As I study Exodus, I am preaching about Genesis. We just finished looking at the Creation story. As you review each day of Creation, you finally reach the seventh day. Rest. I love how God built this great rhythm of work and rest into His creation. This rhythm continues throughout the Bible, and today’s verse is one of these continuations.
God tells His people that the land needs renewal. As I take my morning walks, I often take note of the small things that I wouldn’t see rushing throughout my day. I look around the neighborhood, at the different gardens and flowers. I consider the different seasons, the way the growth patterns work. There is great rhythm in creation, and with it there is renewal that God designed within His creation.
We also need renewal. We need to have time to rest and time to renew ourselves in the Lord. Part of this means being intentional with your time. We have different seasons of our lives, just like there are different seasons of a calendar year. We have seasons of challenge, seasons of loss. We have seasons of growth and seasons of change. Each season is different, but each requires rest and renewal. More importantly, in each season we need the Spirit of God to lead us through, to mold us and grow us for the next season.
“But let the land be renewed and lie uncultivated during the seventh year. Then let the poor among you harvest whatever grows on its own. Leave the rest for wild animals to eat. The same applies to your vineyards and olive groves.” – Exodus 23:11 [NLT]
For the past two weeks, life was different. The schedule was different. Things were rearranged. Time spent was different. The people I spent the most time with were new in my life. Everything was different. As quickly as it began, it was finished. For two weeks, the church hosted a homeless shelter. There is no going back to the way things once were. We are different. The church is different. I sit here tonight considering what I’m not going to be doing tonight. Wondering where the list of people will be, how their day went, remembering silly moments filled with Spiderman and giggles, thinking back on the first day and all that has happened since.
As we left last night, some tears were shed. The season was over. It’s often difficult when a season ends. What do you do? Sometimes you wanted to do more. Sometimes you had hoped you could make more of a dent, more of an impact. Perhaps you wish you could be able to help more, make it last more, do something different. But the season ends.
Life is full of seasons. I just finished reading Ecclesiastes 3—“to every thing there is a season.” When a season ends, God is simply closing one door because it is time to go through another. It doesn’t mean the opportunity won’t come back around; it means your work is done at this point. There is something new God has for you to accomplish. When the season ends, praise Him for what He has done. He is an awesome God! Thank the Lord! Praise His great name! Pray. Seek Him. Read His Word. Seek out what He wants for you to do next. Wait in the silence. Listen for His voice. Continue onward into the next season. You are different now. You likely changed. You’ve grown. You are ready for the next step. May He prepare the way!
Clothes can make a person they say. I think that can be somewhat true. I know when I put on my sweatpants, I feel comfy and ready to relax and enjoy a quiet night with my Bible and whatever book I’m currently reading. When I put on dressier clothing, I am ready to get to work. When I put on my sneakers, I become the dog walker extraordinaire.
Colossians 3 says we are clothed with a new spiritual self. Paul wrote that during our walk with Christ we are renewed and remolded. Renewed and remolded. Being renewed is being refreshed to start again. Being remolded means we change or are refashioned. Our appearance is different. It’s more of an outward thing. Renewed is an inner thing.
As we grow in Christ, we are renewed (inner) and remolded (outer). It’s an awesome thing. People will take notice. They will catch a glimpse of this change. They will experience the light, the light of Christ shining through you. You may even take notice in time that God has be doing a great work in and through you. He has a great plan for you my friend. Keep pressing forward.
“And have clothed yourselves with the new [spiritual self], which is [ever in the process of being] renewed and remolded into [fuller and more perfect knowledge upon] knowledge after the image (the likeness) of Him Who created it.” – Colossians 3:10 [AMP]
You are not where you are supposed to be
Each of you is meant to be somewhere else
Yes, it’s true. God has made you for so much more. How do you get there? STRETCH!!
You cannot GROW unless you are STRETCHED!
No Easy Road
God promised He would be with you, not that it would be easy
David Livingstone – Africa missionary – received message from missionary group who wanted to join in his work. They sent letter that they had people who wanted to join and asked if there was an EASY access road to get where he was. His response – if you have people who only will come with good roads, I don’t want them. I want people who will come where there is no road at all.
Moses – Red Sea. During Exodus when Moses was to lead the people out of Egypt. When they actually were leaving, they went the LONG way (Exodus 3:17). Not only did they go the long way, then they reach the Red Sea and the Egyptians had chased after them. There they are – Egypt right there ready to get them and the Red Sea before them. God was with them. But they had to STRETCH. They had to trust in going the long way. They had to trust that God was with them. They had to trust He had everything under control. They had to trust He had a greater plan for His glory.
Exodus 14:21 “Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.” [ESV]
Mark 3:1-5 The withered hand – “Stretch out your hand”
We respond to things by two things:
- What we SEE
- What we SEEK
Movement Means Loss
Matthew 8:28-34 Demons Invade Pigs. They wanted rid of the demons that possessed the two men but they lost their pigs. Those pigs were of great value to them. V. 34 “And behold, all the city came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their region.” [ESV]
Abraham – left his homeland, his family, everything he knew (Genesis 12)
Focus on the Person Not Result
“Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” – Colossians 2:7 [NLT]
1 Peter 1:7 These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. [NIV]
I’ve been having a lot of shoulder pain for the past few months. It started to be very bothersome and interrupt my activities of daily living. Someone who knows a thing or two about shoulders has told me I have a weak shoulder. Yes, a weak shoulder. I never thought it could be possible—that I could have a weak shoulder—as I am always active. The problem is the particular area doesn’t do the work as other muscles and it has become too weak to support itself.
So now I am in a lot of pain and lately I find myself with eyes filled with tears as I try to sleep. I find myself having to do exercises to work out the weak area. This therapy is painful. This therapy can be draining or overwhelming. This therapy is necessary.
As God chips away at us, helping to mold us into we are meant to be, we might feel some pain. Change requires loss. We grieve. We drag our feet. We don’t understand. To move along with God and walk alongside Him doing our part, we find ourselves making adjustments to our lives to make room for Him and that can appear overwhelming. We say things like, “I have to wake up earlier so I can get my morning devotion read or it won’t get done” We find ourselves stepping out in faith in small and big ways. Turning down jobs. Traveling to unfamiliar areas. Changing direction. But just as I need this therapy to strengthen my muscle again, so we need God’s Word, His direction, His prodding. I pray today you allow yourself to be molded by our Maker, rejoicing as you trust His perfect plan. Praise Him. Trust Him. Embrace Him. Dig into His Word—not just here and there, but every day. Take it with you. Write it down. Remember it. Cherish it. Eat it. Speak it. Love it. No one who trust God like this – heart and soul – will ever regret it.
“With your whole being you embrace God setting things right, and then you say it, right out loud: ‘God has set everything right between him and me!’ Scripture reassures us, ‘No one who trusts God like this – heart and soul – will ever regret it.’” – Romans 10:10-11 [MSG]
Today when I was walking my dog, he was charged by another dog. I was prepared for the situation; however, because the same dog owner allowed this to happen weeks ago. Last time, he had let his Golden Retriever run loose and the dog came and snapped at my dog. This time, he left his German Shepherd loose, and although there was no snapping, I was not a happy camper at the second episode of negligence.
In life we will meet a person who will do something that irritates us, that hurts us or something that is wrong. We will throw our hands in the air (or sometimes our fists) and demand change. We will get angry. We will say words (sometimes words that are not positive, life speaking words). We will be frustrated by these people who do not do what we want them to do; however, we cannot expect them to change and act as we wish. Nor can we expect someone to follow the commands of God.
I was mad at this man today. He has proven twice that he cannot handle his dogs. The first time I was upset. I was injured. My dog was frightened. It was not a good situation. This second time, though prepared for it, was just as bad. Even so, some people will not change. We can only control our reactions to a situation—not someone else. It is how you react to any given situation that says something about you. I know I do not always react as I should, but I also know that over the years, the Holy Spirit has helped me to react better to each given situation. Don’t let situations and circumstances control you. React with love.
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14 [NLT]
My dog has an obsession with rabbits. When he sees them, he feels the need to go after them. The neighborhood rabbits have become quite familiar with my dog. I have noticed that when we approach the path where the rabbits are gathering, they relocate to the other side of the street. When we turn and come back up the other side of the street, they again travel across the street to get away from my dog. They understand the threat and from their actions it appears that they are protecting their well-being.
Paul tells us to focus on the good things—the pure things of the world. Philippians 4:8 says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things” (NIV). We are to focus on these things because if our eyes go elsewhere we are tempted and there is a threat. Yet, unlike the rabbits, we so often think that we can avoid the situation or threat that arises by standing still amidst the chaos. The rabbits move to the good side of the street—the safe side that promises hope.
Today, consider your focus. Are you focusing on the good things? Are you focusing on what is true, noble, right? Or are you allowing yourself to be knee deep in the bad things, believing that you can handle it? Are you paying attention to lies? Are you keeping yourself in a bad situation instead of crossing the street? Redirect yourself to the true, pure, and excellent.
How many people does it take to change a light bulb? Many people have heard this question asked as part of a joke. This morning I entered the kitchen and realized that it was a bit darker than usual. I looked to where the light usually comes from and noticed that there was a bulb in some cylindrical thing and it was out. I had no clue how to change this bulb or even where I could purchase a replacement bulb. Two months ago, I did not even know that under-the-cabinet lights existed.
It took me quite some time to remove the old bulb. Then I went over to my laptop and started to search for the numbers I found on the bulb. I got a lot of information, but I had to sift through things to make sure it was the correct information. Then it was off to the store and I was so confused when I found all of the different types of bulbs in the lighting supply aisle. There were so many bulbs that looked like the exact same bulb. I had to take the old bulb out and make comparisons. I had to read paperwork. I had to take my time to make the right choice. When I got to the cash register, I told the cashier that I was so nervous to install the bulbs. She could tell that I was in need of a confidence boost and she let me know that I would get the job done, and she even gave me some pointers. She was right!
We are often faced with situations that are new, things that are more grueling and more important than a simple light bulb. We are called to do things that are challenging. We are given work that seems nearly impossible. Some situations overwhelm us if we let them.
What do you do when you have your own light bulb to change? Your light bulb could be anything. You do the same thing you do with anything that comes your way in life.
Things to remember:
* Do not hide from the situation. Hiding from the situation will not make it go away. Remember that you are a child of God (Galatians 3:26). God can do more than you ever could imagine (Ephesians 3:20). If God is for you, what can be against you? (Romans 8:31). Many times, you will find that the situation is a great test of faith which can result in spiritual growth that will help you to one day be complete (James 1:2-4).
* Take it one step at a time. There is usually no need to rush a situation. When Jesus was ministering on earth, notice that He wasn’t rushing around healing and feeding. He took steps. He took time. He left us an example of great patience and self-control. If we practice this behaviors, we are more likely to be successful. Remember that “the steps of a man are established by the LORD, and He delights in his way” (Psalm 37:23 NASB).
* Prepare yourself. Do the research. Read. Learn. Grow. Even when I was changing the light bulb, God’s Word was in my head and heart. Spending time in His Word helps to provide us with what we need when we are facing tough situations. Seek Him for guidance. His Word provides instruction and encouragement (Romans 15:4).
* Do not be afraid to ask for help. Don’t let your pride get in the way. God wants us to be part of a community. We each have our own part to play. We each have different talents, different specialties. We are all given the command to love one another. Sometimes we do the giving, sometimes we do the receiving. We should always seek help from Him. But remember, there are times that we need to ask others for some assistance. People do not always know what is going on in your life and they cannot read your mind. Luke 11 gives us instruction on how to pray as it also tells us of a friend who helps another. The friend is knocking on the door and announcing the need. Sometimes we are the helping friend, sometimes we are the knocking friend.
* Surround yourself with positive people. Positive people will be encouraging. Positive people share, love, and can see the good in things. Proverbs 11:9 states, “With his mouth the godless man destroys his neighbor.” Words are powerful and if you are surrounded by negative people, in time it will start to become your way of life. Proverbs 17:22 says that “a joyful heart is good medicine” (NASB). When you are facing tough situations, it is wonderful to have some “good medicine” from some positive people.
Finally, show yourself some grace. God thinks you are worth it!