A fun game to play with a group of kids is Red Light Green Light. All the kids start out on one side while you’re on the other. You turn away and say, “Green light!” Their job is to run towards you as fast as they can while the light is green. Randomly, you turn and face them and yell, “Red light!” They have to stop immediately. If they move during red light or don’t stop, they get sent back to their starting point. You repeat this process until someone reaches you, then you start all over.
Following where God leads can feel a lot like that game. There’s a series of red lights and green lights along the way. If you’re looking for a pattern, you won’t find one. There are times when green lights seem to on,y last for a short while, and red lights can take years. We love the green lights because they make us feel like God is doing something in us and that we are being productive for Him. When the red lights come, it can feel like we’ve done something wrong. That’s not the case. Red lights come for many reasons. It can be to protect you, to teach you, to grow you, to wait for someone else’s obedience or some other reason.
The important thing is to wait where God has you for as long as He deems necessary. The Israelites went through this in the wilderness. Numbers 9:22 says, “Whether it was two days or a month or a year that the cloud [of the LORD’S presence] lingered over the tabernacle, staying above it, the Israelites remained camped and did not set out; but when it was lifted, they set out” (AMP). We don’t want to go where God’s spirit isn’t leading us. If you’re in a red light season, it’s ok. You’re where God wants you and that’s the best place to be. Rest in His presence because your green light will come.
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The night I proposed to my wife, I had planned it all out and timed it as well. When she opened the card I gave her, it contained a clue to where we were going to have dinner. Once she figured that out, we headed that way. During dinner, I slipped the next clue to the waitress to give to her. On and on it went as we drove back and forth across town. She didn’t know where I was going with the clues or what would happen next. At each place, she only got a clue to her next destination. Finally, after she followed all the clues, we ended up at the spot where I wanted to propose.
Following God’s plan for our lives can feel a lot like that. It seems all we get are clues that don’t really tell us where we’re going. They only tell us enough to have to step out in faith and rake the next step. Many times we aren’t even sure if that’s the right place God is leading us. It can feel frustrating sometimes not knowing for sure what your next step is or even the end game of where He’s taking you. We know He has a plan for each of us, but walking by faith and trusting Him is often difficult.
Moses felt your frustration too. In Exodus 33:13 he expressed what many of us feel when he said, “If I am so special to you, let me in on your plans. That way, I will continue being special to you. Don’t forget, this is your people, your responsibility” (MSG). Like us, he wanted to know more of God’s plan. I love God’s response in verse 14, and I believe it’s for us too. God said, “My presence will go with you. I’ll see the journey to the end.” You and I don’t need to know the end game, but we can rest in knowing that God’s presence is with us as we go. God will walk with you step by step until He completes what He began in you.
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If you were ever a teenager, I’m sure you did something that everyone was doing. While you were getting in trouble for it, I’m sure you let your parents know it as well. It was then that they uttered the phrase, “If all your friends jumped off a cliff, would you do that too?” I think it’s a right of passage that we have to go through as a kid and then later as a parent. It’s easy to justify my actions when I’m not the only one doing it. It’s like there’s this hope that my punishment will be spared because everyone else was doing it. That when we first learn that just because everyone is doing it, it doesn’t make it right.
Our world has wandered far away from God. It has called things good and acceptable that God has called sin. It has passed laws to make things legal that God has made illegal in His Law. The world, now more than ever, is pressuring the Church to follow along with its ways more than God’s ways. It is calling us to go along with it because everyone is doing it. Your parents were right. Just because everyone is doing it, it doesn’t make it right, and it sure doesn’t mean you have to go along with it. Remember we were called to be salt and light in a dark, godless world.
You might not have known that the advice your parents gave to you when you were younger was from God. In Exodus 23:2, He said, “You must not follow the crowd in doing wrong” (NLT)”. No matter what society does or what the majority agree to, as Christians we must follow God’s laws. Can the created overrule the Creator? God’s ways are not our ways, and I might add they’re not the easiest. I’ve learned that I don’t always have to understand why God made some laws the way He did. What I have to know is that I will be held personally responsible for my actions, even if everyone is doing it.
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In Deuteronomy 20, Moses gave the Israelites a reminder that is good for us too. In verse 1 he said, “When you go out to fight your enemies and you face horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, do not be afraid. The LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you!” (NLT) He knew that there would be battles they would face where they were outnumbered, outgunned, and out resourced. He knew that, as people, we would look at those things and be would allow fear to come into our minds.
When I was a kid, my brothers and I would always want to take things to a vote because we knew we had more votes than our parents. My dad would say, “Ok, but our vote counts as one more than yours.” Without knowing it, he was demonstrating what it’s like to have God on your side. It doesn’t matter how many problems you’re up against, you have one more solution than problems because God is on your side.
God wants to remind you today that with Him on your side, you are never outnumbered, outgunned, or out resourced. You don’t have to be afraid of what you’re up against, no matter what the physical odds are. The spiritual odds are in your favor. In Joshua 1:9, God again reminds us of this promise. He said, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” So be strong and courageous today. God is with you. There is no need to be afraid. Walk in victory. The spiritual odds are in your favor.
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Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.
Michael W. Smith wrote a simple, but powerful song. It’s lyrics only contain two sentences, but they speak volumes. The song says, “This is how I fight my battles. It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by you.” To me, it’s a great reminder in those moments when I’m overwhelmed, feel alone in the battle and it looks like I’m about to get crushed. When you’re staring down odds that are stacked against you and it feels easier to give up rather than to keep fighting, this song reminds me who I’m really surrounded by. It reminds me that if God is for me, who can be against me.
After the Israelites left Egypt, God decided to set a trap for Pharaoh. He had them turn back and camp at a place that had them appear lost. When Pharaoh took the bait and pursued them, they were trapped against the Red Sea with no where to go. Pharaoh’s army surrounded them and they were afraid. They forgot who they were really surrounded by. In Exodus 14:15, Moses said, “Don’t be afraid! Stand your ground, and you will see what the Lord will do to save you today” (GNT). The Lord split the Red Sea In two and destroyed Pharaoh’s army.
You may feel all alone and trapped by your situation today, but I believe the Lord is telling us to stand our ground. The Amplified Bible describes standing your ground as, “Be Firm, confident and undismayed.” Take your eyes off of the things you feel surrounded by and look at God. He’s greater than anything you’re facing and is surrounding you now. Rest in His presence and stand your ground. Your victory isn’t dependent on you. It’s God who fights our battles, but we must stand firm with the Armor of God found in Ephesians 6. Don’t forget it may feel like you’re surrounded, but you’re surrounded by God.
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We all know that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. I’m a fan of the shortest distance when it comes to getting somewhere. I can be seen walking across the grass instead of using the sidewalks. I don’t like it when the sidewalks go way out of the way to get me where I’m going. The fact is, I wasn’t there when they were deciding on where they were going to be put, so I don’t know the reason behind why they were laid out that way. Usually an architect or an engineer has a purpose behind why they do things and we should trust their judgment.
I like to think of God as the architect of my life. Psalms 37:23 tells us that our steps are ordered by the Lord. To me, that means that God has laid out the sidewalk in my life of where He wants me to go. Just like in life, I sometimes look at the path He’s laid out and wonder, “Why am I going all the way over here when my destination is over there?” I’m tempted to get off the path and to cut through the grass. I’ve learned that God, the architect of our lives, has a purpose behind everything He does. We are to trust Him, and the path He lays out, even when it doesn’t make sense.
When the Israelites left Egypt, Exodus 13:17-18 says, “God did not take them by the road that goes up the coast to Philistia, although it was the shortest way… Instead, he led them in a roundabout way through the desert toward the Red Sea” (GNT). God knew they weren’t ready to fight the Philistines so He took them the long way. God know what you’re ready for and what you’re not ready for. The path He’s taking you on may be the long way around, but trust where He’s leading you, even if you don’t understand why. God has a plan for you and your life. Trust in His plan and follow the steps He orders for you no matter what.
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