Words Matter

Today’s Reading:  Judges 11-12

Today as we study Judges 11-12, we are focused on the Life of Jephthah.  I know I’ve read this story before, but only because I read the whole Bible in 2016.  When I read it again this week, I didn’t remember it.  Perhaps because I’m still not sure how to pronounce Jephthah’s name.  But more likely because it is an awful story.

According to Judges 11, Jephthah was the son of Gilead, a great warrior, and a prostitute.  Jephthah’s half-brothers ran him off to keep him from getting any of his father’s inheritance.  When the Ammonites were attacked the nation of Israel, they went to find Jephthah and recruited him to lead their army.  We know from Jephthah’s response, he was faithful to God.

“If I come with you and if the Lord gives me victory over the Ammonites, will you really make me ruler overall the people” (Judges 11:9)?

Long story short, Jephthah became commander of the Israelite army and led them into battle with the Ammonites.  His faith, however, didn’t keep him from making a rash, foolish promise to God.

“If you give me victory over the Ammonites, I will give to the Lord the first thing coming out of my house to greet me when I return in triumph.  I will sacrifice it as a burnt offering (Judges 11:30-31).

When Jephthah returned from the battle, his daughter was the first person out to meet him to celebrate the victory.  Verse 39 then tells us that Jephthah kept his vow.  Ugh.  Didn’t I say this story was awful?  Is it true?  Could Jephthah really have offered his daughter as a burnt offering to God?  Was that what God really expected?  To be honest, I’m not sure.  After reading a few arguments why Jephthah’s follow through may have been literal and others why it likely was not, I settled on this – for our purposes today, I’m not sure it really matters.  What I know for sure is God’s word is true, and God keeps his promises, without exception.  In the same way, God expects us to be truthful, and God expects us to keep our word, without exception.

Whether or not Jephthah’s vow was literal or not, we know that keeping his word came with a hefty price (Judges 11:34-35 gives evidence of his heartache).  We also know that God honored his faithfulness, as Hebrews 11:32 identifies Jephthah’s faith story along with those of Gideon, Barak, Samson, David, Samuel and all the prophets.

My challenge for us today is to think about the words we use, they matter.  Not keeping our word and/or telling half-truths are just different forms of lying.  All are displeasing to God and come with pretty serious consequences.

“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the Day of Judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned (Matthew 12:36-37).

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

Gideon

Judges 6-8

Do you know a lot about Gideon? I have to admit, I couldn’t put my finger on the right biography for this man of God. Different scenarios and stories were coming to my mind but I wasn’t quite sure which one went with Gideon. What did cross my mind were the bibles found in hotels, “placed by the Gideons”.

Curious, I did some digging on why they are called Gideon bibles and where they come from.

Two traveling salesman, one paper and one aluminum, happen to stop at the same hotel for overnight accommodations in Boscobel, Wisconsin in 1898. It was a crowded night and the hotel manager bunked them up in the same room, commenting that they were the only two sober minded men around.

As the story goes, John Nicholson asked Samuel Hill if he minded if he kept the light on so he could read his devotion. A simple question that went on to have a profound impact. Samuel Hill asked him to read aloud for both of them. And they had a discussion about salesman needing a Christian network and support while traveling. The two cross paths again the following spring in a different town in a different hotel. It was at this second encounter that they felt God‘s leading for them to start some sort of Christian organization to support traveling salesman in their faith. They didn’t know how, when, where, or even what, but they knew they were supposed to join together and start something. The original group was called the Gideon’s Commercial Travelers Association of America, in recognition of the faith of Gideon. One hundred and twenty years later, this group has evolved into Gideon’s International, with the mission of supporting both believers and non-believers by making the gospel available. The first bible was placed in a hotel in 1908, and since then, they have distributed over two billion bibles worldwide! It’s crazy to think about and wonder how many lives have been impacted by the scriptures made readily available to people across the globe.

So what was it about Gideon’s faith that was so inspiring to them? He’s even called out in Hebrews 11 in the Faith Hall of Fame.

Review these three chapters and what stands out to you? Here are some things that stuck in my mind:

  • The Israelites turned away (again) from God and had been under oppression for seven years from the Midianites. Then they pray and cry out to God for deliverance. Wonder what their strategy was the first seven years? Maybe one from my own play book… “I got this”…anyone else use that play too often and for too long?
  • God answers their prayer through the youngest son of an idol worshipper, appearing to Gideon and instructing him and encouraging him each step of the way. God sought him when he was at his lowest, beating wheat while in hiding from the Midianites. He didn’t feel equipped or worthy for the work God planned for him. We may not always know (or believe) how God wants to use us!
  • God gave Gideon multiple signs to show him he was the true God, he could be trusted to conquer the Midianites. Even in the midst of these miracles and signs, Gideon had doubts and asked for more signs. God didn’t respond to Gideon in anger, but met him where he was at and provided the comfort Gideon needed. Step by step he continued to trust and obey the Lord, even when Gideon didn’t know the plan or how the Israelites could ever defeat the Midianites. We can take our doubts, fears, and questions to God!
  • God wanted the victory to be very clear – it’s wasn’t a victory due to the army size – so he stacked the deck in favor of the Midianites. Instead of Israelites 32,000 vs. Midianites 135,000, he reduced Gideon’s Israelite army to 300. God wanted his people to return to him, and he wanted this landslide victory to humble their hearts toward him.  How do I get in the way of God’s power, victory, or glory shining to draw people back to him?
  • Gideon and his men return to a hero’s hometown welcome and have to ward off all the royal treatment, glory, fame, and requests for Gideon to lead them as king. The gold collected from the slain Midianites he used to make a golden ephod (a garment worn under the high priest’s breast plate) which he put on display. We don’t know Gideon’s motives for the ephod, but I’d like to think he did that as a symbol of God’s victory and for the people to remember that they are a nation of priests led directly by God (as opposed to placing Gideon as king). Like many traditions and symbols that start with good intentions, this one falters over time. The Israelites eventually go back to idol worship, beginning with this ephod, and eventually turn back to worshipped Baal (40 years later after Gideon dies). What God-focused traditions are getting elevated above God today?

I love this real hero of faith that we can learn from and be inspired by. Just like God mapped out Gideon’s path, he also planned Nicholson and Price to be roommates. Can you look back at steps you felt led to take, when they didn’t make sense at the time, and now you can see how God was using it for a future plan? What a neat testimony that we can take with us into the next step of faith we need to take.

Six years ago, our small group wanted to spend a few months as a group going through a specific biblical financial study (hint: white envelopes). I was dragging my feet… coming up with every reason why we should do something else. There’s more important topics right now. We’re already pretty frugal. The couples in our group are all in really different financial places. And many other great “points” (excuses?). I lost the vote and so the small group went forward. During the study, my husband and I came away with a renewed passion for giving, oh, and one other little nugget that later proved to be miraculous for us. The majority of our emergency type savings was tied up in retirement accounts and places that weren’t easily available (penalties, time constraints, etc). We took the program’s advice and made a lot of changes to where & how much we keep separate for emergencies (never truly believing we would have that big of an emergency, but hey, follow the program). No big surprise, six months later, we hit a very unexpected season and had it not been for these changes, we would have been under a much larger amount of financial strain and stress. God went before us and led us to these changes, knowing exactly what was coming.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8-9

He goes before us

Perhaps due to some recent beautiful summer mornings or maybe specific stories in my life, almost every day this thought comes to me, seemingly random: What will you do with this new day that has been given to you?

As I fantasize about all the great things I’ll do, a dose of reality also sets in. I am reminded that I am a sinner in need of a savior, following the ancient pattern: Doing evil, suffering the consequence of sin, a call for help, God showing mercy and grace resulting in reconciliation.

This is the pattern we repeatedly find in the lives of our ancestors thousands of years ago as described in the Bible and so it continues in today’s scriptures:  Judges 4-5.

A few things that stood out as a lesson and reminder for our lives today:

  1. We’re not that different than the people of Israel as we too are sinners, doing evil in the Lord’s sight. (Judges 4:1)
  2. Slavery is a metaphor for sin, as it holds us captive. (Judges 4:2)
  3. God makes promises. He promised victory. (Judges 4:7).
  4. Leaders need followers. Deborah was a leader but also a follower of God’s commands, and 10,000 soldiers followed Barak and Deborah into battle. (Judges 4:10)
  5. Evil forces never cease. (Judges 4:12-13)
  6. God goes before us, he is undefeated and the victory is his alone. In my mind it didn’t matter if Barak and Deborah had 1 or 1 million soldiers. (Judges 4:14-15)
  7. God is a promise-keeper; his promise of victory in Judges 4:7 comes to fruition. (Judges 4:16, 23-24)

What will we do with this new day that has been given to us? How will we respond to the promises of God? Will we put our trust in Jesus or ourselves? When our head hits the pillow, will we reflect with hearts of repentance as well as gratitude for this God who goes before us and always keeps his promises?

Joshua

Today’s reading:  Joshua 23,24

In the absence of effective leadership, people wander.  In January 2019, Forbes.com reported that only 1/3 of US workers demonstrate a healthy level of engagement in their jobs.  I honestly don’t think this is a coincidence.  Great leaders are a rare commodity.

In his July 15, 2019 blog post, Michael Hyatt, a well-known thought leader on leadership, shared what he believes are five key characteristics of an effective leader – insight, initiative, influence, impact and integrity.   Our scripture for today (Joshua chapters 23 and 24) is Joshua’s farewell speech to his leaders.  If I had to describe Joshua in two words, those words would be “great leader”.  In fact, the adjective “great” doesn’t seem impressive enough to accurately describe the incredible leader Joshua actually was.  As I studied his life this week, I saw how it demonstrated all five of Michael Hyatt’s key leadership characteristics.  Let’s take a look –

Insight – Effective leaders can gain clarity in the midst of complex situations/issues/problems in order to set a course of action.

Initiative – Effective leaders don’t ask others to do what they are not willing to do themselves.  This demonstrates a level of dedication that earns the trust of their followers.

Influence – Effective leaders are someone others want to follow, people are drawn to their vision and values.

Impact – Effective leaders make a difference, they create and sustain change.

Integrity – Effective leaders have a moral compass, they do the right things for the right reason.  Integrity is the foundation of effective leadership, as it determines the quality of a leader’s impact.  A great leader makes people better at the same time they drive results.  An ineffective leader, in contrast, may be able to get the same results, but they often leave a trail of bodies in the process.

God promised his people the land of Canaan (the “Promised Land”), but he didn’t’ serve it up to them on a silver platter.  Rather, under the leadership of Joshua, the nation of Israel was to conquer the land of Canaan one city at a time.  Joshua’s keen insight on how to win battle after battle came from his faithfulness to seek God’s guidance before every battle (other than at Ai, where Joshua’s army got their tails kicked).

 Joshua personally led his army to conquer thirty-one kings/cities (see Joshua 12:9-24 for a complete list).  In his farewell address, Joshua challenged his leaders to follow his lead and honor/serve the Lord wholeheartedly just like he did.

“Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then 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 (Joshua 24:14-15).

The nation of Israel responded to Joshua’s challenge by affirming their commitment to the Lord.

“We too will serve the Lord, because he is our God” (Joshua 24:18).

Are you an effective leader?  Do you have insight, initiative, influence, impact, and most of all integrity?  Is your moral compass aligned to God’s word?  Like Joshua, are you inspiring those you lead to choose to serve the Lord?  I pray the answer is yes.

 

CALEB

Today’s reading is Joshua 14:6-15:19

My youngest is starting a new school this year. 5th grade. We have been praying about this for years and it finally happened. God said yes. The door has been opened to a new opportunity. School starts on Friday. Our supplies are purchased, registration fees paid, spirit wear ordered. Its a done deal, no turning back now. As I was preparing for this post my boy sat down next to me on the couch and quietly said, “I wish I was going to my old school”. I set my Bible aside and said, “I know, I’ve had the same feelings”. We sat in silence for a few minutes letting those honest words settle and I silently prayed for the right words. What do I say to my worried 10 year old about change and hard things and fear?  Especially when I’m thinking the same thing.

I got to tell him the story of Caleb.  He was a man who “whole heartedly followed the Lord”. Back in the day of Moses, Caleb and Joshua along with 10 other spies were sent to check out the land of Canaan (The promised land). Caleb and Joshua were the only 2 out of 12 that came back giving a good report on the land and trusted that God would allow them to conquer it. (Kind of like having a good attitude about going to a new school).  Everyone else became afraid and confused and wanted to go back to Egypt (or their old school) because they stopped trusting God would take care of them.  Because Caleb “whole heartedly followed the Lord”, God promised him the land of Canaan (or his new school) as his special possession for himself and his descendants. He was promised this land in Numbers 14. Then, 45 years later, the promise is fulfilled in Joshua 14:10-12. 45 years!!! He waited patiently for God to fulfill his promise of allowing him to see the promised land and he claimed the promise. I’m sure the 45 years of waiting weren’t easy but he continued to “whole heartedly follow the Lord” and trust the promise God gave him.  At 85 years old, God fulfilled his promise to Caleb and gave him the strength to conquer the giants of the land. God gives strength to those who whole heartedly follow him and he helps us do hard things……..like changing schools, and sending our kids to new places.

Caleb was brave, convicted, and trusted in God’s promises. I started thinking about the promises of God. The ultimate promise is eternal life to those who believe in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, but what are the promises for daily living that my 10 year old (and I) can trust as we face our giants?

We decided that we are thankful for the promise that God goes before us – just like he did with Caleb.

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord is the one who goes before you. He will be with you; He will neither fail you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:8

“The Lord your God is going before you. He will fight for you, just as you saw him do in Egypt.” Deuteronomy 1:30

“You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.” Psalm 139:5

“I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron”. Isaiah 45:2

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand “. Isaiah 41:10

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. ” Jeremiah 29:11-13

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Praying we trust these promises of God in the hard spots of life. He will show up and I can’t wait to see what He does. Claim your promise!

Shelly

 

Rahab

Today we get the opportunity to read about another person who put their faith into action.  That in this faith they trusted God to fulfill His promise. These men and women of Hebrews 11 tell how by our faith, God is pleased.  Hebrews 11:6.

Hebrews 11:1-2 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation.

Today’s Readings is from Joshua 2 and Joshua 6.  The story of Rahab is shared. As I have reflected on the story of Rahab and her faith I’m reminded of a few points we can apply to our lives today.

  1. God loves us, He uses the most unlikely people to build His kingdom.  Rahab was a prostitute who lived in part of the city wall. Joshua 2:1.  What sin has held you back? Do you know anyone who thinks that God couldn’t love them because of choice they made? Let today be the day that you tell them for the first time or remind them that Jesus was sent to Earth to die for their sins and ours. Yes, just like Romans 3:23 says, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,  still God takes us wherever we are at. Whatever sins we have made, and washes us clean.  Hebrews 10:22 says let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 
  2. Rahab risked her life for the Lord. The king of Jericho could of easily had her killed if he knew she was lying or would of got caught.  Still she had faith.  Maybe, our lives may not be in danger in America but there are many places where that is still real.  Today, we are blessed with the opportunity to show our faith freely, will you take that opportunity.  You may not need to hide people in your attic, but could you share your faith with someone? After all, you never know if the courageous conversation will plant a seed to change the eternal destination for them. 1 John 5: 11-13 And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.13 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.
  3. Rahab feared the Lord, that their hearts melted in fear.  She says that the Lord our God is God in heaven and on the earth below. Joshua 2:11.  God wants us to fear Him.  A fear that reminds us through the day that He is in control.  A fear that provides us with the trust and faith that He does reign in heaven and here on earth. In Ecclesiastes 5 and 12  I’m reminded that there are so many meaningless things that we pursue and make part of our lives.  Solomon says, Fear God and keep his commandments. 
  4. Rahab was given a new life. Her faith and fear of the Lord saved her and allowed her and her family to live.  We have been given an new life.  Our faith in God takes our past, washes us clean, and leaves us with the opportunity to share this new life with others until the day comes where He comes to bring us home.  Will you have the opportunity to share this new life with someone?  1 Peter 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 

Dear Almighty Father,

Thank you for sharing this story of truth with people of faith like Rahab.  Knowing that our sinful past is washed clean through our faith, love, and the relationship we have with you. Thank you for this new life.  We pray that we can be a testimony and witness to others today.  We love you. Amen 

Aaron

Exodus 32

 

As we continue our journey of the faithful people of our spiritual foundation we visit Aaron, brother of Moses and the first high priest of Israel.  Some verses that give us a glimpse of Aaron are

Exodus 4:14-16

14 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses and he said, “Is there not Aaron, your brother, the Levite? I know that he can speak well. Behold, he is coming out to meet you, and when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 You shall speak to him and put the words in his mouth, and I will be with your mouth and with his mouth and will teach you both what to do. 16 He shall speak for you to the people, and he shall be your mouth, and you shall be as God to him.

Aaron was the main spokesperson for Moses and God. Aaron had been gifted with eloquent speech.  God understood the weaknesses and strengths of his children and will properly suit individuals that compliment each other.  Moses was gifted in leading and directing the people of Israel and Aaron was gifted with speaking and instructing the people with assistance from God.  When the two of them were working in concert and under the leadership of God, they were able to create new and amazing things, but aside from God they brought folly to themselves and the people who followed.

In Exodus 28:1-3: God makes Aaron and his descendants the first official priest of the people of Israel:

“Then bring near to you Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the people of Israel, to serve me as priests—Aaron and Aaron’s sons, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. And you shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. You shall speak to all the skillful, whom I have filled with a spirit of skill, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him for my priesthood.

This was the appointment and the promise that God had given Aaron to be the principle communicator between God, Moses, and the people.  Aaron was given a major appointment and blessing from God.  This was given to Moses to communicate to Aaron, but God made the promise.  This was not something that God had done without understanding responsibilities and remaifications of the office and duties.  This was God’s own choice.  God’s infinite understanding and particular specifications can be seen in the preparations of the priest’s garments and tools for the temple.  In chapters 28 & 29, God gives specific directions down to the particular threads that are supposed to be used in the garments.

Exodus 28:6-8

“And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and of fine twined linen, skillfully worked. It shall have two shoulder pieces attached to its two edges, so that it may be joined together. And the skillfully woven band on it shall be made like it and be of one piece with it, of gold, blue and purple and scarlet yarns, and fine twined linen.

Almost simultaneously, as God is given this blessing and decree to Moses, the people start to stir restlessly in the camp and pressures, persuade, or coax Aaron to produce a golden calf so that the people can have something tangible to praise and worship.  When this happens Moses is sent to the people and Aaron

Exodus Chapter 32: 21-24

And Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought such a great sin upon them?” 22 And Aaron said, “Let not the anger of my lord burn hot. You know the people, that they are set on evil. 23 For they said to me, ‘Make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24 So I said to them, ‘Let any who have gold take it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”

In the previous section, if God was like man and had the same inadequacies that we have, God would have taken away this appointed service and station and created another person in its place, but God is faithful to his promise and will remain behind them until fulfillment.

Hebrews 5: 1-5

For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.

Aaron gives us an example in several ways:

  • God will make a promise and plan for our lives, even when we are not fully aware that the Maker is at work
  • Even though we may commit unthinkable acts against self, others, and God; God still loves us and will help us to show his glory
  • When we acknowledge our shameful acts and turn way from those acts and allow God to bless us, He will be victorious over all the things in our past.

 

Miriam

Who was Miriam?  When I think of the book of Exodus, I definitely think of Moses. I had heard of Miriam, but I  had to do a little investigating to figure out who Miriam wass and why she is our focus in our reading today.  

Exodus 2:3 describes Miriam standing far off as she witnesses her mother putting her baby brother Moses in a basket and setting him in the river to save him from being killed by Pharoh.  Miriam was able to orchestrate her mother then being able to nurse Moses after Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses in the basket.  

The next time we meet Miriam is in our passage today, Exodus 15:1-21.  The Hebrew people have crossed the Red Sea and the waters have crashed down upon the Egyptian soldiers that were pursuing them.  The first 19 verses are a song from Moses praising God for saving them.

In verse 20 and 21 Miriam appears and leads the women in a dance while singing.

Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine and led all the women as they played their tambourines and danced.  And Miriam sang this song:  “Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously;  he has hurled both horse and rider into the sea.”       Exodus 15:20 and 21

In this text, Miriam is called a prophet.  She is called this because she led the women in worship of God during the celebration of Israel’s victory over the Egyptians.  

Miriam’s life as a prophet and leader in Israel provided encouragement to the women of Israel.  Miriam’s ministry as a prophet also challenges us today to understand that women have much to contribute to God’s work and that they have much to teach those who are willing to listen.

Miriam set an example for God’s people and was a woman of prominence.

Just as all the Israelites were slaves in Egypt, the Bible teaches us that we are all slaves to sin.  

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). 

Yet today we have a reason to sing!  Jesus Christ has delivered us from sin by his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead.

We too should praise God for his deliverance.  If we confess Jesus as our Savior, then one day we will sing just as Miriam did in Exodus 15:21, 

“Sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously!”

This is a reminder to praise God gloriously! 

When is the last time you grabbed a tambourine and the people around you and started praising God for all He has done for you??

 

Listening and Going

Today’s reading is on Moses (Exodus 5:1-6:13, 14:5-31).

“Imposter syndrome” is something I hear about in my office or on LinkedIn every once in a while these days. It is the internalized fear, often completely misguided, that someone hasn’t really deserved any of their accomplishments, that they have gotten by solely on luck, and could be exposed as a “fraud” at any point, made out to appear foolish. Even among people who do great at their jobs, some of us just can’t see our own true strengths and abilities. We can doubt ourselves, compare ourselves to those around us who appear so collected and composed, and consider ourselves lesser options for our position.

In Exodus, a young Moses experiences something similar when confronted by God. Often, when we too are suddenly confronted with an arduous task by God, we immediately launch into cycles of doubt and fear. Over and over again, as God reveals Himself to Moses and commands him to go to Egypt and demand the Israelites be freed for a feast of worship. This is, by logical accounts, an impossible request. Leading the Israelites out of Egypt would require going up to Pharaoh, a direct link with the gods in the eyes of the Egyptians, a man of immeasurable wealth on Earth, and ask him to let his nation’s slaves go for three days to worship their God. It would look to be an impossible task to anyone, but as 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “we live by faith, not by sight.”

Yet instead of acting in faith when confronted by Creator of the Universe and Lord over all, Moses asks “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” And again, when given direct instructions from Go of what to say to the Israelites there, he asks “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, The Lord did not appear to you?” Yet again, when told how to perform miracles as a sign of God’s power, Moses complains “I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant.” Even as God gives him the most explicit of directions, Moses considers himself unskilled, untalented, and unable to do God’s work.

Even though Moses’s eventual journey to Egypt and plea to Pharaoh does not go easily, and Pharaoh instead makes life even more miserable for the Israelites, God’s plan fails to cease. When Moses cries out in doubt, the Lord answers in chapter 6. The Lord ensures He will lead His people out of Egypt safely. What His answer begins and ends with is simply yet truthfully “I am the Lord.” And over the next few chapters, as God unleashes a host of vile plagues as retribution against Pharaoh and ultimately leads His people out safely, Moses continues following His word and acting upon it.

Moses may not have believed himself to be capable or the most qualified for God’s plan, but in the end he follows what the Lord has to say. When we focus on our shortcomings and how we can fail to do anything in the situation provided for us, we should instead listen to what God has to say here. We may be weak, and unbecoming, and not very eloquent, but God is Lord. We may fall short in our own subjective measures, but God is Lord. We are only human, but God is Lord! Rather than succumbing to imposter syndrome in our own callings, it is important to remember that God has chosen us to fulfill the role He has placed us in, and that is what matters here. Just look at Moses here: yes, he may have been afraid, and had trouble standing up against Pharaoh on his own. God provided him his brother Aaron and a loving family to encourage and help him, and through his tribulations Moses finds courage and strength. Rather than looking inward to what you need in the moment to accomplish something, look around and take stock in what the Lord has given you to help you learn and grow. Rather than simply making us perfect for our position from the get-go, it brings Him glory and praise when we look to Him for guidance and wisdom along our journeys.

You might hear God calling you to go out and live for Him in some way today. That calling may be intimidating, and it may seem impossible. It can be easy to count ourselves out, to look at our negative qualities and how they will only hamper our progress moving forward. But God is not calling us to do these things in a vacuum: he has surrounded us with ways to find strength and grow in faith to live for Him. Remember today that He is Lord, and as He lifted his hand against Pharaoh and guided the Israelites out of captivity into their promised rewards, He will guide you out of your own troubles. More so, He will accept you just as you are, and you will succeed in any endeavor you are called to, so long as your faith and trust in Him guide you.

Let It Go

Today’s reading is Exodus 1:1-2:10 with the focus being on Moses’ parents.

We don’t know much about Moses father other than that he was from the tribe of Levi from the 12 tribes of Israel (Jacob), so we will focus on his Israelite mother which we will call his birth mother and his Egyptian mother which we will call his adopted mother.

To set the context for our discussion we want to quickly review that Joseph has passed and the current Egyptian Pharaoh was fearful of the Israelites due to the number of them and thought they may side with another enemy of Egypt in the future, so out of fear he enslaved them. He also ordered that any male babies be killed at birth. Moses’ mom hid him for three months until she could hide him no more, then she let him go on the Nile in a basket. Although we don’t know Moses’ mom’s name, we know how highly God thought of the bravery of her actions and her trust in God to protect him because her actions are referenced in what some call the chapter of faith all-stars in Hebrews 11 which mentions some of the Bible’s biggest heroes who exhibited great trust in God through their actions.

“By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.”  

Hebrews 11:23

Moses’ sister followed her baby brother Moses down the Nile and saw that he was found by Pharaoh’s daughter. She took a very brave step as well to follow him and then approach Pharoah’s daughter and ask her if she wanted her to find an Israelite mother to nurse the baby to which she agreed. Unbeknownst to the Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses’ sister directed her to Moses’ birthmother who nursed him and stayed with him for a period of time. Although she could have maybe tried to escape with him wanting to keep him, and who could blame her being his true mother, she likely realized his opportunity to have the best life possible was to give him back to Pharaoh’s daughter to become his adopted mom. She put her son’s needs in front of her own, and most importantly, trusted that if she gave him away God would take care of and provide for him. She was willing to let go of that which she loved so greatly, her son, and give Him to God, not so different than the way Abraham was willing to let go of and sacrifice Isaac.

How often do we hold too tight to the people, circumstances, and things in our life, instead of giving them to God with faith, fully trusting Him?

Hebrews 11, which we referenced earlier, starts with the following….

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Hebrews 11:1

We must ask and trust in God without doubting…

“But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.”

James 1:6-8

This also defines faith has having no doubt whatsoever.

By the outcome of Moses’ life being protected, and with God doing amazing things with him similar to God doing big things with Isaac after Abraham let go, I would have to be lead to believe that his mom asked God with big faith and full trust to protect him and to do big things with him for God’s glory. That is exactly what God did.

Take some time to reflect today, what do you need to let loose of and fully give to God with faith and without doubting? My guess is that when you do let go, your desires will come true. But even if not, one thing is certain…you will have a peace that passes understanding by trusting in Him and His perfect plan for your life and circumstances….whatever the outcome is.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for the good, for those who are called according to His purpose.”

Romans 8:28