"That they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob has appeared to you." Exodus 4:5
"I have written to you fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I have written to you young men, because you are strong, and the Word of God abides in you, and you have overcome the evil one." 1 John 2:14
As we begin today, let's take a moment to regain our context.
In Lesson 7, we found Moses on the 'west side of the wilderness' asking God the very important question of 'who am I, but more importantly, who are You?' God re-introduced Himself to Moses as 'I AM' or 'Yahweh', a Name of God that had not yet been revealed to the children of Israel. By giving Himself this memorial name, God forever established His faithfulness to His covenant people in times past, present, and future.
Too often our identity is found in a material possession or social status. When asking ourselves, 'Who am I?', be certain the answer is bound in the heart of Christ. He is everything we can not be and sufficient to fill every needy place. He is beautiful, all-knowing, strong, self-assured, and so much more so we do not have to be! When our lives are entertwined with His Spirit, we will never have to long to be more than we are, for HE IS. Praise Him!
In the beginning of Exodus 4, Moses is still at the bush continuing his dialogue with God. Thus far, the Lord has been gracious in continuing to assure Moses of His presence for this huge undertaking. God continuously refers to the Israelites as 'His people' which incidentally is the first time they are referred to in this way. God promised the Patriarchs He would make the Israelites into a great nation while in Egypt. Referring to them as 'His people' was yet one more fulfillment of this covenant.
In my own imagination, I almost feel Moses getting more nervous as God tells Him he has to go to the elders of Israel and tell them about his meeting with God. Exodus 4:1 gets us to the heart of the matter, "What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, 'The Lord has not appeared to you."
And there it was - all the old fear, rejection, shame rearing its ugly head. Everything Moses had shoved down for 40 years was now staring at him right in the face and demanding action. Moses had tried to help the Israelites once to which they ridiculed him with the response, 'who made you ruler and judge over us?' How do you recover from that? Most of us would do exactly what Moses did. Run. Hide. Shove it down and pretend it never happened. The problem is, whatever your 'it' is will revisit you. It is only a matter of when.
God continued to exhibit great patience with Moses. 'What is that in your hand?', He asked. The staff Moses held was an object of irony. In the hand that once held a prince's scepter now rested a shepherd's crook which symbolized all that was detestable to Egypt. 'Throw it down, Moses', God said. Moses obeyed and watched in amazement as the staff became a serpent. I am taken with the fact the serpent was the Egyptian symbol of sovereignty and most Pharaohs wore a serpent at the forefront of their headdress as a display of their absolute authority. This meaning was not lost on God, I can assure you.
What did Moses do when the serpent appeared? He ran, just like he ran from Egypt. He fled from his failure, his shame, his sin. And yet God stopped him and said, 'Take that snake by the tail, Moses.' Girls, there is only so much time we need to spend dwelling on our past failures, shames, and heartaches. The God who allows despair has also ordained a deliverance. Hear the following quote from Alistair Begg of Truth for Life Ministries (LOVE HIM!):
'Some Christians are sadly prone to look on the dark side of everything, and to dwell more upon what they have gone through than upon what God has done for them. Ask for their impression of the Christian life, and they will describe their continual conflicts, their deep afflictions, their sad adversities, and the sinfulness of their hearts, but with scarcely any reference to the mercy and help that God has provided them.'
There comes a time when it is necessary to overcome our fear, stop wallowing in misery, and embrace the experiences of our lives for what they are - a tool for the wonders of God. Why? 'So they will believe God appeared to you'. I have met so many amazing women in my life who have experienced great tragedy. They have lost children, suffered abuse, experienced divorce, overcome drug addiction and yet through their testimony, I know the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob appeared to her or else she would be locked away in an insane asylum. Stop running from that serpent and take it by the tail! Use it for God's glory and watch as Satan becomes impotent before the Holy One of Israel.
I gave you 1 John 2:14 as a key verse because it is one God used mightily in my life the past two weeks I have been on blog break. I have to confess to you I have been so overwhelmingly tired and have been seeking God's guidance in prioritizing my life and laying down things He has not ordained for this season. When I would pray about the blog, a small voice would whisper, 'You don't have to do this to yourself, you know. You started blogging on a whim and you can quit just as easily. It's not as if anyone out there is real. They won't care if you drop out.' I am ashamed to say it took a minute to recognize whose voice it was. (Please don't be offended by the 'they aren't real' statement...realize it was Satan putting this thought in my head...get mad at him, okay??! :)) I asked God to show me if He wanted me to quit, to lay aside the computer for awhile. And then, I got home from vacation and had the most amazing emails from you. Notes that asked questions, encouraged, reflected on what God is doing in your lives through this study and immediately I knew that you ARE REAL and that for some amazing reason, God has put us in this wonderful community together to hold one another's hands as we find the courage to hold forth our own unique 'staff' as a display of His Wonders. What we have in our hand is our own Truth and Jesus said, 'the Truth will set you free'. Our freedom is not only for our sake, but also to aid in the deliverance of others. 'Therefore, strenghten the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.' Hebrews 12:12-13
So, during that time of prayer and reflection, God bound up my heart and confirmed to me that indeed, He ordained this writing ministry for these days and that one benefit to me is to teach that He is enough to carry me through days of discouragement. I find this blog to be a blessed 'obligation' which forces me to be faithful to my study and fan to flame my heart for ministry. You girls, YOU VERY REAL GIRLS, are what keep me going and I thank you so very much for that.
So, in conclusion, I continue to write to you, my dear girlfriends, because you and I are strong, the Word of God abides in us, and we have overcome the evil one! Rejoice in that! It is time to take that serpent by the tail, go back to our people - our circle of influence - and say to them, 'The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has appeared to me. He has delivered me,He can deliver you, and I'll walk beside you while He does it. Now come, I'll show you the way home.'
Praise you, Lord, for so mighty a rescue.
Let's think about that in our Discussion Questions:
1. Have you ever been in a situation where you had to 'go back' to a place of shame or ridicule? How did that make you feel?
2. Is there any circumstance in your life that still has you running for cover? Share if you feel comfortable.
3. When is the last time you felt like an overcomer?
4. If you have not yet taken the serpent by the tail, are you willing to stop running, take hold and trust God to transform it into a tool for wonders?
5. I would like for you to write down this statement based on 1 John 2:14 somewhere you will see it often this week: "I am strong, the Word of God abides in me, and I have overcome the evil one." Memorize it. Say it over and over until you believe it. Will you do this?? Most of the time, there are no right or wrong answers, but on this one, I'm expecting a 'yes'!
Blessings on you as you continue this study!! I am crazy about you girls!! :)) Leave your link if you are posting your responses on your blog and don't forget to go visit one another!