Monthly Archives: July, 2016

Who is the Lord

When Moses first approaches Pharaoh to ask that he let God’s people go, Pharaoh asks “who is the LORD” in response. Then he admits that he doesn’t know the LORD. What an interesting question, one that many people ask. The truth is there are many people who do not know the Lord, and there are many who do not “know” know Jesus as well.

God wants us to know Him—this does not mean simply knowing that there is a God and believing that He sent His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, to die on a cross so that all who believe in Him will have eternal life. God wants us to have a relationship with Jesus, to spend each day with Him, getting to know Him more. God has given us a heart to know Him (Jeremiah 24:7).

God delights in you knowing Him (Jeremiah 9:24). Today, spend time in His Word. Spend some time communing with Him. Pour yourself out in prayer. Listen closely for the still small voice. He will continue to reveal Himself to you as you faithfully seek Him more (Jeremiah 29:13).

“’Is that so?’ retorted Pharaoh. ‘And who is the LORD? Why should I listen to him and let Israel go? I don’t know the LORD, and I will not let Israel go.’” – Exodus 5:2 [NLT]

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Send Someone Else

Many times in life, we are asked to do something and we try to get out of it. We make excuses. We drag our feet. We look for a way out. Like Moses, we say, “Send someone else.”

When it comes to something God wants us to do, let us remember that we were created to accomplish great things. He has called you to the place that you are at right now. He wants you to pour yourself out to the people in your path. He wants you to invest in that area. Then the time will come when He may direct you somewhere else, when you have fulfilled the work He had for you there. It is then when we humbly move forward, thanking Him for the journey and looking forward to what work He has next.

We make a lot of excuses instead of taking responsibility. We have a great kingdom work that God has placed before us. Take responsibility. Love the people around you. Serve the people around you. God has placed you there for a reason. Wherever you find yourself this morning, embrace it! Shine for Jesus.

“But Moses again pleaded, ‘Lord, please! Send anyone else.’” – Exodus 4:13 [NLT]

A Mighty Hand

As God shares His plan with Moses, He lets Moses know that Pharaoh would not let the people go when he would make the request. Even though Moses was being sent to make this special request, the numerous requests would never work. It was the mighty hand of God that would cause Pharaoh to release the people of Israel.

The “mighty hand” that “forces,” can be described as being “under compulsion.” God is saying that Pharaoh would not allow the people to go unless forced to do this at some point. Imagine being Moses. Imagine the request from God—to go and speak to Pharaoh with a promise that he would not listen. Doesn’t it seem crazy? Go ask this person to say “yes,” but understand he will always say, “no.”

If you are told that what you do will not be successful on your part, would you still do it? Would you be satisfied knowing that the mighty hand of God was going to handle it? Why would Moses even be needed at all if God’s strength was going to be what changed Pharaoh’s mind? All this points back to the glory of God. Remember, this was God’s power on display. Moses showed up and was used as a vessel, but at the end of the day, it was the mighty hand of God that caused Pharaoh to release His special people.

“But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand forces him.” – Exodus 3:19 [NLT]

True Encounter

Could you look at God? Could you look right into His face? As Moses stands in the presence of God, facing the bush that would not be consumed by the fire, he hears someone speaking. The voice says that the ground ahead is holy; Moses had to remove his sandals. But this encounter does not end there.

The voice then reveals Who is speaking. He says, “I am the God of your father–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses realizes he is in the presence of God, that he is encountering God, he covered his face. Why conceal his face from God? Fear of God. He was afraid to look at God.

This fear of God is not wrong. Each one of us should fear God. We are meant to fear God. Moses recognizes at that moment that he is a sinner standing before a holy God. Immediately he acknowledges that he is unworthy by hiding his face. At this point in the story, God shares with Moses the great plan to redeem His people. One of the awesome things we read is that God is going to use unqualified Moses to help His chosen people. Today, consider if you have had a true encounter of Jesus Christ. Have you turned and hid your face when before our holy God? Have you recognized your great need for Jesus Christ? We all need Jesus!

“’I am the God of your father–the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’ When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.” – Exodus 3:6 [NLT]

Tower of Ourselves

In Genesis 11, we have another example of people moving away from God and His grand design. After the Fall and the Flood, it seemed like mankind was being restored. Noah and his family departed from the Ark, but it did not take much time before one brother leads the others to see a drunk, naked Noah in his tent. Canaan was cursed. Later, we read of the Tower of Babel.

As we look at this historical moment, we can note that the people were focused on themselves. The people wanted to build a city for themselves. The people also wanted to construct a tower that would reach all the way up to the heavens. The question that begs to be asked—why are the people desiring to build a city for themselves when God already has a place for His people?

Adam and Eve sinned long ago. Although they did not outright say they wanted a city for themselves, it is clear that they could not even follow God’s directions in the Garden. They risked everything they had with God—such a special, intimate relationship—for the words of the serpent. They chose something other than God at that point, at that moment they did not accept the Word of God. The cycle continues again and again, as we try to build for ourselves a life, a life apart from God. We try so desperately to make a name for ourselves, yet God has already chosen us and named us. Not only are we children of God through faith, but He will give each one of us a new name. Today, ask yourself this question: are you a tower builder?

“Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’” – Genesis 11:4 [NIV]

The Cave

As you read Genesis, you learn of the Promised Land, the land that God had promised to Abraham as part of the Abrahamic Covenant. Remember: blessing, land, and descendants. This Promised Land was eventually inhabited by Abraham’s descendants when Joshua and the Israelites entered Canaan. Nonetheless, Abraham never got to claim the Promised Land—He never got to reside in this area, the Promised Land.

In Genesis 23, we read of the death of Abraham’s wife Sarah, and we read of her burial. Here we read of the patriarch’s wife dying and Abraham attempting to purchase land to bury her. Why did he need land? He had none! Despite God promising him land, there was no land. Abraham was a sojourner. But Abraham negotiates a deal with Ephron the Hittite for a cave and a field to buy and then bury his beloved wife. In making settlement on this land, in purchasing the deed, Abraham was buying a very small piece of the Promised Land.

You may think, why should Abraham have to buy a piece of land that God promised him. God said that land would be his, but it didn’t mean it would happen overnight or even in his lifetime. But as Abraham lost his precious wife, this situation gave Abraham a reminder of what would come. By purchasing this small piece of the Promised Land, he was able to lay down roots in the land that would one day be the land of his descendants. He was burying the first of many of his family, in the land that God promised would all be his. As he was making this purchase, he was trusting in this great promise from God—and declaring His faithfulness.

We don’t know how God will work in a situation. We don’t know the steps, the plan, or even if things will happen during our time on earth. But we do know we have a faithful God and His Word never fails.

“So Ephron’s field in Machpelah near Mamre—both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field—was deeded to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan. So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.” – Genesis 23:17-20 [NIV]

Nimrod

I love the name Nimrod. Although it typically means socially inadequate to most people who use it, the actual name means “skillful hunter” or “mighty hunter.” The Bible tells us that Nimrod was not only the great-grandson of Noah, but also a renowned hunter.  I personally became curious about the name Nimrod when I heard the name while researching my family genealogy which is connected to the Blue Eyes Six. Every once in a while, I’ll say Nimrod Spattenhoover. This is the name of another person who was punished by hanging in my local area.

The name Nimrod isn’t the first name usually mentioned when we consider someone from the Bible. Many people likely do not even remember Nimrod. Some possibly would say the name doesn’t appear in the Bible at all, because they skimmed over it or never heard it once in a sermon or Sunday School lesson. But Nimrod was renowned to some people. He lived a life and he left a mark. Some traditions even hold that Nimrod led in the building of the Tower of Babel, although I don’t think someone would want to brag about that attempt to live without God.

Nimrod may not be remembered, but he appears in Genesis along with so many other names you and I may not remember. Even so, everyone matters. Not everyone gets their names in lights. Not everyone gets to be the leaders. Not everyone gets the attention. In life, it is not about lifting yourself up or trying to be better than anyone else. Having the second position is okay. God will use you wherever He places you. Be satisfied with where He places you, and you will enjoy a great partnership with God, building His kingdom and serving His people. He will honor you for it and you will be blessed by it.

“Cush was also the ancestor of Nimrod, who was the first heroic warrior on earth. Since he was the greatest hunter in the world, his name became proverbial. People would say, ‘This man is like Nimrod, the greatest hunter in the world.’” – Genesis 10:8-9 [NLT]

Servant to Esau

In Genesis 32, we read about Jacob preparing to meet Esau. If you remember, the last time these two brothers were together, Jacob had taken Esau’s blessing through deception. Esau was furious and vowed to get revenge. Jacob fled to safety. In this chapter, Jacob wrestles with God and is renamed Israel. After all of this, he continues to call himself a servant to Esau.

Esau was the firstborn, and rightfully was to have the firstborn rights. We read about Jacob taking Esau’s birthright over some stew. We later read that Jacob dresses as Esau to take the blessing as well. God foreknew this all. Remember, Genesis 25:23 tells us that the birth order will be switched – the older will serve the younger—so this shouldn’t be a surprise.

As you look through Genesis 32 and 33, note all of the times Jacob says he is the servant to Esau. As many times as he states it, it never changes what God has ordained long ago. The line of blessing was Jacob’s line. This great line would become a great nation. It is through the line of Jacob that we find Jesus, our Lord and Savior. Today, consider who God says you are and what God has shown you for your life. This is precious. This is to be embraced. No matter how many times you try to reach for something else, deny something, change the order or design, God’s plan stands.

“But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations.” – Psalm 33:11 [NIV]

Held Back

I am not much of a runner; however, I have been blessed over the past few years to watch my daughter run for Cross Country. She loves running Cross Country. Running the race, is not simply about being the winner—as there can only be one—but also about beating a personal record or P.R., as the experienced runners know it to be called. My daughter was always about beating her P.R., but recently she has been held back. The thing she loved most about running, that time alone to clear her mind and reconnect, was not happening because she couldn’t focus.

My daughter’s friend wanted to move up and join the high school practices due to transportation issues. The friend is a bit slower and loves to talk more than my daughter (I didn’t think that was possible). The practices no longer were about body conditioning, preparing for the season. The runs were no longer a time of peace and enjoyment. My daughter found herself being held back, running at a slower pace. With her friend’s gift of gab, they also were missing some instructions for some of the practice runs. This caused them to get lost a few times, run shorter or longer courses, and my daughter unnecessary stress. My daughter and I had a long talk about boundaries and goals.

Friends are great. Relationships are important. In life, we have a choice who we invest our lives in. We also have a choice of who we surround ourselves with and we have a choice of priorities. Jesus should have first place in our lives. The Bible tells us to love God and love others, to go and make disciples, to serve—we have choices to make to see these things through. Paul wrote that we should give everything our best as if for the Lord. All is for His glory. When we allow ourselves to be held back, for our focus to drift, if we surround ourselves with people who will constantly keep us from being where God wants us, we are not properly aligned. Today, reflect on God’s will for your life. Consider your relationships. Look at the boundaries you have in your life so that you are able to pursuit the goals God placed before you. Above all, make sure you connect with Him today—in His Word and in prayer.

“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” – Colossians 3:17 [NLT]

The Hitch

When I woke up, the day didn’t start out well. I allowed myself to get in a bad mood. A broken down system at work. Getting parked in by landscapers. Having my privacy invaded. The list of issues that rained down on me that morning brought the perfect storm. If you must know, yes, it was a Monday! I don’t have problems with Mondays though. Everything just seemed to fall upon me though on this particular Monday.

Keeping one’s attitude in check is hard, but it’s even more difficult when multiple things go wrong. We may brush off a few things, but as the bullets keep flying, we often lose it. We are in control of our attitude. We are responsible for our reactions. That day, since the system was down, I left work early to head home. I desired the opportunity to just lay on the sofa with the pups and read my Bible. I needed to just hide under the covers with Him and get away from this heaping mess. I needed to rest with Him and fix my attitude.

On the way home, it was raining. There was a slick spot where there must have been oil on the ground. When some fellow jumped into our lane without following proper driving rules, we all had to stop. The space was there. The time was there. But the oil was also there. My van slid right into the truck in front of me. I closed my eyes. Not something else. I didn’t even want to get out and look, but when I did, I praised the Lord. No injuries, and little damage. Why? Because of the hitch. The man had a hitch on his truck. It kept our vehicles separated. Despite all the craziness of the day, despite being pelted with many things that day, the hitch was there—just like the ram in the bush. God provided a hedge around me and reminded me things would be just fine. Look around today. Perhaps there’s a hitch in your path—something to help to refocus your eyes on God.

“Abraham answered, ‘God Himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.’ Then the two of them walked on together.” – Genesis 22:8 [HCSB]