he simply threw the gold the people gave him in the fire and ‘out came the calf”.

Read this next sentence which is in the Bible with me: ” Moses saw that Aaron had let the people get completely out of control, much to the amusement of their enemies.”

The Israelite’s main enemy – and our’s – is Satan.  He whispers half-truths into our ears – things that are just believable enough to get us to rationalize away the lies.  He confuses us as he twists the truth.  One of his biggest and most effective strategies is to distract us – anything to get our focus off of God.  He’ll even use good things to fill up our calendars, preventing us from spending time with God.  He wants us to spend out time and energy on anything that is not our relationship with God.  Even ministry can be used to lure us from God if it keeps us too busy to grow our relationship with him.

And Satan is amused every time this strategy works.

I don’t know about you, but this makes me mad.  It makes me mad when I read how the Israelites gave into Satan’s ploys.  And it really makes me mad when I realize that I am listening to Satan’s lies when he whispers them in my ears.

It makes me mad and I am determined to tell him to “take a hike” next time he tries it.  Out loud – so he can hear it.

He will not be amused.

Please help me close my ears to the lies of Satan, Abba Father.

 

Bringing Order out of Chaos

Too much to do.

New things getting added to the list every hour.

It’s hard to focus.

I’m drowning!

 

Ever felt that way?  I used to feel that way pretty regularly – until I learned an important lesson about my Father God.  He is a God of order.  When I invite God into my chaos, he provides clear priorities and organization.

I love the historical account of Moses with his father-in-law, Jethro, in Exodus 18.   Jethro saw that Moses had large numbers of people coming to him all day every day to settle their disputes.  It was a great opportunity for Moses to teach them about God and direct them in the way God would want them to go.  The problem was that a crowd of people stood around Moses each day, waiting a long time to get help with their issues.  Moses was becoming tired and overwhelmed.

I know that feeling, Moses!

Seeing this, Jethro sat Moses down to share some of his experience and wisdom with him.  He told Moses there was a better way to do this.  We would say today that the process Moses was using was not ‘sustainable’.  Moses was going to ‘burn out’ doing this all by himself.

Any of that sound familiar?

Jethro suggested that Moses pick some honest, capable men who feared God and ask them to take care of the smaller, more common issues.  Then these men could bring the more major cases to Moses.  So smart!  This way the men handling the smaller disputes would hear what Moses had to say about the more major concerns and they could gradually learn how to handle these more difficult issues.

Jethro also showed great wisdom when he told Moses to consult with God to make sure this is what God wanted him to do.  Super smart!  Whenever we get Godly counsel from someone, we should still ask God for confirmation.  The people we are talking to are just people and they have their own perspectives and bias’.   God will give us confirmation if the advice we are hearing fits into his plan.

Moses asked and God confirmed, so Moses did what Jethro suggested.

Jethro and Moses were creating the process that we know today as our judicial system.  And it reveals to us that our God is a God of organization and structure.  He is not messy or forgetful.  He is not lazy or late.

God brings order to my thinking when I am confused.  He clarifies my priorities when I am overwhelmed.  He helps me focus on what he is asking me to do rather than all the other ‘good’ things I could do.  He shines a bright light on what is best, helping me make decisions and making it easier to say ‘no’ when something would distract me from the path he wants me to take.

Do you need God to create order in your life?  If so, ask him and be ready to obey.

Thank you for bringing order out of my chaos, Abba Father.

Too Discouraged

Problems pile up and then pile even higher.

Situations become worse, not better.

Broken relationships get even more painful.  It’s easy for you and I to get discouraged when we focus on the mountain of issues in front of us.

This is where the Israelites were when Pharoah made their hard work of making bricks even more difficult by not giving them the straw they needed to make the bricks.  Now they had to find the straw and they were expected to make just as many bricks as before.  What?!  Their situation was bad before but now it was really terrible!

I have had times in my life when I felt like that.  Have you?  I have found myself in situations that were hard to deal with and then something happened to make it even worse.  I’ll never forget getting a phone call that my mother was in the hospital just three months after my father passed away.  What was happening?!  I was only 21 years old, just lost my dad and now my mom was sick?   My world was going crazy!

The good news is that my mother had successful gall bladder surgery and lived 28 more years.

The bad news for the Israelites is that they got so discouraged with their current situation that they stopped listening to God.  That’s the opposite of what they should have done.

My discouraging experiences have taught me that turning to God and focusing on him is the answer.  There is a purpose for the dark times in my life.  God is always working things out for my good – even when I can’t see any good.  It can be very messy and confusing even when I’m right in middle of God’s plan.

I just need to keep listening and obeying.

Please open my ears, Abba Father.

 

 

Revealing

When times are tough, what I genuinely believe about God comes to the surface.  In the center of the struggle, my actions show my real feelings about God.

When I’m in the center of the storm, do I turn to him?

As my world spins and swirls, do I look to him for direction?

And – the big question – when its dark and discouraging, do I trust him?

Do I trust him when my heart is shattering into a million pieces?  Do I trust him when all of my future plans have just been blown apart?  Do I trust him when my life becomes sad and painful?

These are the situations where my true feelings about God are revealed.

The good news is that these are the same situations where the strength and power and grace and love of my Father God is also best revealed.  He’s always there – right in the middle of all the questions and problems and frustrations.

“I am Yahweh – the Lord.” God said these words to Moses thousands of years ago when Moses was faced with the extremely challenging task of leading the Israelites out of Egypt.

‘God Almighty’ is my God.  He has revealed himself in new and beautiful ways in the middle of the tragedy I have been going through these last 2 1/2 years since my son was killed.  God has been faithful through the storm of grief and emptiness.

He is always faithful.

Thank you, Abba Father.

 

 

How Can I Do This?

Have you ever asked God that question?

When G0d gives you an assignment – a task to do, something you need to say, somewhere you are supposed to go – but you have no idea how it’s going to happen?

I’ve been there.  In fact, I’m there pretty regularly.  And I find myself asking God this question – how am I going to do this?

Then God reminds me of the words he spoke to Moses when he asked God this same question thousands of years ago.  God replied, “What is that in your hand?”

When God said these words to Moses – and when he says them to me – he means, “What have I already given you?  Use that.”

What has he already given me?  Good question.  This starts me into a process of reviewing the gifts and skills which God has grown within me.  These are the things God wants me to use to complete my new assignment.

I will also review what God has been teaching me lately – he has a purpose for opening my eyes to a new truth.  He wants me to use this new knowledge and awareness in order to complete the task he has given me.

Do you know what I discover when I review what God has already given me?

I find that God has been preparing me for the things he wants me to do and say and the places he wants me to go.

It’s all in my hand.

Thank you, Abba Father.

My Life is But a Breath

Breathe in,

breathe out.

In the big picture of time, that represents my life here on earth.  One second.

Job  showed that he understood this as he spoke to his unhelpful friends in Job 7,  “You see me now, but not for long.”

In the large scheme of things, the dash between the day I was born and the day I die is the length of time it takes for one breath.  Wow!  That helps to remind me to make sure I’m focused on the important things in my life.  I must not waste time on petty things or differences.

I need to love.

I need to forgive.

I need to care about people and not spend a big portion of my precious time on ‘stuff’.

Most of all, I’ve got to listen to my Father God and do what he asks me to do.  He has a purpose for me here on earth.  He has things he wants me to accomplish in this season of my life.

If I get anything done in this last part of my one breath, I want to be faithful to God’s will, his plans, his purposes.  When I get home, I want to hear those treasured words, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”

Amen, Let it be so, Abba Father.

Blessed

Aaronic Benediction, 2018

“The Lord bless you and keep you,”

I desire your blessing, Father.  Please keep me close to your side.  Draw me even closer when the waves of trials and the unknown try to overwhelm me.  Hold me tightly when the struggles seem too difficult to endure.

“The Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you,”

Shine the light of your love and truth in my life each day, Father.  Help me push back the darkness that is all around me.  May your grace overflow in my life to others so they want to know you.

“The Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”

Yes, Father.  I want to know you better and see you more clearly as you move in my life.  Grow my trust in you, Father.  I know that it’s through my trust in you that you will give me peace.

Please give me peace, Abba Father.

Little by Little

One step at a time.

Deciding to trust God’s direction with my next decision even though I have no idea how this is going to work out.

Persevering through each struggle, not losing sight of the Light.

“Little by little”.  Moses uses these words as he is speaking to the Israelites before they entered the Promised Land.  “The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little.”

Then Moses said, “You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once or the wild animals will multiply around you.”

I’m on my 7th year of reading the entire Bible and God has never bolded these words (figuratively) and stopped me here before. God did not give the Israelites victory over all of their adversaries all at once because the wild animals would have taken over the empty land.

I would love it if God would just take my trials and problems away – all of them – all at once.  Take them all away, Father!

But God doesn’t do that.  Little by little, step by step, he leads me through the struggles.  He draws me closer as together we move through the confusing and dark times.  God does not eliminate all of my issues because then I would be very tempted to count on myself and not on him.  I need to remain dependent on him or wild animals (bad choices and wrong thinking) will also multiply around me.

But little by little is so hard, Father!  Not knowing how it all turns out is very difficult.

Except –

when I’m trusting God.  When I’m breathing and moving in line with my Father God, I only need to keep my eyes on him and take the next step.

Because God’s got the rest.

Thank you, Abba Father.

Gathered to my People

He died.

She passed away.

He was killed.

God tells us in Numbers 20 that Aaron was ‘gathered to his people”.

I like that.  It makes great sense when someone is a believer.  His people are in heaven.  His Father is in heaven.  And his Savior is in heaven.

So – where are my people?

God has blessed me by giving me a family with a very long lineage of Christ-followers.   Many generations of my people are in heaven.

The people I identify with here on earth are also Christ-followers.  These are my people.  They will be with me when I am gathered to my Father – when I am gathered to my people.

I’m tempted to start using that phrase with believers instead of ‘died’ or ‘passed away’.  Some people wouldn’t get it but that’s ok – some people don’t get a lot of things.

How about you?  Are your people in heaven?  Is your Savior in Heaven?  If so, then he has prepared a place for you.

Will you be with me when all believers are gathered to our Father in Heaven?

I hope and pray that you will.

Thank you for always keeping your promises, Abba Father.

Different

Obviously different.

Not rolling with the mainstream of culture.

Not just going a slightly different way on the same road as everyone else – actually travelling an entirely separate road.

A different spirit.

In Numbers, God tells us ‘my servant Caleb has a different spirit and follows me wholeheartedly.”

What an awesome tribute to Caleb!

Can God say that about me today?  What about you?

Have I been transformed deep inside of my soul where my spirit lives?  Have I been significantly changed by experiencing the mercy of God?   Has my thinking radically changed since I let God into my head?  Has my love for God and love for others taken over my calendar and my bank account – does God own my heart?  Are my eyes focused on God or on other people?

If not, I’m not very different from everyone else around me.  Going to church and reading the Bible doesn’t give me a different spirit.  Letting God and his truth rule in my heart and mind changes me.

Please help us have a different spirit which follows you wholeheartedly,  Abba Father.