Should I stay or should I Go?

Moses was a good and faithful servant and while reading about him in the Bible, the Lord brought to my attention 3 key steps along his journey in becoming one of God’s good and faithful servants.

1) God allowed circumstances that created a change in Moses’s life. This life change resulted in the removal of obstacles that were hindering him from following the call of the Lord.  Moses killed an Egyptian after watching him beat on one of his fellow Hebrew kinsman which forced him to run away from his home and live as a shepherd (Exodus 2). He went from living as a worldly Egyptian prince, surrounded by idols and the pursuit of self-pleasures, to a shepherd in the wilderness. He had nothing out there with him but God’s unfiltered creation, and I would imagine not many distracting luxuries. Has God allowed circumstances to create a life change in order to remove hindrances in your life? How did you respond?

2) God revealed to Moses who He was. Moses did not have a Bible. All he had was the Hebrew oral tradition, which basically means that he was told stories about God from many generations before him. In Exodus 3: 1-6 we read that God appeared in a burning bush which did not get consumed by the fire despite its flames. After God speaks to Moses, immediately Moses realized that God was so holy (set apart) from anything he had ever known. So much so that Moses could not even look at Him out of fear. God is so holy and perfect that if we as imperfect creatures were allowed to fully see Him in all His glory we would be destroyed. Let that sink in. That’s the God we serve.

3) God told Moses exactly what He was going to do. God graciously gave Moses some of the details of how He was going to accomplish His plan; He does not always do that. The remainder of Exodus 3 details the conversation between Moses and the Lord. It mostly reads as God telling Moses a detail and then Moses arguing with Him about it; then God doing a miraculous sign and Moses continuing to argue with Him about it. Does this sound a little familiar in your own journey? I know it does in mine! In fact, Moses argued so much that God got angry with Him for his lack of trust in the Lord to do all that He said He would, or more specifically to be able to use someone like Moses. Paraphrasing Exodus 4:11-12 God told Moses, “I created you! Of course, I know what you can and cannot do! But never mind what you can do, I am going to do it through you!”

Despite His anger, God still used Moses to do miraculous things for His kingdom. God created us with the freedom to make our own choices, and if we choose not to fully trust in Him we might miss out on exciting opportunities. God allows us to partner with Him to accomplish His will. Reflect back on your own life. What opportunities do you think you missed out on? What opportunities are you in danger of missing out on now? Remember, we only get one life, one shot at being a good and faithful servant. Don’t waste it!

 Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say. Exodus 4:12

About the Writer:
Natalie is a stay at home mom to two young boys. Additionally, she occasionally works as an emergency room nurse and is studying to become a Nurse Practitioner. She and her husband have been called into the medical mission field and are excited to see what the Lord has in store for their lives.

You Want me to do What?

I was dreading the trip.  Work has been very stressful and tense for some time, and there has been a lot of conflict. There was one person in particular I did not want to see, but my team was counting on me. My attitude was not good, and I needed to find the motivation to get out of bed. After hitting the snooze once, I read my devotional and prayed something like this: Lord, I know I am working for you and not for man, and so I am going. I also know you are in everything and you have plans for this trip. Help me be open to your whisper in every moment and use this time for your glory.

In Genesis 22, Abraham was faced with a much more difficult task. God was only asking me to take a trip.  He asked Abraham to sacrifice his only son.  Abraham did not whine or complain.  He obeyed.  He trusted God completely.  When Isaac asked him about the animal to be sacrificed, Abraham responded:

God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering, my son. Genesis 22:8 

Abraham spoke those words in faith, without knowing how God would provide. Can you imagine? I doubt I would have obeyed at all, but I certainly could not hold it together enough to speak words like that to my son.  And then Abraham tied up his son, laid him on the wood, and prepared the knife.  He was really prepared to let God have his child.  He took obedience to a level I cannot imagine.  But God stopped him and did EXACTLY as Abraham said to Isaac.  God provided the sacrifice, and then God blessed Abraham and made him the father of all nations.

In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice. Genesis 22:18

I was still tired when I walked out the door at 4a.m., but I had hope and knew that my obedience was a tiny sacrifice. God gave me a lot of unexpected answers in those few days, but the biggest blessing came from the most unlikely place. We were placed into teams for a 3 hour exercise, and that one person I was not wanting to see was on my list.  I laughed out loud when I saw it and could clearly see His hand.  By the end of the 3 hours, she and I were hugging and crying about our divine appointment that night. I now have a sister in Christ who can relate exactly to where I am, and tension has melted into friendship. The one thing I needed most, God brought to me in an unexpected way.

I am stubborn.  I know His way is always better, and when I struggle He is there to help if I just ask, but obedience to His calling must come first.  Father, thank you for the reminder that your plans are always perfect, and my obedience to you will always lead to blessing. 

About the Writer:
Wendy is a wife and mother who works full time in Risk Management.  Here at First Dallas she serves in Sunday school, helps coordinate Angel tree, and teaches at Discipleship University.  Her greatest joy comes from discovering how following Jesus can greatly impact her daily life and the lives of those she cares about in innumerable, practical ways.

Abigail’s Explosive Situation

Do you have a situation that has exploded around you?

Has a friend misinterpreted your Facebook post and unfriended you?  Has a coworker snubbed you after you and another coworker went to lunch without her?  Has your sister refused to see you again because your mother gave you the family china cabinet?

We learn of Abigail’s explosive situation in I Samuel 25.

Abigail was married to Nabal, whom the Bible calls “surly and mean”.  (I Samuel 25:3 NIV)  David and his men had been protecting Nabals’ property, and David requested provisions as payment for their service. Nabal hurled insults at David and refused his request. David overreacted and immediately ordered his soldiers to prepare to kill Nabal and his men.

Abigail learned of the explosive situation, collected a large amount of food, and quickly intercepted David and his men. Her words and demeanor were humble as she endeavored to defuse the explosive situation.  Abigail apologized to David on Nabal’s behalf and proclaimed God’s sovereignty.

What was the result of Abigail’s action?  “Then David accepted from her hand what she had brought him and said, ‘Go home in peace. I have heard your words and granted your request.’” (I Samuel 25:35NIV)

Although your explosive situation might not involve the threat of physical death, even the death of a relationship is troubling.  God calls His children to be peacemakers.  How should we defuse an explosive situation?

Defuse means to neutralize or deactivate.  Bomb disposal experts wear heavy body armor and are trained to defuse explosive devices.  In a spiritual sense, God trains His children to defuse explosive situations that might threaten to explode.

How can we defuse an explosive situation?

H         Humility  

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. (Proverbs 15:1)

Bomb disposal experts don’t activate another bomb to get rid of the first bomb.  They work carefully to remove the fuse. We can respond to an angry person in either pleasant or retaliatory ways.

Abigail chose to be humble. “When Abigail saw David, she quickly got off her donkey and bowed down before David with her face to the ground.  She fell at his feet and said: ‘Pardon your servant, my lord, and let me speak to you; hear what your servant has to say.” (I Samuel 25:23-24NIV)

O         Obedience

Be of the same mind toward one another.  Romans 12:18

Bomb disposal experts quickly obey their training and bring the necessary tools  with them.  God’s word tells us what to do.

Abigail acted quickly.” When she learned of the problem, she generously collected “ . . . a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs”. (I Samuel 25:18NIV)

By the way, were these the first fruitcakes?!

W        Wisdom

 But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.  James 1:5

Bomb disposal experts don’t seek advice from non-professionals, and neither should we.  We must go to God, not just other people, with our problem. The God of the universe is waiting for us to come to Him for wisdom and guidance.

Abigail discussed her situation with no one before she went to David (I Samuel 25:19NIV) and God blessed her efforts. “David said to Abigail, ‘Praise be to the Lord, who sent you today to meet me. May you be blessed for your good judgment. Go home in peace’.”  (I Samuel 25:32NIV).

Peace isn’t always the result when we endeavor to defuse an explosive situation.  But when we have sought God’s wisdom and humbly obeyed His commands, we can leave our situation in God’s sovereign hands.

How is God leading you to defuse your explosive situation?

About the writer:
Sherry enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, Bible study, and traveling.  She and her husband, David, are Directors of the Sonburst Class at First Baptist Dallas.

 

Faith Done Well

Who doesn’t wish to throw her hands up to heaven and with jubilant praises cry out as Hannah did:

 My heart rejoices in the Lord! Oh, how the Lord has blessed me!  Now I have an answer for my enemies,  As I delight in your deliverance.  No one is holy like the Lord;  There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:1-2)

This is a victory song. This is a song of faith and hope rewarded by an Almighty God. Hannah was a woman longing for, but unable to conceive, a child. Her story of barrenness does not stand alone in the Bible. We can also read about Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel — all of whose wombs the Lord opened to bring forth life. Sarah tried to fulfill God’s promise of a child in her own way and time. Rebekah questioned the Lord when faced with difficulties during her pregnancy. Rachel became jealous that God wasn’t performing for her as He did for Leah. I see myself in all of these women. Their struggles are my struggles.

For some, as was the story with these ladies, the desires of the heart might become a stumbling block.

What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members? You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. You are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures. James 4:1-3

 Even when God had promised to fulfill their desires or He had already made a way for a miracle baby, the ladies above were still heavy- laden with fear, strife, and insecurity.

Contrast that to the triumph and joy that Hannah experienced. Her change in demeanor did not come from lack of struggle or opposition. Hannah faced great sadness, taunting and deep anguish of spirit. However, in her great sorrow, she prayed. She prayed from the depth of her soul. She prayed with a sacrificial heart, willing to give back what she longed to receive. She believed the Word of the Lord to her. Then came these powerful words found in 1 Samuel 1.

Then Eli answered and said, “Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him.”  She said, “Let your maidservant find favor in your sight.” So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.  I Samuel 1:17-18

 Hannah’s change of heart preceded her change of circumstances.

God was faithful to His Word in Hannah’s life just as He is faithful to His Word in our lives. What desire can you leave with the Lord today? What is it about God’s character you are depending on as you wait for Him to work?

let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith . . . Hebrews 10:22

Will you praise the Lord, like Hannah when, or even before, He answers your prayers?

About the Writer:
Lyndsay has been many things in her past, but no career, experience, or calling define her more than the desire to follow after Christ in response to His gracious work in her life. At present, she teaches movement classes and works as a wellness consultant in addition to loving her amazing husband and raising her daughter to know and love the Lord.

Mighty Warrior From Fear to Faith

Have you ever been so gripped by fear for yourself or your family that you simply could not move?  I was recently in a wreck on a the freeway bridge over a lake.  The cars were coming over the hill so fast that I was afraid to move.  I’m not one to give in easily to fear, but that day I was afraid for my life.

Gideon was a man who was very familiar with fear.  The Israelites had been terrorized by the Midianites for seven years.  In the sixth chapter of Judges, we find Gideon hiding inside of a wine press beating out wheat where the Midianites could not see what he was doing.  It was at this point that the Angel of the Lord appeared to him and called him a valiant warrior.

 The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said to him, ‘The Lord is with you, O valiant warrior.’ Judges 6:12

I am quite sure that Gideon did not feel like a valiant warrior, but the angel said he was.

God called Gideon to lead the men of Israel against the Midianites to defeat them.  Gideon started with an army of 32,000 men, and God instructed Gideon to get rid of most of his army.  Only when Gideon’s army was a mere 300 men does God instruct him to go against the enemy. God wanted to be certain that the Israelites could not say that they defeated the Midianites in their own strength. With odds of 450 to 1, it would be obvious that the Lord had given them the victory.

Gideon had difficulty overcoming his fear, but the Lord gave him assurance.  He allowed Gideon to overhear discussion of a dream of one of the men in the Midianite camp, a dream which indicated that the Lord had already given Gideon the victory. You can read Judges 6-8 for the full account of how Gideon went from hiding in a wine press to becoming the valiant warrior that the Angel of the Lord said he was.

One of my life verses states:

I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

There are many times when I am not able to do in my own strength what the Lord has called me to do.  This verse is the one that I go to in those times and it is the one that helped me get off the bridge and to safety the day of my wreck.  I challenge you to find a verse that will move you from fear to faith and to memorize it so you can draw strength from it when you face fear. You, too, can be a valiant warrior like Gideon.

About the Writer:
Anna is a mother to three grown children, Nana to four grandchildren and enjoys coordinating Prison Ministry for her church. Her desire is to finish this life well by pointing others to faith in Jesus Christ and to a deeper reliance on Him.