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How You Are Affecting the Headlines

And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. Luke 6:33

“Don’t hate evil more than you love good.”

I read those words in a Facebook post a few days after the Dallas shootings. A police officer had posted a heartwarming story of a woman and her little boy who approached him to thank him for his service and pray for his safety. He shared how the kind gesture had touched him deeply and ended his post with this advice.

Don’t hate evil more than you love good.

The statement is simple, yet profound. Perhaps you should take a moment to contemplate it.

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Most of us would readily agree that we hate evil. We see its handiwork unfolding before us, getting much nearer than we ever anticipated it could. And far too many have personally felt the agony of its reach.

And we stand appalled, as we should.

We hate evil.

But hating evil does nothing to stop its movement. The real problem—the reason evil’s reach continues to expand— is that the people of God haven’t embraced loving good.

Don’t get me wrong. We like the idea of good. And we certainly like to think of ourselves as good people. But we rarely take the opportunity to release some good into someone else’s life.

We may think about it, but we don’t often do it.

Hear my heart, beloved. A great chasm exists between hating evil and loving good, and if we‘re honest, we’d have to admit that most of us dwell there.

It has a name.

Complacency.

And when we float along in the sea of complacency, nothing changes. Evil continues to harm.

Yet we’ve convinced ourselves that we’re doing our part, because we hate evil. So we voice our outrage. We join the ranks of those casting blame. We shake our heads in disgust at those who do violence. We accuse.

But that’s all we do. And our anger over the evil we hate only swells its tide, feeding its wrath and giving it strength.

Because hatred itself was born out of evil.

Beloved, only something contrary to its nature can overcome it. If we want to see evil defeated, you and I need to embrace God’s command in Romans 12:21.

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Only good holds the power to stop evil, dear one. Simply hating evil won’t overcome it. Evil will suffer defeat when God’s children begin to take on His nature and express His goodness. We must learn to love good more than we hate evil.

How? By giving of ourselves.

By taking time to stop and pray with someone in the middle of our busy day instead of simply saying we will. Or blessing a stranger by paying for their meal in a restaurant or offering help when we see them struggle. We love good when we send an encouragement to a hurting neighbor or make them a hot meal.

Goodness—the nature and character of God—released into the world around us will begin to diminish the enemy’s power at work in our midst. We overcome evil with good.

Perhaps that’s why Jesus said in Matthew 7:19,

Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Failing to produce good fruit is useless. Anything else only feeds evil. Expressing love is our answer. Giving of ourselves even when it’s not comfortable. Because love is never about what we say, it’s always about what we do.

 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. 1 John 3:18

This generation cries out for hope. People long to know and believe that the evil rising in our midst won’t win. You and I hold the means to prove it. The Spirit of God who only gives good gifts (James 1:17) dwells within us. Let’s let Him loose!

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Galatians 5:22-23

Beloved, the tide of evil will only diminish when we begin to love good more than we hate evil. When our actions—not just our thoughts—begin to release goodness and love into the world.

I’m game. Are you?

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Feeling Powerless? Drink!

Like cold water to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country. Proverbs 25:25 ESV

The Gospel is good news.

Literally. That’s what it means.

And it is good news. The cross of Christ changed everything, offering what nothing else can. Forgiveness. Redemption. Identity. Healing. Resurrection life. Restoration. Wholeness. Power. Transformation. Grace.

But for some reason we don’t share the message of the cross like its good news. We act like we don’t want to bother people with it.

Huh? Somehow the enemy has convinced us to fear sharing the hope that will help people. That will quench their thirst. That will heal what’s broken, revive and restore.

Good news is like cold water to a thirsty soul, beloved. So why aren’t we more excited to share it?

I have a theory, based on my own experience.

While we smile and enter our churches all dressed up and ready to worship Jesus, inside we’re not at all sure the gospel offers any real power—at least not while our feet still kick up dust on this earth. Life hasn’t changed much—except that we set an alarm on Sunday—and we don’t want to look bad when the message we share doesn’t live up to their expectations.

Because we ourselves still thirst.

We’re dry. Broken. Bitter. Powerless. Weary. We sing praises to the name of Jesus, but our lives too closely resemble the lost we’re supposed to save.

And so we reason that the promises of scripture are future promises instead of now promises. And we settle for just getting by, with no real zeal for advancing a kingdom that seems to promise much but deliver little.

I get it. I’ve been there. But what if the words Jesus proclaimed to a thirsty woman at a well are actually true for us today?

“Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”” John 4:14 ESV

Sounds pretty fabulous to me.

Jesus said that in Him it’s possible to never thirst again. Ever. Can you imagine it? To never feel dry and unsatisfied but always filled and refreshed?

Well He said it, dear one. So the question really boils down to whether or not you believe it. And if you say you believe it, will you live trusting the principle, or will you settle for less than what Jesus has promised you?

Jesus claims that the water He provides will become a spring welling up within us until life flows—both in us and from us (John 7:38). Eternal life that doesn’t fade.

Ever present refreshment that won’t permit thirst.

But Jesus also gives a condition to experiencing those promises. We must drink the water.

We can’t just talk about it. It does no good to memorize scriptures about it. We have to drink it. Consistently. Deeply.

But we haven’t drunk deeply, beloved. We’ve sipped of His Spirit on Sunday mornings. And we expect the life of God to manifest in us while we live the majority of our lives ignoring Him.

It doesn’t work that way, dear one. We must drink the water to experience the life it gives. 

We must drink the water to experience the life it gives. Click To Tweet

We have to meet with God and partake. Only then can the water within us well up to produce life.

Then we will be changed.

And that change will compel us to offer that water to everyone we care about. Because when we have drunk deeply from the living water, allowing it to do its work—reviving our own souls and restoring our own brokenness—how could we not share the resurrection life we have been given?

 For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. 1 Corinthians 4:20

 God’s Word is true, dear one. Let’s prove it.

Drink.

Then drink more.

And keep drinking until you no longer remember how it feels to thirst.

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Where is God? He’s Waiting.

Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him. Isaiah 30:18

Most of us don’t like waiting, especially for the good things we desire. But we’ll do it when we believe the outcome is worth waiting for.

Our opening scripture reveals that God also waits. What does He wait for? To be gracious.

Let that thought sink in, beloved. The Lord waits to be gracious to you. He longs to pour out His favor and show you mercy. He simply waits for the opportunity.

So what provides that opportunity? What is our God of grace waiting for? He reveals it in verse 15.

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.” Isaiah 30:15

God waits for His people to return to Him. He waits for us to stop trying to handle everything ourselves and to rest in His strength.

But He also reveals our problem at the end of that verse.

But you were unwilling.

It’s really an amazing picture when you think about it. God—our Creator—mighty, yet full of mercy, longs to empower His people with the blessings of His grace. But we are unwilling to return. So He allows us the free will to choose to deny Him.

And His heart breaks as He watches us stumble in our pain.

Returning and rest release salvation, beloved. You may be wondering why those two elements are important to God. It really goes back to the whole reason He made man in the first place.

He didn’t create us to be slaves or puppets to serve Him. He didn’t need us. He desired to create living beings into whom He could pour His love. He made us for relationship.

He created us to enjoy Him, and so He could enjoy us. He made us to share life with Him, allowing us the privilege of drawing on all that He is.

But it only works when we come close.

Jesus revealed the desire of God’s heart in His passionate prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His arrest.

 “Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.” John 17:24

Do you see it, dear one? Jesus is after one thing. Togetherness.

He wants us with Him. And He waits for us to return, so that once we are with Him, He may be gracious to us, as He’s always desired to be.

Amazing.

We’ve let the deceiver convince us that God is after so many other things. Our service. Our sacrifice. Our money.

He really just wants us with Him.

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10

Don’t miss the significance of verse 10, dear one. The promise of salvation isn’t just about living with Him in heaven after we die. It’s offered here, while we live and have not yet fallen asleep.

Let’s give God the desire of His heart, beloved. Let’s live with Him.

Let’s return to Him with our whole hearts and allow Him the great joy of being gracious to us. Nothing gives Him more pleasure.

You’ll discover the same is true for you.

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What is God Keeping You From?

Following Jesus isn’t getting any easier, is it? While God’s plumb line for distinguishing right and wrong has remained eternally the same, the world’s keeps changing. Things that our grandparents would have considered appalling have become commonplace. Acceptable. The lines have blurred, and so have our convictions.

Dear one, allowing anything other than God’s truth to shape our thinking leads to trouble. Sadly, tasting the sweet enticements of this world eventually results in death.

Kelly Minter witnessed this lesson experienced the hard way.

Lessons From a Lizard

Last week I was out for one of my neighborhood runs on an exceptionally hot and humid day in Nashville. Stifling is the word that comes to mind. I was about 20 minutes into my route when I noticed the oddest thing on the sidewalk . . . a lizard of some sort . . .about 9 inches long . . .

The really bizarre thing . . . is that its head was stuck in a Dr. Pepper can. I am not making this up. I have several theories, but my best one is that the glistening drops of sugary water lured this reptile in on a hot summer’s day. The poor little thing had worked so hard to wedge its head in there that it couldn’t get it out. It suffocated in the smothering heat.

. . . I couldn’t help but catch the symbolism. As I stood there staring at this peculiar sight, I thought of the many times I had discovered a few drops I thought were sure to offer life. They were sugary sweet and went down smoothly, offering a respite from the blaze of summer’s heat. . . In the end they left me more thirsty and desperate than before . . .

[Kelly Minter, No Other Gods, Lifeway Press, 2007, p.54-56]

Funny how some things are so easy to walk into but so impossible to back out of.

Have you ever found that to be true? At first something seemed so appealing, so right, so perfect. So you went after it. But once you got yourself in, you discovered a whole other side you hadn’t bargained for: the death side. The part that, had you known about it up front, would have stopped you from ever going in.

Beloved, God sees all of it, including the danger lurking just beyond the temptation. That’s precisely why He has established boundaries for us, not to keep us from experiencing the sweet, sugary taste of momentary refreshment, but to protect us from the suffocating death that accompanies it.

The enemy has been deceiving and tempting us out of God’s protection since the Garden of Eden. Perhaps it’s time we got wise to his schemes.

Look at God’s instructions to Adam in Genesis 2:16-17.

“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Pretty straight forward, right? Eat anything you want, except this one thing that will bring you death. Simple enough.

Enter the serpent.

“Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1

God tells us one thing. The prince of this world suggests something else.

That’s where our enemy always begins, dear one, getting us to question God. He raises doubts about His motives, His goodness, His trustworthiness. Did God really say . . .

  • Sex is only for marriage
  • Wives should submit to their husbands
  • Drunkenness is sin

Then he makes us believe we’re forfeiting something by obeying God.

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5

And here’s the really tricky part. The deceiver always offers some truth in his deceptions. Their eyes were opened (verse 7), and they did become like God in the sense that they would know both good and evil (verse 22). But what really hurt them—what devastated them— was what the enemy failed to reveal: the consequences of experiencing those things.

Had the serpent given full disclosure, I’m quite certain Adam and Eve would’ve made a different choice. But that’s not his way. No, our enemy reveals only what we’d perceive as benefit to entice us. The rest of the dark horror that follows he keeps hidden, relishing the moment we’ll discover it for ourselves.

Picture Adam and Eve experiencing a rush of emotions they had never known before. Shame. Fear. Guilt. Isolation. Blame.

Imagine their terror as each chilling feeling gripped them and they began to face the reality of what they’d done. Feel the awareness creeping over them that the relationship they’d known with their Creator was lost. Sadly, that wasn’t the end of their pain.

Seeds of sin that we allow the enemy to cultivate in us don’t just sprout immediate fruit. They continue to birth consequences long after they’ve been sown, even transcending generations.

As a mother of two boys, I’m especially stricken by the unimaginable grief that must have consumed Adam and Eve as they suffered the loss of their beloved son. I wonder if they held Abel’s lifeless body in their arms, staring in disbelief into the vacant face of the first dead man.   Far worse must have been the knowledge that he was taken from them at the hand of their firstborn. In one terrible moment, jealousy and rage—two devastating results of their choice to sin—stole their two oldest boys from them forever.

Beloved, when you disregard God’s instruction, you may experience a momentary thrill. But what follows will devastate you and those you hold most dear. Sin’s consequences are not always immediate, but they will always come.

Sin's consequences aren't always immediate. But they ALWAYS come. Click To Tweet

This is precisely why salvation comes through faith, dear one. We must decide whose voice we will trust to guide our steps. Will we follow the voice of Truth who always gives us full disclosure? Or will we trust the enticements of the world’s prince and allow him to deceive us into death?

I don’t know about you, dear one, but I choose Jesus.

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How You’re a Lot Like My Dogs

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8

The morning didn’t exactly go as planned.

It was supposed to be a nice walk in the woods at a local park catching up with a dear friend and former prayer partner. Great plan. Until she suggested I bring my dogs.

I knew they could use the exercise and would love the adventure. And I could picture our little Jack—only a year at the time— happily bounding along with his heart full of wonder on only his second time exploring a trail.

But I also knew having my little darlings along would greatly alter the dynamic of our time together. I wasn’t sure. She said bring them.

I brought them.

Excited is a bit too small a word to describe Jack’s mood.

All his lessons of heeling calmly at my left vanished as though they’d never happened. I guess his sidewalk experience didn’t translate in the woods. I found myself severely tempted to take him off the leash.

He repeatedly bounded ahead up the trail darting from one side to the next sniffing everything, often tying me and Jen up with crossed leashes. And there seemed to be some discrepancy between the dogs over who deserved the right to lead.

Let’s just say Jen and I didn’t set our pace.

We told ourselves they were just excited and would soon calm down and keep pace with us. It was a good thought.

Little did we know that half way around the loop the trail would narrow to single file, only intensifying their bids for first place. Up and down they pulled us, over fallen limbs and under leaning branches.

Through lots of laughter and panting breaths, we managed to share a bit with one another. But I can’t help thinking how much more enjoyable our time would have been without all the tugging and straining.

Always straining after what's ahead diminishes our present blessings. Click To Tweet

Not just for us, but for the dogs.

By the time we made it back to the car, the soft fur under their chins hung in soaked strings from their excessive panting. Exhaustion had so overtaken Annie that she missed out on one of her ultimate joys: feeling the wind on her face while riding with her head out the window. Apparently after all that exertion, it was too much effort to sit up and rest her head on the car door. Instead, she lay sprawled on the seat, panting heavily.

I had a mess to clean up when I got home.

We may chuckle at the silly antics of lesser creatures, but God’s been showing me that we humans are a lot like those dogs. We insist on striving and straining for more, always tugging at God, trying to pull Him in the direction we want to go.

And we want to get there fast!

But all our tugging only pulls us further away from Him. And we don’t get to enjoy the incomparable pleasure of just being with Him.

Funny, isn’t it, how instead of simply receiving and enjoying the blessings God gives us, we insist on striving, even in the midst of them. Rather than savoring each moment, we dart ahead to see what’s coming around the next corner.

No wonder God’s Word speaks so often of rest.

God isn’t holding back from us, dear one. He’s always giving. That’s His nature. God is love (1 John 4:8, 16), and He loves so deeply that He gives (John 3:16). He’s simply waiting for us to receive. Yet instead of resting in what God is giving, we tug and strain, trying to force our way into grace.

I’ll let Paul ask you the question God’s been asking me.

Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Galatians 3:2-4

Beloved, no amount of striving on our part will usher us into what faith alone can reach.

While I can know that truth in my head, I still often find myself compelled to want to do something to catch myself in the flow of His grace. Reason suggests: If I …, then God will …

Yet God’s Word shouts the simplicity of grace freely given, and beckons us to believe it.
You and I don’t need to keep striving after the things we’ve already been given, dear one. We need to rest in them. We need to believe God when He says that we have them and press in close. Exercising that faith ushers us into His abundant grace.

Oh, how I love Jesus.

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Does God Choose Not to Hear You?

O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me! Give ear to my voice when I call to you! Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice! Psalm 141:1-2

God continually calls His people to pray. In our opening scripture, David calls upon God to respond.

I love his candor with the God who loves him. Hasten to me!

I want to have that kind of faith when I approach His throne. Don’t you? David confidently asked God to come near, full of expectation that he would be heard. Then he asked Him to open His ear to his voice.

Why is that significant?

John 9:31 reveals an important truth.

We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him.

David confidently asked God to respond to him because he knew he had God’s ear. Do you, dear one?

If you’re not certain, we just read the qualifications describing one God listens to: anyone who worships God and does His will.

You and I want God to hear our prayers, beloved. More than that, we desperately need Him to—far more than we realize. But John 9:31 brings up an important point we often overlook.

God doesn’t listen to every prayer.

I know. Making a statement like that seems scandalous. It doesn’t sit well with our cozy view of grace. But God’s word remains true—all of it, not just portions of it. And scripture undeniably declares, God does not hear us all.

Behold, the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear. Isaiah 59:1-2

You’ll notice the problem is not that God can’t hear. But there are times when He chooses not to.

So why would God choose not to hear His own children? 2 Timothy 2:11-13 offers some insight.

The saying is trustworthy, for:

If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.

Beloved, if you and I live our lives denying Jesus, His word declares that He will also deny us.

Perhaps I’ve lost your attention because you feel those words don’t apply to you. But I’m not talking about denying that Jesus is the Son of God. I’m talking about the decisions we make every day that either deny or acknowledge Him.

Let’s be honest. Many of us cheerfully associate ourselves with Jesus’ name. But when He calls us to actually live our faith through obedience, we deny Him.

• When His Spirit prompts us to forgive, we deny Him by embracing bitterness.
• When He invites us to walk in holiness, we deny Him by choosing the ways of the world.
• When He calls us into His presence, we deny Him the time.

Then we wonder why He doesn’t seem to bless our prayers.

If we deny Him, He will also deny us.

Beloved, God will never empower disobedience and idolatry. We cannot expect Him to unleash heaven’s blessing upon us while our choices deny His leadership over us.

And that, dear one, is why David had God’s ear. Listen to God’s description of him.

“I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.”
Acts 13:22

God’s ear tunes to the sounds of the godly. Let’s put it another way.

God listens to those who listen to Him.

God listens to those who listen to Him. Click To Tweet

Do you want God to hear you, dear one? Listen to Him. Choose to live in agreement with His Word. Seek Him in the secret place to discern what He is speaking. And then follow where He leads—in every area of your life.

You and I can’t expect God to listen to us while we refuse to listen to Him. But when we seek to live according to His will, His promises abound.

But know that the Lord has set apart the godly for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him. Psalm 4:3

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The Staff of Power

“Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.” Exodus 14:16

When God appoints a person to a kingdom task, He provides them with the power to accomplish it. But what happens when we insist on passing off our purpose to someone else? Do we also pass on the power?

I only ask because God revealed something to me about our friend Moses I’d never noticed before. I wonder if you’ll see what God showed me.

When Moses asked how he would prove that it was really God who had sent him to deliver the Israelites, God responded with a question of His own.

The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” He said, “A staff.” Exodus 4:2

In the moments that followed, God used that staff to reveal His miraculous power, and Moses’ staff became the staff of God (Exodus 4:20, Exodus 17:9).

Take note, dear one. God didn’t give him something new to prove His power. He anointed what Moses already possessed.

God will anoint with power what you already possess. What does He ask you to offer Him? Click To Tweet

And when Moses finally submitted to return to Egypt with his brother by his side to speak for him, God gave him one final instruction.

And take in your hand this staff, with which you shall do the signs.”

… So Moses took his wife and his sons and had them ride on a donkey, and went back to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the staff of God in his hand. Exodus 4:17, 20

Here’s where it gets really interesting.

When the time came to confront Pharaoh, Moses and Aaron did everything the LORD asked of them. God gave instructions to Aaron through Moses for each of the first three plagues.

And the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, their canals, and their ponds, and all their pools of water, so that they may become blood…’” Exodus 7:19

And all the water turned to blood.

And the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the canals and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt!’” So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. Exodus 8:5-6

Still Pharaoh would not relent.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, so that it may become gnats in all the land of Egypt.’” Exodus 8:16

 But something changed when the time came to unleash the fourth plague.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and present yourself to Pharaoh, as he goes out to the water, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. Or else, if you will not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants and your people, and into your houses.”’” Exodus 8:20-21a

Did you catch it, dear one? God took Aaron out of the equation at the fourth plague.

The God who’d first called Moses at the burning bush challenged him to return to his original calling. He asked him to trust His power through him, without relying on someone else. As promised, God had made his mouth, and He would help Moses speak (Exodus 4:11-12).

When Moses complied, a great distinction occurred.

 But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people dwell, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth. Thus I will put a division between my people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall happen.” And the Lord did so… Exodus 8:22-24a

Beloved, until that point, the Israelites experienced every plague God poured out through Aaron. When Moses finally trusted God completely and took his true position, blessing fell on the people of God. And they were spared from suffering with the Egyptians.

I wonder, dear one. What blessings might God’s people be missing because you and I allow doubt to keep us from trusting God fully in our purpose? What has God asked you to do that you’re relying on someone else to accomplish? What if the anointing God appointed for the task won’t manifest fully until you step by faith into the role God ordained as yours?

Don’t misunderstand. God had always intended for Aaron to go with Moses. How do I know? God had already sent Aaron on his way to meet Moses while he argued with God at the burning bush (Exodus 4:14). But it wasn’t Aaron’s job to confront Pharaoh. That was Moses’ task. God appointed Aaron to help Moses, and he would minister as a priest of God.

After that, Aaron still accompanied Moses to every meeting with Pharaoh, but Moses did the talking. And the staff of power that proved God was with them returned to Moses’ hand.

Then Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt. Exodus 9:23

 Moses didn’t relinquish his staff again. And he shouldn’t have. After all, it belonged to him.

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Impossible? Absolutely Not!

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27

We serve a magnificent, all-powerful God. Nothing is too difficult for Him. Things that loom beyond our human realm of possibility become quite possible when the Almighty enters the scene.

Unfortunately, most of us don’t live as though that’s true. We tend to limit what we’ll expect from God, especially when it comes to our understanding of how God might want to use us. We often allow our abilities—or lack of them—to define our idea of what God desires to do through us. That misplaced focus can cause us to miss out on marvelous blessings.

Today we visit the desert with Moses to join him beside that famous burning bush. We have much to learn from his encounter with God, so come close. Feel the heat of the flames. But don’t worry, these won’t consume so you don’t need to fear getting burned (Exodus 3:2). You will, however, learn how to push past your own self-doubt and trust God to do something extraordinary through you.

Let’s first consider the scene. Moses has spent the last forty years tending sheep in the desert, a long way from Pharaoh’s palace where he’d been raised. A botched attempt to save an Israelite slave ended in murder and sent him fleeing Egypt for his life. Now suddenly, on an ordinary day while Moses performed an ordinary task, God showed up and told him it was time to finish what he’d started forty years before.

The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land… So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:7-8, 10

Moses’ response to God was less than enthusiastic. Honestly, I’m pretty certain mine would have been as well. I mean, who really wants to return to the scene of their most tragic failure? And the last time Moses saw Pharaoh, he wanted to take his life.

Like Moses, you and I possess all sorts of reasons for not wanting to do what God asks of us. On the surface, some of them even appear to be very valid reasons. But I think you’ll find that if you bring them to the Lord and allow yourself to see them overshadowed by His greatness, their validity disappears.

How do you typically respond, dear one, when God calls you to move on His behalf? Do you charge ahead full of faith, or do you argue like Moses to see if God changes His mind?

I used to do quite a bit of arguing. I am full of faith in God’s ability, but I often doubt myself. Thankfully, God’s pretty good at winning battles.

Moses offered up four arguments against doing the thing God asked of Him. Today we’ll consider the first three and save his final argument for next week. As we look at each one, contemplate how God’s response to Moses applies to you.

Who am I? Moses’ first argument stemmed from self-doubt.

“But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)

Essentially, Moses questioned God’s choice, “Are you sure you’ve got the right guy?” I can tell you I’ve spoken similar words to God myself, and God answers with the same words He spoke to Moses.

God’s Answer: “I will be with you.” Exodus 3:12

Who are You? Next Moses asks for a little clarification. God had already revealed who He was at the start of their conversation, and Moses hid his face in reverent response (verse 6). Still, upon hearing the task God appointed for him, Moses asks…

“Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” Exodus 3:13

We should note that God revealed His names in scripture as His people experienced that aspect of His character. It’s as if Moses is asking, “You said you’d go with me, but who are you going to be?” Would He be Deliverer? Comforter? Provider? God Almighty?

God’s Answer: “I AM WHO I AM” Exodus 3:14 

By proclaiming Himself I AM, God declared, “I am everything you need.”

What if they don’t believe me? We can easily face a crisis of faith when we consider how others might view it. Wondering what others think can keep us from believing ourselves. I would bet every fisherman that abandoned his net to follow Jesus dealt with this one. Moses, it seems, faced that same doubt.

Moses answered, “What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’?” Exodus 4:1

 God’s Answer: Essentially, “I will show myself.” Exodus 4:2-9

God promised Moses that if he would trust Him by going to Egypt to rescue the people of Israel, God would make it known to the people that He was with him. He would provide evidence that He was present and that He did in fact send Moses to deliver them through miraculous signs.

Eventually, Moses chose to trust God and saw Him keep every promise. God showed up to perform marvelous works that brought great deliverance and altered the course of history. And that shepherd tending sheep in the desert became the leader of God’s chosen nation.

Beloved, what is God calling you to do that you have neglected to trust Him for?

Obedience invites God’s presence. And as you step out in faith with I AM, you can rest assured that God will eventually show Himself to doubting scoffers. If He has invited you to participate with Him in His plans, just like Moses you can believe that when the time is right, He will reveal Himself in the midst of it.

I’d like to leave you with one closing thought to chew on. When Moses voiced the reasons he couldn’t do what God had asked, not once did God encourage Moses by building him up. He didn’t offer the words, “You can do this.” Moses’ ability was a non-issue.

God’s response was simply, “I will; I AM; I can.”

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A Thirsty Soul, Part 2

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by Juliet Sharrow

Last week I shared how God met me in my deepest pit and intervened when I tried to take my own life. He not only sent someone to break down my door, He showed up Himself to sing His love over me. I am still amazed by the thought.

You might think that at this point I surrendered my life to the Lord. Nope.

Instead I thought I deserved to be punished, not just for trying to take my own life, but for all the bad choices I had made, for all the times I had turned from God and went my own way. I was so ashamed! Surely God could not—would not—want me. Surely He could never forgive me. How could He love me after everything I had done?

And so I ran, right into the arms of an abusive man.

This man was not my husband. I chose to live in sin even though I knew in my heart it was wrong. When he hit me the first time, I knew I deserved it. I deserved every beating, every broken bone, every humiliation. I had been searching for love for so long, I was willing to accept any love I could get, even love that hurt.

I suffered beatings and torture every day, and I would think, maybe today he’ll kill me, because I knew I deserved that too. I died inside a little more with every beating, every humiliation, every broken bone. Each blow confirmed what I already knew in my heart of hearts: No one could ever really love me. No One would ever want me; I was too broken and too damaged.

Satan worked his magic through the fists and words of an abusive man, but God still had other plans for me. Even though I had turned from Him yet again, He continued to pursue me.

This time He sent me a precious gift, a life saving gift. He sent me a child.

I was so excited when I found out I was pregnant. I would love my child in all the ways I had not been loved. I would somehow make it all right. I just knew that this child would satisfy my thirsty soul.

Finally, my son was born. In my whole life I had never felt what I felt for this child! It was a love I could not understand. I loved him with everything that was in me. And I thought I had finally satisfied that longing, finally quenched my thirst.

But when I brought my son home from the hospital, I was still waist deep in my pit. I remained in a very dangerous, very abusive relationship with my son’s father. I was afraid for my life and for my son’s life, but I was too scared and too weak to do anything about it. And, I was still living in sin with a man who was not my husband. So I prayed that God would change my abuser so we could be a family. That’s one prayer I am thankful God answered with a no. Instead God began to change me.

First I had to learn to love myself, and I had to come to grips with who I really was and what was motivating the decisions I made. I learned that my need to feel loved had consumed me, and had so twisted my thinking that I was willing to allow a man to hit me and torture me, as long as he told me he loved me. And I learned that I needed to take ownership for my part in this relationship. You see, I allowed it to happen. I stayed. I covered up the bruises and broken bones and lied about them. I made excuses for his behavior. All because I believed I was unloved, believed I was not worthy, believed I deserved it.

Then God began to change the way I saw my abuser. Eventually I got to the point that I loathed the man I once loved, hating every minute I spent with him. I even cringed at the sound of his voice. I no longer saw him through the tainted view of desperate love. Instead I saw the reality of who he was. I believe God was working in me to prepare me to leave. He had to change my heart and my thinking about myself and about this man to give me the strength to go. He needed to get me to a place that when I came face to face with my Lord there would be no looking back, no going back!

During this time, my love for my son only grew. I took many beatings to protect him. I cried out to God to save him from my fate. And one day the revelation came: someday, this man would hit my son. I could not let that happen. I would do anything for this child, and he deserved a better life than this. I loved him so much I’d die to save him, and that’s when God changed my life forever. He spoke right into my heart, “Don’t you see? That’s how much I love you. I gave up MY son for you!”

I thought of John 3:16,

For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten son…

I realized that God so loved Juliet, He was willing to sacrifice His son for me! I could not understand how He could love me after what I had done. I had turned my back on Him so many times, and I chose to run the other way even when He met me as I lay dying.

But the sins of my past didn’t matter. That day God reminded me how much He loved me. He reminded me how He had sung over me as I tried to take my own life, reminded me that He had offered me the gift of grace through my son. And He reminded me that He would always love me, no matter how far away I ran, or how many times I turned my back on Him or how many bad choices I made. He showed me how He had pursued me and met me time and time again in my moments of greatest need.

No matter what I look like, or what I’ve done, He loves me as I am! He loved me first. And this time when my God met me in my circumstance, I turned to Him. I received what He was offering me, the water of life. I had no regrets, no thoughts of running. Just an overwhelming sense of relief, that all the searching and all the pain was finally over. And the void I had been trying to fill for so many years was finally filled.

My encounter with God saved my life in more ways than one. I finally found the strength to leave my abuser. And I found the love I had been searching for since the day He knit me together in my mother’s womb, in the arms of my heavenly Father.

Our God works in ways beyond our comprehension. He sees our whole life laid out before Him, and He knows what you and I thirst for. He knows what it will take to get us to turn to Him, and He knows precisely when we finally will. And so He has written it in the stars, for each and every one of us, a clandestine date when He meets us face to face in the midst of our pit to offer us the water of life.

You can be sure He will go out of His way to be there. The question is, will you receive what He is offering you? Or will you go away thirsty and continue your futile search to fill the emptiness inside?

Please know today that NOTHING in this world will quench your thirst. Nothing else will satisfy. Only Christ can give you what you are searching for. Only He can refresh your weary soul and breathe life back into your hopeless world.

And when you allow Him to do that you will be able to come full circle and step into what He has planned for you! I am excited to get to give back to victims of Domestic Violence. God has taken my mess and made it my message!

For the last 3 years we have been working alongside the staff of our local women’s shelter, partnering with them to provide help with rent, utilities, clothing & food—basically whatever is needed to help other victims survive. And now that we are officially a non-profit ministry, we are proud to announce our new outreach program.

Love LIVES:  Living In Victory & Empowering Survivors

We aim to meet the needs of victims by providing financial, physical, emotional and spiritual support through our mentoring program.

In the coming weeks we will be sharing more information about our vision and how you can partner with us to make a difference in the lives of these families! In the meantime, would you join us in prayer for the many hurting victims in our communities? Those who are parched, thirsty and searching. Those who need to know the Love of God, so they will never thirst again!