Lessons from a Humiliated Pharaoh

This is Part 2 of the Series “The Effects of Knowing God” For the previous post, click here.

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What effect does knowing God have on your life? What effect did it have on the Pharaoh of the Exodus account?

Picture in your mind Moses and Aaron in the court of Pharaoh…

A line of foreigners, servants and gifts winds between gleaming pillars of alabaster. Pharaoh reclines lazily on his throne, receiving tribute from conquered lands, Occasionally sparing a glance or a nod for these lesser mortals. As he waves two Ethiopians away, two plainly-clothed men approach the throne carrying no gift at all. One is clothed as a shepherd, the other a slave.

The man on the right squares his shoulders and speaks:

“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.'”

Pharaoh jerks his head back in shock, one eyebrow arched menacingly.

Both feet press into the stone floor as he leans forward. The one on the left looks a little familiar, but it’s unlikely. The man to the right, the speaker, bears all the marks of servitude—the slight hunch of the shoulders, the leathery skin, and the eyes that flicker of fear.

Filthy Hebrews. 

Who is this God they’re talking about? If the Hebrews have a god, he’s certainly weaker than Ra…

Weaker than me, he thinks to himself.

Pharaoh’s mouth curves into a sardonic smile. “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover, I will not let Israel go.” (Ex 5:2)

Pharaoh is about to get the introduction of a lifetime… Continue reading

What the World Needs Now

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Some songs make me cringe.

It’s not necessarily the lyrics—although cringe-worthy lyrics abound. Often it’s the style of singing or instrumentation. Sometimes it’s an associated memory. For instance, whenever I hear Andy Williams’ voice belt out, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!” I can’t help but groan inwardly. I associate it with disgruntled black friday shoppers and unhappy ugly-Christmas-sweater people. I don’t know why…. it’s probably related to some lame commercial. Then there’s Burt Bacharach’s “What the World Needs Now.” The words aren’t bad, it’s just the way it was sung or the melody or… something. Think “nails on chalk.”

And yet… Continue reading

A Christian Blogger’s Prayer

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Heavenly Father,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to reach out to believers and non-believers through this medium.

Grant me wisdom to respond properly to those with whom I interact both here and in other places that you may be glorified. Continue reading

No tests?

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The crucible is for silver, and the furnace is for gold, and the Lord tests hearts.

~ Proverbs‬ ‭17:3‬ ‭ESV‬‬

My children have taught me a great deal about parenting. For instance: when I was a starry-eyed parent-to-be I said things like, “I’ll never yell at my children. I’ll never say, ‘because I said so.’ My child will never do that.”

Are you chuckling yet? I certainly am.

My children have been great instructors in humility. I have been tested repeatedly. Sometimes I fail. Being a parent has provided insight into how our Heavenly Father looks at us. To Him, we are like growing children—lovable, learning and fallible. He extends us grace when we fail and trains us that we might be better equipped for the challenges ahead.

About 6 weeks ago, my child had to write a short blurb for school about what she’d do if she were president. (I had no idea that she had socialist tendencies…)

I chuckled to myself when I read the line: “there would be no tests.” In many ways, I can’t blame her for hating tests—the schools make them take heaps more tests these days than I ever took at her age!

Testing is an excellent way of gauging comprehension and retention. As much as I hate giving and taking tests, they are necessary and not a “necessary evil.”

When God tests me, I don’t often recognize it as such. Mostly, I wonder why such-and-such is happening to me instead of looking at it as a growth opportunity. I ask “why”; I long for it to end; I wonder  what I did to deserve it. When I think this way, I am looking at the situation like my 8-year old: “if I were in charge…there wouldn’t be any tests!”

God, being the loving, omniscient Father that He is, longs for us to have luxurious spiritual blessings, not cheap dollar-store gifts. Becoming like Him and desiring the greater, more heavenly gifts requires testing—can we handle the gifts he wants to give us?

My 6-year old wants to have a jeep when she turns 16, so we have a 401-daddy plan: for every dollar she saves, we’ll match her dollar. She has to commit to putting a minimum of $2 per week into the fund if she wants to meet her goal within the next 10 years. You know what? She’s been doing it! She’s also found ways to earn extra money. Who do you think will be getting more advanced testing in money matters? This little one who already has an aptitude for it! Her older sister gets commission and it burns a hole in her pocket. Her tests are more basic—can you divide your money properly? Can you refrain from touching your gifts envelope when you want something? Can you keep yourself from dipping into your savings? Are you willing to work a little harder?My 6-year-old already tested out of that and is on to bigger things. It doesn’t make one child better than the other—they simply have different skill sets. It’s my job to hone those skills and improve the ones they struggle with.

In the same way, God tests and trains us. He does not tempt us—there’s a big difference. Satan tempts us so that we will fall deeper into his clutches. God tests us to lead us on to greater things.

People used to say this often: “Don’t pray for patience. God will make sure you get all the practice you need.” There is a certain degree of truth to that statement. I’ve prayed for patience and then 5 minutes later had to deal with behavior from my children that demanded “the patience of Job!”

God does not foist attitudes upon us; we have to learn them. When we request things like patience, contentment, or self-control, He will help us by providing opportunities to learn. If we work with God, we’ll learn faster. If we resist, we have to constantly be retested.

I’ll say it one more time: testing and tempting are not the same. Satan tempts with the intent to destroy. God tests with the intent to refine.

Are you taking a test right now? I’ve got some great news for you: God allows us to take open-book tests! If you don’t know what He expects from you, use His Word as a reference. If you aren’t sure of the answer, you can raise your hand in prayer.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

~ James‬ ‭1:2-4‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The Humility Remedy (Comparison Cure #3)

This is the fourth post in the series on Comparison Cures. To read the previous post, click here.

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Pride gets no pleasure out of having something, only out of having more of it than the next man… It is the comparison that makes you proud: the pleasure of being above the rest. Once the element of competition is gone, pride is gone.

~ C.S. Lewis

Have you ever thought that because you’re a faithful Christian, life should be easy? That is the subtle message of the prosperity gospel, and it is a lie. Your righteousness before God is not an entitlement to a life of ease and pleasure.

In this series of Comparison Cures, we’ve been discussing “remedies” for the disease of “why-me-itis” that we all fall prey to: “Why does that person over there have it so easy when they are lazy, dishonest, etcetera?” “Why does that amazing person over there suffer in that way? They don’t deserve it!” “Why do I have to suffer so much? Haven’t I had it hard enough?”

This comparison game stems from pride and a sense of entitlement. We think that we are somehow a cut above other people. We think (consciously or unconsciously) that we deserve a good life because we are obedient to God. You may not verbalize these thoughts, but when we ask these types of questions, there is a sense that we are better or more deserving than others.

Think of the list of people mentioned in Hebrews 11:

  • Abel
  • Enoch
  • Noah
  • Abraham
  • Sarah
  • Isaac
  • Jacob
  • Joseph
  • Moses’ Parents
  • Moses
  • Gideon
  • Barak
  • Samson
  • Jephthah
  • David
  • Samuel
  • the prophets
  • Daniel (implied)
  • Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (implied)
  • John the Baptist (implied)
  • Stephen (martyr, implied)

Consider what you know about the people on that list, then name one that had it easy.

I came up with zero. At some point or other they all suffered loss, deprivation, or sorrow.

Think of the early Christians. Name one that didn’t deal with fear and persecution.

Think of Jesus. Where would we be if Jesus had thought himself too good to come to earth for us?

Paul brought this up in the following passage:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 

~ Philippians 2.3-8, ESV

Just ponder for a moment how you would feel if you considered others as better than yourself. When something good happened, would you think: “no fair! They don’t deserve that?” No, you would think, “The Lord blessed them. I should congratulate them in their happiness. I should rejoice inwardly and outwardly.” Granted, some people make this easier than others. There are certain high-powered people that do deserve destruction, but we are told not to rejoice when our enemy falls. We are even told to pray for them! (You can read more on that here.)

Consider the mind of Christ. He is, was and always has been, God. He was in the beginning with God, creating the earth. He is worthy of glory, honor, praise, and reverence. He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

And yet, what did he do?

  1. He emptied himself.
  2. He took the form of the beings he helped to create.
  3. He positioned himself as a son in an impoverished family in a go-nowhere district.
  4. He became obedient to God even to the point of death on a cross—the most shameful form of execution.

He didn’t preach from a cushion in a marble palace, nor did He sleep on feather beds in 5-star hotels. The Son of the Living God slept on the ground, wore the same old linen every day and walked all over Judea (no chariots for the King of Kings). He humbled himself to suffer a death he didn’t deserve in the most shameful way possible. Was Jesus righteous? Absolutely. Did he deserve to live such a life? No. But the life He lived reflected God. He showed us through His humble lot the power of God and the impact of God-centered life.

Did he do all that so you could be rich in earthly things?

Umm…

Pause for a moment and really consider that question…

 

No, Jesus came that we might have life more abundantly. Are many of us wealthy and comfortable? Indeed! Just because we didn’t build Trump Tower, doesn’t mean we aren’t blessed. Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with having or building wealth, but that is not the point to life or being a Christian. Abundant life is one that is filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness and self-control. Abundant life has all these things no matter the circumstances. Abundant life is one that centers it’s focus on Christ, heart overflowing with the presence of the Holy Spirit.

If we consider the richness of the blessings of Christ, will we so readily feel resentment against others for their temporary earthly fortune?

This remedy of humility is essential. God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves under the might hand of God and He will exalt you in due time. The Bible is full of contrasts between pride and humility. Practice humility in your mind and show it outwardly even when you don’t feel like it.

I am so thankful that we have grace for all of our weaknesses. Let’s work on becoming humble in heart, poor in spirit and more like Jesus.