OYB January 27
Julie FerwerdaAre you ready for change in 2009? Grab a One Year Bible (NLT), commit to reading it daily, and join Julie Ferwerda on an extraordinary adventure that will transform your life as you experience its relevance in a fresh, understandable way. In addition to 20+ years in Bible teaching ministry, Julie is a professional speaker and writer. Her works have appeared in publications such as Focus on the Family, Discipleship Journal, Christianity Today, Marriage Partnership, Brio, and Revolve Biblezines & Devotional Bible (for teens). She's also the author of "The Perfect Fit: Piecing Together True Love," and also the upcoming book, "One Million Arrows for God: Raising Your Children to Change the World." Learn more at www.JulieFerwerda.com.
- 2009 Jan 27
4:13 But Moses again pleaded, "Lord, please! Send anyone else." Sadly, whenever we are afraid of the God-sized plans He wants to accomplish through us, we are just like Moses. God Himself is sitting there, giving Moses miraculous signs, telling him that He will equip him for the job, and Moses begs for someone else to do it. We might say, "I would never do that. If I had all the signs Moses had I would have been ready and willing." BUT...that's not necessarily true. Human nature is to focus on our limitations instead of His limitlessness, to focus on our impossibilities instead of His possibilities. And note the problem with running away from what God wants you to do. You miss the miracle-life. You miss the adventure. Moses will see so many amazing things in coming days because he went, but he would have missed all of that, and missed seeing how big his God is. We will do the same if we don't go when He is calling.
4:22-23 This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son. I commanded you, "Let my son go, so he can worship me." This verse clues us onto yet another Christ-type. But this time, it's a nation and not a person. Here are some of the parallels of Israel to Christ:
God's firstborn son
Called out of Egypt
40 years in the desert (Jesus spent 40 days in desert)
12 tribes (Jesus had 12 disciples)
Crossed the Jordan (Jesus was baptized in the Jordan-they both got dunked!)
Made their way to the Promised Land through enemy territories (Jesus made a way for us to the Promised Land through enemy territory)
Became the way of redemption for the world
4:23 "But since you have refused, I will now kill your firstborn son!" Here we diverge off the parallel track. God killed the Egyptian first-born sons in order for Israel to be rescued from Pharaoh's oppression, but God killed His own first-born Son in order to rescue us from Satan's oppression. This is all a mystery!
5:6-19 Have you ever noticed when you start trying to break free of a habit sin, your temptations get worse? When I gave up refined sugar a few years ago, I noticed that very week that many of my clients at the time brought me a dessert or some decadent, tempting treat. You can plan ahead, when you start making a move to get free, Satan gets stronger and harder on you. He'll spare no expense or effort to keep you in captivity. During these times, we must not lose our courage to get free...deliverance is coming!
Pharaoh's hard heart. Today I heard a message on this very topic. Pastor Biltz said (El Shaddai Ministries) that there are two different Hebrew words used for when Pharaoh "hardened" his heart and when God "hardened" Pharaoh's heart. Pharaoh hardening his own heart is that of weighing down or burdening. God hardening Pharaoh's heart is a different Hebrew word, and it literally means to "strengthen." He explains that it means that God didn't cause Pharaoh to have a hard heart, Pharaoh did that alone. God strengthened Pharaoh so he could finish the plan, otherwise Pharaoh would have given up before the plan was complete. Pastor Mark compared it to a boxing ring, where halfway through, when Pharaoh was about to collapse from taking on God, but there were still 5 rounds left in the match, God helped him up, offered him some water, and told him to take a break. This really changes the picture. Before, it sounded as if God made Pharaoh choose to be stubborn. But this way, we see that Pharaoh didn't need help with that, he just needed strength to finish the match.
4:24-26 Read commentary about the circumcision event.
18:10 Beware that you don't despise a single one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels are always in the presence of my heavenly Father. Very interesting verse!
22:24 For he has not ignored or belittled the suffering of the needy. He has not turned his back on them... I can't help but point out in our world where there is so much suffering, it is not God who has turned His back on the needs of the destitute and poverty-stricken, but it is His "hands and feet" who have--the Church! He equipped and blessed us to help them, not to live selfishly in prosperous ease. We are not only called to give to the needy, but the harvest is ripe in the fields of the world, and the workers are few. From my experience, the workers are few primarily because there is no money to send them! And it's not because the money isn't there. Check out these shocking statistics (here's the link for more stats)!
Overseas Ministries: Only 2 cents of every dollar given by American Christians goes to support overseas ministries. John L. Ronsvalle and Sylvia Ronsvalle, The State of Church Giving through 2000 (Champaign, Ill.: Empty Tomb, 2002), 41.
Giving Not a Priority: Christians worldwide had personal income totaling more than $16 trillion in 2007 but gave only 2 percent, or $370 billion, to Christian causes. David B. Barrett, Tom M. Johnson, Peter F. Crossing. "Missiometrics: Creating Your Own Analysis of Global Data," International Bulletin of Missionary Research, Vol. 31, No. 1, 2007, p. 8.
Questions for personal reflection:
- What are the "miraculous signs" God has used in your life to ask you to "go" for Him? They may seem small at first glance, but they are truly magnificent miracles. And these "signs" are not just for you--they were meant to become part of your testimony for others. Each one of us has wondrous signs, if only we will stop to think. But again, these signs are not for us alone. They are meant to be a sign to others, to bring them into His Kingdom or even with believers to revel in His glory, as we share our testimony with others.
- Think over your life. Can you remember a "sign" that God has used to bring you to true, life-changing belief in Him? Second, think about a way God invited you into His "Play" or adventure, and you either faced fear, saying, "yes," or you shrank from fear and unbelief and said "no."
In recent years, God asked me to become a speaker. Yep, I feel your pain, Moses. Yikes! My worst fear. But the Lord said to me, "Julie, are you going to be a Moses ("send someone else"), or are you going to be an Isaiah ("here am I Lord, send me")? Man, I can't tell you how many times I was so terrified at the prospect, that I almost said, "Send someone else!" But I gave a tiny little, barely audible, "Okay, I'll go." It has been quite a ride so far, but I have seen God show up miraculously time and again. I can't say it ever truly gets any easier as each time I'm stretched, but I would never have known what He could do through me had I said no. Also, there are so many things God has asked me to let go of and surrender to Him, things that were so frightening--my home (twice), my friends, my children, my jobs, my security--but every time He has been the perfect Gentleman and taken excellent care of everything I have entrusted to Him. In fact, the more I release those things to Him, the better they are taken care of without my help!
Of course, anything I've said "no" to, I regretted, but I don't even know what I missed out on except that those were likely the times of my life when I was bored and restless (can you say, looking for trouble?). So I can only share His faithfulness and miracles with the yeses.