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a few weeks ago my kids had their school cross country.  a race.

with a start point and a destination.  and a journey in-between.

up hills.  through gates.  down paths.  a course to follow.

 

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’ So God led the people around by the desert road towards the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.  Exodus 13:17-18

 

i read this the other night in my youversion Mc’cheyne reading plan and it struck me how God had a course for the Israelites to follow.  and there was purpose to the path.

How often do we look at our own life and see the destination ahead of us but wonder WHY we seem to be going round in circles, or up gut busting hills, or through valleys…?

God did not lead His people the shortest most direct route for a purpose.  His purpose was that their hearts would remain steadfast towards Him, that they would trust Him and honour Him.  His purpose was so that they would be His people and not return to Egypt, into slavery and pain.

What is the purpose of the race we are on?  What is the purpose of the path?

Our steps are ordered by God.  He is the master planner of my life.

Though i may not know the path i do know the destination.  The finishing line is to please Him and live forever in His presence.

Until that point i am growing and being transformed.  Until that point i am to be a light to shine, to demonstrate the reality and goodness and greatness of God.

No matter what the path.

Each step i take i choose to take with love and grace and trust.

Each step i take i choose to take with obedience and confidence in the goodness of God.

Each step i take i choose to lead me closer to the destination.

i am in a race and i run to win.

no matter the path.

i love the above jillian michael’s quote. 

but you know, sometimes the path involves puking and fainting.  sometimes i’m pushed to the boundaries of my strength.  sometimes i’m overcome in my weaknesses.  sometimes the pace i am running at is slower than a snails, and the position is on my knees, crawling with ever ounce of strength i can muster, the ground wet with tears and sweat.  sometimes its painful and feels purposeless.  sometimes its mundane and monotonous. sometimes its ordinary. 

and if i die, i still win.

i die to self, i die to my will and my rights and i choose Jesus.  All the time.  Every step.  All the way.

 

 

 

 

 

#FiveMinuteFriday free write time! <—click to tweet this!

Five Minute Friday is a feature over at Lisa-Jo Bakers TALES FROM A GYPSY MAMA blog.  i first read about it on my friend Fee’s blog and thought it sounded fun!

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in.
3. And then absolutely, no ifs, ands or buts about it, you need to visit the person who linked up before you & encourage them in their comments. Seriously. That is, like, the rule. And the fun. And the heart of this community..

OK, are you ready?

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Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, a good distance from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting which was outside the camp. And it came about, whenever Moses went out to the tent, that all the people would arise and stand, each at the entrance of his tent, and gaze after Moses until he entered the tent. Whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent; and the LORD would speak with Moses. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would arise and worship, each at the entrance of his tent. Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.  Exodus 33:7-11

 

i want to be a face to face friend of God. 

 

As i read about Moses and Joshua meeting with God in the tent of meeting, my heart is stirred and moved that Moses SAW the form of God and spoke face to face with Him.  God says (in Numbers 12, see below) that Moses was faithful in all His house – and the reward of his faithfulness was intimacy.

 

In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear).  Ephesians 3:12

Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].  Hebrews 4:16

i want my life to lean always towards knowing God.  i press in for this purpose, to be His child, to be His friend.

any sacrifice, any bowing of my knee and will, any refinement, any transformation, is worth it to feel His embrace and pleasure.

to walk with Him on this earth as friend is a great reward!

and i love love love that joshua stayed after Moses left… i wonder if that heart was one of the things that were credited to him as a qualification for leading the people into the promised land, a man after God’s heart, a man of God’s presence, a man of prayer and faith….

 

ps: its interesting to note, that in Exodus 3 Moses freaks out in his first encounter with God and hides his face, yet here 30 chapters later he has face to face encounters and regular relational connection.  don’t stay in the place of first encounter but develop a relationship with God!

 

“Listen to my words:
“When a prophet of the LORD is among you,
I reveal myself to him in visions,
I speak to him in dreams.

But this is not true of my servant Moses;
he is faithful in all my house.

With him I speak face to face,
clearly and not in riddles;
he sees the form of the LORD.  Numbers 12:6-8

read more HERE

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And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord." So the Israelites did this. Exodus 14:4

 

i think this was also a lesson so that the ISRAELITES knew that God was the Lord, mighty and powerful!  only a few verses down the israelites are saying:  "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!"  Exodus 14:11-12

 

sometimes i think the experiences we go through are to teach us to trust.  how often do we find ourselves facing a crisis and we freak out instead of responding with trust and faith?  God used the Red Sea to teach the people that He was their deliverer and saviour.  He used it to demonstrate His mighty power. 

 

  • Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
  • Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:6-7
  • Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
  • So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

 

i can trust in God.

He is trustworthy.

though sometimes things dont go to MY plan, HE has a plan and is at work on my behalf.

i am confident of His love and goodness.

i am confident that He is my Father.

when faced with fear i CHOOSE to trust God.

i STOP, BREATHE and REMIND MYSELF OF THE PROMISES OF GOD.

His Word is faithful.

His promises can be trusted.

He is always at work.

i counter FEAR with faith.

faith that is grounded in the Word of God and His promises.  not blind faith but faith that has facts and basis.

i live not by sight but by faith in God.

Nothing is impossible for God – the same God that split the Red Sea is at work in your life! reading exodus 14 so makes me trust God – He moves in intervening and awesome ways – unexpected and extraordinary ways!

 

"You will never get past your fears until you are willing to face them head on—period! And…as long as the enemy controls you through fear you will not be fully surrendered to Jesus!" Perry Noble

 

next time we face an obstacle, instead of freaking out, how about we trust, and stop and breathe and remind ourselves of the promises of God.

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The people kept their distance while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was.  Exodus 20:21 MSG

Moses was the rare individual that would not settle for knowing the acts of God but he desired to know His ways. While there are many who will stand at the bottom of the mount wanting someone else to climb the mountain to meet with God and relay the information. There are few who will climb-(exert effort), press past fear and preconceived notions and disappear behind the cloud. It is there that a man meets God. All were invited but only one ascended. Only one who came back with the radiance of God still shining upon him, only one who spoke with God face to face as a friend. The mountain and the invitation awaits ….. Who will climb? Father I know how many obstacles/excuses there are for me to stay at the base of the mountain. My desire and longing is to climb to meet You. Keep that passion at the forefront of all that I do this day!  youversion note

 

its interesting to note in exodus 19 and in this chapter the limits had to be put around the mountain and how only one called man could come and approach God.  the people had to consecrate themselves but even then the mountain was off limits.  God appeared in a dense cloud with fire and thunders and lightenings.  if the people crossed the barrier they would die.

 

contrast to the reality that Jesus is God with flesh, incarnated.

  • The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  John 1:14

  • Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.  Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.  John 14:8-11

  • The Son is the image of the invisible God.  Colossians 1:15
  • Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,  who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men  Philippians 2:6-7

Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God.

and the beautiful thing is that He came and dwelt with us, to show us the Father, to demonstrate His love and grace and power.

because of Him we have access and freedom to approach God, just as Moses did : In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. Ephesians 3:12

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When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, "If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt."So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.  Exodus 13:17-18

i find this passage fascinating.

as humans its like we’re hardwired to want to go from A to B the shortest way possible. but sometimes that isn’t the best route to go. sometimes we need to take detours and go the scenic route. its better for our character and our strength and our relationship with God. 

God KNOWS the right way we should go. we should entrust our lives to Him – commit our ways to Him and He will order our steps.

 

though it can be said that it was because of the israelites unbelief and stubborn hearts that they went the long way round.  if their hearts had been committed to the ways of the Lord and His will perhaps they would have gone the shorter route? 

are their journeys in our life that are taking longer because of the condition of our heart?

is there a lesson to be learned in going the long way round?

 

the great things God will do through you are going to grow in the soil of persistence, prayer, obedience and sacrifice. that means there will be plenty of plowing and pruning. that is the way living things grow, whether you’re talking about vegetables or vision. steven furtick

God loves us too much to take us through the short cut. He knows we might see what’s required and go back to where we started. So sometimes He takes us on a detour. Jon Acuff

 

 

to read more click HERE:

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Now the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, "When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Work a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’" So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the LORD had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. Exodus 7:8-9

 

Moses is still doubting his qualifications (back in exodus 3-4) to be used by God and so God asks him a simple question… what is that in your hand?

the answer – a staff. its what he carried with him all the time, what he leaned on, what he used to whack the sheep if they got out of line, used to pull himself up mountains, maybe even fight off animals attacking his flocks. a simple thing. an ordinary thing.

again God loves to use ordinary things to demonstrate His power and glory. he uses ordinary things to do extraordinary things.

God loves to use ordinary people to demonstrate His power and glory and love and grace.

We are HIS witnesses, His ambassadors and our real everyday lives are used to advertise the reality of God.

 

what is in your hand?  what do i have in my hand?

what are the areas we are gifted in?

what is the personality traits that God has given us?

what do we struggle with?

what have we overcome?

what does our story say about who God is?

what the the things i take for granted about myself?

do we have time to volunteer?

do we have listening ears?

can we bake (and give away)?

are we able to make money?

can we see solutions to problems?

can we organise events?

can we write and communicate the truths of God?

can we hug and bring comfort?

can we pray for someone?

 

because really, the power comes from God.

 

God USES that thing that we offer Him.

He used Moses’ stick to demonstrate His power and reality. 

 

Moses didn’t have to have the ABILITY to change sticks into snakes – but his AVAILABLITY was used by God.

By saying YES to God and making what was in his hands AVAILABLE to God, God could use the stick.

 

God has given us ability.

but AVAILABLITY matters so much more.

 

Availability is that YES in our spirit that surrenders to God and says HERE I AM, USE ME, that recognises that its not by might, not by power but by the Spirit of the Lord and that we are just jars of clay so that the all surpassing power be of God, not of ourselves.

 

God is not as interested in your ability today as he is your availability. @pwilson

 

God will take your availability and do wonders through it to bring glory to His name.

what are the things in our life that we may perceive as ordinary that God can and will use in extraordinary ways to build His kingdom and see the lost saved? 

God can use me and my life to demonstrate His glory and power if i am willing. He makes me able.

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Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him. Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. "This is one of the Hebrew babies," she said.Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, "Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?"Yes, go," she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother.Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, "Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you." So the woman took the baby and nursed him.When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, "I drew him out of the water."  Exodus 2:1-10

what a mother of faith!  she is even recorded in the great chapter of heroes of the faith – Hebrews 11:23 By faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

it must of taken a lot of courage to hide a newborn and then to place that newborn into a basket and into the river.  we often have quite a sanitized picture of this in our head but as the mother of 2 i know babies are loud, sometimes hard to please, smelly and time consuming.  i also, after watching a doco on egypt on tv, know that the river Nile has crocodiles and other creatures in it that could have overturned the basket and drowned (and eaten!) the baby.  yikes!

 

but i love how God works.

 

God enabled this mother to care for her baby in secret.

again this is one of those life moments where the odds look impossible.  there were few options available to moses’ parents.  but they made a choice of faith.  they made a choice to follow the nudge of God to save their child. 

 

and then God guided this baby in a basket through the dangers of the river to the one person in all of egypt that could pronounce safety over him, the princess.

God had a plan and a purpose for this child and so He orchestrated his safety and his circumstances.

 

when i am facing obstacles and impossibilities i want to be like moses’ mother, resolved to find a way and resolved to trust God.  i will let God and let God.  sometimes that is the best course of action as God can guide the currents of my life and my circumstances to the right direction, forward into destiny.

 

God is awesome in his power to preserve and protect.

God is awesome in His ability to help us in our times of crisis. God is at his best when our circumstances are at its worst.

God is awesome in his ability to accomplish His will, regardless of the circumstances.

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happy-child

When my daughters were single-digit ages—two, five, and seven—I wowed them with a miracle.  I told them the story of Moses and the manna and invited them to follow me on a wilderness trek through the house.

“Who knows,” I suggested, “manna may fall from the sky again.”

We dressed in sheets and sandals and did our best Bedouin hike through the bedrooms.  The girls, on my instruction, complained to me, Moses, of hunger and demanded I take them back to Egypt, or at least to the kitchen.  When we entered the den, I urged them to play up their parts: groan, moan, and beg for food.

“Look up,” I urged.  “Manna might fall any minute.”

Two-year-old Sara obliged with no questions, but Jenna and Andrea had their doubts.  How can manna fall from a ceiling?

Just like the Hebrews.  “How can God feed us in the wilderness?”

Just like you?  You look at tomorrow’s demands, next week’s bills, next month’s silent calendar.  Your future looks as barren as the Sinai Desert.  “How can I face my future?” God tells you what I told my daughters: “Look up.”

When my daughters did, manna fell!  Well, not manna, but vanilla wafers dropped from the ceiling and landed on the carpet.  Sara squealed with delight and started munching.  Jenna and Andrea were old enough to request an explanation.

My answer was simple.  I knew the itinerary.  I knew we would enter this room.  Vanilla wafers fit safely on the topside of the ceiling-fan blades.  I had placed them there in advance.  When they groaned and moaned, I turned on the switch.

God’s answer to the Hebrews was similar.  Did he know their itinerary?  Did he know they would grow hungry?  Yes and yes.  And at the right time, he tilted the manna basket toward earth.

And what about you?  God know what you need and where you’ll be.  Any chance he has some vanilla wafers on tomorrow’s ceiling fans?  Trust him.  “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow.  God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes” (Matthew 6:33-34).

by Max Lucado

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Now Moses used to take the tent and pitch it outside the camp, a good distance from the camp, and he called it the tent of meeting. And everyone who sought the LORD would go out to the tent of meeting which was outside the camp. And it came about, whenever Moses went out to the tent, that all the people would arise and stand, each at the entrance of his tent, and gaze after Moses until he entered the tent. Whenever Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would descend and stand at the entrance of the tent; and the LORD would speak with Moses. When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people would arise and worship, each at the entrance of his tent. Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.  Exodus 33:7-11

 

i want to be a face to face friend of God. 

As i read about Moses and Joshua meeting with God in the tent of meeting, my heart is stirred and moved that Moses SAW the form of God and spoke face to face with Him.  God says (in Numbers 12, see below) that Moses was faithful in all His house – and the reward of his faithfulness was intimacy.

 

In Whom, because of our faith in Him, we dare to have the boldness (courage and confidence) of free access (an unreserved approach to God with freedom and without fear).  Ephesians 3:12

Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].  Hebrews 4:16

 

i want my life to lean always towards knowing God.  i press in for this purpose, to be His child, to be His friend.

any sacrifice, any bowing of my knee and will, any refinement, any transformation, is worth it to feel His embrace and pleasure.

to walk with Him on this earth as friend is a great reward!

 

and i love love love that joshua stayed after Moses left… i wonder if that heart was one of the things that were credited to him as a qualification for leading the people into the promised land, a man after God’s heart, a man of God’s presence, a man of prayer and faith….

 

ps: its interesting to note, that in Exodus 3 Moses freaks out in his first encounter with God and hides his face, yet here 30 chapters later he has face to face encounters and regular relational connection.  don’t stay in the place of first encounter but develop a relationship with God!

 

“Listen to my words:
“When a prophet of the LORD is among you,
I reveal myself to him in visions,
I speak to him in dreams.

But this is not true of my servant Moses;
he is faithful in all my house.

With him I speak face to face,
clearly and not in riddles;
he sees the form of the LORD.  Numbers 12:6-8

 

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Bible_by_AhILLus

When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, "Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him."  Aaron answered them, "Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me." So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron.  He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, "These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt." When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, "Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord."  Exodus 32:1-4

 

whenever i read this i wonder why aaron didn’t stand stronger for God, why didnt he resist the people more?  why didn’t he keep his course straight and obedient?  what were his fears?  did he feel inadequate without Moses?  did he not have his own relationship/connection with God?  was he so influenced by the needs and pressure of the people?  did he find his validation in their approval?

 

Aaron had an opportunity to correct the people and remind them of God’s promise and direction, but instead gave into their wishes and had gods made for them. This decision brought sin upon the people and 3,000 men lost their lives.  This was Aaron’s moment to rise and lead the people TOWARDS God not away from God.

Leadership is not a popularity contest.  there will be times when you need to make a stand and go against the crowd.  the crowd is not necessarily right.  it takes sacrifice and obedience and surrendering to follow God.  it costs.  but there are times when we need to stand for righteousness and for God vs making everyone feel okay.  leaders need to communicate the vision and purpose and win other people to the team – it shouldn’t be one persons vision but transmitted.  its a lot easier when a group of people are heading in the same direction vs one leader trying to pull the people along.

 

All it took for the Israelites to exchange their relationship with the One True God for a vastly inferior substitute was a time of WAITING, and for their leader Moses to be “out of sight out of mind” (perhaps?)

We live in a very instant microwave generation.  It takes 2 minutes to make popcorn and noodles.  We have drive through food, to make our fast food faster.  Yet God doesn’t work on an instant timetable.  And one of the greatest things time and delay and WAITING reveals is our weaknesses.  in this moment of weakness where we would turn away from God and to the easy road or to compromise or to sin we must remember that God’s ways are good and right and that He has timing and purpose.

 

We must build faithfulness and endurance into our character.  We must continue to keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus, the Author and Perfector of our faith, and RESIST the temptation to build a god to suit our own needs and desires.

 

THEREFORE THEN, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [who have borne testimony to the Truth], let us strip off and throw aside every encumbrance (unnecessary weight) and that sin which so readily (deftly and cleverly) clings to and entangles us, and let us run with patient endurance and steady and active persistence the appointed course of the race that is set before us… Hebrews 12:1 AMP

 

 

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