take courage

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June 7, 2019
"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you."
Exodus 20:12
This is the fifth of the the commandments...kinda cool and weird that it's said in this way. Honor your parents that your days may be long. Honor your parents! And perhaps you'll live longer. (But honor your parents regardless.) Honor is something that my generation seems the worst at ... we are pretty rebellious, misguided, and very counter-authority, so in the places we were supposed to practice honor (toward our country, toward older folks, toward our superiors) we made it a new norm to not honor them because they were problematic. Because of this, I feel like our honoring muscle is just weak, and so it is something we need to learn and work out, especially with our parents -- this is in the ten commandments!
May 30, 2019
11 Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed.
12But Moses' hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
13 And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.
Exodus 17:11-13
This is just about the great thing I have ever read!!! Verse 12!!!! Picturing Aaron and Hur literally holding up Moses hands while he sits on a stone is so funny, but also it works and they win!!! Friends :) to help keep your hands up glorifying God and calling out to God, friends to keep you steady!
May 24, 2019
13 And Moses said to the people, "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you will have only to be silent."
Exodus 12:13-14
You will have only to be silent. Take courage, for the Lord is with you; he is fighting for you.
May 18, 2019
21 And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people.
Exodus 13:21-22
After reading these verses a few days ago, I felt a feeling of deep love for God's steadfastness. Verse 22 makes me feel so taken care of by the Father. Today I thought about how the Israelites must have definitely taken these pillars for granted during their journey through the desert. Yet STILL God did not leave them or rebuke them, he stuck by their side. He remained faithful. This just seems so utterly different than how I care for other people, which is just a reminder how immature my own love is, and how I shouldn't assume God loves me the way I love others. God's love is the height of maturity. He will stick by me because He knows what I need amd he truly loves me, not because I'll validate him with praise or reciprocate him with loyalty. He will stick by me even if I stray. He will come after the one lost sheep. And I will try not to stray intentionally, God, but oh how I'm foolish and need your guidance, and how I can be wicked and rebellious -- and I'm sorry. I'm so grateful for your mature love, and that you are my Father who is so much larger, stronger, and wiser than me, and who will never leave my side.
May 16, 2019
You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?
Psalm 56:8
The witness you bear is the fulfillment of understanding. You know me, you see me, you know all things about me -- forward and backward in time. I thank you, Lord, that you catch every tear that falls. There is a not a tear I can shed that you do not see. I love you so, so, so much oh God.
May 15, 2019
17 When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, "Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt. 18 But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle.
Exodus 13:17-18
God knows what our faith can handle. And so any season/place he brings us into is with perfect purpose and ultimately victory!
May 14, 2019
8 You shall tell your son on that day, 'It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.' 9 And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt. 10 You shall therefore keep this statute at its appointed time from year to year.
Exodus 13:8-10
God judges our hearts, not our actions, so we should never have religion or discipline without a genuine devotion to God in our hearts. Yet it's also clear here that God is commanding the Israelites to rigorously keep the Passover. He is telling them what it will look like to follow Him: they must sacrifice their firstborns and firstfruits, and they must keep His laws. Jesus -- the most precious and unblemished firstborn -- was sacrificed for our sake, that we may be forgiven. But, that doesn't diminish God's heart and character in the Old Testament. He is a God that values the true honoring of Him -- through discipline, sacrifice, and humility. We can't neglect our actions or outward appearances / interactions in the name of "oh God only looks at my heart so I'm good." A humble and faithful heart in God should also manifest in actions for Him -- so that our lives my be a sign pointing toward the Lord (verse 9).
May 13, 2019
And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough that they had brought out of Egypt, for it was not leavened, because they were thrust out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.
Exodus 12:39
I was wondering about why God had the exodus out of Egypt be in such a hurry that they couldn't even wait for the bread to rise. Surely if God had wanted, He could have given the Israelites a slow, calm way out. Instead, He made it an exit of haste. While I love calm and slow times, I think it's in those times that I am also most risk-averse and least desparate for God. I dislike being rushed and being in the middle of storms -- but these are also the times that I call upon the Lord the most, and the times in which God moves most powerfully.
May 12, 2019
5 I hear a language I had not known:
6 "I relieved your shoulder of the burden;
your hands were freed from the basket.
7 In distress, you called, and I delivered you;
I answered you in the secret place of thunder;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah."
Psalm 81:5b-7
I am calling out to you, my dear God
May 11, 2019
8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
9 Be not like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
which must be curbed with bit and bridle,
or it will not stay near you.
Psalm 32:8-9
Verse 9! God wants to teach us to stay near Him, He doesn't want us to have no understanding -- or else we'll stray. Perhaps this is the purpose of understanding?? God gives us wisdom so that we will know how to stay near Him!!
May 10, 2019
5 Commit your way to the Lord;
trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
Psalm 37:5-6
I used to be confused at the dissonance between what Christians would preach about love, peace, joy and grace, versus what was actually in the Bible: a heavy focus on righteousness, suffering, justice, waiting and redemption. What we preach vs. what is in the Bible is a whole other topic... but I've been finding the gap between those two parts of myself -- the part that wants grace and the part that wants righteousness -- to be closing while reading recently from Exodus and Psalms. God is One -- all those things I mentioned above are in Him all at once! And to feel my heart moving toward a deeper understanding of that unity is wonderful. I am learning that God delights in righteousness: He is not just a bregrudging and all-powerful Judge -- for justice and righteousness are included in "goodness" since they are of God, and so God not only enacts them, he finds joy in them -- that's amazing to me! Worldly notions of righteousness and justice seem to come attached with feelings of anger at injustice, or fear/(self-)loathing at unrighteousness. But these concepts are not just means for God to punish us for being apart from Him, they are also part of His gift to us, and part of the amazing glory that is the Lord! I've never thought of righteousness as magnificent or beautiful in the way the vastness of the sky is, or the divine intricacy of nature. Now when I read psalms and I see the word "righteousness," or verses about justice -- it brings forth joy and peace to mind as well. God, I pray that you continue to draw my heart nearer to you, so that I may share increasingly in your delight in all things created by you!!
May 9, 2019
1 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 "This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you."
Exodus 12:1-2
Today I read the final plague, and about the Passover lamb. Jesus is foreshadowed! If we think of the Israelites' deliverance out of Egypt as parallel to Christ delivering us from sin/death, then when God says, "This month shall be for you the beginning of months," it is like the new life we have Jesus. Our whole life begins at Jesus. In Him it is like we literally start over -- new calender, new home, new direction, new life. When the Israelites are delivered, though Pharoah still tries to kill them, he no longer has any claim to them. Likewise, once we have been saved by Jesus, sin has no more legitimate power over us -- though the evil one may try to kill us/keep us from our God! We have authority and reason to say to sin: you have no power over me!! Get away!! We are under a new kingdom now, with a new king. Thank you Jesus for being my new beginning, the start of the rest of my life, everything good.
May 8, 2019
I say to the Lord, "You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you."
Psalm 16:2
Oh God, the best blessing is the honor to bless others in a way that points to you. I have no good apart from you, for you are the definition of good, of light, of fullness, of joy. How wonderful you are! It is my joy to be a vessel for your light to shine through! I never want to conceal you as the source of anything good I do, or get in the way of your glorious light. How humbling and beautiful and exciting a truth.
May 7, 2019
Then Pharoah's servants said to him, "How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?"
Exodus 10:7
Wow, today I read through the first through ninth plagues, and it's pretty intense. This verse stood out to me -- it's said after the eighth plague (locusts) happens. It is very clear to the Egyptians that they have been beat/destroyed. Yet Pharoah's heart is still hardened by God. Perhaps this is a reminder that opposing God only leads to literal destruction, yet God still allows opposition to exist for His ultimate glory -- which in this case is the deliverance of the Israelites from slavery into the promised land. God may harden peoples' hearts against us and allow suffering not because He is weak, but because a greater glory is coming from this situation!
May 6, 2019
Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharoah, "Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, 'Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.'"
Exodus 5:1
Emphasis on that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness. God makes it clear that He doesn't just want to deliver the Israelites for the sake of ending their suffering; He wants to free them so that they can come sacrifice and worship Him!! This was a good reminder that God doesn't want to just remove certain things from our life, he wants to replace them. The real deliverance of the Israelites was not freedom from slavery, but rather freedom to worship their God. It was the ADDING of God that freed them, not the subtracting of the Egyptians!! And so I pray not that my suffering be removed, but simply for more of God and the opportunity to praise Him.
May 5, 2019
22 Then Moses turned to the Lord and said, "O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? 23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all."
Exodus 5:22-23
Ah, I have been disturbed today with the fear that maybe I am a Saul to other people -- that God has rejected and abandoned me, and will replace me with a David. But even Moses cried out to the Lord asking why he is there if it only seems like evil is being done to the Israelites, the people he was supposedly sent to help. When Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh with what the Lord said, Pharoah just responded by imposing harsher cruelty upon the Israelites, and then the Israelites blamed Moses for their increased suffering. Moses must have felt so awful and so low for causing the Israelites more pain. Both Saul and Moses, in a way, brought suffering to other people -- but the difference between the two is that Moses was with God and Saul was not. I pray that as long as I stay near to God, obey Him and delight in Him, take refuge in Him and count Him as my confidence even when I am weak and feel worthless -- that I will be like Moses and not like Saul. If you are with God yet you feel like you are doing more harm than good, don't worry: God might just be about to use you for a great deliverance, not replace or abandon you! (Also because we have Jesus, God will never ever abandon you [Hebrews 13:5] hallelujah!)
May 4, 2019
Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.
Psalm 63:3
Your love is better than life!!!!! I'd rather have your love and die than live without you. When I understand your love, the only thing I want to do is worship.
May 3, 2019
And the Lord said to Moses in Midian, "Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead."
Exodus 4:19
I think in my heart when I burn bridges or flee, it's forever. But the Lord here is telling Moses to return to Egypt -- the place from which he had to flee for his life because he acted on the injustice he saw -- because his reasons for leaving are no more. Now, those men who sought to kill Moses are dead, and God wants to use Moses to deliver the Israelites from their slavery (Moses's original reason for lashing out and killing that Egyptian). I think I should open my heart to being brought back to places and people that I once fled from, that once hurt me -- for God may have removed the threat, or may be calling me back for a certain purpose of His. Don't let deep wounds be forever wounded, and don't let burnt bridges be forever burnt.
May 2, 2019
Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
1 Peter 4:19
Take heart that though you suffer, you are near to God and He has a purpose for your pain (even if it is unjust, it will bring glory to Him), for He is doing a good work in you. Continue to do good and draw near to Him! It is well with your soul. Give yourself over completely to your wonderful Father!
May 1, 2019
13 But I am like a deaf man; I do not hear,
like a mute man who does not open his mouth.
14 I have become like a man who does not hear,
and in whose mouth are no rebukes.
Psalm 38:13-4
Ahhhh Psalms 37 and 38 are so good. I've been feeding on them like food these past few days. I love these verses because despite it being so hard and painful for David, he is also being humbled and right before God by not taking justice into his own hands (closed mouth), and not taking the insults of evildoers to heart (closed ears). I pray in these painful times to become like a person who does not hear, and in whose mouth are no rebukes. I will be still before you my God, and I know you will make everything right!
April 30, 2019
11 But Moses said to God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharoah and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?" 12 He said, "But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain."
Exodus 3:11-12
Oh Moses, oh God. Moses asks, "Who am I...?" because he doubts in his ability, his personality, his strength, etc. God doesn't answer with Moses's qualifications for doing this great thing for God. He answers instead with: "But I will be with you." Wow!!!! There is nothing more powerful than that. As we know, God used Moses in one of the most powerful ways in the Old Testament -- though Moses was doubtful, fearful, and insecure, God chose him. God was with him. Whoever God is with doesn't have to worry...and God is with us forever because of Jesus.
April 28, 2019
The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul, since I have rejected him from being king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil, and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.”
1 Samuel 16:1
Samuel was buddies with Saul and heard from God to anoint him king, despite God later rejecting Saul. Samuel didn't do anything wrong (God TOLD him to anoint Saul -- to give the Israelites what they wanted, and someone who would deliver them from the Philistines), but now it's time to move on and God has other places and people to send him to. We will miss our next assignment if we get too wrapped up in what-I-think-is-good/what-I-think-is-not-good instead of concerning ourselves only with God/not-God! I cannot judge my life based on any moral framework of right/wrong, good/bad, even fruitful/not fruitful if it is apart from God. All those things -- the concept of right, good, and fruitful -- are defined by God. It's okay if good things are taken away/leave, or if what seemed good turned out to not be with God. God was with Samuel in every step of his process; Samuel didn't make a mistake.

Fill your horn with oil, and go!!
April 27, 2019
3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.
5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not covery my iniquity;
I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,"
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin.
Psalm 32:3-5
This psalm has been with me for a while. I remember it was the first psalm through which God spoke to me: I was at a retreat and I was praying for a number, and "32" came. Verses 3-4 are so viscerally what I had been feeling -- like my body was wasting away, like a heavy hand was upon me. I didn't really understand the connection to verse 5 at the time, I was too struck by the imagery of 3-4, and I felt like a victim. The psalm has come up since then, usually in messages about why we should confess our sins and not stay silent. But today I have been feeling verses 3-4 again, and I was called back to this psalm. It is difficult to live in a fallen world. It hurts to sin and stay silent, but it also hurts to live in a world of sin. Pain will always be a part of this world until Jesus comes back, and I think David deeply understood suffering -- especially at the hands of others. When I feel like there is a heavy hand upon me, when I am weak, when I am wasting away...God understands, and is heartbroken by the state of this world. Pray for the forgiveness of us as humans. Pray that we aren't knocked down by our sin and the sins of others, as if Jesus has not risen. The world's brokenness will torment us if we don't invite Jesus in. Bring it all to the Lord, for his love is forgiveness, his love is healing.
April 26, 2019
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9
Courage has been coming up a lot lately. I have felt like courage is tough, and is scary, and does not feel good. But today I think Jesus showed me that I don't have to be courageous by my own strength (which fails), but I can be brave by His strength (which endures and never fails). It is scary to be vulnerable; it can take courage to let ourselves feel joy sometimes. But not by our strength, but by the Lord's, we can live couragously!
April 25, 2019
23 During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. 24 And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. 25God saw the people of Israel--and God knew.
Exodus 2:23-25
God heard, God remembered, God saw, and God knew. Hallelujah.
April 24, 2019
Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses turned again into the camp, his assistant Joshua the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent.
Exodus 33:11
This is talking about Moses's "tent of meeting" (Exodus 33:7), and how God would personally meet Moses face to face! Wow, how wondrous that would be. Listening to TMP sermons these past weeks have also drawn me to pay attention to Joshua, who God was preparing during this time. Joshua was a faithful assistant to Moses, drawing near to God's presence, never departing from the tent!! I pray to be this hungry for God's intimate presence, and this faithful and humble an assistant.
April 23, 2019
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will."
Matthew 26:39
Jesus asking God to "let this cup pass" has been really with me today. I am comforted that Jesus, who is perfect, still suffered and did not want to suffer, but also submitted to God because he knew of the amazing, amazing glory to come. I feel I am struggling today, and God, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me. NEVERTHELESS, not as I will but as you will, God. Thank you Jesus for being the absolute role model of how to pray. I feel lately as if I am coming to know a small corner of how you felt when you felt rejected by humans for the sake of bringing glory to the Father. It hurts so much and I can't imagine what you endured. Your prayer of petition and submission rings through my heart.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light.
Psalm 36:9
I am starting this page to encourage myself, but I want to make it public so that I am also held accountable. I'm hungry for the word of God but I am also weak, forgetful, lazy, and easily confused. I yearn to drink from the fountain of life. I want to set my eyes still on Him all the days I am here on earth, and all the days forevermore, and I no longer want to romanticize or bask in darkness! I pray that I can post daily on this page about my convictions while reading the Word, and that having this quick, accessible place to store up these convictions will encourage my heart in God when I feel low or dry, and also nudge me to take courage and stay steadfast. Let my joy be deeply tied to knowing the truth of the Word!