Who Me?

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Yes, you! It never ceases to inspire me as I read the Bible and discover all the average, fragile and “normal” people God calls to accomplish His most amazing feats. First, there was Moses who said to the Lord when He called on him, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” Exodus 3:11

God wanted Moses to talk Pharaoh into letting His people go. He wanted them released from slavery and called on Moses to make it happen. Moses said to the Lord, “Pardon your servant, Lord. I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” Exodus 4:10

Oh, how I can relate to Moses. There have been more times than I would like to admit that I’ve said to the Lord, “Are you sure you have the right person?” I struggled with writing in school, public speaking used to be one of my biggest fears and let’s not even talk about my past! Whew! This unworthy servant joins the ranks of so many others that came before. Then there was Gideon, who after the Lord handed over the Israelites to Midian for seven years, called upon him to deliver the Israelites from Midian.

15 “Pardon me, my lord,” Gideon replied, “but how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.” Judges 6:15

God continued His pattern, and chose Gideon who was weak and young and it doesn’t stop with Gideon. Throughout the Bible from Genesis to Revelation God does this. We haven’t even gotten to David who defeats Goliath (1 Samuel 14). God literally uses the weak to lead the strong. It’s how He rolls, as my kids would say. Through our weakness and submission to Him, He can do a great work in us and through us for His glory. I dare say, in ways we would have never imagined or asked for.

But 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. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

Be assured that if God calls you, He will equip you. Don’t believe your past is to broken, your courage to fragile or that you don’t have what it takes to serve our Lord. He is calling all of us in one way or another to share our faith, to be the light in this dark world and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Will you trust? Will you follow His lead?

Not Yet! . . . . Just another minute

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Then the Lord said to me, “You have made your way around this hill country long enough; now turn north. Give the people these orders: ‘You are about to pass through the territory of your relatives the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, but be very careful. Do not provoke them to war, for I will not give you any of their land, not even enough to put your foot on. I have given Esau the hill country of Seir as his own. Deuteronomy 2:2-5

As I think back on all the times I acted before the Lord was ready for me to (or before I consulted Him) I cringe. Yikes! I can promise you this, all those moments turned out as either failures, delays or destruction. None of which are my favorite things to encounter in life. I believe that’s why as I read these verses it was as if a floodlight was shining brightly on them.

Finally, God tells Moses they have wandered around the desert long enough and it’s time to get moving a start taking over some land, “Turn north!” the Lord tells him, but when you pass through this land don’t even think about taking it. The Lord tells Moses they won’t get enough of this land to even put their foot on so keep moving! In other words, don’t waste your time. Thankfully, Moses was a great listener when it came to the Lord, not to mention a great advocate for his wayward Israelites. As they continue the Lord faithfully gives Moses clear instructions on what to do as they travel through each bit of land.

 The Lord said to me, 18 “Today you are to pass by the region of Moab at Ar. 19 When you come to the Ammonites, do not harass them or provoke them to war, for I will not give you possession of any land belonging to the Ammonites. I have given it as a possession to the descendants of Lot.” Deuteronomy 2:17-19

Surely, after all those years of wandering the desert, the Israelites are more than excited to begin claiming some land for themselves. Settling down would have been their greatest desire at this point. I think that’s why I find it so amazing they listened to God as they went even He said, “No, not yet, not this piece of land, just a few more miles . . . OK, now!”

24 “Set out now and cross the Arnon Gorge. See, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his country. Begin to take possession of it and engage him in battle. 25 This very day I will begin to put the terror and fear of you on all the nations under heaven. They will hear reports of you and will tremble and be in anguish because of you.” Deuteronomy 2:24-25

And finally, they received the instructions they had been waiting for years and years to hear and began to take the land that “God handed over to them.” (v.33). What if we lived like this? Heck, what if we listened like this? What if we never acted until God showed us the correct path? We wouldn’t wander and find defeat, delay or destruction by taking matters into our own hands because we got tired of waiting. What if we listened and trusted God’s plan, and as a result our actions produced success, build up the Kingdom of God and the outcomes were never hindered by selfish desires? Just considering it makes me marvel at what this world could look like if we could all live a little more like this.

Are you waiting to hear from the Lord? Are you considering taking matters into your own hands because He doesn’t seem to be listening or answering in your time frame? Will you join me as I pray for myself and all of us who struggle with the desire to get things crossed of the list, to conquer or to consider ourselves before others? I pray we can all be a little more like Moses in the wait.

After All That?!

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Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. 30 The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, 31 and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.” 32 In spite of this, you did not trust in the Lord your God, 33 who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go. Deuteronomy 1:29-33

As I read the words Moses spoke to the Israelites in Deuteronomy, I was reminded that despite all the amazing miracles of protection and provision they had personally witnessed and received they still grumbled and doubted. I’m so quick to think, “Surely I wouldn’t have turned from the Lord or grumbled at all if I had witnessed all of that personally and not just read about it in the Bible.”

Then, I’m reminded or convicted even more quickly of that fact that I’m no different from the Israelites. It seems as though the manna that fell, the sea that parted and the cloud by day and fire by night that guided them is so much greater and bolder than what God has done for me, but it isn’t!

When I think about the answered prayers for friends, family and healing that have occurred it blows my mind. What about the time our income and savings were almost out and God provided everything exactly when we needed it. Honestly, for us, that was as miraculous as seeing the sea split in two. I’ve seen relationships restored that I thought never had a chance of reconciliation, addicts become whole and sacrifices made out of love for strangers.

All of those things and more are just as amazing as what the Israelites witnessed . . . and after all that . . . there are still days that my heart groans about something that doesn’t turn out the way I desired or expected. There are still days I doubt my abilities, talents and example I set. WHY????

I’ve come to a simple, but honest explanation. We are human! Created in God’s image, but only human. . . not God. That’s why Jesus’s sacrifice means more and more to me as I study His word. Without His grace, His love, His forgiveness and His steadfastness we can’t stay the course because the guilt will sink in to deep and pull us down.

I pray that when the doubts, fears and grumblings begin in our hearts, our minds quickly turn to all the amazing moments and miracles God has shared and allowed us to witness.

Why Harden Their Hearts?

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As I continue on my path to remain in God, His word, His plans and the gifts He has given, God is giving me sweet confirmations of my return to a more discovery based (instead of research) study plan.

A dear friend of mine, from years ago, recently came back into my life. It was such a blessing to reconnect with her after losing touch when I left the workforce 10 years ago. About a month after we reconnected she had a scare and ended up in the ER where she discovered she has a brain tumor. It is operable, but was a very long and tricky surgery. I have no doubt God orchestrated our reconnection at this exact time so that I could be in her life during this time. As we sat in her living room a few weeks ago discussing all she has to do and prepare for before surgery she said, “I have to do end of life preparation too. I was thinking you could lead my service if need be.” She explained that not only did I know her, but I know the Bible with my heart not just my mind. I realized that what I was beginning to see as a weakness in myself and my Biblical study wasn’t at all. It’s a gift to feel the scriptures. Yes, we need to understand it, not misrepresent it. We need to uncover the context, but DO NOT have to go to divinity school to study, understand, and breathe it in. We just need to dig in . . .  we can’t be afraid of it . . . we need to ask questions and pray for God to open our eyes to His message for us. Please hear me when I say, “You can open the Bible and study God’s word on your own. He hopes you will seek Him there. He will show you His amazing ways and reveal Himself to you in unmistakable ways.”

This is one of the most recent questions that burdened my heart as I was going along in my yearly reading plan. When God called Moses to deliver His people out of Egypt and Pharaoh’s control why did God keep hardening Pharaoh’s heart so that he wouldn’t comply with Moses? God could have made this easy on His people by just letting them go or easier on Moses by having Pharaoh comply much sooner. This “hardening of heart” theme followed throughout the story.

The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’” Exodus 4:21-23

and it doesn’t stop there. . . even later in Exodus 14:3-4 after Pharaoh finally succumbs to all the plagues and deaths of firstborn sons and lets Moses take his people – God tells Moses

Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them.

Even after His people finally get released, God continues to harden Pharaoh’s heart. Why did God keep doing this? He could have made it so easy for Moses to free the Israelites and instead He says over and over “I’ll harden his heart so he won’t grant your request.” Do you think Moses was thinking (as we sometimes do), “Thanks, a lot God. You are all powerful so why can’t this be a little easier?” The answer is there if we keep reading to verse 4 and it’s glorious.

But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.

and again in Exodus 14:31 after the parting of the Red Sea and final escape from Pharaoh:

And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

When God makes the impossible happen you can’t mistake His hand is in it. There is no way we can take credit when the miraculous happens and then God receives all the glory. Yes, sometimes it is hard – – – really hard. All the pruning, shaping, crushing and molding from what seems like an impossible situation comes fruit when God’s hand is in it. When we see God work and know there is NO POSSIBLE way we could have overcome the obstacle or trial on our own our trust grows, our faith is made stronger and our determination to stay the course God has set before us more obtainable.

If it’s all easy, then what do we gain?