Stretch Out Your Hand!

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided.  And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. Exodus 14:21-22 ESV

In our walk of grace, we sometimes begin to think that since nothing happens without God’s approval and that everything comes to us by grace that we have no role whatsoever in God’s plan. Nothing in the Bible however gives us any indication that such thinking is accurate. All of the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews chapter eleven are linked to action! Abel offered a sacrifice, Noah built an ark, and Abraham left his native land. Moses was hidden by his parents and Rahab protected the spies. Not only these brave men and women but in fact all of us who belong to God’s family have a distinct, active and essential role to play.

Notice the order of the verses we are reading in Exodus: Moses stretched out his hand, and then the Lord drove back the sea. The people of Israel passed through the sea then God closed the waters over their enemies. The staff Moses carried wasn’t some mystical gift from an angel or a golden scepter which he had taken from Egypt.  Moses’ staff was simply the tool of his shepherding work. When the people of Moses’ time saw the staff Moses lifted up, they didn’t think of it as something quaint or impressive in any way. The fact that God chose to honor his simple obedience had nothing to do with the staff and everything to do with the humility of surrender. What are the tools of your daily life? Whether you carry a chain saw or a laptop to work, God can use anything you surrender to his command. Stretch out your hand! God is waiting on your surrender to open a path through the sea!

Photo by Thach Tran on Pexels.com

Quiet Time or Prayer?

Cry out and shout, thou inhabitant of Zion: for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee. Isaiah 12:6 KJV

It seems that everyone is insisting lately that we have a “Daily Quiet Time.” But with all the discussion about it, maybe we have gotten a little off track. For starters, the phrase quiet time doesn’t occur anywhere that I know of in the Bible. Of course Jesus spent plenty of time teaching about prayer, but the prayers we read about in the Gospels are not always private and very few of them were quiet. In fact if we prayed like Jesus prayed, our time would be far from quiet –  

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, … Hebrews 5:7

And King David did not have much to say about quiet prayer either.

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. Psalm 34:6

You could add to the list of these noisy prayers others; like Moses who was often crying out to the Lord because not a day went by without a problem, first in Egypt with Pharaoh, then in the wilderness with complaining Israelites. Elijah prayed loud enough for thousands to hear him on Mount Carmel and those loud prayers didn’t stop in the Old Testament. During Jesus’ ministry the Syro-Phoenician woman with a demon possessed daughter had the disciples begging Jesus to send her away because she was crying out too much. Then we all remember Blind Bartimaeus, whose friends kept insisting he sit down and shut up. But Jesus wasn’t disturbed at all by his noisy request. What impressed Jesus then and what impresses God today is when we believe in His ability and willingness to answer us so much that we cry out to Him from the bottom of our hearts. God values neither quietness nor loudness but when you and I need Him way too much to be quiet!

What’s Your Red Sea?

Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:13-14 ESV

One of my professors at Bible college often said that the Christian life wasn’t just hard to live, it was impossible! The Red Sea for Moses was his place of impossibility. His story of Moses and the experience of the children of Israel leaves us an encouragement that God choses to work the impossible by His miracle grace.

Maybe an impossible situation is looming on your horizon like a dark cloud. Maybe right now you feel like you are facing the Red Sea ahead and are hearing the footsteps of your enemies right behind. Naturally we all begin to panic, but in that in that moment we it is vital to remind ourselves that God Himself has led us to that shore. One of the fears we face is the the unknown. We can’t imagine how our life will be if x, y or z happens. But God specializes in doing his best work in our hearts when we don’t understand (Which in my case is often!). So if it helps think of this test of faith like surgery. Usually during an operation we will be asleep and our confidence in the outcome doesn’t lie in being able to direct the surgeon’s hands. We are simply satisfied that he is operating for our good. In fact, we will never have a greater opportunity to trust God than at the shore of our Red Sea. Nothing has happened to us by chance in the battle we are in. We haven’t taken a wrong turn and this is not a dead end. We are in exactly the right place because God has brought us here. It is impossible for us to accomplish anything without the miraculous grace of God, so stand strong with expectancy and discover what only God can do!