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Posts Tagged ‘promises’

girl

Tomorrow I leave to compete in the Mrs. Pennsylvania America Pageant.  Today I can’t help but spend some time reminiscing.  This whole experience has truly been an unexpected blessing.

We had our last conference call last night and afterward I just sat and thought about how thankful I am to have been a part of this group.  I may or may not have been ugly crying like when the credits run after watching “The Notebook.” From the very beginning, the women I have met and gotten to know have been God’s providential blessing in my life.

When I began this journey back in January, I had just endured one of the worst years of my life.  I had resolved on January 1 to put the past behind me and do all that I possibly could to live in the present, with the help of God, untangle myself from the injurious events of the past year, and, as my husband always says, keep moving forward.  Nearly five months later, I am so thankful to say that participating in the Mrs. Pennsylvania America Pageant has helped me tremendouslyto do just that.

From day one, it was quite unexpected and, frankly, altogether surprising to me that this is my reality.  People don’t do pageants to restore hope in their lives.  Do they?  I don’t really know but I never thought so.  People go to church to restore their hope.  Maybe they go to a pastor or an altar.  But what does someone do when the church, the pastor, and the altar exclude and harshly reject them?  I purpose that that person finds a new community of encouragement.  Mine just happened to be the pageant community.

From the day I met the women involved in this year’s event, I was uplifted.  The first thing I was told by the co-director was that I am a pillar in my community.  That’s not something a stay-at-home homeschooling mom hears every day.  From the very beginning I felt so overwhelmed by the encouragement, positivity, faith, and inspiration of every one of the women I had the privilege of meeting and getting to know that I had no choice but to make good on my resolutions to climb up out of the position of discouraged disillusionment and move forward to the places I am called to go.

All that to say that I am truly so thankful that I participated in this amazing experience.  I have not even stepped onto the stage yet, but I have already received the best prize I could ever be given.  That prize is being part of a community who loves and encourages one another toward greatness.  That prize is friendship and camaraderie.  That prize is inspiration, determination, and drive.  You cannot put a price tag on those things because they are invaluable.  These also just happen to be the very things that I personally am trying to improve upon in the lives of those around me with my own platform: community enrichment.  Thank you, Mrs. Pennsylvania America Class of 2018, for delivering on the premise and promises of this organization.  I am better for having known all of you and I could not be more thankful and excited about this weekend.  I hope you win.  ❤

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sinai

In Exodus 24:1-10, God has just given the most important guidelines for human behavior ever given to man.  After Moses receives the ten commandments and the promises of God, he immediately begins working to share them.  Good leader Moses told the people what God expected of them.  Good leader Moses wrote it all down.  Good leader Moses got up early and worshipped.  Good leader Moses read the words aloud to the people.  Then, he covered them with the blood of the sacrifices.

Notice that Moses did not cut the people up into pieces, burn them on the altar and sacrifice them in order to please God.  No.  He covered them with the blood of another as they came to the place of worship.  Likewise, when we go to a place of worship, we should not be beaten, killed, and left to bleed on the altar for our sin by the leaders.  A sacrifice was already made for us for that very reason.  The blood of Jesus Christ should be applied to us by the servants leading worship.

After God reveals himself to the leaders, he calls Moses back up the mountain.  Then, he tells him to do something very difficult: wait.

The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and wait there, that I may give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.”  ~Exodus 24:12

Wait, Moses.  Go where I tell you and wait there.  The reason for the waiting given to Moses was, “that I may give you the tablets of stone…”  Moses was to wait so God could physically give him the tablets with the commands written on them.

Moses obeyed.  He took his young friend Joshua and he went where God sent him.  He put two others in charge over the people while he was gone.  He is told to wait, and he in turn tells those under him to wait as well.

Note, good leaders do not leave those they have been given responsibility and charge over without delegating that responsibility and leadership to someone else first.  He who is not faithful with what he has been given will not be given more.  What he does have will be taken away.  (Matthew 25:29)

Moses goes up and a cloud covers the mountain.  God’s presence descended and for six days Moses waited upon God.  It was not until day seven that Moses heard God call out to him.

Note, even when we obey God’s commands and instructions perfectly and without delay, he often still calls us to wait upon him for further instructions.

When God does appear, the text says, Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel.” When God appeared after all Moses’s waiting and righteous obedience, it was not just him that saw God.  All the people below saw God appear.  Moses wasn’t making this stuff up and they knew it.  There could be no mistake.  God was doing something of unmitigated importance.  They all saw and they all knew.  Makes you wonder how they could ever choose to make and worship and idol while this was still going on.  But, as we all know they did just that with the golden calf.

Anyway, Moses is no stranger to the fire of God.  When he was called to deliver God’s people out of Egypt, it was a burning bush that God chose to reveal himself and speak through.  Make no mistake, Our God is a consuming fire and he will not be sold out as a dry and lifeless ember as some would seek to have him be.  Little wonder the Bible says, “Quench not the Spirit.” (1 Thessalonians 5:19)

God kept Moses forty days and forty nights as he elaborated upon all the laws and also gave Moses the physical tablets of stone with the law written down on them by His very own finger.

Note, when God is giving instruction to leaders that he has placed over his people, he often does so for a great amount of time that they may be duly prepared for the difficult business he is about to employ them in.

Just to recap, here is what Exodus 24:12-18 gives us practically to apply in our lives today:

1. Moses did not cut the people up into pieces, burn them on the altar and sacrifice them in order to please God.  No.  He covered them with the blood of another as they came to the place of worship.  Likewise, when we go to a place of worship, we should not be beaten, killed, and left to bleed on the altar for our sin by the leaders.  A sacrifice was already made for us for that very reason.  The blood of Jesus Christ should be applied to us by the servants leading worship.

2. Good leaders do not leave those they have been given responsibility and charge over without delegating that responsibility and leadership to someone else first.  He who is not faithful with what he has been given will not be given more.  What he does have will be taken away.  (Matthew 25:29)

3. Even when we obey God’s commands and instructions perfectly and without delay, he often still calls us to wait upon him for further instructions.

4. Make no mistake, Our God is a consuming fire and he will not be sold out as a dry and lifeless ember as some would seek to have him be.

5. When God is giving instruction to leaders that he has placed over his people, he often does so for a great amount of time that they may be duly prepared for the difficult business he is about to employ them in.

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wilderness1

In Exodus 23:20-33, God gives Moses and His people instructions and promises about how to obtain the land to which he was taking them.  They had already been in the wilderness for some time.  Here, they are promised a home and great blessings.  They are given a guide and a few contingencies at the front of their conquest.  Let’s consider this.

In verse 20, God promises to send a guide to go before His people.  The guide is described as an angel and his job was to bring them to the place God had prepared for them to go and to live.  Some believe this angel was the preincarnate Christ.  Regardless, they were commanded three things pertaining to this angel guide.  They were told to pay careful attention, obey his voice, and to not rebel against him.  Their failure to do these three essential things in their attitude and behavior toward this guide would result in his failure to forgive them for it.  The reason given was that God’s name was “in him.”

The promises for obedience were guidance (23:20), possession of a good land in which to live (23:23-24), blessed food, water, healing of sickness, fruitful wombs, long life (23:25-26), and victory over many kinds of different, powerful, strong enemies (23:22, 27-28).  The victory was to be a slower, more gradual take over rather than an all at once overcoming of their many enemies.  The text says, “little by little,” as they were growing in number and moving into the new land, God would drive their enemies out.

Finally, in verses 32-33, they are given one final warning against idolatry.

Here, we find not only the instructions for the success of the people searching for the promise land, but also the skeleton outline for the life of every successful Christian.

When we are called out of the wilderness and into the promised place God is preparing for us, we are given a guide.  His name is Jesus Christ and we are called to pay careful attention to Him (and Him alone), obey His voice (His sheep know His voice), and to not rebel against him.  If we fail to pay attention to Him, disobey Him, and rebel against Him those actions are indicative of refusing Christ as Our Lord.  If we refuse Christ, we forfeit the forgiveness and grace he offers and will not be pardoned for our sin. Because he is the Way as well as our guide, to refuse Him is to forfeit all of the blessings that following offers.

If, on the other hand, we do pay attention, obey, and not rebel, we are promised victory, protection, the bread and water of life, healing, fruitfulness in regeneration, and life everlasting.  Our victory, like theirs, is little by little.  All throughout this life through many toils and snares, we are moving toward the promised land of eternal life; the place He has prepared for us.  We are growing and our enemies are being eradicated little by little by God Himself on our behalf as we become sanctified thus gaining victory over sin in our own lives.   No other gods are permitted during any part of this journey.

How gracious a God we serve to give such tender care and guidance to us as we walk home through this worldly wilderness!  We are his children and he will fight for us if we but pay attention, obey him, and stop rebelling against him with our sin.  What a beautiful picture of Our Father’s mercy we have in Exodus 23.

 

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unbelief

God has miraculously called Moses and laid out his plan.  Moses has left his home and family, shared God’s words with the enslaved Israelites, and faced their powerful, oppressive opponent, Pharaoh.  So far, things have gone exactly how God said they would, yet Moses is already discouraged, questioning God, and accusing him of “doing evil.”

Although God had told Moses beforehand that Pharaoh would initially refuse to let Israel go, apparently Moses didn’t expect him to double the workload as a result.  Moses didn’t expect Israel, aka God’s people made up of his friends and family whom he was there to help, to turn on him when Pharaoh said, “No.”

These unexpected hardships have already broken Moses.  In chapter 6, God answers Moses’ prayers of exasperation and accusation with grace.

First, God reassures Moses that “he will see” what God is about to do.  He reminds Moses that Pharaoh is indeed going to let Israel go.  Next, God reminds Moses about who he is, what he has done, and what he is assuredly about to do.  God’s words to a discouraged and defeated leader are thus:

I am the Lord.  (6:2)

I made a promise to these people. (6:4)

I have heard their cries for help.  (6:5)

I have remembered my promise. (6:5)

Moses, tell them.  Tell them again that I am coming to bring them out of slavery.  Tell them I am the Lord.  Tell them I will deliver them.  Tell them I will redeem them.  Tell them I am choosing them – that I am their God and they are my people.  Tell them they will know me and I will keep my promise to them.

Wow.  This is some good news!  Especially for tired, burdened, oppressed slaves!

Moses obeys God.  He tells them again of God’s plan to rescue them.  But Israel did not listen.  They did not believe.  They were broken and bullied.  Hope is hard when you’ve been down as long as these guys.  Nevertheless, Matthew Henry warns us, “First, disconsolate spirits often put from themselves the comforts they are entitles to, and stand in their own light.  Secondly, passions oppose strong consolations.  By indulging ourselves in discontent and fretfulness, we deprive ourselves of the comfort we might have both from God’s word and from his providence, and must thank ourselves if we go comfortless.” 

With their unbelief and discouragement at his true and faithful words, again Moses is ready to despair.  How is Pharaoh going to listen to me if even my own people won’t?!  In this way, one discouragement begets another and Moses begins to follow Israel’s lead rather than Israel following his as would have been proper.  Matthew Henry has a good word concerning our leaders in this way: “The frowardness and untractableness of those that are called Christians greatly discourage ministers, and make them ready to despair of success in dealing with those that are atheistical and profane.”

How often the discouragement of hardships causes us to disbelieve God’s promises!  When the whole world is saying, “No” “Impossible” “Give up” it is extremely hard to believe God’s promises of “Yes” “All things are possible” “Don’t give up.”  But we must!  Because children of God walk by faith, not by sight.  Leaders for God walk by faith, not by sight.  Christians walk by faith, not by sight.

Children, Leaders, Christians, never forget –

He is the Lord – here called El-Shaddai – a God all sufficient; a God that is enough and will be so.

He has made a promise to us – his people.

He is not deaf to our prayers and needs.  He hears our cries for help.

He remembers his promise and will keep it.

Child, do not be discouraged.

Leader, do not be discouraged.

Christian, do not be discouraged.

Leader, tell them He is the Lord.  Tell them again that He is coming. Tell them He will deliver them.  Tell them He will redeem them.  Tell them He is choosing them – that He is their God and they are His people.  Tell them they will know Him and He will keep his promises to them.  Child, believe.  Christian, believe.

That’s the good news.  Do not be discouraged if they do not believe you at first.  Just make sure you believe God.  Be encouraged because we know how the story ends.

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ImageSaul has just confessed his sin against David…again.  Again, because of David’s meekness, humility, and wisdom, Saul is defeated by his own wickedness and shame.  But is his confession indicative of true repentance?

Then David said in his heart, “Now I shall perish one day by the hand of Saul. There is nothing better for me than that I should escape to the land of the Philistines. Then Saul will despair of seeking me any longer within the borders of Israel, and I shall escape out of his hand.” So David arose and went over, he and the six hundred men who were with him, to Achish the son of Maoch, king of Gath. And David lived with Achish at Gath, he and his men, every man with his household, and David with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel, and Abigail of Carmel, Nabal’s widow. And when it was told Saul that David had fled to Gath, he no longer sought him. ~1 Samuel 27:1-4

Clearly, David doesn’t buy it.  How can he?  This isn’t the first time Saul’s promised something to David.  Every promise Saul has made he’s reneged on – always to David’s detriment.  David didn’t believe Saul’s empty promises any longer.  That’s very naturally understandable, however, his very justified lack of faith in this mortal man whom God was allowing to continuously afflict him led David to doubt God’s word and God’s faithfulness. (more…)

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ImageDavid is hiding out in the wilderness.  He knows Saul is hunting him as prey.  While he waits patiently on God’s providence, the Lord gives him an unusual blessing.

David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. David was in the wilderness of Ziph at Horesh. 16 And Jonathan, Saul’s son, rose and went to David at Horesh, and strengthened his hand in God. 17 And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Saul my father also knows this.” 18 And the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. David remained at Horesh, and Jonathan went home. ~1 Samuel 23:15-18

While it’s quite lamentable that a man as excellent as David would be reduced to a position of bare survival in a hostile world, it reminds us where honest and honorable men’s citizenship truly lies.  And, despite David’s under-the-radar approach, his best friend finds him. (more…)

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ImageDavid has fled from his own home in order to avoid Saul and his men.  Why?  Because they were a group of homicidal maniacs!  He’s cried out to God and confided in the godly prophet, Samuel.

David, in his youth, has had more than a few triumphs afforded to him by God’s grace.  He’s been given extraordinary strength and exceptional gifts from God’s hand.  Nevertheless, he’s also had quite a run of bad luck.  He’s got a king whose jealousy hates and fears him, superiors lined up to kill him, and a wife who’s betrayed him.  God was extremely good and gracious to David, but the fire of adversity burned hot as well.

Often, those who experience the most miraculous victories suffer the most difficult trials. (more…)

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