Sometimes You Just Gotta Rest

In this crazy busy gotta-do-everything-right-now life we lead, seasons of rest seem to be less and less. So, I’m forcing myself to take one during the month of August. But don’t worry! I’ll be back. (I’m going to pretend you were worried.)

I’ve got some fun things lined up for the fall. Including a guest posts at (in)courage coming at ya on September 2nd and a free giveaway I’m working on with some other writers. It’s good stuff!

In the meantime, because I know how much you’re going to miss your weekly Deeper Devo, here’s a few of my favorites, from last year, to tide you over. (Hint, hint: They cover the life of Joseph.)

The Biggest Misunderstanding of God’s Love

When You Feel Disappointed with God

How to Navigate the Best Life Even Amidst the Worst of Circumstances

The Best Decision You’ll Ever Make

The First Step to Reconciliation

How We Move Past the Hurt and Heal

I appreciate you friend. Without your support (and the encouragement of Jesus of course), I probably would have quit this journey a while back. Will you do me a favor? Over the next month, will you share Deeper Devos with someone new? Muchas gracias! See you in a few weeks!

The Part of Motherhood I Least Expected

I know you were expecting to dig deeper into Exodus today. I was too, until yesterday when I realized the little talk I shared with my church on Sunday about motherhood, might be beneficial for you too. (With a few extras because well, I thought of a few more things.)

So let’s just start with how motherhood isn’t quite what I expected. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to be a mom. I love those little peanuts. But the need to dig deeper for godliness in the midst motherhood – the part I least expected.

After all, my mom made it look easy. Patiently redoing my ponytails over and over, because I was just sure it was crooked! Keeping her cool when I stomped to my room angry because life just wasn’t FAIR! Taking me shopping when I insisted I had absolutely NOTHING to wear.

So easy in fact, when Kreg and I had our first son, I confidently told her we’d be fine our first night home. “We’ve got this, he’s such a great baby. We’re good. Go home.” But she knew and wasn’t surprised when I called sobbing at 2 AM because for some crazy reason my perfect baby wouldn’t go to sleep!

Little did I realize, how much motherhood would challenge me. How much it’d change me. How it’d blaringly point out all the ways I was selfish. How it’d be the hardest thing I’d ever done. The long days, the even longer nights. The exhaustion, the perseverance, the necessity of patience – none of which I registered for at Babies R’ Us.

Then came baby number two. Our precious little girl. I was elated, but how in the world, I ask you, do you grocery shop with two? How do you even get out the door? By the time you get ready to go, it’s time to come. Let alone, how are you supposed to take a shower? (With a vibrating baby seat and a Curious George episode – that’s how.)

Then, another boy – our Ethan. And not long after that – our Tyler. Four beautiful babies – my heart so full it could burst. Yet at the same time – so did my days explode with the needs and wants of four little people. The word mommy screamed, cried, yelled, spoken, whispered, whined, and repeated. And me running in four different directions for four different reasons at any given moment, racked with guilt for dreaming of a hotel someplace far away – maybe just for a night or two or seven.

Why was I not any good at this? (Ever felt that way mom’s?) Why did it seem as though motherhood brought out the worst in me, and the best in everyone else? (Because doesn’t it seem that way sometimes?)

Yet again at my breaking point I made another phone call. “MOM – How do I do this? I can’t do this.”

Her calm and familiar voice: “You’re right honey, you can’t.” (Not quite what I was expecting.) “But Jesus can.”

“But you did it mom, why is it so hard for me?”

“No that’s not true. I didn’t do it. I just clung to Jesus and let him do the rest.”

Words never truer, I’m grateful for her honesty and wisdom.

It’s funny, or perhaps ironic, or maybe more like astoundingly perfect, that the very things I was lacking, desiring, and in desperate need of were the very fruits God promised if I’d simply abide in him – joy, patience, kindness, perseverance, gentleness, love, peace. God knew I couldn’t do this life, this job, without Him, and He never expected me to.

It wasn’t more sleep I needed or time away or better behaved children or a housekeeper (though I wouldn’t mind that one), but the presence of He who tells the waves to come this far and NO further. The strength of He who holds this world tightly together. And the love of He who died for it.

It’s tempting to think the things that come most naturally to us, are the very things we shouldn’t need help with. Thinking our abilities should sustain us, and our instincts carry us – it’s there at the edge of independence we often fall short and then wonder what happened. “Guess I’m not as good as I thought.”

But it’s not our ability that matter’s, it’s Christ’s. It’s not our instincts that carry us, it’s Jesus. His word a path to victory no matter the road, the job, the disappointment, the difficulty. Paving the way for all of us whether a mom, a wife, an employee, a leader, a student, a friend.

Verse after verse spoken to the church or through the prophets or for the people of Israel thousands of years ago still pertinent today. Encouraging me. Directing me. Uplifting me.

Phil 4:13 “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” I can be a godly mom amid chaos.

2 Timothy 1:7 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” I can keep my cool, when no one else is.

Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, [even diapers] giving thanks to God the Father through him.” I can get up with gratitude and do it again.

1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on him, because He cares for you.” And I can do it without being anxious.

Phil. 2:3-4 “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” [even your children]. “Looking not only to my own interests, but also to the interests of others.” My mantra for motherhood.

And so on and so forth. I could go on forever. His word giving me the courage to write weekly devotionals and post them for the world to see. His word guiding me as I parent. His word softening my heart in some areas and making me braver in others.

So that today and tomorrow and the next my very full cup can runneth over not just with craziness but godliness. Because contrary to popular belief, I don’t have it all together. I just seek to cling to the one who does.


Discipleship is More Than Coffee Once a Week

In honor of Mother’s Day we’re taking a break from Exodus today to encourage my fellow mama’s who are stretched thin and guilt ridden over the concept of discipleship. Or maybe I’m the only one, nonetheless, this is important. Because discipleship looks different in various seasons of life, yet it’s often described only one way.

Sometimes discipleship is pouring over the Scriptures, tall latte in hand, with a new believer in Christ. But sometimes, it isn’t.

Though it’s taken me years to realize it.

Born and raised in a traditional, non-denominational, Bible teaching church, the coffee-shop concept of discipleship is like an old t-shirt. I’m comfortable with it. I like it. I’ve been blessed by it and I enjoy it.

But now, with one hard working husband and four kids under the age of ten I’ll be honest, I have little time to wear my old, comfy, t-shirt.

At least, not in the way I expected. With my days occupied by the non-negotiable demands of preschoolers, my afternoons with homework, and my evenings with either a sporting event or bath time. (Because let’s be real, there just isn’t time for both.) I’m lucky if I get five uninterrupted minutes hiding in the pantry, let alone time to go have coffee with a precious sister in Christ.

Yet I’m supposed to, right? Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19, ESV).

Yes, Jesus commanded it. There’s no doubt about that. And if it works, an hour or two a week pouring over the Scriptures, is a great way to disciple. But it’s not the only way.

By definition a disciple is, “One who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another.” (Thank you Merriam-Webster.) And you know what? I’m already doing that. Every time I come along side one of my children to tell them what Jesus says. Assuring them with a word of truth. Praying with them before they walk out the door.

Not to mention when I take the time to recite Colossians 3:20 with one of the littles, “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing to the Lord” (ESV). Like when the three-year-old melts into the floor because I won’t let him pick his nose. Or when the two-year-old sits stone still refusing to swallow the food in his mouth. (Never saw that one coming. But each child has taken their turn.)

And could there be anything more important than raising my children in the admonition of the LORD? Yet for some reason discipling our kids often feels like the lesser job. Slipping in under the category of discipline, or child development, or domestic responsibility.

But living my life for Christ in front of my children is discipleship too. And none of it, thus far, has been in a coffee shop. But it has been at the breakfast table and in the car and in a plethora of I-still-love-you’s. It’s been in the no’s. It’s been the yes’s. It’s been in the why and why not’s. It’s even been in the bathroom, though I’ll spare you that story.

Slowly but surely God’s been teaching me discipleship isn’t a one-size-fits-all t-shirt. It comes in all kinds of colors and patterns and shapes and sizes, depending on one’s season of life. And that’s the beauty of it.  There’s no right and wrong way to disciple.

Sometimes it might look like hot lattes and quiet conversations. And other times it might look like chaos and sippy cups and staying home because your kids need you. Either way, make no mistake, it’s discipleship.

So don’t feel guilty about staying home sweet mama. Your work is important too. In fact, it’s essential. Not just because the world would fall apart without you, but because the next generation would too.

Photo by Pixabay

When History Repeats Itself

I have a confession to make. I’m scared of frogs. And a myriad of other four legged creatures. (But that’s topic for another day.) I know, I know, they’re cute. And I agree, they’re darling in the Frog and Toad children’s books. I mean who doesn’t love a frog reading a book or riding a bicycle or building a snowman with his best friend (ribbit – ribbit).

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 8:1-15
Key Verse: “Let my people go, that they may serve me. But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will plague all your country with frogs.” Exodus 8: 1b-2

But I’ve yet to see one cycling down my street. Usually, they’re hiding in the rocks beneath my favorite flower pots, waiting to attack my face. (Word to the wise: Never trust anything with eighteen toes.)

So to think of them invading my home by the droves. Popping out of the oven, leaping from the bread bowl. Wild eyes sneaking up between the couch cushions, lying in wait between my sheets, my pillow. Preying on me at every corner. Croaking, over and over. Long, slow, deep, and rhythmic; for days on end. (I can’t even.)

Yet the Egyptians did, for who knows how long, during the second plague. The second judgment of God on a people who bowed down to anything and everything but Him. Like frogs, for example.

Heqet, the goddess of childbirth and fertility, had the body of a woman and the face of a frog. Women wore an amulet of a frog around their necks during pregnancy. Egyptian midwives called themselves “servants of Heqet.

Naturally, when the Nile annually flooded and receded small pools of water dotted the countryside. Allowing for a vast frog population and an unhealthy reverence for amphibians. Being sacred, the killing of one of these creatures, even if accidental, was punishable by death. So during the God ordained invasion, not a one could be squashed. Can you imagine? After all, what if it was Heqet?

When Pharaoh decided enough is enough, he called on Moses and Aaron. Recognizing God’s authority in the situation he said to them, “Plead with the LORD to take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the LORD” (v. 8).

To which Moses replies, “Alright, when would you like them gone?” (My paraphrase.) And here’s the best part. Pharaoh says, “Tomorrow!” Um excuse me? Why not RIGHT NOW! “Well, I think I’d like to sleep with my new slimy friends one more night, if it’s alright with Jesus.”

OK, OK, Pharaoh didn’t say that, but don’t we? Every time we ask the LORD to help us tomorrow, instead of right now? To let us stew just a little longer in anger, before we forgive. Sit in our sin one more night, before we break free. Just one more magazine. One more episode. One more day of binge eating. Then I’ll stop. Then I’ll move on.

LORD Jesus, free us right now! Not tomorrow, today!

But so Pharaoh would know “there is no one like the LORD our God” (v. 10), Moses requested God take the frogs away tomorrow and the LORD did. All of them died, except for those in the Nile. The Egyptians shoveled them into piles and the land stank of dead amphibians. Providing a tangible message to anyone wearing a Heqet amulet – I’m sorry, but your goddess is dead.

It’s Jesus who creates. Jesus who authors life. Jesus who rules and reigns. He is the LORD and there is no other. The one who steps into relationship with Him, honoring Christ as LORD, trusting in Him as Savior, will carry the benefits of salvation from this life into eternity.

But to the one who doesn’t – God’s wrath is waiting. The plagues are not just a window into the sovereignty of God, they are a window into the coming judgment of God; bearing a striking resemblance to the trumpet judgments to come in the last days (i.e. plagues according to Rev. 9:20).

When the first trumpet blows in the time of the tribulation, destructive hail will fill the sky, just as there was in the seventh plague on Egypt. Only next time God rains hail from heaven in judgment of the inhabitants below, it will be mixed with fire. And a third of the earth will be burned up (Rev. 8:7).

At the second trumpet, a third of the sea will be turned to blood (Rev. 8:8). (Sound familiar?) The fourth trumpet will bring darkness, as the ninth plague did to Egypt. And the fifth? Locusts. Only the locusts spoken of in Revelation 9 are not to wreak havoc on the earth, as they did in the eighth plague on Egypt, but on the ungodly. With stinging tails like scorpions, the face of a human, the hair of a woman, and the teeth of a lion, they will torture people for five months (Rev. 9:10).

Boils show up in Revelation 16:2, at the pouring of the first bowl judgment. As does more darkness, one-hundred-pound hail stones, and the rest of the sea and rivers and springs are turned to blood as the other six bowls cascade upon the earth.

And frogs? Spoken of in Revelation 16:13. Coming out of the mouths of the dragon, beast, and false prophet are seen “three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty” (Rev. 16:13b-14).

But these aren’t the only similarities. Israel will yet again be under great persecution. Jeremiah 30:8 describes the time to come, yet the description could easily fit the time of Exodus. “And it shall come to pass in that day, declares the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and foreigners shall no more make a servant of him.” So Israel can serve the LORD their God.

Just as we see Satan replicating the miracles of the LORD during the Egyptian plagues, Satan will once again perform counterfeit miracles to deceive the people (Rev. 13:13-15). And the hearts of the ungodly will be hardened as Pharaoh’s was. Though God will send two designated witnesses to work miracles before the world (Rev. 11:3-6), as he sent Moses and Aaron before Egypt.

We have a consistent God. The same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Jealous for the worship of His people. Unwilling to let His well-deserved glory go to another. He is not dead, He is alive. The stories of the plagues were real. It happened and it’s going to happen again. Only next time more terrible than the first.

Worship the King, my friend, and no other. He is faithful to His people and faithful to His promises. But He is also faithful to His justice and will not allow the diminishing of His name to go on forever. Judgment is coming, are you ready?

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What similarities do you see between the plagues of Egypt and the End Times? How should the fact that judgment is coming influence us today? Are you ready for the King to come?

photo by Pixabay

Why I’m Thankful God Hardens Hearts (I Know, Surprising)

“As the LORD had said,” is the last five words of verse 13. It refers to the LORD’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. And is the closing refrain to the hold-your-breath second encounter between Moses, Aaron, and Pharaoh. The one where they obediently did just as God commanded, throwing Aaron’s staff to the ground so it could miraculously turn into a serpent and prove their legitimacy.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 7:8-13
Key Verse: “Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.” Exodus 7:13

It’s a phrase we’re good with when it frames instances such as the birth of Isaac or the fulfilling of covenant promises. But when it’s attached to something like the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, we squirm. Causing at least me (and I’m thinkin’ a few others) to question the inevitable truths pouring fourth from its reality.

Did God really harden Pharaoh’s heart? Or did he just predict it? I’d like to think he just predicted it, but there’s no denying God had something to do with it. In Exodus 7:3 God tells Moses, “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart.” (Sounds pretty cut and dry if you ask me.)

And so with Aaron’s staff turned serpent slithering about the room, Pharaoh called for backup. His magicians, Jannes and Jambres, according to 2 Timothy 3:8, were able to mimic the same miracle without much effort. “For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents” (v. 12).

Taking the hissing slithering snake count from zero to three in a hurry. These were no garden snakes either. The Hebrew word used here for serpent is tannin which can also be used to refer to large reptiles like crocodiles. A possibility I wouldn’t rule out seeing as it was Egypt and not some place like Ohio. But the same Hebrew word is used in Deuteronomy 32:33 to refer to venomous snakes – something along the lines of a cobra.

Which is the direction I’m leaning for several reasons.

#1 The Bible says serpent. (So let’s not complicate things).

#2 The serpent was the symbol used by Egyptian Pharaohs to signify their sovereign, fierce, and undisputed power, typically displayed on a headdress they wore. (So I just think it makes sense.)

#3 This wasn’t just a diplomatic get together or a quarrel among men. But a spiritual battle of epic proportions against Satan, the ancient serpent (Rev. 12:9), who stood no chance of winning against the one and only Almighty God. Exemplified for everyone in the room when Aaron’s staff turned serpent easily swallowed the serpents of Pharaoh’s magicians. (Spoiler alert: Jesus wins.)

(And thus ends my three-part thesis as to why I’m going with snakes and not crocodiles. You can thank me later.)

I’m guessing tensions mounted quickly when the count went from one to three venomous snakes. Did anyone panic?  Did the guards flee? Were Moses and Aaron a bit taken back? I can’t help but wonder how long it took before Aaron’s staff swallowed theirs? Seconds? Minutes? Was it loud? Swift?

Inhaling for the first time in who knows how long, I’d have had a hard time not exhaling a big fat “What up now Pharaoh?”

But it wouldn’t have mattered. Pharaoh’s heart was hard, as the LORD had said, not only prior to this encounter, but all the way back in Midian when God told Moses, “But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go” (Ex. 4:21). A theme we’re going to see mentioned another 16 times before we’re out of Egypt. So apparently, it’s something God wants us to pay attention to.

But why? Doesn’t it put God in a bad light? If God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, isn’t he the one responsible for Pharaoh’s sin?

Some explain the concept away by saying Pharaoh’s heart was already hard. God knew what was in his heart (which is true), so he just went ahead and made sure it stayed hard during the plagues. (A theory I won’t argue against.)

But this isn’t the only time we see God harden a heart. Psalm 105:25 says God turned the hearts of the Egyptians “to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants.” Deuteronomy 2:30 says the LORD hardened King Sihon of the Amorites so he would not let Israel pass through. Joshua 11:20 speaks of the LORD hardening the hearts of the Canaanites “that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction.”

Aye yi yi, is this the God we love and serve? Yes, yes it is. God said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Exodus 33:19). “So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills” (Rom. 9:18).

“You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resister his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” (Rom. 9:19). (Paul’s words via the Holy Spirit, not mine, just so there’s no confusion.)

The truth is – we’re not going to understand it because His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are far above our thoughts. But here’s where we can rest: “His work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (Deut. 32:4).

If he hardens the heart of man (or woman for that matter) it’s done in holiness and faithfulness and perfection. It’s done in wisdom. It’s done without iniquity and is fully just. Desiring that all men come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), God does not harden the heart of a man for pleasure (Ezekiel 33:11), but for purpose.

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart that his power might be seen and his name proclaimed in all the earth (Rom. 9:9). Hence, we’re still telling the story today!

But you know who else God hardened? Israel. So the Jews of Christ’s day would put him on the cross. So the prophecies would be fulfilled. So every bit of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection could take place “as the LORD had said.” So we the gentiles, could have a chance. Could experience his mercy. Could be grafted in as sons and daughters of God; heirs of the promise of Abraham. (Anyone else besides me starting to feel differently about this hardening thing?)

My friend, if it weren’t for God’s ability to harden the hearts of men, we’d all be in trouble. Additionally, if He has the power to harden, He also has the power to soften. To not only turn the heart of the king (Prov. 21:1), but the hearts of my kids and my heart and yours and our neighbors and loved ones. Oh how thankful I am for God’s sovereignty over the hearts of men because it’s His mercy he continues to let in.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Does the concept of God hardening the heart of Pharaoh, or anyone for that matter, bother you? Or is something you readily accept?
How does the fact that God hardened the hearts of the Israelites, so that salvation could be available for all people, help you better understand the concept?

Why I Don’t Live However I Want To

Some would say we’re strict or maybe even legalistic because my husband and I don’t drink alcohol. Nor do we sit in the bar section at restaurants or go to R rated movies or work in the fields on Sundays.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 7:1-7
Key Verse: “As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16)

We’re careful to say the least. Not because I’m sinning if I drink a beer or sit on a bar stool or buy a ticket to an R rated movie. (Sorry we’re not going there today. And FYI these are our prayerful personal convictions. I’m OK if they’re not yours.)

But we’re careful because we bare the designation Christian quite loudly. At home, at work, out and about in the land of the living. (A place I don’t always get to with littles still at home with me.) But when I do make it out the door, I just might be the closest connection my neighbor, be it the person in line behind me, or the young couple sitting next to us at The Cheesecake Factory, has ever had with God. The first line of offense in a battle for lost souls.

Ambassadors for Christ as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:20. That’s how we think of ourselves and we want to do well in representing our Savior.

Moses had a similar set up. As God’s representative, he was the closest connection Pharaoh had ever had to the LORD Almighty. In fact, “The LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet” (v. 1). Phew! No pressure, huh.

Actually, for Moses it was probably more of a relief than anything else, considering Egyptian Pharaoh’s thought of themselves as deity. One among many, but a god no less. Thus, when pharaoh spoke he never did it directly, he had a representative speak on his behalf.

So giving Moses the same arrangement not only put him on a level playing field, it was a power play Pharaoh recognized. And what’s so great, is in time, God beat Pharaoh at his own game. Giving more power to Moses, a mere shepherd, than Pharaoh ever had.

But as God’s representative it wasn’t his position Moses needed to worry about. It was his obedience. Twice in the first ten verses of chapter 7 we’re told Moses and Aaron “did just as the LORD commanded them” (v. 6 & 10). Because as God’s ambassadors there was no other way.

Just think for a moment, if Moses and Aaron had said and done whatever they wanted, what kind of picture might they have painted for Pharaoh of this God he didn’t know. A god made in their own image? A god not worthy of much respect? A weak god? A fearful god?

Considering the world’s view of God today, I’m just wondering if we’ve painted, by our improv and misguided temper and impatience and lack of restraint and indifference and otherwise sluggish spirituality, a grossly inaccurate picture of the LORD God Almighty.

One with lots and lots of smeared paint. The kind you tilt your head one way and then the other and think, “Well my four-year-old could have painted that.” (Sorry art people. I mean no disrespect.)

But as God’s representatives have we given the world a clear picture? Or have we smeared the lines beating the drum of 1 Corinthians 6:12, that all things are lawful for me in Christ, though maybe not always beneficial.

It’s for freedom Christ has set us free (Gal. 5:1). Yes, indeed I totally agree. Yet, freedom in Christ is not freedom to live however we want, it’s freedom to live exactly as He wants. In righteousness. In relationship. In ready obedience to a holy God.

Basically, it’s freedom to live in such a way that reflects the character of God. So the world will see Him in us and fall on bended knee declaring, “I want that too. A relationship with the unbelievably amazing God who made me too and died for me too and loves me too. The one I see in you.”

So God said, “As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy”” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

Just as he told the Israelites, “For I am the LORD who brought you up out of the land of Egypt to be your God. You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy” (Lev. 11:45).

Because they [Israel] had one main job to do – show the world who God is. “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will display my splendor” (Is. 49:3). By living by Him, for Him, and through Him. A “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Ex. 19:6).

And the church? The same job. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

But what are we proclaiming? His excellencies or our own? Peter goes on to urge believers in the same passage to “abstain from the passions of the flesh which wage war against your soul.” Keeping our conduct among the gentiles honorable. Why? So they might see God in us and glorify Him.

So we live carefully. Hopefully above reproach, though nowhere near perfect. Doing our best to live uprightly in an upside-down world. Seeking daily to show the love of our good Father. By example. By self-control. By setting my rights aside. With a smile. A thank you. A patience not of myself. A helpful hand. An answer of hope.

Offering our whole bodies “as an instrument to do what is right for the glory of God” (Rom. 6:13, NLT). Because the last thing we want to do is smear the image of God in the mind of an already struggling soul.

Who needs to see a holy and righteous God who set not only His rights aside, but the splendor and glory and majesty of heaven, to hang on a cross for us – for them.

Therefore like Moses I seek, or at least try, (though some days I’m a blubbering failure) to do and say just as God’s commanded. Whether it’s easy or costly or fun or unfair. Living not however I want, but as God wants. Since He, for some marvelous reason, saw fit to make me His ambassador. (Oh the wonder of it all.)

May we today and everyday carefully consider our job as His representatives.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What does it mean to be an ambassador of Christ? In what way, by what choices, are you seeking to reflect the biblical character of God?

The Main Thing to Remember When Disbelief Sets In

You know what happens when life gets tough? Disbelief. That’s what. In my situation. “Why is this happening to me?” In people. “How could they do this to us?” In God. “I just don’t understand why God allowed this to happen.”

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 6:10-30
Key Verse: “The LORD said to Moses, “I am the LORD; tell Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say to you.”” Exodus 6:29

Pretty sure I’ve said all three. Multiple times. Multiple occasions.

So I feel for the Israelite’s. I really do. Finally, a word from the LORD. A ray of hope. Only to have all the clouds move back in and every bit of sunshine gone. “So much for gettin’ out of here. Instead, we’re all gonna die!” (My paraphrase.)

Their brick quotas suddenly insurmountable because of the decree from Pharaoh to gather their own straw, life looked bleak, to say the least.

Not even the amazing “I will” statements, the extensive promises God gave the people through Moses, helped. (Click here if you’re not sure what I’m talking about.) How do I know? Verse 9 goes on to say, “Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.”


Are we really that quick to give up on Jesus? Afraid so my friend, afraid so.

Good thing Jesus isn’t so quick to give up on us! Undeterred by the people’s lack of faith, the LORD tells Moses to high tail it on over to the palace to let Pharaoh know what’s up. Moses, however, was not so eager.

“Behold, the people of Israel have not listened to me. How then shall Pharaoh listen to me, for I am of uncircumcised lips?” (v. 12) Once again Moses’ insecurities were getting the best of him. (I hate it when that happens.)

Scholars differ as to whether Moses was merely referring to his lack of eloquence by using the phrase uncircumcised lips or if he was thinking back to the little circumcision issue that took place on the way to Egypt (Exodus 4:24-26).

Either way, I think it’s safe to say, Moses was feeling inadequate. After all, the people were upset with him. Pharaoh had scoffed at him. And nothing had gone as planned.

Furthermore, he was just an ordinary run of the mill kind of guy. Distinctly pointed out to us, in the latter half of this chapter, in the brief genealogy given for Moses and Aaron.

At first glance it might seem like an odd place for a genealogy. But God’s timing is always perfect, right? Nestled between bookends of Moses declaring his inability, it’s a final reminder of Moses’ humanity before things really get rolling. Before we see the power of God pour through Moses in ways that make children’s fairy tale books look boring.

But it wasn’t because Moses was something special. Nope. And what’s more, he had a sketchy family. Check out verse 20. “Amram took as his wife Jochebed his father’s sister, and she bore him Aaron and Moses.” Mmhmm, you read that right, Moses’ dad married his aunt. Sure things may have been different back then and it’s quite possible they were even close in age, seeing as women had babies much longer than they do today. (God bless them.) But I couldn’t help but bring it up.

Secondly, the genealogy makes it clear, Aaron and Moses are from the tribe of Levi. Which will be extremely important when we get to the Tabernacle. (The Levites were the priestly tribe.)

But what we need to see today, is that it wasn’t a descendant of everyone’s beloved Joseph that God chose to lead the people. It wasn’t even a descendant of Judah, the kingly tribe, from which David and Jesus descended. It was from the tribe of Levi.

Cursed by Jacob for his anger (Gen. 49:7), do you remember what Levi did? Killed all the men of Shechem, alongside brother Simeon. Because the prince of Shechem had raped their sister. It was bloody and messy. And a stain on Jacob’s family the rest of their lives.

This the family line Moses laid claim to. Yet, God chose him anyway because our past doesn’t disqualify us, it equips us. With a story to tell. Setting the stage for God to glorify himself. Yet much of the time, we think the opposite.

God can’t use me, just look at the family I come from.

Look at my past.

Look at my mistakes.

My inadequacies. My inexperience. My education. My lack of credentials. My reputation.

And before we know it, disbelief sets in.

But it’s not about our past, it’s about His presence. It’s not about our mistakes, it’s about His mercy. It’s not about our inadequacies, it’s about His supremacies. Nor is it about my lack of experience because all that really matters is His equipping.

God’s power is made perfect in weakness my friend. His glory shines best when I can’t, but He can. Moses couldn’t free the people. There was no way. But God could and God did.

The point? It wasn’t about Moses and his inadequacies. It wasn’t about the people and their disbelief. It wasn’t even about Pharaoh and his hard heart. It was about God and his power working despite humanity, on behalf of humanity, and in response to humanity.

It’s not about us, it’s about Him. An All-powerful, All-mighty, All-consuming, All-ready-got-it-taken-care-of God, who’s always faithful.

God’s reminder to Moses over and over was four words, “I am the LORD” (Ex. 6:28). Because that’s all Moses needed to remember.

Beloved of God. It doesn’t really matter if we can’t, what matters is God can. Every day, every hour, every minute He is the LORD, and He can.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What disbelief are you struggling with today? What steps can you take to trust the God who always and forever can even when we can’t?

When Expectations Go Unmet

Writing isn’t something I grew up thinking about. I didn’t hide with a notebook as a little girl sketching ideas for my future books. Nor did I study it in college. Even up until a few years ago, besides the weekly grocery list hanging inside my pantry and the occasional prayer in my journal, it wasn’t something I considered much.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 5:3 – 23
Key Verse: “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:9

So when God made it clear He wanted me to write, starting with a weekly devotional I posted online, I honestly expected it to be easy. After all it was His idea, not mine.

Surely, I wouldn’t have to fight tooth and nail for the time to get it done. Surely, I wouldn’t get discouraged. Surely, the readers would come flocking by the crowd full. I’d be filled to the brim with ideas. Agents and publishers would beat my door down. And Deeper Devos would catapult to the New York Time’s Best Seller list in no time. (Ahem. Please excuse me while I give myself an eyeroll.)

By the way, while we’re on the subject, pretty sure I had the same preconceived notions about motherhood, minus the best seller list. But absolutely lots of praise and appreciation and a few Best Mother Ever trophies to place on my shelf. (Side note: My four-year-old is currently crying over a massive bowl of Lucky Charms, refusing to eat those luscious marshmallows and I have no idea why.)

Unmet expectations. We’re OK with it, probably even anticipate it, when it comes to things like government and health insurance and movies and continental breakfasts. But when it comes to God’s will, and our acceptance of it, we’re completely blindsided when things go wrong and expectations go unmet.

We like to assume, if it’s God’s plan, there will be a wide, beautiful, well carved path, already in place. A scenic one with lovely trees and lovely people and maybe even a bench we can sit and rest at, while everything we need perfectly falls into place.

I think it’s what Moses anticipated too. If he was to bring the people out of Egypt then surely there’d be a nice, wide, lovely, path with a few benches. So when the journey began and their first step to freedom lead them right into a giant pot hole, I think it’s safe to say everyone, even Moses, was taken by surprise.

You see, apparently, when the people heard of God’s impending rescue, they no longer felt the urgency to work. (I can’t say I blame them.) But their idleness angered Pharaoh, who of course blamed Moses and Aaron for the people’s sudden laziness (v. 4). As a result, Pharaoh took away the straw the Israelites needed to make bricks and told them to go and gather it on their own. The catch was, they still had to make the same number of bricks.

Unfair? Yes, extremely unfair. The Hebrew foreman, beaten by their taskmasters when quotas weren’t met, went to Pharaoh in hopes of changing his mind, but Pharaoh refused. “You are idle, you are idle…. Go now and work. No straw will be given you, but you must still deliver the same number of bricks” (v. 17-18).

Unnerved by the new requirements the Israelites let loose on Moses and Aaron, “The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us” (v. 21).

Stunned by the sudden large pot hole they’d sunk into, Moses went to the LORD, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all” (v.22-23).

Unmet expectations? I think so. Not only does Moses blame God for this unforeseen trouble, but also for not delivering the people as He’d promised! But isn’t that just like us! To blame God for not doing things exactly as we thought he should. For not fulfilling his promises in the way we thought best. And frankly, letting us down.

I’ve felt it. The tug of disappointment when life didn’t sail as I thought. Up until 1am trying to finish a devotional I was just sure God had totally abandoned me on. Warn down from an unending virus circulating through our house. Fighting what seems to be an upheaval of demands on me as a mother, wife, committee member, employee, (fill in whatever title you’d like). Wondering if I took a wrong turn or did something wrong.

They (whoever they are) say the first step is always the hardest. But I beg to differ. The hardest steps are the one’s right in the middle. When doubt threatens to take over and fatigue sets in and we’re bombarded by the enemy in subtle, yet significant ways we hadn’t anticipated. Believing then God’s still in it, when our expectations go unmet, that’s the hard part.

Moses, however, did the right thing. He took his concerns to the LORD and then he held on. He stuck with it. He believed the LORD and in turn, saw the miraculous hand of God in ways he never could have fathomed. The plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the manna from Heaven, the giving of the law, the indwelling of the Tabernacle, the passing of God’s glory, the long conversations with Jesus.

All of it, I’m just certain he’d say, was worth the unexpected pot holes.

And as far as unmet expectations, when all was said and done, think Moses still had any? Do you think he got to the end of his life and thought, “You know LORD, you could have done better.” No. Not a chance.

“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:9

In his presence is fullness of joy and at his right hand are pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:11). Even in the scorched places. The places our hearts are scarred with disappointment and unmet expectations – there is joy and satisfaction in Christ. (Isaiah 58:11)

So don’t give up on Jesus. Instead, draw near. Do what Moses did and ask the hard questions. And then, wait. Because unmet expectations aren’t an indication of God’s absence. But an opportunity for God’s presence. A filling more desirable than anything we could have ever dreamed of.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What unmet expectations have you dealt with? How might those expectations be filled in Christ?
When and where have you seen God do far more abundantly than you ever could have imagined?

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The Most Important Question You Will Ever Answer

There is not a single human being who hasn’t met, face to face, some element of God’s grace. His undeserved goodness, His kindness, His patience has laced the souls of men from the beginning of time. From the caution to Cain to be careful, “sin is crouching at the door” (Gen. 4:7). All the way to the end, “And let the one who is thirsty come” (Rev. 22:17), the Scriptures are steeped with grace.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 4:29-5:2
Key Verse: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:18

Not to mention the breaths in between. The deep inhales of an orange and pink sunrise, a sloppy baby kiss, a tender I’ll-never-forget-this moment, a tulip in spring, a filling of peace, a long-awaited hello. It’s entwined with grace. All of it. Some measure of it giving glory to a creative, more than able, God.

As do the long exhales. The hard to get through seasons. The ones we get on the other side of and think, “I have no idea how I did that.” Grace. That’s how. God’s sweet enabling when honestly, we deserve much less.

It’s everywhere, God’s grace, and it met Israel face to face the day Moses unexpectedly walked back into their lives, with big brother Aaron by his side, to faithfully speak on his behalf of the suffering that had not escaped God’s sovereign glance. The land flowing with milk and honey. The freedom. And the impending rescue.

The people long in bondage heard it and saw it and accepted it for what it was. Grace cascading over their parched hearts. They believed Aaron. They believed Moses. They took God at his word and “they bowed their heads and worshiped” (v.31).

This the appropriate response to grace, surely filled Moses with a bucket or two of confidence prior to his initial meeting with Pharaoh. For when the moment came Moses and Aaron approached the king with awe-inspiring boldness. Like two men on a mission, they were out with it: “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness” (5:2).

And just like that God’s grace poured forth without restraint or apology, before Pharaoh as well. Yes, that’s right, grace. Though it wasn’t recognized as such, it was grace indeed.

You see the LORD had every right to take Pharaoh out then and there. Dismantling him from power. Eternally dismissing him with the lost for mistreating His firstborn son (Ex. 2:22). But God didn’t, not even close. Instead God gave him a chance, an opportunity, to say yes. (Grace.)

To step into the most beautiful of all relationships. The Creator with his creation. But Pharaoh rejected it. Seeing it as nothing more than a ridiculous notion, He responded to Moses and Aaron with the question every living, breathing soul must face at one point or another. “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go?”

Who is the LORD? Have you asked it? It’s a question we all must answer. Our response, leading us to either accept the grace before us or reject it. There’s no middle ground. No gray area to land within and still be ok. Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matt. 12:30). It’s a with or against situation. You’re either covered by the blood of Christ or you’re not.

John 3:18 says, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already,” leaving no space for wiggle room. Either you’re a servant of righteousness or a slave to sin (Rom. 6:16). A child of God or a child of the devil (Matt. 13:38). Doing the will of the Father in Heaven or doing the will of the father of lies (John 8:44).

Face to face with God’s grace, you either accept it or you don’t. And here in Exodus we see the stark contrast of those who accept it and those who don’t. Israel worshiped, but Pharaoh scoffed, “I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go” (v.2).

Grace my friend, it’s there for the taking. Wrapped in God’s mercies renewed with each day. Never diminishing in quality. Never ceasing in quantity. Yet the likes of which requiring a response. An answer to the still pertinent question: “Who is the LORD?”

Is He Jesus? The King of kings, the descendant of David, the bright morning star, the light of the world, the Savior, the Redeemer? The way, the truth, and the life? “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).

Or is he not? I know my answer. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus Christ, who came from the Father full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

And so I worship the King. The riches of his love too much for me to understand. “Saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:12)

Because grace met me. In the fullness of my sin, it met me. As it did on the banks of the Nile. When Moses and Aaron spoke first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles of the plan. The good news, that God had come to rescue his people. The gospel, if you will.

Received by one, but not the other. Resulting in worship by one, but not the other. Because of their answer to one simple question. “Who is the LORD?”

Thanks be to my LORD and God, Jesus Christ, through whom “we have all received grace upon grace” (John 1:16). Which is never a warrant to sin, but always and forever a means to worship.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Who is the LORD to you? Does your definition match the one given in the Bible?
How have you experienced God’s grace in your life?

Why Effective Ministry Starts at Home

Sometimes things in life are hard to understand. Like why a small pack of candy is called “fun size.” (What’s so fun about getting less candy?) Why the time of day with the slowest traffic is called rush hour. Why the guy we invest money with is called a broker. Why we call it a hamburger when there’s clearly no ham. And why the toilets in my house flush on the right side. (Go check yours and tell me the flusher isn’t on the left???)

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 4:18-26
Key Verse: “For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” 1 Timothy 3:5

Scripture has some hard to understand things as well. One of those being the section of verses before us today. After finishing his conversation with the LORD at the burning bush, Moses went back to his father-in-law, Jethro, and out of respect, asked permission to go to Egypt to see if his brothers were still alive.

Which may have been partly true. It had been forty years and under the hand of harsh treatment, Moses probably wondered who had passed and who was still living. But God had made it clear his people were still alive. Which leads us to think Moses wasn’t completely honest with Jethro. Leaving out a few key details. Like the fact that God had already commanded him to go.

No matter, Jethro said yes. “Go in peace” (v.18). So with one last push from the LORD, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead” (v. 19), Moses set his wife and sons on a donkey and with “the staff of God in his hand” set out for Egypt.

All well and good until we get to verse 24. And our eye brows furl. And our head cocks to the side. And we think, “Well that doesn’t make any sense.” It reads, “At a lodging place on the way the LORD met him and sought to put him to death.” Say what?

After all that conversation. After all that coaxing. After all that reassuring and instructing – the LORD meets his chosen man on a path of newly trodden obedience to put him to death. (And I thought right side flushing toilets were hard to understand.)

To save her husband’s life, Zipporah “took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and touched Moses feet with it.” In other words, she circumcised her boy. I’m guessing the youngest (since it’s singular). And let’s just say she wasn’t happy about it, calling Moses “a bridegroom of blood.” (Them’s fightin’ words if you ask me.)

Anyway, somehow, they figured out Moses’ life hung in the balance because they hadn’t circumcised their son. A requirement for every male in a Hebrew household, whether born in the house or bought. It began with Abraham back in Genesis 17. It was the sign of the covenant. The very covenant God was now faithfully fulfilling through Moses.

But for whatever reason Zipporah didn’t want it done. Maybe the circumcision of their first born hadn’t gone well. Or maybe it felt wrong. Maybe it was just too much for her to watch or she just plain didn’t want to. (I’ve been there a time or two.)

Nonetheless, obedience to God’s commands came first. Before feelings and opinions and wants and don’t-want-tos.

Before Moses could answer the call. Before ministry could begin. Before God could use him outside his home, obedience had to take place right there with the people he loved most.

“For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” (1 Tim. 3:5)

No level of ministry or calling or job outside the home, excuses us from living within the parameters God sets inside the home. If anything, ministry outside the home, heightens the need of ministry inside the home.

Yet sometimes, it feels like a lesser calling. The loving of our spouses. The teaching of Scripture to our children. The endless instructing. The talk of God’s sovereignty in a sunrise or the reminder of godly obedience in a reprimand. It feels small and repetitive.

And it’s easy to set it aside. For something of greater importance. Something with more immediate results or praise.

Or to simply let things slip. Because we’re tired. Because we’re comfortable. Because we’ll get to it later.

But how can we say it in public, if we don’t do it in private? How can we speak the Word to others, when we don’t believe it enough to live it ourselves? Though we can’t always control the outcome, of those inside (or outside) our barn wood clad decorated walls, we can, if we want to, be the example.

So important was this to God he was willing to put Moses to death. To start over. To find someone else to do the job if Moses didn’t adhere to the command of circumcising his sons.

For it was only a matter of time before he’d be reminding the Israelite’s to do the same. Passing along the LORD’s requirement of anyone, whether foreigner, slave, visitor, stranger, or relative, to be circumcised prior to eating the Passover meal. “But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it” (Ex. 12:48).

You see it wasn’t just the Israelite’s who fled the land of Egypt. There were likely Egyptians and other foreigners who tagged along in awe of the powerful God of the Hebrews. Which the LORD welcomed, but to take part in the celebration of God’s deliverance, they first had to identify themselves as one of God’s people. And that was done by circumcision. A command Moses had to live, before he could give.

If we want to be used by God, it starts at home. Faithfully, daily, adhering, to the instructions we’ve already been given. No matter how small or unimportant or tedious or hard it may seem, none of it is optional for a servant of God.

And when we obey. When we take the time to adhere to the seemingly lesser instructions. Abiding by the word of God, serving Jesus, in the spaces only those closest to us see, God will use us in the bigger, more wide open places.

But it starts in the quiet, not often viewed, seemingly unimportant, little things, of home.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Why do you think ministry outside the home, heightens the need for ministry inside the home?
Are there areas of obedience in your personal and home life, that you’ve set aside to answer the call of ministry elsewhere? What steps can you take to fix that today?

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