“So Aaron and his sons did everything the Lord had commanded through Moses.” Leviticus 8:36 NLT
Moses and Aaron were obedient to God’s call on their life. They might not have always understood it, but they kept showing up.
“After that, Aaron raised his hands to the people and blessed them. Then, after presenting the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offering, he stepped down from the altar. Then Moses and Aaron went into the Tabernacle, and when they came back out, they blessed the people again, and the glory of the Lord appeared to the whole community. Fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground.” Leviticus 9:22-24 NLT
They saw the fruits of their labor. Glory was revealed to them.
Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord meant when he said, ‘I will display my holiness through those who come near me. I will display my glory before all the people.” Leviticus 10:3 NLT
How many times have I been tempted to give up before God’s plan is revealed? Or I spend too much time questioning his calling on my life, instead of walking faithfully where I am?
God found Moses where he was. He sent him back to people who once rejected him. His willingness to walk into hurt and pain, lead him and others to victory that they wouldn’t have otherwise known.
“Forty years later, in the desert near Mount Sinai, an angel appeared to Moses in the flame of a burning bush. When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight. As he went to take a closer look, the voice of the Lord called out to him, ‘I am God of your ancestors- the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Moses shook with terror and did not dare to look. Now go, for I am sending you back to Egypt.’ So God sent back the same man his people had previously rejected when they demanded, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us?’ Through the angel who appeared to him in the burning bush, God sent Moses to be their ruler and savior. And by means of many wonders and miraculous signs, he led them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, and through the wilderness for forty years.” Acts 7:30-36 NLT
Dear Father, I pray that I would take time to listen to your voice and guidance. Give me faith to move forward when I don’t understand your plan. Thank you for your faithfulness. Amen.
“Then Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: Fill a two-quart container with manna to preserve it for your descendants. Then later generations will be able to see the food I gave you in the wilderness when I set you free from Egypt.” Exodus 16:32 NLT
I picture the Israelites filling their jars with manna, so that they can remember how God provided for them. I have a journals of God’s past faithfulness, but also some really painful things that he has brought me through. What do I want future generations to know about my life? If I’m honest, I’d like to filter it. And only put in the good stuff. And hide the rest. I am encouraged by Moses’s vulnerability to his father-in-law. He didn’t leave the struggles out.
“Moses told his father-in-law everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and Egypt on behalf of Israel. He also told about all the hardships they had experienced along the way and how the Lord had rescued his people from all their troubles. Jethro was delighted when he heard about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel as he rescued them from the hand of the Egyptians. “Praise the Lord,” Jethro said , “for he has rescued you from the Egyptians and from Pharoah. Yes, he has rescued Israel from the powerful hand of Egypt! I know now that the Lord is greater than all other gods, because he rescued his people from the oppression of the proud Egyptians.” Exodus 18:8-10 NLT
When sharing my story, there are parts I would rather hide. But, than I would be leaving out the ways that God has had the victory in my life.
“Than Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord: “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; he has hurled both horse and rider into the sea. The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise him-my father’s God, and I will exalt him! The Lord is a warrior; Yawheh is his name!” Exodus 15:1-3 NLT
Thank you Father that you are the true manna who meets my every need. Thank you for your healing, your faithfulness. For your words that speak life into my soul. Amen.
“Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.” Luke 21:33 NLT
Lord, let me build my altar to you.
Ancestry–a lineage from Adam to Jesus. In these passages, I linger in Noah’s story. I witness a tower project–and a scattering. I travel territories with Abram. He stops. I notice what he does.
7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.” And Abram built an altar there and dedicated it to the Lord, who had appeared to him. 8 After that, Abram traveled south and set up camp in the hill country, with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. There he built another altar and dedicated it to the Lord, and he worshiped the Lord. 9 Then Abram continued traveling south by stages toward the Negev (Genesis 12:7-9, NLT).
I’ve read lots of reflection on a finished year, and I consider my own. In a digital age, the altars are images and words. Am I making monuments of milestones–or altars of angst? Still fresh, coming out of a year-end reading of Job and Revelation, was 2018 the year I lost (a sense of everything) or the year I was restored?
Ancestry–a lineage in a genetic test kit. I read my results with wonder. I think of sea views and mountain views and snowy valleys–journeys traveled through the ages leading here. This place. My place in the story of a history.
Lord, let me build my altar to you, grateful for your work in me and in my life.
I celebrate your majesty, your sovereignty, your faithfulness and love. I worship you here. Thank you for restoring me. You are near, and I am thankful.
“Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.” Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.” Luke 1:18-20 NLT
Zechariah’s response takes me back to a time in my life when I was having trouble having a baby. After two miscarriages I went to doctor after doctor to find out what was wrong. The wait seemed so long. Scientific answers were found. But, to this day, I wonder if it was God’s timing all along. I couldn’t imagine life without the four children he has blessed us with.
“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a village in Galilee, to a virgin named Mary. She was engaged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of King David. Gabriel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, favored woman! The Lord is with you!” Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, you will name him Jesus…Mary asked the angel, “But how can this happen? I am a virgin.” Luke 1:26-34 NLT
Mary was confused, but she responded in faith and not fear. Will I be able to look back at this new year and remember all the times I did something afraid? Will I be able to say that I was stretched out of my comfort zone, but trusted that God was with me? Recounting the mighty ways that he showed up in my life?
“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. Then he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day” and the darkness “night.” And evening passed and morning came, marking the first day.” Genesis 1:1-5 NLT
This passage is so familiar that I can lose the wonder of it. And the way he can be so interactly involved in my life, but so powerful at the same time.
Help me Lord, not to lose my awe of you. Thank you for new beginnings and fresh starts. A new year to see how you will work in my life. I pray that I never lose sight of you. Amen.
“But true wisdom and power are found in God; counsel and understanding are his.” Job 12:13 NLT
Job’s friends were trying to make sense of his suffering. Even though Job himself, didn’t understand, he pointed them to the one who he knew did. He knew where true wisdom could be found.
“O God, grant me these two things, and then I will be able to face you. Remove your heavy hand from me, and don’t terrify me with your awesome presence. Now summon me, and I will answer! Or let me speak to you, and you reply. Tell me, what have I done wrong? Show me my rebellion and my sin. Why do you turn away from me? Why do you treat me your enemy?” Job 13:20-24 NLT
There have been times in my life when my faith has been stretched and I wonder what God is doing. I can relate to Job, when I think that God’s silence means that I have done something wrong. But, I’m learning to lean in and trust in the waiting.
“Even a tree has more hope! If it is cut down, it will sprout again and grow new branches. Though its roots have grown old in the earth and its stump decays, at the scent of water it will bud and sprout again like a new seedling. “But when people die, their strength is gone. They breathe their last, and then where are they? As water evaporates from a lake and a river disappears in drought, people are laid to rest and do not rise again. Until the heavens are no more, they will not wake up nor be roused from their sleep. “I wish you would hide me in the grave and forget me there until your anger has passed. But mark your calendar to think of me again! Can the dead live again? If so, this would give me hope through all my years of struggle, and I would eagerly await the release of death. You would call and I would answer, and you would yearn for me, your handiwork. For then you would guard my steps, instead of watching for my sins. My sins would be sealed in a pouch, and you would cover my guilt.” Job 14:7-17 NLT
I am thankful that I don’t struggle without hope. Even when things seem dark, I know that light is coming. Jesus is near. I grapple with Job’s questions and vulnerability. He didn’t have the knowledge of Jesus like I do. Yet, he still pressed in, when it would have been easier to fall away.
Help me to remember Lord, in times of silence, you are teaching me to depend on you. Thank you for friends who point me to you. Thank you for your word and your promises. Help me to praise you in the midst of suffering. Amen.
“Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth! Worship the Lord with gladness. Come before him, singing with joy. Acknowledge that the Lord is God! He made us, and we are his. We are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving; go into his courts with praise. Give thanks to him and praise his name. For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” Psalm 100 NLT
“On that same day King Xerxes gave the property of Haman, the enemy of the Jews, to Queen Esther. Then Mordecai was brought before the king, for Esther had told the king how they were related. The king took off his signet ring-which he had taken back from Haman-and gave it to Mordecai. And Esther appointed Mordecai to be in charge of Haman’s property. Then Esther went again before the king, falling down at his feet and begging him with tears to stop the evil plot devised by Haman the Agagite against the Jews. Again the king held out the gold scepter to Esther. So she rose and stood before him. Esther said, “If it please the king, and if I have found favor with him, and if he thinks it is right, and if I am pleasing to him, let there be a decree that reverses the orders of Haman son of Agagite, who ordered that Jews throughout all the king’s provinces should be destroyed. For how can I endure to see my people and my family slaughtered and destroyed?” Esther 8:1-6 NLT
Esther had great faith. She didn’t let fear control her. She believed in God’s protection.
“Then Mordecai left the king’s presence, wearing the royal robe of blue and white, the great crown of gold, and an outer cloak of fine linen and purple. And the people of Susa celebrated the new decree. The joys were filled with joy and gladness and were honored everywhere.”…“And King Ahasuerus imposed tribute on the land and on the islands of the sea. Now all the acts of his power and his might, and the account of the greatness of Mordecai, to which the king advanced him, are they not written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Media and Persia? For Mordecai the Jew was second to King Ahasuerus, and was great among the Jews and well received by the multitude of his brethren, seeking the good of his people and speaking peace to all his countrymen.” Esther 8:15&16; 10:1-3 NLT
Even though Mordecai was convicted to die, he became the second highest ranking official in the nation.
“Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God-the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name. ” Revelation 3: 10-12 NLT
When I hear about bad things happening in the world today, my first reaction is not always that God is in control. It is often times, fear. I question God, instead of trust him. I try to figure things out on my own. But, when I remember that my citizenship is in Heaven, I rest in God’s sovereignty. And can view my own problems in the light of eternity.
Dear Father, Help me to trust you, even when I don’t understand. Thank you that you can turn the darkest situations around for good. I want to have a faith like Esther and Mordecai. Amen.
I have been to Ukraine 30 times in the last 27 years. It is always good to catch-up with my friends and do ministry together. They are a hearty lot those Ukrainian Christ-followers. The love the Lord and speak longingly for His return.
The first question I ask them when we greet each other is, “How are you doing?” Or, “How have you been?” They have never, and I mean never, said “good” and they have never, and I mean never, said “bad”. What the have done is quote this verse to me every time.
33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John16:33 [ESV])
They have had it hard there. The country has been through a lot. A friend of mine was eight years old when a knock came on the door and the KGB came and took his parents (his father being a pastor) and they never saw them again. Our brothers and sisters in Ukraine know how hard life can be, but they also know the only place that is safe and has a future for them is with their Savior. What a blessing they are to me.
Where are you today? Are you going through heartache and sorrow? Is every aspect of your life going well for you? No matter where you are this moment, be like our Ukrainian friends and take heart, because no matter what Jesus has overcome this world. Some day he will set all things straight. What a day that will be.