Come Up

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According to Psalm 99:6, Moses and Aaron were God’s priests, but He just didn’t want them to be His priests.  He wanted the children of Israel to be His priests, also.  And you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:6). God brought them out of Egypt to bring them to Himself.

The Lord told Moses that He wanted to speak to the children of Israel on the mount, but before they could present themselves to Him, Moses had to first sanctify them and then they had to wash their clothes. On the third day, Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, but they were not allowed to go up on the mount.  They stood at the foot of the mountain.

But when they saw the thunderings, the lightnings, the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they removed (moved away) and stood afar off (Exodus 20:18).  Moses immediately explained to them that God came to test them. God didn’t want them to be afraid of Him, but He wanted them to walk in the fear of the Lord (reverence, respect) so that they wouldn’t sin against Him.  But they chose to stand afar off while Moses drew near to God.

God picked the right person when He picked Moses to deliver His people.  I know Moses wasn’t in bondage for over 400 years, but he was a Hebrew who was raised as an Egyptian.  He learned the ways and the gods of the Egyptians too, but the difference between him and the Israelites was that he left what was behind him for Who was before Him.  By faith, he forsook Egypt (Hebrews 11:27).

One of the reasons why the Israelites kept disobeying God and going back to things God delivered them from was because they were too close to their old ways and to what was familiar.  And that was me, too.  There were doors that I kept open.  There were things and people that I refused to let go of, but what I didn’t understand was that it was those things that were hindering me and keeping me from drawing closer to God.  I didn’t understand that when I left the door open, I gave place or room to the devil (Ephesians 4:27).  I gave him an opportunity to operate in my life and to defeat me in areas that Jesus had already defeated him in.

Joseph showed us a great example of what it means to walk in the fear of the Lord. When Potiphar’s wife tried to sleep with him, he refused. My master has kept back nothing from me. He has given me everything, but he did not give me you, his wife. Because he’s been so good to me, how can I do this wickedness? How can I sin against God (Genesis 39:9, paraphrased)? The way Joseph honored Potiphar is the way we ought to honor God.  Because God has given us all things, we should give Him all of us.

The Lord is not a God afar off (Jeremiah 23:23), but some of us have been afar off from Him. God wants us to come to the mountain because the mountain is where God gives His word, laws and commandments (Exodus 24:12).  The mountain is where God wants to teach you (Isaiah 2:3). The mountain is where change takes place (Matthew 17:2).  The mountain is where God reveals (Matthew 17:5).

If Christ is in you, then you are in Him and He now calls you a new creature, but some of you are still too close to old things.  You’re too close to your past. Don’t remain at the foot of the mountain.  Come closer.  Come up higher. Let God show you who are you.  God doesn’t want you to be ignorant.  He doesn’t want Satan to deceive you and take advantage of you any longer.

When Jesus saw the fig tree, all He saw was leaves.  That was a problem because He was hungry (Matthew 21:18), but He didn’t speak to the problem.  He spoke to the root of the problem. And in the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots (Mark 11:20). Sometimes all you can see is the problem, but let God show you the root of your problem. Let Him show you what you are closest to and what is keeping you from getting closer to Him. 

And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me on the mountain and stay there (Exodus 24:12, NIV).

[Scripture references: Exodus 19 – 20]

 

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Remember What the Lord Has Done for You

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After Moses read God’s instructions, laws and commands to the children of Israel, they made an agreement with their mouths. All that the Lord has said, we will do and be obedient (Exodus 24:7).

But their hearts were from far Him. Make us gods, which shall go before us (Exodus 32:1).

Throughout their journey in the wilderness, the Lord had to always remind them of what He said or what He did for them.

Don’t forget the Lord your God.

Don’t forget how you provoked the Lord in the wilderness.

Don’t forget the covenant I made with you.

Remember when you came out of Egypt.

Remember what I did to Pharaoh.

Remember how I kept you for 40 years in the wilderness.

Your clothes and your shoes didn’t wear out.

There were fiery serpents and scorpions in that great and terrible wilderness, but they didn’t harm you.

You never went hungry for I gave you fresh manna from heaven every day.

There was drought and no water, but you didn’t die of thirst.

In Judges 6, the Israelites were crying to God.  The Lord had given them over to their enemies for seven years because they did evil in His sight.  God allowed the Midianites to destroy their crops and to take everything that belonged to them – their land, sheep, oxen and donkeys. Prior to this, He warned them not to serve the gods of the Amorites once they lived in their land, but they didn’t obey His voice. 

They forgot that they had cried to the Lord before, but God sent them help (Moses).  He brought them out of Egypt.  He brought them out of bondage. He delivered them out of the hands of the Egyptians and their oppressors.  He drove their enemies out and gave the Israelites their land. God set them free, but they kept returning to the things that placed them back in bondage.

I’m reminded of the man who had an infirmity for 38 years.  After he received his healing, Jesus found him later in the temple and said, You are made whole.  Sin no more, lest a worse thing come to you (John 5:14).  For Jesus to tell him not to sin any more meant that he was in that condition because of sin. I believe this is what Jesus was really saying to that man then and this is what He is saying to us now:

I forgave you.  Despite your past, I gave you a future.  Remember what I did for you.  I’ve shown you how good I am.  I gave you another chance.  You are whole now. Don’t go back.  Remember what happened the last time.  Don’t return to the thing that made you sick.  If the Son makes you free, you are free indeed.  Stay free. Stay whole.  Show others what I’ve done for you so that they may know what I can do for them. 

I know sometimes we wish that God would erase all the painful memories of our past, but I told the Lord recently that there are some memories that I don’t want to forget because if I forget it, I may repeat it. 

May we always remember what the Lord has done for us.

[Scripture references: Exodus 13:3; Deuteronomy 4:23, 7:18, 8:1-18, 9:7; Judges 6:1-10; John 5:1-9, 14-15]

 

A Letter to My Brother

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Dear Brother,

People today use the word, love, loosely.

But you have found real love – through God.

Love forgave you.

Love stayed when everyone else left.

Love prayed you through some difficult times.

Love built you up, not tear you down.

King Lemuel didn’t say a good woman was rare. He said a virtuous woman was rare.  One of the definitions of virtuous is strength.  To strengthen your muscles, you have to lift, push and pull.  She didn’t gain this strength overnight.  She went through some things to become what you see today and because she didn’t give up, it strengthened her faith in God, her love for God and for you.

Please don’t take her for granted.  Remember when you were single.  Remember when you desired to be married.  You were looking.  You were searching.  When you found a wife, you just didn’t find her, but you found favor from the Lord.

He who finds a wife finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord (Proverbs 18:22).

God has been very good to you.  Despite all the bad things you’ve done, God still gave you a ‘good thing’.  Even though you’re not perfect, He gave you what was right and perfect for you. Enjoy her (Proverbs 5:18).  Do good to her.  Respect her.  Love her.

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it (Ephesians 5:25).

Then the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him (Genesis 2:18).

Don’t let the enemy deceive you.  There are a lot of beautiful women out there and there are a lot of good women out there, but you already have the help you need. You don’t have to look anymore. 

                                                                                                                                                 Love,

Your Sister in Christ

Don’t Forget the Lord

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Before God delivered His people out of Egypt, he told them that He was going to bless them – for every tear, for every burden, and for every year of oppression.  The Israelites helped build the cities of Pithom and Rameses so that Pharaoh could store his treasure.  They made mortar and bricks and they did all types of work in the field.  It was hard and rigorous yet they were never compensated.  Pharaoh used them and never paid them for the work they did. What Pharaoh thought he was laying up for himself in his storehouses were actually being laid up for the children of Israel (Proverbs 13:22).  Yes, the Israelites were about to get paid.

And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians and it shall come to pass, that when you go, you shall not go empty (Exodus 3:21).

It took a while, but after the Lord sent the tenth plague – after the death of every Egyptian firstborn (including Pharaoh’s firstborn son), Pharaoh told Moses and the Israelites to get out and because they wanted them to leave their land immediately, they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for.

Let every man borrow (ask) of his neighbor and every woman of her neighbor, jewels of silver and jewels of gold (Exodus 11:2).

In Exodus 32, Moses is on the mount with God.  The Israelites thought Moses was taking too long to come down from the mountain and they were tired of waiting on him. That Moses, the man who got us out of Egypt – who knows what’s happened to him?  (Some of us still get this way when it seems like God is taking too long to do what He promised or we don’t feel Him or we don’t hear Him).

Even though God had delivered them, brought them through the Red Sea on dry land and drowned their enemies, they still had a problem trusting Someone who they couldn’t see.  So, they asked Aaron to make them something that they could see.  And all the people brake off the golden earrings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron  (Exodus 32:3).  After all God had done for them, they took what God gave them and offered it for a golden calf that couldn’t speak to them the way God did, destroy their enemies, deliver them or save them. 

They thought Moses had forgotten them when it was actually them who had forgotten God. They forgot to bless the One who had remembered to bless them.  I’m sure they had probably thought about all the things they would do with their newfound wealth and yes, God gives us all things to enjoy, but the blessing wasn’t just for them.

Let them make me a sanctuary that I may dwell among them (Exodus 25:8).

This is the offering…gold, and silver, and brass (Exodus 25:3)

Despite their ways, God still loved them and He wanted to live with them, live in them and walk in them.  He wanted them to be His people and He wanted to be their God. He wanted a relationship.

After they worshipped the golden calf, God wanted to destroy all of them, but Moses interceded on their behalf and God changed His mind.  Although God was angry with them, He told Moses and the people to go to the land that He promised them (Exodus 33:1).  He made a promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and He couldn’t take His word back.  God is not a man that He should lie.  There were going to be consequences for their sin (Exodus 32:34), but they were going to enter the land – because of a promise.

Some of you think that God has forgotten you, but He hasn’t.  Has He said, and will He not do it  (Numbers 23:19)?  Because of a promise, God is going to bless you – for every hurt, every disappointment, every tear.  Some of you were even underpaid and treated unfairly on your jobs, but God is going to restore.

And when God does it, don’t forget about Him.

Beware that in your plenty, you don’t forget the Lord and begin to disobey Him (Deuteronomy 8:11, TLB).

Make Me Clean

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clean: free from contamination, free from guilt, separated from anything that makes one unclean

Before the priests could enter the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, they had to wash their hands and feet in the outer court.  They had to appear before God clean.

I recently asked the Lord to make me clean and the reason why I asked Him to do this is because sometimes we engage in things that corrupts us (Exodus 32:7).  You may immediately think I’m talking about sexual sins, but sometimes it is our conversations that corrupts us.  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace to the hearers  (Ephesians 4:29). 

Then, I began reading about lepers in the bible.  Leprosy is spread by direct contact and the reason why lepers were in the condition they were in was because of what or who they touched. But sometimes, leprosy was a result of indirect contact (no physical touch).  For example, Miriam became leprous when she ‘touched’ God’s servant, Moses, with her mouth by speaking against him. 

The Pharisees and scribes thought Jesus and his disciples were unclean because they didn’t practice the tradition of the elders, which was washing their hands before eating bread. In the tabernacle, you had to first wash yourself at the laver before you approached the table of showbread and according to Leviticus 24:9 and Matthew 12:4, it was lawful for priests to eat the shewbread. The Pharisees and scribes thought they were in the Holy Place and Holy of Holies because of what they knew, but they were still in the outer court because of Who they didn’t know and because of what was in their hearts. Jesus then explained to them that it wasn’t what was on the outside, but what was on the inside – in a man’s heart, that made him unclean.

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defiles (make unclean) the man (Mark 7:21-23).

God doesn’t want us to be people that appear righteous to others outwardly, but full of hypocrisy and sin inwardly (Matthew 23:28).  For so long, we’ve been focused on what it looks like or what we look like – the outward appearance, but let God clean you in the inside first. If you only clean the outside of the cup, then it’s not really clean – and no one wants to drink from a dirty cup.

Not only did Jesus loved us, but he washed us from our sins in His own blood and He made us priests to God (Revelation 1:5-6). 

That he might present it (the church) to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish (Ephesians 5:27).

I believe we all want to be healed from something, but the question is: Do you want to be clean?  Do you want to stop doing the things that made you sick, depressed, brokenhearted and unclean to begin with?  God doesn’t want us to be like the pig, who after it is washed, returns to the mud again (2 Peter 2:22).

I have asked the Lord to clean me, but I am also asking for His help to stay clean.

And, behold, there came a leper and worshipped him, saying, Lord, if you will, you can make clean (Matthew 8:2).

Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me (Psalm 51:10).

How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word (Psalm 119:9, NLT).

Wherefore come out from among them, and be separate, says the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing and I will receive you (2 Corinthians 6:17).

Your Net Will Not Break

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In Luke 5, Jesus tells Simon to go out where it was deeper and let down his nets.  Simon wasn’t by himself.  His partners, James and John (the sons of Zebedee), were also with him.  When they did what Jesus told them to do, they caught a lot of fish and their net broke (vs 6).

In John 20, the disciples are having a meeting with the doors locked for fear of the Jews.  Jesus had now risen from the dead and he came to the disciples while they were meeting and said, Peace be unto you; as my Father has sent me, I am sending you.  After he said this, he breathed on them and said, Receive the Holy Ghost (vs 22).

In John 21, Simon Peter goes fishing again.  The other disciples (Thomas, Nathanael, the sons of Zebedee and two others) decide to go with him.  Again, they caught nothing.  This time Jesus appears to them on the shore.  This is his third appearance after the resurrection.  He doesn’t call them his disciples or his friends, but instead he calls them children and asked if they had any meat (vs 5).  They said, No.  Jesus then tells them that if they throw the net on the right side of the ship, they will find fish.

They threw the net, but they were unable to pull the net back in the boat because there were so many fish.  In fact, they are described as dragging the net (vs 8). Simon Peter then helps draw the net to land (vs 11). 

What caught my attention was that even though they caught 153 fish that day and they dragged their net, the net did not break (vs 11). It did not tear. No fish escaped.  They lost nothing.

I’m sure if some of you read and study these passage of scriptures, the Lord will reveal something different to you, but this is what the Lord shared with me.

I blessed you before, but you lost some things.  But if you will let me do what I want to do – if you will let me fill you the way I want to fill you, this time when I bless you, you will lose nothing.

Your net will not break.

Serve the Lord

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On this past Monday, the Lord shared with me what it really means to serve at my church.  Serving is more than just teaching Sunday school or singing on the praise team.  Sometimes serving is sweeping the church, vacuuming the carpet, picking the trash off the floor, just to name a few. 

I work with some pretty cool people on my job, but there is one young lady who started recently that is teaching me a lot about attitude and character.  First of all, she was hired for one position, but right now the company needs her to work in the area that is needed the most.  What I love about her is that no one has to tell her what she needs to do and she does what is asked of her.  She doesn’t complain, she is very helpful and always cheerful. 

One day, a patient told her that one of the public restrooms needed to be cleaned.  She never turned around and said, I’m not doing it.  Who wants to do it?  She immediately found gloves and cleaned the mess.  Yes, the new girl!

Now, I’ve been there for almost four years and if it was me, my attitude would have been, They don’t pay me enough to clean no restroom. That is not in my job description.

But that’s the wrong attitude.  You see, I want God to trust me with doing the ‘big’ things, but He is not going to give me the ‘big’ things until I faithfully do the ‘little’ things.  Maybe your attitude was like mine.  You don’t think you should do certain things.  You think you’re better than that.  That’s not your job.  That’s someone else’s job. But the truth is – we’re not better than anyone else.  If I clean at home (without pay), then what was the problem?

To serve means to obey.  It also means to be of use – not when you feel like being used, but when you are needed.  Sometimes you will have to go out of your way.  Sometimes it will be inconvenient for you, but convenient for others.  We don’t see it this way, but when you serve, you become the answer to a problem.  Isn’t that what we want to be? An answer and not the problem.  People have enough of their own problems.  They are looking for an answer. 

One of the things managers and pastors love is when they don’t have to always tell you to do something.  They like it when you don’t wait for someone else to do it, but you see what needs to be done and you do it. 

Even though the Lord was dealing with me about serving at my church, we should also serve well at home, on our jobs or wherever God sends us.  Our attitude should be that we are doing it for the Lord, not for people (Colossians 3:23).  Serve Him with gladness.  Become a cheerful giver (and not just with your money).  Don’t offer Him sacrifices that are blind, sick, or broken (Malachi 1:8; Leviticus 22:22), but give Him what You want Him to give you.  Give Him your best!

I was raised a certain way and there were areas of my life where I needed to be disciplined, but I wasn’t disciplined.  I’m not blaming the people who helped raised me, but for most of my life I’ve been like the ones who stood idle, waiting for someone to ‘hire’ them (Matthew 20:6-7).  I didn’t look for something to do (Ecclesiastes 9:10).  I waited for someone to tell me what to do. 

But even though I’ve been that way for a long time, you know what?

I can change.