FULLY ALIVE!

Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun. Job 11:17


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Better Than a Burning Bush

In Exodus 3 we read:

 1-2 Moses was shepherding the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law, the priest of Midian. He led the flock to the west end of the wilderness and came to the mountain of God, Horeb. The angel of God appeared to him in flames of fire blazing out of the middle of a bush. He looked. The bush was blazing away but it didn’t burn up.

Moses said, “What’s going on here? I can’t believe this! Amazing! Why doesn’t the bush burn up?”

God saw that he had stopped to look. God called to him from out of the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

He said, “Yes? I’m right here!”

God said, “Don’t come any closer. Remove your sandals from your feet. You’re standing on holy ground.”

Then he said, “I am the God of your father: The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” (Exodus 3:1-6, The Message)

Did you get it? The angel of God appeared to Moses. God saw that Moses had stopped what he was doing to look at the burning bush. Then…God called to Moses from the bush! He called him by name! Not once, but twice – “Moses! Moses!”

I know that I can’t be the only one that has ever wished that God would speak to me as clearly as He spoke to those in the Bible – that He would send an unmistakable angel and then call me by my name – Debbie! Oh, Debbie!

The Scriptures seem replete (aka brimming) with stories of when God spoke directly to people –

  • Cain (Genesis 4:6)
  • Noah (Genesis 6:13-21, 7:1-4, 8:15-17)
  • Job and his friends (Job 38:1-42:6)
  • Abimelech (Genesis 20:3-7)
  • Isaac (Genesis 26:24)
  • Jacob (Genesis 28:13-15, 35:1, 9-12)
  • Joshua (Joshua 6:2-5)
  • Samuel (1Samuel 3:4-14, 15:10, 16:7)
  • David (1Samuel 23:2, 23:4, 30:8; 2Samuel 2:1, 5:19, 5:23-24)

 

Okay, so those were the big names. But he also spoke to:

  • Jehu (1Kings 16:1-4)
  • Elijah (1Kings 19:9-18)
  • Isaiah (2Kings 20:4; Isa 6:8-12, 8:1-11)
  • Ahaz (Isaiah 7:10-25)
  • Manasseh and his people (2Chronicles 33:10)
  • Jonah (Jonah 1:1-2, 3:1-2, 4:4, 4:9-11)
  • Ezekiel (Ezekiel 1:3)
  • Hosea (Hosea 1:2-5)
  • Haggai (Haggai 2:10-23)
  • Zechariah (Zechariah 1:1-17)

 

So why not Debbie?

I have questions, decisions to make. I want to be wise. I want to please Him. I want “my ways” aligned with “His ways.” Oh, how I have wanted a burning bush! Or at least a little sky writing!

Well, the truth of the matter is that He does speak to us. Perhaps not through bushes, fires and pillars of clouds, but He speaks.

He has indwelt us with His Holy Spirit – His Spirit who comforts us, brings us peace and helps us recall what we know about God so that we may accurately share our faith (John 14:15-27).

His Spirit Who counsels and guides us in our everyday lives (John 16:8).

His Spirit Who helps us when we pray by interceding for us (Romans 8:26).

And His Spirit through Whom He speaks to us! Yes, there are other ways that God speaks (e.g. through the counsel of the Godly, through Scripture, through other Christians), but a primary way is through His Holy Spirit that He has sent to live within us performing all those aforementioned functions – comforting, instilling peace, counseling, interceding AND speaking directly to us.

God wants to speak to us and, in fact, has to speak to us because He promised in Psalm 32:8 to instruct us and teach us in the way that we should go.

During Old Testament times the people had no choice but to rely on signs and the messages of prophets; they did not have the personal, intimate, indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit.

If you ask me, this indwelling is better than a burning bush!

Need to hear Him? Open His Word, get still and listen.


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Wet Feet

Just as the Israelites were on the verge of entering the Promised Land, God commanded the priests to step into the water.  Hmm?  Not exactly what you might expect, but no big deal, right?  Wrong!  The Jordan River was at flood stage!  We’re talking wet feet and probably a few other wet things here.

Now surely God knew the Jordan River was there, and He knew that it was at flood stage when He told the Israelites to cross over to their Promised Land. Still He gave the command to Joshua: “. . . Arise, GO OVER THIS JORDAN, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give them. . .” (Joshua 1:2).

Well, I don’t know about you, but I don’t really like getting my feet wet – especially when I have my shoes on!  Ladies, you know the deal!  Confession – yes, I take certain shoes off in the rain – even if I am wearing hose.  The way I see it, I can buy another pair of Hanes for a WHOLE lot less money than I can a pair of shoes!  I learned the hard way, but it only took one pair of spotty leather pumps for me to learn to save the shoes!

Anyway, back to the Israelites and the Jordan River.

Now, if we didn’t know before, we certainly knew after the Red Sea episode that God could part the waters.  In Exodus 4:21 Moses stretched his hand out over the waters, and the Scriptures tell us that the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.  We know, too, that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:24), so what’s up with the wet feet?  He parted the Sea for Moses.  Why not part the river for the priests?

I think it’s less about the wet feet and more about our desire for God to go first.  That way, we don’t mess up our shoes. We don’t have to work as hard.  We don’t have to wonder how things are going to go.  We don’t get wet feet.

It’s that hesitancy to get wet feet that can keep us camped out on the wrong side of the Jordan River.  It’s that waiting for God to go first that can keep us from our miracle.  Hebrews 11:6 teaches us that without faith it is impossible to please God.  Several examples in the Scriptures – the Red Sea and the Jordan River encounters being two of them – teach us that we are always to exercise faith in God.  Sometimes that faith requires us to be still and wait patiently (think Joseph in Potiphar’s prison), but at other times, it calls us to step up (think Nehemiah), step out (think Naomi and Ruth) and step into the waters (the Israelite priests).

Contrary to our belief, there can be just as much faith involved in taking personal initiative as there is in waiting passively for the Lord to provide.

Pray hard. Listen hard.  Swallow hard.  And go first!  Step out in faith knowing that our God sees, hears and is faithful!

THIS WEEK seek God’s desire for you – patience or a step of faith.  What would the latter look like?  What’s holding you back? Are you being obedient in patience or fearful in waiting?  Seek God’s direction for you and your life.  He will give you peace about what YOU are to do!


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One More Night With the Frogs

“Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs on your whole country. The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. The frogs will come up on you and your people and all your officials.’”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the streams and canals and ponds, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.’”

So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land.  But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 8:1-7 NIV)

Hmm. That’s a lot of frogs! Seems Pharaoh thought so, too, because in verse 8 we read, “Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.”

Moses, acting as God’s agent, was happy to oblige with one condition detailed in verse 9: “Moses said to Pharaoh, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.”

Moses simply asked Pharaoh to set the time for him to pray for Pharaoh, his officials and his people and POOF! The frogs would be gone. This plague would end. Sounds like a great deal. Moses prays to God for Pharaoh AND the frogs disappear! Bet Pharaoh was jumping up and down hearing this offer.

Nope.

In verse 10, Pharaoh has a one word response to Moses’ offer. “Tomorrow.”

Pharaoh chose one more night with the frogs.

Seriously?

But isn’t that just like us? We want the blessing of God, but we don’t want to stop what we are doing; we don’t want to let go of some of the things, ideas, people or emotions that we are holding on to. We want to negotiate with God. We want one more night with the frogs.

Rribbit!

THIS WEEK identify your frogs – the thoughts, emotions, thinking, habits or people that you need to let go. Pray for strength to trust God, and let this be your last night with the frogs!


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Big Hairy Audacious Prayers

Exodus 14:21-22 (NKJV)

“Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.”

Joshua 10:12-14 (ESV)

“At that time Joshua spoke to the Lord in the day when the Lord gave the Amorites over to the sons of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel,  “Sun, stand still at Gibeon, and moon, in the Valley of Aijalon.” And the sun stood still, and the moon stopped, until the nation took vengeance on their enemies.

Is this not written in the Book of Jashar? The sun stopped in the midst of heaven and did not hurry to set for about a whole day. There has been no day like it before or since, when the Lord heeded the voice of a man, for the Lord fought for Israel.”

2 Kings 6:1-7

“The disciples of the prophets said to Elisha, “The place where we’re staying is too small for us. Let’s go to the Jordan River. Each of us can get some logs and make a place for us to live there.”

Elisha said, “Go ahead.”

Then one of the disciples asked, “Won’t you please come with us?”

Elisha answered, “I’ll go.”

So he went with them. They came to the Jordan River and began to cut down trees. As one of them was cutting down a tree, the ax head fell into the water. He cried out, “Oh no, master! It was borrowed!”

The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” When he showed Elisha the place, Elisha cut off a piece of wood. He threw it into the water at that place and made the ax head float. Elisha said, “Pick it up.” The disciple reached for it and picked it up.”

Parting seas, suns that stand still, ax heads that float? Yes…because they dared ask; they dared believe.

Mark Batterson says, “If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God. Why? Because they don’t require divine intervention.”

Business leaders, Jim Collins and Jerry Porras, in their book Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies, said successful organizations set Big Hairy Audacious Goals. They called them BHAGs. They were designed to focus an organization on a single goal – one which outsiders would think impossible but would stir within those in the organization belief and momentum

Our God is the God of big, hairy, audacious prayers – BHAPs. Jeremiah 33:3 (ESV) tells us to call to Him, and He will answer. Pastor Ray Stedman says, God is “absolutely available, absolutely approachable, gracious, merciful, compassionate, kind, and you can go into His presence boldly and ask for whatever you want.  You can go into His presence any time and not interrupt Him.”  Genie in a bottle?  No, but a compassionate Father who loves His children, a powerful King who is merciful and gracious  and a faithful God who answers prayers.

What is your Big Hairy Audacious Prayer?

THIS WEEK:  Search the Scriptures for other examples of bold prayers and God’s response to them. Some examples might include the prayers of Hannah, Jehoshaphat and Daniel. Pray to know God’s will and that His will is your sanctified wish, then pray your biggest, hairiest, most audacious prayer!


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Weebles Wobble

But they don’t fall down!

Now, if you think I’ve lost my mind, then you are way older than I am or you are what my great grandmother used to call “a young’un.” If you don’t remember Weebles, you’re either too old or too young.

Weebles is a trademark for several lines of roly-poly toys that were launched as part of Hasbro’s Playskool division in 1971. I was already well past the Playskool age, but the commercial jingle for these egg-shaped toys was so catchy that everyone repeated it. Besides, they were everywhere. There were Weeble Pals who rode a Weehicle and went to Weeschool and afterwards played together in the Weebly Wobbly Treehouse or went to a Weebles Barn Dance in Weebleville Town Center! It was a wonderful world because – Weebles Wobble but they don’t fall down!

If only our world could be that simple.

Contrary to what some believe, Christians are not perfect. The Bible does not teach that Christians never fail, never stumble, never wobble. But the Scriptures do teach that Christians get back up – guess you could say we wobble, but we don’t fall down! I will even be so bold to say that if one falls down (and stays down), then that one was not a true believer.

Now, before you get upset with me, click away from this page or turn your computer off altogether, look at the Scriptures for yourself. 1 John 2:19 says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”

Here’s the deal. Christians are human. Christians wobble. But Christians are miserable in their wobbling (SIN) and cannot continue in that way.

Consider Abraham. Called of God. Friend of God. But he wobbled. And not just once! He told Sarai, his wife, to lie and tell the Egyptians she was his sister (Genesis 12:10-13). Fast forward to Genesis 20 and we see Abraham lying to Abimilek, King of Gerar, telling him that Sarah (name changed, same wife) was his sister. In Genesis 16:4 he slept with Hagar, his wife’s maidservant because he either doubted God’s promise, was impatient to wait or thought he knew better than God.  Either way – big wobble!

Consider Moses. He killed an Egyptian and tried to hide the body. He later lost faith, grieved God and was not permitted to enter the Promised Land. He wobbled.

Consider David. He committed adultery with Bathsheeba and arranged for her husband, Uriah to be on the front line of battle since a cover up scheme fell through (2 Samuel). He wobbled.

But when you read the Scriptures, Abraham is known as Father of Many Nations (Genesis 17:5), and God calls to Moses while he is out tending sheep (having killed the Egyptian and fled). God talks to him again at the burning bush and chooses him to bring redemption to His people, the Israelites (Exodus 3). And David? We read in 1 Samuel that the Lord sought out a man after his own heart – David, the adulterer, the one who omitted some of God’s instructions on how to transport the Ark resulting in Uzzah’s death, the schemer who tried to hide his affair with Bathsheeba and the one who did not attend to his own household and children.

Abraham, Moses, David.  They wobbled, but they did not fall down.

You’ll wobble.

You’ll fall short, miss the mark, behave contrary to the nature and will of God. Wobble, wobble, wobble. But when a Christian sins, relationship is unchanged. Position is unchanged. You are still God’s child. You are still covered by the precious blood of Jesus. But fellowship is broken. You lose your joy. You lose your praise. You lose your peace.

Understanding that there are no BIG sins and little sins, I think we can agree that David’s sin was horrendous! But when confronted, look at David’s response in Psalm 51. Notice what he does and what he does not do. He confesses his sin. He seeks forgiveness. He humbles himself before the Lord. He asks for restoration. He doesn’t make promises. He doesn’t try to strike any deals. He doesn’t make excuses.

If you are wobbling or if you have wobbled, don’t fall down but do go down – on your knees. Pray.  Acknowledge your sinfulness – and that is what it is. Don’t try to “dress it up.” Acknowledge your sinfulness to the Lord asking Him to take control of your life and seal it afresh with His precious Holy Spirit.

He will!  And you can get back up again!

BONUSES for You: