Tag Archives: Moses

What Are You Looking At?

And Moses answered, “Look at me. I stutter. Why would Pharaoh listen to me?”

God told Moses, “Look at me. I’ll make you as a god to Pharaoh and your brother Aaron will be your prophet.”
Exodus 6:30-7:1, MSG*

God called Moses to a mind-breaking task: to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. Oh, yes, and to be messenger to Pharaoh, who had no intention of letting them go.

Poor Moses, no wonder he felt overwhelmed from the moment God first called him. Exiled from Egypt as a murderer, living as a shepherd, and he had trouble speaking. Hardly an ideal mouthpiece for the Almighty.

Good thing he had no idea how the people would behave once he got them out!

By the time he reaches today’s verses, he’s already tried to talk God out of this several times. He’s back in Egypt with Aaron. They’ve spoken to Pharaoh, who responded by increasing the Israelite slaves’ workload. Now Moses’ own people are angry with him.

Moses complains to God, who repeats the command to confront Pharaoh and to lead the people out of Egypt.

Moses: Look at me! Everyone’s mad at me. I can’t even speak clearly! I can’t do this—it’s hopeless!

God: Look at Me.

We likely haven’t been assigned such an enormous task, although sometimes it feels that way. But don’t we respond the same way? Look at me, my weakness… the obstacles…?

Can you hear God’s whisper? Look at Me. (click to tweet this)

I don’t think He shouts it, in anger or blame. I think He whispers it. With encouragement, reaching out His hand to lift us up.

Our God, You are mighty to save and powerful to change hearts and circumstances. We praise You for dramatic miracles like the Israelites saw in the Egyptian Exodus. We praise You for invisible miracles that strengthen our spirits and enable us to serve You faithfully in the day-to-day of our lives. Forgive us for looking at our weakness. Teach us to look at You, Your strength and Your promises. Let everyone see the difference You make.

A good song to keep us focused is Matt Maher‘s “Your Grace is Enough.”

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Review: Destiny’s Hands, by Violet Nesdoly

Destiny's Hands cover artDestiny’s Hands, by Violet Nesdoly (Word Alive Press, 2012)

Destiny’s Hands is the story of the Israelites’ deliverance from Egypt as seen through the eyes of a gifted young Hebrew. Bezalel has trouble of his own, first as a slave and then as a free man, and family connections keep him close enough to Moses to observe the key events of the Exodus.

We may know the historical backdrop, but it’s interesting to stop and imagine what it felt like to the people living through it. They didn’t know what we know now, and Moses brought upheaval. Some believed, some didn’t. Most found it hard to trust Moses and to obey his instructions. Even sincere followers struggled with doubt and uncertainty.

The novel is a gentle read that acknowledges the harshness of the times but doesn’t dwell on the suffering. Instead its focus is the characters’ journey, both physical and spiritual. It covers the actual Exodus and the trip to Mount Sinai, including familiar elements like the crossing of the Red Sea, the grumbling in the wilderness, the golden calf and the Ten Commandments.

I enjoyed reading Bezalel’s story and the fresh look at his people’s liberation. My only disappointment was that it stopped so soon, and I’m hoping that means there’ll be a sequel. If you don’t know who the real Bezalel was, I won’t spoil it, but suffice to say God had a plan for his life. Destiny’s Hands ends as he steps into that purpose. I’d like to see him walk through it, and I’d like to see his people enter the Promised Land.

Canadian author Violet Nesdoly writes in many forms and genres. Destiny’s Hands was short-listed in Word Alive Press’ 2011 publishing contest, and it’s her first novel. To learn more about Violet, visit her website (previous link) and check out my interview with her: part 1 and part 2.

[Review copy provided by the author in exchange for a fair review.]

Love, Listen, Hold… Live

“Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life…”
Deuteronomy 30:19b-20a, NIV*

Moses is winding up his recitation to the Israelites of God’s faithfulness in their journey. Their choices will shape their future. He’s previewed the blessings and warned of the curses. He leaves them with a motto for life.

Love the LORD Your God

  • it’s a heart and spirit response
  • it has active implications – don’t just feel it, do it

Listen to His voice

Hold fast to Him

  • cling to Him
  • rely on Him as an anchor and fortress


We always need a reason why, even if it’s just that God says so and we choose to trust Him. Moses answers the question: “The LORD is your life.”

Holy and eternal God, You are our life. We’re not whole when we’re not close to You. Help us love You, help us listen to You, help us cling to You, so we can live. Thank You for such grace that gives us this gift!

Here’s John Waller’s “The Blessing.”

*THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

When God Says No

At that time I pleaded with the LORD: “Sovereign LORD, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.”
But because of you the LORD was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the LORD said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.”
Deuteronomy 3:23-26, NIV*

This is part of Moses’ final address to the Israelites, and he’s referring to the incident where he lost his temper with disastrous results.

Moses is blaming the people, who surely tried his patience, but he was the one who acted in a way that didn’t honour God.

He tells them he asked God to relent and let him into the Promised Land. But God said no.

Not just “no”. “Don’t ask Me again.” Period.

There are other times in the Bible where God gives the people what they want when they insist on it, even though it’s not in their best interests. Psalm 106:15 says in the King James Version, “And he gave them their request; but sent leanness into their soul.”

Romans 1 talks about people continually turning away from God until He “gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts” to all manner of wicked living.

We’re called to persist in prayer. I think it comes down to trust: God is good, and He knows best. And He has the right to make choices—from His greater wisdom—that we may not like.

It’s about persisting until we get an answer—not until we get the answer we want.

Silence may be a sign to keep praying. “No” is an answer.

Mighty and holy God, You are all-wise and You love us. Help us to pray with praise that You listen and answer. And help us to hear Your answers, be they yes or no. Grant us faith to trust Your goodness, and obedience to not push for our own ways when You reveal them to be against Yours.

I love this song from David Meece: “Things You Never Gave Me

*THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

A Writer’s Angst

I have two unpublished novel manuscripts that I’m about to revise yet again. With most of the publishers who handle Christian fiction based in the US, it’s hard for a Canadian or other nationality of writer to get accepted. (And do we really fit into a market largely aimed at a culture that’s at least subtly different from our own? But that’s another story or post… or rant.)

After a critique session at Write! Canada, one of the faculty graciously offered a phone-coaching session to help me see the bigger picture for my fiction. Where do I fit? What’s my target audience? My purpose? My message?

As we talked last week, some of that came together, but afterward I felt totally frustrated and out of my depth, ready to chuck it all and just write for fun. I’m not a big-picture person, my brain isn’t wired that way. How am I supposed to come up with this stuff?

Wait a minute, this was the same discouragement I’d carried with me to Write! Canada this year—where God set me straight to seek Him first instead of the work. Where I repented and thanked Him and renewed my joy.

No way am I going back there again. Instead, I prayed.

My thoughts flashed to Moses’ “Must we bring you water out of this rock?” (Numbers 20:10b, NIV*) where he struck the rock and blew it big time.

Moses-style frustration has been my problem before. This time, seeing the connection broke the pattern and helped me get back on the path.

God knows the target audience for my fiction, if there is one. I don’t have to supply it, I just need to ask Him. He knows the best genre for me too, and He can help me recognize any signposts He has for me along the way. It’s not about me, and it’s not up to me alone.

Note to self: Stop trying to do God’s job.

Seek Him first.

Not We Ourselves

Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Psalm 100:3, NIV

When life gets busy, responsibilities crowd, do you feel pressure to keep pace, to meet every demand on your own? Like Moses, when the people in the desert complained again about thirst and he cried, “Must we bring you water out of this rock?

God told him to speak to the rock, but Moses was so angry he struck it—twice—and although the water came, Moses lost his chance to enter the Promised Land. (Numbers 20:1-13 tells the whole story.)

After all Moses’ obedience, this seems a trifling thing, yet it was clearly a big deal to God. I think it’s because of the “Must we” that took responsibility—and therefore credit—for the miracle.

Moses hardly intended it that way, but that’s how it came out. And sometimes that’s how I feel when the pressure’s on and there’s not enough of me to go around. I forget there’s enough of God.

Somehow today’s one verse from a short psalm puts it all back in perspective for me. I’m not the real authority. Everything does not rest on me, no matter how it feels. (A footnote in the NIV says and we are his can be translated and not we ourselves. “It is he who made us, and not we ourselves” – that makes it even clearer.)

I can trust in God, because He is good. His love endures forever. (Click that link and you’ll see the NIV declares this phrase 41 times.)

Renewed perspective gives me a quietness and a confidence—from a psalm that tells us to shout to God.

Father, forgive me for getting distracted and relying on myself. You are God, and greatly to be praised. Help me trust You not to overload me with more than You want to accomplish through me. Help me stick with what You give and not to ignore it and try to do my own thing—or to cram my own interests in there with what You say is enough. You’re the Shepherd, I’m the sheep. And You are the Good Shepherd. Keep me close to Your side.

Here’s a good, soul-quieting song from Steven Curtis Chapman: “Be Still and Know.”

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Willing to Give

The people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning…[until] the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.
Exodus 36:3b, 6b, 7 NIV*

These are the Israelites in the wilderness, being led and sustained by God. The God who has now instructed Moses in the making of a tabernacle where He will dwell with His people. Moses has asked all who are willing and able to give materials, and this is the people’s response.

As God has provided manna each morning for the people, now that they have the opportunity to give back they do it the same way: morning by morning until the workers have more than enough.

I’m working through Beth Moore’s study,  A Woman’s Heart, God’s Dwelling Place (updated version), and along with this passage she asks readers to discover what freewill offerings we give to the Lord—or hold back from Him.

He’s been prompting me for the past few months about an open heart, about stepping out through the self-constructed wall. I’m cooperating as best as I can, but it’s a real “step forward, step back” experience. After all, it’s familiar behind the wall… comfortable.

But I meant it when I told Him I’d obey, and when I realize I’ve retreated again, I get up and move out. Again.

Reading how the Israelites brought more offerings each day made my efforts look useless. I can’t even seem to bring one thing and let it stay there. Like the manna, it doesn’t “keep”. But then I realized, so what? As long as I faithfully bring my heart each time it sneaks home to roost, I’m doing the best I can. One of these days that heart may even stay where it’s put.

Father, my freewill offering is an open heart, but it keeps closing up again. As You remind me, I will open it and bring it to You again and again, like the Israelites kept bringing fresh treasures to You. I pray You’ll count it as obedience, and complete the work You’ve begun.

Third Day’s “Offering” is one of those rare songs that rooted in my heart on a first hearing. It’s a fitting one for today.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Expectations and Complaints

Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea…. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter…. So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”
Exodus 15: 22-24, NIV*

The Israelites were jubilant at what God had done: deliverance from Egyptian slavery, parting the Red Sea to rescue them (neatly eliminating their enemies). They believed He could fulfill the rest of His promise and bring them into the promised land.

After a string of miracles and evidences of His great power, it’s understandable that they’d expect Him to melt all remaining opposition and obstacles in their way.

Then right away they have three waterless days in the desert, only to find water they can’t drink. No wonder they complain!

Moses, on the other hand, is used to setbacks, from his dealings with Pharaoh. He cries out to God.

The people know God can help, but they don’t ask. They expect, and then protest when He doesn’t operate the way they want.

Don’t we do the same?

Father God, mighty to save and wise to teach, You could give us smooth paths. But we seem to learn better when we experience Your help in the rough places. Help us to trust Your leading and to listen, obey, and learn to do life Your way. Help us to be grateful for Your presence.

A good song and prayer for today is Matt and Beth Redman’s “Blessed Be Your Name,” sung here by Matt Redman.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Grumbling in the Camp?

But you are the ones chosen by God, chosen for the high calling of priestly work, chosen to be a holy people, God’s instruments to do his work and speak out for him, to tell others of the night-and-day difference he made for you—from nothing to something, from rejected to accepted.
1 Peter 2:9-10, The Message*

I’ve been reading the start of the Old Testament, how God called Abram and built his descendants into the nation of Israel: a holy people, chosen by God, with one tribe called to priestly work and all twelve to be living illustrations of the difference God makes.

Right now I’m at the part of the story where Moses is leading the Israelites in the desert. God is visibly with them, the cloud by day and the fire by night. He speaks to them through Moses.

They know He’s with them, and they’re a bit scared of Him. But what do they do, over and over?

They complain. They grumble.

Every time I read it, I shake my head in wonder. God is with them—don’t they get it? He’s brought them out of slavery and protected them from Pharoah’s army. He’s parted the Red Sea and provides their daily manna. Can’t they trust Him to look after them?

As I investigate my own heart to see what’s gumming up the works, as I listen to myself talk to my friends, is that a… grumbling spirit? Oh, dear.

Henry Blackaby says in the Experiencing God workbook, “Settle in your own mind that God has forever demonstrated His absolute love for you on the cross. That love will never change.” (Unit 6, Day 2)

Although I have head knowledge that God loves me, I haven’t been acting on it in belief. I’ve been letting circumstances (and people) irritate and disturb.

But God is good. And He loves me.

I’ve confessed and rejected the grumbling. As I repeat the truth about God’s goodness and His love, I feel myself relax, like all the tension is melting away from my body.

Father, thank You. Please keep reminding me of the truth and quieting my spirit to receive it. You are good. You love me. Help me rest in this knowledge and grow in gratitude and trust. Let it be an antidote to grumbling, striving and discontent. Help me demonstrate by my life that You are trustworthy and good.

A fitting prayer is the song, “Give Thanks,” sung here by Don Moen and friends.

*The Message (MSG) Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson.

Holy Awe

When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance and said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.’
Exodus 20:18-19 NIV*

In Exodus 19, God had declared Mount Sinai off-limits to the people. Only Moses and Aaron were permitted to meet with God on the mountain to receive the ten commandments. God said, “Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they go up the mountain.” (Exodus 19:13b)

Maybe the trumpet the people heard here was the all-clear, and they could safely approach the mountain and their God. Maybe not.

Thunder, lightning, black smoke covering the mountain… no wonder they were terrified. And they hadn’t heard much about God’s mercy or grace. But didn’t anyone feel a longing, a drawing toward this holy God who created and rescued them? A moth-to-flame compulsion?

It’s sad that they stayed at a distance and begged Moses to stand between them and God. How would things have turned out if they’d said like Job, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” (Job 13:15) If they’d come, shaking with holy fear, unable to look away from the glory of God?

Yet we do the same thing. We ask our church leaders to teach us, instead of getting to know God ourselves. We ask a praying friend for a word from God rather than listening for Him in our own spirits. What are we afraid He’ll do to us… or ask of us?

Or we ignore His majesty and buddy up to Him, enjoying His presence without letting it change us.

Father, teach us a proper respect for Your power and glory. Thank You that through Jesus we can come boldly and confidently before Your throne. Help us come ourselves instead of looking for intermediaries. And give us a holy awe of You. Let us never forget that although You’ve called us Your children, You are neither tame nor safe. We praise You that You are good.

Our song this week is by Michael Card, “Know You in the Now“.

*New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.