Vital Truths from an Old Story

As I continue my reading through the One Year Bible I’m now entering the book of Exodus. These are such familiar stories to most of us. How clearly I remember seeing in my Sunday school class as a child the beautiful pictures showing the baby Moses in the basket being rescued by the Pharaoh’s daughter. It can be easy to read over these familiar stories and not allow the Truths to penetrate our hearts. I prayed again this morning, “Oh Lord, open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” Here’s what the Lord showed me in chapters 5:22 – 7:25:

  1. Even when you’re doing what God tells you to do things can be rough. The children of Israel were now having to work even harder than before! Be patient though, because God’s plan will be fulfilled.
  2. God is in control of what the Pharaoh (and what our president) does and God will ultimately get the glory. 7:3 God hardened the Pharaoh’s heart to accomplish His purposes.
  3. God will remember his covenant – vs.6:5 God didn’t forget the promise He made to the Israelites.
  4. Sometimes even those who are supposed to be “on our side” will also turn against us! – 6:9 The Israelites were very angry with Moses and Aaron.
  5. Satan will always have a counterfeit ready to deceive. 7:11 The magicians’ rods also became serpents.
  6. God is stronger than Satan. 7:12 Moses’ rod swallowed up the magicians’ rods.
  7. God knows everything that his children are going to do tomorrow, and He is also very aware of his enemies’ plans. 7:15 He knew Pharaoh would be at the river in the morning.
  8. When God wants us to do something He will give us all the details we need. 7:15 He told Moses to hold the rod over the water but He specified that it wasn’t just any rod, it was the rod that had become a serpent.

As I continued my reading into the Psalms and Proverbs I saw a thread being woven through my entire reading today. The psalm I read was the 23rd and I could see how God shepherded Moses in his pilgrimage through the wilderness. He led him by green pastures and still waters (literally!). His cup ran over. Goodness and mercy followed him all the days of his life, and God will do the same for me. Then the proverb was from chapter 5:22-23 and says, “His own iniquities shall take the wicked himself, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sins. He shall die without instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.” Is this not what happened to the Pharaoh? Yes indeed!

God’s Word is so precious. It is pertinent to what is going on in my life today, just as it applied to Moses’ life. What truths did you learn today? If you’re able, why not leave me a note and tell me – I’d love to hear about it!

P.S. Many have shared that they have tried to leave a comment and could not. I believe I have fixed the problem and anyone should be able to comment now.

Just Sing!

Yesterday was a day that will long be remembered in the history of our country. The people voted and got what they wanted, and now a new president has been sworn into office. I reminded myself of God’s control and sovereignty – not only of my individual life, but also of this country. I have to admit that my heart was heavy, so I turned some music on my computer while I was working. The Abiding Radio station that this blog has a link to (top left corner) is what I began listening to. I usually listen to the instrumentals, but this time I listened to the sacred, which plays both vocal numbers and instrumentals.

I cannot tell you what that music did for my heart. It encouraged me so much that I did something I never do and left it on all day. I listened as I cleaned, cooked and worked around the house. I cranked the volume up so I could hear it in the other rooms. I heard, “Now I Belong to Jesus” played by the majesty brass. What a blessing to sing in my heart – Now I belong to Jesus, Jesus belongs to me. Not for the years of time alone, but for eternity! Another instrumental number of “America” played, bringing tears to my eyes as I sang along. I listened to the words of “At the Cross” and was reminded of the place where my burdens all rolled away. “Amazing Grace,” “Bow the Knee” and so many other songs made my heart flood over with rejoicing. Oh, the power of good music!

There are somewhere around 527 references in the Bible to singing. Think about just a few references – at the Red Sea after their deliverance Moses and the children of Israel “sang this song unto the Lord – I will sing unto the Lord, for he hath triumphed gloriously…” (Exodus15:1) Paul and Silas sang hymns while they were in prison. At the Last Supper the disciples sang a hymn before they left. The psalms are full of verses about singing to the Lord at times of joy and sorrow alike. God knows that good music will encourage our hearts, and He tells us over and over to sing to Him.

If your heart is sad today, sing! If you feel overwhelmed, sing! If you are rejoicing, sing! If you feel lonely, sing! If you are discouraged, sing! If you are in a trial, sing! Use the tool of some good music to get your heart in tune.

Psalm 146:2 – While I live will I praise the LORD; I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.

An Example to Follow

Whew! Pulling off a surprise wasn’t the easiest task I’ve pulled off as a wife. I so wanted my husband’s 50th birthday to be a special one. It’s been my desire to encourage him on this monumental day (Jan. 22nd). He’s taking this birthday a little hard and I wanted him to see and hear that his life and ministry have counted for so much in light of eternity. Sooooo, I planned a few things to accomplish that.

Beginning on December 4th, fifty days before his birthday, I’ve had one person a day call him to mention his upcoming birthday, then share how his life has impacted them. It took him about five days to figure out what was going on, then each day he’d try to figure out who was going to be “his caller.” Many teased him about the big “5-0”, but then went on to express their appreciation for his friendship and/or ministry. What a blessing each caller has been.

Then of course this surprise party at church last night was another way to encourage him. How wonderful our dear congregation was to come out on a cold night and let him to know how much they love him. As he was practicing music in the sanctuary, about 130 people filed into the auditorium singing “Happy Birthday!” We then headed down to the gym for a soup supper and fellowship, followed by the hilarious opening up of his gifts. He received many gifts of “50.” Fifty pennies, quarters, jelly beans, chocolate kisses, raisins, dollars (!), lists of reasons why they appreciate him, reasons why he should have a happy birthday, etc.

Lastly, the service that followed was also to encourage him. He had no idea that he wasn’t doing any preaching or leading last night until we went upstairs. It was a blessing for Allison and me to sing one of his very favorite songs – “Written in Red.” Then a DVD was shown that our dear sound man put together of my pictures of Dale’s ministry at our church these eight years, plus voice recordings of as many people in our church that were able to come and make a recording of a birthday message for him. It ended with “I saw Jesus in You” by Ron Hamilton. One of our young preachers ended the service preaching about David, a man after God’s own heart. He made much of Christ, which is exactly what Dale desires.

We were not there last night to exalt Dale Cunningham, but his God. We were not praising Dale Cunningham for what he’s done, but for what the Lord has done through him. We all need examples of people that are vessels – just a receptacle, which is defined as a container, device, etc., that receives or holds something. A godly person receives Christ as their Savior, then walks under the control of the Holy Spirit so others can see Him at work.

When I finished reading the story of Joseph this morning I was reminded that just as we are given so many wonderful examples of godly people in Scripture, so are we given living examples of people whose lives we may emulate. They should be honored so that our children will see that these are the kind of examples to follow. The world is always throwing before us poor examples of people whose lives are worldly and sinful. We should praise the Lord when we see someone who is, not perfect, but trying by God’s help to walk the path our Savior trod.

For that reason I say, “Sweetheart, I thank God for your life and example. What a blessing you are to me! Happy birthday!”
In the Secret of His Presence

In the secret of His presence
How my soul delights to hide!
Oh, how precious are the lessons
That I learn at Jesus’ side!
Earthly cares can never vex me,
Neither trials lay me low;
For when Satan comes to tempt me,
To the secret place I go,
I tell Him all my doubts, my griefs, my fears –
Oh how patiently He listens and my drooping soul He cheers.
Do you think He ne’re reproves me? What a false friend He would be
If He never told me of the sins which He doth see.
Would you like to know the sweetness of the secret of the Lord?
Come and rest beneath His shadow-this shall then be your reward!
And when’er you leave the presence of that happy meeting place
You will surely bear the image of the Master in your face!
–Ellen Lakshmi Goreth

Calling in an Emergency

I remember when my girls were little; we would use their play phones as I taught them how to make a call if there was an emergency. We went over how they were to dial 9-1-1, then would need to give their name and address. Thank the Lord we never had to use that, but what a comfort to know that help was there, should we need it.

In a physical emergency situation, we’ve been programmed to call “9-1-1.” In a spiritual emergency we need to call up Psalm 9-1-1 – that is, Psalm 91:1. It reads, “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Why is this a good passage in an emergency?

I’ll never forget several years ago when I was studying Philippians 4:10-13. In verse 11 I read about Paul saying the he had learned to be content in whatever state he found himself. In verse 12 he said that he was instructed both to be full and to be hungry, to abound and suffer need. As I studied I learned that though the words learned and instructed seem to mean the same thing, they are actually two different meanings. In verse 12 Paul learned by experience how to be full and hungry. Many things we learn are by experience, aren’t they? We’ve all heard that experience is the best teacher. However, in verse 11 Paul learned to be content and the meaning here is “to be initiated into the secret.” I remember studying this and feeling so confused by its meaning. I prayed about it and sought the Lord’s wisdom. One Thursday morning as I was in prayer about this passage, the Lord sweetly brought to my mind the passage my husband had preached about the night before – Psalm 91:1. I recited the verse, “He that dwells in the secret place…” and then it came to me! Paul was initiated into the secret of contentment in all his situations through the secret place of prayer! I remember weeping with joy as this truth came not just to my head, but also to my heart.

In an emergency it’s easy to feel restless and discontent. We want out! Now! But Paul stated from a prison cell that he had learned to be content even in miserable places through the secret place of prayer. Oh, if only we would call up Psalm 91:1 in our emergency and seek the Lord’s face. It’s only under His protective wing of love that we will find comfort and contentment, even in a difficult situation. If you find yourself wrestling today in the place where God has you, I urge you to get alone with the Lord in the secret place – help is there waiting for you and it is the only place you’ll learn real contentment.

Talk To Yourself

It is so easy for me to let my thoughts run ahead of myself and the situation I’m in and begin to think unbiblical thoughts. I think this must be a pretty common thing because I’m seeing this over and over as I read through the book of Genesis. Just this morning I read about Jacob being told by the Lord to return to the land of his fathers and then God gives Jacob this promise in Genesis 31:3 “I will be with thee.” You’d think that would comfort Jacob and relieve his worries. Now granted, Jacob had dealt a dirty blow to his brother Esau twenty years before, and Esau had wanted to kill his brother at that time, but Jacob had God’s promise! However, as Jacob and all his entourage near home, Jacob separates his family into two groups so that if Esau killed the first band of travelers, the second company of people could make an escape. (If you want to know who meant the most to Jacob, read Genesis 34:2 – those were the ones in the second group!)

As you continue to read chapter 34 things get intense as you see these two brothers getting closer and closer to each other. A person reading this for the first time would be filled with intensity to finish the story! Let’s stop the caravan here though, and think about Jacob letting his thoughts run ahead of his camels. Did he really need to do all this scheming? Wouldn’t knowing that God was with him be good enough reason not to be afraid? When Jacob had the first thought about “what might happen” when Esau saw his family, he should have talked himself back to reality! He should have reminded himself of the truth. His thoughts should have run to God’s presence with him, the command from God to return home, and the truth that God loved him and would protect him.

It’s easy for me to see what Jacob should have done, and not so easy to remind myself to do the very same thing. Sometimes my thoughts begin taking me down a road I shouldn’t travel. I begin thinking things I don’t know to be true. I could be thinking about something that hasn’t happened yet, something that is possible, but uncertain, or something that I have totally dreamed up! My thoughts then march straightaway to my emotions. I may tear up. I may cry. I may get angry. When I realize that I’m not thinking about things that are actually true my thoughts should be brought to a stop quicker than a train whose emergency pull is employed. It’s then that I need to start talking to myself… “You don’t know that to be true. What does Philippians 4:8 say? Why are you worrying about things that haven’t happened yet? Matthew 6 says that God will take care of you. God loves you!” It’s a one-sided conversation that needs to get my thoughts back on the track of Biblical thinking. Without that talk to myself I would be headed for disaster!

We all have to know the Truth so we can talk ourselves back to reality – what we really know to be true. Where are your thoughts taking you today? Are you thinking the Truth about your life and your situation, or are you scheming, worrying, and jumping ahead of God? Stop the caravan and have a good talk with yourself. Talk yourself back to the Truth!

Leading a Lamb

I recently heard the testimony of a young father whose son was supposed to be in bed sleeping. However the father heard movement in the child’s room and went to investigate. The little boy was sitting up in bed with a book in his lap. Seeing his daddy at the door the child knew he needed to explain and exclaimed, “I’m having my ‘botions’ (devotions) Daddy!” The father’s frustration at the child quickly dissipated!

Where did this three year-old learn to have “botions?” Yes, from his parents. His mommy works had each day to find time to spend in God’s Word and shares with her son that he needs to play quietly nearby so she can have her devotions.

Children are imitators of what they see. This can be a blessing; it can also be a rebuke as we hear them repeat things we’ve said, or behave the way they’ve seen us behave. An unknown source had this to say about the leading of a child – a lamb:

‘Twas a sheep, not a lamb that strayed away in the parable Jesus told.
A grown-up sheep that had gone astray from the ninety and nine in the fold.
Out on the hillside, out in the cold, ’twas a sheep the Good Shepherd sought;
And back to the flock, safe into the fold, ’twas a sheep the Good Shepherd brought.
And why for the sheep should we earnestly long and as earnestly hope and pray?
Because there is danger, if they go wrong, they will lead the lambs astray.
For the lambs will follow the sheep, you know, wherever the sheep may stray;
When the sheep go wrong, it will not be long till the lambs are as wrong as they.
And so with the sheep we earnestly plead, for the sake of the lambs today;
If the sheep are lost, what terrible cost some of the lambs will have to pay!

What a reminder that we must guard our own hearts, because without doing so we will lead our little lambs astray as well. Do we love God, His Word, His house, His people? Then our lambs will learn to love these too. Your little ones are watching and will do whatever you do. Walk the path you want them to walk – their eyes are on your every step.