When It’s NOT OK to Compromise

As a farmer’s wife who built a house in the middle of a field, close enough to our hog barns it’s convenient to spread manure on, I have certain – how shall I say this – privileges, not everyone gets to experience. Like flies. Thousands upon thousands of flies in the heat of July, covering my lovely abode, like a bunch of sugar crazed elementary kids out for recess.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 8:20-32
Key Verse: “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2

Dare to open the front door and recess just moved inside. The problem is when four children live in your home, you might as well take off the hinges and call it indoor/outdoor living because let’s be honest, kids don’t know how to close doors.

Anyway, with his otherwise even keeled wife (at least that’s how I like to think of myself), about to hop tractors over to the funny farm, my man did what every good husband would do: he googled it. Wherein he was told this fly bag, filled with decaying chicken scraps or spoiled milk, would trap them all. Of course we bought one.

The smell was horrid but praise be to Jesus, it worked. There were still flies, mind you, but we could once again walk outside without being attacked. (Though I still yelled kindly asked my little lovies to CLOSE THE DOOR whenever they went outside.)

The poor Egyptians however had no Google, no Amazon Prime, and no fly bags. (Sheesh, life must have been rough.) So when God sent swarms and swarms of flies to cover their land and houses and food and bodies and everything they owned – I can only imagine, it was crazy town.

Except in the land of Goshen, the part of Egypt the Israelite’s called home. There, not a fly buzzed, not a woman swatted, not a speck of land was ruined, because God protected Israel from the devastating effects of the fourth plague. Declaring it the first ever “no-fly zone” (literally) so that Pharaoh would know He is the LORD. And consequently, so would Israel and Egypt alike.

Because in every other part of the country the land was ruined (v. 24). Devoured by swarms of ruthless flies (Psalm 78:45), yet Goshen miraculously remained untouched.

This truth ruffling Pharaoh’s headdress enough he alas yielded, a little. “Go sacrifice to your God within the land” (v. 25).

Not a bad concession for a guy like Pharaoh. In fact, many would have chalked it up as a win for Moses and Aaron. (Come on guys, just take the deal.) But without hesitation, Moses declined. Telling Pharaoh, no way, no how was that going to work. “The Egyptians will stone us for having a nationwide BBQ right in front of their fly eaten faces.” (My paraphrase.)

Probably true. But the real reason Moses said no isn’t for fear of the Egyptians, but for fear of God.  The LORD’s instruction was clear, “Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness” (Ex. 7:16). Not in bondage, but in freedom.

Egypt’s deliverance a picture of our salvation, it wasn’t going to work to stay in Egypt to worship God. “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). Made new in Christ, we’re free. He doesn’t lead us half way out of bondage and then tell us “That’s good enough.” No, He takes a repentant sinner all the way to victory, every single time.

The problem is, we tend to compromise. The problem is, us. Given the freedom to make choices we walk right back into Egypt. Right back into the place we’ve been comfortable in for so many years. Because it’s easier. (No one ever said living apart from the world was going to be easy.) Because it looks more fun. Because otherwise we might be labeled one of those fanatical Christians.

Or maybe because we don’t believe we’re actually free. Lured by Satan’s compromises we take the deal. We worship, but we stay in Egypt. Holding onto this habit or that one because we couldn’t really give it up. Making little allowances here and there. Going to church but carefully blending in the rest of the week. Believing the lie, we can be buddies with the world and with Jesus all at the same time, a win-win for everyone. (cf. James 4:4)

But like Moses, no way, no how, can we take the deal. It’s not what God intended. It’s not what’s He’s commanded. He’s instructed wholehearted obedience. “But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15). I know not totally possible while still in the flesh, but we’re to give it a go nonetheless.

He’s instructed us to be set apart. To be in the world but not of the world. No longer conformed, but transformed by the renewal of our minds (Rom. 12:2). Abhorring what is evil and holding fast to what is good (Rom. 12:9).

But it’s not going to happen unless we decide we’re all in. Freed from sin and death and not going back. No matter how good the deal might sound, we’re not taking it. We won’t compromise, not when it comes to God’s word. Though we know the devil will try.

As he did with Eve (And we know what happened there.) As he did with Jesus. (And we know what happened there!) And as he will do again, offering the bait of compromise over and over.

Accordingly, this is the first of three compromises offered by Pharaoh (Satan doesn’t give up easily.) The second came at the threat of locusts. Urged by his servants to “let them go already!” Pharaoh says OK fine the Israelite’s can go, but no taking the women and children! Only the men can go and sacrifice to the LORD.

Knowing he’s in a losing battle, ever seen Satan try that one? Keep us too busy, keep us distracted, keep us entertained long enough to leave our kids behind. To not teach them the ways of the LORD. Or not include them for one reason or another in the ministry we’re involved with. Maybe it’s to protect them. Or maybe like me, it’s because we’re just too tired. So they miss out at seeing the hand of God at work. They miss out on answered prayer. And then what? They grow up and walk away from Jesus.

The third suggested compromise came with the ninth plague. Pharaoh conceded that the entire family could go, as long as the herds and flocks stay behind. A bit of a problem if they were to fulfill the required sacrifices.

We see this one daily too. Don’t give God your time. Don’t give God your talents. Don’t give God your best. Those are for you to enjoy. Besides, it’s too much effort and you deserve the proceeds, not Him. (I’ve certainly been tempted, you?)

But when it came to God’s instructions Moses was nonnegotiable. And the result? A work of God in his life so marvelous it took his breath away. My friend, compromising isn’t worth it. It may look good. It may even look like a win-win, but decide today, right now, you won’t take the deal. Because when it comes to the word of God, victory is never found halfway.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
In what areas are you compromising with God’s word? Have you taken any deals?
How can you experience victory today?

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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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Whose Presence Do You Rely on Most

My nemesis in the fourth grade was reading out loud. I dreaded it. And inevitably the weekly story was read paragraph by paragraph, around the room, one desk at a time. Instantly I’d start counting. Which paragraph is going to be mine? Is it long? Is it short? Are there any words I don’t know how to pronounce?

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 4:10-17, 27-28
Key Verse: “Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” Exodus 4:12

Because that’s the worst, right? Reading a hard-to-sound-out word entirely wrong. Like the word colonel, which I phonetically sounded out as call-on-el, instead of kernel, much to the dismay of my classmates. But since when did the letter L make an R sound? And how had I missed the memo?

Incidentally, my second fourth grade archrival, the spelling bee. Waiting in line to spell a word in front of all my peers; I may as well have been waiting in line to have my arms broken.

Maybe it’s not a struggle for you, but for many, whether reading or speaking or praying or reciting a well memorized speech, the sound of one’s own voice in a public setting, can be paralyzing. The thought of messing up, sets every anxiety induced nerve at full throttle.

Just thinking about it, are you nervous yet? Moses was. The thought of speaking to Pharaoh in front of all those people; he didn’t want to do it. His excuse? A lack of eloquence. Saying to the LORD, “I am slow of speech and of tongue” (v. 10).

To which the LORD replied, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak” (v. 11-12).

Based on the LORD’s reply many scholars believe Moses had a speech impediment. A stutter, perhaps. But seeing as public speaking has been a top priority fear for umpteen generations, I’d say it’s also entirely possible his resistance was all nerves. After all, the LORD had just told him to go and tell the most powerful man on earth he was losing his free work force. “No thanks Jesus, please send someone else.”

Which is exactly what Moses said, kindling the LORD’s anger. (Finally.) Yet still the LORD didn’t rant at Moses. He didn’t bring up the number of times Moses had already questioned him. Or yell at him for lacking faith. Instead, the LORD graciously offered the help of Aaron, Moses’ older brother. Whom the LORD had already prompted to start walking that way (v. 14). (Isn’t He so very kind?)

The LORD knows our frailties, the cause of our undoing’s.  He knows what makes us feel safe and what makes us squirm. And he knows we need each other. He’s made us for fellowship and interaction. He’s made us for friendship and communion. That’s why he’s made us part of the body of Christ.

So we can help each other. So we can encourage and lift one another up. It’s a privilege, not a problem, to come alongside a sister in Christ with much needed words, a hot pan of lasagna, a skill, or an effort far above anything I could do on my own. I know it, every time I’m on the receiving end.

The downside, it’s much easier to rely on the tangible hand of my mom, sister, best friend, or man than it is to rely on my God. Whose ways are not my ways. Whose thoughts are not my thoughts.

God had assured Moses multiple times, “I will be with you.” Over and over he said it. Yet, it was only after gaining the assurance of Aaron by his side – a weak, sinful man, like himself – that Moses agreed to go.

And I get it. All too well. The security a friend offers. The boldness it instills to have a physical hand to hold. A visible face. A discernable voice. It just feels good and right and easier. (So much easier.)

But when our go to is the word of a friend, instead of the word of God, it’s good to reevaluate. Because where does my help come from? “My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:2). Along with my mouth and hands and heart. Forming, arranging, weaving, until I was just right, for the kingdom worthy works He prepared in advance for me to do (Eph. 2:10).

There’s no greater presence than the Almighty. And no better friend than the one who made me. He gets me, inside and out, He gets me. Yet my tendency, like Moses, is to find more comfort in the assurance of weak human flesh, than in the promised presence of Jesus. When there’s no one more able than He.

When the LORD says go there and do this. Or stay here and don’t miss the powerful way I’m going to work through you. I can do it. I can watch or wait or speak or move forward because it’s the LORD God Almighty who’s with me.

I love God’s assurance to Moses. “I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” How much better it is when we go in His strength and our weakness; for His power is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). His glory made known in the trenches. His majesty unveiled every time we allow Him to lengthen our short comings.

Thanks be to God who made my mouth. And promised always to go with me, whether I pick up a friend along the way or not. Incidentally, reading out loud is now one of my favorite things. And speaking? Another. If you have a lady’s event, I’d be honored to come in His strength, by His might, with His word, and share what God’s been teaching me. Rothbury Community Church, I’ll see you in a few weeks. (Just don’t ask me to join a spelling bee.)

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Whose presence do you rely most on?
Do you tend to go to God first or a friend, spouse, or relative, when you have a concern? Is the presence of God enough to make you go or do or be whatever God asks of you? Why or why not?

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Why Moses Didn’t Need to Hesitate and Neither Do We

“But what if they don’t believe me?” Have you asked it? Have you sat on the edge of uncertainty, fingers tightly knit, thumbs pressed hard against forehead and thought, “They’ll think I’m crazy.”

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 4:1-9
Key Verse: “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18)

If I tell the truth. If I lay it down, raw and real. Straight. No matter how absurd it might sound. How unrealistic. How much against the grain it rubs; rigid and rough on open wounds
It’s where Moses was. Hard pressed against a story he wasn’t sure they’d believe. “You mean to tell us after all these years God showed up to you, in a bush, out there, and talked about us? Sure, Moses, sure.”

A valid concern considering Moses had no eye witness and God had been silent for how many years now? But on the other hand, God had already assured, “They will listen to your voice, and you and the elders of Israel shall go to the king of Egypt and say to him, “The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us” (Ex. 3:18).

According to God, not only would the Israelite’s believe Moses, but the elders would go with him! Taking Moses’ story on as their very own. (Note the word “us.”) Come on Moses get it together!

Yet I can’t point even one finger at the guy, because in all honesty, I’m just like him telling the LORD I can’t do it. I can’t tell those people about Jesus. What if they don’t believe me? What if they ask me to prove his existence? His love? His rescue? After everything they’ve been through. Everything they’ve lost.

Yet God has already assured me, and you, “Go…I am with you always” (Matt. 28:19-20). “Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together” (Jn. 4:35-36).

“And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself” (Jn. 12:32). People from every color and background. “I’ll drag them” (Jn. 6:44), Jesus said, “you just tell them.”

But I don’t. Rubbing shoulders with the lost, I say nothing. Though God’s given us a sign. The tomb, empty. The stone, rolled aside. The angel, waiting to proclaim the good news that Christ has risen! That it happened just as he’d promised. Just as he’d poured into the disciples. Conquering death himself, that it might not reign in me or you or our kids or neighbors.

And you know, he gave Moses a sign too. Three of them actually. Declaring his sovereignty with each one. First up, was Moses’ staff. A tool for walking and herding. “Throw it on the ground” (v. 2), God said. So Moses did, and immediately it became a serpent.

He fled. I would have too. But God instructed him to pick it back up by the tail. “Are you crazy? You don’t pick snakes up by the tail!” That’s what I would have said. But Moses under the instruction of He who made all creatures great and small, reached out and taking tail in hand felt the scaly skin of the snake return to the familiar feel of his staff.

Then the LORD told Moses to put his hand inside his cloak. And when he pulled it out it was leprous. Saturated with an incurable skin disease. A disease highly feared because it meant complete isolation. If Moses was frightened by the snake I can only imagine the quickening of heart he experienced when he saw his hand.

But then God instructed, “Put your hand back inside your cloak.” So Moses did and his hand was restored. (Shew. You can breathe now Moses.)

Two miraculous signs clearly demonstrating the power of God. The first over creatures or Satan for that matter. (I don’t think it was any accident God turned the staff into a serpent.) The second over man. He would and could do whatever he wanted to man. Turning Pharaoh’s heart any direction He deemed necessary.

So the third sign demonstrated God’s power over the still missing category – nature. “If they will not believe even these two signs or listen to your voice, you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground, and the water that you shall take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground” (v. 9).

The Nile was life for the Egyptians. So to see it turn to blood, meant death. Perhaps then, there’s a deeper meaning here. One reminiscent of the gospel.  If you don’t believe the first sign, demonstrating God’s authority over Satan, His supremacy, His ultimate rule. Then you won’t get to experience the second. A cleansing.

Leprous with sin our only hope is the purifying work of God through faith in Jesus Christ. Leaving you with only one option, the third sign, death. Eternal and permanent separation from God.

It was the raw and open truth – the LORD is God, and there is no other – handed to Israel (and the Egyptians) in three specific signs. His power made evident, all Moses needed to do was go and God would do the rest.

Sound familiar? I think we know the command well. “Go and make disciples…” Tell them of “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction” (Rom. 3:22). “So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God” (Gal. 4:7).

You see Moses isn’t the only one sanctioned with an amazing message, assured of God’s presence, and told to go! But have we gone? In the strength of the Spirit have we told the world, enslaved to sin, it’s in Christ they can have freedom? (Gal. 5:1)

“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Cor. 1:18). The only sign we need we’ve already been given – the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The good news. The gospel. The power of God.

So hand in hand, in His presence, with His promise, by His power, what do you say, should we get moving?

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Is the gospel a message you readily proclaim or mostly keep quiet? Is it the power of God or a story you’ve grown all too familiar with?
How has the gospel changed your life? Why do you think we hesitate to share our story with others?

When We’re Not Who We Want to Be, God Is

Most days, I’m not who I want to be or need to be. I lack patience with my children. I lack godly perseverance – at least the kind that lasts all the way until bed time. I get frustrated with the world around me – that guy’s driving too slow, that person took my parking spot. (Don’t they know I have two kids in the car with me and no working umbrella???) There’s more air, than chips, in my $3.99 bag of Doritos. And gracious why does rural internet have to be so slooowwww! (Yes, please go right ahead and feel sorry for me.)

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 3:11-22
Key Verse: “God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14

Not only that, but momma just wants to potty by herself occasionally. Know what I mean? But honestly, if that’s all I have to complain about, life’s pretty good. Yet nine times out of ten, the unexpected rough edges of my day, put me over the edge.

And then the guilt sets in. What is wrong with me? Is a spilled bag of gold fish crackers really that big of a deal? Based on my over the top reaction – it’s apparently life threatening. Who knew?

Basically, I stumble when there’s no reason to stumble. I get overwhelmed when I shouldn’t be overwhelmed. I huff and puff over things that are not huff and puff worthy. I make bumps into mountains, toddler accidents into crimes of serious offense, and my daily agenda the responsibility of everyone I meet – whether they’re related to me or not.

Let’s face it – I’m a mess. Like the apostle Paul, the things I want to do, I don’t do. And the things I don’t want to do, I do. Over and over again, I do them. Though the world wouldn’t label me terrible, I’m not who I want to be.

And the truth is, I never will be. At least not without Jesus. Which is why I love the name God reveals to Moses from the confines of the burning bush. Not only does it proclaim his eternal existence and external independence, but it sets the stage for Jesus to fill every single one of my lack thereof’s. (And yours too.)

With the weight of his new job expanding in his gut, Moses needed to know, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” (v. 13)

In other words, if you’re going to make me do this. I need more. I need assurance. I need truth and substance. Something to hold on to.

To which God replied, “I AM WHO I AM.” “Say this to the people of Israel, I AM has sent me to you…The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you” (v. 14-15).

His answer was three-fold, giving some Biblical scholars pause. Is his name I AM? Or I AM WHO I AM? Otherwise translated I AM WHAT I AM or I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE. Or is it LORD, commonly translated as Yahweh by both Jewish and Christian scholars. Yet in the original Hebrew it was written as YHWH with no vowels because a) they did not use vowels in the original written Hebrew and b) they believed God’s name too holy to speak aloud, so they wrote it in such a way no one could say it.

But I don’t think we need to argue over what name God intended because I think it’s safe to say he’s c) all of the above. He is who He is apart from us, apart from time, apart from circumstances. And he will always be the same. No shifting, no changing, no rearranging with the seasons. Whatever He is, He is.

Specifically, He is the LORD, Yahweh. The personal God of the Hebrews. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Redeemer. The one who faithfully fulfills every promise. “I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and land flowing with milk and honey” (v. 17).

Because I AM able. I AM willing. I AM with you. I AM faithful. “Whatever you need Moses, I AM.” My words, not God’s, but I don’t think God could have picked a better name. Moses would face fierce opposition, as God warned in verse 19, but I AM was with him. And when I AM is with you, there is nothing you can’t do

When the days are long and the nights are short, with I AM there is patience. When the ride is rough, there is endurance. When life is upside down, there is perspective. When you’re broken, there is healing. When you’re weak, there is strength. When you’re the widow, there is peace. When you’re the caregiver, there is strength.

When you’re the worn down, tired of saying no, I-didn’t-know-it-would-be-this-hard mommy, there is purpose. When you’re the ragged, there is righteousness. When you’re the disgraceful, there is forgiveness. When you’re the rejected, there is acceptance. When you’re the unloved, there is love.

There is no gap the LORD can’t fill. No barrier he can’t break. No lack thereof he can’t provide. He is all things, to all people, all day because HE is Jesus. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:15-16).

How do I know? In John 8:58 Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was born, I am!” The great I AM came in the flesh so he could be the I AM of all believers. “I am the bread of life. I am the good shepherd. I am the door. I am the light of the world. I am the way, the truth, and the life. I am the resurrection and the life. I am the true vine.”

“I AM,” said Jesus. And “unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins” (John 8:24b). Declaring also in Revelation 1: 8, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

Jesus is the great I AM and he’s promised to be with us too. As we, like Moses, go and seek to tell the world about a God they’ve not necessarily seen before. And though they’ll be opposition. Though we’ll fumble our way through. Though we’ll mess up. Though we’ll struggle, doing the very things we don’t want to do, I AM is with us.

And in Him we can live godly and upright lives (Phil. 4:13), holding hands with Joy along the way. Befriending Peace. Pulling up a seat next to Hope; in the house of Endurance; on a street named Patience.

So whatever it is you face today or tomorrow or next week, know this, I AM is with you. Filling the gaps of whatever it is you need to do it well and do it holy. Thank you, Jesus. May I look to you every step of the way.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Is Jesus the great I AM of your life? Do you tend to rely on yourself or Jesus in the day to day of life? What steps can you take to remain in Christ and the power, strength, and endurance he gives?

A Christian’s Connection to the Burning Bush

I’d call it the iconic symbol of Moses’ life – the burning bush. It was the moment of his calling. A moment that took him by complete surprise. Out shepherding his father-in-law’s flocks, who had wandered up Mt. Horeb. Or perhaps he led them there, unaware of the sovereign hand guiding him along, when he noticed a bush on fire but not really.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 3:1-10
Key Verse: “And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.” Exodus 3:2

It was burning but wasn’t burned up. Intrigued Moses got closer. But stopped short when God – the one and only, Maker of Heaven and earth – called to him out of the bush.

“Moses, Moses!” said the LORD. Or the angel of the LORD as it says in verse 2. Not “an angel” but “the angel.” Identified as none other than the LORD by Hagar, Abraham, Jacob, and a few others.

Including Zechariah who saw a vision of Joshua the High Priest standing before the angel of the LORD while Satan stood close by to accuse him. Do you know what the angel of the LORD did in that vision? He looked at Joshua clothed in his filthy garments and said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments” (Zech. 3:4).

I could read Zechariah 3 all day and never tire of it. The picture it draws. The reminder it gives. The comfort it brings. But the point today – it’s Jesus that takes away our iniquities and Jesus that clothes us with garments of righteousness.

Thus, it’s my humble opinion, along with some certainly smart scholars, that THE angel of the LORD spoken of in the Old Testament is none other than the preincarnate Jesus Christ. Who we know, without the slightest bit of doubt, is God himself. (Jn. 1:1; Jn. 10:30)

So let’s recap the scene before us. There alone, on a mountain perhaps six or seven thousand feet in elevation, with who knows how many sheep nearby, stood Moses at eighty years young. Staff in hand, before a bush burning with the radiance of God’s glory, Christ Jesus himself.

Yet little did he know it. Until God introduced himself. “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (v. 6). “Well hey there God, how’s it goin’?” No, he hid his face in fear.

Because this God of ours is not a cute grandpa somewhere up in the sky. He’s not close kin with Santa. He’s not hanging out at the end of a rainbow or stuffed inside a bottle ready to grant our wishes. Nor is he a tyrant, club in hand, waiting for us to mess up.

He’s a consuming fire. A just and holy God. Righteous in all his ways. Appropriately jealous for the affections of his people. Unwilling to share his well-deserved glory. Requiring heart, unbending, unyielding allegiance.

So he appears to Moses as fire. Just as he did perhaps a year later or so, at the very same mountain, to a consecrated Israel awaiting a word from the LORD at the bottom. Only that time it wasn’t a bush God consumed with his all-encompassing presence, but an entire mountain.

“The smoke of it went up like the smoke of a kiln, and the whole mountain trembled greatly” (Ex. 20:18). The scene so frightening the next time God wanted to speak to Israel they told Moses to just go and meet with him alone. “No thanks Moses, you take care of it for us.”

Fire often representative of God’s wrath in Scripture it not only warned Israel of the judgment that would come on them, if they did not accept and obey the law of the LORD, but it also gave them a visual of God’s powerful protection over the righteous. And his judgment on their enemies. His willingness to consume without resignation the evil, the vile, the enemies of His goodness.

As he did on Sodom and Gomorrah when sulfur and fire rained down from heaven on the ungodly. And will yet do again when fire consumes heaven and earth on “the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly” (2 Peter 3:7). (Scripture is no bed of roses.)

But in between those two events, God’s wrath was fully, unequivocally poured out on Christ; every bit of it. Yet he was not consumed, just as the bush before Moses was not consumed. A “root out of dry ground” as Christ is called in Isaiah 53. Scarred by our sin, but unscathed in nature, as was the bush.

A root that grew into nothing more than a simple shrub mind you. Not a tall, stately tree. Not a majestic sapling. Just an ordinary, run of the mill, nothing special about it bush. Unnoticed by the typical passerby. Unawares in beauty. As was Christ, who “had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him” (Is. 53:2).

Furthermore, the Hebrew word used for bush in this passage is seneh believed to be representative of a thorny bush. And if so, it’s no less perfectly fitting, for thorns are a direct result of a curse upon the ground (Gen. 3:18). A brutal consequence of sin. Sin that eventually placed a crown of thorns upon our Savior’s head as he so graciously “redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us – for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree” (Gal. 3:13).

All of it – so we would not be consumed. So we could not only dwell in the presence of the all-consuming, holy God forever and ever but BE the dwelling of the holy God forever and ever.

Ordinary in our existence, yet extraordinary through his existence. He’s indwelt us. He’s remade us into a temple, a sanctuary for His very presence – just as he did the ordinary, run of the mill, thorny, unimpressive bush was those many years ago.

But are we on fire? Or have we squelched his igniting presence, his undeniable radiance, with our wants and lack thereof’s? Our busy and wishes for not so much busy. Our worries, our disappointments, our readily available entertainment and knee jerk reaction to go to our phones in the fading quiet moments – instead of the one who has the power to actually refill every bit of our empty cup?

He’s still a consuming fire and he’s consumed us. So let’s be the light and radiance of glory he’s intended for us to be, that others may see something different in us, and come and seek as Moses did. And in the end, see Jesus.

“In the same say, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Would you consider yourself on fire for God? Why or why not? Do you view God as an all-consuming fire or more like a good buddy that just winks at our sin?
How can you bear witness to God’s holy and mighty presence today?

Does God Really See Me?

It’s not hard for me to believe God is real. One brief look at the mountains, the diverse array of snowflakes sprinkling my yard, or my children for that matter, and I’m convinced. That kind of intricacy just doesn’t happen by chance.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 2:23-25
Key Verse: “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel – and God knew.” Exodus 2:24-25

Neither is it hard for me to believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Savior. He’s God – why couldn’t he raise from the dead?  But when it comes to believing he just heard that prayer I uttered five minutes ago, yesterday, last week, last year. The one I’ve prayed more times than I can count – the struggle is real.

Perhaps it’s because there’s typically no confirmation. The word “received” doesn’t show up in tiny letters like it does after I send a text. I can’t check my sent e-mail to see if it went through. Nor is there a check mark or a little profile picture in the bottom right corner to show me God’s got the message.

Usually – there’s nothing. Just me still sittin’ on the couch. Hoping my words made it past the ceiling. A lot little unsure my prayer efforts are having any impact. Which is why I’ve spent the last week edging my faith with the last three verses of Exodus 2.

A hidden treasure I would do well to dig up and keep forever, but I’m happy to share. It says, God heard the cries and prayers of the Israelites, he remembered the covenant he had made with Abraham, he saw the people, and he knew. (v. 24-25).

God heard, God remembered, God saw, God knew. (A precious gem of confirmation my friend. That’s what that is.) God heard every cry of his people. Every uttered prayer – the long ones, the short ones, the quick under the breath ones, even the undecipherable ones. Each went up to Heaven’s throne room and he heard them.

Psalm 34:15 says, “The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry” (NIV). Did you catch that second part? He’s attentive. Not like me who’s usually only half listening  because I’m steeped inside my own thoughts. God’s all ears when it comes to his children.

Knowing our needs before we even ask (Matt. 6:8). But if we’re choosing sin over him – it’s a different story. In Prov. 28:9 God is quite clear, “If anyone turns a deaf ear to my instruction, even their prayers are detestable” (NIV). Or if we’re just asking on behalf of our own selfish desires, no need to expect much (Ja. 4:3).

But when we’re living in obedience. When we’re abiding in him and his ways, look out! “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16). Pray with faith (James 1:15). Pray amidst mounds of thankfulness (Phil. 4:6). Pray with a heart of humility (Mark 11:25). Pray according to God’s will (Matt. 6:10). And pray always (1 Thess. 5:17). Because He’s listening.

And remembers every single thing He says. (Something I’m terrible at.) I will say one thing and have no idea what I just said five minutes later (Just ask my kids.) But God – He remembers. Choosing to forget one thing and one thing only – my sin (Isaiah 43:25). Everything else – God’s got at the forefront of his mind always with every person and each situation. (I’d never keep it all straight.)

But God does. And moves on our behalf because he remembers his promise to be with us; his promise to never forsake us. His promise to save and keep and work in our lives until the day of Christ Jesus (Phil 1:6). As he did here when he remembered his covenant with Abraham to be God to the nation that would come through Isaac. To bring them out of slavery and bless the world through them.

Beloved he’s not forgotten, he remembers. And He sees. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes” (Phil. 4:13, NLT). Even our thoughts are laid bare. Spread before God without delay (or apology for that matter).

Because He is ‘El Ro’i, a God of seeing, as Hagar came to understand alone in the wilderness. Desperate, tired, afraid, hurt, angry, unsure of the future that awaited her she saw God, because he saw her. Raw. Rejected. Riled by a life she didn’t ask for. Can you relate? He sees you.

Just as he saw the Israelites stuck inside the confines of cruel injustice and moved on their behalf, he sees you and me stuck inside the parameters of a sin nature. Unable to save ourselves. Unable to befriend righteousness. Burdened with a love for self and bought by the ways of this world.

So He himself stepped in. Seeing no one else to intercede God, “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).

Because he knows. He knows we’re bogged down by the finite and baffled by the eternal. He knows we’re limited in understanding and led by perception. He knows we’re knee deep in desire. He knows we’re worried about tomorrow and worked up about yesterday. He knows we’re tired of the frenzy and feeling fatigued.

He knows we have plans yet hesitate about our purpose. He knows we’re anxious, scared, sad, uncertain, ready for a new adventure. He knows. He knows it all. Every longing. Every line item. Every little nuance we have.

But the LORD also knows – the reward is not in having our desires met or problems solved, it’s in knowing Him. (John 17:3) So his goal isn’t to make it easy, but to make it eternal. So that we’ll hear him, remember him, see him, and know him.

The question isn’t – is God listening? The question isn’t – does God remember? The question isn’t – does God see? The question isn’t – does God know? The question is – do we? Are we listening? Do we remember? Do we see him? Do we know him?

He knows my friend, so all we really need to do is concentrate on knowing him.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Do you question whether God hears your prayers and understands your desires? When have you seen God answer your prayers above and beyond anything you could have ever imagined?

designPhoto credit: Pixabay

When Life Doesn’t Go as Planned

Understanding the will of God isn’t just a twenty-first century issue we’re experiencing because of a certain white noise called social media. Or the outpouring of too many years’ post crucifixion. Nor is it a matter of recent debate. I think it’s safe to say it’s been a topic of discussion since God marched Adam and Eve outside the luscious landscape of the garden.

Devotional Scripture: Exodus 2:11-22
Key Verse: “He supposed that his brothers would understand that God was giving them salvation by his hand, but they did not understand.” Acts 7:25

For God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are his ways our ways (Isaiah 55:8), so the whole wrapping our minds around his sovereign plan thing, a bit baffling at times. But waiting for it to unfold – a different story altogether.

Especially when we’re passionate and have great intentions. A plan to bring glory to God. Desires that match his own. And a small sliver of an idea of how God might use us in this great big world.

Yet day after day nothing happens. No, this-is-what-I’ve-been-waiting-for phone calls come. No doors burst open. No new path is carved. And it’s hard to wait on God. To sit back and relax. To trust and believe and not take matters into our own hands.

As Moses did forty years in. He’d grown up Egyptian, yet understood his Hebrew heritage and had a heart for his people. According to Acts 7:25 he also had an idea God intended to use him to free the Israelites. He just didn’t know when or how.

And to his credit, he was willing. The problem? It wasn’t time. The motive was right but not the moment. The four hundred years God mentioned to Abraham had yet to be completed, the people’s suffering unfinished, and Moses, well, he was far from the faith filled leader Israel would need.

But as is often the case when we let desire cloud discretion, Moses moved ahead of God. Filled with compassion for his brethren he went to see them “and looked on their burdens” (v. 11). But it wasn’t just a quick glance or a little “I wonder what they’re up to” once-over. The Hebrew verb for looked means “to see with emotion.” It was a gut twisting gaze. The heart-breaking kind.

So when Moses saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew (probably to death), he couldn’t help himself. “He looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.” (v. 12)

His sense of justice not totally out of place. Nor his rights as prince of the land. Yet it was wrong because it wasn’t necessary. God didn’t plan to save his people through the works of Moses. He planned to save them through glorifying works of his own. Just as he saves us. By grace though faith in his power and provision.

So the LORD waited until Moses was an old man (relatively speaking). Until his power was stripped. Until he had nothing left to offer but the words of God – to redeem the Israelites from the hand of slavery. Because it’s not us who deserves the glory, it’s God.

Though at the time, Moses had no idea what God was up to. (I think we’ve all been there.) Yet filled with undeterred passion for his people he couldn’t stay away. So he went again the very next day to visit the people but this time found two Hebrews fighting. And said to him, “Why do you strike your companion?” To which the man replied “Who made you prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” (v. 14)

Not exactly the response Moses was planning on. He figured the Israelite’s “understood that God was giving them salvation by his hand” (Acts 7:25). Upon realizing not everyone was on the same page, Moses was afraid.

And rightly so because when Pharaoh got wind of it, he tried to kill him. Not because Moses had committed murder, but because he had joined the hot civil rights movement and was no longer one of them.

So Moses fled to the land of Midian where he came to the rescue of seven unwed sisters, found himself invited for dinner, and ended up marrying one of them. My favorite part? Though he’d made a mistake he was still snug in the hand God. A lovely reassurance for us who struggle with GAGS (Getting Ahead of God Syndrome). (You’re welcome for the acronym.)

Moses met four decades in the wilderness. God was in no hurry. But the problem is, we often are. Leading us to assume God’s moved on, decided on someone else, or had an entirely different plan altogether. A plan we were never meant to be a part of.

Think Moses struggled with any doubts his forty years in Midian? I think anyone would have. But God hadn’t set Moses. He hadn’t changed his mind. Moses hadn’t misunderstood. Nor was he being punished. He was being prepared. A reality I need to sit close with.

Little did Moses realize the land he dwelt in and learned and grew comfortable exploring was the very land he would lead the Israelites around on for forty adventurous years. He also learned to be a shepherd, keeping watch over his father-in-law’s flocks. A skill he’d later use shepherding God’s unruly people (Ps. 77:20).

Not to mention the lessons in unconditional love he gained by having a wife and two boys, along with the experience of patiently disciplining, encouraging, and raising children. Skills he’d not doubt put to good use.

Consequently, it’s possible his father-in-law, who just happened to be a priest, taught him valuable insights about the LORD. As a descendant of Abraham through his wife Keturah it’s feasible Reuel served the true God.

Though Moses couldn’t see it, God was working. The same God that lead Abraham’s servant to the well Rebecca was at, and Jacob to the well Rachel was at, is the same God that lead Moses to the well his wife was at.

The same God that used the Midianites to carry Joseph to Egypt is the same God that now used the Midianites to prepare Moses to bring them out of Egypt.

The same God who allowed Moses’ life to mirror that of Christ’s by causing him to be rejected by his own people so he would turn to the gentiles, marry a gentile wife, and then later appear again to the Israelites as their deliverer and be accepted by them the second time, is the same God who’s allowed my life and yours to mirror the redemption Israel received.

And this same God, is still in charge today. So if you’ve made your home in the wilderness, if you’re not where you thought you’d be this time last year, if you’re waiting on God to move, to work, to open a door either here or there – think of Moses and his season of preparation. God’s working my friend, even when we can’t see it. Just be faithful and follow Him.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What are you waiting on God to do? Are you trusting in his plan and purpose or have you moved ahead because it’s taking too long?
How might your current circumstances be preparing you for the works God has ahead?


Dear Mary, Did You Know?

Dear Mary,

You don’t know me, but I know your Son. Your firstborn. Son of the Most High God and LORD of all the earth. Or maybe I should say he knows me. I think that might be better. For it’s He who searches hearts and minds (Rev. 2:23). He who made me and holds me together. He’s my rock, my refuge, my shield.

What was it like Mary, to raise him? To have the radiance of God’s glory call you mother; the author of life (Acts 3:15) and salvation (Heb. 2:10) play on your living room floor; the Son of the living God eat at your table. Indeed Mary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:42).

Did you know Mary? Did you know you held the source of eternal salvation in your arms? (Heb. 5:9) Did you know you were rocking the Shepherd and Overseer of souls (1 Peter 2:25); tickling the toes of the Alpha and Omega (Rev. 1:8); playing peekaboo with the Savior of the world? What went through your mind as you tucked in bed the Ruler of the kings of the earth (Rev. 1:5) and kissed goodnight the face of God?

Were you taught as a little girl of the virgin birth to come? “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). Could you even fathom you were the one Isaiah spoke of seven hundred years before; the one to bring forth the Redeemer? (Is. 47:4).

Who would have thought, the Author of Life, would put on flesh to be the Author of salvation. It leaves me undone every single time I think about it. “Taking the form of a servant…he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:7-8). What a story! A story you got to be a part of.

I’m challenged by your immediate willingness to surrender your life to His service. Were you scared (Luke 1:29)? I would have been terrified. To be with child and yet not married – they could have stoned you. I would have hid.

And you did for a while – escaping to be with Elizabeth. Whose greeting must have welcomed you like the fullness of spring. “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” (Luke 1:42) She knew! She already knew!

Knit by love and wonder and the greatest of men growing in your wombs, how sweet were your conversations in the still of each day’s light? Did you sit hot tea in hand, while Zachariah played his part, silently mouthing the Scripture bombarding his eager heart? Or maybe he wrote them word for word, the verses he’d hidden deep inside, while his two favorite ladies treasured each one with unhindered delight.

Then empowered by God’s grace in the arms of your dear friend, you went home to face the future, no matter how it would end.

How nervous were you to tell Joseph? I would have pleaded with God to tell him instead. Yet left with no choice, you forged ahead. Did you beg him to listen; did you beg him to stay? And then sit in confusion when the conversation didn’t go your way? Or did God step in and save you, as he’d soon do for us all, before the brokenness of rejection crept in to make you fall.

Though relief kindly met you the day of Joseph’s dream, I’m willing to bet misjudgment didn’t make you beam. Pregnant out of wedlock, how many painted you an immoral girl? Did your parents believe you? Did Joseph’s understand? Or was it a whore of a daughter-in-law they thought they got instead.

Then the decree to register, did it take you by surprise? Or fit like a piece in the bigger than you puzzle of your life? (Micah 5:2) Yet knowing time was near, you had no choice but to go south ninety miles on a donkey or perhaps a cart. Ankles swollen, baby ready, you rode the rough terrain with a man you called your husband to the town we all know by name.

How scared were you Mary when the first contraction came? When it seized you with determination, did you hide it at all the same? Counting and recounting until you couldn’t hide it anymore. What went through your mind when no one would open their door?

Wake up Bethlehem your time in history has come, yet there was no place for you to have God’s sweet and precious son. Was Joseph mad with urgency? Could you hear it in his voice? Did you plead with him to hurry? Did you plead with him to help? Until he finally found a stable or perhaps a room off to the side, to welcome the King of Glory in a manger on his first night.

Where was the fanfare? Where was the fun? For the birth anticipated since the garden had come undone.  It was reserved for a few meager shepherds tending their flocks not far. Who heard the angels call and followed a special star.

I’d say it’s not what you pictured when Gabriel first made mention of the plan. But I have a feeling it didn’t matter once you held his tiny hand. Could you sense the magnitude of the moment? Could you sense heaven standing by? As they watched Immanuel invade the world with a simple little cry.

Did you know time stopped counting down at his arrival and began counting up until his next? Could you fathom the baby you were holding was deity at it’s best? Diminished in his glory so the world would know him not. How did you later let go? For it’s my freedom that he bought.

Nestled in your arms for only a short time, you knew the birth of this child would change your life forever (Luke 1:48), but did you know it would also change mine? Thank you for your example. Your willingness to say yes, when God called you and put you to the test.

Mother of the great I AM your new normal, I have no idea how you did it so informal. One day at a time that’s how we mothers roll. In hopes of raising great kids, because that’s always the goal.

But yours was great from before time began. Perfect in every way he still holds my hand. Faithful until the end I’ve received him as my King, thank you Mary he makes my heart sing.

You may have carried him then, but it’s he who now carries me. I’d be lost without him for all eternity. Bruised for my transgressions and crushed for my iniquities, he’s my Savior, my God, but it all started with him bouncing gleefully on your knees.

It happened didn’t it? It’s all true. He came, he died, and came back, and reigns over me and you. I look forward to meeting you someday and talking as only mothers can. But until then Mary, I’m holding tight to the precious boy your raised up to be a man.

In Christ Alone,

When We’re Called to Let Go

He had it all. Every comfort you could imagine. The best of Egypt at his fingertips. The latest technology, the fastest chariots, the choicest of fruits, servants, wealth, prestige, power, fame. He said it and it was done. He asked for it and it was delivered.

Devotional Scripture: Acts 7:17-29; Hebrews 11:23-27
Key Verse: “He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” Hebrews 11:26

401 Easy Street, is where Moses resided. In the shimmering, cool, palace of an elite world power. Adopted as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter it’s even possible he was next in line for the throne.

Yet Hebrews 11:24 tells us he refused it. He “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Heb. 11:24-25). Considering “the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward” (Heb. 11:26).

Counting the luxuries he’d been handed as nothing, he exchanged the palace for a tent, riches for a relationship, honor for dishonor, affluence for affliction, ample amenities for very few, the royal robes of Egypt for a shepherd’s coat

Would you have done it? Would you have left the lap of luxury for a seat at the commoner’s table? I don’t know if I would have. In all honesty, I’ve stumbled through the text this week for fear of what lies on the other side. What sacrifice I might be called to make.

Because the truth is, I like my comforts and conveniences. Don’t you? Nestled amid the amenities of the palace I know the conversation I would have been having with Jesus. “LORD, please, can’t I just serve you from here? I have money for the poor. I have power. I have influence. I’ll use them for your glory. I promise.” There’s no doubt in my mind I would have hung on.

But Moses didn’t. Considering the reward much greater than the cost, he gave it all up. And he did so by faith. (Hebrews 11:24 – The same way we’re to do it.) Taught by his parents, grandparents, siblings, or maybe God himself, Moses took God at his word and believed it.

You know who else exchanged affluence for affliction? Jesus. “Who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:6-7).

Humbling himself he exchanged the throne for a stable, the royal robes of heaven for some simple swaddling, the brilliance of glory for no form of majesty, the table of heaven for a seat with commoners, the praise of angels for the rejection of men, a crown of splendor for that of thorns, fellowship with God for the wrath of sin. Obedient to the point of death, that we might live.

How’d he do it? Much the same as Moses. He looked ahead. He looked to God. He looked to heaven. Enduring the cross “for the joy that was set before him” (Heb. 12:2).

Handing the hope of heaven to us who can’t get there. Weaving grace into the fabric of human hearts. Offering peace and reconciliation to a people apart from God. Giving us who come with nothing of eternal value, every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. (Eph. 1:3) And an inheritance we can’t even fathom.

“But as it is written in the Scriptures: “No one has ever seen this. No one has ever heard about it. No one has ever imagined what God has prepared for those who love him” (Is. 64:4, ICB).

It’s too great. Too wonderful for us to wrap around. Take beauty and go a step further. Take marvelous and magnify it. Take superb and marry it to delightful and you’ve got a small piece of our future in Christ Jesus.

Therefore, we can let go. We can sacrifice. Whether it simply be time or money or the life we thought we wanted. The way we thought things would be. The dream we felt sure we needed. The career. The plan. Or the life of ease and convenience we’ve grown comfortable in.

We can humble ourselves. We can be obedient to the call of God, even if it means running in a direction the world never would. Keeping before us the reproach of Christ, because the reward is far greater than the cost. The Savior far greater than the sacrifice.

Moses gave up much to gain more. And because of his willingness he experienced an intimacy with Christ so spectacular his face radiated with God’s glory. (I want that.)

But it took time. And a path he never expected. Are you willing? If and when God calls us to let go, let’s do so in faith my friend, for the riches of our King are far greater than that of this kingdom. And the surpassing worth of experiencing Christ a treasure like none other.

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil. 3:7).

In obedience we gain immeasurably more than we could ever lose. Be faithful my friend, be faithful.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Have you been busy counting the cost or the reward? I often get caught up in the cost. What is God calling you to let go of today? Are you willing?