Tag Archives: Egypt

Patient Endurance 

Patience. It’s not a word we like very much. We like to have results quickly without having to put in the time and effort. We want answers given to us without us having to dig for them. We want growth without risk, and we want fruit without tending the garden. We’ve heard the saying, “Good things come to those who wait,” but who really wants to wait? We live in a now society where everything is given to us quickly. The temptation is to let our societal speed carry over into our spiritual growth.

Endurance. It’s not something you get in good times. It requires pushing yourself beyond what you think you’re capable of. It takes mental toughness to get it. You have to withstand pressure repeatedly in order to attain it. Giving up can’t be an option if you’re going to increase your endurance. You have to keep your mind on the prize to keep your mind off the struggle of you’re going to build your endurance. It isn’t given to you, it’s earned.

Both of these things are required of us as Christians. The more of God you want to know, the more patience and endurance you’re going to have to have. If we are willing to give up in the struggle, we will miss the blessings God is preparing us for. Hebrews 10:36 says, “Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that He has promised” (NLT). When things appear to be going wrong in our life, God is preparing us to receive all He has for us.

We can’t be like Jacob and fight it. In Genesis 42, there was a famine in the land. Jacob sent 10 of his sons to get food in Egypt. Joseph wanted them all there so he pretended to not know them, sent them home with their food, and held one brother captive until they returned with their other brother. Jacob felt like he was being punished when God was just trying to get him to the land of plants. In verse 36, he cried out, “You are robbing me of my children! Joseph is gone! Simeon is gone! And now you want to take Benjamin, too. Everything is going against me!”

If everything is going against you, it’s quite possible that God is actually trying to bless you. Jacob waited a long time before he sent his sons back to get more food and their brother. He could have been living without fear of starvation. He could have had the relationship with his son restored. God was trying to use what appeared to be negative circumstances to move him into a place of blessing. Imagine what God could be trying to do for you in your situation. Work on having patient endurance instead of complaining, and see what God does.

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The Mom Who Risked It All

Today, I want to take a closer look at the mother of Moses. The Bible doesn’t say a whole lot about her, but her actions speak volumes. We know that she and her husband were Levites which was the priestly lineage of Israel. Moses, being born to them would be a priest. He would serve in the role unlike any other. His work was not only in the sanctuary, but also he served outside of it as a leader of the people. He led them out of physical bondage as well as spiritual bondage.

I wonder what it was about him that his mother saw. The scripture says in Exodus 2 that when he was born, “she saw that he was a special baby.” My hope is that most mom’s would look at their baby’s and see something special about them. For so e reason, the Bible calls out that there was something different about him. There was something worth risking their lives for. The Pharaoh had given the order that every newborn, Hebrew boy should be tossed into the Nile river. Anyone who defied the Pharaoh would surely be punished.

Another thing Moses’ mom did was to keep him hidden for three months. She did what she could to protect her baby. She was somehow able to keep him a secret from everyone. Every mom has a God-given instinct to protect their children. Mom’s do what they can to protect their own. It’s a special gift that shouldn’t be over looked. Mom’s are the protectors. When a child is scared, they call out for mom. When a child is hurt, they cry out for mom. Moses’ mom was just like any other mom out there, she wanted to be her child’s protector.

When she could no longer keep it quiet that she had a little boy, she had to make a tough decision. She had to let go of her prize possession in order to save him. She knew when it was time to let go. She built a floating basket big enough for her 3 month old, laid him in it and put it in the Nile. She knew her daughter was small enough to hide in the reeds, so she sent her to follow the baby until he was safe. She knew that Pharaoh lived just down stream from them and if he saw or heard the baby, he would kill him.

It just so happened that Pharaoh’s daughter was going to take a bath in the river at the same time Moses was floating by. She didn’t have her father’s heart. She had a mother’s heart that broke when she heard the baby crying and saw him. She must have seen what his birth mother saw and she decided to adopt him. When the sister saw he would be safe with her, she approached the princess. She asked if she would like her to find a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby for her. When she brought back Moses’ mom, the princess agreed to pay her to nurse and raise the boy until he was weaned.

God does so e mysterious things, especially for mom’s. I believe they hold a special place in His heart. Stories like this one rarely mention the father. Some of the greatest leaders of the Bible were heavily influenced by their mom. In this case, Moses had the influence of his birth mom who instilled his heritage in him. He also had his adoptive mother who kept him save until the time came for him to step into that priestly role. The Israelites needed a leader. They needed someone to rescue them from slavery and they found that in Moses. History changed not just because of Moses, but also because his mom risked everything for his survival.


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Disoriented Faith


On one of my very first days of living in Cairo, Egypt, the youth pastor took me and three others,who were interns as well, to lunch. After lunch, she took us outside and got in a taxi. As we started to get in with her, she handed us a piece of paper with her address on it. She said, “Y’all get another taxi and have them take you here.” With that, her taxi took off and we were left standing on the side of the road in a foreign country. At that moment, I realized I knew absolutely nothing in Arabic.

I couldn’t say, “yes” or “no” even. As we looked at license plates, I noticed that I couldn’t even recognize the numbers. How were we going to communicate with the taxi driver? After we got in the taxi, we told him the address. He asked if we spoke Arabic. We shook our heads no. We quickly figured out that he was not from this part of town. He drove around aimlessly and stopped for directions a few times. We began to get scared because we had no idea where we were, where we were going or how to get there if we could communicate. We were completely disoriented.

In the process, we saw most of the town where we would be living for the next year, we bonded with each other and laughed about it later, much later. It reminded me of what God does with us sometimes. He gives us instructions that don’t make sense, puts us in situations that we don’t understand and asks us to do the impossible with very little instructions. It can be disorienting and scary. It can be stressful for us as well because we can’t see where He’s leading. We have families to feed, people who depend on us and safety nets that we’ve built. Why does God move us out of those comfortable situations?

I heard the answer in our Bible study. The author said, “God will sometimes disorient us in order to re-orient us. We can become too dependent on the things we’ve built for our own security and that causes us to trust God less. Jesus constantly said and did things that disoriented His disciples. He took men who were used to being on the water and gave them land legs. He taught in people’s homes instead of always doing it in the synagogue. He referred to God as “Father” instead of Yahweh. He hung out with sinners instead of the righteous. He challenged their entire way of life so He could re-orient them into the life He wanted them to live.

What’s happening in your life right now that doesn’t make sense to you? Where has God moved you that is away from the comfort zone you built? God has not left you and isn’t allowing things to happen to you randomly. He is re-orienting your life to a deeper trust in Him. He is re-orienting your faith to give you a stronger trust in Him. He is redirecting your life to the path He wants you on so you can accomplish all He has for you. Trust that He sees the whole map of your life and knows when you need to be re-oriented. Feeling lost temporarily can bring a greater direction to your life. Trust what God is doing.


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American Night in Cairo

I’ve been reminded twice this week about what I called “American Night in Cairo”. When I lived in Egypt, there were days were I longed to be back in the States and I would remember everything great about the U.S. On those days, I would put a cassette tape in my jam box that my parents recorded from my favorite station at home and listen to the music, DJ chatter, news, traffic and weather. I’d cook hotdogs that someone brought me, open a can of chili and drink a Dr. Pepper that a friend got from the commissary. After that, I’d put in a VHS tape into the VCR, sit on the couch and what “Friends” and other shows from “Must See TV” with commercials and all. For a moment, it was like I was back in my natural habitat.

The truth was, Egypt was my new home. I fell in love with Arabic, the pyramids, eating who knows what from who knows where, the dust storms, the horns honking, sailing down the Nile and everything else that was special about living there. I was so caught up in looking back to my old life that I almost missed the new one. I longed for days that had passed and my memory amplified how great things were because they weren’t right in front of me. It got to be all I thought about until I really embraced Egypt.

I heard the first part of Romans 6 last night from The Message Bible and it paralleled with those nights in Egypt. It says, “If we’ve left the country where sin is sovereign, how can we still live in our old house there? Or didn’t you realize we packed up and left there for good? That is what happened in baptism. When we went under water, we left the old country of sin behind; when we came up out of the water, we entered into the new country of grace – a new life in a new land!” I find myself, even now, looking back on my old life, the one where I didn’t follow God’s ways, and remembering it with fondness.

I don’t think it’s bad to remember the good times I had, but when I start longing for them again, it distracts from my new life in Christ. I start missing out on what God has for me in this new land. I can’t allow what used to be to dominate my present thoughts and to create a homesickness for what once was. Since we’re born into sin, that lifestyle is “home” to our flesh. Our mind and body want to go back there, but our spirit, who is given to us from God, desires the new land. It creates a battle inside. That battle stunts our growth, stagnates our walk and keeps us from seeing all the blessings of the new life.

It wasn’t until I quit having “American Night in Cairo” that I began to see the beauty of my new home. I had missed out on so much because I was always dreaming of what used to be. What is your “American Night in Cairo” that keeps drawing you back to your old life? God has called you to live a new life in a new land. Don’t spend your time in this new life dreaming of days gone by. Thank God you’re forgiven, listen to the deepest part of your spirit as it calls you to love this new life and follow after it. You live in a country of grace now. You have a new life in a new land, embrace it.


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The Hiding Place

Do you ever feel like you’re just going through the motions in life? Maybe you had a bad experience and you found solace in routine. Maybe you moved away from the situation to start over and have been playing things safely ever since. Some people change careers, friends and who they are in order to not walk down that path again. It’s understandable, but at some point you have to get back to doing what you were made for and snap out of your hiding place.

That was the case with Moses too. He had discovered who he was and while trying to come to grips with it, made a costly mistake. When word got out, Moses ran from the situation. While running, he came to a well in Midian where he found his future wife and in laws. His career path changed from being in the Egyptian royal family to shepherd. He was running from where God had him and placed him as a child. He was playing it safe in his hiding place.

While he was content to be there, God wasn’t. He wasn’t fulfilling his purpose in the desert. He was running from it. While out tending the sheep in his mundane life, God met him in a way that got his attention. God appeared to Moses in a burning bush with a fire that didn’t consume it. There God called Moses to return to who he was created to be. Of course Moses gave every excuse he could think of to not go back. Life was easy and predictable in the routine he had found, but that’s not the kind of life God calls us to.

Moses decided to give up the mundane for the unpredictable. He chose to go with God’s way instead of his own. He left the security of his hiding place to trust in God’s provision. These were not easy choices to make. I imagine the fear and doubt that Moses must have gone through was overwhelming at times. It still took a lot of faith on his part to trust God and return to Egypt. It took guts to face his past and to willingly walk back. It was necessary because God had chosen him from the time he was a baby to set Israel free.

Now lets come back to you and me. Most of us can relate to some or all of this story. Some of us are running from God’s call on our lives. Some of us have taken refuge in the desert of life, hiding out as long as we can. All the while we know that our own burning bush experience is on it’s way. If you’re in that moment and you’re giving God push back, trust Him to lead you to the place only He can take you. If you’re on your way back to where you belong, take courage in knowing God is with you in your journey. Don’t give into fear.

God has a plan for your life that only you can fulfill. He’ll burn as many bushes as He needs to in order to get your attention. He’s not content to leave you in the desert hiding. He wants you back where you belong following the call He placed on your life. Today is the day to submit to that calling once again. It’s time to quit arguing and making excuses. Make the decision to get back to where He wants you. Leave a life of going through the motions behind and choose the adventure God has for you. You won’t regret it.

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Detoured By God

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road
through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said,
“If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.”
Exodus 13:17

God chose for His people to go through the desert. His path is not
always the direct route, but His detours are not without reason. We like
to plan our days, weeks, months, even our entire lives. We have a vision
of where we should be and how we should get there, but often our lives
don’t follow our plans. When you find yourself on a detour, look for God
and what He is doing. You may not get the promotion when you want, get
married or start a family on your timetable, but rest assured the Lord
your God has a plan for you and the detour you are on may be for your
own good. He didn’t want the Israelites to give up and return to Egypt
because He wanted the best for them. He wants the best for you too.

What is it God is protecting you from or trying to teach you on on your

This post is an excerpt from the devotional, “Deeply Rooted” by author Shelly Sorem. Shelly is a Bible teacher and international speaker. She has worked in children, youth and women’s ministries. She has spoken at women’s conferences and retreats around the world. She loves the Lord and has a passion for helping others grow in their faith. She has a bachelor of science in education and a master’s degree in counseling psychology. She currently lives in Texas with her husbands and two daughters.
Her website is www.deeplyrootedinhim.com

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Left With Nothing

Genesis 42 tells the story of Jacob sending all of his sons except Benjamin to Egypt to buy food. The seven year famine was in full effect and Jacob had no other choice but to send his sons to buy food. When they came before their brother Joseph, they didn’t recognize him. They bowed before him and immediately Joseph remembered his dreams. He accused them of being spies and put them in jail. They explained who they were and that they had another brother.

Joseph released all but one, Simeon, so that the others could return home with food and then bring back Benjamin. When they told their father Jacob what had happened, he was upset. In verse 36 he said, “You’re taking everything I’ve got! Joseph’s gone, Simeon’s gone, and now you want to take Benjamin. If you have your way, I’ll be left with nothing.” I wonder if that last line was directed more at God than his sons.

For Jacob’s survival, he had to give up everything including the one thing he was holding back. He’d suffered loss before and didn’t want to release Benjamin. Through his losses, he had forgotten God’s promise to him back when he wrestled with God. In Genesis 35:11, God told him, “You will become a great nation, even many nations. Kings will be among your descendants.” Now, God was asking him to release all of his sons into the unknown. He thought that if he held onto one, the promise could still come true.

When he agreed to release what he had held back and sent all of his sons to Egypt, then he not only was given food, housing, protection from the famine and Simeon back, he got what was lost and taken from him back. He was reunited with Joseph. He was also able to see the greater picture. Joseph had to be taken from him years earlier in order to ensure the survival of his family so the promise could come true. Joseph endured hardships all those years just so his family could endure the coming famine.

It’s got me thinking this morning, “What is the one thing I’m holding back from God? Have I trusted Him with my whole life, yet held something back as a security blanket? Am I bitter over a loss or a time of hardship?” God’s not satisfied with us giving Him 99%. He wants us to release 100% of what we have to Him. It will only appear that we will be left with nothing. What we will gain is so much more. It just takes faith and trust in God’s promises to you.

What prior loss has still left you scared to trust God with everything? What’s the one thing in your life that you’re withholding from God? Do you feel like you’ll be left with nothing if you give everything to God? You aren’t alone in those feelings. You aren’t wrong to have them. It becomes wrong when God asks for you to let go and you still hang on. Release it all to God today. His hands are far more capable of protecting it than yours. He’s able to return it and all that you’ve lost exceedingly and abundantly more than you can imagine.


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Let Go

As I mentioned here I will be studying Joseph’s life more in depth this year. I want to share with you something else I found while reading about him. In Genesis 42, the famine had spread from Egypt to the surrounding countries. Jacob, his father, heard that there was food in Egypt. In order to keep from starving, he sent 10 of his remaining 11 sons to go buy food there.

Since Joseph had correctly interpreted Pharaoh’s dream, he was placed in charge of selling the food they had been storing in the seven years of plenty. His brothers came in and bowed before him. He recognized them, but they didn’t. Immediately God reminded him of his dream and how it had just been fulfilled. He used an interpreter to speak to them and accused them of being spies. He then put them in jail for three days.

After three days he visited them and said he would release 9 of them and hold one until they returned with the youngest. He also filled their sacks with grain and secretly returned their money to them in the bags of grain. When they got home, they told their father what had happened and what the Egyptian wanted. They then emptied their sacks and found the money that was to pay for the grain. In verse 36, Jacob exclaims, “Everything is going against me!”

I find it interesting how Jacob crumbles in this situation. You and I have the privilege of knowing how the story ends, but he didn’t. We can see how God was lining things up for him to take care of his family and then to return his son he thought was dead. All that was being asked of him was to send all of his sons back to Egypt to get the last one. In his mind he was giving up everything, not knowing that he was about to be completely taken care of.

I wonder how many times in our own lives, God is trying to work things out for our own good and we think the sky is falling. He asks us to give things up that are precious to us and we cry out, “Everything is going against me” when really everything is lining up for Him to give us more. Our perspective is so focused on the now that we can’t see what God is trying to do. What if Jacob had decided not to send his 10 remaining sons to get the one? What if he chose not to give up everything? How would history have changed?

God is lining things up in our lives. He is asking us to let go of things we’re holding onto so He can fulfill dreams in your life. Everything is not working against you. It’s being worked for your good. You have to trust Him and let go of what He’s asking you to. So what is it that He’s asking you to let go of? What is it that He wants you to trust Him with? Are you willing to let go of everything so He can fulfill your dream and His promise?

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Swimming in the Nile

The Nile river holds the title of the longest river in the world. It starts in Lake Victoria down in Uganda and flows northward to Egypt until it releases into the Mediterranean Sea. By the time the Nile gets to Egypt, it’s pretty nasty and dirty. The expats there often warn of the dangers of touching the water because of amoebas. After a year of hearing all the warnings, I decided that I couldn’t live the rest of my life telling people I never swam in the Nile. So two friends and I rented a felucca (sail boat) and told the hired captain to take us to the middle where the water flow was the fastest.

After arriving in the middle we laughed at the thought of what we were about to do. “You go first,” one of us shouted. “No. You go first.” Somehow it was decided that I would go first while one of the others filmed our journey into the depths of the Nile. Sitting on the edge of the boat, looking into the Nile, I couldn’t stop laughing at the absurdity of what I was about to do. I finally slid off the side of the boat into the murky water. It was cold and dirt. After the other two joined me in the water, we quickly got out, toweled dry and had the captain take us back to shore so we could run to our homes and shower.

As Christians, many of us try to get through this world without getting in the water and we do our best to keep from getting splashed on. The fear of that paralyzes a lot of people and even pushes them to the center of the boat away from the edges. The problem is that if we are to bring people into the boat, we have to be where we can get splashed on. We sometimes have to get out of the boat and down into the water where people are in order to bring them back.

Jesus had no problem doing this. He often went into the homes of known sinners. He was even splashed on by the tears of a prostitute. The religious leaders around him said, “If you were really a prophet, you’d know what kind of woman that is who is touching you.” Jesus knew exactly who she was and what she had done yet He still allowed her to wash His feet with her tears. He forgave her sins and told her to go in peace.

If we aren’t willing to get out of the boat and to get dirty we will never reach others for Christ. Our lives weren’t meant to be lived completely encapsulated by the boat away from the water. Yes it’s dirty. Yes it can be dangerous, but I don’t want to get to Heaven one day and have this conversation:
Me: Jesus, I made it.
Jesus: Who did you bring with you?
Me: You know, Lord, that water was murky and nasty. I didn’t want to risk getting dirty by getting in it to help someone else. I figured you wanted me to be nice and clean when I got here.
Jesus: Have you ever met a fisherman who smelled good or had clean hands? Fishing requires you to get in the murky water. It requires you to get your hands dirty. You were called to be a fisher of men.

We are each called to be fishers of men. Any good fisherman will tell you to fish where the fish are. It just makes sense. In Luke 14:21, Jesus said we should go to the streets and the alleys and invite the poor, crippled, the blind and the lame. Then He said to go into the country roads and behind the hedges to urge anyone you find to come so that His house may be full. Where have you been called to go that you’ve been afraid of? Don’t let what others think keep you from getting your hands dirty to reach others. Be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove.

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