One of the things I’ve learned is that unmet or unrealistic expectations hurt and often kill relationships. When we’re in any kind of relationship, we automatically create our expectations from the other party and the relationship. If we never communicate those to them, or clarify what we think are their expectations, we will end up disappointed and confused. It’s a shame that so many relationships go south because of this, and worse that we blame the other party for the problem because they didn’t do what we expected them to do, but never clearly told them. If these misfires happen in inter-human relationships, how much more do they happen between God and us.
There are times where I’ve been so sure I’ve heard from God, but I assumed and expected it would happen a certain way. When it doesn’t happen that way, I get frustrated with God and often do something that is not in His plan. Think of Moses. Even though God told him that Pharaoh wouldn’t let Israel go without being forced to, he thought it would happen differently. When it didn’t happen according to Moses’ plan, and things got bad, he got mad and questioned God in Exodus 5:22-23. He said to God, “My Master, why are you treating this people so badly? And why did you ever send me? From the moment I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, things have only gotten worse for this people. And rescue? Does this look like rescue to you?” (MSG)
If things in your life or ministry aren’t happening the way you thought they should after you clearly heard God, hold on. He is at work in you and in the situation. We know that He works ALL things together for our good. Your frustration is simply your unmet expectation of what you thought God was going to do. Go back to God in prayer, submit to His plan and for Him to do things His way. Ask Him to help you see His plan so you understand what He’s doing, how He’s doing it and why. He may not give you those answers, but as one who speaks from experience, the sooner you submit to His plan and His way of accomplishing it, the better off you’ll be.
Photo by AZGAN MjESHTRI on Unsplash
I scoff sometimes when I read about Moses. He met with God consistently, he physically saw God, He had the Shekinah glory over the Tabernacle that led them, and there was Manna on the ground every morning. He still found a way to doubt God. When the people were tired of Manna, they whined and complained. God called out to Moses and told him that He would provide meat for a month. Moses immediately thought of the impossibility of the situation instead of the ability of God.
The disciples were in a similar situation. They had been with Jesus for a long time, seen Him heal the blind, cure diseases, and raise the dead. Yet when there was a crowd of hungry people, they looked at a couple of loaves of bread and some fish and saw the impossibility of the situation instead of the ability of Jesus. They projected their abilities and limitations onto Jesus instead of His onto themselves.
You and I find ourselves in the same struggle thousands of years later. God has proven Himself over and over to us. He has answered our prayers, He has opened closed doors, He has changed our life, and has spoken to our heart. Somehow, we still find ways to doubt His ability to come through in the impossible. I have to remind myself what Jesus said in Matthew 19:26, “With men this is impossible, but all things are possible with God” (AMP).
God reminds you and I over and over in scripture that what’s impossible for us is possible for Him. I love His answer to Moses in the situation above. In Numbers 11:23, He asked Moses, “Has my arm lost its power?” (NLT) I believe He’s asking us that today. Has anything changed with who God is? I don’t know what impossible odds you’re facing today or how bad your situation looks. I do know that whatever it is, our God is able to provide. His arm has not lost its power. He specializes in coming through in the impossible. Rely on His ability, not yours.
I’ve known many people in my life who have followed the call of God only to return when hard times hit them. I call it the Jonah effect. The thought process goes like this. If they really were following God’s call then they would see whole cities saved as Jonah did when he finally went to Nineveh. They go, they show up, and everything works out perfectly. However, when they’re faced with constant obstacles and apparent set backs, they feel like they went the opposite direction from God’s will. Therefore, they feel they need to quit and go back to square one.
Think about Moses for a minute. I think we can all agree that in Exodus 3 and 4, God called him to go to Egypt and set His people free. So why didn’t Pharaoh just release them the first time Moses asked? Why did Pharaoh make their workload harder? Why did the people whom Moses was trying to get set free urn on him? Because there will always be resistance when you’re in God’s will. The enemy is unwilling to just surrender territory he has built strongholds in.
When you and I face obstacles and challenges while following God’s voice, we shouldn’t turn around and go back home. We should stay and fight the spiritual battle in front of us. We need to put on the spiritual armor that God laid out for us in Ephesians 6. We need to be prayed up and dressed for battle expecting a fight whenever we are following God’s call. We shouldn’t expect an easy road just because we are following God’s call.
More often that not, those obstacles in our way tend to be people. Moses had Pharaoh, David had Saul, Elisha had Jezebel, and you may have someone too. I think it’s important to remember that Ephesians 6:12 tells us, “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places” (NLT). The people who stand in our way are not the enemy. We must fight the enemy who is behind the scenes if we are going to win the victory. It may take some time and a lot of effort, but God called you to that particular battle for a reason.
Don’t be like so many who run when there’s trouble. Don’t fall for the Jonah Effect. If you’re facing resistance, and it appears that people are blocking you from accomplishing God’s will, look behind the scenes. Your battle is not with that person or people. Your true battle is with the enemy behind the scenes. Fight on your knees, but still show up to accomplish God’s will day in and day out like Moses did. When he faced resistance, he went back to God each time looking for help. Moses fought his way to victory and so will you if you don’t get discouraged and turn around.
On my last trip to Haiti, our group sang a song by Jesus Culture called “I’m a lover of your presence”. The part in the song that stands out to me says, “I’m a lover of your presence and it’s all I wanna be.” I can still hear our voices calling out into the night sky to God how much we love His presence. It became my prayer then and I still pray it today. I don’t want to live a day without walking in God’s presence. I know it’s possible and that God wants that relationship with us too.
Adam walked in God’s presence each night in the garden. Abraham lived in God’s presence according to genesis 24:40. Enoch also walked daily with God. Moses spent so much time in God’s presence that his face became bright. He had to wear a veil because it was too bright for the people to look at him. David loved God’s presence so much they he wanted to build a house for Him to dwell in. Peter spoke of the times of refreshment that come from the presence of The Lord. The Bible is full of examples of people who spent time in God’s presence.
If they can do it, you and I can do it. You may be thinking, “Yeah, but those were saints and holy men in the Bible. I’m just me.” Each of the people I listed above and the many more that you will find in the Bible who spent time in God’s presence were ordinary, flawed people just like you and me. The difference was that they took time to be in God’s presence each day. They knew they were unworthy of it, but they trusted God’s grace enough to enter His presence.
They knew that when they stood before God, in His presence, even their hidden sins would be exposed. Yet they entered it anyway. Why? Because they knew that the only way to get sin out of their life is to expose it to God. They knew that it was a good thing to get it out. But somehow, our minds think that we shouldn’t enter His presence because of our sins. We use that as an excuse to stay away from His presence. We cannot buy into that lie!
That’s just like people I know who won’t go to the doctor. I ask them why they won’t and they answer, “Because every time I go, they find something wrong.” They see it as a negative thing when a doctor finds something wrong. I see it as a good thing. If there’s something wrong in me, I want to find it quickly and have it dealt with. Ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. Dealing with it does. Being in God’s presence forces us to deal with what’s wrong in our lives. We should want to have Him find what’s wrong so we can get forgiveness and move into a closer relationship with Him. Find time today to spend in His presence.
If you’d like to listen to the song on YouTube, you can click here.
My son always wants to help with whatever I’m doing. If I’m shopping in the store, he wants to be the one to get the item off the shelf. He says, “Here, let me help.” When I’m bringing in the groceries, he wants to carry a bag. Every once in a while he gets one that’s more than he can handle. He’ll say, “It’s too heavy. Help me, Dada.” I’ll reach down and carry the bulk of the weight, but still let him do his part. I’ve been in his shoes before. I’ve had baggage that was too heavy for me to carry on my own. I’ve just haven’t been as eager to ask for help as he has. I think there are many who are in the same boat.
In Exodus 17, the Israelites were traveling from Egypt to the Promised Land. On their way, they were attacked by the Amalekites. Moses had Joshua recruit some men to go fight the Amalekites while he stood on top of a hill holding the staff. As the battle raged on, Moses, Aaron and Hur noticed that as long as Moses had his hands raised, they were winning. When his arms were lowered, they were getting beat. They encouraged Moses to hold his hands up, but after a while he couldn’t do it anymore. He needed help.
It doesn’t say if Moses asked for help or not, but it does say that Aaron and Hur acted on his behalf. They saw a need and improvised to help him out. They grabbed a stone for him to sit on so they could hold up his arms. They stood there until the sun went down and the Amalekites were defeated. Moses named the place Yahweh Nissi which is God My Banner. God gave the victory, but it was won because two people saw another who needed help and lifted him up. They sacrificed their comfort for those who were engulfed in a battle.
If you look around at the people God has placed in your life, there are those who are fighting battles and they’re growing tired. They can’t hold their hands up anymore. They’re struggling and losing the war. God is looking for people like Aaron and Hur who will go to those who need help, hold them up in prayer and sacrifice until their battle is won. By helping them, in turn you are helping others that they are holding up. When Aaron and Hur helped Moses, they had a direct affect on the army fighting below. We never know how far our help really goes.
Whose arms has God asked you to hold up? Who in your life needs you to help them win their battle? It may not be easy for you, but If God is asking you to do it, you’re going to have to make the sacrifices necessary. You’re going to have to spend time holding their hand, standing beside them and lifting them up in prayer. Your role in their battle may not be glorious, but it is vital to their victory. They may not ask you to do it, so you may have to offer it. You also may have to improvise in order to get them through the day. Do your part in holding them up until God gives the victory.
The other night, my nephew and I went for a late night Wal-Mart run. We just needed to get one thing. As we entered the store, he asked, “Do you want a basket?” I told him we didn’t because we only needed this one item. As we walked past the aisles on the way, I spotted something my wife would love. I said, “Let’s get a box of these for your aunt!” As we went down the aisle, I spotted something else. The further into the store we went, the more I grabbed. He asked, “Are you sure we don’t need a basket?” I declined again. By the time we got to the item we were after, our hands were full.
I limited myself to what I could have because I refused to let go and to put them in a basket. God has great things in store for each of us, but we rarely want to let go of what’s in our hands in order to get more. When you think about it, that’s the underlying theme in so many stories in the Bible. Abraham had to let go of the place he called home in order to receive the Promised Land. What of he had tried to hold onto it? What would have happened if he refused to let go and to trust God?
Moses’ mom had to let go of him so that he could lead his people out of slavery. Moses had to let go of the riches of Egypt and his title of being the grandson of Pharaoh. He could have lived a life of luxury and had it easy. Hebrews 11:26 says, “He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ rather than to own the treasures of Egypt.” When he let go of what was in his hands, God was able to use him for a greater purpose. Would we even know Moses’ name if he hadn’t let go?
Think about David. He had to let go of His sheep in order to rule a nation. He let go of what was comfortable to him. He let go of the job he had known since he was a boy in order to be king. He could have looked at the greatness God had in store for him and chosen to watch sheep instead. It would have been less stressful. It would have been easier and required less faith, but he chose to let go of what he had in order to embrace what God had in store. I wonder if we would have the Psalms today had he not chosen to let go.
I could go on and on with example after example in the Bible. Paul let go of his life of persecuting to be persecuted, the disciples gave up family and income, Joseph gave up bitterness to save his family and the future nation of Israel, Jesus gave up all of Heaven to walk among us so that we could be with Him one day. The story of the Bible is all about giving up what’s in your hand so that you can accept more from God. Don’t be selfish with what The Lord has given you. Give it back to Him and He will open the windows of Heaven and pout out blessings you can’t even contain. That’s a promise He made and it doesn’t just apply to money.
What are you holding on to that God has asked you to let go of?
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.
When American Idol first came on TV, it was one of the most popular shows ever. People couldn’t get enough of it. Since that time several shows with the same premise have begun. The draw to reality shows like this is that it gives a nobody the chance to be somebody. It tells us that there’s a chance for each of us to be great, famous or known. It gives us a cut in the line to stardom, to bypass years of plugging away following the normal route. In essence, shows like that give each of us hope that we too will be discovered one day.
As I was reading Paul’s account of Abraham in Romans 4:17-18, it occurred to me that God only uses nobodies. When you look through the scripture and think of the great people of faith, they were nobodies. David was a shepherd minding his own business tending his father’s sheep when God chose him to be king. Abraham was a devoted husband who just wanted to give his wife a child. He was taking care of his possessions when God asked him to move. Mary and Joseph were just two young lovers trying to plan a wedding when God chose them to be the parents of Jesus.
Look at the disciples too. Most were ordinary fishermen, tax collectors and every day blue collar workers when Jesus gave the call to follow Him. Joseph was a teenager who ratted on his brothers one too many times when he was sold into slavery and dragged to a foreign land. He lived his life in obscurity until God chose to make him second in command of one of the greatest civilizations of all time. Moses was an abandoned child, who ran away from his adopted parents and was tending sheep in the desert when he had the burning bush experience.
The somebodies in the Bible all started out as nobodies. They didn’t follow the normal routes to greatness. They were just doing their normal every day routines when God stepped in. The difference between them and others was that they were willing to be obedient to the voice of God. David was willing to tend sheep as the king, Abraham was willing to leave his homeland with no questions asked, Mary and Joseph were willing to be ridiculed for having a child out of wedlock, the disciples were willing to leave everything behind to follow, Moses was willing to go home and face his past. Each person was willing to be obedient when it didn’t make sense.
That’s the difference in being a nobody and a somebody. Blind faith. God is still looking among the nobodies of this world to find somebody who will blindly obey. He’s looking for somebody to be great. He has not changed His methods. Blind obedience is still what He desires from you and me. Being willing to do whatever He asks even when it doesn’t make sense or defies logic is the trait He most admires. You and I have a choice when He comes our way. We have the choice to remain a nobody because we aren’t willing to do what He asks, or we have the choice to obey and be somebody great. What will your obedience look like today?
After Moses came down from the mountainside with the Ten Commandments, he continued to meet with God in the Tabernacle. Exodus 33 says that when Moses would go into the Tabernacle, the people of Israel would stand at the door of their tents and watch. Once he entered, the pillar of cloud would come down over the entrance of the tent and the people would bow. What happens next in verse 11 is what I love about God. It says, “And God spoke to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” God desires to have that relationship with you and me. One where we sit down with Him, face to face and speak as friends.
That sounds so difficult to me at times. How do I sit down and talk as friends with the One who created everything I see? Who am I that He would even meet me, let alone have a conversation with me? When I think of that, my own weaknesses, insecurities and sin come to mind. They make me want to stay outside of that sacred meeting place where God comes down and meets me face to face. I’d rather be one of the people who stands at a distance and watches others go in and expose themselves completely before the God of creation. It’s such an intimate meeting that it scares me at times to enter into it.
I love that God is willing to meet each one of us just like He did with Moses. I love that He desires to be our friend, father and helper. He has the will and the desire, but it’s up to each one of us to move beyond desire and to step into that place where He can meet us like that. Notice that it was Moses who entered the Tabernacle first and then God’s presence came down. It reminds me of James 4:8. It says, “(You) Come close to God, and God will come close to you.” The first step to intimacy with God is all about us being willing to get past being so vulnerable and open with God and then taking that first step toward Him.
I also think of the Prodigal Son. His father didn’t go look for him. Instead, he had to make the decision to expose who he had been to his father and then started moving in the direction of his father. When the father saw him a long way off, he recognized him and ran towards him. The Bible shows this principle over and over again. God is waiting and looking for us to enter that place where we meet Him. He is willing to come meet us face to face. He wants to talk to us as friends and children of His, but we have to move towards Him. Our first step sets God free to come running in our direction.
What’s your first step? Is it getting over your pride and admitting you can’t do this on your own? Is it acknowledging that there is hidden sin in your life and being willing to let God shine His light on it? Is it carving out time in your already overflowing schedule to make time with Him? Whatever it is, I encourage you to take that step today. Once you take that step, momentum is of your side. God begins to move towards you and you towards Him. The distance is cut in half with each step. Before you know it, you’ll be face to face with God almighty.