FULLY ALIVE!

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


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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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The Lifter of My Head

Over the past few days I have been reflecting on the many names of God. Someone once asked, “Why? Why so many names for the One true and living God?” Well, consider the many names we have for our family members and friends. Formal names and more intimate names that attest to our relationships. Mom, mommy, Mommy Dearest (smile, couldn’t resist). Dad, Pops, Daddy, Father. My Sweetie. My Honey. My Boo Boo Kitty.

Every Name of God attests to His character – who He is as well as to a relationship we can have with Him.

I think of God and pray to God using a variety of names with one of my favorite and most used being “Abba Father.”  It has long been supposed and broadly accepted that the ancient Aramaic word “Abba” is a term of familiarity that a young child might use to address his/her Daddy or Papa. That’s big for me; I was a bona fide Daddy’s Girl, so that my God would allow me to approach Him and to address Him as Daddy is big. But that He would embrace me, open His arms to receive me and His ear to hear my cries as His child? Wow! That’s even bigger.

But another Name has been on my heart. I woke one morning last week with it on my mind. It comes from Psalm 3:3 (ESV). “You, O Lord are…the lifter of my head.” The Lifter of My Head. Double Wow.

So many things, so many experiences make us hang our heads. Sometimes from shame, possibly from confusion, perhaps from exhaustion, maybe a sense of defeat or overwhelming grief. We hang our heads. We hang our heads. I’m convinced that sometimes we don’t even realize our heads are hanging; we have become accustomed to and accepted the defeat of that posture, so let me repeat. He is the lifter of our heads.

This Scripture paints for us a word picture, so make sure you get the complete picture. Naturally, in times of trouble, we hang our heads. So, it would follow to reason that as the lifter of our heads, God brings us out of whatever it is that caused our heads to hang. But go a little deeper. It also means that He will bring us into a situation and time that will cause our heads to be held high. There are several examples in Scripture where heads were lifted up. 2 Kings 25:27 tells us that the King of Babylon lifted up the head of Jehoiachin out of prison, and Genesis 40 says that Joseph foresaw that Pharaoh would lift up the head of the cupbearer and restore him to his position.

If men – Kings, Pharaohs – can lift heads and restore positions and wealth, just think what God can do for us!

It is David who is telling us in Psalm that God will be the lifter of his head. Understand the context of this passage. David’s son, Absalom, had rebelled against him and turned the people of Israel against him causing David to flee Jerusalem with little more than the clothes he was wearing. 2 Samuel 15 says that David climbed up the Mount of Olives, covered his head and wept. He hung his head.

David was King. He had resources at his hand. Though Absalom had turned the people of Israel against him, there were surely others that he could have turned to. He chose to turn to God. Why? You have to look closely at Psalm 3. Earlier in the passage David declared, “You, O Lord, are a shield about me, My glory” before adding “and the lifter of my head.” David’s choice of expressions – me and my – indicate a personal relationship and intimacy with God.

The past is irrevocable, irreversible and unchangeable. But Joel 2:25-27 (AMP) reads, “I will restore or replace for you the years that the locust has eaten…you shall eat in plenty and be satisfied and praise the Name of the Lord…I the Lord am your God and there is none else. My people shall never be put to shame.” Translation? He will lift your head!

Reflect on that this week!

Monday: Psalm 3:1 (NIV)

“Lord, how many are my foes! How many rise up against me?”

Questions for Reflection:  What or Who is causing or has caused you to hang your head? Have you, like David, cried out to the Lord? If not, why not? If yes, what answer have you heard?

Tuesday: Psalm 3:2 (NIV)

“Many are saying of me, “’God will not deliver him.’”

Questions for Reflection:  Do you believe that God will deliver you? Why or why not?  What is the evidence of your belief?

Wednesday: Acts 4:12 (NIV)

“Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

Questions for Reflection:  To whom or what have you been looking for strength, hope, restoration, salvation? How has that worked for you? What changes do you need to make?

Thursday: Psalm 3:6 (NIV)

“I will not fear though tens of thousands assail me on every side.”

Question for Reflection:  FEAR is false evidence appearing real. What “false evidence” have you accepted as truth? Jot down your fears and name specifically those things, people, emotions and situations that assail you. Pray very specifically about each one and make note of God’s responses to your prayers.

Friday: Psalm 3:8a (NIV)

“From the Lord comes deliverance.”

Questions for Reflection: Are you positioned and postured expecting deliverance? What are you doing in the meantime?


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If It Looks Like a Duck

It’s funny – the things we accept at face value and the things we do not.  Get a piece of paper; it can be a scrap, and see how you do on this little Yes or No test:

  1. I have purchased a dress ___ sizes too small promising myself that I would lose enough weight to wear it. (You fill in the blank.)
  2. I have befriended someone (welcomed them into my home, introduced them to family, scheduled special events with them, etc.) when I knew the relationship would be the equivalent of putting a hot coal inside my shirt.
  3. I have said that I liked something (when I secretly thought, “Yuck!) only to receive that something later as a gift.
  4. I have purchased a shoe in a size other than what I know that I wear thinking I could “make them work” for a special occasion (and because they were cute).
  5. I have dated (or married) a man believing that I could, eventually, change him into the man of my dreams.

Each question is worth 20 points.  I trust you to score your own paper.  You do not have to report your score; I’ll let you “sit with” it.

There seems to be two camps – the one that believes you can always turn a situation around and the one that agrees with the old anonymous proverb that says, “If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, looks like a duck – it must be a duck.”

Here’s my thinking on that proverb…Wrong!

You may think this season of your life is pretty hopeless.  It might be looking like unemployment, feeling like cancer, sounding like a mean boss, smelling like divorce, feeling like loneliness, tasting like failure…  Looks can be deceiving.  So can feelings and all the other senses.

We’ve been following Joseph through several chapters of Genesis, so let’s keep learning from him

Genesis 37:23 (NIV)  “So when Joseph came to his brothers, they stripped him of his robe—the ornate robe he was wearing…” Looks like nakedness.

Genesis 37:24 (NIV)  “…they took him and threw him into the cistern.” Tastes like abandonment.

Genesis 37: 28 (NIV)   “…his brothers pulled Joseph up out of the cistern and sold him for twenty shekels…” Sounds like slavery.

Genesis 39:6b-7 (NIV)     “Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” Smells like a set-up.

Genesis 39:20a (NIV)        “Joseph’s master took him and put him in prison, the place where the king’s prisoners were confined. Looks like, smells like and feels like the end!

Wrong, again!

Genesis 39:20b-21a (NIV) tells us, “But while Joseph was there in the prison, the Lord was with him…” And two chapters and two years later, we see Joseph not just leaving prison and not just being restored to his former position, but he is positioned second only to Pharaoh. Genesis 41:39 -41 says, “Then Pharaoh said to Joseph…, ‘Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you…I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.’” Looks like a test, and looks like Joseph passed with flying colors. Will you?

Max Lucado tells us that God “sees the needs of tomorrow and, accordingly, uses your circumstances to create the tests of today.” He sees your needs, and He sees the needs of others. He uses you and your circumstances to create tests that will bring about His desired results. Sometimes your testing is to bring about a certain result in you. Sometimes it is to bring about a certain result through you, meaning you are the vehicle chosen by God to do a work in someone else’s life. Whichever situation is the case, you want to pass the test. Lucado also reminds us that “some tests end on earth, but all tests will end in heaven.”

So, it might walk like a duck, quack like a duck and even look like a duck, but what it really is is a test! And you want to pass!


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You Just Have to Wait

You ever watch people in a waiting room?  I’m in one now – waiting at the Toyota Dealership while my car is being serviced.  I thought it was going to be brief.  My Dealer has an express lane which requires no appointments if you simply want an oil change which is what I want along with a quick rotation and balancing of my tires.  Wham. Bam. In. Out.  That’s what I planned.

But the Dealership has other ideas.

First, there are about 12 other people ahead of me.  And already I’ve been paged to return to the service desk.  Mike, my service rep, has a list of recommendations, – “Some urgent, some can wait,” he says.  It’s a long list with no prices.  After a bit of chat (and some pricing), I decide that we will take care of about three things on the list.  Then I take a seat.  And wait.

I am in the waiting room with a growing body of fellow Toyota owners, but I came prepared for the wait and so did they.  Cell phones, hand-held games, Nooks, iPods, iPads, Kindles.  One might mistakenly think we are in a Circuit City or Radio Shack were it not for the floor model vehicles, rubber mat displays and tire racks surrounding us.  There are some good old fashioned hard back and paperback books, too.  That’s what I have.

But I am having trouble concentrating on my book.  I am caught up watching my new “friends.”  Even with all the gadgets plus the dealership-provided flat screen television, vending machines, comfortable sofas and magazines, we don’t wait very well.  No one seems to “stick with” their entertainment for very long.  They text a little, flip a few magazine pages, watch a bit of television, text again, make a phone call, get a beverage from vending, take a few selfies, make another call, play an online game, flip a few more pages…

Waiting is hard.  We don’t like to wait.  Ours is the get-it-done-now generation.  In the grocery store line we roll our eyes and look with disdain at the woman with eleven items in the ten-item-or-less lane. (Yes, you do.)  We exhale (loudly) as we stand behind a senior citizen searching pockets for exact change at the post office window.  We ride on drivers’ bumpers and weave through traffic always in search of the fastest lane.  We buy the gadgets that promise to shrink our waists overnight, grow our hair 2-4 inches in one week and make our teeth five shades whiter in two days.

We don’t like to wait.  On mechanics.  On shoppers.  On weight loss. On white teeth.  On God.

Well, we can buy the gadgets, and perhaps lose an “overnight” inch or two (hope you realize it’s water loss) and use the paste that will actually whiten our teeth at least a half shade.  But we cannot hurry God.

Consider Joseph’s story.  You know it well, but let’s look at an excerpt found in Genesis 40:13-14, 23 (NIV):

“Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer.  But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison… The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him.”

That’s the end of Genesis 40. In my Bible you turn the page to begin reading Genesis 41. What one might fail to notice as that page turns is how long Joseph had to wait between the end of chapter 40 and the beginning of chapter 41. Look at Genesis 41:1, 9-14a (NIV)

“When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream… Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings.  Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.  Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.” So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon.”

He was quickly brought from the dungeon? Are you kidding me? Two years had passed from the time the cupbearer left the dungeon until he remembered to tell Pharaoh about Joseph!

What was Joseph doing in the meantime? Waiting. Waiting on God.

What was God doing? Working it ALL together for Joseph’s good because we can turn a few more pages to find that Joseph reaps reward seemingly for interpreting dreams for Pharaoh. Read Genesis 41:39-40 (NIV):

“Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.”

Joseph waited. God worked.

It wasn’t Pharaoh rewarding Joseph for interpreting dreams. It was God working His plan in His way in His time.

Oh, they’re paging me again. My car is ready. I waited. The mechanic worked.

Max Lucado says, “You can be still because He is active. You can rest because He is busy.”

You can wait because He is at work!

Here’s a bonus for some of you:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQRUrNkuuOE