The Light of the World

Secret Arts.

Those are the words used in Exodus 7 to explain how the Pharaoh’s magicians did the same ‘tricks’ as God did through Moses.

Do you know who the power is behind these ‘secret arts’?  Satan.  And he doesn’t like the fact that I’m pointing him out today.  He loves to lurk in the shadows, creating havoc while speaking lies into our minds.

The battle of good versus evil has raged across our planet ever since the Garden of Eden.  Most of the activity is in the spiritual realm.  This altercation between Satan and God is unusual because it was very visible on earth.

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

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, Pharaoh remained stubborn and unmoved.  No surprise there – that’s who he was.

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

Of course, Pharaoh’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 Pharaoh’s magicians do the same thing.

Pharaoh’s stubborn refusal to let the Israelites go continued, so God sent a plague of gnats.  But – get this.  Pharaoh’s 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 Pharaoh’s ear.  Pharaoh’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.

What’s in My Hand?

Sometimes I don’t feel like I have the right skills or experience or knowledge to do what God is asking me to do.  That’s how Moses felt when God told him to go back to Egypt to free his people from slavery.

“What if they do not believe me or listen to me..?”  Exodus 4:1.   I can hear the worry and concern in Moses’ voice, can’t you?

And then God asked Moses to look at what he already had in his hand and use that to do what God was asking him to do.  Moses was holding his staff in his hand.  As the story of the Exodus unfolds we will read of Moses regularly using his staff in order to do what God is asking him to do.

Applying this to my life, I need to consider what I already have and figure out how to use it to serve God.  What is God asking me to do and what has he already given me in order to accomplish it?  I have a car.  I have a house with chairs.  I have leadership and writing skills.  If I turn off the TV and close down my computer and lay down my phone, I also have time.

When God asked me to start writing this blog, I was already writing a different blog.  So I had everything in my hands to do what he wanted me to do except for time.   I had to take a couple of things out of my already packed schedule to fit in the new blog but God blessed my efforts.  Here I am, 12 years later, still reading through the entire Bible every year and sharing the journey with you in this blog.

I have learned that it’s important to remember when God tells me he wants me to do something that I’m not doing it alone.  God with his supernatural power is working with me – making the impossible possible.  When I focus on what I can do, God takes care of the rest.

The questions God has for you and I today are – what is he asking us to do and what can we use that is already in our hands to do it.

Please open our eyes, Abba Father.

What’s Next?

So many decisions…

sometimes its hard to figure out my next steps.

A lot of options.

burning-bush

Why can’t I get a burning bush like God gave Moses?  It was big.  It was dramatic. Moses couldn’t miss it.  If I got one of those, it would be so much easier to listen and follow, right?

In my life, God gives me what I would call burning plants.  They are a lot smaller than a bush and much less impressive but when I’m reading God’s word, praying and listening, God will set fire to the next small plant – lighting the way to my next decision – and then my next.

Here’s how it works – I’m regularly reading God’s word and listening to how he wants me to apply it to my life.  I pray – expecting God to move and answer but keeping my mind open knowing that God can answer in a way that’s much different from how I think he will answer.

I watch.

And he lines up my circumstances, one step at a time.

He will also add confirmations along the way.  Godly people around me will say something that reinforces the direction indicated by a recent burning plant.  And it’s not unusual for my pastor on Sunday to say something that confirms my next decision.

When God knows I am watching and listening, he can work through all of these things to make my next step clear to me.

I have found that I don’t need a big, dramatic burning bush if I’m paying attention.  My small burning plants work just fine.

Thank you for your guidance, Abba Father.

When Bad Things Happen….

to good people.

It’s hard to understand.

I sometimes ask ‘why’?  Do you ask ‘why’?

Then I read about Joseph’s trials in Genesis and the answer is pretty clear.  A long list of bad things happened to Joseph and God brought something good from them all.  Joseph’s faith and wisdom grew as he trusted God with through each trial.

I don’t believe that God caused all of these negative things to happen to Joseph.  I don’t believe God causes all the struggles that happen to you and me.  Some of them happen because we live in a broken world where we all sin, we all make bad choices.  We pay the consequences for our sins as well as other people’s sins.  And Satan is working relentlessly to entice people to sin.  He is creating a lot of our trials.  I don’t understand why some people get mad at God when bad things happen – they should get mad at Satan who is doing the dirty work.

Yes, God is in total control so he could stop all sinning and consequences from happening.  But he has gifted us with free will so we can choose to love him.  Unfortunately, sometimes, our choice is to sin.  Other people choose to sin.  There are consequences for those bad choices. When we, as believers, get to where we’re going (heaven) we will no longer sin and there will be no more negative consequences.

you-intended-to-harm-me

Here on earth – where God is with all believers like he was with Joseph – he can use these consequences so that something good comes from them.

This truth makes the account of Joseph’s life very important to me.

His brothers sold him into slavery but – wait.

Then he’s put in charge of the top Egyptian official’s house.

The official’s wife lied to get Joseph in trouble and Joseph is thrown in jail.

But – wait.  God was with him and he was put in charge of the prison.  Joseph helped the Butler and Baker get out of prison – good news for the Butler because he got his old job back, bad news for the Baker who was killed.  The Butler promised to help Joseph get out of jail but he forgot. Two years (2 years!) later, Pharaoh had a dream and the Butler remembered Joseph who was called out of prison to interpret it.

Pharaoh was so impressed that he made Joseph 2d in command, right under himself.  From that position, Joseph was responsible for saving the lives of a whole nation.  A serious famine was coming and God spoke a warning through Joseph’s interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream.

God was with Joseph through all of the bad things that happened to him, making sure that he ended up exactly where he needed to be in order to fulfill his destiny.

Joseph also saved the lives of his brothers who had sold him into slavery.  This indicates the level of maturity and faith Joseph had acquired through his trials.  Joseph told his brothers, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. ” Genesis 50:20.  Joseph could never have predicted the part he was going to play in the huge famine that was coming.  God knew. And he was with Joseph every step of the way.

Joseph’s story encourages me as I watch God bring good out of the tragic death of my son, David Glasser, who was a Phoenix Police Officer killed in the line of duty.  And God has been with me every day as I learn to live with the grief and pain of losing a child.

And he wants to walk through your trials with you, too, – if you will let him.  He wants to bring good out of the trials you go through – if you let him.

Thank you, Abba Father.

A Precious Legacy

Since I was born –

from then to now –

God has been my Shepherd.

Israel’s (formerly known as Isaac) words echo through my mind as I read in Genesis how he describes God as he blesses his grandsons during his last days on this Earth.  “May the God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked faithfully, the God who has been my Shepherd all my life to this day, the Angel who has delivered me from harm- may he bless these boys.”  Genesis 48:15-16.

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

In Genesis 48, Israel is talking to Joseph’s sons – the son he had thought he had lost forever.  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 the legacy 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.

 

Wrestling with God

Why is life so hard?  Why do bad things happen to me?  Why have I been bombarded by tough stuff?

I have wrestled with God often about the death of my son, David Glasser, a Phoenix Police officer, who was killed in the line of duty on May 18, 2016.  That’s the day my world exploded…….and then crumbled.  I had so many questions.  So much grief.  So many tears.

I did a lot of talking and questioning and struggling with God as my mind and heart gradually came to terms with the huge hole in my life.

I don’t think this wrestling is unusual.  In fact, as I read in Genesis 32 of God’s Word about Jacob wrestling with God over 4000 years ago, I can relate.  They physically wrestled all night.  God and I have gone many mental rounds over these last 6 1/2 years.

Have you ever wrestled with God in your mind all night?   Thoughts swirling.  Stuck in frustration.  Questions flying around.  Emotions rolling.  Tears flowing.

When the sun rose for Jacob in the morning, God changed Jacob’s name to Israel “because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.”  Genesis 32:28b.

Then God blessed Israel (Jacob).  God also wrenched Israel’s hip out of its socket while they were wrestling and Israel limped the rest of his life – evidence of his successful wrestling with God.

Like Israel, God has blessed me and given me answers and peace as a result of our wrestling matches.  I have learned more about how much he loves me since my son was killed than I knew all of my earlier years on this planet.  God is putting the pieces of my life back together on the foundation of these facts –  He is good, He is always right, nothing is impossible for Him and He is working everything out for my good.  I have learned to filter everything that happens to me in this world through these promises.  This has changed my perspective and significantly increased my level of trust in Him.

God has also changed one of the names I go by – now I am a ‘Survivor’.  I  have a ‘limp’ – evidence in my life that I have successfully wrestled with God.  With God walking beside me, I have overcome my questions and frustrations.

God has helped me experience His love and faithfulness in the deepest part of my soul.  I may not understand it all but I trust Him with it all.

Thank you, Abba Father.

I Am One of Abraham’s Stars

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.” Genesis 15:5.

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.” Galatians 3:7.

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 one of Abraham’s stars?

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

Deception

Saying things that aren’t true in order to get what we want.

Changing the facts a little to avoid dealing with the consequences for choices we have made.

Making a situation look and sound like something it’s not in order to get our way.

Lies and trickery.  This all sounds pretty bad when it’s listed out like this.  None of us really do any of this – do we?  Are we tempted?

I have a strategic mind which means all of the dots in my life connect.  I can see how each choice and decision connect to each other and where they are going to take me.  I can see how I got here and I can tell you where the dots are going.  It’s almost like being able to tell the future.

I am aware that not everyone’s brain works like this and, if I wanted to, I could use this to manipulate others into doing what I want them to do.  Lies. Deception.  I don’t want to be a manipulator so I’ve worked hard at not using this strength to ‘trick’ anyone.

I don’t want people around me to feel like they’ve been manipulated into doing what I want.

When I read Abraham and Sarah’s story in Genesis, I definitely don’t want to leave a legacy of deception and trickery to my family and friends like they did.  Abraham lied about Sarah being his wife.  Sarah manipulated Abraham into having a son with her servant and then she decided both of them needed to leave.  Their children and grandchildren continued this tradition of trickery as they lied to and tricked each other over hundreds of years for personal gain.

As we read through Genesis, we’re able to see all the pain and separation and distrust and suspicion that this legacy caused …….. from generation to generation.

I don’t want that in my family and relationships.  So I try to be honest and truthful – even when it’s hard.

What about you?

Please help us avoid dishonesty and deception, Abba Father.

Focused On The Wrong Thing

I’ve had it.  Have you?

Tunnel vision.

I think it happens to all of us at times – especially when our emotions are running high.  When I see only what I want to see.  I notice only what I’m expecting, not what is actually happening.  When my perception clouds the facts, I can go down a path of thinking that is not right, it is not helpful, and it is not true.

If I don’t realize what I’m doing when I’m in a tunnel, I can go to a dangerous place which creates havoc in my life.

So I can relate with Hagar as I read her story in Genesis.  Abraham banished her and their son, Ismael, out into the desert with food and a container of water.  Because she was focused on this one container of water, she felt that all hope was gone when it was empty.

She prepared to die.

She forgot all about reaching out to the Creator of all Things – who created water.  His angel had spoken to her and guided her before but Hagar was in the tunnel – not seeing for any way out except for death.

God heard Ishmael’s cries.  “Then God opened Hagar’s eyes and she saw a well full of water.”  Genesis 21:19.

What?  Was the well there all along and she just wasn’t seeing it?  Was she so lost in despair and discouragement that she didn’t even look around?  Or did God create the well for her?

We don’t know – either way, God provided for her.

And he provides for me constantly.  I need to remember that because, like Hagar, there are situations where I get tunnel vision, especially when emotions are involved.  Especially when something looks big and bad. When I’m lost in my incorrect thinking, I need to remember to reach out to the One who has all the answers.

Please open my eyes, Abba Father.