Tag Archives: Moses

Missed opportunities?

Empty desert“Not that finding Moses was all that difficult for God. He didn’t have to do a Google search. He knew exactly where to find him. For even though Moses was on the “backside of nowhere,” the nowhere he was on the backside of was a place called Mt. Horeb—a name which means the mountain of God. Moses probably thought he was alone with the flock for another dusty day, stranded in the wilderness, just counting the days in the closing chapters of his life. Little did he know that he was tending his sheep in God’s neighborhood, or that he was about to be invited to play a major role in God’s deliverance plan.”
~ Excerpted from I Am Not But I Know I Am by Louie Giglio

I don’t know about you but most days I feel like I’m going about my daily activities somewhere between nowhere and a black hole. Nothing special going on. No fanfare. Just the ordinary moments of another ordinary day. I’m guessing that’s how Moses felt.

But if God is present everywhere – and I believe He is – and His Spirit is already working in or on the lives of people all around us then every moment, every situation, every ordinary moment of every day is ripe with divine potential.

I wonder how many God-ordained opportunities we might be missing because we are not alive to the moment and sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2013. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Divine presence, God, Holy Spirit, influence with the world, Loving others, Religion and Spirituality

God’s Glory and Grandma’s Traditions

He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones, and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. ~ 2 Kings 18:4

It wasn’t supposed to be this way.

The bronze snake had at one time been an instrument of transformation. It healed people. Saved them from the consequences of their sin. But then the people turned it into an object of worship. And thereby ruined it and robbed it of its power.

This is the essence of traditionalism. It’s not simply holding onto Grandma’s preferences. It’s when we take things. Good things. Effective things. And we end up worshiping them instead of the God who used them for a season. And it can happen to anything.

Hymns. Or modern worship.

Live preaching. Or video preaching.

One campus. Or multiple campuses.

Sunday school. Or small groups.

None of these are bad things, but they’re also not the ultimate thing. And therefore, we shouldn’t treat them as such.

Otherwise, we run a dangerous risk. The very thing you hold up as a tool for transformation today can easily become an idol of tradition tomorrow.

And God has a way of smashing our idols. Or rendering them powerless.

Don’t get me wrong. We should never lose our appreciation or respect for the things God uses to reach people and transform their lives.

But we should also never allow them to steal God’s glory by becoming a greater object of our affections than God or the new ways He wants to work among us.

God’s glory is greater than Grandma’s traditions.

And our own as well.

~ By Steven Furtick

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Anything, no matter how good or Godly it might appear to be, becomes an idol – a false god – when we are more attached to it than we are to God!

© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Christianity, Glory of God, God, Priorities, Relationship with God, Religion and Spirituality

Are we there yet?

We’ve all been there and we all have horror stories of our “worst road trip ever!”

“Are we there yet?”

Ours was coming home from Lake Michigan on a hot, scorching day in July. All eight of us packed (like Sardines) in an old van with no A/C! LARGE cups of ice got us home.

But that’s nothing compared to what the Israelites went through wandering in the desert for 40 years! Stop and think about it – 40 years!

When the people of Israel were led to Canaan – the Promised Land – they sent 12 men in to scout out the land. All 12 agreed, the land was amazing, but the people were HUGE!

Caleb and Joshua believed that God would give them victory in conquering the land but the other 10 trembled in fear as they related feeling like grasshoppers next to the people of Canaan. Fear ruled the day and they chose not to trust God.

The consequence of their unbelief was wandering in the desert for 40 years – one year for every day the scouts were in the land. While God provided for their needs, He also waited for everyone 20 years old and older to die off before taking the new generation back to conquer the Promised Land.

Unable to go into the new land himself, Moses offered these final words of encouragement:

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!  You can make this choice by loving the LORD your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life. And if you love and obey the LORD, you will live long in the land the LORD swore to give your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” ~ Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Embrace life by trusting and obeying God or go the way of death by trusting in their own plans. It’s the same choice Adam and Eve had way back in the garden. It’s the same choice you and I make every moment of every day.

Will we love, trust and obey God today?

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© Richard Alvey and iLife Journey, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Filed under Choices, Courage, Faith, Fear, Loving God, The Story, Trusting God

God’s trump card… His presence!

God has big plans for His new nation, Israel, but there’s a problem; they’re enslaved in Egypt! So before God can lead them to a land flowing with milk and honey (i.e. – prime real estate), He has to first rescue them.

Maybe God will bring down lightning or send in the S.W.A.T. team or better yet… send a past-his-prime shepherd. Sure, I’ll take curtain #3… NOT!

God speaks to Moses from a burning bush that doesn’t burn up and recruits him to go confront Pharaoh. Moses is flattered, but not interested. Can’t really blame him. He did have three strikes against him.

  1. He was already 80 years old. (No disrespect intended)
  2. He was a poor communicator. (Notice that God doesn’t disagree)
  3. He had skeletons in his closet. (Wanted for murder of an Egyptian)

So what does God offer as a confidence boost? His very presence. I’m sure that Moses appreciated the offer, but since he didn’t know God very well it didn’t much help. God eventually conceded to a couple of traveling companions for Moses. (Exodus 3)

Now, fast forward to the part of the story where Moses and the people are at Mt. Sinai. While Moses is up on the mountain with God the people down below give in to all kinds of nasty idol worship – a real slap in the face to God.

God tells Moses that they can still go to the promised land but without His presence. God isn’t going to go with them because He’s concerned about getting angry enough to wipe them all out. (Exodus 33)

But Moses states very clearly that if the Lord’s presence is not going to be with them then he doesn’t want to go. Moses’ experience with God in Egypt, at the Red Sea, and on the mountain was enough to convince him that all he really needed was God’s presence.

How about you? What is it you’re facing? What is it you need in order to deal with it? Is God’s presence enough?
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If you’re on our journey through The Story then read chapter(s) 4 this week. If you’re not familiar with The Story you can check it out at the tab above or click here.

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Are we really pursuing the better life?

So… exactly how would you define “better life”?

  • More money…
  • Better job…
  • Newer car…
  • Bigger house…
  • Happy kids…
  • Better health…
  • Dream vacation…
  • Happier relationship/marriage…

“Have you ever realized that living for the Better Life is an insult to God?  It’s the same insult paid by the prodigal son to his father: ‘Your only value is what you can do for me.  I don’t have any interest in knowing you.  Just give me what I need to enjoy this life.’ That’s too close to how we think.” ~ Larry Crabb, The Pressure’s Off, Page 149

When God met Moses in a burning bush that did not burn up, He said that His name was “I AM.” It’s a simple verb that means “to be” or simply “be.” God was expressing that He alone is the essence of life.

Jesus came to dwell among us as the only one who could make God known to us (John 1:18). John also describes Jesus by saying, “in Him was life and that life was the light of all mankind” (John 1:4).

A little further on in John’s account he records Jesus saying, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)

The real “better life” is deeper, richer intimacy with God!

Are we seeking God for His blessing, what we can get from Him to make life here more comfortable; or are we seeking God for greater intimacy with Him?

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Just keep at it!

Curt was a year ahead of me in high school. Both in and out of the weight room he encouraged me with working out. During one lapse Curt checked on me and I told him that my schedule kept me from being consistent so I figured it wasn’t worth the effort because it wouldn’t do me any good.

Curt expressed that he faced the same issue but that the key was to just keep at it. Since he was a standout in several sports and went on to attend Notre Dame University on a wrestling scholarship – no small accomplishment – his advice carried some weight (pun intended).

That’s always been a struggle for me. If I can’t do something the way I draw it up in my head then why bother?!

Last week Susan and I decided to eat better and exercise at a local gym. Long story short… it didn’t go as planned. Schedules got interrupted and I had a few lapses in eating better.

Even though the week was bumpy, it still yielded some benefits. No matter what your pursuing, the key really is to just keep at it!

This is especially true in our journey with God!

We extol the virtues of Biblical characters like Moses, David, Ruth and Paul because of their excellent examples, but we tend to ignore the frequency with which those same people totally screwed up! Take Abraham for example.

Abraham followed God to begin a new nation and faithfully offered his son on the altar when told to do so; but he twice lied about Sarah being his wife in order to protect his own skin and slept with Sarah’s servant when God’s promise of a son didn’t come fast enough!

Notice how God responds to Abraham. He didn’t toss him aside and start over with someone else. God lovingly and patiently worked with Abraham and used him to carry out His bigger plan.

We’ve been invited to share in God’s Upper Story plan to reach every man, woman and child with the good news of His grace and truth. The advancement of God’s plans, and our participation in them, are not driven by our perfect efforts but by His limitless grace!

Trust in His grace and just keep at it!

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If you’re reading along in The Story with us then read chapter(s) 3 this week! If you’re unfamiliar with The Story you can check it out on the page tab above.

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False promises

So we’re walking around a local store last night and decide to cruise the rows of clearance items. You never know when you’re going to stumble into a great deal.

And there it is… a George Foreman Grill! It was originally $80 but is on sale for $60. We decide to think about it as we do some other shopping.

Then we walk through the kitchen wares area and come across a George Foreman Grill for only $39. Curious about the difference I walk back to check the one in the clearance area.

Turns out there is a difference. The one for $60 is 100 square inches and the one for only $39 is a whopping 144 square inches! No, that’s not a typo. The cheaper one is not only newer but also bigger!

How many of us would have gone for the first grill and gotten taken in by the promise of saving $20? In the end it would have cost us more than was necessary!

Sin offers that same kind of promise. The notion that we’re getting a great deal when in reality we’re getting taken advantage of. Yet what we lose isn’t just a few dollars but a little piece of our soul. What sin offers amounts to nothing more than false promises!

By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward. ~ Hebrews 11:24-26

The lure sin uses is getting us to look at the immediate payoff of pleasure rather than the long-term benefit of righteousness and peace.

What have you been choosing lately?

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Remember what awaits us!

Moses enjoyed all the wealth and privileges of living in pharaoh’s court but gave it all up and eventually was used by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Can you imagine giving up the lifestyle of living as an Egyptian king? What would motivate Moses do that?

“It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward.” ~ Hebrews 11:24-26

Moses was looking ahead to his great reward!

Jesus gave up all of heaven to live among us as a man. His brutal death on a cross redeemed us and make a way for us to be brought back into God’s family. Can you imagine a greatest act of love? What would motivate Jesus to do that?

“Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” ~ Hebrews 11:2

Jesus did this “because of the joy awaiting him…”

Jesus was looking ahead to His great reward!

It’s difficult at times to say no to the pleasures of life as Moses did. And it’s even more difficult at times to sacrificially love others as Jesus did. But God has promised us a place with Him in eternity when we dwell with Him in the here and now living a life as He intended. When we’re feeling bogged down in the moment, we need to…

…remember what awaits us!

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Filed under Determination, Encouragement, Faith, Heaven, Joy, Life in General, Loving others, Sin

Jesus did what?

“On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds…” ~ John 7:37 (NLT)

What? You’ve never seen the picture of Jesus standing and shouting? Holding the lamb – yep! With children on His lap – sure! Arms stretched out over a city – you bet! But shouting? Nope! Never seen that picture; but that’s what He did.

The traditional rabbinic teaching posture was sitting and speaking. But Jesus stood up and shouted. John uses the same Greek verb here that was used three others times when people shouted.

  • The blind man shouted, appealing for sight. ~ Mark 10:46-47
  • Peter sinking in the water, crying out for help. ~ Matthew 14:29-30
  • The demon-possessed man who shouted, pleading for mercy. ~ Mark 5:2-7

Very intense moments to be sure. What would fill Jesus with such passion?

Thirsty souls!

The festival mentioned above was the week-long celebration that was the annual reenactment of the rock-giving-water miracle of Moses. People slept in tents and lined the streets. Each morning a priest filled a golden pitcher with water from the Gihon spring and carried it down to the temple.

Announced by trumpets, the priest encircled the altar every day… once a day… for seven days. Then on the last day, the great day, the priest gave the altar a Jericho loop – seven circles while pouring seven vessels of water. The climax of a monumental celebration. It may have been at that very moment…

On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” ~ John 7:37-38

He shouted to get our attention. He shouted because His time was short. He shouted because He loves us and wants to quench our deepest thirst.

And Jesus uses a verb that suggests repeated swallows. Literally, “Let him come to me and drink and keep drinking.” As Max Lucado puts it:

“One bottle won’t satisfy your thirst. Regular sips satisfy thirsty throats. Ceaseless communion satisfies thirsty souls.”

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Filed under Christianity, Contentment, intimacy with the Lord, Jesus, Love of God

Only nobodies need apply!

This past weekend I watched a message by Louie Giglio about Exodus 3 where God speaks to Moses through a burning bush that doesn’t burn up. He had a variety of great insights about the whole encounter but one especially stood out.

Moses was 80 years old when God sent him to Egypt as His messenger to lead the Israelites out of slavery. Moses questioned God’s choice of him and with good reason. He wasn’t on anybody’s A-list. He was over-the-hill. On the downside of life. Literally, out to pasture tending his father-in-law’s herds.

When Moses expressed concern about being the right man for the task God didn’t reassure him by building up his confidence but by simply stating that He, God Himself, was going to be with Moses. God was the assurance factor in all of this; Moses was merely the human mouth piece.

But maybe God chose Moses exactly because he wasn’t qualified for such a monumental endeavor. That way no one would argue about who deserved the credit and the glory. And maybe God doesn’t call those who think they should be called because He doesn’t want the hassle of people debating who deserves the attention; it should always go to God.

When Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth about the ministry they had been given of sharing the Gospel of Jesus he referred to it as a treasure and that they were mere jars of clay. Notice why Paul uses that analogy.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7

Reread that last part. Paul said it happens this way so show that the “all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

If God puts some task in front of you today or this week that seems too big for you to handle, consider it an open invitation to be part of God’s unfolding and amazing story. He is working all around us in some pretty amazing ways and he needs a few more nobodies to share in the adventure.

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Filed under Divine presence, Faith, Glory of God, Humility, influence with the world