Exodus

FREE BOOKS 8/1/13-8/5/13!


Exodus 28:30-31:18

I am so excited to share with you that book 2 of the Jesus Loves YOU series is now available in print

and Kindle e-book!

With this book I pass my last high watermark from Season 1 and my attempt to write through the Bible in a Year! Yay! While I read and wrote a lot farther than this book covers, that was as far as I published.

To celebrate this achievement I am offering the first e-book of the Jesus Loves YOU series for FREE from 8/1/13-8/5/13! Click on the book cover and it will take you to Amazon where you can order yours NOW. If you don’t have a Kindle e-reader you can download the free app here to use on your computer, tablet or even your Smartphone!

I would really appreciate it if you would spread the word over the next few days and get as many copies out there as possible. I need some reviews on Amazon and I’ve heard this is a great way to do just that.

So after you read if you would kindly take the time to write a review I would greatly appreciate it!

Enjoy your free books!!! May God richly bless your time with Him through them!

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Building the Tabernacle


Exodus 25:10-28:29

“Then you shall erect the tabernacle according to the plan for it that you were shown on the mountain,” Exodus 26:30

I am so in love with the Holy Spirit and His companionship in my life! There is never a dull moment around here because the Holy Spirit’s one of those teachers that can take something as seemingly boring as the details of how the tabernacle is to be built and turn it into something applicable for my life personally TODAY! The Word of God is alive and active and sharper than a two-edged sword, but when paired with the Holy Spirit, the Word of God is never dull! (I would say pardon the pun, but I TOTALLY intended it!)

You see, God has plans for me. He has plans for YOU. He has plans for our welfare and not for evil, to give us a future and a hope. When we call upon Him, and come and pray to Him, He hears us. When we seek Him with all our hearts we will find Him. (Jeremiah 29:11-13) And when we draw near to Him on the mountaintop through prayer and daily Bible reading He shares those plans with us. It’s amazing!

In today’s reading we find two instances where God, in His instructions on how to build the tabernacle, refers to the “plan for it that [Moses was] shown on the mountain”. (26:30 & 27:8) So here we find that God has shown Moses “the plan”, whether he’s gotten to go visit the heavenly version of the tabernacle or just see the blueprints for it, we’re not sure. But we can infer by the scriptures that he has been shown a picture for it, he’s been given a vision on how it’s supposed to look when finished.

Proverbs 29:18 tells us that “where there is no vision, the people perish; but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” (KJV) And I have found this proverb to be so true! When I’m moving forward but I haven’t received “the plan” yet, I make myself sick with worry that I’m going to do it wrong. OR, I’ve received the plan (aka His command or law) but I’m not following it, I make myself miserable trying to do things my way instead of His. Ahhhh…. and therein lies the rub. Because, while God is usually more than happy to share His plans with us on the mountaintop, Satan is always more than happy to steal them as soon as we get back down and try to carry them out.

Satan is doing everything in his power to stop us from carrying out God’s will. But he can’t curse what has been blessed by God. He can try, but he won’t succeed. Especially if we understand the way things work around here and remember WHO is in charge.

We are children of God (John 1:12) we are co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17) WE are the authority over Satan and his minions, NOT the other way around. Just look at the reaction of the seventy-two disciples that Jesus sent ahead of Him into the surrounding cities.

“The seventy-two returned with joy, saying ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’ And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17-20)

My friends, I would like to point out that this was BEFORE the cross, before the resurrection and before the Holy Spirit had been given to them!!! And these were not the top twelve disciples either. These were the guys that were left over after the twelve had already been chosen. That means that this is a gift that is TOTALLY available to us now. Any of us. Whether we feel like we’re in the top twelve or the bottom seventy-two, if we have chosen to follow Christ we have been given dominion over the Enemy!

In the Garden of Eden God cursed the serpent and told him that while he would bite our heels, we would crush his head. (Genesis 3:15) Wouldn’t you say that this statement from Jesus (Luke 10:17-20) would be a fulfillment of that curse upon the serpent and his descendants?

 

So yes, while Satan may be doing everything in his power to foil our plans to glorify God, his power is nothing compared to the power living and breathing and dwelling within our chests! We have been given power and dominion over Satan. We have been given a direct line to the King of kings and the Lord of lords. We have been given HIS SPIRIT to tap into at any point that we choose.

There is NOTHING that Satan can do to you. Except convince you that none of what I just told you is true. And that’s precisely what he does. He convinces us that we’re powerless against him. That there is no way that we will be able to accomplish whatever task God has placed before us and has asked us to help Him with. Sure He could do it on His own, but then we wouldn’t be part of the blessing or the miracle and He wants to include us in them because He loves us. So He takes us up onto the mountain, shows us the impossible plan, then sends us back down the mountain to carry it out. Where we find we can’t; not by ourselves anyway.

And that’s the whole point. His plans for us are not small, they are not insignificant, they are not minor, they’re IMPOSSIBLE. And the ONLY way that we can accomplish them is to call on Him for help with every single step of the process. Why? Because while we’re building the tabernacle, He’s building us.



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YOU are Made in His Image

Exodus 21:17-25:9

“‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.’ And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.'” Exodus 24:7-8

Moses covered the people with the blood of the sacrifice in order to seal the covenant. God covered Adam and Eve’s sin with the blood of a sacrifice, just like He covered YOUR sin with the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.

On that day Jesus gave up EVERYTHING to be the perfect sacrifice for you so that you could once again enter into the Garden of Eden without fear of death or shame. While the Israelites through countless generations had to offer up sacrificial animal after innocent sacrificial animal, time and time again. Jesus’ blood is so much more effective than the blood of bulls and goats. While the blood of animals is innocent, it’s not knowledgeable. The animals have no choice in the matter; they are grown to be killed as a sacrifice. Jesus on the other hand, not only had choice, he had will. In the Garden of Gethsemane on the night that He was betrayed He had every opportunity to run and hide from the guards and avoid the inevitable. But He didn’t do it. He chose to do the hardest and most horrible thing that anyone in all of history ever has or will ever have to do. He BECAME the sacrificial lamb, perfect and spotless. He CHOSE to offer Himself up for YOU in order to spill His perfect blood for YOU and cover over your sins so that you could once again enter the presence of God without fear or shame. And what’s more, He made a way for you to be in His presence and never leave it again by giving up His Spirit at His death so that He could come and live in your heart all the days of your ETERNAL life!

Now THAT’S my GOD! He is no longer a God who, because He is just, is forced to push His Beloved Ones away. He is a God who calls us each by NAME to His lap on His throne.

Sunday after church I went up to the speaker and hugged her with every fiber of my being and thanked her for giving the message of His heart. He wants us to worship Him.

My friend, do you know what worship is? It’s drawing near to God. It’s touching the hem of His garment, hearing the beat of His heart as you lean against your Papa’s chest and twirl His long white beard in your fingers. It’s singing until there is no breath left in your chest because it’s heaving with sobs of gratitude for being allowed to enter and just be in His presence. It’s lying down on your couch and just thinking about how awesome He is. He DIED for you. No matter what hard or painful things are going on in your life, just that one Truth is enough to bring you to your knees in gratitude if you allow that Truth to sink in and consume your consciousness. He died for YOU. Who else in your life can you say that about? He died so that He wouldn’t have to spend another single day without you in His presence.

And the awesome thing is, through the gift of the Holy Spirit living in your heart, He is with you EVERYWHERE; whether you’re hanging out at the beach or a strip club, at church or a bar. It doesn’t matter where you are, what you’re doing, or who you’re with Jesus is always with you. You need only to acknowledge His presence wherever you are.

And the thing is, the more you acknowledge His presence in your life, and the more time you spend in His Word the more you begin to recognize His voice and feel his gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) nudges. And the more you get to know Him, the more you begin to care about how He feels about you. And the more you care about how God feels about you, the less you care about how others feel about you. Until you get to the point when you can sit on a stage, a weeping sobbing mass of tears and look out at your friends and say to them, “I don’t care what you think of me.” And really mean it.

Suddenly you will find yourself standing next to a giant of a man with an incredibly intimidating voice telling you something that lines up with the letter of the scripture, but not the spirit and simply nod your head and smile at him letting him think you agree when all the while you’re standing there thinking how sorry you feel for him that he just hasn’t discovered that point of Grace yet. You find yourself standing before people in earthy authority over you saying something to you that a few years earlier would have sent you fleeing to your room in tears for weeks, now rolls off your back like water on a duck.

(All personal experiences, by the way.)

I am amazed at how far I have come in four short years of studying the Word of God like a good student studies for finals. I have spent concentrated time in the Word of God and discovered parts of His heart scattered through it like gems in a mine. The more I read the more I find, and the more I realize how little I know. Yet when I look at me and the person I am today I can honestly say that I am not who I used to be. I have been made new! But the funny thing is, I’ve been new all along! It’s just taken me a long time to discover who this new me is and what she looks like and sounds like. And I know that I will continue doing that throughout the rest of my life! And the really cool thing is, I’m Him. The more I discover about Jesus the more I discover about myself. I was made in the image of God! YOU were made in the image of God!

You know how you can try something on at the store and love it. And then try it on again when you get home and it just doesn’t look the same in your mirror at home as it did in the mirror at the store. Usually it’s the angle of the mirror and the difference in lighting that makes things look differently.

So often, Satan tries to get us to look at ourselves through his mirror, through his way of thinking. He plants seeds of Doubt and Shame and Fear into our minds to make us think less of ourselves than we should.

But God wants us to see ourselves through His mirror. He wants us to remember that we were made in God’s image that through the blood of Christ we have been forgiven completely of any wrongdoing that we have or EVER will do. He wants us to remember that we are the children of God Almighty, King of kings and Lord of lords! We were LOVINGLY knit together in our mother’s womb by the hands of the creator of the UNIVERSE with such tender care that each and every one of us is DIFFERENT. God didn’t just stick Adam and Eve into a Xerox machine and hit the copy button, He took the time, and care and love to make each and every one of us individually according to the way HE wanted us to turn out. We’re all fearfully and wonderfully made in His image, yet all DIFFERENT; because, not one of us can accurately portray all of Him at once.

How great is our God that He is ONE God with so many aspects to His character that He has to fill the Earth over and over again with all these different parts of Himself throughout thousands of generations! We’re all pieces of Him!

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Psst! Come Near!

Exodus 17:1-21:16

I was paid one of the highest complements yesterday. I was quoted from the pulpit, in a positive light! I’ve been serving on the praise team for a few months now in this new church. And a few weeks ago I was approached before church and given a challenge to do something I was already doing. I took it as a complement, but at the same time my flesh wanted to be insulted by it. Because although I knew I was already doing this, it apparently wasn’t coming across as though I was.

I took this burden up onto stage with me at the beginning of service and began laying it on the altar as I sang. And of course, the more I sang the closer I drew to God and the brighter His light shone on the truth. I am doing what He wants me to do and no one can ask more of me than that.

In that moment, right on stage, I fell to my knees in gratitude and revelation. And through the tears that streamed down my face and blurred my vision I looked out at the congregation and told them about the first time I got up on a stage to sing for a praise team and really wanted to raise my hand in praise but I was too terrified to do it. Inside I wanted to lose myself in praise of Him, but outside I was afraid of what everyone watching me would think. “Oh, she’s just one of those crazy hand-raisers.” And then during the song, the Holy Spirit said to me, “I know you want to raise your hand to praise Me, go ahead and do it.” “But LORD, they’re watching me!” And He said, in one of the most pained voices I’ve ever felt, “Are you ashamed of Me and what I’ve done for you?” “NO!” I thought as my hand shot up in the air where it has stayed ever since.

As I told this story to my congregation I explained how, as they could see (indicating my prone position on the floor with tears streaming down my face), I’m not worried about losing myself in worship of Him anymore because, “I don’t care what you think of me”.

They laughed, and some of my friends even clapped. Well, apparently that really stuck with the speaker because she used it for a part of her sermon this week.

Part of today’s reading reminds me of this.

“And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down and warn the people, lest they break through to the LORD to look and many of them perish. Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, lest the LORD break out against them.’ And Moses said to the LORD, “The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and consecrate it.'” Exodus 19:21-23

In the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve walked with God and talked to Him face to face without shame or fear of death, yet here we see the LORD telling His people to “stay back” and “don’t come near or you will die”. What
happened in the time between to cause such a change of reaction from God? Well, Adam and Eve chose to believe Satan instead of God. This caused them to hide from God rather than run to Him when He entered the garden. It also resulted in the first bloody sacrifice in order to cover their naked sin with animal skin. (Genesis 3:21)

Yet still today there are those who run from the presence of God rather than to Him. Why?

Perhaps, they haven’t been introduced to the Truth yet.

His name is Jesus.

“I am the Truth, the Way and the Life. No one come to the Father except through Me.” – John 14:6

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Dry Ground & Muddy Wheels

Let’s try this again! “Someone” must not want you to see this one…

Exodus 13:1-16:36

“And in the morning watch the LORD in the pillar of fire and of cloud looked down on the Egyptian forces and threw the Egyptian forces into a panic, clogging their chariot wheels so that they drove heavily. And the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from before Israel, for the LORD fights for them against the Egyptians.” Exodus 14:25

Tell me, if this ground had been buried under the Red Sea for years and years and years, wouldn’t it be a safe assumption that it would be a muddy sloppy mess waaaay down deep into the ground? Yet scripture tells us over and over that the ground was dry when the Israelites were walking across it. That may be a small fact that we pass right by when we’re reading something as awesome as the parting of the Red Sea, but it’s not a small fact at all! The ground was DRY; as in packed, hard, dirt and dust flying from feet pounding as they’re hurrying across the sea bed. Yet somehow, by the time the Egyptians go to cross this very same ground, their wheels get clogged and heavy.

Now I did a little digging on my own, through several different translations of this word “clogged”. It seems that there are two ways that the translators like to define it. Either they say “clogged” or they say “separated”. However the rest of the verse, “so that they drove heavily” is either translated “heavily” or “with difficulty”.

Don’t you think that if your chariot wheels, built light for speed and agility, getting clogged with heavy mud would tend to make you drive heavily and with difficulty and perhaps even cause your wheels to separate from your chariot?

But wait, how would that happen if the ground was still dry like it was for the Israelites?

Seriously, how awesome is our God? I mean really! First of all, to even part the sea in the first place, that’s just awesome. But then, like a cherry on top of an ice cream Sunday with whipped cream, He not only parts the sea, but makes the land dry so that their feet don’t get muddy and heavy. You know, because that would make it really hard for them to run across like He told them to. Oh! But wait! It gets better! Because just as the Israelites are finishing crossing, the miracle of the parting is beginning to wear off. The dry ground suddenly isn’t so dry anymore. The walls of water don’t seem quite so tall any more. The ground that was so easy to travel on earlier is not suddenly sticky with mud that’s getting trapped in the chariot wheels, slowing them down and making them simply fall apart! “Ummmm… guys, I think we should get out of here… This YHWH guy, yeah…. I think He’s fighting for the Israelites. Annnnd… I think He’s going to win against us.” WHOOSH!

“Heh, heh, heh, heh, Buh-Bye Egyptian warriors!”

You want to know what I think is really awesome? What Moses said BEFORE all that happened.

The Egyptian army is pressing in on them; they’re literally stuck between the Sea and the army – a rock and a hard place. Talk about the pressure being on! They are that mouse being squeezed until it squeaks! And look! What is it that they do in that moment?

“Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt; ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” (Exodus 14:11-12)

They squeak! They squeak and the overflow of their heart pours forth as speech. Do you really think they BELIEVE that they would have been better off in Egypt as slaves? Of COURSE they don’t! For years they had been crying out to God to save them from their slavery! But in that moment their hearts are so filled with Fear that they do the thing that we all seem to do in the face of Fear. Freak out. We say things that in our spirit we know aren’t true, yet it’s how we are truly feeling at the moment. We are so desperate for release from the pressure that we’ll say just about anything to keep from being crushed. And it is in that moment that we realize how humanly powerless we truly are. We are weak and fragile beings that no matter how strong and mighty we think we are, we are ALWAYS in desperate need of a Savior.

We are in need of a God who says to us, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall NEVER see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:13-14)

Be still and know that HE IS GOD! Yesterday, in my dream, when I stood face to face with pure evil there was nothing that I could do to save myself. And I didn’t have to! Because in the face of the most dangerous being in the universe, God took over for me. I fought until I was at the end of my ability to defend myself and then God took over from there. He defended me when I wasn’t able. He shielded me completely from the curse of the Enemy. What God has blessed NO ONE can curse! Not even Satan himself!

Stop fighting a fight that’s already been won! Jesus has overcome! Yes we will have trials in this world, but Jesus has overcome and so can we! We have been born into the kingdom of God where we now belong to the family of overcomers! YOU are an overcomer. Whatever trial or pressure that you’re facing today, you can and will overcome it! It will pass and you will have been delivered from it, and you will turn back around to look at the Enemy who has been chasing after you and you will LAUGH as they drown in your miracle!

Is that not the most beautiful picture? Satan is drowning in YOUR miracle. The very thing that God did to save us, is the very thing that swallows Satan alive and spits him out dead on the shore afterwards. HALLELUJAH!

That’s MY God! The God who doesn’t just save, He destroys the thing I needed saving from!

“The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained. But the people of Israel walked on dry ground through the sea, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.” Exodus 14:28-29

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Dry Ground & Muddy Wheels

Exodus 13:1-16:36

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His Spirit IN Me


Exodus 9:13-12:51

“It was a night of watching by the LORD.” Exodus 12:42

Last night the LORD gave me a dream and I’d like to share the last part of it with you. I was in a town park late at night in the middle of winter and there was snow all over in deep piles. Amongst the piles of snow there were fires scattered here and there as if it were a campground. A young boy came to me and said something to me to get me to follow him to his home. As I attempted to follow him I quickly lost him in his “home” under piles of snow. It was as if they had built a blanket fort and then piled snow on top of the blankets in order to hide the glow from a devilish fire that was raging inside the “tent”.

As I walked around the “home” searching for an entrance to the place I began to feel very uneasy and realized that this had been a trap set for me. The young child had drawn me near to this place of hidden evil beneath a cloak of pure white snow. A place that from a distance looked harmless and pure, yet from up close I could instantly tell that it was nothing of the sort. The eery orange glow that emanated between the cracks in the piles of snow just screamed get away. Just as I decided to leave I slipped at the top of a pile of snow and slid down to the bottom landing precariously next to another pile with that horrible light. As I slid to a stop, part of the base of the other pile slid away and there was an eye in the hole that was created. It had been closed, but with the movement of the snow the eye opened. Frightened I held my breath and closed my eyes willing myself to sink deeper into the snow I had fallen into. And that’s when I noticed my clothes; they were the same color as the snow AND covered in the same little piles of snow! Placing myself in stark contrast to the inside of the “home” which I could now see into quite plainly through the hole my fall had created.

The eye looked straight at me, but didn’t see me! But then the very evil man connected to that eye sat up and opened both eyes to see more clearly. It was at this point that he spotted me, grabbed me by the arm and pulled me into the “home”.

Once inside, it was a full sized building with room after room after room. Although it looked like a small blanket fort from the outside, it was cavernous from the inside! In the face of this man, so obviously connected with evil I had no fear and simply walked away from him into another room. His wife on the other hand was another story. She shrilled a scream of terror at my presence in their “home”. I terrified HER! She screamed for her husband to call “Sven” – whoever he was. I noticed that she had my son and my dog so I went over to them and grabbed them to shake them awake out of whatever trance they had been in to keep them there. And I told them to RUN! Which they did. Then I picked up one of the woman’s DVD’s from off the floor. It was in a white case that looked good, but when I opened it up the DVD was a Zombie movie. I popped the DVD out of the case and held it out in front of me taunting her, “what are you gonna do about it?” She was terrified that I was going to break it. So I, of course, broke it and took the halves of the broken DVD and got close enough to her to scrape one of her wrists with the jagged edges, but she didn’t bleed (which I found interesting).

Then Sven entered the room. He was by far THE most evil thing I had seen in this dream! He looked like a modern day vampire in every sense of the word. His eyes were completely black, his skin was pasty white, yet had the same evil orange glow as the light that was coming from all these rooms. And he HATED me; as terrified as the wife had been of me, that’s how much he hated me. And …I was a little concerned with him. It was as if I had perhaps met my match in this Sven. He was pulling something out of his pocket; something that I knew had the power to destroy me. I stepped backwards into a little space between bookshelves, or furniture of some sort, and I could feel a change in the room. It was as if I had just stepped over a line they had created to trap me and they were happy about it. But they didn’t know that it wasn’t going to work on me. I jumped up onto a desk in the room so that I was standing taller than he was (which was for some reason important, perhaps because I am so short in real life I don’t know). And at the same moment that he opened up another white DVD case to show me the DVD inside, I did the only thing I could think of to do, I began to speak in tongues against him. I may have only gotten one word out, but it was enough. I stood there in complete awe as a bright pure white bubble formed around me, totally encapsulating me and protecting me from all the curses Sven was attempting to throw my way. Nothing he did worked. I just stood there looking at him through my pure white bubble of light. And through the bubble I could read something written in blood backwards, the “line” I had crossed was a curse they had written in blood in order to trap me. But it didn’t work, because I have the blood of our spotless lamb of God, JESUS CHRIST smeared on the doorposts of my heart for all eternity. I have been sealed in His Holy Spirit as a signpost above the home of my heart that I belong to HIM and therefore “the destroyer is not allowed to enter my house to strike me”. (Exodus 12:23)

My friends, if you have not witnessed the baptism of the Holy Spirit I strongly encourage you to seek it out! It is a PROTECTION from the Enemy that you can not match with anything else. Just like the Israelites had to be circumcised in order to take part in the Passover dinner to remain completely safe from the destroyer, we too need to have our hearts circumcised by the Holy Spirit! Only His circumcision doesn’t hurt, it HEALS! I’ve been reading The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson (fabulous book, highly recommend it to EVERYONE), and in this book David recounts the story of several boys who were heavily addicted to Heroine who were completely freed from this addiction when they accepted Christ as their savior and asked Jesus to baptize them in His Holy Spirit; to be sealed for His purposes in their life. Time after time these boys told David that that was the moment they truly felt free from their addiction. When the Holy Spirit came in and flooded their heart with His presence.

There were a few that had, after receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, had returned to the drug, only to find that it didn’t work for them anymore. Although they succumbed to the tremendous pull and temptation of the drug, it no longer held the euphoria that it had in the past. Now instead of the drug having them in its grip, GOD had them in HIS.

The power of God is available to us through His Spirit. We need only ask Him for it and be willing to receive it. He is faithful and He gives His Spirit to us willingly!

“And I tell you, ‘ask and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent, or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” Luke 11:9-13

“If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light”. Luke 11:36

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Whatever you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

If you would like to know more about the Teen Challenge Program (they help addicts kick their addictions) or find a location near you, click here.

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New Beginnings

Word of the DayExodus 5:1-9:12

“But Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the LORD that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD and moreover, I will not let Israel go.'” Exodus 5:2

The Israelites were on the cusp of something new, something wonderful and miraculous. They were about to witness things the LORD had never shown anyone before them. He was about to deliver them out of slavery in such a mighty and miraculous way that the enemies of the Israelites would fear them for GENERATIONS afterwards. Not because they feared the Israelites, but because they feared their GOD. God was about to do something for these people that the entire world is still talking about today!

In the story of the fall of Jericho, Rahab shares with the two spies how terrified everyone is of them,

“I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Seas before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath.” Joshua 2:9-11

Even 40 years after these Israelites left Egypt everyone is trembling in their boots because the Israelites have their sights set on Jericho. And most of the people inside the “impenetrable” wall know that the God who is able to part the Red Sea and then the Jordan just so that His people don’t have to get their feet a little wet, well, an impenetrable wall probably isn’t too difficult for Him to penetrate.

But in today’s reading, none of that has happened yet. Today, we find the Israelites still dwelling in Egyptian slavery waiting to be rescued just like the LORD told them they would be. Yesterday found Moses at the burning bush getting his marching orders from I AM. Today we see him entering into the presence of Pharaoh who is believed to be a god by his own people. (That’s funny, in the matter of just a couple of weeks Moses has been in the presence of THE God and a “god”. Sorry, I just found that humorous enough to point out.) Anyway, an interesting and yet not altogether surprising thing happens when Moses tells Pharaoh to let his people go. Pharaoh gets mad and tells him “No.” Shocking right?

If you were Pharaoh and some slave representative comes to you in the name of some God you’ve never heard before (because remember, up to Moses at the burning bush the Israelites didn’t even have a name for their God), and tells you that this “god” is commanding you to let all your slave labor go, do you really think you would do it? Of course not! You’d laugh in their face; which is exactly what Pharaoh did and more. He made the Israelites’ brick-making work harder by taking away their straw.

Here they were, Moses, their deliverer has come to save them and ends up making their work harder for them. “Thanks a lot Moe. Way to save us.”

My point is this. Many of us are on the cusp of something truly miraculous; a spectacular deliverance that the world has never seen before. But with that comes change. Change is uncomfortable. Like birthing a child, the pain will be temporary and worth it, but it will definitely be present.

The Israelites had to go out and find stubble for their bricks, their water turned to blood too, the frogs were in their beds, and the gnats were everywhere the Israelites were. These Israelites experienced the plagues right along with the Egyptians. Perhaps, the LORD did this for the purpose of testing and strengthening their faith in Him. It’s hard to say and God doesn’t really explain Himself on this one. But considering the week I’ve had this week, that’s what I think it was for.

I think He tells us what His plans are and then circumstances arise that fly in direct opposition to what He just told us. Will we believe what God has told us? Or will we believe what our circumstances are telling us? Will we stand firm in our faith that God is good? Or will we cave under the pressure of our circumstances?

A little while back I was “feeling the pressure” and was frustrated by what was going on around me. As I prayed. I don’t even remember what it was that I was praying, I only remember what God showed me. In a vision he showed me holding a little white mouse in my hand. I wasn’t holding it with my hand open palm up, but rather with my hand closed around it. The little head and ears were poking out the top of my hand near my thumb and its sweet little tail was sticking out the bottom by my pinkie. And ever so slightly my hand tightened around the mouse until it squeaked, letting me know that the pressure was too great, at which point I released the mouse.

It is out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks. God was showing me in this illustration how He works our circumstances for our good. He uses our circumstances to increase the pressure surrounding us until we squeak. And we can then HEAR what is filling our own hearts. Remember, tests aren’t for God to know what’s in us, He already knows. But we don’t; therefore the tests are for US to discover what’s in our hearts. When we squeak, I mean, speak out in our circumstantial pain, we are able to hear our hearts speak out the true root of what is troubling us.

In the plagues of Egypt God was encountering each of the Egyptian gods. It was like He was walking along the shelf of Egyptian idols flicking each of them over as He went down the line.

He does the same thing in our lives! Hallelujah! Although we fall into idol (or idle) worship, God isn’t willing to allow us to stay in that place! He will knock that idol down taking away whatever it was that we were trusting in instead of Him.

Writing that I’m realizing that this last month has been a month where God knocked down my god of “predictability”. For the first month of summer I had a schedule (written out even) that I stuck to like glue. But then June turned into July and everything seemed to change. It was really only a couple of things that changed, but without that piece of paper telling me what to do at what time I felt lost and confused and frustrated. Then God dropped a bomb on me that things would be changing around here. Drastically. And I WASN’T happy about it. This last month has been me fighting with God about things changing. I didn’t want them to change, I wanted to keep doing what I had been doing, the way I had been doing it. Period. I didn’t want MORE work to do. My life had become predictable and I liked that. I knew what to expect and I knew what was expected of me. I was comfortable.

Then I was told to get a job, I haven’t had one in years. Next I was told to take on the Women’s Ministry Directorship, never done that before, I have no human training in theology, no certificates of completion to prove my qualification for the position, yet other women in the church that I will be leading do. This leaves me feeling terribly naked and vulnerable. Yet God says, “Trust Me”. (Yesterday’s post)

God just said to me, “How do you think Joseph felt when Pharaoh told him to lead the country? He’d never done THAT before either. But he managed with quite well with My help don’t you think?” “Yes, Lord.” (giggle)

This last month I have felt like that little mouse in the hand of the Master being squeezed until I squeaked. Not out of abuse or sheer meanness, but out of PURE LOVE. I was scared, which caused all kinds of reactions in me, but I didn’t know what it was I was scared of and why. Without the pressure I never would have squeaked out what was in my heart which allowed me to hear what I was feeling and made it possible for me to DEAL WITH IT. I can’t give something to God if I don’t know I have it. If I have a fear of failure, but never step out in faith giving me opportunity to fail then I would never be able to give my failures to God. (Huh, I just found out I have a fear of failure. Lord, it’s YOURS! Please take it!)

My friends, we DO stand on the cusp of something big and exciting today. I know I’m not the only one. Let’s step out in faith, having handed our fear of failure to the LORD our GOD. Sure, we may not get everything right the first time, but that’s OK. Just as long as we get back up and try again. After all, if you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.

Categories: 365 Life, Exodus, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Audacious Hope


Exodus 1:1-4:31

“When she could hide him [Moses] no longer she took for him a basket made of bulrushes and daubed it with bitumen and pitch. She put the child in it and placed it among the reeds by the river bank.” Exodus 2:3

A mother’s love for her child is an amazing thing. We will defend our children at any cost. But sometimes the best way to protect them is to let them go.

Moses had grown too large to stay hidden any more. The officials were bound to find him sooner or later. Now we have no way of knowing what his mother was thinking. Was she hoping that he would float to a safe distant city down the river where a kindly farmer would find him? Did she actually have the princess in mind when she put him in the reeds? We have no way of knowing what her ultimate hope was for her precious son. But we do know this; in order to keep him alive, she had to let him go. And we can only imagine the pain that must have caused her. Yet she still had hope. Hope in her God that He would protect this son that was so obviously special. He had survived those three months without being discovered and immediately killed that was no small feat. God had managed to keep him alive this long, perhaps He would continue to bless little Moses and keep him alive long enough to find a new family to care for him.

I doubt that she could have imagined what came next. The audacity of hoping that not only by letting him go, he would end up coming back to her and she would get PAID to do the very thing she wanted to do in the first place. Mother her child. But beyond that, to then be able to watch him grow and flourish while living in the palace as the Pharoah’s grandson! He was right under the nose that had been trying to kill him in the first place.

We all have things in our lives that are REALLY hard to give up. Things that mean the whole world to us. Things that are so much a part of ourselves that it hurts when we let them go, Moses was her child, he was her flesh and blood. He was a part of her heart living outside her body. But in order to see him even have a chance at life, she had to let him go. And I believe that she clung to that audacious hope that somehow he would survive and she would get to see him again before she died. But even if she didn’t, she would know in her heart that she did everything she could to help him survive.

Categories: 365 Life, Exodus, Writing Through the Bible in a Year | Leave a comment

Why?

Today’s Reading: Exodus 38:21-40:38

2 AM

LORD,

Thank You for the opened eyes through fear. For understanding that no matter what Satan does to harm, no matter what we foolishly do, we are playing directly into Your Almighty hands. LORD, I thank You for Your plans, that they are not plans for harm and that Your ways, Your methods of achieving Your Almighty plans simply are not our simple ways. Papa, Your perfect love is what casts out fear, so will You please shine Your love on this tortured world so filled with fear? Oh Lord, we need You down here! We need open eyes to Your grace and closed eyes to this fear-filled place.

How long Lord? How long has it been since I’ve written directly to You? I’m sorry it’s been so long – I’m sure You’ve missed me. And I apologize that it took terror in the night to achieve a letter like this.

And Oh the terror, the demonic sounding dog roaming the deserted streets in late night air and filling it with its tortured snarls and indiscernible barks. To a sleepless mother with heightened senses something within her shakes, something breaks. Tortured souls surround us all – yet we remain unbroken, unshaken, eyes closed. Always closed. Closed eyes, closed ears, closed minds, closed hearts, closed fists, wide open mouths. Who is wrong, pointing fingers – pain. Everywhere pain.

Lord, for months now I’ve prayed this Morning Prayer You gave me to pray, every morning. I’ve lived with myself laid wide open and bare for all to see, for You to fill. And You HAVE! Oh how You have opened my eyes to see Your marvelous light, Your abundant life through that lighted tunnel, and I took that tunnel, I dug that tunnel, scratched my way bit by bit to the surface from underground darkness. I was on that mountaintop with You, above the clouds of light, above the fear of night, above the darkness and death and all the closed. Lord, I wanted to build a shelter there to dwell there with You in Your glory-filled light, why can’t we live on the mountain top Papa? Why can’t we stay there basked in Your transfiguration? Why do we have to come back down into the closed, into the death into the torture? If you led me to scratch my way to this mountaintop surface can’t You lead them out on their own too? I left a bread crumb trail of how I got here, can’t they just follow that? Why do I have to go back? I don’t want to go back…

I know, I know that I sound like a persistent child asking why? But isn’t that what I am? Your child. And I know that they say real faith doesn’t ask why it simply trusts, or at least that’s what I’ve heard. But isn’t it possible to trust AND still ask why? Inquisitive minds want to know. Why Lord?

Why does someone always have to be right? Superior to others, pushing them down in the process of proving their right-ness… their good-ness and the other person’s evil-ness, their sin. Why do we all seem to be on a constant sin hunt rather than a goodness hunt? We have our eyes wide open to sin but shut tight to Grace, to Love, to Light, to Goodness. We relish in focusing on the one negative and lose sight of all the positives.

Why?

Why do I bemoan the sleepless night when I could rejoice in the golden opportunity of sweet solitude of uninterrupted conversation with You? Why do I fear the terror of the valley of darkness when I should be fearing no evil? Yet how can I not be afraid with ears now wide open? Ears that have heard and know her shepherd’s voice, they can discern… they weep.

Lord, living wide open hurts. To see You is glorious – don’t get me wrong – but to know You, and Your true light has placed into stark contrast the darkness of the false light I once lived in. The room I made my home and called the house of light was never the light I thought it was. It was the pit, it was captivity, and it was sin. That place I have tunneled from, it was all I knew it was all I had; my eyes were closed to the stone coldness of my heart in my sin -hunt to prove my own right-ness, my own righteousness. I was hell-bent on being right and never being proven, or even thought to be wrong. Yet the harder I tried to be right, to think right, to live right and do right the more I was doing wrong.

Lord, that’s the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil isn’t it; right-ness and wrong-ness and constantly feeling like we have to prove ourselves. Prove ourselves right or prove ourselves wrong and come hell or high water we will do it too! We will go to any lengths in order to prove that we are good and others are evil. But we are ALL made in Your good image aren’t we? Don’t we all have Your sweet breath filling our lungs, Your able hands knitting us together in our mother’s wombs? Yet all we seek to find in one another is the darkness. What about the goodness?

Lord, I am that tortured soul wandering through the town crying out in the darkness! Papa my soul cries out “Why can’t we all just be nice? My soul pleads “Lord why?!?! Why darkness? Why pain? Why death? Why? Why? Why?” And the only answer I get is simply “Because.” Like a Father tired of listening to complaints all day, “Because I said so.”

Lord, I will take the good with the evil. I will take the pleasure with the pain. I will take the sweet with the bitter and I will say “Thank You” for it all. I don’t have to understand it all, other than to understand that I can’t understand it at all. But I will choose to trust in You, I will trust in Your grand scheme of things and I will roll with these punches, I will feed on them and allow them to strengthen me. I will trust that they are not harming me but rather helping me. That they are not hindering me but propelling me to the necessary place I need to be.

Lord, I choose to rejoice in this pit of darkness where I dwell once again. Not because it is dark, but because You are my light; because although I may sit in darkness the LORD will be my Light. Lord, I will choose the goodness hunt; I will hunt and collect Your moments of grace. All of them. Not just the pleasant ones, but the bitter ones as well. I will count the scars with the blessings and I will choose to remember Your deliverance. Just like the Israelites experienced the first of the plagues before You delivered them from their plague of slavery I will rejoice in Your deliverance during the plagues. Lord, I will rejoice in a home-sick heart that longs to be in its heavenly home because I know that the homesickness will make the homecoming just that much sweeter. Papa, I miss You. Like a camper who wants to come home saying send food, send money, I miss You.

Sincerely,

Your Beloved

(There, now perhaps my tortured soul can rest!)

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