"See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, which I am commanding you today; and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known.” (Deuteronomy 11:26-28)
Remember when God sent Moses to Egypt to deliver the children of Israel out of the land? Read carefully what the Lord spoke to Moses, “The LORD said, ‘I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have given heed to their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings. So I have come down to deliver them from the power of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and spacious land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanite and the Hittite and the Amorite and the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite.’” (Exodus 3:7-8 emphasis mine) Did God just realize that the Israelites plight was critical? NO! Just like then, we are a society of people today who expect, and demand, instant gratification, even with the things of God! We have lost that intimacy and striving and unfaltering hope that is needed to bring about the promises of God. Can God instantly bring about His desire? ABSOLUTELY! But even when we believe it to be “instant” the truth is that more times than not, there has been much praying, much coming into agreement with the promises of God and much spiritual warfare to see the outcome of God’s promise. I would suggest you read the Book of Daniel. Daniel was weary many times from praying for revelation of the visions he had been given. At one point, the angel Gabriel came to him with this statement, “Then he said to me, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your heart on understanding this and on humbling yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to your words. But the prince of the kingdom of Persia was withstanding me for twenty-one days; then behold, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, for I had been left there with the kings of Persia. Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future.’" (Daniel 10:12-14 emphasis mine) Bottom line, Satan does not want you to receive an answer from the Lord and does everything in his power to make sure you don’t! And in today’s technical world that is not hard to do! It is these same devices that keep us from even talking to the Lord! But it isn’t only devices, it can be people, hobbies, circumstances, etc. Think about your life for a moment, have you allowed hindrances to block your time with the Lord? We all do at times in our lives, but we have to recognize it, repent and turn away from those distractions and turn TO the Lord.
The Israelites were in Egypt for 400 years. When God heard their cry He wasn’t saying that their situation was something new or something He was unaware of. Remember that thought. Everything that happens has a past that has lead up to that moment.
As we know, Pharaoh had a hard heart. If truth be told, and you read the Scriptures, he was afraid of the Israelites. They were many and strong. He had no interest in past history of how they actually came to live in Egypt. He was interested in POWER. He was a man full of PRIDE. The Israelites were hard workers and prospered. The Lord God blessed the work of their hands.
We also need to realize, however, that the Israelites, just like you and me, called Egypt “home” and became comfortable in their lifestyle. Most likely they also adopted some of the ways of the Egyptians. They hadn’t totally forgotten God but they had really become cold in their relationship with Him. And, just like you and me, they would remember Him when they needed something!
We must also remember that God was not caught off guard by any of this. He had told Abraham that his descendants would go into captivity for 400 years. I am reminded here that the number 4 is a global number and here it signifies a great deliverance from bondage from a life far from God. So circumstances had finally reached a place where the Israelites were in great discomfort and raised their voices to God for deliverance. Remember, they really did not have a relationship with the Lord so their idea of deliverance and God’s idea of deliverance were two very different things! Thankfully the foolishness of man does not stop God from moving ahead with His plan!
It was not an accident that Moses was spared when all the other male children born in Egypt had been killed. It really is an amazing story how his mother was able to hide him for three months and then for the Pharaoh’s daughter to find him and have compassion on him to keep him alive and raise him in the pharaoh’s house. Only God could orchestrate circumstances like this! And for Moses to have his very own mother as his nursemaid was even more astounding. As he grew she shared with him his heritage and, most importantly of all, of God’s love for His chosen people. As Moses grew he saw the mistreatment of his people, but as a young man acting on his own thoughts, he acted foolishly and killed one of the Egyptians and ended up fleeing for his life because Pharaoh wanted to kill him.
God is the one who led Moses to His mountain and set him aside. Moses didn’t know that, but God had a plan. Moses had many years to think about his actions and where they got him. Year after year he tended sheep. You have a lot of time to think when you are out in the fields! I believe that Moses realized that he didn’t have any answers. He was empty. That is a good place to be...empty of self. Empty of pride and of the world’s ideas. This is the place where God can use a person. And that’s when God stepped in and got Moses’ attention with the burning bush. Moses wasn’t excited about joining God in His plan, remember, all his self confidence was gone. But he had built a relationship with the Lord and wanted to please Him. Yes, he still had a problem with full surrender but God would deal with that.
Moses aligned himself with the Lord and His plan. Let me ask you, have you aligned yourself WITH the Lord and follow where He leads? When Moses did that, his life changed. But Moses quickly learned that every time he went to Pharaoh he made the lives of the Israelites more difficult. That definitely did not seem like an answer!
Let me ask you a question, how did the children of Israel respond? They turned against Moses and Aaron. It was at this point that they actually began to develop a false belief that things were better for them before Moses showed up. Remember that they kept telling Moses that after they left Egypt, they were ready to return to Egypt every time there was something they didn’t like, or a hardship was presented. They had no faith themselves! They already had a mindset that was not of God. When we are without faith we don’t have an expectation for God’s promises to be fulfilled. When we witness a victory, we repent, temporarily, then return to our old mindset. There was never a maturity in their relationship with God. And, my dear brothers and sisters, that is where a great majority of people are today. Is that you? "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal.” (John 12:24-25)
Please do not confuse believing a spoken Word from God and a “name it and claim it” religion. God gives us lots of promises in His Word but it is up to God HOW that promise is to be fulfilled. I have learned to wait upon the Lord and follow His path. I do not take a Word of Scripture and demand that God fulfill it the way I think it needs to be fulfilled. Let me give you an example. How many times have you heard someone say “I am blessed and highly favored by God”? Probably more often than you can count. But what do they really mean? What happens to that declaration as soon as a trial or tribulation arises? Or what happens when they choose to do something that is apart from God’s will and then have a consequence for that disobedience? Some are so spiritually blind that they have claimed it was God who lead them into the disobedience! Or, they cry “victim” and using the ways of man try to “fix” their situation, leaving God completely out of the picture. They are blessed and highly favored as long as they are living the life they think they should be living.
When I got sick several years ago I assumed that once the diagnosed problem was corrected that God would supply me with another job. God had a “job” for me but not what I expected. See, even though one medical condition was corrected, another greater one had developed. Due to physical challenges a position with an organization would not work. But God had another plan that I could not see, just yet. The Holy Spirit began speaking to me and I was overwhelmed, I didn’t know how to proceed. So I waited. The Lord had two different people speak to me, neither was in contact with the other, and they both told me the same thing. When I asked the Lord He confirmed this was the new field of ministry. What was that field? This website! Had I ever had any experience with building and maintaining a website? NO! But I had been journaling, teaching, being mentored, mentoring others, planting churches and immersed in an intimate relationship with the Lord for many years. Was I qualified? NO! I don’t believe we are ever really “qualified” for anything that God leads us into. He alone qualifies the called. First He calls you, then He speaks through you and guides you each step of the way. See, I could not sit here and write anything of worth if the Holy Spirit was not speaking to me and through me. And if there is something He wants you to know right now, it is that He desires to do the same with you. But if He is not your FIRST LOVE, He won’t do it. You have a choice, what will it be?
Will you be like Moses who went to check out the burning bush and was willing to surrender everything to be used by God? Maybe you are more like Daniel. You are a captive, however, your desire is to glorify God and He is first in your life. Maybe you are more like Joseph, your siblings don’t like you and mistreat you, but your love for the Lord can’t be dampened. You depend on Him for your very life. You are placed in very difficult circumstances but God blesses the work of your hands and is preparing you for the future. Maybe you are like David, a tender hearted person who has learned to understand that God is the supplier of all our strength and protection. But even though you love Him deeply and are surrendered to His every will, you find yourself being attacked and hated. You have no one else to trust, BUT GOD. But God. He has a plan, but it is in His time. He must prepare us and that may take many years of hardships. Are you willing to be one of the chosen? "For many are called, but few are chosen." (Matthew 22:14) Many are called but only a few actually answer the call. It’s not something you can plan or be in charge of. Read our opening Scripture again, ”’Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,' says the LORD of hosts." (emphasis mine)
Jesus also taught us how to walk in our calling, “And Jesus answered saying to them, ‘Have faith in God.’” (Mark 11:22 emphasis mine) Faith is an action word even though there are times there is no “active” action that can be seen. We immerse ourselves in His Word, we pray, we wait. We don’t “do” something until we know what it is that God is doing. Jesus was our example. “Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.’” (John 5:19) "I can do nothing on My own initiative. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is just, because I do not seek My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 5:30) "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:38) “So Jesus said, ‘When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me. And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.’'" (John 8:28-29) "For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak. I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me." (John 12:49-50) "Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.” (John 14:10) Jesus also continues to teach us that the Holy Spirit is in complete agreement, "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (John 16:13)
My dear friends, we have a calling if we truly are the Lord’s and that is submission and surrender. We must allow the Lord to grow us and become mature. It truly is our responsibility to be obedient. We cannot produce the transformation or the fruit, only the Lord can do that, but we are responsible for our choices and there are consequences for our actions or lack of action. “Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17)
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24 emphasis mine) To hear is to respond with evidence of a change in one’s life. To believe is to put action into the response and to walk out the commitment by trusting in the Lord. “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” (Romans 14:9)
"He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him." (John 14:21) "He who has…” Has denotes ownership. If we “have” God’s Word, commandments, we will KEEP them, obey them, live by them. By doing so we are telling God that we love Him and desire Him. The second half of that Scripture reveals the Lord’s response to our love and obedience.
Remember the Roman official whose son was ill? He went to Jesus to ask Him to travel with him to his house to heal his son. “Jesus said to him, ‘Go; your son lives.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started off.” (John 4:50 emphasis mine) When we are in an intimate relationship with the Lord we will know the voice of the Lord and when He is speaking a word directly to us.
Now, let’s go back to the deliverance from the land of Egypt and see it through the Lord’s eyes. "Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, `I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.’” (Exodus 6:6) We have selected hearing and hear just what we think we need. The Israelites heard the Lord speak through Moses and say He was going to deliver them from their bondage. That’s all they wanted. They didn’t know that redemption was the goal and they didn’t care! It’s no different today, people half hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and want Him to “save” them but they aren’t interested in Him becoming LORD of their lives! A picture of what that redemption looks like is revealed in the next Scripture. “Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” (Exodus 6:7 emphasis mine) “Take you for My people” means to take hold of, mold into a new person and they would know and receive Him as the One True God. They would be His possession, they would possess the things of heaven, not the just the things of earth. The journey into the “promised land” was a spiritual journey. We must all take the spiritual journey and be transformed so that we can enter the “promised land” the Kingdom of God.
Remember the two thieves who were being crucified at the same time as Jesus? One was mocking and vile but the other “heard” what Jesus said and believed with his heart. He was changed and preached the gospel to the other thief and then asked Jesus to remember him in Paradise. Jesus’ words are life. This thief saw his sin and knew he was guilty and needed to be saved from his sin. His heart was changed, transformed! That’s what redemption is! “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.” (Psalms 51:2) “I said to him, ‘My lord, you know.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’” (Revelation 7:14) “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city.” (Revelation 22:14)
Abba Father, I love You! Thank You Holy Spirit for speaking to my heart through this devotional. You opened my eyes to a situation in my life that I needed to surrender and trust You. I had no control and had unrest because of it. As soon as I laid it at the foot of the cross, I had peace and a joy. I knew beyond a doubt that it was in Your hands and You would go before me and that I could do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me. And You did it! I experienced joy unspeakable and I could sense Your delight. Forgive me for sometimes being so slow to understand things in my life. I am so thankful that You know my every thought and You know the capabilities and incapabilities of my physical body. Your ways are perfect. I worship and adore You! I love You with all my heart and thank You and praise You through Your Son Jesus Christ, my Lord! Amen.