God used Moses as well as Aaron to perform many signs and wonders to get Pharaoh to let His people leave Egypt. During that time, Pharaoh brought forth his magicians to show his power. Exodus 7:8 is the start of the signs and wonders, and it actually begins with God saying that when Pharaoh says to “perform a miracle,” then throw down the staff and it will be a snake. The staff gets tossed down, leaving us to understand that Pharaoh started the ball rolling by asking for the sign. This act by Pharaoh is to suggest that he and his magicians could compete and be shown to be more powerful than God.
As we continue reading onward, the “plagues” start coming. At the beginning, the magicians of Pharaoh were demonstrating that they could do the same things with “secret arts.” However, as time went on, the magicians could not compete. When the gnats came, they realized they couldn’t, and so they said, “This is the finger of God,” acknowledging God as the source of the signs and wonders (Exodus 8:19). As the signs and wonders continued due to the hardened heart of Pharaoh, the furnace soot was tossed in the air to bring about dust over all of Egypt and boils on the people. At this point, “The magicians could not stand before Moses” (Exodus 9:11). They went from being able to perform the same actions to not even being able to be present.
We face many things each day. Sometimes we are like these magicians. We put ourselves in the position of God, but we soon find that we cannot deliver all of the time. We are human and we can only go so far. It is important to acknowledge where the true power comes from as these magicians did. As we start acknowledging God we soon find that He is El Elyon, “God Most High” and El Shaddai “God Almighty.” In all reality, there was a time when we were not able to be present before Him. Thankfully God is gracious and has given each of us a way to be present before Him through the blood of His Son Jesus Christ.
When reading Exodus 3-4, we find God calling Moses. Most people can remember the burning bush. Like all of us, God created Moses for a purpose. Moses was to lead God’s chosen people out of Egypt. In 3:10, after Moses answers God with “Here I am” and hears of God’s concern for His people and their suffering, and the promise of rescue and “a land flowing with milk and honey,” God tells Moses , “So now, go.” Yet, Moses does not go. There is excuse after excuse given. Who am I? What is Your name? What if they don’t believe me? I cannot speak so well. In 4:12, again God says, “Now go” and He promises to help Moses. Still, Moses says, “Please send someone else” (v. 13).
It is interesting to see the exchange between God and Moses. When we see dozens of verses later that God is still trying to get Moses to go do what He asked, it is safe to say that we all have been in that same position. We all have a pile of excuses that we have given God. It could be something like, “Well I didn’t have enough time to read my Bible today” or “I was too tired to pray last night before bed.” Maybe it sounds something like this: “You want me to go back to school but I’m making good money at the job I have now.” Perhaps it is “I have too much on my plate now. There is no way I can serve the church.” There are likely millions of excuses I could list here. We all make them.
When Moses finally moves forward as God commanded, it is easily seen that God is with him. Everything God said is true. God is faithful. Moses gave excuses to God on being used as a vessel for God’s glory to accomplish God’s plan. We give the same excuses. But remember, it is God’s plan. He is faithful. If He has given you something to do, He has given you everything you need to get it done. His plans will not be thwarted. As you go through your day today, if you feel God leading you, don’t give an excuse. Show up for duty. When you show up for duty, you find that He already has done the hard part.
There is a verse in Genesis that truly shows us something that we so often neglect. Genesis 41:16 is Joseph’s response to Pharaoh’s request for assistance. He said, “I cannot do it” (NIV) or “it is beyond my power to do this” (NLT). The Message translates this as “not I, but God.” No matter the translation, Joseph clearly tells Pharaoh that it is beyond his power, but that God can do it.
- “God will”
- “God can”
- “God shall”
The Bible says that what is impossible for man is possible with God (Matthew 19:26, Mark 10:27, Luke 18:28). Here we see Joseph declaring this to Pharaoh. A lot of people will agree with the “God will,” “God can,” and even “God shall.” There are many levels of faith, but people do tend to agree with these statements many times. The “not I” part is the hardest part. We don’t like to admit we are powerless. We don’t like to admit we cannot do something. We don’t like to say that we are weak. This is a “me, myself, and I” world. Why say, “Not I”? We have the technology, the resources, and the abilities. We like to be in control.
Today I challenge you to look at your life and examine your weaknesses. Can you admit to yourself that you have these weaknesses? Can you say, “Not I, but God”? Paul tells the Corinthians that he boasts in his weaknesses (2 Corinthians 11:30, 2 Corinthians 12:9). I pray that you, too, may boast in your weaknesses and say, “Not I, but God.”
“Desire without knowledge is not good– how much more will hasty feet miss the way!” – Proverbs 19:2 (NIV)
As I was walking my dog Max, I saw a dog ahead, limping across the street. The little terrier looked to be injured and as I approached the dog, I immediately began to plan what I would do to help this dog. My ten years of medical experience and my knowledge of animals would surely help me to assist this poor dog. When I got closer to the dog, she stopped and allowed me to check her out. I saw her tag mentioned an address just across the street. Then I flipped the tag around to see if there was a phone number, and there I read “handicapped.” The dog wasn’t injured, she was handicapped. There was no vehicular accident, no dog fight, no bad fall.
When I spoke to the owner of the dog, who said her dog is an escape artist, she told me that numerous people had captured the dog when it escaped previously and took it to a veterinarian to try to get help for its front leg that was deformed. Everyone saw it and immediately thought it was broken and went to get it assistance. She had numerous bills as a result.
Looks can be deceiving. From afar, I could see that dog was limping and I immediately jumped to the conclusion that she was hurt from a vehicle, another dog, or a fall. I never thought she would be handicapped though I have seen many handicapped dogs. Sometimes when we see things, our minds wander. We have such imaginations. As I mentioned, I was already planning a course of action before I knew what was wrong with the dog. I thought I was planning ahead to be prepared, and yet what I was preparing for was nonexistent.
We all are guilty of rushing to conclusions or responding before we know the facts. We are told to seek the truth, to have patience, and to use proper judgment, and yet sometimes we jump right in and find ourselves surprised when we realize the truth. I am only thankful when the truth is realized for there are times when people jump in and never do see the truth because their eyes are blinded.
Today as you will see many things, seek out the truth. Don’t immediately jump to conclusions. You may see photos on Facebook with captions telling you a story that is anything but true. You may come across a person and rush to judgment, not grasping the true situation. You may begin to react without all of the facts. Be patient. Seek the truth.
God’s timing is the timing that matters. In a world where we are so timed focused, trying to shove as much as we can into the time we have, and trying to plan out every second of every day, God’s timing is still the timing that matters. He is in control, and if we try to take shortcuts to get where we think we are meant to be, or even to get to where God has shown us to be, we will find that God is still in control. We cannot rush His blessings; we cannot rush His plan.
God made a promise to Abraham, but He did not specify the details. After years past and Sarah still had not had a child, she considered making sure that God’s promise came true. She gave Hagar to Abraham so that God’s plan would be satisfied. Ishmael was then born. Clarification was made by God in light of the impatience shown by Abraham; he would have a son from Sarah, and this would be the son who would continue the chosen line. There was no shortcut. There was no “taking things into my own hands” type of situation that would work. God’s timing was the only timing that mattered.
Now Reuben, the son of Leah and Jacob, discovered mandrakes. When Rachel got wind of this information, she wanted to bargain with Leah for the mandrakes. The mandrakes were believed to help with fertility and Rachel wanted a child of her own. Up until that time, she had no children. Jacob’s children were all from Leah, Rachel’s sister, and both handmaids. The deal was simple: if Leah would give the mandrakes to Rachel, Leah could spend the evening with Jacob. Leah wanted so badly to be loved by Jacob so she agreed. Unfortunately, the mandrakes didn’t work for Rachel. Her plan didn’t succeed. Once again, we cannot rush His blessings; we cannot rush His plan.
Eventually Rachel had a son; in fact, she had two sons, Joseph and Benjamin. Joseph assumed the position of first born son when it came to the family blessing, receiving a double portion of the inheritance. Joseph was used by God to save Israel. Sarah also was the mother of many nations, as she too, had a son, Isaac, who was Jacob’s father. Both of these stories ended with the fulfillment of God’s Word, but neither of these situations occurred on human timing. God’s timing prevails. He is in control.
You may be at a time in your life when you are wondering why God is leading you in a particular area after all of these years. You may be considering when the big blessings will come. Perhaps you are losing patience. Just remember, you can make attempts to reach where you think you are to be, or where God has shown you will be, but ultimately it’s all in God’s hands. Patience can sometimes be difficult. It’s important to rest in the character of God. He is faithful. Trust Him. Don’t rush.
When Abraham sent his servant to seek out a wife for his son Isaac, the servant, a loyal man who relied on God throughout the mission, was met by Rebekah. The servant of Abraham prayed for God’s guidance with selecting a wife for Isaac, and included some signs to point to the woman who should be taken back to be Isaac’s wife. The signs pointed to Rebekah.
Now while reading Genesis 24, we see Rebekah providing a great example of one who is devoted.
- Energetic – When she was providing the servant & his camels with water, Rebekah “ran back to the well” (v. 20). She was full of energy as she aimed to serve this man—passionate to help another.
- Eager to serve – When it was time to provide water, she was ready to serve. She even offered the servant a place to stay for the night (v. 25). When it was time to set out to return to Isaac, she was ready.
- Embracing the call – When asked if she would go, she embraced this calling upon her life (v. 58)
- Exceeded expectations – The servant of Abraham prayed for particular signs to point to the woman who would be the wife of Isaac. Rebekah went beyond meeting those signs requested by the servant. Not only did she let down her jar and water the camels, but she went to the point that they “had enough to drink” (v. 19) to be satisfied. She also offered the servant a place to stay for the evening, as well as a food and shelter for the camels (v. 25).
When we look at God’s calling for our lives, are we energetic? Are we eager? Are we embracing the calling? Today, consider what God has called you to do in life. Think about these four areas. Do you still have passion for God’s calling? When we are energetic, eager, and embracing what God has called us to do, He will use us to serve His Kingdom—and we will exceed expectations as His vessels. When we allow ourselves to be His vessel, when it is all about Him, when the passion is there, we, like Rebekah, will be passionately seeking to serve the Lord with joy, ready for whatever He puts before us.
This weekend I had the opportunity to teach two classes, one on trusting God and another on the power of God. These two topics are so vital to each of our lives, and yet we all have some difficulties in these areas. Recently, the husband of a friend of mine was in dire need of a liver transplant. With a congenital liver disease weakening his body, many people would have considered that hope was lost. Family and friends joined together in prayer. The Bible says that we must ask and believe, and then we will receive (Mark 11:24, James 1:6). The family organized a group, continued to stand firm in their faith, and clung to God during the storm. As family and friends trusted God, uniting together in prayer, they were able to see the power of God at work. He received a new liver and doctors were amazed at the miraculous transition they witnessed, something that couldn’t be explained except as the power of God.
These people trusted God to provide, but we all have moments when we have a problem with trusting God. To trust God, it means that we abide and rest in His goodness—that we trust that He protects, embraces, and surrounds us with His compassion and His favor. It is important to understand that if we draw near to Him, He will draw near to us (James 4:8). It is important to remember the many promises of God—promises we can only know about if we read His Word. Psalm 34:10 says that those who seek God will “lack no good thing.” Yet, why are we so tempted to seek elsewhere, to try our own methods, to think that we could have something better doing things another way?
In the wilderness, Jesus was tempted three times. Each of these temptations represents temptations that we each face, temptations of: power, prestige, and possessions. Each time, He responded to the devil by saying, “It is written.” It is so clear to see the power of God’s Word at work. In Ephesians 6, we are told to stand firm and put on our spiritual armor, which includes the “sword of the Spirit, which is word of God” (v. 17). Do you have your armor on? Are you daily arming yourself with this sword? See each of us has the ability to tap into the power of God. We have His Word. We as believers have His Spirit. Yet it is apparent that so many people do not use what is right before them.
Is it a trust issue? Do we not trust the character and promises of God? Do we think we know better? Do we not have the time to read God’s Word? Do we believe we are fine as we are? There are so many possibilities, but each answer is simply an excuse—an excuse to not accept the love, grace, mercy, protection, favor, direction, comfort, and will of God. As we make these excuses, complaints and grumbling follow. When will we get it? When will we reach forward to the hand that God extends to us?
I told my students this weekend that we must not simply remember “it is written,” but we must also remember another short and powerful statement made by our Lord and Savior. We must remember “it is finished.” We have victory thru Christ, “for everyone born of God overcomes the world” (1 John 5:4). We need to live right now as if we have this victory. We need to stop allowing the world to get the best of us, and cling to this victory that we already have in Christ. We need to trust Him and trust in this victory. In doing so, we would live very differently. We need to learn not only to trust God’s character and the promises in His Word, but also to live by them each day of our lives. As Burl Ives sang, “O victory in Jesus, My Savior forever. He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood.” The song goes on to speak of singing a song of victory one day in heaven, but I think we should start singing this song today, as we trust God, as we cling to Him and His Word, as we hold tight to the power of God. Surely, we have victory. Let us trust in Him and open our eyes to His power which is at work even today.