God’s Outstretched Arm

This was no small problem Moses was facing. His job was to deliver the Israelites from Egypt. But Pharaoh, the most powerful man in the world, was a tad resistant to the idea.

Pharaoh had plenty of authority to back up his desire to keep the Israelites enslaved. In fact, when the Israelites requested a short leave so they could worship God, Pharaoh felt completely comfortable doubling down on the Israelites and increasing their workload instead. What were the puny Israelites going to do about it?

Moses was supposed to be helping the Israelites gain their freedom, and it seemed like all his efforts were merely increasing their servitude instead. Moses’ efforts only served to stretch the problem out further.

We’re not discussing your everyday, garden-variety problem here. We’re talking real problems. Big problems.

Do you have any problems like that? I’m talking about the type of problem that makes you feel far more like a slave than a person who’s been freed in Christ. I’m referring to the kind of problem in which the solution only seems to make matters worse. This is the sort of problem that comes with built-in, huge resistance to change.

Do you know what the beauty of these problems is? Eventually we come to the realization that we can’t solve them in our own wisdom or strength. Only God can.

Big problems are the precursor to witnessing God step in to create a big solution.

The Israelites slavery in Egypt was that kind of problem. Our slavery to sin is that kind of problem, too. On both occasions, God responded with the perfect solution. And it was a solution only God could provide.

Because the stretched-out problems we face demand the power of God’s outstretched arm.

“Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.’” (Exodus 6:6-8, NIV).

Lord, how awesome to know that whenever I’m facing a big problem in life, you are there to deliver me. It’s not all up to me to discover and implement the solution. My wisdom and strength are not nearly as important as your wisdom and strength, as you pointed out to Moses. Help me to rest in the power of your outstretched arm and find peace in knowing I am your very own.

Our Bible reading for Monday, February 9, is Exodus 4:1 – 6:12, Matthew 26:31-46 and Proverbs 4:10-19.

Header image based on "Embrace the City" by Mill, CC by-SA 2.0

God to My Right

Sometimes it really helps to know that God is around. He hasn’t departed. And he’s not going to.

But it’s important for us to notice him, isn’t it? For that, we have to keep coming back to the words and promises of God. By reading our Bibles, we keep our eyes always on him. Coming back to the gospel keeps God at our right hand.

When God is at my right hand through his word, I can go through life unshaken by the challenges that test me, the sins that tempt me or the the failures that torment me. I can hold on to my joy, and hang tight to my hope.

“I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay. You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (‭Psalm‬ ‭16‬:‭8-11‬, NIV).

There’s no better proof of these truths than Jesus himself. Peter tells us these same verses are a prophecy about our Savior. He went through a crucifixion unshaken. He willingly gave up his life in hope. He rose from the grave, because our Heavenly Father did not abandon him to the grave. He now reigns in heaven at God’s right hand. It’s just like David foretold.

So look right. God’s right there. Keep your eyes always on the Lord and he will help you get where you’re going safely.

Just like he did with Jesus.

Lord, remain always at my right hand. Give me the peace of knowing you will never leave me. Grant me the joy of knowing that you will get me safely home.

Our Bible reading for Monday, January 26, is Job 1:1 – 3:26, Matthew 18:10-35 and Psalm 16:1-11.

Header image based on "Look Right" by Knight, CC by 2.0

Ready with Hope

It’s interesting to see our human brain’s bias for the negative. And this bias comes out even in the Bible. Jesus had just shown his glory in the Transfiguration. He followed this up with the miraculous healing of a boy possessed with a demon.

Yet, when all of this is done, the disciples are depressed. How can this be? Because for a second time, Jesus is predicting his death.

But not just his death. He’s also predicting his resurrection. Yes, he is preparing his disciples for both his death AND his resurrection.

But what do the hearts and minds of the disciples dwell on? Answer: Not the resurrection part!

“When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.’ And the disciples were filled with grief” (Matthew 17:22-23, NIV).

Jesus is full of truth. He wants his disciples to be ready, to know about his impending suffering and death. But, just as strongly he wants the disciples to be “ready” with hope. He will defeat death! This suffering will not be able to keep him down. The tomb itself will not be able to hold him back! Victory is assured!

But the disciples hear only the first part. They have no ears for the resurrection, no heart for the coming victory. They’re not ready yet.

It’s not just the disciples, is it? It’s interesting that even in a modern Bible translation with a sub-title for this section, you’ll most likely find something like this: “Jesus Predicts His Death a Second Time” (These sub-titles are not part of the Holy Spirit’s inspired text; they’re simply editors’ “helps”).

Praise God that Jesus came not just to die. There’s an AND. He came to die AND rise. Life wins! Jesus replaces grief with hope. And this hope is not only for the life to come. It’s also a very powerful and sustaining hope for this life too! He who can defeat “Big Death” can certainly also defeat all the “little deaths” that we experience living in a death-filled world.

Joseph knew this. We see that in our reading today. We can, like Joseph, retrain our brains with that truth. We can begin to see the AND. While death is real, so is life. While sorrow is called for at times, so is joy. While suffering and defeat will happen, so will victory.

We’re not really ready, until we’re ready with hope.

Jesus, give me a smile today. You show us that even as we anticipate dark days to come, we can always look forward to a hopeful outcome–if not now, then in eternity. Your resurrection, Lord, is my hope and my everyday joy throughout life’s troubles and challenges.

Our Bible reading for Sunday, January 25, is Genesis 49:1 – 50:26, Matthew 17:14 – 18:9 and Psalm 15:1-5.

Header image based on "Obliging Smile and Desert Rose" by Bosma, CC by 2.0