The Tug of Egypt

TheTugOfEgypt

As I read through Exodus, Numbers, and Leviticus in my daily devotions, I am again drawn to the lessons God has for us in all the books of the Old Testament. I understand that:

  1. The Old Testament is God’s Story to show us our need for Him.
  2. The Old Testament shows us our sin state.
  3. Egypt is a picture of sin.
  4. Joseph is a prototype of Jesus.
  5. God wants to show us that, without His intervention, we could not, would not leave Egypt/sin.

Questions arise as I read:

  • If Joseph is a prototype of Jesus, why did God use Joseph to invite his family to Egypt? I don’t think Jesus invites us to sin.
  • After Jacob and all the Israelites moved to Egypt, life was good. But then a new Egyptian ruler came to power. The Egyptians slowly but surely put the Israelites under subjection and forced them into slavery. Why didn’t the Israelites escape while they could, and go back to their homeland? Why didn’t even a few families decide that they should return to Canaan instead of staying in Egypt?
  • After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, and all the Israelites witnessed with their own eyes the power and magnitude of God, why, when any little problem popped up, did they cry to return to Egypt?
  • What is God’s lesson to me when the spies went into the Promised Land? Only two of the spies (Joshua and Caleb) gave a favorable report and encouraged them to go because God would be with them. And all the people sided with the scared reports; they spoke of selecting a captain to lead them back to Egypt (Numbers 14.4).

As I prayed and continued reading, God brought these lessons to me:

Jesus doesn’t invite us to live in sin. He goes before us, to prepare the land so that we may live there in God’s grace. God knows we choose sin (Genesis 6.5), and that we will be enticed into more sin, and that we will want to stay there. As Joseph was placed in Egypt to prepare for the Israelites to live there, Jesus came to Earth to live in our sin with us, to show us how to live and give us hope; and, ultimately, to show us that there is a way out if we obey Him.

The Israelites did not escape from Egypt while they could. It is the same with us and sin. We are enticed to live in sin. It looks good. Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Life was good in Egypt. Jacob and his sons, the first generation of Israelites who lived in Egypt, established a home there. They had children who grew up there and had children and grandchildren of their own. They considered Egypt their homeland. The new pharaoh began putting stiffer and stiffer burdens on them. Still they did not leave.

Look at the Jewish people in Germany and surrounding countries in the 1930’s and ‘40’s. They did not try to escape their homes, even after they were required to wear the Star of David. They couldn’t imagine the evil to come until it was too late.

Look at the Jews exiled in Babylon. Even after they were allowed to return to their homeland, many stayed in Babylon.

Look at America. We live in a sinful culture. We are sucked into it: television shows we shouldn’t watch; products we shouldn’t buy but we do because we’re enticed by the ads and we believe they’ll make our lives better somehow; clothing we wear or allow our children to wear; jobs we take; music we listen to; movies we watch; ministries we assume without consulting God; friends with whom we associate and how we associate with them; Internet sites we visit, and amount of time online, both of which detract from our walk with God; words we use or continue to listen to that do not glorify God. These are every day sins we don’t even think about because they are an integral part of our lives, and EVERYBODY DOES IT. We are using our families and friends and neighbors and media as our plumb line, instead of God.

Is there any escaping this? To where do we flee? We haven’t a “homeland” as the Israelites did, no physical Promised Land flowing with milk and honey. My heritage is Irish and Czech, among others; am I supposed to try to go back to one of those countries, to live with “my people?” I was born an American, and this is my home. Just like the children of Israel: they were born in Egypt, their families were born in Egypt, and that was their home. They became slaves to Egypt / slaves to sin in a subtle way, and then there they were, crying to God to save them. [I think, in America, many of us have not yet come to the point to realize that we must cry out to God to save us. We have it too good, and we don’t want to be saved.] [We, as Christians, do have a homeland, by the way: it is the Person of Jesus Christ, and God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within us. We get to carry our homeland with us all the time, and go to it for all eternity.]

God allowed the children of Israel, living in Egypt, to come to the point of crying out to Him. He needed them to understand their need for Him, to know that they could not save themselves; but to know that they needed to be saved. [God still works the same way. He brings each of us to the point where we know we must cry out to Him, know He is the only One Who can save us because we are slaves to sin and cannot save ourselves.]

After God displayed His glory to Egypt and the Israelites, after He saved His people from bondage, after His people witnessed miracle after miracle, proving that God loved them and had in mind a beautiful life for them; after all that, when the Israelites faced hardships and seemingly insurmountable odds, they cried to return to Egypt. (Exodus 14.11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? Numbers 14.1-3 And all the congregation lifted up their voice, and cried; and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness! And wherefore hath the LORD brought us unto this land, to fall by the sword, that our wives and our children should be a prey? were it not better for us to return into Egypt?)

In our own lives, we easily forget the power of God that saved us, and that same power that is still available to us. The lure of sin is strong. Sin is our comfort zone; it’s where we lived for a long time, and we had conditioned ourselves to arrange our lives around it and make do. This new life of blind obedience to God, depending on Him for our daily need is too scary. We can’t see what it will look like, so we go back to what we knew before. The Israelites could not see into a future with God, could not imagine His glory in their lives on a day-to-day basis.

As modern Christians, we are fortunate to have God’s Word at our fingertips. We are infinitely blessed to have God’s very Holy Spirit living within us! Even with what God has given us, it is a hard thing to live in day-to-day obedience to God and depend on His mercy and grace. It takes strength to step out in faith all the time, and to depend on God to provide whatever we are going to need. We can empathize with the Israelites in their desires to go back to what they knew.

[Sometimes it’s not we, ourselves, who are struggling with sin and the desire to return to it. Sometimes it’s a loved one. We can see it in someone else’s life. We must have compassion on those who struggle with sin. It is a strong force. Thanks be to God, He is stronger; but we must have patience, and pray for those who struggle.]

When the Israelites had finally reached their promised destination, when they were on the verge of entering into the Promised Land, when they had traveled in the wilderness for months, when they had lived day-by-day upon God’s provision of water and manna and protection, when they saw the gorgeous fruit of the land they could have; they gave up. The spies came back with a scary report, and everyone believed that the giants living there would swallow them up. They really thought that all this was for nothing, and they wanted to return to Egypt.

REALLY??? Well, yeah. It’s hard to believe that sin has such a strong a pull on us. Hard to believe unless you’re in the throes of temptation, yourself (or love someone who is). Whether it’s finances or sex or power or tobacco or alcohol or drugs or language or anger or fear or bitterness or food; we hear that siren call of sin – the one that’s personal to us. We’re ready to give up all the promises God gives us for the future, in order to have that one little taste again of the past.

If we want sin, God allows us to follow it.

FALL ON YOUR FACE BEFORE GOD, just as Moses and Aaron did so many times. Beg for mercy, beg for grace and forgiveness and strength and guidance. When faced with temptation, turn around and face God. Embrace Him instead of the sin. Ask Him. He’s there. He longs to jump in to save you from whatever it is.

But we must obey God.

Remember: God created the universe, and He created you. We live by His rules. [Also remember, His rules are for our good, and because He loves us.]

God is holy. He will not compromise; but He will forgive.

Read, ingest, swallow and digest God’s Word. He gives it to us for our good, because He loves us so much.

Read what God has to say. Learn His ways. Obey Him. God always blesses obedience.

“I Am Free” on Alethea’s Mind blog

When I read Tosin’s testimony on her freedom in the Lord, I got one of those physical reactions that you get when God is speaking powerfully; when the Holy Spirit within you is connecting, resonating, with His Holy Spirit in a beloved sister.

I will let Tosin speak in her own words here. The link is https://aletheasmind.wordpress.com/2019/09/19/i-am-free/

A lot has led to this piece below. It’s a journey of many years, but a journey that has now come to an end. This is my testimony, and I am proud to share it unreservedly:

I have been a victim, but I have also played the victim.
I have had low self-esteem, but I have also lowered my esteem.
I have suffered from the words of others, but I have also battered myself with my words.
I have longed for the approval of others but hardly approved of myself.
I have sought for love in all the wrong places but barely loved myself.
I have lived in the fear of rejection when daily I rejected myself.
I have watched others try to dim my light but I’ve never allowed my light to shine.
I have been molested but molest myself daily living in the shadows of my past.

I have belittled myself so you can pity me, I project weakness only to identify with you. When did I believe it was okay to muddy myself in your dirt so I can look like you?

I commend you by portraying a weaker me in comparison to the strength you seem to display, but deep down inside I’m wondering why I just can’t commend your strength and simply walk away.

I have also pretended to walk among the strong while my legs were shivering in weakness, only to keep up appearances, even when no one was really watching. It’s sad the reality of life when one chooses to live for the eyes of me, neglecting the One who truly sees all.

The devil thought he won the battle on my identity, but the Cross is his permanent defeat. All those years of attacking my mind from my childhood up to this point, trying to destroy and pervert all the God made has failed.

I AM FREE!!!

I have been free but didn’t accept my freedom to live in the truth of it, but today, everything has changed.

I am free from playing the victim
I am free to live my God-esteem
I am free from the words that caged me
I am free to be who God made me be
I am free from the shadows of my past
I am free to shine His light
I am free from my fears of rejection
I am free to enjoy the greatest love of all
I am free from rolling in the mud of others
I am free to stand strong
I am free to walk forgiven
I am free to forgive

I am OluwaTosin, I am God’s child . . .
I AM FREE!

“They have greatly oppressed me from my youth,” let Israel say; “they have greatly oppressed me from my youth, but they have not gained the victory over me. Ploughmen have ploughed my back and made their furrows long. But the Lord is righteous; he has cut me free from the cords of the wicked.” Psalm 129:1-4

Change Your Past (Revisited)

Originally posted Sept 1, 2018

Change Your Past

I’ve heard so many times that we can’t change the past. While I agree that we cannot change the events that actually happened, we can change our perspectives, our attitudes, and our emotions in relation to events.

I have my own memories, good and bad. I’ve re-written many of them. Consider the following scenarios, as they may reflect anyone’s memories (plug in your own):

*     *     *     *     *

That so-called friend who didn’t stick up for me: I didn’t know she was afraid to say something, that she thought of five great things to say later, but thought it was too late, so she never said anything, and she really missed my friendship after that, even though she felt she deserved me ditching her.

That time I said those hurtful things to my neighbor: they really were hurtful, and I meant to hurt her. But I can look back at that now, see that, even though I thought (and still think) that she deserved it, I was hurtful. I can apologize and ask for her forgiveness. If I can’t do that with her, at least I can confess to God.

That one who abused me, over and over and over: It was wrong, he was twisted. I hated him. I can forgive him, even though I will never trust him or tell him; and I can grieve what was lost for him and for me.

All those times I failed my child: I can tell him how proud I am of him; I can ask forgiveness for issues I remember or that he brings up. I can tell him and show him I love him.

That parent who was never really a parent: I didn’t know what he (or she) went through as a child, what was learned, the situations impossible to handle; maybe I never got it that he (or she) was simply incredibly selfish, that it was never about me, always about him (or her).

*     *     *     *     *

While we are stuck with the memories, God’s gift is that we can soften the edges; we can change how we remember; we can receive or ask or bestow forgiveness; God can work in the hearts of others, and in us.

Those personal memories I mentioned: some of them still hurt. I’m still embarrassed by some of them. Anger still sparks. I’m working on them. How do I work? I bring them to God. As I wrestle with the thoughts, the condemnation in my head, I bring the fight to God.

I got hurt. I hurt others.

God can redeem!

And, while God may change my heart, how I see things, how I handle memories; I may not see a change in the heart or attitude of the person I’m dealing with. That’s okay. Yes, really. I can ask forgiveness, and it may or may not be given. I may forgive someone, with or without telling that person, and the relationship may evidence no change. That’s okay.

Because God is in control. My responsibility is to stand before God with a clear conscience. I do all that I can to fulfill that, and leave the rest to Him.

So yes, I believe we can change our past, through obedience to God, letting Him work in our minds and hearts and attitudes.

Because God can redeem.

What Kind of Sin?

WhatKindOfSin

It is generally agreed that the essence of sin is to do that (or not do that) which displeases God – to disobey Him. And sin separates us from God. It’s not that God turns His back; it’s that we turn our backs on Him when we disobey and choose our own way instead of His.

The remedy for sin is repentance, to turn around from our own path and direct ourselves to God.

In the Old Testament, God laid out several different types of sin, and several types of sacrifice to symbolize repentance.

Now that Jesus Christ has become our Final Sacrifice, we no longer follow the Old Testament sacrifice covenant – it is no longer needed, since Jesus paid the price for sin in full when He died for us.

In 1John 1.9, God tells us, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

When we sin, it is important to recognize that we have sinned, acknowledge our sin, confess it to God, and repent. Why is this necessary, if God has already forgiven us through Jesus? Because when we sin, we distort our relationship with God; and we want a right relationship with Him so that we may live life abundantly. (John 15.10, 11 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.)

Be aware:

  • Sin in ignorance
    • We don’t even know we sinned, but we did. Examples: Our words may offend when we say something without knowing the situation. We leave the store with something stuck in the cart that we forgot to show the cashier. We forget a loved one’s important date.

For these, we must ask the Spirit to convict us where needed, and confess that we sin in ignorance. Ask the Spirit to show you how to rectify, if needed.

  • Give in to temptation
    • Sometimes we sin because we are weak.

Ask the Spirit to strengthen you, that you will live in the strength of Him.

  • Sometimes we sin in rebellion. (I don’t care if this is wrong! I want it anyway!”)

Pray Psalm 51.10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

  • Sin from selfish ambition
    • We see something we want (or don’t want to happen), and we manipulate to achieve our goals.

Pray, “Not my will, but Thine be done, O Lord.”

  • Sin in our hearts
    • When we judge others, it is a sin in our hearts. Other examples: We have a dirty rotten attitude toward a friend or family member and think we’re not sinning because we’re still smiling and being “kind.” Looking with lust. Imagining illicit activities.

Memorize Scripture, let it fill your thoughts. Psalm 119.11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

  • Sin in emotional struggle
    • Whether in anger or heat of passion, in turmoil or pain, we can say or do things that normally lie outside our personal makeup.

Proverbs 4.23 Guard your heart with all diligence, for from it flow springs of life.

If your heart is pure, then what comes out in a squeeze will be pure.

  • Bringing someone else into sin
    • We have no right to entice or drag anyone else into sin. Examples: luring someone into an affair; sharing your drugs or pornography or alcoholism; talking someone weaker into evil / having someone do our dirty work.

1 John 4.11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

  • Sin from evil ambition
    • In our hearts, we wish destruction or evil on another.

Pray Matthew 6.13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

  • Defying God
    • Some people willingly, openly, and brazenly act to defy God. They blaspheme the Holy Spirit and set themselves up as gods.

Matthew 12.31 says, “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men.”

1John 5.16 says, “If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.”

  • Sin of omission
    • If we simply forget to do something, this falls under the first item in the list, Sin in ignorance.
    • However, if we know to do something right, and decide not to, that is sin of omission. (James 4.17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.) Examples: We feel directed to pray for a certain circumstance, and decide not to. God guides our attention to someone in need, and we ignore the need. We know our duty, and neglect it (i.e., reading our Bibles or attending church). Ingratitude falls in this category (1 Thessalonians 5.18 In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.)

Pray without ceasing (1Thessalonians 5.17).

  • Sin of deceit
    • Any one of the types of sin may involve deceit, whether we are attempting to deceive others or deceive ourselves. We may purposefully “forget” to do something we know we should. We may lie to ourselves that “giving in this once” won’t matter. We may lie to people in order to stir up dissension or get something we want.

Proverbs 12.20 Deceit is in the hearts of those who devise evil, but the counselors of peace have joy.

Fall on your face before our mighty and gracious God. Search your heart. Ask God to search your heart: Psalm 139.23, 24 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Look up Psalm 51. King David wrote it, and he knew sin in his heart. He also knew Who to give it to.

Change Your Past

Change Your Past

I’ve heard so many times that we can’t change the past. While I agree that we cannot change the events that actually happened, we can change our perspectives, our attitudes, and our emotions in relation to events.

I have my own memories, good and bad. I’ve re-written many of them. Consider the following scenarios, as they may reflect anyone’s memories (plug in your own):

*     *     *     *     *

That so-called friend who didn’t stick up for me: I didn’t know she was afraid to say something, that she thought of five great things to say later, but thought it was too late, so she never said anything, and she really missed my friendship after that, even though she felt she deserved me ditching her.

That time I said those hurtful things to my neighbor: they really were hurtful, and I meant to hurt her. But I can look back at that now, see that, even though I thought (and still think) that she deserved it, I was hurtful. I can apologize and ask for her forgiveness. If I can’t do that with her, at least I can confess to God.

That one who abused me, over and over and over: I didn’t know at the time that he was abused, himself, that he learned those things from someone he loved and trusted. It was wrong, he was twisted. I hated him. I can forgive him, even though I will never trust him or tell him; and I can grieve what was lost for him and for me.

All those times I failed my child: I can tell him how proud I am of him; I can ask forgiveness for issues I remember or that he brings up. I can tell him and show him I love him.

That parent who was never really a parent: I didn’t understand what he (or she) went through as a child, what was learned, the situations impossible to handle; maybe I never got it that he (or she) was simply incredibly selfish, that it was never about me, always about him (or her).

*     *     *     *     *

While we are stuck with the memories, God’s gift is that we can soften the edges; we can change how we remember; we can receive or ask or bestow forgiveness; God can work in the hearts of others, and in us.

Those personal memories I mentioned: some of them still hurt. I’m still embarrassed by some of them. Anger still sparks. I’m working on them. How do I work? I bring them to God. As I wrestle with the thoughts, the condemnation in my head, I bring the fight to God.

I got hurt. I hurt others.

God can redeem!

And, while God may change my heart, how I see things, how I handle memories; I may not see a change in the heart or attitude of the person I’m dealing with. That’s okay. Yes, really. I can ask forgiveness, and it may or may not be given. I may forgive someone, with or without telling that person, and the relationship may evidence no change. That’s okay.

Because God is in control. My responsibility is to stand before God with a clear conscience. I do all that I can to fulfill that, and leave the rest to Him.

So yes, I believe we can change our past, through obedience to God, letting Him work in our minds and hearts and attitudes.

Because God can redeem.

What to do with Sin

Job and David understood sin. They were humble enough to bow themselves before God and acknowledge His sovereignty, His right to decide what is good and what is sin. They also understood that God loves them completely, and that they can put themselves in His hands.

Job 40. 3, 4: Then Job answered the LORD, and said, Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth.

Psalm 51. 2, 3: Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.

This brings me to my knees.