One of the things we’re pretty good at is arguing and making excuses. From the time we were young, we have learned to defend our shortcomings with excuses or to try and argue our way out of it. Another motivator for excuses is fear. When we’re afraid of not knowing the outcome, fear will often remind us of why we can’t do something and then excuses come out. We tend to do this as adults when God calls us to do something that’s outside of our comfort zone. Fear and feelings of inadequacy can cause us to give Him excuses why we can’t or shouldn’t do it. If you’ve done that, you’re not alone, but I want to encourage you to find a way to push through to saying “yes” to God.
In Exodus 3 and 4, were introduced to Moses. He was the son of a Hebrew slave in Egypt, but grew up in Pharaoh’s house. After he killed an Egyptian he fled for forty years. While he was tending some sheep, God appeared to him in a burning bush that wasn’t being consumed by the flame. He was told to go back to Egypt to set the Hebrews free. All of a sudden fear and inadequacy flooded his mind and he started giving God excuses. “They will kill me. I’m not a public speaker. No one will listen.” On and on the excuses poured out until,God had enough. Reluctantly he went after God got upset with him and shot down every excuse.
In Psalm 32:8 we find encouragement when we want to make excuses. “The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.’” God will be with you and advise you just as He did Moses. If God has called you to it, He will guide you through it. Like Moses, you might get hit with set backs and resistance, but keep doing what God asks. He has chosen you and anointed you for the work He has called you to. Your inadequacies and fear will be met with His all sufficient grace. Remember the disciples gave Jesus five loaves and two fish and He fed 5,000. Imagine what He could do through you with what you give Him. He’s the one who does incredible things when we say yes to Him and offer ourselves instead of excuses.
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.
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?
Have you ever had a car break down on you? I had one break down on me in high school late at night after I dropped off my girlfriend. It was a cold night and she lived way out in the middle of no where. I was listening to the radio, signing along, when there was a noise from the engine and the car died. I coasted to a stop and began to look for lights. Cell phones were a luxury for the rich back then so calling someone was out. I got out and walked down the road until I came to a house. I went up and knocked on the door. A voice from inside asked what I wanted. When I explained what happened, they said, “We don’t open the door for anyone!”
I went down the road looking for another house. I was freezing cold and starting to jog to get my blood moving. I saw another house. It has the blinking, purple light flashing from a TV in the windows. I knocked and the TV turned off. I told them I knew they were awake and I just needed to make a call. No answer. Down the road I went to the next house. When I knocked, the door immediately opened. They were having a party. I asked for a phone, they let me use it and then drove me back to my car. I’m not sure how many doors I was going to have to knock on that night, but if was going to until I found someone available to help.
Our guest preacher yesterday mentioned in his sermon how God is looking for us to be available to Him. We say we want God to use us, but when He asks, we’re too busy. We have so many things going on in our lives that we’ve failed to be available to God when He wants to use us. He comes and knocks on our door, but it’s too late in the day or we just pretend not to hear it. We want to be used by God, but only when it’s convenient for us. We don’t want it to be in public, at a restaurant, in front of other people or when we’re in the middle of something else. We want to be used only when it’s at our convenience.
Sadly, He passes us by continuing to knock on the doors of hearts until someone is available to help. We wonder why He doesn’t use us very often. We think we are the model Christians, yet every time He knocks, we disregard it because it isn’t convenient. God wants our availability. Either we’re willing to be used by Him whenever He wants or we’re just not really available. What if Moses had been too busy doing his daily tasks to notice the burning bush? What if David had said he was too busy to go to the house to see Samuel? What if Peter was too busy to go to the upper room? You probably wouldn’t know their names. Instead you’d know the names of people who would’ve been available.
How’s your availability to God? Have you told Him you want to be used by Him, but haven’t made yourself available on His schedule? The good news is that you can change that in an instant. You simply have to let Him know that you’re ready when He’s ready, that His plans are more important than your plans and that when He asks, you’ll say, “Yes!” If you aren’t available when He knocks, He will move on to someone who will say yes. There is nothing here more important than what God wants you to do. It may not be convenient or easy to do, but it is the most important thing on your to-do list today. Will you be available when He knocks?