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Choices Courage Destiny Faith Fear God's call Kingdom Perspective Popularity Purpose Resurrection

Things Aren’t What They Seem To Be

Play it safe.

Don’t push too far.

Be careful.

Should we chose to follow all safety precautions on every product we buy or activity we take part in, there are still bound to be unforeseen, unplanned, and unexpected complications that will meet us along the way. We simply can’t avoid trouble, it comes with the territory of life.

I’ve said it many times and still hold to this: the safest place to be is in God’s will. There, I find protection, provision, joy, and comfort. There’s nothing that can reach me there; I’m in His pocket ( 1 Sam. 25:29) as it were, close to His heartbeat. From that place, I hear what stirs His heart and I find the courage to reach for things I never dreamt of before, because things aren’t what they seem to be when you’re in the will of God.

John 14:27 ESV “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

It would appear that Jesus was coaching His disciples to really open their eyes to the possibility of things not being as they would appear when He said, “Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” At the time being described above in John 14, Jesus had entered into Jerusalem and was preparing His followers to understand that in the days to come, events would unfold that would appear to say, “It’s over.”

The crucifixion was on the horizon, Jesus knew it – but He also knew that the Resurrection was soon to follow on the heels of what would appear to be His end. He knew things weren’t going to be at all as they seemed. Jesus also knew everyone would flee and that He would be left alone to face the cross, yet He did it anyway. Why would He suffer and die when all would leave Him? He also knew that after His Resurrection, no one would believe in Him right away. It took quite a bit of work after He rose to convince those who had fled, that He was really alive. If it had been me making the choice at that juncture, those who had fled would not have been in the running for those chosen to be the leaders of the early church. Yet, by grace, Jesus chose to look beyond what the rest of us would call “the obvious” because He knew that nothing in His Kingdom is as it seems. Jesus knew that those who had fled weren’t at all as they appeared. They were born for something more, they were meant to turn the world “upside down.”

Acts 17:6 ESV “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.”

I see a pattern throughout Scripture where those who dared to live close to the Father’s heartbeat never played it safe. They understood that being led where God took them was the only truly safe place to be – even if that path lead them to a place where it would seem their end was imminent.

Daniel chose the lions.

Paul chose to go to Rome.

Joseph chose to take Mary.

Each one (and many others) could have chosen to follow an easier route, but they didn’t. They knew the worst that could happen would have meant losing their lives, which would only put them in the presence of God; where would the the loss in that have been? They chose His safe place, and as they did, they lived amazing lives of adventure, seeing impossible dreams come true that they didn’t even know they had.

This life and all of its trimmings would have us to believe that living a life of adventure for God is unsafe, unreasonable, and even foolish. For those who don’t know the Father, I can understand those feelings. Still, there’s a thirst in me to see more than a life colored safely in the lines of what seems to be safe places, for in reality nothing is safe apart from God.

My choice is to live far from what seems to be safe; I want to live close to Him and far from things as they seem to be.

“The worship of God is not a rule of safety; it’s an adventure of the spirit.” Alfred North Whitehead

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Courage Faith

Supposing Could Cost You

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“Watch out and be careful!”

It’s the mantra of mothers everywhere – be careful. I always thought that I wouldn’t be as cautious with my children as they grew and I gained more experience. However, I’ve found the opposite to be true; the more experience I have, the more I am aware of what can go wrong. It’s amazing my daughter, who is now 9, is as patient with me as she is as I catch myself (all too often) lecturing her on safety and what “could” happen if every precaution is not taken.

Cue the rolling of the eyes: Mom is taking her lecture position!

This holds true not only with my children but life in general. With the passing of each year, I struggle to hold on to the courage I had in years past. Like everyone else, experience has taught me that life can be harsh and it’s only logical to learn from past experience and “play it safe.”

Playing life safely is good when it comes to rules of safety in the kitchen and driving but when it comes to matters of faith – the only way to play it safe is to be willing to risk it all and that risk can cost us everything. The sad fact is that for the most part, there are few believers today with the courage to swim against the current of what is “safe.”

In the past weeks I’ve been reading about Moses’ life story – his was a life lived, from the beginning, by taking risks. His mother first took a risk by hiding him (Exodus 2:2) when Pharaoh of Egypt ordered that baby boys be killed (Exodus 1:15-22). As the baby grew, his mother took another risk by putting him in a kind of basket in a river where Pharaoh’s daughter found him and rescued him (Exodus 2:3-10). What gave that mother the courage to do what she did goes beyond natural courage – and that heritage followed Moses for the rest of his life, but not without challenge.

Moses was raised in the lap of luxury; yet it would appear that he knew he was not a real Egyptian for it says of him in Exodus 2:11 NKJ Now it came to pass in those days, when Moses was grown, that he went out to his brethren and looked at their burdens…” At that moment, Moses took his first risk:

Exodus 2:11b-14a NKJ “And he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. So he looked this way and that way, and when he saw no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. And when he went out the second day, behold, two Hebrew men were fighting, and he said to the one who did the wrong, ‘Why are you striking your companion?’ Then he said, ‘Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you intend to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?’”

Moses took a risk, and supposed his brethren would understand he was one of them but that, unfortunately, wasn’t the case.

Acts 7:23-25 NKJ “Now when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel. And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian. For he supposed that his brethren would have understood that God would deliver them by his hand, but they did not understand.”

After this incident, Moses fled and was gone from Egypt for 40 years. He lived his lifetime knowing that he was called to deliver Israel from Egypt, but after the incident with the Egyptian, he chose a safer path. His own brothers didn’t recognize the call on his life; supposing cost Moses a lot of his time.

I wonder if he thought he needed their approval to deliver them?

I wonder, what would history’s account have been had Moses stayed in Egypt, rather than fleeing, at that time? Would the Exodus of Israel from Egypt have happened sooner? Would there even have been 10 plagues in Egypt? Would there have been more? Less?

In spite of everything, God brought Moses full circle and used him, as he had supposed all those years earlier, to deliver Israel out of Pharaoh’s bondage.

More often than not, those closest to us will not recognize the call on our lives, especially if that call has a radical faith attached to it. If you read the entire account of Moses’ life, those he was called to deliver regularly rejected him; yet he persevered. Was his 40 years in Midian before his return to deliver Israel a period of time he regretted? Was he avoiding another 40 years of regret? Of possibly wondering what could have been?

Safety comes first in the kitchen, with driving, and sports – however playing it safe when we live for God is never the best option. We may, in the moment, have more friends, bigger homes, and even more money but destiny is still calling while we are playing it safe. History’s books are being written every day; what will its account be of us when our days are done?

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Categories
Devotion Questions Unexplained

Major Truth in Minor Books

Every year I follow a Bible reading plan that, by this time, brings me to the “minor” prophetic books. I don’t understand why the term “minor” prophets was coined except for the fact that these books are shorter in length than the “major” prophetic books like Isaiah and Jeremiah. From these so-called minor books I’ve learned major truths.

This morning in Habakkuk 1:5 NLT I read, “Look around at the nations; look around and be amazed! For I am doing something you won’t believe even if someone told you about it.” In reading this verse in my devotions, I thought about how many times I have quoted this verse in a positive way, believing God would do something so amazing and out-of-the-box fantastic in my situation. Of course this is what we should expect from God, He is always up to something amazing. But this morning I saw things with a bit of a different perspective.

The past few years have been challenging, a different kind of season where I have seen God work in ways that are amazing but different from the amazing I have been used to. The following verses in Habakkuk 1 verses 6-8 NLT says, “I am raising up the Babylonians, a cruel and violent people. They will march across the world and conquer other lands. They are notorious for their cruelty and do whatever they like. Their horses are swifter than cheetahs and fiercer than wolves at dusk. Their charioteers charge from far away. Like eagles, they swoop down to devour their prey.” If we read those verses in context with verse 5, God doesn’t just use uncomfortable and even difficult situations – He sometimes creates them to work out His purpose. 

We all go through times of incredible, indescribable hardship and wonder how things evolved the way they did and how is God going to get us out of our unbelievable situations. As I read further in Habakkuk 3:17-19 NLT, my eyes were opened: “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights.”

The answer is “even though…yet I will rejoice” in the face of all kinds of trouble, God is my strength. Why is He working as He is? I really don’t know. What I do know is this: whatever He is accomplishing in the trouble, He is going to take care of me. I won’t slip, my steps will be sure.