Moses’ Wilderness Experience

Exodus 15:22–17:6

Sometimes when we set out to do God’s work, it seems as if our efforts backfire: people get mad at us, projects fail to get completed on time, things break–the list goes on. But God has a plan! If everything went perfect, we wouldn’t appreciate God’s power. By helping us overcome hardships, God is glorified in a way which we can appreciate.

The Children of Israel finally left Egypt after witnessing terrible plagues for approximately three weeks. The Egyptians were so relieved to see them go they gave them gold and silver for their journey–they paid them to leave! The Children of Israel didn’t lose any of their cattle or people. God blessed them abundantly and prepared them for things to come.

Some days our efforts are rewarded like that, too. Extra money comes in just before a major repair is needed. A child suddenly understands the math concept with which they’ve been struggling. The grocery store has a great sale on multiple items you need. God provides!

But what happens when it seems like our blessings are about to be pulled out from under us? When Pharaoh’s army began to pursue the Israelites, their first instinct was to cry out to God–then they blamed Moses.

“Moses! Were there not enough graves in Egypt that you brought us out there to die?”

What happened to their faith? It vanished as soon as they took their eyes off God and looked toward Moses.

“Moses, there’s no more food–we’re going to die out here!”

“Moses, we’re sick of manna–get us some real food!”

“Moses, we’re thirsty!”

Hindsight is 20/20. We can see God’s plan and we can chastise the Israelites for their unbelief, but what about our unbelief? Where are we looking when our world falls apart?

God has a plan for each of us and He will see it through to completion. Sometimes we cannot see where He’s leading, but if we continue to follow the Lord, He will guide us. God provides! Do you believe that? Consider the following:

  • Can you think of a time when doing God’s will seemed to cause problems?
  • Are you so used to God’s provision that you can’t see it anymore?
  • Do you continue to focus on God, through good times and bad?
  • Where has God left His fingerprints in your life lately?
  • If you were to count your blessings right now, how many would you have?
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SEE Like Jesus: Support, Encouragement, Edification

“The generous soul will be made rich, and he who waters will also be watered himself.” (Prov. 11:25)

I’ve never been one to evangelize; my “witness” is more through actions than words. For years I felt I was letting God down. But as I’ve grown in my walk, I’ve learned more about the different gifts we are given and how we are not all alike. God has not placed me in a position to interact with non-believers very often. My job is to encourage believers — to water.

“I planted, Apollos watered, God gave the increase.” (1 Cor. 3:6)

But, what does that mean? How am I witnessing, and what does it look like? First and foremost, I’m raising my children to be strong in their faith. I believe God has great plans for each of them, and I want to be sure they are equipped and ready to do His work, whatever that may be.

The curriculum we use, The Weaver Curriculum, is based on the Bible. From their earliest days, my children have been hearing about God through His Word and discussion about His creation. It has become such a normal way of life to them, they are often amazed when they know answers to Bible questions that other children don’t know.

Secondly, I am encouraging and edifying other believers so they can remain strong in their faith. It’s so easy to get discouraged in our daily lives. When I see a friend hurting, I offer assistance through a meal or a hug. When I know someone is undergoing a stressful time, I inquire if there is anything I can do to relieve their burden. Sometimes a hug will suffice. Other times helping them with a project is what’s needed. Do they need childcare? Help cleaning their home? A ride to the store?

It’s so easy to stay focused on our own family — after all, that is our calling, and our most important job! But we are told to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:2).  What does that look like as a homeschooling mom?

When our children see us reaching out and helping others, they begin to do it also. When they see us being active in a homeschooling group, or in our church, they begin to understand that life isn’t just about us — it’s about being the hands and feet of Jesus. It’s about serving others, and bearing their burdens. Does the neighbor’s yard need raking, or does their driveway need shoveling? Does the family with a new baby need diapers, clothes, or formula? Have you called an aging relative lately to check up on them? Did you smile and engage the bank teller in polite conversation? Have you volunteered at church, or a local mission (homeless shelter, food bank, etc)?

Showing love to others through service can be very fulfilling! You may think you are the one doing the blessing, but I guarantee you will be blessed, too.

“If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture,
‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well.” (James 2:8)

There’s your pat on the back! You are doing well! If you’ve brought a smile to someone’s lips today by loving them, I commend you!

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially
to those who are of the household of faith.” (Gal. 6:10)

As you go about your tasks each day this month, it is my prayer that your heart will cry out, “Use me, Lord. I want to make an impact for You!” And I pray you will see those around you as Jesus does: with Support, Encouragement, and Edification.

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That Awkward Moment

We’ve all been there. That awkward moment, when we walk into a homeschool group meeting for the first time and don’t know a soul–or maybe just one other person–and it seems like everyone is so busy they don’t have time to say ‘hello’ to us. If you’re bold, you approach someone and strike up a conversation. If you’re a bit overwhelmed taking in all the new faces, you just sit and smile as you wait for someone to come talk to you. It usually doesn’t take long for someone to say ‘hello’ but sometimes it seems like forever. Why is that?

Friendships take time and energy. Moms are stretched so thin these days, they’re not always willing to jump in and invest in a new relationship. Trying to remember details about a person you’re meeting for the first time can be challenging when you’ve got a full plate of activities floating around in your head already. Some days we’re lucky to remember our children’s names–and now we have to remember the name of our new friend and her children?!

No, actually…we don’t. Our society has become so instantaneous, we expect to remember everything the first time we hear/read it. Gone are the days of getting to know someone over the course of three or more meetings. We get everything else so quick, why not our friends? Because our human brains are just that: human. We need time to process, to remember, to mull over conversations.

Reach out! The best way to get to know someone is to talk to them. Consider having a “greeter” by the door, who knows many of the members already–someone who can briefly talk to new people who walk in (ages/number of children, number of years homeschooling, etc), and can match them up with a current member to act as a mentor for the remainder of the meeting. This mentor can then introduce them to other members, and help them get comfortable within the group.

If you are visiting a group for the first time, I urge you to commit to attend more than one meeting. Many groups will let you attend two or three activities and meetings before you join. Since meetings are never quite the same each month (much like our homeschooling days) it’s important to attend more than one, to get a good feel for the group and its members. If possible, try to interact with some of the members through social media such as Facebook, or through email. When you’re using your computer, it’s your time–you interact when you want, not when there is a scheduled meeting. You have time to think about what you want to say, and to read and ponder what others are saying. Sometimes breaking the ice in cyberspace is just what you need before meeting someone face-to-face.

People are busy these days, but it’s usually by choice. Take time to slow down, talk to a new face, and make a new friend. Perhaps this is just the distraction you need in your life!

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The Work That’s Not Your Own

About a year ago I took hold of Proverbs 16:3 as a promise. It states:

“Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.”

 I had just been voted into leadership for our local homeschooling group, and I wanted to “turn it over” to God, so that He would lead the group and I’d just be His secretary. I’ve kept that verse on a small sticky note on my desk all this time, to remind me of this commitment and God’s promise to guide me.

A couple months ago I began working through the Experiencing God workbook:

This past week I pondered Philippians 2:13:

“…for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”

Yesterday I transferred all my small sticky notes to index cards so I could file them in my box of Bible verses. I had Prov 16:3 sitting next to Phil 2:13 … and the meaning of both hit me.

God has a plan. He is at work in completing that plan. He is at work in me, molding and shaping me, guiding me to accomplish His plan. He puts the ideas in my head which cause me to think, God wants me to do this. I must then commit those plans back to Him, knowing they are His in the first place, and let Him guide me to accomplish His work. If I commit those works–those desires–to Him, He will guide my thoughts and give me the knowledge to complete my role in His plan.

Not my will, but the Lord’s. Look around. Where is God working around you? What is He doing? How can you help? Commit your works–the works He is doing in and around you–unto Him and let Him guide you.

As for me… “Here am I, Lord. Use me!”

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This year I am “leading” our local homeschool support group. During the summer, as I prayed about the first meeting in August, my daughter created an “Attitude.” After seeing this little pillow-type creation, I knew that every homeschooling mom would need one!

With my daughter’s help, I sorted through all my scrap material and began making Attitudes. At the meeting in August, I asked each woman in attendance to pick one. (In my next post, I’ll tell you how to make your own Attitude.) I then explained what an Attitude is…

Attitudes can be just about any color, so you can match your homeschooling area, or choose your favorite color. You’ll want to keep your Attitude with your homeschooling books, and then each day “check” your Attitude (one side is happy, one side isn’t so happy). Check to be sure you have the right Attitude showing.

Homeschooling takes a G.O.D. attitude. Without this proper attitude you will…

…lose your joy. Express your Gratitude for your children, your husband, your Savior, and your opportunity to homeschool.

…burn out. Be Open and willing to share God with your children as well as with other moms.

…lose focus. You need Diligence to run the race set before you (Heb. 12:1).

Gratitude. Openness. Diligence. These should be part of your G.O.D. attitude this year. Having a bad day? Check your Attitude! Don’t complain and think God is punishing you. He loves you! Look to Him and judge your circumstances—what is He trying to teach you? Don’t look at your circumstances and judge God. “Flip” your Attitude!

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Spiritual Markers

I am reading a life-changing book right now. How do I know it’s life-changing? Because I can’t just zip through it. I find myself stopping every few pages and going back to re-read them. I’m underlining (in pen) sentences that make me say, “Yes!” or “Amen!” or “I never thought of that before.” There is only one other book that makes me do all those things, and that’s my Bible.

What book am I reading? Hearing God’s Voice, by Henry and Richard Blackaby.

This morning I read about “spiritual markers.”

“Spiritual markers identify times of transition, decision, or direction when you know God clearly guided you. … There are many ways to denote spiritual markers in your life. One method is to write the date and a brief notation beside the verses in your Bible as God speaks to you through them. … Write the date down beside the verse so when times become difficult, you can look back in your Bible and remember the day God made this promise.”

If you could see my computer desk, you’d understand why this concept jumped out at me. The right corner of my desk holds eight mini sticky notes, each with a Bible verse on it. These verses all spoke to me at some point over the past month or two. I thought I was doing good to write them out and place them where I could see them daily, to remind me of God’s Truth. I see now that I should take this a step further and note the date in my Bible!

Philippians 2:3-4 and Ephesians 5:21 are both great verses for those in leadership to keep in mind. I’ve been thinking about leadership lately, as I’ve volunteered to lead my local homeschool group starting in August 2010. I’ve not yet been “voted in,” but these verses remind me that it’s not about me–it’s about the group, and what God has planned for it. I want what’s best for the group, whether that means I lead or someone else leads. I will submit myself to the other ladies regardless of my role.

I found Proverbs 16:3 as I was preparing to release an ebook. I wanted to make sure I was doing everything properly, and legally, and at times I would get overwhelmed or confused about what to do next in the process. Once I committed the project to God, my mind cleared and the ebook is now published and available for purchase.

Psalm 86:11 came to me as I was praying about leading the local homeschool group. I wanted to be sure I was following God’s will for my life. I sought to keep my heart focused on Him and His plan.

There are others, such as Acts 4:12, which is my favorite Bible verse, and 2 Timothy 2:16, which I’m not sure why I wrote down–perhaps I need to examine my thoughts and speech!

As I read my Bible, I come across verses that I’ve noted in the past. I can remember the situations I was experiencing, and I can now “see” how God worked things out. How I wish I had dated those verses! As I look at “where I’ve been” I can more clearly see where God is leading. Now, when an opportunities arise, I can see which ones are most consistent with what God has already been doing in my life.

Do you have spiritual markers? Leave a comment and share some of them with me! I can already tell that this is going to be a great asset to my quiet time, and I hope it is (or will be) to yours as well.

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Rise Up!

I am a computer-literate person. You could say I am an advanced user. I can usually figure out how to work electronic things pretty easily. But today they got the best of me.

It started with a printer that just kept beeping at me. Looking back I think I know what the problem was (print settings on the computer), but at the time I was left scratching my head and pushing buttons to see if anything would print. Nothing did.

Then I tried to send a file to the color printer. This required telling it to “hold” the file until I came to push the buttons that make it print. It also required typing in a code for the department doing the printing. I clicked through a couple screens with no problems, and scrolled down to fill out some info… and became confused about where to place the code. Cancel that action.

I opened a file only to find out there were some incompatibilities on the machine I was using. Saved the file and tried to set up a merge, only to glance at the clock and see that it was 4:58pm. No time!

At least I was able to update some data, change some content, set up a few birthday reminders, reword our section of the bulletin, and print some envelopes–yes, I finally got that copier to quit beeping at me! Not a totally lost afternoon.

Walking in my front door, all I wanted to do was sit and not think. A mindless game on Facebook would be nice. But, supper needed to be made, and the kitchen needed to be cleaned up, and I was the elected candidate.

As I cooked, I prayed. Lord, I felt so stupid! I know I’m not stupid, though. Look at how much I got done in the short time I was there. I served You to the best of my ability. I could almost feel the pat on my back.

Why are we so quick to tear ourselves down? If it were someone else, we wouldn’t be tearing them down, and we certainly wouldn’t let anyone else tear them down. We saw how much was accomplished. Yes, it could have been a little more, but machines can be fickle due to human error or program glitches.

  • I am not perfect.
  • I kept my cool during the situation.
  • I managed to get the machine to work for at least one project.
  • God still loves me.
  • I can ask for help with the projects I didn’t get done.
  • I will not let the enemy beat me down and make me feel ignorant.
  • I am a child of the Most High!

“I will rise on eagle’s wings” as the song goes.  “Before my God, fall on my knees.” He knows my heart. I seek to serve Him, and I can sleep tonight because I accomplished that today. Tomorrow, Christ will shine on me as I serve Him once again. I will rise!

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AC or DC?

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.”

~Acts 1:8a

It was a “light bulb moment.” My children and I were studying the life of Jesus, and we read Matthew 5:16 (“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”) I blurted out, “Our light source is God, and we have the choice of either being AC (accepting Christ) or DC (declining Christ). My children just stared at me, so I went on.

“When we accept Christ into our hearts, we tap into His power. We no longer rely on ourselves to get through life’s trials. We ‘plug in’ by reading the Bible, serving others, and gathering as a church. By accepting Christ, we have the potential to let our light shine steadily.” They looked like they were starting to understand, so I continued. “When we decline Christ, we don’t look for–or to–Him. All our energy is focused on ourselves. We don’t understand the message preached at church, and our Bibles lay unopened. We don’t ‘plug in’ because we’re running on our own batteries.”

They understood. They know the difference between batteries and electricity. They know the benefits of being plugged in. They are AC.

Lord, help me to be a light for You today. Fill me with Your Spirit, Your energy, Your love. Let me plug into You, and shine Your Light to the world.

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What Closes Your Mouth?

I’m not talking about when it’s full of food; I want to know what prevents you from sharing Christ. I’ve got a few of my own issues, which I’ll share, but I’d love to hear from YOU. What closes your mouth, and keeps you silent when the opportunity to share Christ comes along? Our pastor posed that question during a recent sermon–and it’s a mighty good question, too! Perhaps if I share what closes my mouth, you’ll share what closes yours…

  1. Fear –
    • …of saying the wrong thing.
    • …of stuttering.
    • …of being laughed at.
    • …of offending.
  2. Assumptions – It’s easy to assume that the person you’re talking to already knows about Christ.
  3. Distractions – The phone is ringing; it’s your turn at the check-out counter and there’s a line forming behind you; a child is crying; the list is endless.

The funny thing is, I can get around all of the above issues within five minutes of leaving the person I was interacting with!

Fear of saying the wrong thing. In Luke 12:12, Jesus taught His disciples not to worry about what to say in times like this–the Holy Spirit would put words into their mouths. A quick prayer is all it takes to place God’s words in your mouth.

Fear of stuttering. Yes, I’ve stumbled over words before, but it usually helps to break the ice. The listener sees that I’m human and have faults, just like her. Take a deep breath and stay calm.

Fear of being laughed at. No one likes to feel foolish, but if you are speaking God’s Truth you are wise. Proverbs 29:9 tells us that there will be no rest if you contend with a foolish man. Speak the Truth, and see what reaction you get. If you get no rest, be still and let the Holy Spirit work in their heart.

Fear of offending. Would you rather not offend and let that person suffer in eternity?! This shouldn’t even be on the list, but it often is–“How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Romans 10:14)

Assuming the person already knows about Christ. This is an easy assumption to make, for me at least. The majority of the people whom I come into contact with are already believers. I guess this is stereo-typical of me, and it’s an assumption I need to break.

Distractions that interrupt the conversation. By the time I overcome my fears, and stop assuming, the distractions begin. Is the person on the phone really more important than sharing Christ with someone? When I’m finished at the check-out, would it be so terrible to wait for the person behind me that I was talking to? I can hug my child at the same time I’m talking to someone else–usually that’s what they need, a hug. As long as they’re not bleeding or about to throw up, I should be trying to finish my conversation.

How would you encourage me to get past my issues? Do you have any sage advice? Leave a comment below–perhaps your advice will be just what I need!

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Jonah’s Cross

Not to long ago our pastor spoke on taking up our cross, so I found it interesting when my personal studies at the time took me to the book of Jonah.

Back in Old Testament times, there were specific people called by God to be prophets. These guys heard God’s voice plainly (how I long for that!) and everyone knew it– being a prophet was their occupation. As a prophet, they said “no” to self and gave up their Right of Ownership to their own lives. Prophets received plenty of rejection, from kings, political leaders, and people in their community. They knew it wouldn’t be easy to be a prophet, and they knew they wouldn’t be the most popular person at times. Prophets surrendered all they had to God.

Jonah was a prophet in spirit and occupation. But, one day he decided to quit…

Imagine you have a vile, mean neighbor. For some of you that may not be too hard to imagine. This neighbor kicks his dog, screams at his children, let’s his trash blow into your yard, and calls the police whenever you have company and your guests park in front of his house. We won’t even talk about the language he uses, the pictures he has in his garage (which is often open) or the type of trash that is blowing into your yard.

One day, during your quiet time, as you read your Bible, a thought occurs to you: “Tell your neighbor about Me.”

“Excuse me?”

“Tell your neighbor about Me.”

“Oh, Lord, anything but that! I’ll serve in a soup kitchen, I’ll paint the homeless shelter, I’ll even pass out tracts on the street corner, but don’t make me talk to my neighbor!”

“I love him, just like I love you. Tell him about Me so he has the opportunity to repent.”

“Love him? Lord, are we talking about the same guy?!”

“Tell him about Me.”

And so the conversation goes, with you giving excuses and God persisting in His command to tell. Do you talk to your neighbor, or do you avoid the chair where you were sitting the day you heard God’s command?

Jonah chose to run away. Nineveh was full of evil people. I haven’t looked into it, but it’s been suggested that the people of Nineveh would partake in the destruction of Israel at a later time–Jonah knew this and wanted God to condemn them now so they wouldn’t have the chance to destroy Israel.

No, Jonah didn’t like the people of Nineveh. He didn’t want them to have the opportunity to repent and be saved. He was so full of hatred for them he failed to see them through God’s eyes. God loved them. He didn’t like how they lived, but he loved them nonetheless. He wanted them to repent and be saved, and He told Jonah to go and cry out against them.

You know what happens next. Jonah flees. He quits his job as prophet and hops a boat for Tarshish. But, God wants Nineveh to hear of Him, so He whips up a storm. Jonah does a little repenting himself and offers himself as a sacrifice to the sea. He’s thrown overboard, and the waves calm. Jonah sinks into the depths of the waters… probably thinking, this is my punishment–death. But God still wants Nineveh saved, so he sends a fish to swallow Jonah and thus begins a three day “time out.”

Can you imagine the conversation Jonah has with himself in the belly of that fish?! When he realizes he’s alive, he probably figures he’ll get out of the fish real quick. As time goes on (and remember, there’s no light in there, so he has no way of keeping track of time) and he realizes that he may be in the fish for awhile, perhaps he started bargaining with God.

Eventually, Jonah gets it through his head that he is a prophet, a job given to him by God. He cannot run away from God. When God wants something done, He makes it happen! Thus Jonah came to the point where he surrendered his life–again–to God. He submits to God’s will for his life, and after getting out of the fish he goes on to Nineveh and the people repent.

Are you waiting for a fish to swallow you? What has God told you to do lately that you just don’t want to do? Perhaps God has asked you to give of your time to a particular church ministry. Perhaps He wants you to pray daily for the participants of a mission project. Perhaps He wants you to get involved in the lives of those in your Sunday school class, or your children’s Sunday school class. Perhaps you play an instrument or sing and He wants you to join the worship team.

Maybe God just wants you to smile at somebody. Smile, say “hello,” and be Jesus to someone. Maybe it’s your neighbor. Maybe it’s someone at work or the store. Maybe it’s someone you’ve never seen before in church.

Take that step. Reach out. Because if God wants you to do this, and you don’t do it, the step you take in the opposite direction could lead to a fish!

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