When All God Wants You to Do Is Stand Still & Watch

quotes-The-Lord-will-fight-.pngI opened up my Bible app on Friday morning to read my plan on Acts and the verse of the day caught me off guard. “The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:14 NKJV)

That seemed peculiar. It’s been awhile since I read the details of the Exodus, but chapters 13-14 are where I go when I need a real reminder of God’s sovereignty and grace. But I missed that verse in my recollections.

To set the stage, this verse comes in the moments before the Egyptian army is to overtake the trapped Israelites. They are scared stiff. They are doing what most of us do when we’re scared – looking for a way out. They attack Moses with their words asking why he brought them into the desert to die. Pretty encouraging, right?

He’s about to part the Red Sea

But I’ve learned something. When I get here, God is about to do something amazing in my life. He’s about to part the Red Sea. Did you hear that? He’s about to part the Red Sea so they can walk away from oppression into a better life.

That encourages me so much.

Moses reaction to this lament of fear was pretty cool. He says, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.” (Exodus 14:13-14 NKJV)

Then God, says, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward.” (Exodus 14:15 NKJV)

Go forward, not backward!

This reminds me so much of the chaos that is my life right before we have to do something big at my house – like be on time for an airplane. It’s like everyone forgets how to follow instructions and they lose all their composure. I’m running through my list and all I want them to do is stand by the door or get in the car.

There’s fighting and whining and miscommunication. They are doing everything but standing still. And there’s that one who keeps running back into the house because she “forgot something.”

You don’t have to worry about Egyptians; just watch!

Oh my sweet friends, it takes everything in me to keep my cool like Moses. I find myself saying things like, “Don’t worry. I charged your iPad. I packed your swimsuit. Yes, we’re going to feel our ears pop, but we’ll get you gum. IT’S ALL GOING TO BE OK! Now get in the car!”

Imagine that multiplied by a few million people. Moses had a JOB, and the patience of Job.

We get like this right before a journey that takes us out of our comfort zones. It’s hard to pack up all your stuff and trust that you have it all together. But that’s the thing, you don’t have to have it all together.

It’s not your job to worry about all the Egyptians coming at you. It’s your job to stand there and watch the mighty work of God. I think that’s what God means when He tells you to “hold your peace.”

Keep your composure. He’s got this.

Action Item: God gives you all you need to thrive in a Godly life. (See 2 Peter 1:3) Do you trust Him enough to part your Red Sea?

 

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What’s the Deal With Head Coverings?

Jeremiah 1_5

I’m going to hit on some of the hard points of Scripture. I like to explore the ideas behind something that in our society seems irrelevant or arcane. I’m taking a look at the heart of this passage. I believe God’s truths are timeless and relevant every day. So, I’m asking my dear readers to look at this through that lens. The topic I’m covering today is one that’s been widely debated. Debate is good; attack is not. We don’t know everything about the background of this passage, but we do know that Paul was seeking to educate in grace and love to God’s people. I ask that you do the same if you comment on this blog. 

What’s Under the Head Covering?

I’m in a Bible study this year that covers the letters of Paul to the Corinthians, the Philippians and the Ephesians – all churches that Paul helped get started. He is praising them, correcting them and giving them instructions on how to do this Christian life the right way.

The Corinthians were a church that needed a good lecture. They were crossing lines and taking “liberties” with their freedom in Christ. I love how Paul gets the tough love part out of the way and then starts answering the “questions” or “objections” the  Corinthian “children” have. Isn’t that so the way our kids treat us? They want to know where the loopholes are. Or maybe we all just need the guardrails to keep us on the narrow path.

I also love that he’s willing to deal with the hard topics. A woman’s place is something I argued with my own dear husband about this weekend. In anger, I pulled out that lovely line, “You just want me to be a submissive wife.”

I wanted my hubby to hear why I was upset. I wanted him to let me vent my frustration and not put up one of those guardrails of “Maybe, you’re not seeing this the right way.” (I really don’t like his use of rational thinking.)

God’s Place for You

I think that’s what Paul is doing in the 11th chapter of I Corinthians. He’s showing us that God has a place for everyone in His order. He’s the head of the entire Kingdom and Paul is using a contentious issue to show everyone how God views each “role” in His house. He writes, “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head (authority over) of every man, and man is the head of woman, and God is the head of Christ.” (I Corinthians 11:3 AMP)

Paul is using an accepted social standard of the day – women covering their heads in prayer and public – as an example of accepting and respecting your place in God’s order. I may receive some criticism for my analysis, but I’m not very concerned with what people think of me. I’m concerned with that throne I’m going to stand before one fine day (Romans 14:12). I’m concerned about what I’m going to say about the gifts I was trusted to nurture and foster to the One who gave them to me (I Peter 4:10).

My take on the head covering topic is this – it’s about respecting the life and role you were given. We can fight for what we think we should be or accept what He made us to be.

“All Things Are From God”

Isn’t that what this is really about? All things are from God. He created us. He wants us to know He created us for glory. And we ladies are for the glory of our husbands (I Corinthians 11:7). I want to be that woman.

When I respect my place as a daughter of the King and I respect my place as a woman who asked my husband to lead our family, I have freedom to be who I was designed to be.

Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. (I Corinthians 11:11-12 ESV)

When I embrace my place as the heart of my family, I’m free and whole.

When I know that I’m showing my children how to embrace their purpose (head or heart of a home) with dignity and joy, I’m leaning into the head of my heart. He comes near to me when I come near to Him. (James 4:8).

Do you know what your gifts are? (Here’s a quiz I like). Think about the time you felt most alive. What was your state of mind? Were you living His plan for your life? Write this down as a reminder to yourself when you get lost.

For Discussion: How do you apply Scripture with hard-to-comprehend concepts to your life?

 

 

What It Means to Give It All to God

psalm 91 - 15 16I apologize for my absence the last week. We had a trip that took more of me than I thought – driving 1,600 miles. Whew! It was great, but I’m happy to be home.

Today, I’m going to share a Christian vocabulary lesson with you. I’m answering the question of “How do you give it all to God?”

It’s funny that I mentioned the story of driving 1,600 miles. Driving is often a time I pray. The act of focusing my attention on something mundane allows me time to process my thoughts. I find driving (alone) calming, but since that doesn’t happen very often, I’ve learned to pray while my children are occupied.

When children are restrained 🙂 Mama gets a small break. You wouldn’t believe the bag of “things I want to do” that goes with us on long road trips. It’s unattainable, but I bring it anyway. But I digress.

One of the reasons I love praying while driving is that I get to see God’s glory all around. There’s nothing more soul-filling than driving into the sunset or seeing the majesty of a storm front. Just this past week, we saw the most vibrant rainbow as we were on our journey.

I think “journey” is part of why I like to pray in motion. I get to experience something bigger than myself when I’m in creation. It awakens my imagination and gives me hope.

I can tell you that some of my biggest prayers were when I was in the driver’s seat. I can pinpoint these prayers as revolutionary in my journey.

Faith Is a Journey

The journey is something to keep in mind when you “give it all to God.” Life is not just a one-time deal. And neither is faith. We’re called to have faith in the moment.

The Israelites were given a test in Exodus 16 to gather what they needed (manna and quail) for a day. They weren’t supposed to store it up (except on the day before the Sabbath). The test was faith. Did they have enough faith to depend on God day by day?

If we don’t depend on God day-by-day, how are we really in relationship with him? If we store up our burdens, are we depending on Him?

We Don’t Have the Capacity for Carrying Large Burdens

Have you ever carried a baby who is just a few months old? They aren’t heavy until you carry them for an hour or more. And they don’t spread out so you can balance the load. That’s why we have carriers and strollers. Our bodies aren’t meant to carry large loads. Neither are our hearts.

I believe the people who followed Jesus around were looking for the answer to this heart burden. Their hearts were so heavy, they were living at probably a tenth of their capacity. When we carry the weight of sin and worry and shame, we’re downtrodden. The journey seems unbearable, but it doesn’t have to be. There’s peace and joy in dumping it all at the cross.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

How to Know You’ve Given It All to God

“Giving it all to God” is an act of speaking the burden, laying it at the foot of the cross and trusting He will make things right. You may not feel that this is enough, but faith is not a feeling. When you really do lay it all down, you will sense the lightness in your spirit. You’ll gain a new perspective or see doors open that weren’t there before. There’s peace in confession and processing your thoughts and fears. That’s what God wants you to do every day. He wants that intimacy. He wants you to curl up next to Him and speak what’s on your heart.

Work is Required

God gave us work as a means of sanctification. And faith doesn’t get a pass. It requires work – confession, repentance, study, prayer, thanksgiving. The visual of growing crops is so fitting for this.

  • Clear away the stones to dig (sin and shame) – confession and.
  • Clear the land of grass and weeds and examine the soil – repentance.
  • Work the soil – study.
  • Plant the seeds – faith.
  • Water the seeds – confession, prayer, study.
  • Watch the plants grow and nurture them – reflection and prayer.
  • Reap the harvest – celebrate and thanksgiving.

This work is not easy. This work is slow and tiring, but it is soul-filling work. Giving it all to God means that you trust He is doing the real work.

When you cultivate a relationship with Him, He changes you. He gives you fruit. He takes away the things that keep you from growing. Yet sometimes this work is painful – blisters and soreness and too many days in the sun.

But when you look up, you will see change and peace. You will be proud that you don’t have to shoulder that burden of sin. You have freedom to be the person He made you to be.

Do you have a hard time understanding what to give to God?

Write a list of all the things that stress, worry and occupy your mind. This is what He wants to carry for you. Pray over that list. Ask Him to take these burdens. Keep a blessings journal. This will give you the fortitude to keep bringing those burdens to that cross. When you see the hope and grace, you’ll gain a habit and a deeper faith.

For Discussion: What does “give it all to God” mean to you? Do you ever feel this is a Christian platitude? How would you help someone struggling with this concept?

 

3 Reasons to Study the Bible

why study gods word

I’ve only got time for a short post today, but it’s an important one. We’re talking about your WHY today and I have three of them.

Why do we study? Why do we memorize Scripture? Why do we need an understanding of God’s Word?

We study to help us learn. We study to help us gain ground in a subject. We study the Bible to know about God and to make Him known. See Matthew 28:20.

We memorize Scripture because it is our weapon against temptation from the world, the enemy, and the flesh.

  • “So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11 (NIV)
  • For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)
  • No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. I Corinthians 10:13

I didn’t memorize Scripture as a child. In fact, I had very little Bible training. When I opened the Bible as an adult, it was foreign and overwhelming to me. When I started learning Scripture with my daughter, I saw the benefit of this practice. It equips us to minister to ourselves and others. It gives us promises to replace the lies we want to believe.

However, we need more than a pocket full of verses to share with others when times are hard. We need a deep understanding of the hope that God gives us in reading about people as broken as we are and the Savior who loved them so much He sent His one and only Son to die for us.

We need to understand Scripture to make the worship we offer meaningful. We need to know our Father and His love for us. And you will get that when you start small. And small is enough for God’s word. It’s that rich. It’s that full of hope.

Read Psalm 119 with this in mind. See if you can find the “why” in this Psalm. 

For discussion: Do you think Scripture memory is important?  Why or why not?

Making a Commitment to Prayer & Study Time

mark135Tuesdays and Wednesdays are long days for me. We pack a lot of learning, study and fun into these two days. And if I’m not equipped with my quiet time, these days can drain me and push my limits of self-control.

That’s why even when I don’t feel like it, I make time for a few minutes of Bible and prayer time. It doesn’t look the same every day, but it’s something I’m committed to.

When I let that commitment slide, I notice that my temper is shorter, my spirit is uneasy and stress rules what should be fun, fueling days. What’s the difference?

I made note of this the past few weeks when I rose early enough to take the dog out for a quick walk, drink some coffee and spend time with God or spend time with my work. I chose my work because deadlines were looming. I’d had some computer troubles that put a big project on hold. So, I chose to work on the project and said I would do my quiet time later.

I’m a person who needs to start her day with quiet. I need the time to think and sort and pray. And when I skip this step, it’s not good. I spend a lot more time on those days biting back harsh answers and wondering where my patience went.

It’s because I didn’t get my focus right. I didn’t spend a few minutes centering my day on Him and the help He offers.

That’s why I recommend a 15-30 minute study and prayer time in the morning. I find myself needing an hour because I like to copy Scripture and write in my prayer journal. I use this time as a processing time and that looks different depending on what’s going on in my life.

It also depends on who gets up. I’ve had to be extra vigilant to not make this time an idol. My kids often join me in the early light of dawn. My first reaction is often, “This is MY time. How could you interrupt?” I have to remind myself that them seeing me in this practice is just as important as the practice itself.

Determine what part of your day gives you the BEST opportunity for prayer and study. Some Scriptures to help guide you: 

  • But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” – Luke 5:16 (It’s ok to take a break to pray. I often do this when the tide of raising kids is getting too high.)
  • Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” – Mark 1:35 (I like very early in the morning because it’s my best time. Some of us are better at night when the house is quiet. Find a time for YOU.)
  • “After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” – Matthew 14:23 (When you’re weary, prayer or reading your Bible is a way to restore your soul. Don’t be afraid to listen to that call to replenish your spirit.)

For discussion: When do you pray and study? Do you do them together or separately? See you tomorrow!