Continue to trust in the Lord even if it doesn’t seem like He is present.

“But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand.” (Exodus 3:19)

In this morning’s reading, Moses has an encounter with God. He finds a bush burning in the wilderness but is not being burned up. Like many of us, he turns aside to see how a bush on fire could remain whole, unburned by the fire that should consume it. Upon approaching the bush, a voice, the voice of God, emanates from the bush warning Moses that he has entered a holy space.

Afterwards, God proceeds to tell Moses He has heard the cries of His people in Egypt who are being brutally afflicted by the Egyptians. Not only has He heard their cries but He has seen their affliction. He has come to provide them with relief. But God is not going to smite the Egyptians right away. Instead, His plan is to send Moses to bring the people out of Egypt. Moses is tasked with approaching Pharaoh and asking him to let God’s people go three days’ journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to God (Exodus 3:18).

What is interesting about God’s plan for Moses is that He already knows the outcome. He tells Moses that He knows the King of Egypt will not let them go unless compelled by a mighty hand. He doesn’t tell Moses the mighty wonders He will do just that He will do them. Not only will He do mighty wonders that will result in the Israelites escape, but He will also provide the Israelites favor with the Egyptians. Favor that will result in them plundering the Egyptians of their silver and gold jewelry, as well as clothing. The Israelites will not leave Egypt empty handed.

Again, we see the providential nature of God. He is in control. Life does not happen by chance. It is a part of God’s plan. We see the Lord provides, He protects His people. Continue to trust in the Lord even if it doesn’t seem like He is present. He is present. He has not abandoned you. He remains faithful. Watch and see what the Lord will do in your life!

Our providential God is at work

In Genesis 45:4-5, we read:

So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.” (Genesis 45:4-5)

Many years before their shocking encounter, Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery. They were jealous of him. They wanted him gone. Instead of killing him, they sold him to a passing caravan. They told their father Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. 

Joseph, however, had not been killed. He was enslaved and brought to the land of Egypt. Through events that only God could orchestrate, a Jewish slave rises to power in Egypt. Joseph is more powerful than anyone in the land except the Pharaoh.

Joseph’s meteorite rise did not happen by chance. Rather it was orchestrated by God. What Joseph’s brothers meant for evil God used to preserve the life of the nation of Israel. The family from whom He had chose to save the whole world. The Messiah would come through their family line. In the Messiah, they would be a blessing to the whole world. 

Our God has a plan. He is in control. Life does not happen by chance. It falls under the providential care of the Lord. That doesn’t mean life will always be easy. We are refined through trial (see James 1). It does mean life has meaning and purpose. We are not knocked through life like a pinball, rather we are guided by the loving and caring hand of God. You might not see it but God is there. He is working. He is guiding and accomplishing His purpose with your life. 

Trust in the Lord. Rely on Him in the good time and the bad. Our providential God is at work.

Continue to trust in the Lord even in the midst of the wait.

Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” (Genesis 17:17)

What strikes me most this morning as I read the Abraham narrative, the covenants God makes with him, is the length of time that passes between the promise and its fulfillment. Abraham first encounters God when he is in his 70’s. God not only promises him land but also offspring. Again, in chapter 15, Abraham receives a promise from God regarding offspring. Abraham is in his mid 80’s at this point. Still Abraham and Sarah remain childless. God’s promise doesn’t come to fruition and Abraham has a child through Sarah’s servant, Hagar. But Hagar’s son is not the son of promise. God makes that clear when He visits them again. Once again He promises to provide them with child. Both Abraham and Sarah are in their late nineties at this point. Abraham is pushing one hundred and Sarah is just a year behind. It is amazing but God’s promise comes to fruition. Abraham and Sarah have a child together. Isaac is born! 

God held true to His promise, but it didn’t happen over night. It took thirty some odd years for Abraham to finally have a child and get his family started with Sarah. The family God promised would be a blessing to the nations. 

The time between God’s initial promise and His fulfillment took decades. Decades that I am sure seemed like an eternity. Decades that led them to disbelieve God, so much so Sarah offered Hagar to Abraham so that he might have a child. Decades that made Sarah laugh when God visited them at the oaks of Mamre as they looked out over Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18). Decades that eventually came to culmination with the birth of Isaac. 

God’s timing is not our timing. Days, months, years and even decades can go by without an answer to prayer. What appears to never happen is right on time according to the Lord. His plan is perfect. He perfects us through His plan. We must trust the Lord knows best and His timing is right.

Continue to trust in the Lord even in the midst of the wait. It can be difficult, but the Lord has a plan!

Turn to the Lord, submit your life to Him, He cares for you.

At the end of the book of revelation we read these encouraging yet unbelievable words:

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Revelation 21:3)

The gods of other nations are always distant. They don’t have time for humans. Human’s are second class in their mind, servants who were created through various means for their own pleasure and use. Gods don’t typically come to take up residence with their creation, just as kings typically don’t take up residence with their people. No, they live in a castle distanced and protected from the people.

The God of Israel, the God of the Scriptures, does not distance Himself from man. We are the pinnacle of His creation, created in His image to reign and rule on His behalf (Genesis 1-2). He placed the first humans in the garden in Eden to work and keep it on His behalf. They were to serve as little “k” kings, reigning and ruling over all creation. They, however, didn’t recognize their privileged place and sinned against the Lord. You can read about in Genesis 3. Their sin plunged the whole world into a corrupted state.

God did not give up. He went on a rescue mission for His people, even sending His own Son to die in their place as a means to bring His people back into fellowship with Him and so He could tabernacle among us once again. Here, at the end of the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, we see God doing just that. He brings His kingdom, described as a new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1), so that He can live among us once again. 

We don’t become His slaves, instead we are His children who live a blessed life. A return to Eden, if you will, takes place when God’s holy city drops out of the sky. The promise in verse 4 is amazing, awe and hope inspiring: 

Revelation 21:4 reads,

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

What an amazing God we serve! A God who actually cares for His people. Don’t turn to the counterfeit gods of the world who cannot and will not deliver on their promises. They do not care for you, nor will they provide you what they say they will. Only heartache and death results from following the gods of the world. But life and peace is the result of following the Lord our God. 

Turn to the Lord, submit your life to Him, He cares for you. 

Let God not man dictate your value.

After Thanksgiving, everyone typically gets excited about the Black Friday sales. I know some of you are probably out there early taking advantage of those deals. Personally, I’m not one of them. I hate crowds, I don’t like getting up early and rushing out the house, and I’m definitely not looking to get in a fight over that year’s most popular toy for my kids — I just assume get them something else. While Black Friday isn’t my cup of tea, I do like a deal, which is why I look forward to Cyber Monday each year. Not only can you find really good deals on electronics, but I don’t have to battle the crowds to get them.

Now, there is nothing wrong with a deal by any means. I am always in search of a deal. But have you ever thought about why we get excited by deals? Why we are willing to get up early and fight the crowds or log onto our computer at just the right time? Besides the fact that we are saving money, I believe we get excited about these deals because we are seekers.

A seeker is someone who is attempting to find or attain something. That might be a deal. That might be the latest news or information. That is why we scroll endlessly on an app like Facebook. We are seeking out information in realtime. We want to be in the know. It is also why we do crazy challenges on apps like Tik Tok or obsess over our the look and feel of our Instagram feed. We are seekers, who not only seek out deals, the latest news, and information, but we also seek out the approval of others.

Seeking out the approval of man is not something that should drive our life. But if we are all honest, we are all guilty of it from time to time. Just so we are all on the same page, that phrase — the approval of man — can refer to a number of things.

I run a small photography business on the side. In order for that business to be successful, it’s important others approve of my work. If they don’t, no one is going to hire me. My goal, then, is not only to produce pictures I’m proud of but pictures that others approve of and are willing to pay me for. When I talk about seeking the approval of man or pleasing man, I don’t mean for us to completely disregard the approval or opinion of others. If we do that, we might be out of business or out of a job. Instead, what I’m suggesting is that we don’t find our ultimate worth or value in another’s opinion of us or our work. Tim Keller, Pastor, and Author puts it this way:

“It [seeking the approval of man] is a situation in which your desire for their blessing amounts to adoration and worship, and in which you give some form of human approval the rights and power over your heart that only God should have. It means you will be devastated by the loss of this approval as if you felt criticized or condemned by God.” (Galatians for You, 33).

When I talk about seeking the approval of man, that’s what I’m talking about. I’m talking about us elevating the approval of others to an unhealthy place. To a place where we are allowing them to dictate our life, or determine our value and worth. That’s not healthy, nor is it right. God is the only One we should ultimately seek to please. He is the only One who is supposed to dictate our life, our value, our worth.

You might have riches but don’t trust in them

“As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” (1 Tim 6:17)

Don’t read the above and think of those in Hollywood or Silicon Valley. We, most Americans, are rich according to the worldly standards. According to Market Watch “the median net worth of the average U.S. household is $97,300.” That is the middle point. Half of US households earn more and half earn less. I understand poverty is an issue. I don’t want to make light of it. But when we compare ourselves to the world population by and large Americans are considered rich. So when you read “rich” in the above verse, don’t think someone else, think yourself.

Wealth, however, is not something in which we should put our trust. Many of us have lived through a recession. We have felt the sting of the stock market dropping. We are living through a pandemic. All of these events affect wealth / riches. What is here today can be gone tomorrow.

Instead of trusting in our riches, which are uncertain, we should trust in the Lord. He is our provider. The One who gives us all we have. You have the opportunities, position, intellect, abilities, and riches because of the Lord. We must, then, recognize God is the One who provides all. In turn, we must put our hope and trust in Him instead of the uncertainty of riches.