Exodus Bible Study

The Most Holy Place

It’s right about now in a Bible reading plan that things start to get repetitive, and dare I say, boring. I’ve brushed over these chapters many times before just trying to get to a part where things make sense or I know already mean a lot to me. Why do I need to know the dimensions of the Tabernacle? Why does it matter which materials were used to produce the walls, bases, Ark, Table, Lampstand, and accessories and how much they weighed?

I find that at the start of these chapters I need to pray even more that God would reveal exactly what I need to hear and learn.  I need to read expectantly and with an open mind.  After all, every word of the Bible is God-breathed.  It is all in there for a purpose. Sometimes it requires a little more digging, cross-referencing, and searching for answers.  It takes work.

However, it’s in these times when I press in, that God shows me something amazing, specific, and new.  I encourage you now, that though these chapters are lengthy and full of dimensions and commands, that you would read with intention.  Study the Bible expecting God to speak directly into what you are going through in your life.  It takes time and work and quietness, but it’s worth it when God speaks and your perspective is enhanced.

20170828_161152S – Scripture: Exodus 25-27

  • 25:1-2 – “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Tell the people of Israel to bring me their sacred offerings. Accept the contributions from all whose hearts are moved to offer them.'”
  • 25:22 – “I will meet with you there and talk to you from above the atonement cover between the gold cherubim that hover over the Ark of the Covenant. From there I will give you my commands for the people of Israel.”
  • 25:39-40 – “You will need seventy-five pounds of pure gold for the lampstand and its accessories. Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.”
  • 26:33-35 – “Hang the inner curtain from clasps, and put the Ark of the Covenant in the room behind it. This curtain will separate the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place. Then put the Ark’s cover–the place of atonement–on top of the Ark of the Covenant inside the Most Holy Place.”
  • 27:20-21 – “Command the people of Israel to bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to keep the lamps burning continually. The lampstand will stand in the Tabernacle, in front of the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant. Aaron and his sons must keep the lamps burning in the LORD’s presence all night. This is a permanent law for the people of Israel, and it must be observed from generation to generation.”

O – Observation: 

  • The Tabernacle and all of its accessories were built by the offerings of God’s people.
  • Between the cherubim on the cover of the Ark of the Covenant, was where God would meet Moses to speak directly to him.
  • The lampstand, to illuminate the Holy Place, was to be made of 75 pounds of gold!!
  • There is a separation between where God is and where the people can go.  Further, only by the shedding of blood can the High Priest enter the Most Holy Place once per year. No one else is allowed.
  • The light of the lampstand was to be kept burning throughout the whole night.  The priests were in charge of keeping the oil filled so that it could burn continuously.

20170828_161243A – Application:

For further explanation of the importance and significance of the Tabernacle, I looked to Hebrews. Like I said above, sometimes you have to dig. Instead of me speaking all of the time, I’m letting the Bible speak for itself.  It’s amazing like that!

Old Priesthood: Those designated by God to perform the sacrifices that purified themselves and the people.  This had to be done once a year with the blood of animals.

“That first covenant between God and Israel had regulations for worship and a place of worship here on earth. There were two rooms in that Tabernacle. In the first room were a lampstand, a table, and sacred loaves of bread on the table. This room was called the Holy Place. Then there was a curtain, and behind the curtain was the second room called the Most Holy Place. In that room were a gold incense altar and a wooden chest called the Ark of the Covenant, which was covered with gold on all sides. Inside the Ark were a gold jar containing manna, Aaron’s staff that sprouted leaves, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the Ark were the cherubim of divine glory, whose wings stretched out over the Ark’s cover, the place of atonement. But we cannot explain these things in detail now.

When these things were all in place, the priests regularly entered the first room as they performed their religious duties. But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place, and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. By these regulations the Holy Spirit revealed that the entrance to the Most Holy Place was not freely open as long as the Tabernacle and the system it represented were still in use. This is an illustration pointing to the present time. For the gifts and sacrifices that the priests offer are not able to cleanse the consciences of the people who bring them. For that old system deals only with food and drink and various cleansing ceremonies–physical regulations that were in effect only until a better system could be established.” Hebrews 9:1-10

 

The High Priest Jesus was sent to finish the task once and for all, so all could enter the Most Holy Place.

“So Christ has now become the High Priest over all the good things that have come. He has entered that greater, more perfect Tabernacle in heaven, which was not made by human hands and is not part of this created world. With his own blood–not the blood of goats and calves–he entered the Most Holy Place once for all time and secured our redemption forever. Under the old system, the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a young cow could cleanse people’s bodies from ceremonial impurity. Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins. That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.” Hebrews 9:11-15

20170828_164150_resizedThe Holy Place – where religious duties take place.

Today, these may look like going to church, practicing a devotional time, attending a Bible Study or service project, mission work, prayer, Baptism, Communion, and many other things to do. These aren’t bad things at all, they are great things.  But they aren’t it.

Have you ever found yourself “going through the motions” at church or with your walk with God? Everything starts to just feel like a task instead of a relationship. We are doing great things, but for the wrong reasons and typically by our own strength. It’s here that we have lost sight of the The Most Holy Place.  The place where we meet with God to speak with him and him to speak with us.  It’s here that our strength and purpose is renewed. It’s here that we can surrender.

The Most Holy Placewhere we come to meet with God freely now.

“Then Jesus shouted out again, and he released his spirit. At that moment the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, rocks split apart.” Matthew 27:50-51

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, we can boldly enter heaven’s Most Holy Place because of the blood of Jesus. By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:19-25

Jesus sacrifice tore the veil that separated us from God.  We can now enter freely and confidently, knowing that our sins (that keep us from God) are forgiven.

20170828_160349_resizedThe New Priesthood: US!!

“But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

We have a mission now, as God’s chosen people, to be light in a dark world and point others towards God’s wonderful grace.

The Heavenly Place:  Like it states above in Hebrews, the earthly Tabernacle was just a glimpse of God’s Heavenly Dwelling Place.  Since Jesus cleansed us from sin and brought us into righteousness, we can live in Heaven eternally with God. What a beautiful thing!

“There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.” John 14:2-4

“No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him. And they will see his face, and his name will be written on their foreheads. And there will be no night there–no need for lamps or sun–for the Lord God will shine on them. And they will reign forever and ever.” Revelation 22:3-5


Do you fully believe in the power of what Jesus did?  Have you acknowledged the sin that has kept you from having a relationship with the God who created you, gives you hope and purpose and eternal life with him?

You can do that today. It doesn’t need to be fancy or with anyone else, just you and God.  There are no right words or prayers, just your heart.  If you need a guide, start with praying this to God:

“God, you love me so much that you gave your one and only Son, so that when I take that step to believe in you, I will not perish but have eternal life. I acknowledge that my sin and the ways of this world keep me from you and all that you would have me to be. I believe that what Jesus did was for me. I want to start living for you today. Amen.”

Amen literally means, “so be it.” It’s done, you are God’s forever.  Yah!!

Now, I would strongly encourage you to find other believers to strengthen and grow your new faith. Maybe it’s a small group of friends or a church.  Whatever it looks like, get some support.

And most of all, welcome to God’s family.

20170828_164558_resizedP – Prayer:

God, your Word is so powerful.  Your Good News is so good. Each word has purpose and points us to the love you have for us. A love so great, that you sent your Son to die in our place so that we could be together for eternity.  Nothing I ever say or do can make me right or perfect, it’s only by your gift of grace.  That overwhelms me and frees me at the same time.  I can’t thank you enough.  But I give my life to you, to use for your purpose.  Grow me and guide me to where you would have me make the most impact for you.  Amen.

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #37 - The Most Holy Place
Finding life and grace through God’s Word.
Bible Verse Image
I will meet you there and I will talk to you.
Exodus Bible Study

It’s In The Clouds That We Find God

Have you ever looked out the window as your plane ascends, just as you are passing through the cloud cover? You can’t see anything around you but gray, puffy, air.  Sometimes, depending on what time of day you fly, you may climb out of the clouds just in time to see the sun peeking above.  It’s a beautiful and glorious sight.

I’ve always thought it would be cool to sit on a cloud and watch the sunrise or sunset.  I want to feel the soft, fluffy puffs wrap around my body like a blanket in the cool temperatures and rest in the comfort of the clouds.  Being on plane is probably the closest I’ll get in this life.  For now, I’ll hold on to the hope that in Heaven, I’ll be able to do it.

In the next three chapters of Exodus we read about God establishing more detailed explanations of the Ten Commandments. At the end, Moses climbs a mountain, into the cloud of God, and remains their for 40 days and nights.  God’s presence is all around him.  How amazing!

S – Scripture: Exodus 22-24

  • 23:2 – “You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong.”
  • 23:8 – “Take no bribes, for a bribe makes you ignore something that you clearly see. A 20170828_160234bribe makes even a righteous person twist the truth.”
  • 23:20-22 – “See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you. Pay close attention to him, and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion. But if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will oppose those who oppose you.”
  • 23:29-30 – “But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply and threaten you. I will drive them out a little at a time until your population has increased enough to take possession of the land. “
  • 24:10 – “There they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there seemed to be a surface of brilliant blue lapis lazuli, as clear as the sky itself.”
  • 24:15-18 – “Then Moses climbed up the mountain, and the cloud covered it. And the glory of the LORD settled down on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days. On the seventh day the LORD called to Moses from inside the cloud. To the Israelites at the foot of the mountain, the glory of the LORD appeared at the summit like a consuming fire. Then Moses disappeared into the cloud as he climbed higher up the mountain. He remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights.”

O – Observation: 

  • God continues setting laws for the people of Israel to follow.  He breaks down specific situations and what the consequences are if someone disobeys the rules.
  • An Angel of the Lord was sent to protect and guide the Israelites safely to their Promised Land. They are warned to pay close attention to him and obey his instructions.
  • God promises to clear all of the current people living in their Promised Land, but not all at once.  There is an order and a timing for everything. God sees the whole picture and knows that the land needs tending as the Israelites move in.  If all of the people were to be taken out immediately, then the land would become desolate and wild animals would take over.
  • How amazing! To be in the presence of God and see his feet on the “brilliant blue lapis lazuli” surface.
  • Moses climbs higher on the mountain, into the cloud of God.  He is there for six days until God calls him from inside the cloud.  It looked like fire to everyone watching.  Moses climbs even higher and remained there for 40 days and nights. lapis-lazuli-115960_640

A – Application: 

There are many good lessons from these few chapters in Exodus.  God sends his angel to protect and guide the Israelites.  They are reminded to pay close attention to him and obey his instructions.  Just like God sending his Holy Spirit and angels to us, we need to be paying attention to where he calls us, knowing that they also protect us.

I also love the picture of God preparing the Promised Land for his people.  But they won’t get it all to themselves at once.  The land itself can’t hand the neglect that would be caused by not being tended to and left to wild animals.  God cares for all of his creation and works it all together for the betterment of his chosen people. The Israelites will get all that is promised to them, but little by little.

Even when I want something immediately, I can see the wisdom in the piece by piece method that God so often uses when admonishing blessings and promises on his people. If we got it all at once, what need for him would we have? How could our faith and hope grow if we always got what we wanted exactly when we asked for it?


But the greatest lesson I learned from this passage was the last few verses describing when Moses climbed the mountain into the glory and presence of God.  I broke it down into stages to help me understand the gravity of the scene.

Stage 1: Moses climbs the mountain and waits while God’s glorious cloud covered it.  He separates from the people, up to a quiet place.  Not much is said here, but I wonder if Moses needed the stillness and calm after leading a great number of people out of slavery and then through a dessert.  It’s in the peace that our hearts can settle, re-focus, and let go. There are no obligations or expectations, you can just be. You can just breathe.

Stage 2: After six days, God calls Moses by name from inside the cloud. I love the times when I have quieted my heart and surroundings so that I can hear the voice of God clearly in my mind.  I’ve never heard his audible voice before, I can only imagine it being terrifying, but amazing.  In the stillness it feels more like a tug or a thought that comes out of nowhere.  If I’m rushing through prayers, the Bible, and life, I often miss his voice.

Maybe those six days for Moses were a prep time for what was to come (it doesn’t really say what happens, this is just my thought on it). But he had to climb the mountain, into the cloud before God spoke to him and gave him further instructions. It took an action step in obedience on Moses’ part to get himself in a place where God could speak to him intimately.  We need that more than ever, don’t we? We need to fight for the time to sit and still our hearts so that we can discern God’s voice. This, I feel, is the key to great action, is first being quiet.

20170828_160103Stage 3: Everyone watching sees God’s glory come down on the mountain like a blaze of fire.  If I were an Israelite watching all of this go down, I would probably be slightly fearful of what could happen to Moses.  He is on a mountain that a fire from Heaven just crashed into.  Yet Moses kept walking up to meet God.

Or maybe, it would be just the thing I would expect from God.  After witnessing all that he had done through the plagues and parting the Red Sea, this might seem normal.  I think I like this mindset better: to be expectant of God’s amazing and almighty power.  To not be so surprised at his abilities, but pray specifically for them in their full capacity.  It’s like Paul’s prayer to the Ephesians:

 “I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God. Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.

Ephesians 3:16-20

How would my life be different if I prayed and had faith in ALL that God is ALL the time? How much time would be spared of fear and worry if I fully trusted that my BIG and MIGHTY God could handle all that I prayed for and accomplish all of my needs or desires in amazing ways?

Stage 4: Moses ascends even further up the mountain, through the clouds, into God’s presence for 40 days and nights.

I love talking with people who are clearly seeking to climb their personal mountain to meet God.  They are longing for their passions and his purpose to collide.  Many times, I find myself in awe of the things God calls them to do.  These leaps of faith they take, though crazy, are all tethered to God and he is providing for each and every step as they go along, trusting in him.

Witnessing other people be obedient to God’s sometimes (but usually) crazy calling, strengthens me to trust in him as well with my journey.  When others walk boldly into a fire and cloud covered mountain in pursuit of God, I want to follow. I don’t want to just be a bystander. The excitement drowns out the fear.  It’s in the cloud that we find God and I want to be close to God more than anything.

20170828_155011


Do you find yourself at a particular stage?  Are you a bystander, watching others follow after God, but you are stuck? Where is God calling you to be at right now?  Do you need to be in the stillness for a time to renew and refocus?  Do you need to surround yourself with people who are pursuing God and will encourage you to do the same? Do you need to take the step into God’s cloud, not always seeing exactly what is around you, but trusting that he is there?

Take a little time today to just be still and evaluate where you are at.  There is no shame or guilt to be had with this, only grace. Quiet yourself and your surroundings so that God can swoop down like a blaze of fire onto your heart and stir you to where you need to go next.  Listen, then do.  It may take effort and accountability.  It may seem crazy and outrageous.  But you are tethered to a God who can do “infinitely more than we can hope or imagine.” Best of all, he loves you so much that he will never leave you to do it on your own.

P – Prayer:

God, thank you for your good Word today.  I love being in a place that I can hear your voice.  Forgive me for the times I rush through life and miss what you would really have me do.  I know that it’s never as good as you would have intended.  I don’t want to miss those blessings anymore.  I long to climb the mountain into your presence.  I long to be still and listen to where you would have me go.

I know that I’m not along in this and I pray for those who have that desire too.  I pray that you would speak to each person today.  Reveal where they are at and where you would have them be.  Renew and refocus their faith so they can be obedient to you.

You can do so much more than we can think or imagine.  Help us to be expectant of that.  Help us to pray boldly for that! You are so good, and you do great things.  Amen.

 

Exodus Bible Study

Is God Enough?

Have you ever wondered what life would have been like in “Biblical times”? There are the obvious lack of conveniences that we have today like running water, toilets, electricity, internet, readily available food, etc. I read chapters like these following, and remember that there was no Bible (the instruction manual for how to live), or Jesus Christ (the Messiah and Savior of our sins), or Holy Spirit (to guide and pray for us). Yes, the Trinity was around, but their purposes were not yet revealed in full.

This was pre-cross and getting close to God or being invited into his presence was for a select few.  Those that tried, unworthily, died. Can you imagine not being able to enter into God’s presence freely like we can today?  Where would we be without the guidance of the Bible and the Holy Spirit? I rely on those so much! Can you even fathom what having to sacrifice animals to redeem us from our sins would be like in this society?

“By his death, Jesus opened a new and life-giving way through the curtain into the Most Holy Place. And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.” Hebrews 10:20-23

Praise God, that he made a way for us to be in his presence eternally!

20170828_154243_resizedS – Scripture: Exodus 19-21

  • 19:4-6 – “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”
  • 19:18-20 – “All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the LORD had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a brick kiln, and the whole mountain shook violently. As the blast of the ram’s horn grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God thundered his reply. The LORD came down on the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses climbed the mountain.”
  • 19:21-23 – “Then the LORD told Moses, ‘Go back down and warn the people not to break through the boundaries to see the LORD, or they will die. Even the priests who regularly come near to the LORD must purify themselves so that the LORD does not break out and destroy them.’ ‘But LORD,’ Moses protested, ‘the people cannot come up to Mount Sinai. You already warned us. You told me, ‘Mark off a boundary all around the mountain to set it apart as holy.'”
  • 20:1-5 – “Then God gave the people all these instructions: ‘I am the LORD your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery. You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods.”
  • 20:24-25 – “Build for me an altar made of earth, and offer your sacrifices to me–your burnt offerings and peace offerings, your sheep and goats, and your cattle. Build my altar wherever I cause my name to be remembered, and I will come to you and bless you. If you use stones to build my altar, use only natural, uncut stones. Do not shape the stones with a tool, for that would make the altar unfit for holy use.

20170828_153956_resizedO – Observation:

  • God declares that he is building a holy nation, a people that, if they commit their lives to him, he will continue to carry them. They will be his treasure.
  • What an amazing sight that must have been to see God coming down from heaven in a blaze of fire, causing a mighty mountain to tremble. Then to hear his powerful voice and watch you leader ascend to speak with God one-on-one.
  • Moses entered the smoke-filled mountain.  He climbed to meet his God and hear his commandments.
  • No one else was able to go into the presence of the Lord or else they would die. There were boundaries in how much of God one could experience. I can’t imagine living without being able to visit God freely.
  • The first commandment is given: no idols or alternate images to worship except for the Lord. God is a jealous God.
  • The Ten Commandments are given to the Israelites to be observed.  Other rules and regulations are sent out.  God is establishing and setting apart his people.  They are to act differently than the rest of the world.
  • God calls for his alter to be built on uncut and unchanged stone.  If that is done, the stones become unfit for holy use.

A – Application – 

When I sin, there is a root cause of that.  Unexpressed or sometimes unknown desires, good and bad, can manifest themselves in strange ways.  If the desire makes us desperate enough, we will allow ourselves to act in sinful ways to get them.  We may even take steps that aren’t necessarily bad, but our motives are off or we rely on our strength and power to get them.  Our focus is no longer on God, but on satisfying that particular need that seems of greater importance.

20170828_154247_resizedGod did this miraculous thing by destroying Egypt and bringing out the Israelites, declaring them as his own, chosen people.  He showed his power to the world through the plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, and turning bitter water into sweet water. God provided manna for them to eat and guided them with a cloud and fire.  They were never in need and he was always with them.

He should’ve been enough for them.  He should be enough for us when we think of all of the things he has done for us.  But often, (and I’ll only speak for myself), I lose sight of that and only focus on what he hasn’t done for me.

God starts by giving the Ten Commandments.  I wanted to look at these in a new light.  This is what God gave me:

Screen Shot 2017-09-24 at 9.34.39 PM

When I sin, the root cause comes back to the fact that I believe that God isn’t enough for me in some way or some timeframe. Why can’t I have what I want, when I want it, and in the quantity that I desire? How am I supposed to be content with just this? God, you must have this wrong. If you aren’t going to bless me with it now, I’ll figure out my own way of getting it.

Do you find that to be true in your life?

Looking at why I did a particular sin through this lens, can help me understand what dispute I have with the character of God.  From there, I can seek out scripture, advice, and ask God to reveal himself to me and change my heart or attitude.

“If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” James 1:5-8

The point is that I can bring myself closer to him and not push myself farther away and deeper into a lifestyle or attitude that I don’t want to be in.  The consequences living the latter are far worse than the momentary discontent or delayed gratification in following God and his timeline.  But I must choose God first. If I choose the ways of the world, I am not choosing God.  And I’d rather have all that God has for me and in his time that what my worldly desires promise to offer.

“When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Galatians 5:19-21

20170828_154330_resizedWhen I am seeking to follow his commands and guidelines for life, or living by the Spirit, I reap the Fruit of the Spirit instead:

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” Galatians 5:22-25

That life sounds better, no matter the cost. I truly believe that God wasn’t establishing these commandments just for the sake of giving rules and putting chains on his people.  He knew the hurt, guilt, shame, and separation from him that doing those things would cause.  He desires for us to live a full, abundant, and free life. What he offers is different from the world, yes, and it usually takes time, effort, and sacrifice.  But we have hope that the struggle, the delayed gratification, the wait, will produce in us something beautiful to bring glory to God and life to others.  Our eternal hope is also worth mentioning here, as it is the whole point of accepting God’s gift of grace for our sin. Knowing this is what is coming at the end, motivates me to live a life that would please God.

God is enough, ALWAYS. He has saved and redeemed me from my sinful self and brought me new life through Jesus Christ. His love and grace have changed my heart and given me purpose.  God has accepted me into his family and I am his for all eternity.  The gifts of the Bible and the Holy Spirit guide through this challenging life. They allow me to come close to God and hear his voice.

He is so good.

P – Prayer:

God, I am so convicted right now.  I have shown in many of my actions and words that you, and what you offer, is not good enough for me.  I have chosen so many times to do and get things on my own.  I’ve raced past you and your plan, only to find disappointment and sorrow.  Worst of all, I’ve found that you are not there.  It feels so lonely and distant.  I hate it.  Forgive me for those times that I have chosen to satisfy my worldly desires with sin.

I thank you so much for this insight.  I thank you that you give so much grace, each time, to bring us back to you. When I think on all that you have done for me, I can’t help but trust you further and know that you are far more than enough for me.  You are beyond what I can hope or imagine.  It’s in that mindset that I fully trust your plans and timing over mine.  I desire to seek you out more and take steps of faith more confidently because I know that you are with me.

God, you are so good, and you do good things.  Amen.

 

 

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #35 - Is God Enough?
Finding life and grace through God’s Word.
Bible Verse Image
God is a Jealous God.
Exodus Bible Study

Rest, Boundaries, and Banners

I always thought that if I wasn’t doing something or with someone, that I was missing out. If I didn’t go to a party or commit to a business opportunity that I would fall behind in popularity or status.  If my schedule wasn’t packed with social event, then I didn’t have enough friends.  If my work life wasn’t busy, then I wasn’t good enough at my job. I took pride in being the one that people could rely on to say “yes” and be there or do that.

You know what happened? I burned out…and quickly.

Saying “no” to things doesn’t come easily.  But can it?  Resting from life means not being productive.  But can it be?

As I read the following chapters in Exodus, I was reminded of some practical, real-life lessons that are necessary in life. God calls us to live differently that what the world says.  He invites us to trust in him with our time and energy.

It may not be easy, but it’s worth it!

S – Scripture: Exodus 16-18

  • 16:3-5 – “‘If only the LORD had killed us back in Egypt,’ they moaned. ‘There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.’ Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they will gather food, and when they prepare it, there will be twice as much as usual.'”
  • 16:17-20 – “So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little But when they measured it out, everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed. Then Moses told them, ‘Do not keep any of it until morning.’ But some of them didn’t listen and kept some of it until morning. But by then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell. Moses was very angry with them.”
  • 16:26-29 – “‘You may gather the food for six days, but the seventh day is the Sabbath. There will be no food on the ground that day.’ Some of the people went out anyway on the seventh day, but they found no food. The LORD asked Moses, ‘How long will these people refuse to obey my commands and instructions? They must realize that the Sabbath is the LORD’s gift to you. That is why he gives you a two-day supply on the sixth day, so there will be enough for two days. On the Sabbath day you must each stay in your place. Do not go out to pick up food on the seventh day.'”
  • 17:11-13 – “As long as Moses held up the staff in his hand, the Israelites had the advantage. But whenever he dropped his hand, the Amalekites gained the advantage. Moses’ arms soon became so tired he could no longer hold them up. So Aaron and Hur found a stone for him to sit on. Then they stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset. As a result, Joshua overwhelmed the army of Amalek in battle.”
  • 17:15 – “Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-Nissi (which means ‘the LORD is my banner’).”
  • 18:11 – “I know now that the LORD is greater than all other gods, because he rescued his people from the oppression of the proud Egyptians.”
  • 18:14 – “When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, ‘What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?'”
  • 18:22-23 – “Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.”

IMG_8423O – Observation:

  • God provides exactly what we need for each day, no more and no less.  He knows the practical things we need for survival, as well as the emotional and spiritual fuel we need for the day. Can I trust that God knows what I need better than I do, and be 100% content with it? Can I give up control of the security and provision that I think I need to get for myself?
  • There are enough hours in a day and days in a week to get the things done that God calls us to do.  Even more, there is enough time in the week to have a Sabbath Day.  He made us that way.  When I over-extend my schedule, and not allow that time or day of rest, I don’t do my things well during the following week. My brain needs a break!
  • The Sabbath is a gift! I love this! My attitude changes towards a day of rest when I view it this way.
  • The Israelites tried to stock up on manna, not trusting that God would provide it the next day.  They found it spoiled and not edible. God gives new provisions each day, we don’t need to stockpile his blessings.
  • When the Amalekites attacked Israel, Moses sent Joshua to lead an army and fight.  He carried his staff to the battle scene, and as long as he had it raised in his arms, Israel was victorious.  If his arms fell, they started getting defeated.  Aaron and Hur had to help keep Moses’ arms up the whole day! In the end, they beat their enemies and Moses built an alter naming it “The Lord is my banner.”
  • Jethro, Moses’ Father-in-Law comes to visit and hear about all that has happened.  After hearing about all that the Israelites had been through and all that God had done, he proclaims their God to be the most powerful of all other gods.  What an amazing testimony Israel has!
  • Jethro shares advice with Moses after seeing how tiresome all of his duties were in taking care of the mass amounts of people.  He suggests appointing leaders to help him handle the minor disputes that arise.  Only the major issues will be brought to Moses.
  • It’s good to have someone in your life to speak truth when you feel like you have to do it all.

A – Application: 

20170827_191901The Gift of Rest – 

Every Friday I map out my days, meals, and workouts for the coming week.  All of the days I pack to the brim, sometimes knowing that I won’t get to everything.  By the time that Wednesday or Thursday rolls around, I’m done.  I just want to sit and watch TV for hours and not have to think or write or plan.  I just can’t do anymore, which leaves me feeling behind, then overwhelmed, then like a failure. I also get feelings of guilt and shame at the fact that I can’t stick to a simple schedule.

It isn’t until I really stop and break from thinking, planning, writing, and doing, that my mind and body can refresh. I may just need to sleep (which is one of my favorite things to do, haha!).  It may be that I need to get out and do something that fills me, like taking a walk or bike ride outside, doing an art project, meeting with a good friend and having a good conversation, or going on an adventure with my husband.  These allow my brain to shift gears from timelines and schedules to spontaneity and fun.

When I come back to work, I feel renewed and able to do my tasks with more clarity.  I find that I am more productive and enjoy my work more when I’ve given myself that time.

Now maybe you are thinking that rest is impossible with your schedule now.  You are probably right.  But God says that the Sabbath Day is a GIFT! Who doesn’t love gifts! If God needs rest himself after creating the world and feed a ton of people for six days, then we probably need it as well.

Furthermore, God commands the Sabbath.  It’s something to make a priority when he says so.  If your schedule isn’t allowing you and your family rest, it’s time to cut back.  God has provided enough hours in the week for you to get the necessary things done AND have a day of rest.  It’s time to evaluate your activities and commitments and maybe prune some of those back.  You might have to get better at saying “no” to some things in order to pursue rest so that you can do the things that really matter in your life better.

It may not be easy, but it’s worth it!

The Freedom in Boundaries – 

A similar concept as above, I need to set good boundaries in my life so that I can focus on the things that God has really called me to do.  This can be a problem when I feel like, even enjoy, doing it all.  But I can’t all the time.

These are some ways that I, personally, help myself set boundaries:

  1. I set aside time to create goals and dreams WITH God. His purpose for my life matters a great deal to me.  I want to live that out.  When I am certain of (or at least have faith in) what he is calling me to do in a certain season, I am better at committing to only things that fit within that. If something is good, but not fulfilling what needs to happen during that time, I can say “no” a lot more easily.
  2. I make sure to have people in my life who know my goals and care about my well-being. Sometimes, I am so wrapped up in all that I am doing and even feel trapped.  It isn’t until someone points it out and gives me permission to re-evaluate and cut back when I need to. How great is it that Jethro pointed this out to Moses and was able to make a big impact on how Moses spent his time.  How encouraging is it to have a friend who can say, “Hey, you are doing way to much and burning yourself out.” We need those people in our lives!

When I have these boundaries set in place, I have control over my schedule and my life.  I am able set time aside for the things that matter and that I am called by God to pursue.  I am able to spend quality time on the people that matter too.  When I am not over-scheduled, my husband, family, and friends, and I get to build amazing memories together.

It may not be easy, but it’s worth it!

20170827_191501The Life Under God’s Banner – 

Banners, in times of war, were used to represent who’s side you were on.  It signified your family or kingdom.

Under God’s banner, I have chosen to live life in full expectancy of God’s provision and protection.  I have faith in his eternal victory over sin and death.  I think and act in ways that are different from the world.  I hope in things that the world deems impossible.

Under God’s banner, I am loved, cherished, strong, content, fulfilled, and blessed.  I am enough.  I accept that I can’t do it all on my own and need God.  I accept his gift of rest and boundaries because I know they will lead me to pursue the things he has called me to do even when the world says that I need to keep striving and chasing.

It may not be easy, but it’s worth it!

P – Prayer:

God, thank you for your good words on rest, boundaries, and banners.  You have a purpose in everything and can use everything in your time.  Help me to weed out the things in my life that aren’t leading me towards you and your purpose. Help me to set boundaries so that I can say yes to the right things.  Help me to stand boldly under your banner when the world says to do something different. Time and again you have proved that you will provide all that I need and protect me from the enemy when I put my trust in you.  Thank you for that.  Amen.

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #34 - Rest, Boundaries, and Banners
Finding life and grace through God’s Word.
Exodus Bible Study

When Things Don’t Go As Planned

You take a risk, a step of faith out of your comfort zone and into something totally new and foreign.  You’ve witnessed amazing moments that got you to this point. You’ve prayed and prayed for this. You may even see what God is doing around and ahead of you.  But as soon as a threat comes, you question why you ever made that move.  Was it right?

Moses has just led the Israelites out of Egypt and their journey begins. through the desert, to the Promised Land.  By taking the major step of faith towards freedom, the challenges start to begin.  It isn’t the smooth sailing they had envisioned. Was this really the right move?  Would it have been easier to just stay in Egypt?

S – Scripture: Exodus 13-15

  • 13:9 – “This annual festival will be a visible sign to you, like a mark branded on your hand or your forehead. Let it remind you always to recite this teaching of the LORD: ‘With a strong hand, the LORD rescued you from Egypt.'”
  • 13:15-16 – “Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, so the LORD killed all the firstborn males throughout the land of Egypt, both people and animals. That is why I now sacrifice all the firstborn males to the LORD–except that the firstborn sons are always bought back.’ This ceremony will be like a mark branded on your hand or your forehead. It is a reminder that the power of the LORD’s mighty hand brought us out of Egypt.”
  • 13:19 -” Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for Joseph had made the sons of Israel swear to do this. He said, ‘God will certainly come to help you. When he does, you must take my bones with you from this place.'”
  • 13:21-22 – “The LORD went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. And the LORD did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people.”
  • 14:12-14 – “‘Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’ But Moses told the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the LORD rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.'”
  • 14:19-22 – “Then the angel of God, who had been leading the people of Israel, moved to the rear of the camp. The pillar of cloud also moved from the front and stood behind them. The cloud settled between the Egyptian and Israelite camps. As darkness fell, the cloud turned to fire, lighting up the night. But the Egyptians and Israelites did not approach each other all night. Then Moses raised his hand over the sea, and the LORD opened up a path through the water with a strong east wind. The wind blew all that night, turning the seabed into dry land. So the people of Israel walked through the middle of the sea on dry ground, with walls of water on each side!”
  • 14:31 – “When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that the LORD had unleashed against the Egyptians, they were filled with awe before him. They put their faith in the LORD and in his servant Moses.”
  • 15:11 – “‘Who is like you among the gods, O LORD–glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, performing great wonders?'”
  • 15:22-26 – “Then Moses led the people of Israel away from the Red Sea, and they moved out into the desert of Shur. They traveled in this desert for three days without finding any water. When they came to the oasis of Marah, the water was too bitter to drink. So they called the place Marah (which means “bitter”). Then the people complained and turned against Moses. ‘What are we going to drink?’ they demanded. So Moses cried out to the LORD for help, and the LORD showed him a piece of wood. Moses threw it into the water, and this made the water good to drink. It was there at Marah that the LORD set before them the following decree as a standard to test their faithfulness to him. He said, ‘If you will listen carefully to the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the LORD who heals you.'”

20170827_132703_resizedO – Observation: 

  • God is setting reminders for the Israelites so they never forget what the He has done for them.  The Passover Festival will always be a celebration of God’s mighty power and provision.  It will serve as a way of giving hope in the future, that God is true to his word and can do amazing miracles to get his purposes fulfilled.
  • God had killed the firstborn sons of Egypt for the freedom of the Israelites.  Freedom always has a cost.  Now, the Israelite firstborn sons are offered to God and bought back.
  • Our freedom from the wages of sin was bought with God’s son’s life, given on the cross.  Freedom requires sacrifice.
  • Joseph had the faith to know that God would rescue his people from Egypt.
  • I love this! The Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud by day or a pillar of fire by night. He never left their sight.  What an amazing visual reminder that God is always with us.
  • When the Israelites see the Egyptians coming after them, they are fearful and question why Moses brought them out there in the first place.  They say they would rather have stayed slaves.
  • Moses says the famous line, “The LORD himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”
  • God responds with, why are you crying out to me, get moving! As in, things are going down, I’ve got you, you need to take a step!
  • Night falls and God moves as a pillar of cloud, and then fire, behind them to protect them from the Egyptians throughout the night.  He causes the winds to blow and part the waters of the Red Sea.  By morning, it is ready for them to cross. When the Israelites saw this, it renewed their faith in God.
  • The Israelites travel through the desert for three days without water.  They finally reach a spring and the water is bitter.  Once again, they question why they left Egypt.  This was a a standard test on their faithfulness.  Will they trust him fully to provide all that they need, when they need it?  Would they listen and do all that he commands, trusting that it he is leading them to prosperity, health, and good? Could they live without some things now, so that later, they could have it all?

A – Application: 

20170827_124420_resizedThe Israelites rush out of Egypt, excited about their freedom.  Soon after, Pharaoh realizes what he has just done in releasing all of their slaves, and chases after them.  Fear grips the people as they see 600 chariots race towards them. They cry out to Moses, questioning why they ever left Egypt.  It would have been better to be a slave than die in the desert. WHAT!?!

Oh, but God moved behind them and protected them from the Egyptians with his pillar of cloud and then of fire.  What a great scene that must have been!

After they miraculously cross the Red Sea and Pharaoh is defeated. They travel for three days without water, following the Lord, and eventually come to a spring of water.  How disappointing it must have been to realize that the water was too bitter to drink.  Again, the people complain, Moses cries out to God, and he provides a way to make the water drinkable.

Do you think Moses had the thought, “What have I gotten myself into with these people!” This was not going to be an easy journey. But God was faithful.  He was working to prove himself to the Israelites.  He needed them to know that he was their Protector, Provider, and Guide.  He was never going to leave them.

I have this false illusion (maybe similar to the Israelites) that when I take a step into a direction that I believe God is leading me, that it will be easy from there on out.  I had put so much prayer and planning into this, God will surely fit all of the pieces together as I go along now.  Don’t get me wrong, I believe that God does put everything together and opens up doors when we start with the first step.  But to think that the journey is over and that I can just coast through is wrong.  That initial step was to get me to crawl (or break free from something).  God is probably going to ask me to walk then to run eventually.  The faith steps are going to keep going and growing.  And the times when I do stumble or question are all part of the process.  They can either lead me back to my comfort zone where things are known and safe.  Or they can lead me deeper into God’s plan for me.

Another thought is that those times of questioning may be completely valid. There may be areas of our lives that still need to be given over to God or he wants our focus to be a little different now that we’ve gotten started.  He keeps refining our hearts and thoughts towards what his great purpose is for us.  Sometimes that only can happen when we fail. The greatest part of this, is that it gets us on our knees in prayer.  Our hearts long for him and his guidance.  When we don’t know what to do or if we made the right choice, it brings us back to him.

20170827_123921_resizedIn either scenario, and there may be others, I am led back to God if I choose to continue to trust in who he is and that his plans are good.  A practical way to get through these times of questioning is to put all of the emotions aside.  The worry, doubt, fear, anxiety, whatever it is, take that out of the picture.  When you do that, the question is not longer, am I capable of doing this or is this really right?  It becomes, am I being obedient?

Has God called me to do this for a greater purpose than I know today?  If I look back at how I got here, can I see all of the things that God has brought together so far?

Try it now.  Whatever is on your heart and causing any of those emotions mentioned above, put them aside and ask, “Is this something I need to be obedient in and trust that God is in this with me?” If I stay on this path, can I trust that God will be the pillar in front of me to guide me, the pillar behind me to protect me, and the force to blow the wind and create a path before me? Can I have faith that he will provide the resources I need to survive and thrive in what sometimes feels like a desert?

When I look at it this way I receive courage and hope. Fear and doubt still find their way in more often that I’d like. Faltering and failing still happen. But I have decided that my decisions and actions are out of obedience to God first and foremost.  When I am in that confident place of obedience, I can snuff out any opposing thoughts as quickly as they come. I can view failure as a step forward and not a step back.  God’s grace is so good.

20170827_124144_resizedP – Prayer:

God, I thank you for these passages of scripture that you have given to us for encouragement and instruction.  Thank you, that when we need a Protector, Provider, and Guide, you step in and do just that and more. You fight for us and never leave us.  You give hope and courage when we come to you with doubts and worries.

Father, I pray for those that need in encouragement on their journey.  Failure has a way of knocking us down and out. Would you strengthen those that need it today?  Would you give them a vision of where to go next and lift them up to see that there is a way to use this failure or falter for good?  Let them feel that you are still there with them. Your grace and love are so abundant.  Thank you, Lord. Amen.

Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #33 - When Things Don't Go As Planned
Finding life and grace through God’s Word.
Bible Verse Image
You need only be still.
Exodus Bible Study

The Purpose Intersection

Where I used to live, in Southeast Michigan, there was an intersection that if you stood in the middle of it, you would technically be in four different towns.  The two roads that intersected went North and South or East and West.  That traffic light was lined with cars most of the day (especially at rush hour), and a lot of times, you couldn’t avoid to get to the businesses that lined those streets or the expressway on ramp just past the intersection.

When I continued this story of Moses, I found myself trying to organize all that God was preparing by thinking of them as the streets that culminated into one big intersection.  All that God had been preparing was leading to one place, one big event. It was all finally coming together.

Many times, if we look, we can see God doing the same in our lives.  Even where we thought a particular journey had an endpoint, was the beginning of another.

20170827_120303S – Scripture: Exodus 10-12

  • 10:13 – “So Moses raised his staff over Egypt, and the LORD caused an east wind to blow over the land all that day and through the night. When morning arrived, the east wind had brought the locusts.”
  • 10:19 – “The LORD responded by shifting the wind, and the strong west wind blew the locusts into the Red Sea. Not a single locust remained in all the land of Egypt.”
  • 10:21-13 – “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Lift your hand toward heaven, and the land of Egypt will be covered with a darkness so thick you can feel it.’ So Moses lifted his hand to the sky, and a deep darkness covered the entire land of Egypt for three days. During all that time the people could not see each other, and no one moved. But there was light as usual where the people of Israel lived.”
  • 11:1 – “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘I will strike Pharaoh and the land of Egypt with one more blow. After that, Pharaoh will let you leave this country. In fact, he will be so eager to get rid of you that he will force you all to leave.'”
  • 11:9 – “Now the LORD had told Moses earlier, ‘Pharaoh will not listen to you, but then I will do even more mighty miracles in the land of Egypt.’ Moses and Aaron performed these miracles in Pharaoh’s presence, but the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he wouldn’t let the Israelites leave the country.”
  • 12:11-14 – “These are your instructions for eating this meal: Be fully dressed, wear your sandals, and carry your walking stick in your hand. Eat the meal with urgency, for this is the LORD’s Passover. On that night I will pass through the land of Egypt and strike down every firstborn son and firstborn male animal in the land of Egypt. I will execute judgment against all the gods of Egypt, for I am the LORD! But the blood on your doorposts will serve as a sign, marking the houses where you are staying. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.This is a day to remember. Each year, from generation to generation, you must celebrate it as a special festival to the LORD. This is a law for all time.”
  • 12:26 – “Then your children will ask, ‘What does this ceremony mean?’ And you will reply, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the LORD, for he passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt. And though he struck the Egyptians, he spared our families.’ When Moses had finished speaking, all the people bowed down to the ground and worshiped.”
  • 12:36 – “The LORD caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the Israelites, and they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for. So they stripped the Egyptians of their wealth!”
  • 12:40-42 – “The people of Israel had lived in Egypt for 430 years. In fact, it was on the last day of the 430th year that all the LORD’s forces left the land. On this night the LORD kept his promise to bring his people out of the land of Egypt. So this night belongs to him, and it must be commemorated every year by all the Israelites, from generation to generation.”

20170827_120156O – Observation:

  • God brought about and took away the locust plague by controlling the way the wind blew.
  • The next miracle was complete darkness for three days, so thick, you could feel it.  Israel was unaffected.
  • It was foretold by God that Pharaoh’s heart would be hardened towards letting the Israelites go.  The signs and wonders God would perform were meant to show his amazing power among ALL people, Egyptians, Israelites, and the world.
  • He had to prepare the Israelites for the long journey to get them to the Promised Land.  They had to know what he was capable of so that they would trust him all along the way. The Israelites had to see how much God loved and cared for them so that they could believe in his provision when things got difficult.
  • The final blow to the Egyptians was the mass killing of their firstborn sons.  Israel was instructed to spread the blood of a lamb around their doorposts so that God’s death angel would pass over their houses.  This would become a symbol and festival of remembrance for what the Lord did for them.
  • The Israelites were instructed to be ready to get out of Egypt when Pharaoh gave the command.  They were packed, dressed, fed, and ready for the journey.
  • God struck at what was most precious to Pharaoh and he commanded them to leave Egypt.

A – Application: 

Heading south (we’ll call it): God’s plan with Egypt and their downfall.

Egypt is seen as a powerful nation throughout the world. By bringing them to the brink of ruin, God can establish his ultimate rule over even the strongest systems.

Lesson: It is not always the strongest that he uses, but the willing and faithful and weak that he builds up and works through in just the right time. We don’t need to be intimidated by the greatness of worldly people and powers.  God is bigger and still in control of all of that.

Heading north: God’s raising up of the Israelites to be his chosen people.

Israel is the lowliest of nations, and have been for 430 years! They have been waiting and crying out for relief. Their hearts are ready for rescue and willing to follow a savior. He commanded them to be prepared for when the time came for them to move.

Lesson:  His power is truly made perfect in our weakness.  When our hearts are ready and surrendered, God can do his best work.  It’s so important to do that every day. Even when we are feeling confident that we can do it all without God, he may be calling us to do something more or different.  We must make it a point to remember and surrender daily.

20170827_120658Heading east: God’s use of the natural things around us to bring about his signs and wonders. 

As he wills, he fights for his people and gives them supernatural strength and abilities.  He uses all of his resources to bring his people back to him.  He controls the wind and the waves to carry out his plans.

Lesson:  God uses forces beyond our recognition to bring about his plans; and plans specific to our lives and needs.  Isn’t it amazing that we are loved by a God who will move the Heavens and Earth for us? How great our God is!

Heading west: God’s play on the internal hearts of men and their weaknesses.

God can speak and prompt people to step out and do some interesting things.  Whether it is to say something, do something, or give something, God moves in our hearts to bless and encourage others. He may harden others’ hearts or cause failure to allow us to further rely on him and build our resolve to persevere.

Lesson: God’s Spirit is powerful and active! He gave us his Spirit to guide and speak to us. Unexplainable, unexpected encounters and blessings can happen when people are open to listening for the Spirit’s prompts. How exciting a day could be when we tune our hearts to Him!

20170827_120109The intersection:

God’s purpose is for him to be known by his children (his creation) as the One True God throughout all of the nations.  His heart is to bring them back into intimate community with him. At the intersection of where all of his powers meet, is where I want to be.  That’s where the action is at!

In order for that to happen, we must surrender DAILY to his will and promptings.  We have to give up control of our day sometimes so we don’t miss the true blessings that he is wanting us to share in when we help others. Finally, we have to trust that he is working in the background, building and leading all of the roads and people necessary to the great intersection where his plans and our purpose meet.

It’s a beautiful thing when we allow it.  It forces us to live intentionally, working towards a goal.  But it also allows us to rest and not go crazy, feeling like we have to do it all to get there.  We can have assurance that God is doing his part too.

I will say too, some roads take longer to build.  There can be delays.  It took 430 years for the road to freedom for the Israelites made it to the Exodus Intersection (we’ll call it).  It doesn’t mean that God isn’t working.  He is working tirelessly for you! And in ways we cannot see until the proper time.  It’s in times like these where you need to have faith, and be in the spirit of preparing yourself for whatever is to come.  Keep building your road (God can handle multiple construction projects at one time, haha!).  Keep strengthening your foundation by getting in the Word, serving in some capacity, supporting those around you.

Be encouraged! What you have been waiting for will come.  God is working and moving to bring all of the roads together.  When it does happen, it will be a joyous occasion.  I can’t wait for that day for you!

20170827_123304P – Prayer: 

God, thank you for working behind the scenes to bring all that needs to be together just so.  It pushes me to draw closer to you and listen because I don’t want to miss out on your plans.  But it also allows me to rest and trust that you are working despite my failures and weaknesses.  Thank you for choosing to use me.

God I pray that for everyone who is waiting for something to happen in their lives today.  Can you give them a glimpse of what you are doing and how you are working?  Strengthen them to keep going, knowing that you are bringing all of the things together in your time, which is always the best time.  Thank you for your grace.  Amen.

Uplifting Quote Image
He works tirelessly for you!
Link to a Bible Study Blog Post #32 - The Purpose Intersection
Finding life and grace through God’s Word.
Exodus Bible Study

The Fear/Pride Juxtaposition

Have you ever made decisions based on fear? Has the fear of something coming to fruition kept you from doing certain things? Or, have you built up safeguards, in response to fear, to protect yourself?

I’m not talking about taking precautions for safety. Fear can be a tool to help us assess a situation and stay still or move forward.

But isn’t it true that some fears (if not most) are unrealistic and made up in our minds? Those are the types of fears that settled on my heart today while writing.

I’ve always studied story of the plagues on Egypt from Moses’ and God’s perspectives. I wrote on that last time. I took a different look at the narrative this time, and focused on Pharaoh’s responses and reactions to God’s signs. What I found was that they all stemmed from fear.

There are some good truths and a TON of scripture ahead! Get ready!

20170827_114459S – Scripture: Exodus 7-9

  • 7:4-6 – “‘But I will make Pharaoh’s heart stubborn so I can multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. Even then Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you. So I will bring down my fist on Egypt. Then I will rescue my forces–my people, the Israelites–from the land of Egypt with great acts of judgment. When I raise my powerful hand and bring out the Israelites, the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD.’ So Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD had commanded them.”
  • 7:20-22 – “So Moses and Aaron did just as the LORD commanded them. As Pharaoh and all of his officials watched, Aaron raised his staff and struck the water of the Nile. Suddenly, the whole river turned to blood! The fish in the river died, and the water became so foul that the Egyptians couldn’t drink it. There was blood everywhere throughout the land of Egypt. But again the magicians of Egypt used their magic, and they, too, turned water into blood. So Pharaoh’s heart remained hard. He refused to listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had predicted.”
  • 8:6-7 – “So Aaron raised his hand over the waters of Egypt, and frogs came up and covered the whole land! But the magicians were able to do the same thing with their magic. They, too, caused frogs to come up on the land of Egypt.”
  • 2:15 – “But when Pharaoh saw that relief had come, he became stubborn. He refused to listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the LORD had predicted.”
  • 2:18-19 – “Pharaoh’s magicians tried to do the same thing with their secret arts, but this time they failed. And the gnats covered everyone, people and animals alike. ‘This is the finger of God!’ the magicians exclaimed to Pharaoh. But Pharaoh’s heart remained hard. He wouldn’t listen to them, just as the LORD had predicted.”
  • 8:22-24 – “‘But this time I will spare the region of Goshen, where my people live. No flies will be found there. Then you will know that I am the LORD and that I am present even in the heart of your land. I will make a clear distinction between my people and your people. This miraculous sign will happen tomorrow.’ And the LORD did just as he had said. A thick swarm of flies filled Pharaoh’s palace and the houses of his officials. The whole land of Egypt was thrown into chaos by the flies.”
  • 8:31-32 – “And the LORD did as Moses asked and caused the swarms of flies to disappear from Pharaoh, his officials, and his people. Not a single fly remained. But Pharaoh again became stubborn and refused to let the people go. “
  • 9:6 – “And the LORD did just as he had said. The next morning all the livestock of the Egyptians died, but the Israelites didn’t lose a single animal.”
  • 9:8-9 – “Then the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Take handfuls of soot from a brick kiln, and have Moses toss it into the air while Pharaoh watches. The ashes will spread like fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, causing festering boils to break out on people and animals throughout the land.'”
  • 9:15-16 – “‘By now I could have lifted my hand and struck you and your people with a plague to wipe you off the face of the earth. But I have spared you for a purpose–to show you my power and to spread my fame throughout the earth.'” 
  • 9:24-26 – “Never in all the history of Egypt had there been a storm like that, with such devastating hail and continuous lightning. It left all of Egypt in ruins. The hail struck down everything in the open field–people, animals, and plants alike. Even the trees were destroyed. The only place without hail was the region of Goshen, where the people of Israel lived.”
  • 9:27 – “Then Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron. ‘This time I have sinned,’ he confessed. ‘The LORD is the righteous one, and my people and I are wrong.'”
  • 9:34-35 – “But when Pharaoh saw that the rain, hail, and thunder had stopped, he and his officials sinned again, and Pharaoh again became stubborn. Because his heart was hard, Pharaoh refused to let the people leave, just as the LORD had predicted through Moses.”

20170827_114417O – Observation:

  • God’s purpose in hardening Pharaoh’s heart was to show is power throughout Egypt and the world by his miraculous signs.  Everyone will know that it was only by God’s hand that Israel was freed from the oppression of the Egyptians.
  • The first three signs: turning the staff into a snake, the Nile into blood, and the overwhelming amount of frogs, were replicated by Pharaoh’s magicians and affected everyone, Egyptians and Israelites.
  • Pharaoh’s heart was hardened because of this.
  • The first time the magicians failed at reproducing a sign was with the gnats.  Pharaoh wasn’t moved, however.
  • Next, flies swarmed over all of Egypt, a plague came and killed all of the livestock, and boils infested all of the people. The magicians couldn’t do it, and the Israelites were spared of these terrible wonders.  For the first time, God made a distinction between Pharaoh’s people and his own, whom he had chosen to protect.
  • With the flies, as soon as God took them away, Pharaoh’s heart hardened. He had almost let them go until this happened.
  • The plague and boils left him unmovable.  His pride and stubbornness refused to let them go still. Those weren’t powerful enough to break him down.  God knew that in saying that he could’ve wiped the Egyptians out easily, but hasn’t. God had a greater purpose and used Pharaoh’s pride to his advantage.
  • Pharaoh almost breaks when the hail comes and destroys everything.  He even acknowledges God and his righteousness, and his own sin.  But as soon as the hailstorm subsides, he goes back on his word.

20170827_114400A – Application: 

“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 11:19 

Why Pharaoh’s heart hardened…

1.) God hardened it, first and foremost, for his purpose in showing his power throughout Egypt and the world.

2.) His magicians could replicate the miracles that God performed. Clearly, Moses’ God was only has powerful as his own gods.

3.) The wonders had not completely destroyed, only partially maimed Egypt. They would be able to recover from those. This was flat-out stubbornness and pride in his own abilities to rule.

4.) The plagues weren’t permanent. As soon as Moses prayed for relief, they were gone. God may have seemed like a magic genie, able to be controlled to do whatever one wished.

Egypt was clearly a mighty nation with many resources.  It was Pharaoh’s job to protect that and continue to build the country up in power and strength.  Earlier, we read of Pharaoh’s fear that the Israelites would soon grown and overtake the people of Egypt. Under no circumstances would the dynasty fall while this Pharaoh was in power.  It couldn’t. He must do everything that he could to preserve Egypt.  The decisions that followed: enslaving them and killing their sons, were all driven by that fear.

In her article, “Top 10 Fears That Hold Us Back In Life,” Amy Morin describes: the fear of rejection, failure, uncertainty, loneliness, change, loss of freedom, being judged, getting hurt, inadequecy, and of something bad happening as the top ten. I’m pretty sure that I have felt all of these.  In response, I’ve built up walls to protect myself from those fears actually happening.  Have you ever done this?

I fear failure, so I don’t even try.  I fear rejection, so I don’t submit anything. I fear uncertainty, so I stay in my comfort zone. I fear loneliness, so I surround every waking minute with the distraction of people or things.  I fear change, so I stay the same. I fear being judged, so I don’t put myself out there. I fear getting hurt, so I isolate myself from the people I love and other meaningful relationships. I fear being inadequate, so I don’t strive or set lofty goals. I fear something bad will happen, so I make everything around me safe and secure.

Sometimes these safeguards are strong.  The inner castle is protected by moats filled with alligators, archers, soldiers, tall and thick walls, locks and vaults, mazes and riddles.  No one is getting in there!

It’s interesting, then, that these walls can become a source of pride. We see ourselves and appear to others as strong and sturdy.

20170827_114354The great Nile was the source of life.  Their always abundant fields and livestock were an image of great wealth and security.  The beautiful palaces, homes, and buildings that were built showed perfection by the work of their hands.  All of these things were covers to let the world know that they were above adequate, safe, secure, successful, worthy.  They were unstoppable and unbreakable.

God was chipping away at the sources of Pharaoh’s pride that were built up because of his fear.  Through the plagues, he was going to reveal Egypts greatest fear: that there was a mightier nation and that their gods were nothing in comparison.

Pharoah’s fear led him to pride and stubborness, to the detriment of his whole people.  It doesn’t have to be like that for us.  He was unrelenting in his pride. We don’t have to let our fear and pride get this out of hand.

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18

The fall from pride to humility and the revelation of fear from darkness to light is a tough journey.  It takes submission and time. But we can trust in God’s perfect love and faithfulness. When we allow God access to our pride and fears, he can break those down to bring about freedom and purpose in our lives.  When we recognize him as the source of everything, our fears can shed off.  We aren’t in it alone.

When you say that you fear rejection, God says:

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” John 6:37

When you say that you fear failure, God says:

“If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else? Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one–for God himself has given us right standing with himself. Who then will condemn us? No one–for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.” Romans 8:31-34

When you say that you fear uncertainty, God says:

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the LORD. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'” Jeremiah 29:11

When you say that you fear loneliness, God says:

“‘Do not be afraid. I will save you. I have called you by name—you are mine. When you pass through deep waters, I will be with you; your troubles will not overwhelm you. When you pass through fire, you will not be burned; the hard trials that come will not hurt you. For I am the Lord, your God. … because you are precious to me and because I love you and give you honor, do not be afraid—I am with you!’” Isaiah 43:1-5 (GNTD)

When you say that you fear change, God says:

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” Isaiah 43:18-19

When you say that you fear loss of freedom, God says:

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Galatians 5:1 

When you say that you fear being judged, God says:

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him. There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him.” John 3:16-18

When you say that you fear getting hurt, God says:

“In my distress I prayed to the LORD, and the LORD answered me and set me free. The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me? Yes, the LORD is for me; he will help me. I will look in triumph at those who hate me. It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to trust in people.” Psalm 118:5-8

When you say that you fear being inadequate, God says:

“It is not that we think we are qualified to do anything on our own. Our qualification comes from God.” 2 Corinthians 3:5

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13

When you say that you fear something bad will happen, God says:

“”I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:6-8

20170827_114505

For all of these fears, God has spoken true and good words that we can rely on.  We don’t need to build up walls, we need him.  Our fears, when acknowledged and handled properly, can be an opportunity to bring us to him, not away from him. We can come to him with our fears and expect him to work through us even more powerfully.

When we come to him with our fears, he gives peace in knowing that he’s got a handle on whatever situation we find ourselves in.  If we allow ourselves to accept that peace, we can take steps of courage which leads to healing, growth, and hope.  We move closer to him and the purposes he has for us.

Isn’t God so good?

P – Prayer:

God, I don’t want to harden my heart to you because of fear and pride.  I don’t want to build up walls that keep you out and rely on my own strength.  I don’t want to live in fear anymore.  I want to walk firmly in the paths that you have for me, because I know they will be great. Help me to acknowledge the fear that comes up and to turn immediately to you.  You are so powerful and love me so much, thank you.  Thank you that your love casts out fear.  Amen.