As I was reading about the plagues this time (I have read and heard this story so many times), God showed me something new. Don’t you just love how He can continually show us new things about a passage we may have read so many times?! I started thinking How often do I do the same thing as Pharaoh? Do I live in that same repetitive cycle? Do I find myself refusing to change?
I started thinking about how I’ve often found myself in a hard place and have prayed to God and said if you will just ___________, I will ______________. God would follow through with His end of the bargain, but often I would just continue on living just like I was before. I might change for a short minute, but would often revert back to my old ways. Maybe I didn’t have that hardened heart like Pharaoh, but I certainly didn’t have a very pliable heart.
However, Pharaoh never prayed to God himself; he asked Moses to do it instead. Pharaoh didn’t know God personally. He knew of Him, but didn’t believe in Him and His powers. But the real difference for us as believers is that unlike Pharaoh and the Israelites, we have the Holy Spirit working in our hearts. Before Jesus went back to heaven He told the disciples He would send the Holy Spirit. John 14:26 says, “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
The Holy Spirit helps us keep our hearts pliable. The Holy Spirit whispers in our hearts the things we have been taught before and encourages us to get back on the path we have been called. Sometimes it’s easy to look at people in the Bible and think why did it take you so long to figure it out when in reality, if I just look in the mirror, I would see someone else that often takes too long to figure things out. I often have to learn the same lesson over and over. Thank goodness God doesn’t give up on me!
Memory Verse: “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.” Ezekiel 11:19 NIV
When he approached, God spoke to Moses and told him He had chosen him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Moses was not exactly excited about the idea. He immediately was aware of his lack of qualifications and asked “Who am I?” in Exodus 3:11. He knew he did not have what it would take to lead thousands of people out of the grip of an evil Pharaoh and into freedom. He was not enough and he knew it, but God was not asking him to do it alone.
God did not answer Moses’ fear with assurances that he did indeed have what it would take to do the impossible task. He did not even tell Moses how amazing he was or that he was made for the moment. God’s plan did not rest on Moses’ ability to lead the mass exodus. His response in Exodus 3:12 was, “I will certainly be with you…” That’s enough, but Moses still was not convinced. In Exodus 4:10, Moses reminds God that speaking was not something he was good at. That didn’t deter God either. God reminded Moses in 4:11 that He was the One who had created Moses’ mouth, would give him the words to say and would teach him along the way. God is not concerned with our ability, but with our obedience. The question is not, ‘Who am I?’ but rather ‘Who is He?’
The loud voices in our culture bombard us with messages that we are enough, but the problem is, we know deep down we actually are not. We try hard and succeed in one thing only to fail at another. When I sat in my chair that early morning, relief flooded my mind as I realized ‘enough’ is an unattainable and an always moving goal.
Thankfully, God has never asked us to be enough. He has asked us to do life with Him instead. He IS enough and always will be. He has all we need in any situation we face. He readily gives wisdom to all who ask and loves to respond when we call. The truth is, we are not left to do life on our own but are invited into a life WITH Him. When we are at a loss, He never is. He is an endless supply of wisdom, grace and all we could ever need. He is the only one who truly knows every part of every situation. He knows the past, present and future. He has invited us to ask Him for wisdom when we don’t have it. We are not enough, and that is okay because He is.
Memory Verse: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 NIV
As for me, I fought God hard for a while. I was in a serious relationship that I thought was amazing but from the outside everyone could see how toxic it was. I was adamant about my dreams to the point of blindness. I was not trusting God; I was trying to forge my own, “better” path. Looking back now, I see what everyone else saw. The fighting, the jealousy, the control— that was not love. That was not the person God had for me.
My 22nd birthday came and went, and I was no closer to being a mom; I saw my dreams moving farther and farther away from me and I was upset with God. Like Joseph, in this week’s reading, I waited. Unlike Joseph, I struggled to trust God’s plan. Joseph was locked in a dungeon for two years, yet he did not lose faith in God’s plan for him.
Proverbs 3:5 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Easier said than done, right? It’s hard to trust in a plan you cannot see, until you realize it’s in the hands of a perfect, loving God.
Thankfully, even when we struggle to trust, God is still working out His perfect plan for us.
I waited two more years for the man God had for me. My road to motherhood was not easy, either. It was met with hardship and sadness, but God knew exactly when we would need our son. He knew that 2020 would be a tough year, and he provided us with a bright spot— our son was born in the middle of a pandemic. We may not have gotten the pregnancy or birth we imagined, but we did get our beautiful son and we thank God for him every day. Like Joseph, we trusted in God; we leaned into God and learned that His timing is perfect, and His ways are good.
Joseph’s undying trust in God’s plan saved an entire nation. Imagine if he had chosen to give up on God’s plan and make his own way.
It is hard to keep that faith when the enemy is trying to pull us down, but learning scripture and speaking it over our situations is one way we can fight doubt. When I am struggling to trust, I think about Proverbs 3:5, and remember that God is completely trustworthy. Think of a Bible verse that reminds you to trust in God and put it up on your bathroom mirror, your phone, or on the fridge. Seeing that verse when you face trials, will help you remember how perfect God’s timing actually is.
More perfect than our own timing.
Memory Verse: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV
The life I had been living did not reflect God. I made lots of mistakes, and there were many consequences. Don't get it twisted though, Kori (my daughter), was neither of those things. God made Kori. God does not make mistakes.
One of my waitressing friends invited me to a Bible study. The people who were in my Bible study came from all different backgrounds. One, in particular, was a former alcoholic. He was the one who led me to Jesus. I was baptized in the river behind his house. He lived just five minutes down the street from my mom's house.
God used my sin and blessed me with Kori. He moved me right where he wanted me. He used this man, despite his former sin, to be a messenger. All because God wanted a relationship with me. I can't type that sentence without being in a state of awe.
God's will is perfect, even when He uses imperfect people. Isaac's family, just like me, was full of sin, but do you remember God changed Jacob’s name to Israel? His family would be God’s children: The Israelites.
God already knew the drama that was going to unfold in Isaac's family before Jacob and Esau were even born: "Two nations are in your womb, and two peoples from within you will be separated; one people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger" (Genesis 25:23).
Rebekah and Jacob still went to great lengths to make sure Jacob received Isaac's blessing over Esau. Why? God had already promised this! Why did they come up with their own plan when God already had one? They lacked faith.
Then we have Isaac, who also tried to make his own plan, but when it failed, why couldn't he just give Esau a blessing too? I think Isaac may have realized at this point that when God has a will, it will be done. Isaac could have blessed Esau repeatedly, but if something isn't blessed by God, it's not going to happen.
Every family member in this story had their own agenda, and none of it was focused on God's kingdom. Each of them, fearful things would not turn out the way they had planned, sinned against God.
Have you, like me, made this same mistake of ignoring God's guidance to follow the desires of your flesh?
When you are scared, stressed, angry, depressed, anxious, grieving, whatever it may be, do not make plans based on selfish worldly desires. God may not give everything your fleshly heart desires and He did not come to fix everything in your life. He came to fix your heart, so you would live life with and for Him. That is His plan. Seek and ask Him to reveal His plan for you and trust that it is better than your own.
Memory verse: "’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
When I read the story of Hagar and Ishmael, I think of the times I wanted to hide from God because of my own sin and shame. In Genesis 16, we read about how Sarai was impatient with God’s timing and took matters into her own hands. Sarai hatched a plan to speed up the process of having a child by way of her Egyptian maid-servant, and Abram agreed. But when Hagar became pregnant, Sarai mistreated her. Hagar ran away from Sarai, stopping at a spring in the desert. Here is where we see God’s great compassion displayed for a woman who was mistreated, “in misery” (v. 11), and on the run.
After the angel of the Lord meets the woman by the spring, he tells her to go back to her mistress and submit to her. He then gives her a promise for the future of her descendants (v. 10). Hagar responds to the Lord by saying, “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen the One who sees me” (Gen. 16:13). And the spring or well in the desert was called Beer Lahai Roi, which means "the well of him that liveth and seeth me.”
In God’s great mercy towards Hagar, he stopped her at the well. If she would have kept on running away, she may have faced danger on the run, or remained stuck in a cycle of shame. But God saw her, stopped her, and spoke to her. God had a plan even in the middle of the mess and misery.
Maybe you can relate to my examples of condemnation at the kitchen sink. Perhaps you’ve even felt the sting of shame today. Let me encourage you that those accusations coming against us are not from God. Out of the blue accusations are from the adversary - the “accuser of our brothers” (Revelation 12:9-10). We must remember that condemnation is from the enemy; loving correction comes from God. And the more we read God’s word and learn about His compassion, the easier it is to identify these attacks and combat them.
Hagar’s encounter with the angel of the Lord gives us an example for how God deals with us. Firstly, He meets us in the wilderness- in the wandering of our own hearts. Yes, the “God who sees us” meets directly with us in the middle of our sin and shame. Secondly, he speaks to our situation, and through his Word, he offers hope and life. Lastly, he sees our hearts and calls us by name. He knows everything about us because he created us and knows our future. So, the next time the enemy tries to shame you, remember that your God knows you, speaks to you, and calls you by name. Your God forgives you and does not accuse you. Yes, Your God is the one who sees and loves you! Rest in his abounding love for you today.
Memory Verse: “The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever.” Psalm 103:8-9 NIV