“Go up to the land flowing with milk and honey. But I will not go with you, because you are a stiff-necked people and I might destroy you on the way.” God to Moses (Exodus 33:3)
Doesn’t THAT cause warm fuzzies! The word for stiff-necked are two words in the Hebrew, the latter is what we expect, neck. Yet stiff ‘qaseh’ means more than to be hard or intense. It is ‘a legal term conveying a very difficult case, in which the outcome could have life alternating consequences.’* Being stiff-necked limits our view, we are unable to turn our head from side to side; we only see what is in front of us. We get so focused, so determined on the promise – the end goal that we cannot see what God is doing to prepare us for the promise. (Read that again) God was in no hurry to fast track the folks to the promise, they weren’t ready. What should have taken just a few months to make the 240+ mile trek, took 40 years. They needed a higher degree of faith, and a learning skill of recognizing and asking for God’s hand BEFORE they faced the giants once they step foot in the promise land.
God did end up going with the people, Moses pleaded, “If Your Presence does not go with us, do not send us from here… what else will distinguish me and Your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” (vs 15-16) His Presence!
God is a covenant making and covenant keeping God, He WILL fulfill. But He needs to prepare us to receive His stuff. May we loosen our neck, yes keep our eyes on the promise, but not so tight as to miss God on the way. Taking the self attached blinders off – what we miss might have ‘life alternating consequences.’ What would have happened if Moses had not turned to look at the burning bush and continued on his way? “When the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” (Exodus 3:4) Point to ponder.
May we turn to look.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
* Chaim Bentorah, Biblical Hebrew Studies
“Be still and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10) Yet most of the time my life reflects, “Be busy and know that I am tired!” Can I get an “AMEN!” Psalm 46:10, one of the most quoted and beloved verses of the Bible, but do we really understand its meaning? Hang with me as we explore this further and gain understanding. The Psalmist writing under the inspiration of God, writes 10 of the 11 verses of the psalm from the 3rd person perspective, talking to us about ‘He’ (God). The Psalmist encourages that even in natural disasters and national uproar, “Come and see the works of the LORD… He makes… He breaks…” (v8,9) Then in verse 10, the writing changes. It is now from the 1st person – I. It is as if God caused him to pause, whispering in his ear, tell them…“Rapah yada Elohim” (Hebrew) “Be still and know that I am God.” Powerful.
When studying the scriptures, looking at the original language/grammar gives us some great insight. In which I am no expert or scholar, but only observe. For example in Galatians 5:22,23 (N.T. – Greek) the listing of the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. At first glance, we think these are verbs, action words, something we do. True. Kinda. They actually are ‘nouns’ – all of them. They are something we possess. I can walk in peace, knowing that through the Spirit, it is a quality I possess. I can operate in self-control because it too is something I possess, it is part of the ‘fruit package.’ The important part – I have to CHOOSE to use it! It is the indwelling of Holy Spirit, as we surrender to Him – He matures and works these qualities through & out our life. Just like in football, I can run for a touchdown, but it only counts if I have possession of the ball. (SCORE!) Running down the field (in my own strength) with no ball, well… the play is VERY unsuccessful!
So it is with the Hebrew, understanding the language, truly helps. Originally there were no punctuation marks. Yet when reading in a modern geeky-transliteration Jewish Bible, (mouth full) our verse reads: “Be still! Know! God.” Here comes the totally cool part – this phrase holds two imperative verbs, meaning they are both commands. Be still! Know! God commands us to know Him. That means it is entirely possible, desirable and (wait for it) yes… expected. But not only this, but the 1st verb (be still) POINTS to the 2nd – KNOW! We are still IN ORDER to know God. WAIT… (I’m throwing in the bonus gift) ALSO, the phrase is known to form a ‘hiphil verb tense’ (in short) it is used to cause something. The subject causes the action of the verb. Meaning, as God says this to the reader, (you & I) ‘we’ are the cause of the verb…know. It is up to us to be still so that we can know Him.
‘Be still’ (rapah) means more than just quieting our mouth. It literally means; ‘to let go.’ It holds the word picture as to have something in your hand, slacken your grip, let it go… let it drop. As the New American Standard translates: “Cease striving.” When we come to God in our quiet time, we can quiet our mouth, but what do we still have in our hands, what are we ‘fidgeting’ with, (metaphorically speaking). Our lives are busy, full…full of STUFF. Granted most of it is completely legit. BUT, God wants us to want Him as much as He wants us. ALL of us. Empty handed. When the psalmists write of praising God with raised hands, the word is ‘yad’, the empty hand, the palmed hand. The hand symbolizes strength and power, when we raise our hands to God, we are in a surrendered posture, we are emptying our hands of our own strength and accepting HIS! (head bowed)
‘Know that I am God’ (know – yada) this isn’t just an intellect knowledge of God, it is a HEART knowing. It is based on relationship, experience. In the Complete Jewish Bible, it reads: “Desist, and learn that I am God.” STOP! It isn’t a slowing down, or I’ll get to it when it is convenient (OUCH!) It is a priority! God is first! God loves full stop. God wants relationship.
God is not necessarily asking us to be quiet (although that DOES help, “Shut thee up!” There is a time to be quiet.) Location is not a huge factor (however, a quiet place contributes) Nor is our physical posture the ‘make it or break it’ element (Yet, face down, does have “I can’t see the distractions” with my face on the carpet benefits.)
All this to say, God wants us to let go of our grasp of distractions, we can sit quietly before Him, but if we are still fidgeting with our ‘stuff’ or full of anxiety of what is going on around us, we aren’t giving Him our full attention, we aren’t experiencing Him, learning Him, knowing Him. As Brother Lawrence so eloquently wrote in his book; “There is needed neither art nor science for going to GOD, but only a heart resolutely determined to apply itself to nothing but Him, or for His sake, and to love Him only.” [Practicing the Presence of God]
There is a natural progression when passion grows, starting at duty, then to desire and most assuredly delight.
“Be still, and know that I am God! I will be honored by every nation. I will be honored throughout the world.” – God, Psalm 46:10
I honor You God, with my time, my desire, my delight and with my empty hands.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
I love autumn, the crisp morning air and those vibrant yellow, orange and red leaves. I find it fascinating that so much beauty can come from a season of change. Seasons. With so much uncertainty in the world, there is however a guarantee there WILL be another spring that rolls to summer, then fall and eventually winter. Once winter wears out its welcome, according to God’s design spring again bursts forth.
Recently the Lord showed me that just as the environment and atmosphere change, we too experience a change of season. Solomon writes in Ecclesiastes, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” (3:1) His following list consists of a time for birthing, dying, planting and harvesting, a time to tear down and to build, a time to cry and a time to laugh. The cool part? There’s even a time for dancing! Oh Yah! My poor sons, they cringe when mom feels the urge to dance – down the aisles at the store! Seize the moment I say!
For some of us our season is lingering, the winter drags on, and on and on. Or perhaps something triggers you and an unhealthy season reappears, when you were confident that season had passed. Have you ever hopped in the car, after getting underway, you reach for the radio, turning it on, a song comes on and within seconds you ARE THERE! The song brings back a familiarity either good or one that takes you back to THAT season! A time when sorrow was your companion, pain an unwanted friend or a relationship gone wrong. Or you flip the calendar page and there it is, THE month. The one you dread, the month you experienced betrayal, or the death of a loved one.
I experienced something similar a couple of weeks ago: It was a beautiful sunny warm day, driving to my granddaughter’s school to pick her up, once in the parking lot, backing up, parking, stepping out – instantly I stopped …feeling complete dread and sorrow. Then walking towards the school, I asked God, “WHAT is this?” He reminded me, that two weeks prior, the same scenario; sunny day, parking lot, backing up, stepping out, it was then, RIGHT THERE, I received a phone call with very traumatic news, sorrowful news – stop in your tracks news. It was all so familiar in a way that I was not aware of.
With this revelation, I knew this needed to be broken! “In Jesus name!” I took authority over the familiarity. (Go God) Breaking the spiritual and emotional hold. From there I sensed Holy Spirit teaching me about the familiarity of seasons. God does not want us living in the past. Each new day is a gift, and well if we keep our hands full of the old stuff, there isn’t room for the new. If we can’t see the stuff in our hands – ask Him. Or we can’t identify why we are feeling a certain way – ask Him!
Times and seasons CAN be broken! Daniel praised God saying: “Praise be to the name of God for ever and ever. Wisdom and power are His. He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise. And knowledge to those who have understanding. He reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, And light dwells with Him.” (2:20-22)
Oh God, may You reveal to us the seasons we may not be aware of, only feeling the effects. Grant us wisdom to see and address those we do know of. Break the familiarity IN JESUS NAME! Free us. Let there be no more stop in our tracks unaware, but moving forward with each new day … in YOU!
Beauty from ashes.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24)
Have you ever desired to peak around the corner, kinda like in Wizard of Oz when the bold booming voice says “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” Well of COURSE, I want to look! That is how I am with scripture, I can’t just read. There is so much pausing, pondering and defining to be done. So much adventure! And yes, so many lessons to learn. (Hang with me, this is good)
Recently looking at Numbers 20, (v. 1-13) I sat myself down in a field (literally) knowing there was more to this story and asked the Lord to show me around the corner, peak behind the curtain. This is what I saw, this is what I learned. I had the honor of teaching this to the women at church this week. The story (in short) consists of Moses and his wooden staff, Aaron, some grumbling people and a rock. Oh, and some gushing water. The Israelites are wandering in the wilderness; they come to Kadesh … no water. With the lack of water they rebelled. Moses and Aaron go to God with this whine filled, yet genuine dilemma. God tells them to gather the people, take the staff and speak to the rock and water will flow. Moses gathered the people, took the staff and spoke to the people (not the rock). He tells them “Listen, you rebels! Must we bring you water from this rock?” THEN (wait for it…) he raises the staff and strikes the rock twice. And you got it, God showed up and water flowed. Um, a considerable amount of deviation from the instructions dear Sir! God then tells Moses and Aaron, due to your lack of trust in Me, and not demonstrating My holiness to the people, you don’t get to go into the Promised Land.
Exodus 7: The show down with Pharaoh. God charges Moses with telling Pharaoh to “Let My people go…” Pharaoh doesn’t get it, his heart is unyielding, so God tells Moses to go to the Nile, give it one more try, if a no go, then with the gathering of people, take the staff, strike the water, God shows up and the water turns to blood.
Exodus 17: Moses is now in the wilderness with the folks, camped at Rephidim. This place had no water as well. The people complained, God tells Moses to gather the people, take the staff, strike the rock and God shows up – water will gush out. And so it happened.
Exodus 17 (just a few verses later) Just slightly different, but most elements are the same. The Israelites are fighting the Amalekites, there sitting between Aaron & Hur on a hill and a gathering of people, as Moses keeps the staff raised, God shows up and they win the battle.
In Numbers 20, new instructions are given, yet Moses’ response is too familiar. Here are 4 lessons we can learn:
First, we are not to veer from the current instructions. Does it matter HOW I do it if I’ve been here before? The answer is YES! God has something new for YOU and those around you. Our obedience does impact others, as well as our disobedience. These ‘rebels’ were the 2nd generation, they had heard of the first striking the rock and gushing of water. How much more would God’s power & authority have meant if Moses obediently SPOKE to the rock! Would that observance have caused future POSITIVE responses? Notice too, God told Moses, “Speak to the rock.” He didn’t tell him WHAT to say. There was room for creativity, he just needed to speak and God would do the rest. God said speak – not swing.
Next, God still proves powerful despite our disobedience. God would deal with Moses, but the people needed water. This teaches us God’s love for His people is so great; despite sinful attitude and action, God still provided abundantly. His instructions are PERFECT, yet He will use imperfect instruments (us). We may mess it up, but He still trusts us with His word. Amazing! Disobedience DOES have consequences. God said: “Because you did not trust Me enough to demonstrate My holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!” God reprimanded not only for disobeying but also for not believing. The staff represented authority and yes, you used it before, just because it is in your hand, doesn’t mean you have to use it this time. Listen carefully.
Thirdly, God will not share His glory with another. “Must WE bring water for you out of this rock?” (Can you hear the heavy sigh and the quiet ‘AGAIN!’) Moses spoke as if he and God would do the job. Or even He and Aaron. It was ALL God. It is always ALL God. God uses us, we walk in authority, but it is His miraculous power. Isaiah 42:8 “I am the LORD, that is My name! I will not give My glory to another. ” God told Moses He wanted to demonstrate His holiness to the people, taking this generation to a whole new level perhaps? We will never know.
And finally, we default to what is familiar in times of frustration. Often our reach is quick, and we grasp for what we already have or already know. May we condition ourselves that when we do reach, GOD is grasped FIRST! May HE be so familiar that in times of frustration, anger or pain, our ‘quick’ is …Him.
Is God giving us new instructions, are we listening carefully, or are already thinking, “Got this, done this!” We are prepared to use what we did before (already gathered in our hands) but perhaps not this time … just believe Him. May we consider how our obedience (or lack of) will affect others. What does God want to show you and them in this moment? How is our obeying in the details?
Moses. A mighty man of God full of lessons.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another toward love & good deeds.” Hebrews 10:24)
How many of us remember the Saturday morning (or after school) Schoolhouse Rock commercials? Sing with me, ‘Conjunction junction what’s your function… hookin up words, phrases, and clauses.’ Amazing how that lil tune stuck in my head after all these years. Yes, a cute railroad analogy song to help us use connecting words with purpose.
When studying the bible we do the same thing. We are to take notice of such words as: therefore, because, rather, however, and yes even …IF (see John 15) There is yet another that packs a huge punch when used in the text. “So that.”
In Exodus “Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of Him will keep you from sinning!” (20:20) “Jesus says, ‘I have told you all this so that you will not go astray’. – John 16:1 Paul in Ephesians 6:11, “Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.” In Hebrews, “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (4:16) Paul again, “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.” (Ephesians 1:17)
Depending on the translation, ‘so that’ is used roughly 700-950+ times in the entire bible. THAT is a considerable amount of connecting. In the New Testament, the word is hina (hee-naw) meaning, ‘for the purpose of, in order that it might be.’ Jesus says “You can ask for anything in My name, and I will do it so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.” – John 14:13 You ask in My name, it will be done for the purpose of the Father getting the glory! ‘So that,’ amazing connecting words! Defining words. Words that point. The divine goal is to bring the Father glory!
May we slow’r down, take pause; take notice of ‘hookin up words, phrases and clauses’ so that we may know Him better for the purpose of bringing Him glory.
In Him, DeDe (“Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds. – Hebrews 10:24)
How often do we walk away from something, yet find ourselves coming right back to it? Isn’t that just human nature, the very thing we cry release from, somehow we find comfort in the familiar and do not step beyond the zone? Jesus wants us to be free.
We see an amazing example of this in John 5, Jesus observes a man at the Pool of Bethesda. The place where the blind, lame or paralyzed would lay near the pool … waiting. Tradition states an angel would visit the pool, while stirring the water healing virtues would flow, the first in would be healed. The man Jesus saw had been coming to the waters for a very long time, he himself an invalid for 38 years. Jesus asked him, “Do you want to get well?” The man’s answer is typical. “I have no one to help me; while I am trying, someone always gets there ahead of me.” I don’t mean to be heartless, but can you hear the Eeyore tone and bit of whine in his voice?
Jesus simply says, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk!” That is exactly what the man did. At first glance, isn’t it interesting that Jesus didn’t instruct he just walk away, leave your mat? Nope. I would suggest that this man had grown so accustomed to being lame, it was familiar and that mat was comfortable and “See that corner spot right over there – THAT is my spot!” If the mat had been left, there would be something to come back to. All comforts had now been removed, the familiar no longer available. No lying down, no relapse here folks! A healed man does not need to hang out at this pool anymore. A delivered man needs to move on, leaving nothing behind. And why carry the mat? The mat was now being re-purposed. No longer a mat for waiting, but a mat for living!
God holds nothing back to free us. (Go God!) The Psalmist speaks so vividly, “When they cried to the LORD in their trouble and He saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the deepest gloom and BROKE away their chains.” (107:13-14, emphasis mine) Please pause and consider the breaking of these chains, the word is not just a mild bend or snapping. It is a divine BURSTING! It was so destructive that the chains were torn into pieces, so much so it was un-repairable. Attempt as you may, even with biting your lip while applying super-glue, what God breaks, it is BROKEN!
Father, may we too not look for excuses with whining tones, remembering what You have healed us of, what YOU have delivered us from; we are not to attempt to go back or fix. There is nothing for us there!
In Him, DeDe “Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love & good deeds.” – Hebrews 10:24
Oh I LOVE a good learning opportunity.
John 6. The feeding of the many. Seeing the crowd, Jesus asks Philip, “Where shall we buy bread that these may eat?“ The narrative continues saying that Jesus already knew what He was going to do; He wanted Philip (and the others) to consider the solution. I love God questions. They aren’t for God. He never misses an opportunity to teach us more of Him. Remember, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3)
Can you imagine the quick eye rolling that took place, the disciples looking at Jesus then to … ALL THOSE PEOPLE! I wonder if Jesus chuckled to Himself. The guys declare it would cost too much to buy for all those hungry folks, yet there is this boy – who has five loaves of bread and two ‘not quite regulation size’ fish. Jesus instructs the disciples to have the people be seated, and then distributes the barley fish sandwiches. After all had been satisfied, Jesus tells the disciples “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.”
Let nothing be wasted. LOVE IT! Those words ring beautifully in red. If you write in your bibles, underline those words. (John 6:12) Yes, speaking in context to the fish and bread, but I also believe, let no circumstance be wasted. Asking the disciples the question, feeding the many all offered the opportunity to know Him as ‘The Bread of Life.’(v35)
What circumstance are we in right now, what does Jesus want to show us, teach us about Himself. What solution does He want to prove Himself faithful. Oh we may not have to consider being the sole supplier at the next church picnic, but ‘Let nothing be wasted.’
Look, consider and learn.