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Excuses, excuses

Exodus 3:10-11 – “Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

Excuses, and excuses.

I heard a song once by The Kingsmen called “Excuses”. It gives every excuse under the sun as to why one didn’t want to go to church. It ranges from the weather to just about any other dislike or discomfort, including the preacher not shaking your hand.

There are a hundred and one excuses for not attending worship services. I’ve even employed some of them myself from time to time, something I’m not proud of.

The thing is, we hear excuses every day. There are excuses as to why the clothes are on the floor. There are excuses as to why someone is late. There are excuses for why I don’t want to cook dinner tonight.

Moses was the king of excuses. God had called him to do a specific task.  Moses had every excuse in the book as to why he couldn’t do the job – “no one will believe me”, “my speech is bad”, and so on. He was scared. He was being asked to get way out of his comfort zone and he was whining about it.

Sound familar? It does to me. I hear God whisper to my heart to do something for Him and boom! Excuses. “Well, God, I already had plans.” “I don’t want to offend someone.” “You want me to do what???”

I think we are all guilty of jumping on the excuse wagon from time to time. The question is – are you going to stay on the wagon or are you going to take a leap of faith?

Take a moment and consider what you are making excuses for. Are you planning in your heart right now why you won’t be at church on Sunday? Do you have a laundry list of excuses why you can’t read you Bible on a daily basis? What’s your reason for not completing that task God has been laying heavy on your heart? What’s your excuse for not talking to Him and listening to Him?

Excuses are one more thing keeping you from the blessings that God wants to pour down upon you. Excuses prevent you from experiencing God on a personal level. Excuses keep you from others.

So this weekend, identify what excuses are holding you back and then lay them down before the Lord. He wants to rid you of any excuse not to serve Him and live in His presence. Surrender them to Him. Choose to not be constrained by excuses. Live free of them.

 

A Rock and A Hard Place

Exodus 14:13-14 – “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.”

Do you ever get freaked out? You have a list as long as you arm to accomplish in one day. The car breaks down on the side of the road. The kids have twelve different places they are supposed to be that day. Your husband is concerned about how you are going to pay the bills this month. Your boss at work is upset over your productivity level. And now you feel a migraine coming on that will stop you dead in your tracks. What’s a girl to do? 

The children of Israel had just seen the magnificence of the Lord. They had seen His mighty hand working in Egypt and they had been released from their bondage. They were free. They had plundered Egypt on their way out. No more did they have to build the pyramids. No more did they have to be in slavery to someone else. God had set them free. Yet here they were trapped between a rock and a hard place, literally. The Red Sea was on one side, mountains on the other two and pharaoh’s army was coming up the other way. They had literally no where to go. And they were freaking out. I believe God had brought them to this place specifically. He had it in His plan to do this awesome and unthinkable feat. This event was going to be one for the history books. But the people couldn’t see past their own terrors and problems. All they could see was death. 

Side note: Have you ever seen “The Incredibles”? You know, the part where the mom and the kids had just jumped out of the airplane before it explodes and when they hit the water the kids are freaking out. They are splashing around saying, “We’re gonna die!” And the mom slaps the water and says, “We are not going to die! You kids had better get a grip or so help me you are going to be grounded for a month!” This, this is what I think of when I read this account of the children of Israel. I know, I’m a weirdo, but it is how my brain works. Welcome to my world. 

Anyway, sometimes we are just like the children of Israel. All we can see is the horribleness in front of us. We don’t see the opportunity for something amazing. We don’t see how God could possibly pull us out of the situation. We think we are doomed. 

Hence the reason Moses spoke to them. Here is my paraphrasing of what Moses said – “Would y’all just chill out! God has got this! I know it doesn’t seem like it but if you will just get a grip, you will see that He is going to do something awesome! These people who are freaking you out, these people who are scaring you to death, you will never, I mean NEVER, see them again! God is going to wipe them out! So, just stop your whining, hush up and trust that He has got this!” Yes, God would say “y’all” – He was speaking to more than three people. 😉

Sometimes in the midst of your insanity, you need to stop and listen. Sometimes God is whispering this very same thing to your heart. You just have to be quiet and hear it. Life is not always going to be a red carpet event. Sometimes you may feel like you are walking in the sewer. Sometimes you may find yourself with a mountain on two sides, a really big body of water on the other and the enemy fast approaching on another. That’s when the unthinkable has to happen. That’s when you have to stop and give it all over to the One who has it all under control. Then, you just wait for Him to show up and show out. It’s a beautiful thing. 

A lesson from the porch

Exodus 6:6-9 – “Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD. And Moses spake so unto the children of Israel: but they hearkened not unto Moses for anguish of spirit, and for cruel bondage.”

This morning, as I was sitting studying for my ladies’ meeting lesson, I heard the birds chirping outside. God was calling me outside for a little time of peace. 

As I sat out on my porch listening to the birds waking up, the bugs singing their last night song, the rooster crowing and watching the first light of dawn color the horizon, I remembered – if God can set all of this in motion, if He can color the sky and cause the animals to praise Him, why do I have such a hard time trusting Him? I have all of His promises right at my fingertips. I have His complete Word ready for my consumption. I can look out my window and observe His handiwork in creation. I can see His hand holding it all together. Why do I not let Him hold me together? All I can see is my problems, my frustrations.  Why do I feel that I need to have it all under control? Why can’t I just let Him lead me?

I’m not the first person to experience this. The children of Israel were experts in this. They too had the promises of God. But all they could see was their bondage. Moses tried to remind them. He tried to remind them that God would take care of all these things that were weighing them down. They just had to trust Him. They just had to follow Him. But they could see no way out. They were even scared to take the first step. I can’t imagine how they felt when they finally got to leave bondage only to come to that seemingly impassable sea. They were trapped. And they forgot God’s promises in that moment. I am so like them sometimes it scares me. 

God showed them that if He brings them to it, He will bring them through it. He used Moses to part the Red Sea and those forgetful people walked through on dry land. 

He also promised to bring them to their own land – a beautiful land flowing with milk and honey. He brought them through so much just to get them there. And then, just like me, they forgot, again – again and again and again, they forgot. 

So let me encourage you today to remember. Remember that if God is going to bring you to something difficult and seemingly impassable, He will bring you through it. Sometimes you just need to sit on your porch and be reminded that He is God. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a).

Get off the porch!

Exodus 32:1 – “And when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount, the people gathered themselves together unto Aaron, and said unto him, Up, make us gods, which shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.”

I read a quote yesterday. “If I only trust what I can see with my eyes, I commit idolatry.” Simple, yet profound.

The children of Israel had just finished committing themselves to God. They had agreed to follow His instruction and guidance. They had committed themselves to Him. Moses goes up on the mount to chat some more with God. While he is gone, the people give up. They don’t know what has happened to Moses and they aren’t waiting around to find out. So they go over, grab Aaron by the arm and say, “hey, make us a graven image. We know what God said about idols but this guy, Moses, is gone and we need something to worship. Something we can see. I can’t believe in this God without Moses around.” (Melissa paraphrase, of course)

What about you? Is your faith in God tied to someone or something? Do you follow Him only when you can SEE Him working in your life? Does it need to be a minute by minute conformation? Can you only have faith because your grandparent is around? What happens when they are gone? Do you only believe in the power of God only when the pastor is around? If you were blind, would you still believe – even though you can’t see the works of God around you?

If you only trust when you can see, do you really trust? If you only believe when the one that teaches you is around, do you really believe? If your not at church, do you think God can speak to you?

As followers of Christ, we want to believe that we have this idol thing under control. “We don’t have idols set up at church or in our home. We know that worshipping something made with our hands is wrong.” But what if our faith is tied to someone or something?

We are approaching perilous times. We need to affirm our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. There are people around the globe, right now, that are being killed for their profession of faith in Jesus. There are people being persecuted by their neighbors because they refuse to deny Christ. If someone came in today and took away your Bible and took away your right to go to church, would you still believe? Would you still pray? Would you still have to courage to share Him with others? What if your family was threatened?

My point today, princess, is that we need to make sure that our faith in Jesus does not hinge upon someone or something – that our faith lies solely in Jesus. If everything was taken away – our Bible, our church, our family – and we were put in a cell with only the walls to keep us company, would we praise God for giving us life that day? Or does our trust and our faith rely upon our eyes?

This is a hard subject. But it is time to step off the porch and run with the big dogs. We need to stop with the warm, squishy feelings and hit home. God doesn’t want robots that go to church and routinely worship and serve Him. He wants people to be tough, be ready and be willing to show others a faith that is solely in Him and not dependent upon anyone or anything else.

My strength

Exodus 15:2a – “The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation”

I read a saying the other day, “Jesus doesn’t give you strength; He IS your strength.”
That got me to thinking. I know that Jesus is my strength. But isn’t the strength that I have from Jesus?

So I looked up all these verses. What I found is that in each of the Old Testament references, some type of trouble had been going on and the person in that trouble was recognizing that the only way they got through was because of the strength that God had provided to them. He was their only way out. He was the strength in their choices and in their muscle.

One of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:13 – “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” For so long, I have looked at that verse as I have strength and God gives me more. But when I really stop and look at it and remember how I truly am (weak and easily swayed), I realize that any strength I have comes from my Savior.

These last few days, I have neglected to read and study my Bible. I had a hundred and one reasons why I didn’t have time. And then I was wondering why I didn’t feel like I had any momentum. I had strength to do my everyday activities, strength to get up and work out, but spiritually, I was drained.

Physical strength is different than spiritually strength. I learned that the last few days. And I know that somewhere inside I have always known that but sometimes it takes a walk in the forest to appreciate the sunlight.

So this week, princess, let me encourage you to remember who and what you are on your own. You may get through your day and do all that you need to do, but are you complete? Do you feel like something is missing? Well, maybe, just maybe, that something is your time with your Savior. Don’t neglect it. Make time for it. Choose to tap into your unlimited strength source today.

The wind

1John 4:12 – “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”

Trick question: Have you ever seen the wind? Nope. You have felt the wind, seen the effects of the wind, smelled the wind, but never has anyone see the wind. When I was in high school and college, I twirled the flags – some people call it color guard. Whatever you want to call it, I loved it and was pretty good at it. Anyway, we would always say before a windy game to “watch the wind”. Well, you can’t “watch the wind”, especially when you are marching down the field swinging a pole with a flag on the end. You just hope for the best and pray no one gets in the way.

Well, just like no one has ever seen the wind, no one has ever seen God the Father. Now, before you get all on me, God did allow Moses to see the backside of His glory: Exodus 33:21-23 “Then the LORD said, ‘There is a place near me where you may stand on a rock. When my glory passes by, I will put you in a cleft in the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.'”

So, how do we know He is there? Have you ever asked anyone that question? I think I have. Can’t really remember. Obviously haven’t done it in a while. You never know what you will get when you open yourself up like that.

We know God is there by many ways. We see the effects of His love. We can feel His love. We can see His hand at work in our lives – blessing us and keeping us from harm and guiding us through the hard times. We can read His word protected though the ages to guide us even today. We can see the wonders of His creation.

There are so many ways to see God, yet we dismiss Him from our every day existence. Moses saw the backside of glory and it changed his life forever. People throughout time have never seen God but He has changed their lives forever as well. It is called faith. Hebrews 11:1 – “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Today, princess, I want to encourage you to allow God a place in your every day life. Allow Him to enter into those secret areas and believe. Be certain that He is there. Be sure of what you hope for – eternal life with Him. And love. Love one another. Show His love by showing your love. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular, just be nice. It will go a long way.

VBS – Day 2 – God calls Moses

Exodus 3:2-4 – “And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of the bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, but was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses. Moses. And he said, Here am I.” (KJV)

Day 2 of VBS – God calling Moses

There are 4 things I want to look at in these verses today.
1. God made the first move. We always think we know best. We think we know when it is time to do something. But we have no clue. Here, God had been preparing Moses for quite some time in the wilderness. Now, He was ready to make a move. God spends a lot of time preparing us for what needs to be done – if we let Him. Wait for God to make the first move. Don’t rush it. You may not be ready.
2. Moses was paying attention. Bushes burn all the time in the place he was at. It really wasn’t an uncommon thing. But this incidence was special. And Moses picked up on that. So many times we miss God speaking to us because we aren’t paying attention. So many opportunities just pass us by. We need to be paying attention and looking for the times when and where God wants us to serve and be faithful.
3. God calls out Moses. Moses had to be alert and listening to hear this calling. Can you imagine how freaked out he was that a bush was speaking to him? Yet this was a person listening for God. We need to be more diligent in listening. We talk too much. We need to be quiet and hear what God is saying.
4. Moses was ready to listen. Attitude. It is all about attitude. I have said this so many times before, but it is so true! Moses had the right attitude to not have his pants shocked off that a bush was speaking to him. He was ready to listen. We should not be shocked at the things that happen in our life. We should be ready for action. I know, easier said than done. But isn’t that what God expects of us? Be ready to listen and obey, sister.

Moses is an intense character in the Bible. So many ups and downs. So many ways to relate to him and his struggles. But one thing we need to recognize and appreciate, God never left his side. He never failed to intervene and guide him. God listened to Moses and Moses listened to God. There is a comfort in that. He does the same for us. He never leaves our side. He listens to us and we need to faithfully listen to Him.