Jesus' Footprints

Posts Tagged ‘Pharaoh

1 Corinthians 13:5b
GrudgesHow do you deal with people who hurt you?  Do you talk to them about it or do you keep quiet but hold a grudge against them?  Do you think of ways to get back at them?

God is clear about how we should act when someone hurts us.  We don’t keep rehashing what happened. We don’t wish that person harm.  Instead, we put away the bitterness, anger and unforgiveness.  We give them to God.  We let go of the negative thoughts and ill feelings.  We ask God to help us to forgive the person and then move on.

Of course, this is easier said than done.  We need the help of the Holy Spirit to help us.  It is not in our nature to show love when we are hurting.  We prefer to lick our wounds and have a pity party.  We feel better when we imagine how that person would feel if we were to do the same thing to him or her.  How does this make us any different from those who are not of the faith?  How could we say that we belong to Christ or that we are God’s children if we can’t find it in our hearts to forgive the wrongs that has been done to us?

What if Joseph had spent all of his time hating Potiphar’s wife for what she had done to him?  Would God have prospered him, promoting him to be in charge of the jail or becoming second only to Pharaoh? What about Meshach, Shadrach and Abednego?  Did they harbor any bitterness toward King Nebuchadnezzar for throwing them into the fiery furnace?

Instead of thinking evil, in love we pray for those who have wronged us.  We pray that God will touch their hearts.  Jesus prayed for His enemies when He was hanging on the cross.  Stephen prayed for the men who were stoning him before he died.

The next time someone hurts you, what will you do?  Perhaps like Joseph you ask this question, “am I in the place of God?”  While Joseph forgave his brothers he left them to God’s mercy.  Romans 12:19 says, “Never take vengeance into your own hands, my dear friends: stand back and let God punish if he will. For it is written: ‘Vengeance is mine. I will repay’” (J.B. Phillips).  Don’t take the place of God.  God sees and knows all.  He will deal with the person who has wronged you as He sees fit.  Don’t repay evil with evil.

 

Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering; (for he [is] faithful that promised” – Hebrews 10:23

Faith turns into doubt when we focus on our circumstances instead of on God.  When Peter was walking toward Jesus on the water, he began to sink the moment he focused on the winds and the conditions around him.  When we doubt God we are basically saying to Him that we don’t trust Him to take care of us, we don’t believe what He says.

Faith wavers when we allow our feelings to get in the way.  Fear made Peter sink as he walked towards Jesus on the water.  Fear made him deny knowing Jesus.  Anger made Moses disobey God and as a result he was not allowed to go to the Promised Land.  Discouragement made the Israelites unwilling to listen to Moses who reported to them God’s promise to deliver them from the Egyptians.  Moses himself doubted God’s promise.  He said, “Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and You have not rescued Your people at all.” (Exodus 5:233)

Thirst and hunger made the Israelites grumble against Moses.  Even though they had witnessed the parting of the Red Sea, they still doubted God’s power.   When the people saw that Moses was taking a long time returning from the mountain, they asked Aaron to make them gods who will go before them.  They did not have the faith to wait on God or Moses.  They were quick to turn away from God’s commandments and worship an idol in the shape of a calf.  No matter how many wonders God performed before them and no matter how many times He provided for them or showed mercy to them, they continually disobeyed Him because they were giving credence to their feelings and their circumstances instead of their recollection of all that God had already done in their lives.

Greed made the Israelites commit a sin regarding the accursed things.  They did not give over things or persons to the Lord by totally destroying them as they were commanded to do.  They took some of these things.  Disregard for God and His commandments made the Israelites worship other gods.  Love for foreign women turned Solomon’s heart away from his Lord and to other gods.  Satan’s lies turned Eve’s faith in God to doubt.  Desire for wisdom made her disobey God.  We let our feelings or other people to influence us and we forget everything that God has done in our lives.  We forget how loving, merciful and faithful He is.

We should be like David who always turned to God no matter what the circumstances were.  “Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.  For our heart shall rejoice in Him, Because we have trusted in His holy name.” (Psalm 34:20-21)

Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” – 1 Timothy 4:12

Teaching the next generation about God is the duty of all Christians.  Teaching our children who will in turn teach their children God’s law and share with them how God had demonstrated His presence and power in their lives.  The Ten Commandments were written for the Moses’ generation and the generations that followed.  “These are the commands, decrees and laws the Lord your God directed me to teach you to observe the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the Lord your God as long as you live by keeping all His decrees and command that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life. In the future, when your son asks you, ‘What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?’ Tell him: ‘We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.  Before our eyes the Lord sent miraculous signs and wonders—great and terrible—upon Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household.  But He brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land that He promised on oath to our forefathers.’” (Deuteronomy 6:1-2, 20-23)

 

Moses had records of what happened in Egypt and when the Israelites left Egypt and everything that happened during their journey to the Promised Land so that these could be shared with the next generations.  We too could share God’s commandments with our children so that they could live the way God intended them to.  And when God works wonderful miracles and brings blessings in our lives, we get to share those with our children as well.  We could also share these things with other young Christians and non-believers.

 

Before he died, David said to his son, Solomon, “So, be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires:  Walk in His ways, and keep His decrees and commands, His laws and requirements, as written in the Law of Moses, so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go, and that the Lord may keep His promise to me: ‘If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a man on the throne of Israel.’” (1 Kings 2:2-4)  Solomon later advises, “Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6)

 

As a child I was taught that Jesus loved me and that is why He died on the cross for me.  I was taught that Jesus loved all children—children of all colours. I was taught the Our Father prayer and other prayers.  Even now I’m learning things from my mother and my aunt.  I’m learning things from God who is my Father.  He is opening my eyes to what I am reading.  Even though I have read the Scriptures before, I feel as if I’m reading some of it for the first time.

 

Solomon’s advice to the young is, “Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth; Walk in the ways of your heart, And in the sight of your eyes; But know that for all these God will bring you into judgment.  Therefore remove sorrow from your heart, And put away evil from your flesh, For childhood and youth are vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 11:9-10)  When we are young, we want to enjoy life, have fun, and be adventurous.

 

When we are young, we don’t want to take life seriously or responsibility for our actions.  We just want to have a good time.  When we are young we think we are invincible, untouchable.  We think we can experiment with drugs and alcohol and not be affected; we think we can handle them.  We drag race and not think that we can get hurt or hurt someone else.  We do anything to get into a fraternity or we are willing to do anything to be accepted into the in-crowd.  We want to seem cool to others so we do things that we are not comfortable doing just to impress other people.  When we are young, we are easily influenced and vulnerable to peer pressure.  We don’t want to be seen as the geek or the wallflower.  We want to be popular.

 

Young people should be taught that it is cool to be a follower of Jesus.  It is cool to obey His commands and hold on to them.  It is cool to read the Bible, go to church, pray, meditate, help others, tell their friends about Jesus.  It is cool to do volunteer work, Bible study, work hard in school, do well in their studies and stay out of trouble, say no to cigarettes, drugs and alcohol.  It is cool to serve others.  Jesus wearing just a towel got down on His knees and washed the feet of His disciples.  It is cool to feed the homeless, visit the sick, help the poor and to treat others as you want to be treated.  It is cool to be part of God’s crowd rather than the in-crowd.  It is cool to stand out as a committed believer than as the popular girl or boy or the jock.  Young people should be taught that following God is the coolest thing they could ever do and the wisest.

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence [is] fulness of joy; at thy right hand [there are] pleasures for evermore” – Psalm 16:11

Once we are aware of how faithful God is, then we could achieve what He calls us to do with confidence and trust.  He promised Moses that He would be with him throughout his mission to deliver the Israelites from Pharaoh and to the Promised Land and He kept His promise.  He promised Gideon that He would defeat the Midianites with just a few Israelites and He did.  He promised Abraham that He would give him a son and He did.  He promised David that he would establish his throne forever and He did.  He promised He would send us a saviour and He did.  Throughout the Bible, God made promises and He kept them.  He was faithful to the faithless.  He was the stronghold for the weak and the downtrodden. He remembered Hannah and opened her womb.

God doesn’t ask us to do His work and not give any guidance.  He said to Joshua who had to take over when Moses died, “as I was with Moses, so I will be with you.  I will not leave you nor forsake you.” (Joshua 1:5)  He was with Paul during his ministry and He was with His son during His.  When we pray to Him, we should believe that what we ask for, we will receive.  David prayed to the Lord daily because he knew that only He could help him and deliver him from his enemies.  When David was in the wilderness, Saul sought him everyday but God did not deliver David into his hand.  God took care of David while he was hiding in the wilderness from Saul. 

Peter trusted Jesus when he walked on the water towards Him but, the minute he became afraid because of the wind, he began to sink.  He cried out to Jesus to save him and Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him.  Jesus said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got back into the boat, the wind stopped. (Matthew 14:28-32)  Peter feared the wind and started to sink. 

For us, that wind is failure.  We fear that we will fail God and we sink into doubt and hopelessness but, if we cry out to God before we allow ourselves to drown in these feelings of self-defeat, He will stretch out His hand and catch us.  God would not call us to do something He does not think we are capable of doing with His help.  But, if He could turn an unbeliever like Paul into a believer, what can’t He do with us who are already believers?  God never fails and neither will we once we let Him guide us through whatever it is that He calls us to do. God is our lifesaver and as long as we hold onto Him we will never sink.

Let us hold fast the profession of [our] faith without wavering- Hebrews 10:23

Faith barriers hamper God’s plans for our lives.  These barriers can be doubt, insecurity, ignorance and fear.  Moses was insecure and doubted his ability to do what God called him to do.  Job was ignorant of the magnitude of God’s power.  Jonah was afraid of failing God.  Peter was afraid when he started to sink as he made his way across the water to Jesus and fear made him deny knowing Jesus and fear made the other disciples desert Him.  Intolerance made Paul persecute the Christians.  Let’s examine each of these spiritual barriers and how the Lord dealt with each of them.

When Moses said to God, “O My Lord, please send by the hand of whomever else You may send.”  The Lord’s anger kindled against him and He told Moses that his brother Aaron who could speak well would do the talking.  “So he shall be your spokesman to the people.  And he himself shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be to him as God.  And you shall take this rod in your hand, with which you shall do the signs.” (Exodus 4:13-17)  So, God dealt with Moses’ doubt and insecurity by sending Aaron with him to help him and equipping him with the rod, which would be used to perform miracles.  After God assured Moses that he would not have to face Pharaoh alone, he obeyed Him.

When Job was tested, he was confused.  He couldn’t understand why these terrible things were happening to him when he had been a righteous man all his life.  All that he had was taken away from him and he was covered in sores.  His life was in shambles and he wanted to ask God why.  “I will say to God, ‘Do not condemn me; Show me why You contend with me.” (Job 10:2)

Later in the scripture, God answered Job.  “Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?  He who rebukes God, let him answer it.”  God reminded Job that He is the creator of all things and that everything under Heaven is His.  (Job 40:1-34)  Job sees God in His true image—God almighty, creator of everything in Heaven and earth.  He realised that God can do everything and that nothing is denied Him.  Job knew God by what he heard and believed but for the first time in his life he’s really seeing God.  His eyes are opened to the majesty of God and he is sorry for the things he had said before.  He realised that he had no right to question God or his love for him.  Instead, he should focus on God and remember that He is in control. 

In the beginning Job blessed God and held fast to his integrity.  He accepted the bad things that were happening in his life but his faith soon turned to doubt as he focused on the situation rather than on God and he began to question God.  When we concentrate on our troubles instead of concentrating on God, that is when we start to doubt Him and question His love for us.  God was there all the time but Job did not feel His presence because he was so caught up in self-pity and despair.  He was more focused on the flesh that he neglected the spirit—the Spirit of God who was with him.  God dealt with Job by reminding him of whom He is and that no one contends with Him.  We should worship Him and praise Him no matter what.  Once Job learned this, he was blessed with more than he lost.

Jonah was afraid of failing God but God used him to relay His message to the people of Nineveh when He could have done it Himself.  God desires to use people to do His wondrous works through, not only to show the people he is trying to get through to but, also the people he is using what He is capable of.  He wanted to show Jonah how merciful He is by sparing the lives of the wicked people of Nineveh when they repented of their sins.  He wanted to teach Jonah about tolerance because in those days, the Jews and the Gentiles did not get along.  God wanted to demonstrate His love and acceptance of all people.

The disciples forsook Jesus and fled because it was written, “I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered.” (Zechariah 13:7)  Peter denied Jesus three times out of fear.  But, before this happened, the Lord said to Peter, “Simon, Simon!  Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32)  Jesus knew that Peter’s faith would be tested and He prayed for him. 

Peter was called to minister to the Gentiles.  “Behold, three men are seeking you.  Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”  He restored Peter’s faith as He promised and sent him to give the Gentiles the same gift as He gave to the Jews.  Jesus enabled Peter to strengthen the brethren who glorified God, saying, “Then God has also granted to the Gentiles repentance to life.”  (Acts 11:1-18)

As a result, the disciples spoke to the Greeks, preaching the Lord Jesus.  And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.  When the church in Jerusalem heard about the news, they sent Barnabas as far as Antioch.  He encouraged them and a great many people were added to the Lord.  Barnabas went back to Tarsus and brought Paul back to Antioch with him.  There they taught a great many people and it was there in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians. (Acts 11:19-30)

God used Paul a non-Christian to convert other non-Christians.  Paul was there when Stephen was stoned.  He consented to his death.  Paul wreaked havoc on the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison.  Breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, Paul went to the high priest and asked for letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus so that if he found any who were of the Way, men or women, he might take them to Jerusalem.  It was on this trip that his life changed forever.

Jesus spoke to him and Paul, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do you want me to do?”  Jesus replied, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Paul did as he was told.  He received the Holy Spirit and immediately began to preach in the synagogues confounding those who remembered how he used to destroy all the people who preached in Jesus’ name.” (Acts 7:58, 8:1, 3, 9:1-21)

When we obey God or keep our eyes above, our faith is strengthened.  Our responsibility as Christians is to trust in God and allow Him to work wondrous things in our lives, use us to fulfil His plans.  God uses all sorts of people to work through as outlined in the examples above.  No one is immune to God’s power or love.  He desires that we obey Him and answer His call.  He equips us with everything we need to do His work and He is with us every step of the way.  Just as He promised Moses, Peter and Paul that He would be with them, He is with us today.  And like Job, we should praise Him in good times and in bad and unlike Jonah, we should not allow prejudice to hinder us.

Fear not, nor be dismayed, be strong and of good courage” – Joshua 10:25

Insecurity, doubt or fear prevents us from following God’s will.  We see throughout the Bible that God used people to fulfil His plans—His work when He could have easily done it on His own.  God likes to do great things through people.  He used Moses to bring the Israelites out of Egyptand through him He performed great wonders.  However, when God first approached Moses, Moses was insecure and doubted his ability to speak to Pharaoh and do God’s work.  “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)

God assured Moses that he would not be alone, that He would be with him.  Still, Moses protested.  He argued that he was slow of speech so God said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth?  Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing or the blind?  Have not I, the Lord?  Now therefore go and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” (Exodus 11-12)  After much protesting from Moses and persuading from God, Moses finally agreed to do as he was commanded.  And he delivered the Israelites and led them to the Promised Land.  He was known as the great deliverer and lawgiver ofIsrael.  There was never another prophet like Moses.

Jonah ran away instead of going to Nineveh as God commanded him because he was afraid.  As a result, a large fish swallowed him where he spent three days and three nights.  From the fish’s belly, Jonah prayed.  The Lord spoke to the fish and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.  God spoke to Jonah again, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the preaching that I bid you.”  This time Jonah obeyed.  The message was, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown.”  The people of Nineveh repented and God in His mercy did not bring disaster on them.

Jonah was not happy about this.  It is as if he felt that he had wasted his time going toNineveh, telling them that they would be destroyed for their wickedness yet, because they had repented, they were saved.  He wondered why God had bothered to send him in the first place when He could have delivered His own message and shown mercy to the people when they turned from their evil ways.

To prove to Jonah how irrational his anger was, God prepared a plant and had it come up over Jonah to shade his head.  Then, He prepared a worm and it damaged the plant and it withered.  Then, He prepared a heavy east wind and the sun beat on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint.  Jonah wished for death.  Then, God asked him if it was right for him to be angry about the plant.  Jonah’s reply was that it right for him to be angry, even to death.  God’s response was, “You have had pity on the plant for which you have not laboured, nor made it grow, which came up in the night and perished in a night.  And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left—and much livestock?” (Jonah 1:2-3, 17, 2:1-10, 3:1-11)

What we learn from these two examples is that when God wants you to do something don’t argue or run away, just do it.  God uses people to do His will when He could easily do it on His own.  Once people repent of their sins, God shows His mercy and saves them.  We should praise God and rejoice when He is gracious to those who sin against Him and repent instead of getting angry.  God’s love is not reserved for some people but for ALL people.  Jonah failed to recognise God’s love for all people—Jews and Gentiles alike because of the animosity between the two.  The story of Jonah teaches, much like Jesus’ story of the Good Samaritan, that we should put aside our differences and help those who are hurt spiritually, emotionally and physically.

Jesus spoke to a Samaritan woman at a time when Jews did not associated with Samaritans.  He wanted her to know that there would come a time when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth instead of on the mountain where the Samaritans worshipped or in Jerusalemwhere the Jews worshipped.  We can worship Him anywhere and anytime.  God wants all people to know him.  As Paul points out, “Or is He the God of the Jews only?  Is He not also the god of the Gentiles also?  Yes, of The Gentiles also, since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.” (Romans 3:29-30)

My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

To keep us from tooting our own horns, God allows or causes adversity in our lives.  As Paul points out, “To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me.” (2 Corinthians 12:7)  This was to keep Paul in line and make him realise that God is in control.  God wanted him to continue to grow spiritually and to emerge from these trials a stronger person. 

Without trials and adversities a person will have no need for God or will more likely boast about his accomplishments instead of giving credit where credit is due—God.  When Paul asked God to remove the trial (thorn) from him, God’s reply was, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

God’s reply opened Paul’s eyes to the value hidden in his adversities.  He realised that God was teaching him that it was during hardships, persecutions and difficulties that God is able to show His power.  When the Israelites were oppressed in Egypt, God delivered them through Moses.  Moses had his weaknesses.  He did not have confidence in himself and did not believe that he could do what God asked him to do.  He had many excuses—he was not eloquent, Pharaoh would not listen to him.  He didn’t think he was worthy of such a mission.  He didn’t trust that God knew what He was doing.  Moses wanted God to send someone else.  God insisted on him delivering the Israelites with Aaron’s help.

Moses faced many difficulties.  After he spoke to Pharaoh, the Egyptian ruler ordered that the Israelites gather their own straws for making bricks and still produce the full quota.  They said to Moses and Aaron, “May the Lord look upon you and judge you.  You have made us a stench to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.” (Exodus 5:21) 

Moses then asked God why He brought trouble on the people and if that was why He sent him—to make things worse.  God promised deliverance and told Moses what to say to the Israelites but they were discouraged because of their situation.  They did not listen to Moses. (Exodus 5:22, 23, 6:1-11)  Moses lost heart and doubted that Pharaoh would listen to him. (Exodus 6:12)  God convinced him to do as He asked.

Pharaoh let the Israelites go but Moses problems were far from over.  When they were in the desert, the people grumbled against Moses, were disobedient, and were attacked by other nations and the people made a golden calf to worship.  But God saw to it that His people were taken care of and He used Moses to do this.

Moses’ faith in God became steadfast because He delivered His people fromEgyptand sustained them in their journey and took them to the Promised Land.  Moses was able to speak to Pharaoh, show him God’s power and he taught the laws to the people.  The people mourned Moses’ death.  It is said that since then, there was no prophet like Moses whom the Lord knew face to face who did all those miraculous signs and wonders the Lord sent him to do in Egypt-—to Pharaoh and all his officials and to his whole land.  For no one has ever shown the mighty power or performed the awesome deeds that Moses did in the sight of allIsrael. (Deuteronomy 34:10-12)

Had Moses been an eloquent speaker, he probably would have tried to appeal to Pharaoh on his own or taken the credit when the Israelites were delivered.  He probably would not have relied on God.  Just like Paul.  If everything continued to go well without any obstacles, he wouldn’t have had any need for God.  He would have felt that he could preach and reach the people on his own.  Paul realised that in his weakness he was stronger because he depended on God who gave him His strength and His grace.  God gave him everything he needed to continue in the face of adversity.

God gave Moses the encouragement, the strength, the words and the necessary tools to carry out His plan.  But, Moses allowed anger to get in the way and he did something on his own.  He struck the rock with the staff instead of speaking to it as God had instructed.  As a result he angered God and was not allowed to go to the Promised Land.  Instead of trusting God, relying on Him, obeying Him, Moses did his own thing.  He did not allow the people to see what God could do in impossible situations.  He did not glorify God.  He allowed his ego to get in the way.  He wanted to show the people what he could do because they were grumbling against him and God.

When we allow our egos or emotions to get the better of us and we move away from the will of God, the consequences are great.  David is another example.  He wanted Bathsheba and probably felt he had the right because he was the king.  He tried to manipulate Uriah so that he could pass off his unborn child on him.  When that didn’t work, he had him killed.  If David had gone to war instead of remaining in Jerusalem, he would not have indulged in a sin that would bring death and destruction to his family or incurred God’s wrath.


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