March 23: The Strength in Weakness

Read Exodus 6:1-12, 28-30

“. . . I speak with faltering lips . . .”

Perhaps it’s the key to this sixth chapter of Exodus. That Moses would dare utter these words to the very Creator of the lips with which he spoke. The words show up twice (verses 12 and 30), so they must be important.

So let’s talk about faltering lips today.

The Hebrew word is aral. It means uncircumcised. Instituted first by God in His covenant deal with Abraham (see Gen. 10), God required circumcision for all Abraham’s male descendants. It was to be a sign that they belonged to Him. A way for God’s children to be set apart from the rest of mankind.

Could it be that Moses believed his speech impediment kept him from being set apart as God’s mouthpiece? Maybe when Moses told God his lips faltered, he was saying something like, my lips — the way I talk — show no sign of Your hand. My speech does not represent you well. It doesn’t seem to mark me as the one who should speak for God. So how in the world is Pharaoh going to believe me?

But Moses didn’t realize that God shines best through broken, weak people. God speaks most clearly through stuttering lips. “For my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9).

Weakness and brokenness are two of God’s favorite places to shine His power.

All my life, I have struggled with fear. So when God called our family to a year-long adventure in small-town Germany five years ago, it would have made no sense for this scaredy-cat little American to go.

But my weak showed off His strong as He taught me about trusting Him and about the real living He designed for me, for all of us. Then He gave me the strength to write an manifesto about living unafraid. My brokenness proves His strength every time I encourage someone with the truth God is the only One worth fearing.

The truth is, when you and I are weak and broken, God gets to shine even bigger and brighter. There’s more room for Him to show off His amazing. That’s exactly what He did with Moses. It’s what He did with me. It’s what He wants to do in you, too.

Is there part of your life where you feel ill-equipped to follow God’s lead? Why not take this very moment to hand it over to God and let Him show off His strength?

brw

Posted in Out of the Wilderness

March 22: Trust God’s Plan

Read Exodus 5:1-20

“Um, Lord, I thought you called me to this.”

If we read between the lines, we can almost hear the quiver in Moses’ voice. Only his was a bit more extreme. “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me?” (v. 22)

The Israelites wondered too. I mean, no less than one chapter ago, these same people had heard God’s promise for freedom delivered through Moses. And they believed it, bowing down and worshiping Him as a result. (See Ex 4:31.)

It had been the perfect way to send out Moses and Aaron to approach Pharaoh. “Let my people go, that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness” (5:1). But Pharaoh would not have it. In fact, he doubled the work and decreased the resources.

Maybe you can relate, with the demands of your job. Work more but spend less. Oh, and by the way, you’ll have fewer manpower resources at your disposal.

Unreasonable. Impossible. That’s how the Israelites felt. God said He would deliver them, but His Word had only made things worse so far!

It’s easy to read this thousands of years after the fact and see the fickleness of the Israelites. To see God’s mighty hand working His plan in His perfect time and His perfect way. Because most of us know the story. We know how it ends. We know about the Red Sea walls they would eventually walk through. And the nation God would set apart and lead through the desert to the land He had promised their long-ago fathers.

But for the Israelites that day, and for Moses, it was horrible. They were in the thick of the battle. Desperately needing deliverance. Now.

Just one chapter ago, God had assured them that He was watching. He had seen the oppression. He had heard all their cries. He knew. And He was working a plan for their deliverance.

But first, He had some work to do. In Pharaoh. In Moses. In each one of them.

God has a plan for your freedom, too. Freedom to live the real, abundant life He made you for. Is He working to set you free from something even now? Maybe it looks dauntingly impossible. Rest assured, God has a plan for you. Just like He had a plan for them.

brw

Posted in Out of the Wilderness

March 21: Excuses, Excuses!

Read Exodus 3:1-15 and 4:1-17

Like a high-speed chase, God pursued Moses while Moses threw obstacles at Him, trying to get God off his tail. Not to be thwarted, God rammed right through each one. Maybe you’ve thrown similar obstacles . . .

First, Moses threw the obstacle of the Israelites’ disbelief.

When God turned his staff into a serpent, Moses ran. But it wasn’t just the serpent Moses was afraid of. That snake represented all the power of God and all that Moses had tried to hide from when he ran away those years before.

God’s call on Moses’ life meant he would have to face people who neither liked him nor respected him. Moses ran from the staff-turned-serpent like he ran from the heroic desires he’d known in his heart that day he killed the unjust Egyptian.

But now God was calling him back to the dream of freeing his people. God called Moses straight into the thing he feared. He understood Moses’ timidity. He’d seen Moses run away. He was the One who’d put the dream in his heart in the first place.

When Moses finally turned around and grabbed that scary serpent, God miraculously turned his object of fear into an object Moses would use to lead his people out of bondage and into life.

 So Moses threw down the next obstacle for God.

“Oh my Lord, I am not eloquent. I am slow of speech and of tongue” (v. 10).

Apparently Moses had a speech impediment of sorts. Maybe he stuttered. Or had a lisp. But God blew right through that one too. He basically told Moses,  I’m the One doing the talking. You’re just my mouthpiece. I’m the One in charge.”

Still Moses tried to thwart the plan with one last obstacle.

That’s when the LORD’s anger started to burn. This time, Moses said, “Oh, my Lord, please send someone else” (v. 13).

So many times when we look at what God asks of us, we see unscalable mountains. He asks you to share Jesus with your boss. Or show love to a grumpy neighbor who might not accept the gesture. He tells you to walk with Him through the loss of a loved one. To offer hope where it doesn’t look apparent.

But God has it worked out. He is the unstoppable God with a perfect plan for freedom and life. He was then. He is now.

brw

Posted in Out of the Wilderness

March 20: God’s Way Out

Read Exodus 3:1-22

Last time Moses stepped in and tried to save his people from the oppression they faced, he ended up murdering a guy and running away. So when God gave him his mission, Moses needed details. He needed specific words. Definite direction. He wanted to know the name of the One who sent him because Moses knew the Israelites would need some credentials.

God left no question as to what he should say. In fact, He gave Moses three specific messages to deliver to the people. God hooked Moses up with the answers to the questions He knew the people would ask.

1. I AM has sent me.

First and foremost, Moses was to deliver the message that the One who is, who was, who always will be — He is the One whose directive led him to this place. This mission Moses was on, it had nothing to do with Moses this time and everything to do with God.

2. The LORD, the God of your Fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me.

God knew he’d need credentials. What better ones could he give than the very God they followed? The God who’d promised Abraham as many descendants as there were stars in the sky in Genesis 26. He was the God who’d promised Jacob, the man whose name was Israel, to bring him back from Egypt.

Yes, good credentials indeed.

3. Finally, God had a message for the elders of Israel. He wanted Moses to talk to them and tell them these words. “The LORD has appeared to me, saying, ‘I have observed . . . what has been done to you in Egypt . . . I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land . . . flowing with milk and honey” (vv. 16-17).

God had made a promise to the father of this nation, and now He was fulfilling that promise. The God who’d made the promise was the One who would fulfill that promise and deliver His people to real freedom and life.

He is the same God today. Years before Jesus was born, He promised to send a Savior to rescue us from the curse of sin and death. He gave us a way out through Jesus Christ. Just as the Israelites had to trust God’s way for their deliverance, so it is for you and me.

brw

 

Posted in Out of the Wilderness

March 19: Out of the Wilderness

Read Exodus 2:1-24

They were there by order of the Sovereign God. The Lord of all, who’d brought His children to Egypt during the seven-year famine.

Joseph had been the first to arrive (via slave-traders and family scandal), followed years later by his brothers and father, who then settled there and had families. But that was 400 years ago, and the new Pharaoh had no rapport with Joseph. No reason to respect the growing family of Israel. In fact, this Pharaoh was afraid of them and the promise God had given to their father Abraham hundreds of years before.

“I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you”(Gen. 12:1).

So Pharaoh set out to stop the growing numbers by killing off the Israelites baby boys. 

But God had already purposed for their rescue. Having chosen a certain baby boy whose fate seemed hopeless, God would rescue His people whose hope seemed fateful.

His plan, years in the making, was coming into fruition. Even as the king of Egypt tightened his oppressive grip, God’s mighty hand gently shook his man Moses awake to the oppression and injustice.

Even in the desperation, Almighty God had a plan. Even in the desperation and the pain of His children, God saw. He heard. He knew.

Have you been there? Feeling like your fate was hopeless? Wondering if God could hear the groaning of your pain and desperation?

Life deals a hard blow, and it seems like He’s not doing anything about it. A job is lost, and you wonder if God even knows about it. A child gets sick, and it feels like your cries get stuck somewhere between the ceiling and the treetops.

Still, God hears. He sees. He knows.

Just like He did with the Israelites, God has worked a deliverance plan for you and me. Deliverance from this place where tears flow and hearts break and people hurt people and finances crumble.

His plan for the Israelites was called the Exodus from Egypt. His plan for us is called the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In both cases, it real life is the goal. God’s deliverance holds the Good News about His plan for real freedom. His provision for real life through His Son Jesus Christ.

Stick with us for the next several weeks as we journey through the wilderness and into God’s deliverance for His people.

brw

Posted in Out of the Wilderness

March 18: Big and Small Opportunities

Read Luke 10:1-24

For the past few weeks we’ve been focusing on the truth that small choices can make big impact. As we end our journey, we turn our attention to Luke 10.

It begins with a monumental day in the lives of the disciples and the ministry of Jesus.  This day was one towards which the Lord had been looking from the time He had chosen the disciples. He had chosen them, you see, not only to spend time with them, but also that He might “. . . send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons” (Mk. 3:14, 15 NIV). Their commissioning for ministry had always been part of His plan. In many ways, it was for this day that He had prepared them. He had long modeled what they were about to do. And so, with some last minute instruction, He sent them out two by two.

You too have been chosen with a purpose. God has selected you with good works of ministry in mind (Eph. 2:10). And when you choose to respond to even the smallest of those opportunities you can expect two of the same results experienced by those He sent out in Luke 10.

  1. Your small choice to obey and follow Him in ministry can bless others. As the disciples returned, they reported of how demons had departed from people, who had once been plagued by these tormenting spirits (v. 17b). Many people walked in freedom as a result of their obedience. Lives of men and women were transformed because of their efforts. When you become a conduit through which God works others are helped!
  1. Your choice to follow Jesus in ministry can strengthen your joy and faith in Him! The seventy returned with a sense of happy marvel at the idea that they had been used. They had experienced the reality of God working through them and it thrilled them. The pivotal circumstances that enabled them to serve Christ touched a faith nerve in them that could not be fully sensitized by theory or verbal instruction. And the same can happen for you. You will find an obedient response to even the seemingly small opportunities God affords you to be a key catalyst to growing your faith.

What is one small way you can choose to follow Him into an opportunity He’s given you?

sbk

Posted in Big & Little

March 17: Small Choices

Read Joshua 24:1-33

Joshua had long been a part of the Israelite story. He had been part of both the Exodus from Egypt as well as the conquest of the land God had promised His people.

In these, his final recorded words, He took God’s people on a verbal tour of God’s faithful provision in the midst of pivotal circumstances. Among those circumstances were God’s selection and leading of Abraham, His faithfulness to Isaac and Jacob, His deliverance from Egypt through plagues, His rescues at the Red Sea, His provision of victory over the “…ites” (Amorites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Hivites, and Jebusites), and His gift of fruitful land and pre-built cities. To be sure, God had been faithful in the big and the little of their lives.

Have you ever reflected on circumstances of your life? What were some of the highest highs? How about the lowest lows? Can you identify God’s faithful provision along the way? Isn’t it a joy to reflect on those times where He has proven Himself?

Chances are, there may still be question marks over other circumstances. There may still be situations where you are unable to understand God’s plan and purpose. It just isn’t easy to trace. Be careful as you respond to those circumstances. They are pivotal. Your response can either catalyze increased faith and deeper loyalty or growing doubt and a wavering commitment. Small choices often yield big consequences.

In many ways, we are faced daily with the decision that Joshua invited in verse 15:

“. . . choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Even though you may have made the decision to faithfully follow and exclusively serve the Lord twenty years ago, or last year, or even yesterday, there is still today and the need to make small choices today. The pivotal, and perhaps inexplicable, circumstances of today will require that conscious decision whereby you join in with Joshua and say, “as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord!”

sbk

Posted in Big & Little