“But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and just as the Lord had predicted to Moses, Pharaoh refused to listen.”
Exodus 9:12 NLT
There’s this interesting thing that happens when people discuss this verse and those like it. “Did Pharaoh have free will if God hardened his heart?” It’s a valid question, but in the end one that lacks context.
Not getting into any other theology, that question forgets that pharaoh had made his choice. See, God hardened pharaoh’s heart according to scripture. But this was after pharaoh had hardened his own heart 5 times. He’d made his decision. He was not going along with God’s plans willingly. God can see the future anyway. He could have hardened it from the beginning and forced paroah’s hand. Instead he gave him the choice to willingly participate, and pharaoh kept God’s people from worshipping Him. It was a grave and eventually fatal mistake.
It’s human nature to hold on to that which we are already doing. Sometimes it’s pride, sometimes it’s fear of losing our investment, sometimes it’s fear of the unknown. But make no mistake, it is dangerous to harden your heart to a certain path against God. Eventually you can find yourself so far down that path that the darkeness is insurmountable. Sometimes God doesn’t light your dark paths but commands you to find the light of the path He originally set your feet upon.
This week I implore you to examine your decisions. Never haggle with God and ask Him to make right what is wrong. Never harden your heart against His real plan and always trust him if He has told you to change your path.
For Father’s day this year my kids gave me a new set of bits for my cordless drill and a tape measure. I was excited because I can always use a new set of bits and no matter how many tape measures you have you can always use one more. (It also seems like no matter how many tape measures you have you can never find one when you need it.)
As I was looking at my gifts I noticed that this was not just a plain old tape measure, it was a self-centering tape measure.
When a person is restoring or building something, it is always important to work from the center for everything to turn out right. I have no idea how many times I have had a calculator out trying to figure out the center of something. Well, with this tape I will not have to do that anymore, it shows you the midpoint of any measurement (if you can find the tape measure when you need it).
Take some time this week to think deeply about Philippians 2:1-4. In this passage, Paul tells us to “do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.”
When we are not allowing the Spirit of God to work in our lives, we are very much like this self-centering tape measure, everything we do and say is selfishly motivated.
The Bible tells us that we are self-centering sinners.
At the midpoint of our hearts is that infamous two letter word, ME. What would happen if you took a leap of faith, turned to Jesus Christ and made Him the center of everything you do and say?
How would your life change if you truly strived to do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit but in humility counted others as more significant that yourself? Who is ruling at the center of your life?
Are you ruled by the infamous ME or the Savior Jesus Christ?
I am never more miserable than when I allow ME to become my focus and I am never more content than when I allow Christ to be the center of all that I do.
May God help us to keep Jesus as the center of our lives!
My sons are terrible at surprises. “Get dressed”, I tell them. They ask where we’re going. “It’s a surprise”. It’s never a bad thing; I know my sons, and we always go to some great place where they love the activity or food. But they don’t stop. They almost whine about it. They just have to know.
It’s a sentiment I fully understand. In 2 Corinthians 6-7 Paul says, “So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.” When I read this, I never think, “trust God because what I can see is not early as good is what He is doing”. Instead I take a “we’ll see” attitude, asking God to prove that what He, the Creator and Author of all things, has in store for me is better than what my narrow mind had already planned. And yet, like the surprises I have for my children, He has never let me down. When I allow His control, in hindsight I can see that the path I would have taken would have been either mediocre or downright disastrous compared to allowing Him to make my paths straight.
This week I encourage you to find the ways in which you are begging God to tell you His surprises, depending on your eyes and peeking through your fingers instead of having total faith that God’s purposes will be much better than what you have planned.
This was the scripture of the day a couple of days ago in the Bible app. And, for the first time reading this, it struck me. God literally doesn’t want our sacrifices as much as He wants us to do right. How do we know this?
He allowed the final sacrifice to be nailed to a cross with all of the wrongdoings of everyone forever laying on His shoulders. That proved it.
So I looked in scriptures for other places where He mentioned that He didn’t want sacrifices as much as righteous action. And I was so burdened when I found it.
Guys, this is all I have for you this week, that you read what Isaiah 1:16-18 says and hopefully it strikes you as hard as it did me.
“Wash yourselves; make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from before my eyes; cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause. “Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool.”
Bring justice to the fatherless.
Plead the widow’s cause.
“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.” 1 Corinthians 15:51-53
When I read a scripture like this, I’m reminded not only that one day, Jesus is coming back. He’s going to raise up His people to heaven. Some day. If you’re reading this today, and you’ve not committed your life to Jesus, then you need to consider asking Jesus into your life.
If you are a believer committed to a life of trusting Jesus is who HE said He was, the long anticipated Messiah, then this type of scripture to instill a passion for sharing the Gospel with other people. Because one day that trumpet will sound. Some of our friends won’t be going along with us. It’s important to share the message of Jesus, the Christ, with everyone we can!
Have you shared the Gospel recently? Jesus loves your friends as much as He loves you. He loves your enemies the way HE loves you. Share Him with someone!
That’s the question I ask my kids when they run screaming out of their rooms at night like they’re being chased by an Uruk-hai from Middle Earth. I don’t know why there is such a fear present for them, and I make sure to let them know I think it’s unreasonable…why do I do this to my poor kids? Why do I not try and nurture and encourage them and let them know I’m here for them in their times of fear?
When we don’t have the ability to relate and empathize with someone, we often act out of frustration. This is where I end up with my kids during these episodes, I just can’t see why they’re struggling with fear because I can’t relate. My wife is so good about helping me to understand that it’s okay for them to fear and for me to comfort them. It’s a perfect picture of the love that God has for us, He comforts us when we’re scared to death. Even when we’re scared to death for no apparent reason. He loves us tremendously, and His loving arms are there for us when we run to Him.
Moral of the story: Run to Him. Not to the world and its temporary fixes, but to the Everlasting Father.
“We aren’t arguing! Iron sharpens iron!”, my buddy Joe used to say to me when I was pretty sure we were arguing about biblical things. I miss my conversations with him, and over the years I’ve had invaluable friendships that I know God placed there for the reasons He had his own followers travel in twos.
When Jesus sent his followers out into the world in Luke 10:1, he sends them out in pairs. We still need to be together for several reasons today. Safety, loneliness, the fact that the Spirit works the same and yet differently in all of us, I could go on, but the importance of a deep friendship in our life with someone you trust cannot be overstated. For some of us it’s our spouse, others it’s someone at church in our life group, or maybe even just a years-long friendship who you have learned knows the best way to communicate directly to your heart.
My prayer for you this week is to remember that friend and cultivate that God-given friendship that God has given you. Don’t let life get in the way, but instead make sure that person is always traveling next to you.
May 2nd is a pretty great day for me. (Bear with me, because I write these the day before they get posted.) On May 2nd, 2016 I made a joke. It was a public joke on social media about the nature of dating for women, and how how men were all the same, and since that was true, some “lucky” woman should just give up and pick me. It was funny, because I was a single father, and I was raising three boys for fifty percent of my life, and the rest of the time I spent resting from that time. I had decided I really didn’t want to get married again, and if I did, God would have to send me the perfect woman for me and place her right into my life.
The perfect woman for me was a friend of a friend. She read that public joke and felt compelled to respond though she’d never met me, or honestly even heard of me.
She sent me an encouraging message.
And when I responded, there was no turning back.
“The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 ESV
I don’t raise my boys alone anymore. And the other half of my time isn’t spent recuperating from that. It’s a great life for which I never could have planned or pictured.
In our lives we are short-sighted. We hold on to what we feel is our riches. We’ve been told a bird in the hand is better than two in the bush, when God is sometimes telling us how to catch the birds in the bushes. We’re unwilling to drop the trash in our hands so that God can fill it with His treasures. Think about it: If I had never stop clasping my hands together holding tightly to what was inside of them, He could never have joined them to someone else’s.
My prayer for you this week is that you will be able to let go of any plan onto which you’re holding that God is telling you to release. Give Him your empty hand and see if you’re not amazed at the blessing that He puts in it’s place.
We know that there is punishment for sin. All sin. We also know that we need to confess our sins to get that weight off of our spirits and let Jesus have it. He already paid the cost.
Today, as I read in the Old Testament about Moses, and him NEVER getting to go into the Promised land because of his sin against God, I thought, “Man, there’s times in my life that I sin, and while I feel like I’m paying the punishment, I think ‘God, hasn’t it been long enough?!’ for whatever I’m going through.”
Well, Moses, had to wander around in the wilderness with the Israelites for 40 years and never got to step foot into the land. But, through it all, he still trusted God. He still put his faith where it belonged – in his father God.
The same is true for the apostle Paul. God told Ananias that Paul would pay for his sins against Jesus. He would suffer for it. He talked about a thorn in his side. I believe he endured this for his life and then died a horrible death at the hands of those that hated Jesus.
An old saying says “God won’t give you more than you can handle”, and I believe this is a false statement. I read all through the Bible things that the people couldn’t handle. But, I do believe an accurate statement is “God won’t give you more than HE can handle”.
Trust Him. Your struggle is real. But, so is your GOD!