Stubborn Unbelief

Moses stood before the mighty Pharaoh and asked rather politely to let his people go. Pharaoh was not interested in losing his wealth of slaves, forcing Moses to perform the first of many miracles. He had his brother Aaron cast his rod on the ground and it turned into a serpent. Pharaoh must have thought it a simple trick and did not believe. (Exodus 7:1-8)

Moses then met pharaoh by the Nile where with Aaron’s rod he turned the Nile into blood. That was a major trick and must have been devastating for the Egyptian economy and the health of their people. However Pharaoh still would not believe. (Exodus 7:14-24)

Many plagues later Pharaoh still would not change his mind. Then came the most devastating lost of all for Egypt, the slaying of the first born. Finally Pharaoh would let them go. But he rescinded only temporarily, still not accepting or understanding the power of God. He would send his army against the defenseless Israelites most likely expecting an easy victory. Was he surprised when he witnessed what had never been seen before? God had made a path through the sea. There were the lowly Israelites, former slaves, passing through the midst of the sea on dry land and on either side of them a high wall of water. Surely now pharaoh would believe that these people were God’s people and that perhaps he should just let them go. Perhaps he would wake up to the reality that slavery was just wrong or that people do not have the right to make subjects of other people just because they have a stronger army.

Pharaoh did not have any of these great revelations. Instead he was consistent in his unbelief. He ordered his army to pursue the Israelites through this path created by God. Then he would witness the collapse of water on his army. They were destroyed. (Exodus 14) Pharaoh could have saved himself a lot of trouble if he would have believed from the very beginning. However the price of unbelief can be even higher.

The price of unbelief can be as high as all eternity. John 3:18 says “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Christ is still trying to reach the most stubborn hearts, so do not be dismayed. Our responsibility is simply to “Go into the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation” (Mark 16:15)

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Faith during hardship

But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good,…. Genesis 50:20

When you are the favored son and daddy buys you really cool stuff, life can be like living in a dream; especially if daddy makes you a top manager at the family business, and places you in charge of your older brothers. This was the life of Joseph. He even had dreams about how his brothers were going to bow to him. Life was pretty nice. However his older brothers didn’t think it was that great. They sold Joseph into slavery and told their father he had been eaten by wild animals. Now this was a family with problems!

Life can certainly be unfair. Perhaps Joseph’s bothers had reason to be jealous, but he did not deserve slavery. Joseph did not ask to be loved more than his brothers. He didn’t ask for special treatment. When it comes to being in charge, Joseph really was more competent than his brothers and most likely deserved the elevated position. Perhaps what they all needed was some counseling and a family meeting where everyone could air out their concerns. Joseph was actually a good, faithful, intelligent son who deserved the admiration of his older brothers. Instead he found himself on a caravan of slave traders headed to Egypt.

Joseph is sold to a top general and quickly proves he is capable. He is placed in charge of the entire estate. Unfortunately the general’s wife takes a liking to Joseph and when Joseph rejects her, she makes false accusations and Joseph is placed in jail. By now each and everyone one of us would be absolutely furious. We would be screaming “Where is God in all this?” We would be thinking “I am faithful, hardworking and honest. I am talented, intelligent and I do a great job, how can life be so unfair?” But Joseph never complained. He was one of the greatest examples of faith in history. He must have known “that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28).

In jail Joseph once again proves himself and is placed in charge of the other prisoners. He also proves himself a great interpreter of dreams. This ability made possible by the revelation of God.

Once pharaoh heard of Joseph’s ability, he was removed from prison and made to serve pharaoh. Joseph was then elevated and made the second most powerful man in all of Egypt. From that position he was able to save the nation of Egypt and his family during a horrific time of famine and yes his brothers did bow down to him. (Genesis 37, 39-45)

For many years life was certainly unfair for Joseph. At times we may feel like we are walking in Joseph’s shoes. But like Joseph we cannot lose faith. Nor can we grow angry with God or life. We must approach every hardship we go through as if it is a new opportunity to grow and become even better, because that is exactly the reason why we go through them. Remember God is not done; He is doing something great in each of us.

No more excuses!

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh….(Exodus 3:11)

Moses was having a pleasant time. He was relaxing while tending to his sheep in the quiet stillness of the night. However, for no apparent reason, a bush went up in flames, and didn’t burn up. Then the voice of God was heard. Moses was terrified and hid his face. Then it got worst.

God proceeded to give Moses directions to speak to the mightiest man on the planet. He had to tell the ruthless pharaoh of Egypt to let the enslaved Israelites go.

Moses came up with one excuse after another. First He said “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt? (Exodus 3:11) In other words I am not important enough to speak to pharaoh. Then Moses said, “Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they say to me, ‘What is His name?’ what shall I say to them?” (Exodus 3:13) The implication was that he didn’t know what to tell the people who were supposed to follow him, the Israelites. God told Moses what to say, but Moses was not done giving excuses he said “But suppose they will not believe me or listen to my voice; suppose they say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.”(Exodus 4:1). God performed several miracles before Moses to show him what he would do as proof. But Moses was still not satisfied and said “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” (Exodus 4:10)

Four excuses, Moses truly had self esteem issues. He was certain that he lacked the qualifications. He must have been thinking “Just let me take care of my sheep, that’s all I am good for.” But he was wrong.

Many of us have had these moments, when we doubted our abilities or capacity. Perhaps we thought “Lord I know you don’t make mistakes, but there must be someone better for this task, responsibility, or position.” But we are wrong also. If God calls us to do something or hold a position he will equip us. He will educate us and prepare us. If He wants us that means we are the best person for the job. It could be a talent or an expertise we have or perhaps a quality in our character that God sees. God can see the gifts he has placed in us, while we sometimes only see our failures and weaknesses.

With Moses the excuses finally stopped and he did go to pharaoh. Ten plagues later, and a disastrous defeat for pharaoh’s army and the Israelites were free. The whole time all Moses held in his hands was a staff, but the power of God was behind him every step of the way.

If we say yes to God’s calling in our lives His power will be behind us every step of the way, the enemy will be defeated and what awaits us will surely be the promise land.

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Help, I need to escape!

As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord.  Exodus 14:10

Pharaoh and his mighty horde were advancing rapidly, a massive army ready to pounce on a defenseless group of slaves. There were woman, children and the old among them.  They were going to be slaughtered for sure.  To their backs stood the red sea, nowhere to hide, nowhere to run.  They were trapped!

There are times in our lives when we feel the same way. Without an escape, a place to run or a solution.  We look, but no one is hiring, no medical procedure for this condition, no lawyer that will take the case.  There isn’t a friend or a family member that can make a difference.  We need to be rescued.  We need a real live hero.

For the Israelites God was that hero. They all saw that terrible horde coming right at them.  They could hear the sea behind them. All they could do was brace themselves for their terrible end.  But then God spoke to Moses,   “Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.” (Exodus 14:16) God made a super highway!  The Israelites fled on dry land where there had been no dry land.  They escaped by a path that did not exist just moments before. God can make a way!

When we see no solution, the truth may be that there is no solution. But God can make a way where none existed before.  He can provide the job where there was none, heal the sick when no one else can, defend the accused when it seems impossible and provide a solution no matter what the problem.

Pharaoh’s army would pursue them along the same path God had just created. But scripture reveals that after the Israelites had finished crossing, Moses would wave his rod over the sea again and walls of water would vanquish this terrible enemy and close this path forever.  Israel was safe! God can be this hero in our lives as well.

If you are in an impossible situation and no solution seems possible, place your trust in the God who can cause a super highway to appear in the sea when needed and make it vanish just as easily.

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