Archive for February, 2020

The Battles we Face (Exodus 16-17)

February 14, 2020

Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. Exodus 17:8

Each new day is filled with experiences which are in some ways unique simply because we have never lived in the new day.  However, at the same time each day is filled with familiar battles.

Consider Israel as our example.  Each day was filled with uniqueness because Israel  was moving on to new places.  But at the same time Israel faced the following familiar battles:

  • The battles in the flesh:
    • They needed to eat.
    • They did not like difficulties that stretched them to depend on God.
    • They liked to do things their own way and in their own time frame.
    • They engaged in grumbling and blame of others for their ongoing battles.

 

  • The battles in the spirit realm:
    • The enemy was daily coming against them.
    • The old nature always fights the will of God.
    • Each day God was testing His people for their growth in Him.
    • Victory could only be achieved by dependance on Him.

Brothers and sisters, chapters 16-17 are only a sampling of the battles of the flesh and the battles in the spiritual realm.  But they pull back the mask of our lives enough for us to be able to know that we need help.  So what should we be doing in the battles we face?  I believe James 4 has the path for us:

What causes quarrels and what causes fights among you? Is it not this, that your passions[a] are at war within you?[b] You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people![c] Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:1-10

Let me suggest three steps to take each day in our battles:

  1. Recognize the reality of daily battles in your life, James 4:1-4.

James teaches us of the daily fights in our flesh.  He makes us aware of the constant pull for our own wishes and desires.  James reminds us of how we will fight against anyone who stands against our flesh.  The flesh robs us of fellowship with God.

2. Cry out to God for His grace through daily submission to His leadership, James 4:5-9.

Each day we must humbly submit to God’s leadership.  Develop the disciple of spiritual resistance of Satan.  Seek God more and more.  Confess your sins daily before God, especially when you are double-minded.  Begin and end each day with a clean slate with God.

3. Walk each day as a servant of the Lord, James 4:10

I don’t know about you, but I am in a fight every day and I need His help to win the fight.  By His grace (James 4:6), we will humbly win the fight!!!

What do you see? (Exodus 14)

February 13, 2020

10 When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. Exodus 14:10

Barely into their journey, the people of God (who have been brought out of Egypt with a strong hand (13:3) looked behind them to see the vicious and mighty army of Egypt pursuing them.  What would be their response?

There are two observations that I want to place before you:

  1. The people feared greatly.

Brothers and sisters: “tribulation serves to remove the mask of who we say we are and reveals the truth of who we really are.”

The Bible says in Prov. 24:10 “If you faint in the day of adversity (tribulation) your strength Is small.”

2. The people were unwilling to fight for freedom.

The people are focused on self and self-preservation.  They are not willing to place their lives on the line for what could come to be. So they cry out to Moses.  For the sake of self-preservation they are willing to sacrifice freedom.

Brothers and sisters, now the mask is off-Moses speaks to the people where they really are.  He says, “fear not and stand firm.”

This chapter of Exodus always challenges me to cease looking at what I can see (through the eyes of my old nature) and to center my eyes on Jesus who is working for me (through the eyes of my new nature).  The only assignment Israel had was to be silent and move forward watching God work.  In other words, silently step forward in your faith.

I wonder, is this speaking personally to anyone today?

Maybe God has positioned you where you are being called to step forward?  If so, let me encourage you to follow the God who has worked in the past, is working now, and will be continuing to work in the days ahead.

Father, I don’t know what you will place before me today.  Oh how I pray that it reveals the heart I think I have.  But if you have to remove a mask from me, I am willing because I want to be centered in you.

Whose fault is it?(Exodus 12-13)

February 12, 2020

“For when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed…” Exodus 13:15

As I sit on my bed hearing the sounds and voices along the Nile river, I try to imagine how the screams must have rose from Egypt on that night when the last plague came from Heaven.  The question must be, who was to blame?  The answer from God is Pharaoh.

Suddenly I feel the weight of understanding how each of our lives have so much impact on so many others.  Today I visited the Pyramids and the National museum.  I could not get over the often unchallenged impact of corrupt leaders.  Their view of life and eternity revealed the darkness in humanity.  Generations lived and died without ever hearing the truth.

Dr. Carter commented , “every person has a hole that looks for eternal things.” This day I know that only the power of the cross can change hearts, open eyes, and fill the hole in men’s hearts.  Such people will affect the world for eternal good.

Question: who in your city is responsible for what is happening ?  The truth is, you and I are.  Let us change our cities having been changed by the cross.

Something worth telling (Exodus 10-11)

February 11, 2020

And that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I…” Exodus 10:2

The last 9 days I have been in Egypt.  Oh how I wish I could write what I have experienced, but that will have to wait until the correct time.  I have story after story that is worth telling.  I believe many American believes have become so trapped in the face pace of life that we are failing to tell the stories of all that God is doing in us and around us.  People need the stories to find authenticity in God’s power.

Moses was now locked in a battle in our focal text.  He has eight stories of God’s amazing power and there are two more stories to come.  All of this was to prove who was God.  All of this would lead to freedom for all who would believe.

Pharaoh’s servants believed but he would not. His lack of belief illustrates the devastation for all who will not believe.  At the same time Moses story is one that reveals the miracle power of God for all who will believe.

I wonder do you have a story to tell?  If so, are you telling it? If not, why not?

I have over and over been told stories that have inspired me to believe that nothing is impossible with God.  In one place I visited there were over 30,000 people who regularly gather in that place.  It’s a miracle.

Here could be the point for you:  God’s miracles are released into people’s lives who He knows will tell His story to everyone.  Are you ready to tell His story?

Taking it to heart (Exodus 8-9)

February 10, 2020

“Pharaoh turned and went into his house without even taking this to heart…”

In my life I have seen things that have altered my life.  This week I went to an area of the world where most would never go and stay.  I visited a church in the city dump.  On some Sundays they have 30,000 people who attend.

How is it possible for so many people existing in such filthy circumstances to be saved?  How is it possible for the miracle of the gospel to get to them?  Dear brothers and sisters, it’s simple, these people have taken the gospel they heard to heart.

In his day, Pharaoh was just the opposite.  No matter the signs given by God he would not repent.  In the chapters in this weeks readings we will see the signs that revealed the mighty hand of God.  His finger is more powerful than all the world powers today combined, 8:19.

Question:  do you believe the gospel is this powerful today?  Can the gospel change hearts? My answer is yes.  If you were here with me you would see the impact of the gospel, but you do not need to be here, God is just as powerful where you are.  You only have to take it to heart.

 

The Redeeming Power of God (Exodus 6-7)

February 7, 2020

Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. Exodus 6:6-7

Could it really be possible?  After 400 years of bondage, could God’s people really be brought out and then brought to the Promised Land?  The answer is “yes.”  The God of Israel was and is a redeeming God!!!

Imagine being in Moses shoes, I believe this 80 year old guy was feeling the weight of what God was calling him to do.  Moses had obeyed the Lord and  returned to Egypt.  His own people were willing to follow him until things got difficult.  But now it seemed as if things were going from bad to worse.

Listen clearly:  The Devil will not role over and let you take territory from him without a fight.

Maybe you are in a battle for territory today.  I mean, people’s lives are in the balance.  Hear God’s timeless words of encouragement to Moses:

  • God says, Moses I will break Pharoah, 6:1
  • God says, Moses I am God almighty, 6:2-3
  • God says, Mose I keep my word, 6:4-5.
  • God says, Moses these are my people, 6:6-7
  • God says, Moses, I will bring each of you into the Promised Land, 6:8.

Brothers and sisters, only God almighty could accomplish these things.  I have good news, He did.  Now, this may be hard for you to latch onto if you are like the people in bondage.  The Bible said, “They were broken in spirit and they were under harsh slavery.”

But praise God, He was greater still.  On this Friday take heart in knowing that the same God who worked it all out in Moses day will work it out in our day!!!

11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. I Cor. 10:11-13

Our God is truly able.

Everything you need (Exodus 4-5)

February 6, 2020

11 Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” Exodus 4:11

As I prepared to travel, I had everything laid out that I thought I needed for the trip.  As I packed I could not help but wonder if there were things I had not packed that I might need in this new place of ministry?

Someone said to me, don’t worry about it, you can get what you need when you get there.  As Moses found himself faced with the call of God to lead his nation out of bondage, he was struggling with what he needed to accomplish the task.  There were two things he knew he needed from the beginning

  1. He needed to be able to convince the people he represented the true and living God.

2. He needed to be able to communicate properly with the people.

Exodus four was God’s provision for both the needs of Moses.  But still yet, Moses was afraid to go.  Fear so gripped him that he said, “send someone else.”

Maybe you are in a position where you are really struggling with the assignment God has placed on your heart?  Be assured, the God of Moses is the same God who is calling you and is about to equip you to do the impossible.

God never ask’s us to be miracle workers or sermon creators.  He is the one who works miracles and He is the one who has given us His Word to communicate.  All we are called to do is to go and speak the Words of God.  He is the God who convinces people and He is the God who implants the Word in their hearts.

Jesus works in John 6 remind us of the unstoppable power of God:

63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

 

A Mighty Hand (Exodus 2-3)

February 5, 2020

19 But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand. Exodus 3:19

Recently, as Sherry and I were leaving Kroger, I noticed a person in a wheel chair who was attempting to load his groceries into his car.  I approached the person and I asked, can I help you?  His response was this: “No, I don’t need any help.”

I realize there could be several reasons why he did not accept my help ranging from who is this guy to the fact that he may have mastered doing this all the time in the wheel-chair.  But I somehow felt it was as if pride was keeping him from asking for help.

In Exodus 2, the people of God needed help.  Pharaoh had said, all male babies were to be cast in the Nile River.  One couple took a chance and would not sacrifice their baby boy.  They took an even greater change by, (3 months later), placing him in a basket and floating him down the Nile River in hopes that God would work a miracle.  Praise God He did.

A little boy was drawn out (Moses) of the river and given the best of education and life as the adopted child of Pharaoh’s daughter.

Later on in Moses life, at the age of 40, Moses was moved in his heart (2:11) to help his people.  But he did it in his own strength.  He was then driven away because of the threat of death by Pharaoh (2:15).  Now, Moses would for the next 40 years drift along life (2:21).  But then God stepped in (3:1-3).  It was here where Moses had a divine appointment with God.

Brothers and sisters, take this all in:  The baby who had been drawn out, the man who had been driven away, and the man who had drifted along was about to experience a divine appointment that would change everything for not only him, but for an entire people group.

Maybe, God is dealing with your heart about an assignment in your city or in some distant point In the world? The question comes, how can this be?  There are three responses God gives to our question:

  1. I will go with you.  Moses was not being sent alone.  God did go with him with a mighty hand.
  2. I am the same God who went with Moses. “I am that I am”
  3. I will do the impossible with you as I did with Moses.

Brothers and sisters, do not be like the person at Kroger who said, No I don’t need any help. Dear friend, I need the help of God’s mighty hand in every step of my journey.

Father speak clearly to us about our daily assignments.  Father, go with us as our director and our mighty right hand.  Father, deliver our nation and deliver our world from the sin that ensnares us.  

What does all this mean? (Genesis 50-Exodus 1)

February 4, 2020

19 But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? 20 As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people[b] should be kept alive, as they are today.  Genesis 50:19-20

It seems that God has clearly impressed upon my mind and heart, these last few days, the providence of God.  When you read this blog I will be in another part of the world on a mission trip, only through the providence of God.  I would have never imagined God taking me here.  But I realize that every movement the (providence) of God has been shaping me for this moment.

J.V. MaGee used to say, “God’s providence is his meeting a person at second base of life and moving them around the bases to a different home plate than they intended.”

In chapter 50, Jacob dies in the place (Egypt) where he never imagined.  Joseph and his brothers take him back to the Promised Land to be buried.  It is in this aftermath that things take a hypothetical turn.  The brothers think (hypothetically) that their brother will now inflict judgment on them.

The brothers send a message, “Our father (we don’t know if he really did) said that you were to forgive us of our wrong against you.”

Joseph’s response helps us to see clearly God’s hand of providence in the most difficult of times.  Here was Joseph’s response:

  • I am not God.
  • God’s good purposes override the purposes of men.

Brothers and sisters, God uses all things for His glory.  The brothers meant evil against Joseph when they sold him into slavery.  But the providential hand of God took what they meant and turned it into a tool for what He meant to do.

Here is what I have learned and continue to learn: When tough times come-either by the hand of persecution, problems, or my own foolish hands, God is able to take those times and position me into the place where He is most glorified in bringing me to home plate.

The greatest example of God’s providence is the cross.  Satan meant it for evil, in seeking to destroy the Messiah.  But God took it as His instrument to deliver all who would come to Jesus for salvation!!!

Brothers and sisters, no matter what comes your way:

  1. Take it to God knowing that He is over what seems to be overshadowing you right now.
  2. Crush the hypothetical’s in your life under the truth of God’s providence.
  3. Make sure your tough moments are not your doing, if they are, repent and reset yourself at His feet.
  4. Look to the long view that God is up to something that will gloriously take you are the bases to home with Jesus.

 

The Unexpected (Genesis 48-49)

February 3, 2020

11 And Israel said to Joseph, “I never expected to see your face; and behold, God has let me see your offspring also.”  Genesis 48:11

Chapters 48-49 are often skipped over because people think this was family business which would have no bearing on their lives.  But nothing could be farther from the truth.  All Scripture is profitable (II Tim. 3:16-17).  Here are three levels of profit for us:

  • Israel’s blessing of Judah in 49:8-11 points us to the hope of the world, which was the prophecy of the coming of our Messiah.
  • Israels prophecy of all 12 children reminds us of how that Our God sees the future as if it is in our present.
  • Israel’s (Jacob) blessing from God reminds us that God blesses his people with far more than we can imagine.

Consider this, Jacob was 147 years old.  He was on His death bed and finally he proclaimed all that God did for him:

15 And he blessed Joseph and said,

“The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked,
the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,
16 the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys;
and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac;
and let them grow into a multitude[c] in the midst of the earth.”

Do you see it:

  1. God had been Jacob’s shepherd even before he knew God.

2. God became Jacob’s redeemer.

3. God had secured a future for Jacob.

Now as Jacob looked back, he realized he would have never imagined all God was going to do in his life.  As I think about my life, I never would have imagined all God would do in my life.

This day my thoughts turn to my children and I wonder, what does God have in-store of them?  I want them to know God has been their dad’s shepherd even before I became a Christian. God sent Jesus to be my Redeemer and He has been redeeming me all these years.  I now pray with all my heart that each of my children will step fully into the future God has for them.

Maybe this has stirred you to think about not only your life, but the lives of those who are coming behind you.  May God grant you to see now what Jacob saw at the end of his life!!!