Today’s reading as part of our journey through the Bible this year is Exodus 10-12 and Ephesians 2.
Who do you most relate to in the story of the Israelites being enslaved in Egypt and their ultimate departure? Do you relate to Moses who did not think he was capable because of his past sin and lack of confidence in his ability to take on a significant leadership role? Do you relate to Aaron who played a key role in the communication with Pharoah on behalf of the Israelites but who maybe didn’t get the credit his brother Moses did? Or do you relate to the Israelites being enslaved for many years?
Most of us probably would not say we are most like Pharoah. However, we may be more like him than we would like to admit. After the 7th plague..yes 7th…Moses and Aaron went and delivered a message from God to Pharoah in Exodus 10:3 asking, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?” He would either refuse to let the Israelites go like God instructed or he would say he would release them but later change his mind or refuse to let them all go along with their property…even after 7 plagues!
Do you feel like nothing is going your way? Do you like you just keep taking right hook after right hook? If so, I think it should really cause us to pause and reflect on if we are humbling ourselves before God and giving our problem(s) and life to Him. Is it possible that He’s just trying to get our attention?
We must ask ourselves…
Am I putting God first in my life?
Am I giving my problem(s) to Him in prayer?
Do I think my problems are too big for God?
Or do I think my problems are too small for God to care?
What is God trying to teach me through these challenges?
Could He be letting things happen in my life to draw me closer to Him?
Could He also be using my challenges for His bigger purpose and glory in ways I might not be aware of yet or even ever will be on this side of eternity?
Ultimately, what God wants is our heart. He wants our faith in Him. He wants us to trust and rely on Him. He wants us to put Him first and humble ourselves before Him so that we cannot brag about anything but Him and His provision and grace.
Ephesians 2:8-9 reads…
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
As we continue through John, Lynden shared with us the assurance of God’s glory in the midst of everything going on. I pray you were able to hear that yesterday.
Today, as we read chapter 13 John has so many different topics we can focus reflect on. There’s betrayal, denial, and the humble act of foot washing. This is where I landed today. The other day as I was sitting at hockey practice for my son, subtle tears came to my eyes as I thought, “What would it look like if I knew I was going to die tomorrow? Would I even think to serve others or just myself? “ Would I still be consumed with trying to keep our students and staff at school as many days as possible during this pandemic? Would I continue to run my kids to their practice? Would I call family and friends or try to cross one more thing off the bucket list? Maybe I would just hang close to my wife and read books to my daughter until she falls asleep? I wipe my eyes and reflected on Jesus the Thursday night of Passover and ultimately his death.
Jesus had different thoughts and actions that night, not of the flesh like my own. His plans were completely selfless. He was going to serve the disciples that were around Him that evening. Even the person who was going to betray Him later that evening. In verse 3 Jesus knew that everything was put under His power. What did Jesus do? You already know. He took the spot of what was in the Jewish culture reserved for the lowest. He took off his outer garment and started to wash the disciples’ feet. I was listening to a sermon by pastor John MacArthur where he said, “Selfless humility is the soul of love. The humbler you are, the less interested you are in yourself, the greater your capacity to invest yourself in somebody else.” What was the response of the disciples? They were in shock, speechless, or wanting their hands and head washed too. So here is our example, our lesson. Can we love like this. No matter the cost can I love selflessly, humbly, in the most menial, simple necessity of life.
Jesus answered him, “What I am doing you will not understand now, but afterword you will understand. “
How will you humbly show love today? What can you do today?
Lord, you provided the example by sending your own son. A son who gave up His own life for ours. What love you have for us. Lord help us to love like you. May we humble ourselves, be meek, and lowly like You so that our love can be elevated. Every day we have the opportunity to love others. I pray you to help us to show true love with selfless regard. Amen
Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21
These verses were read in our church a few years ago. These were verses that changed my life, and I hope I can use to change the lives of my children and those I help lead.
My Dad always said, “You can find time to do everything else to do in the week, so you can find time to go to church on Sunday.” Truth be told, I think these words were first the words of my late grandmother, Mary Ellen, who passed earlier this year. At our firm, we have a saying called “Don’t miss the assembly.” It means, don’t miss a development or learning session because one thing said there could impact you greatly. Our retired managing partner, John Wright, would always say, “You’re either green and growing or ripe and rotting.” Over the past few years, church has become something I look forward to because I love the time of worship and the opportunity to praise Him. But, it’s always been something I have needed like putting gas in the tank each week. It seems like the message is always something we need at exactly the right time which I don’t think is any coincidence. And every once in a great while, something is said that changes your life.
Many of us are lucky enough to be raised in good homes with good values where parents taught us to think of others first and to not think too highly of ourselves. Don’t be cocky or arrogant…be humble. However, we often confuse what humble means. A few years back I also heard it said that being humble means thinking of yourself less, not thinking less of yourself. When we think less of ourselves and what we are capable of and when we lack confidence in what we can do and in our future, we are really showing a lack of confidence in God and what He can do. This verse tells us we can’t, but He can. It’s not our power, but “HIS power within us.” This is why we should be confident…not because of ourselves, but because of Him. And…He “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.” Yes, challenges will come and life won’t be easy. Bad things will happen. This is not the prosperity gospel I’m speaking of. But, there is no need to worry about the future. He’s got this. And He will do more through and with you (even when you’re in really bad situations) than you ever expect or could ever think you are capable of. And when great things happen in life, Ephesians 3:21 makes sure we keep our priorities right. He gets the glory…”forever and ever!” As my pastor growing up, Rev. Richard Harre once said, “We can be calm, confident, and courageous in our Lord, Jesus Christ!”
Does it ever shock you how much worry and how little faith the disciples often have have during their time with Jesus? They worry about having enough food for the crowds of people and themselves multiple times, they are scared when Jesus walks on water thinking He is a ghost, most run away in terror when he’s captured by the authorities, and here in Luke 8 they are scared during the storm before Jesus calms it. In Luke 8:25, Jesus even directly says to them, “Where is your faith?”
A great brother in Christ and myself were just discussing the importance of being humbled through challenges, disappointments, and perceived failures (at the time) in life. Let me be clear these things are never fun. I don’t like them for myself, and I don’t wish these shortcomings on anyone. However, when we observe things closely we can often find that when we don’t face challenges we can become distant from God, not giving the glory to Him and not being a servant leader for Him and to those around us. How many times do we see celebrities and the greatest athletes making poor choices in actions and words that are all about them? I believe it’s often because they have not been humbled to realize that while they have likely worked hard to get to where they are, they would not have accomplished what they have without the people around them, the organization they are within, or even the time they were born and live in (Malcolm Gladwell talks about this in his book Outliers). They often don’t give others credit for the help they received and first and foremost to the One who put those people around them, to the One who put them within that organization/sport/profession, and to the One who brought them into the world at this perfect time to accomplish what they have. They don’t feel like they “need” God.
On the flip side of this, we read later in Luke 8:43 where a woman who had a bleeding issue for twelve years who could not be healed by any physicians went to Jesus believing she could be healed if just touched His clothing which she did. She was humbled by her sickness. She had nowhere else to turn but to Him. Jesus says to her in Luke 8:48, “Daughter, your faith has made you well, go in peace.” Check out James 1:2-4 and James 1:12 for how trials help us grow and shape us into the person He wants us to become. James 1:6 specifically says, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of seas 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.” What a great example she was of having faith without doubting! Is God not giving you what you want right now? Are you being humbled right now through challenges? What is God trying to teach you in this season of life? Are you FULLY relying on Him, trusting in Him, and believing in Him to bring you through these challenges? Or would He say to you like He did to the disciples in Luke 8:25, “Where is your faith?”
In closely observing this occurrence of Jesus calming the storm, I find it interesting that Jesus is the one that suggests they get into the boat to go to the other side of the lake. Yet, He doesn’t say why, nor does it say what they did when they arrived after the storm. In fact, it just says in Luke 8:26 they sailed to Gerasenes. Did Jesus have them go out into the boat just so they could see His miraculous powers to calm the storm so they would grow in their faith and trust in Him? Although the disciples lacked faith often during their time with Jesus, this time of growth helped them become so unbelievably complete in their faith and trust in God that 11 of the 12 (Judas Iscariot not in the 12) of them were killed for their faith later. They went from running away in fear when He was captured and killed to risking it all for Him shortly thereafter. They became perfect and complete in their faith through all these trials lacking nothing and spreading the Good News to others so that you and I would know it today. There is no doubt they are being greatly rewarded in Heaven.
Let us pray the following prayer…
“Lord God, in times of challenges and valleys let me raise my eyes to You, the One who sees me there and will bring me out. Please help me to be perfect and complete in my faith and trust in You, lacking nothing. When I’m on the mountaintops, let me give You all the praise and glory knowing that You are the source of all good things. You are the God of hills and valleys. Please help me remember Your words that those who want to be first shall be last by living my life as servant leader to You and others around me. Thank You for modeling this through Your death on the cross so that I am forgiven for my many shortcomings and can live with You in eternity. I love you. Amen.”
One of the things I love about writing for Bible Journal is it really makes me take a step back and ask myself what God is teaching us through Scriptures where I may have easily glanced over it during a quick read. Today, I was blown away by 2 great leadership examples through David in 1 Samuel 30.
First, we see in 1 Samuel 30:6 David “strengthened himself in the Lord His God.” How did David do this? He came to Lord in prayer, asking for wisdom as to what to do, and then he took action by following the Lord’s direction pursuing Amalekites. Let’s not glance over how terrible it looked for David. His town had been burned and his family was gone leaving him not knowing if they were dead or alive. David faced trouble with Saul, but I often think of the people always loving David due to his victory over Goliath amongst others, but apparently it was still a “what have you done for me lately world” back then because we also read in verse 6 the people talked of stoning him. Psalm 31 gives us a prayer by David which is likely very similar to what David prayed during this time. We know in Matthew 11:28 Jesus tells us, “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, I will give you rest.” God doesn’t care if you haven’t turned to Him in the past and if it took things getting really bad before you turned to Him for the first time or again in some cases. He just wants your heart..now. He wants you to believe fully that He will pull you through it trusting in Him. What challenge are you facing today you don’t think you can handle or rebound from? “Strengthen yourself in the Lord” by praying for wisdom and guidance…then trust in Him and act upon His direction. This is what David did and his family was safely returned through he and his people’s victory over the Amalekites.
The second lesson we learn from David is when things are going great and the Lord gives us victory, we give the glory to God. For it is Him who does these things through us. How easy is it to be prideful in thinking…”look at what I did”….when things are going well. We are all guilty of this. Psalm 31:23 tells us that is not a good thing to do. Those who went into battle did not want to give their winnings to those who stayed back, but David says in 1 Samuel 30, “You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the Lord has given us and given into our hand the hand that came against us.” David immediately recognizes in the presence of others this victory came from God and gives him the credit. I love the quote, “Being humble does not mean thinking less of yourself, it means thinking of yourself less.” Why should we think less of our self and that we are not capable or that God doesn’t have big things planned for us? Psalm 139:13 tells us we were created by the Almighty God and he “knit” us together. Thinking less of our self essentially means thinking less of God then since He created us, doesn’t it? But, in being humble, we DO think of ourselves less, and we give to those around us just as David models in 1 Samuel 30:24. We must think to ourselves, “For it was not me who did this, but God through me.” David realized not everyone is meant to be a mighty warrior and go into battle. He shared with those for whom God had a different role.
Both leadership lessons of strengthening ourselves in the Lord by trusting in Him through prayer, believing He can pull us out of any situation no matter how impossible it looks because our confidence is in Him, not our self, and then giving the glory to God are summed up by Paul again in Ephesians 3:20-21.
“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
Let us move forward today in confidence and give him the glory!
Reflecting on God and his word through 2016 has been a priceless blessing full of Joy for all of us that have read, laughed, cried, and shared stories of God’s work in our lives. Each day, every post, you will find God. Often times when we need it most a scripture is shared with an application to life that can impact every second of each that day if you allow it. We read together His commandments, miracles performed, and examples of Love shared to all people. Even when we didn’t deserve it, God sent His son to take away all our sins and provide us Hope for an eternal future with Him. God’s love poured out for us so that we can take His example from His son Jesus and show that same love for others. The words we read daily helps us to know him better and share with others. We hold on to our belief that God holds it all in his hands and we submit ourselves to Him everyday.
26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:26
God makes the biggest difference in our lives. I encourage and pray that you will continue to grow in Him and through Him. Continue this journey with us as we walk daily in this journey of Faith. As I read in John today I’m filled with the joy that God loves us just like he does his own son. That He is always with you no matter where you are at or current situation you may be in. Let your submission to Him shine through and provide light on others through love.
Let your heart beat in my chest. Help me to be prayerful in everything. Not trying to take things on my own and call you after. Engage me in other people. Give us the strength and courage to share your love with others. Open our ears to listen to wht he is saying to you today. Humble ourselves by putting others first. God we pray that we always look for opportunities to serve. Recognize those in need and come alongside them with encouragement. Lastly Lord, I pray you help me be submissive to your will and not my own. You paid the ultimate sacrifice for us, allow us to sacrifice our will to yours. Amen
If you need a little encouragement and courage to go with you today read Joshua 1:5-7. Reminder – “Be Strong” God is with you.