Barefoot

bare-feet-1bare-feet-2Since warm weather has arrived, I have exchanged my winter shoes for summer sandals. These summer shoes reveal more of my feet and provide a little less protection. However, I also like to throw off even my sandals and go barefoot. There is something special about being able to run barefoot through a thick lawn of green grass on a summery day! It is freeing to feel the grass between my toes. Maybe I can identify with Moses and Joshua who went barefoot in the Lord’s presence. In fact, they were personally instructed by God to take off their sandals in His presence.

In Exodus 3, Moses was intrigued by a bush that appeared to be on fire and yet was not being consumed. As he went closer to the bush, God spoke to Moses saying in Exodus 3:5, “Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” In the following verses, Moses and God have a conversation regarding God’s desire for Moses to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. When Moses argued with God, God had an answer for him that revealed His willingness to help Moses in all he asked Him to do. In a sense, taking off his sandals signified Moses’ vulnerability to what God asked of him. I wonder if God is asking me to take off something so He can better use me according to His plans and purposes. I do not have to provide my own shoes, or my own strength. In contrast, God asks me to remove any confidence I have in my flesh. In II Corinthians 12:9-11, Paul records, “And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” … Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

In Joshua 5 while Joshua was preparing for the battle of Jericho, he encountered a man with a sword. When Joshua inquired about whether he was for them or against them, the man revealed himself as the commander of the army of the Lord. In Joshua 5:15 it says, “The commander of the LORD’s army replied, ‘Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.’” Joshua obeyed this command out of reverence and respect. I want to follow Joshua’s example and take off my shoes in the presence of the Lord. Like the soles of my shoes that pick up the dirt of the ground around me, my soul within me can pick up sin from the world in which I live. Out of reverence to my holy God, I want to remove sin from my life. I Peter 1:15-16 says to me, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.’” Taking off my sandals or shoes can be an outward expression of worship revealing my inward reverence for the Lord.

While walking barefoot, I feel a closeness to the God of all creation who has created the grass upon which I walk. I am aware of being in touch with the Lord when my feet are touching His creation. A few scriptures come to mind that inform me of how to walk with the Lord. Micah 6:8 says, “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Then II Corinthians 5:7 KNJV tells me to “walk by faith and not by sight,” while Paul reminds me in Galatians 3516 NKJV to,Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.”

Bare feet and summer seem to go together, but I need to remember that in order for me to walk with the Lord I should be barefoot in His presence no matter what season of the year. I John 2:6 NASV says, “the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” In order for me to walk as Jesus walked, it will be beneficial for me to be barefoot so I can place my footsteps in His footprints.

My Reader, do you want to go barefoot today?

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Living in the Land of In-Between

 

between

The story of the Israelites being led out of Egypt into the Promised Land of Canaan is recorded in the books of Exodus, Numbers and Joshua. The accounts tell of a 40 year journey that should have taken only 11 days. Where were the Israelites during these 40 years? They were wandering and waiting in the wilderness. They were in the Land of In-Between. They were between Egypt and Canaan. What happened in the lives of the Israelites between Egypt and the Promised Land?

What took place for the Israelites back in 1436 BC still has significance for us in 2016 AD. I believe the experiences of God’s chosen people 1400 years before Christ was born were a foreshadow of what we will encounter over 2000 years since Christ was born. We live in the shadow of the Israelites and I want to learn from their experiences on both the physical and spiritual levels. Let’s look at some details.

The Israelites were in slavery and bondage in the physical land of Egypt. From the spiritual perspective, Egypt is often considered a symbol of sin. As human beings we are born into the bondage of our sinful human nature. Moses was sent to deliver God’s people out of Egypt and lead them into the Promised Land of freedom. God sent His Son, Jesus, to deliver us from sin. When we accept Jesus as our Savior (He saves us from sin) and Lord (He rules our lives and guides us in the freedom He purchased for us through His death), we travel from our personal Egypt to our Canaan. Our Promised Land is where we will dwell with God throughout eternity. Jesus says in John 14:2-3, “In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” So, if we have a personal relationship with Jesus, where are we? Like the Israelites, we are in the wilderness, the Land of In-Between. The Israelites sojourned there for 40 years. We will dwell in the wilderness, or the Land of In-Between, throughout of our earthly lives.

Join me as we look at some scriptures relating to the Israelites and to us. Let’s apply their experiences to our journey in the Land of In-Between.

First, God was with the Israelites throughout their journey in the wilderness and He made His presence known through the cloud during the day and the pillar of fire at night.
The LORD was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
Exodus 13:21-22
Today, Christ lives in us and we have the help of the Holy Spirit.
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1:27
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.
John 14:26

Second, as their leader, Moses could always talk with God and seek His guidance and direction.
The LORD would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his young aide Joshua son of Nun did not leave the tent.
Exodus 33:11
Each of us can personally talk with God anytime we want. This is our privilege of prayer.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
Philippians 4:6

Third, God provided food in the form of manna for the Israelites each day. The Israelites set a good example for us in that they gathered their frosty flakes in the morning to give them nourishment throughout the day.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.
Exodus 16:4
God has made provision for our spiritual manna in the form of scripture that we can feed on every day. May we remember to take time to gain new spiritual insight when our minds are fresh in the morning.
like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
I Peter 2:2-3

Fourth, the soles of the Israelites’ sandals did not wear out even though they wore them for 40 years.
Yet the LORD says, “During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet.
Deuteronomy 29:5
God watches over us so that our souls will not wear out for the duration of our journey in the Land of In-Between.
No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
I Corinthians 10:13

My Reader, every day of our lives is spent in the Land of In-Between waiting for Jesus to return so we can live with Him throughout eternity. While we are on the journey to this Promised Land, each of us will experience specific times of waiting that bring our attention to the fact that in a narrower sense we are also living in the Land of In-Between. We will feel like we are in the wilderness wandering and waiting. Life can be rather wild in the wilderness! The trials of some trails are more difficult than others. Maybe you have lost your job and you are waiting to find new employment. Maybe you are waiting for results from a medical test that will reveal whether or not you have cancer. Maybe you are waiting to see whether your spouse will go to marriage counseling with you or if you will be served divorce papers. You can give a name to the situation that accentuates your waiting in the Land of In-Between today. I know it is frustrating to wait. However, there are lessons God can only teach us in this Land of In-Between. The Israelites traveled around Mt. Sinai many times during their 40 years of waiting to cross over into the land of Canaan. So I encourage you to take another trip around your mountain or sit at the foot of your Mt. Sinai until the Lord reveals your next travels. Remember Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.” The Lord will make our paths straight even when we are waiting and wavering in the wilderness of the Land of In-Between!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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Note: The phrase about the land of the in-between resonated in my spirit when I first heard it. I do not know if there is a specific person to whom I should give credit for these descriptive words or not. However, I do know that what I have shared in this post are insights the Lord gave me when I thought about and prayed about the Land of In-Between.

Battling with Prayer

prayer-man2prayer-man-1Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and
go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand
on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”
Exodus 17:9

The Amalekites had attacked and now it was time for the Israelites to fight. However, Moses was not going to let his men fight without the help of the Lord. Moses said he would oversee the battle with the staff of God in his hands. This was not the first time Moses relied upon the help of his staff while leading the Israelites. He used this same staff when he initiated each of the 10 plagues before Pharoah while in Egypt. This was the staff he held over the Red Sea when it was parted and the staff with which he stuck the rock to create a spring of drinking water. I believe that the staff Moses held in his hand was the staff of God, To me, it symbolizes the power of God that brings about change.

So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered,
and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill.
As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were
winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the
Amalekites were winning. When Moses’ hands grew tired,
they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it.
Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one
on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.
Exodus 17:10-12

The day of battle arrived! Joshua and the men were on the battlefield while Moses, Aaron and Hur were on a hill overlooking the field. I believe there were two battles taking place that day. There was the physical battle fought by the Israelites under the leadership of Joshua and there was a spiritual battle under the direction of Moses, Aaron and Hur. Physically, it was a battle at Rephidim fought between the Amalekites and the Israelites. Spiritually, there was a bigger battle being fought in the heavenlies. Paul reminds me in II Corinthians 10:3-4, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of the  fortresses.” I continue to set the stage for this spiritual warfare according to scriptural references of other battles in the Bible. In Joshua 5:4, the Lord says, “as commander of the army of the LORD I have now come.” and II Chronicles 20:15 states, “This is what the LORD says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.’” I want to suggest that Moses, Aaron and Hur are members of God’s army portraying different aspects of prayer. First of all, Moses oversaw the battle with his staff in hand. In the previous paragraph, I pointed out that the staff symbolized the power of God. Through intercessory prayer petitions, Moses pleaded for the power of God to be active in the battles both at Rephidim and in the heavenlies. His prayers were answered because as long as he held up his hands the Israelites were winning while when he put his hands down, the Amalekites had an advantage. Another thing I notice in verse 12 is that Moses sat on a stone. I believe the stone or rock represents the Lord. Psalm 78:35 says, “They remembered that God was their Rock, that God Most High was their Redeemer.” Effective prayers have Jesus as their cornerstone and are prayed in the name of Jesus. Verse 12 also says that Aaron and Hur held up Moses’s arms. I want to suggest that Aaron symbolized thanksgiving and Hur represented praise. Both are aspects of prayer. I may get tired of repetitively asking God for the same things, but I can expand my prayers to include thanksgiving and praise. I can thank God for what He has done in the past, what He is doing at the present, and what He will do in the future. I can praise God for who He is; my conversations with the Lord do not always have to be focused on His actions. I want to use Philippians 4:6 as a guideline for my prayers. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Another good scripture is Hebrews 13:15,“Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise–the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Thanksgiving and praise, represented by Aaron and Hur, helped Moses to be steadfast in his intercession. Thanksgiving and praise will also help to increase my faith for answers to the petitions I pray.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His
might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able
to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our
struggle is not against flesh and blood, but
against the rulers, against the powers, against the world
forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of
wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up
the full armor of God, so that you will be able to
resist in the evil day, and having done everything,
to stand firm.
Ephesians 6:10-13

 I began by focusing upon an Old Testament account regarding battles that were fought. However, you and I still fight battles today. Ephesians 6 is a good place for us to go for help regarding our battlefields. Our strength comes from the Lord and does not lie within us. Paul describes the armor of God and we need to put on these powerful pieces. Ephesians 6:14-17 describes the specific pieces of armor available to us. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all of this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” The sword of the Spirit, or God’s written Word, is our only offensive weapon. I see a similarity between the sword of the Spirit we can hold in our hands and the staff Moses held in his hand – both entail the power of God. We may think we are only fighting a physical battle, but we need to see that we are warriors in a much bigger battle. This is something I need to remember when praying.

And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of
prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and
always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Ephesians 6:18

In this verse, Paul not only gives us a mandate to pray but he also gives us directions as to how we are to pray when battles are being fought in both the natural and supernatural realms. I feel that the spiritual warfare done by Moses, Aaron and Hur is an example of what Paul is encouraging us to do. In Ezekiel 22:30, the Lord says, “I looked for someone among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found no one.” This verse refers to the Lord’s need of intercessors to stand in the gap. Intercessors pray presenting the needs of people to the Lord while also presenting the Lord to the people. We are part of God’s army and He needs prayer warriors to fight for Him and with Him. However, we do not need to pray alone. Moses became tired and needed the support of Aaron and Hur. If we are to stay alert, it is wise for us to become a part of a body of intercessors, a part of God’s army. Jesus promises us in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”

We are all aware of the tragedy caused by terrorist attacks upon Paris this past week. This is a current example of a physical battle that is taking place within our world. However, I believe that every physical battle is ultimately a spiritual battle as well. Let us support France with our spiritual warfare just as Moses, Aaron and Hur supported the Israelites. My Reader, will you enlist in God’s army to be a prayer warrior with me? I encourage you to be like the Old Testament characters we have focused upon today. Remember to incorporate petitions, thanksgiving and praise within your prayers. The Lord is the commander-in-chief of all battles but He needs you!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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A Burning Bush for Moses and Me

burning-bush-3

 

burning-bush-with-moese-2 Last week on a sunny autumn afternoon I went for a walk in our neighborhood. A burning bush with brilliant red leaves captured my attention. When I got home I decided to read about Moses and the burning bush in Exodus 3. Then I made some comparisons.

There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire
from within a bush.
Moses saw that though the bush was
on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought,
“I will go over and see this strange sight—
why the bush does not burn up.”
Exodus 3:2-3

The bright red appearance of the euonymus alatus planting attracted my attention and the bush that appeared to be burning but not burning up caught the attention of Moses. The Lord often speaks to me through the nearness of nature. Today, I believe God wanted me to see His presence in the beauty of a specific shrub. However, I am suspicious that He has more to impart to me.

God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
Exodus 3:4

Although I did not hear the audible voice of God from my burning bush, I believe Moses did hear God calling to him. I wonder if I am attuned enough to the Lord to be able to hear Him calling me by name. Moses gave a positive response to the Lord. Am I ready and willing to answer with the words “Here I am” if I were to hear His voice? Was the Lord trying to say something special to me when I stopped to look at the vibrant bush this afternoon?

Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals,
for the place
where you are standing is holy ground.”
Exodus 3:5

The holiness of God was evident when God asked Moses to take off his sandals. I, too, must remove anything from my life that might hinder my relationship with the Lord if I want to experience His presence. God is sovereign and I must approach Him with respect and sincerity. I need to alter my attitude to be able to approach the altar of God and worship Him.

Not only was God speaking to Moses through the bush that appeared to be on fire, but God pointed out to Moses that the surrounding ground was holy. God and Moses were in the Lord’s sanctuary of nature that day long ago, and so was I in God’s natural sanctuary this afternoon. I want to see and treat all of creation as holy ground.  I want to see the supernatural in the natural.

And God said, “I will be with you.”
Exodus 3:12

Throughout the remainder of Exodus 3 and 4, the Lord unveils to Moses a task He has for him to do. However, the first thing God did was to reassure Moses that he was not alone. God affirmed this fact by showing Himself in a bush that appeared to be on fire. I believe that God enjoys taking ordinary things and using them for His extraordinary purposes. I wonder what ordinary thing in my life God wants to use for His greater purposes. Is He trying to divulge more to me than simply the beauty of a burning bush? Moses’ encounter with God was the beginning of a new season in his life. For me, I see the changing colors of the euonymus alatus shrub at the beginning of the autumn season. Does God want to begin a new season in my life as well?

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM….
“This is my name forever.
Exodus 3:14-15

I think these two phrases are the most important words God spoke to Moses. He revealed himself as the great I AM. When God says “I am that I am,” He is saying “I am everything and anything that you will ever need.”  I like the name I AM for God because this name allows me to fully know Him. I can take the name I AM and complete a sentence by defining God in a specific way. For example, I can hear God saying to me, “I AM your provider” or “I AM your healer” or “I AM your redeemer” or whatever my need may be at that time.

God also assured Moses that His name never changes. His name didn’t change for Moses and it doesn’t change for me. The colors of my burning bush may change, but God never changes. During some seasons of my life, the Lord’s presence may be more vibrant and vital to me than at other times, but He is always with me.

The Lord used a burning bush to get the attention of Moses many years ago and this afternoon He used a burning bush to attract my attention. Thank you, Lord, for seeking me out and speaking to me while I was an ordinary walk. Lord, you turned my ordinary into Your extraordinary through Your presence. So, now, may the fire of a bush set me on fire for You, O Lord!

Joyfully,
Cheryl
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