MARCH 3 // Breakthrough_The Road Ahead (Part 6 of 6)


REMEMBER THE LORD:
A while back, I read an online article, titled “Tears from a Lonely God,” in which the author makes a sobering argument about the difficult position we put God with regards to how we use His blessing in our lives:
“So many times, we put God into a tough position; we ask Him to bless us, and yet we are not prepared spiritually for His goodness. We think that we will be grateful to Him for His gifts, yet many times we are so distant to God that any blessing or answering of prayer would only serve to distract us and drive us farther away from our Lord.”
 
What is God to do, when it is our nature to abuse His grace, so richly poured out in our lives? What is God to do, when we find it so easy to take Him for granted, seeking Him only for what He can give us, when He has made Himself available to us? What is GOD to do, when we allow the object of His blessing become “Lord” of our hearts, rather the One who makes the blessing possible?

When breakthrough, or blessing, comes there is always a tendency to forget the Lord who has made it possible.

The people of Israel – still on their way to the Promised Land – made a serious error in judgment when they violated God’s most-important rule: “Do not worship another god over God; to serve it as Lord in your life.”

Exodus 20:1-6, and 32:1-8 lay out the unfortunate scenario for us, today:
  • At the foot of Mount Sinai, where Moses was to bring the people to meet God, the Lord lays down what would become known as “The Ten Commandments,” including the challenge not to worship any idols, but the Lord.
  • Moses goes up the mountain, to meet God, and would remain there for several days.
  • Unsure of Moses’ condition, the people decide to erect a golden calf, worshipping IT as God, and going so far as to give IT credit for their deliverance from Egypt.
  • God instructs Moses to head back, in order to confront this affront to the Lord.
It is important that we recognize that the tendency we see in the Israelites – to quickly forget the Lord – exists in all of us. None of us are immune to the tendency to become so enamored by the blessing that we forget to keep our focus on the “blesser.”

And in order that we might not make the same mistake as the people of Israel, there are practical steps that we – each – must employ, to guard our hearts from the temptation to forget the Lord when He brings blessing into our lives, today:

How do I REMEMBER the Lord, always?
  • I must not allow the OBJECT of my breakthrough to become an EXCUSE for neglecting God’s presence.
While Moses was spending time with God, the people abused the freedom God gave them, by using it to act against His will for their lives.
When I allow the object of my breakthrough to become an excuse for neglecting God, there are tragic results:
  • I end up buying into a false belief that “the blessing,” rather than the Lord, is my source of security.
  • Ultimately, I become spiritually-vulnerable, prone to falling unbelief, because my view of truth, i.e., the Lord, is wrong.
The object of your blessing is not meant to become your priority; God must be.
  • I must choose to see the WHOLE of my life – i.e., my past, present, and future – as totally DEPENDENT on God.
How do you see God?

Do you see Him as only useful to you when you need something from Him? Or, do you see your life as totally deficient without Him?

Unfortunately, too many Christians’ view of God is reflected in the former. We “say” we love God, and appreciate Him for all He does, but when the priority we give to experiencing intimacy with Him tells the truth about whether God is simply a divine genie-in-a-bottle, or much more.

And when we only see God as existing for us, it will become our tendency to only seek His audience so long as doing so works to our advantage.

Listen: the ultimate goal of your existence is a relationship with the Lord; the breakthroughs He works in our lives are not meant to be an end, but rather a means to fully experiencing and knowing Him to be GOD – alone – in our lives.

In Galatians 2:20, Paul talks about being his old self being “crucified with Christ,” so that – now – the extent of his daily living is wrapped up in the person of Jesus. Another way of saying it is that the way he demonstrates passion for the Lord is by living his life in view, and total awareness, of the Lord.

Are you willing to go to that extent in your response to the Lord, today? Realize that THIS is the only response that God is worthy of.
  • I must be DELIBERATE in acknowledging the role God’s goodness and grace play in my ABILITY to – daily – live out His purpose.
The Psalmist – in Psalm 107:1-2 – talks about “giving thanks” for God’s faithfulness. And the way he believes this is best done, is by – he writes – “speaking out...,” and “telling others...” what God has, and is – daily – doing in your life.

There is truly a positive impact that is realized when we remember to give thanks for all that God has – and is – doing in our lives.

When we “remember the Lord,”:
  • ...we are comforted by the realization that God always has a good purpose for every circumstance, whether good or difficult.
  • ...we gain a sense of contentment and peace in His providence.
  • ...we are energized by the knowledge that He has already overcome every trial, on our behalf.
Your breakthrough is coming. For some, it is already here. Whether you are in it, or you’re still waiting, remember to guard your heart against the temptation to forget the Lord who makes it possible.

Remember your LORD!

Series: BREAKTHROUGH_The Road Ahead

FEBRUARY 17 // Breakthrough_The Road Ahead (Part 5)


PERSISTENT PRAISE:
When someone undertakes a project on your behalf, sacrificing time and energy and effort to work toward a result that favors you, when do you acknowledge – and give thanks – for what they’re doing? Do you wait until the promised goal is achieved, or do you acknowledge all of the effort and sacrifice that has been expended, along the way? Which, do you think, best demonstrates gratitude?

If you’re thinking of the latter, you’re correct. The right kind of praise is that which doesn’t just wait until the outcome to acknowledge the effort put forth to bring it into reality; it’s recognizing and celebrating what is being done to bring about a desired end.

This is true when others do something that is to our benefit. This is, even more so, truer when it involves the Lord and the process by which He fulfills His promise in our lives.

The Bible tells us, in Psalm 34:1, to “praise the Lord at all time...,” and to “constantly speak His praises.”

Note what the Psalmist DOESN’T imply:
  • He doesn’t imply that praise is valid, only, when/because of something God does for us.
  • He doesn’t imply that praise depends on how we feel at any given moment.
  • He doesn’t imply that praise must only be given at the realization of a promise made.
The Psalmist recognizes that praise has nothing to do with my circumstance, but everything to do with acknowledging the God who – alone – is most-of-all worthy of my intentional praise and adoration.

And in the story of the people’s journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, we learn an important truth about the relationship between praise and the worthiness of the One who is, and promises to, work on our behalf for your good, and His glory.

From the moment Moses and Aaron walked through Pharaoh’s door, the people of Israel had a reason to celebrate God’s care and concern for them. It didn’t matter what Pharaoh did, how he felt, or to what extent he was driven to resist God: the Lord always gave them a reason to celebrate His care and concern.

And so do you, friend.

And because God always gives us a reason to celebrate His care and concern, especially as He directs us through the rough roads that lead to His promise of breakthrough in our lives, we must determine to persist in praise, not waiting until His promise is realized, but recognizing His worthiness today.

So, what does it mean to PERSIST in praise, to the Lord?
  • ...is to find JOY in what God is doing today, rather than COMPLAIN about what you THINK He is not – or ought to be – doing.
In Exodus 15:2-3, on the heels of God’s dramatic deliverance of the people, after allowing them to cross a parted Red Sea on dry ground, after which He destroyed – with those same waters – Pharaoh’s army, Moses and the people break out in song, acknowledging God for what He had done in the moment:

“The Lord is my strength and my song; He has given me victory. This is my God, and I will praise Him – my father’s God, and I will exalt Him! The Lord is a warrior; Yahweh is His name!”

As we walk a long and – often – arduous road to the fulfillment of God’s promise, it is easy to become tunnel-vison, in the sense that we think the only thing worth celebrating is what we’re longing for, all the while ignoring all the good that is happening right now; good that God has chosen to use to set us on the path to His ultimate promise to us.

Don’t give in to that temptation, friend. Don’t become tunnel-vision that you “miss the forest (of God’s goodness and grace), for the trees (of God’s promise),” as the saying goes.

Ask the Lord to open your eyes to see His goodness around you today, even as you continue to trust Him for what He has promised to day tomorrow.
  • ...is to believe that God never stops WORKING on behalf of those who put their TRUST in Him.
In Exodus 15:11-13, the people of Israel acknowledged God’s unrelenting effort on their behalf; His “raised right hand” that both parted the sea for them to cross on dry ground and swallowed up the Pharaoh’s forces.

The Psalmist writes, in Psalm 9:10, “Those who know your name trust in You, for You, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for You.”

Do we fully comprehend that God never stops working – on our behalf – according to His purpose and plan for us; that He doesn’t take breaks; that, He is NEVER not in control of the timing and order of man’s affairs?

When you’re tempted to think He has disregarded you, remember this important truth: God never ceases to strive for the realization of His will in the lives of His children.
  • ...is to show your CONFIDENCE in God’s ability to accomplish what He has PROMISED to do in your life.
In acknowledging what God had done today, they never lost sight of where He had promised to take them tomorrow.

In Exodus 15:17, they declared, “You will bring (us) and plant (us) on your own mountain – the place, O Lord, reserved for Your own dwelling, the sanctuary, O Lord, that Your hands have established.”

What were they trying to say? That they were fully-confident that God was going to finish what He had started to do in, and on, their behalf.

Are you confident that God is willing, and able, to do what He promised you; that He is able to finish what He has started; that, the journey He is taking you on right now is part of His providence for you?
As you wait on the Lord for His promised breakthrough, realize that you have a reason to acknowledge His care and concern for you, today.

Persist in praise, no matter what you feel, or what is happening around you.

I leave you with this poignant poem:
Praise (God) when the load is heavy;
And the day no comfort brings.
Then your burden God will carry;
Bear you as on eagles’ wings.
God delights to have us praise Him;
And believe His Holy Word.
And He knows them that trust Him,
For they always praise the Lord.

NEXT WEEK: Remember the Lord.

Series: BREAKTHROUGH_The Road Ahead

FEBRUARY 10 // Breakthrough_The Road Ahead (Part 4)


OBEDIENCE MATTERS:
We’re several chapters into the dramatic saga with God (represented by Moses and Aaron) on one end and Egypt’s Pharaoh on the other. Pharaoh thought he could measure up to God’s might, and by now has begun to realize how overmatched he really is. If you think this reality would be enough to get him to relent and, finally, release the people of Israel from their captivity, think again. Pharaoh digs his heels further in, further setting himself up for a series of devastating plagues that God would unleash upon his country.

For their parts, Moses and Aaron had one thing, and one thing alone, to do: Obey God.
How easy is it, really, for us to do what God requires of us?

If we’re honest with ourselves, we will admit that obeying God is something we ALL can do better at. Why? Because, it is within our human nature to tend toward things that oppose God’s will for us. It’s why every decision made, must be viewed as the expression of a living sacrifice that has been offered up on the altar of submission to what God wants.

Of all the reasons obedience matters, none make a greater impression on me than that obedience to God always works out in my favor. Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t advocate obedience to God as a means to a selfish end. Rather, at its simplest core, the relevance of obedience is highlighted by the reality that because I obey, I benefit from the reward of seeing God’s Word/promise proven true in my life.

For Moses and Aaron, and ultimately all of Israel, obedience was a necessary ingredient in their ability to experience the breakthrough God promised.

It is why, I want to make the case for why I believe that the VEHICLE by which you and I realize God’s promised breakthrough is faithful OBEDIENCE to His instructions.

Let’s talk about why “Obedience Matters.”

In Exodus 7:1-10, we see God prepare to unleash 10 unbelievable plagues upon the Egyptians. Whether Moses and Aaron grasped where God was going with these plagues, what was clear to them was the part that their obedience played in seeing God’s plan and process to its conclusion.

Verses 6 & 10 tell us, in plain terms, that Moses and Aaron did what God commanded them to do. Not once, or once in a while, but in every single instance that God gave them instruction.

What do you think it means to “obey God?”
  • To obey God is to assert one’s CONFIDENCE that His plans will always work out in our favor, even if we can’t fully-COMPREHEND His way.
Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs us to ...trust in the LORD with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. 6 Remember the LORD in everything you do, and He will show you the right way.”

When I do what God is telling me to do, I am expressing my confidence in His plans, believing that because He wants – and knows – what’s best for me, I will not go wrong with trusting Him. I don’t have to understand the WHAT or WHY behind God’s work and plan, nor do I need to stress myself trying to figure Him out, because I will not be able to, ever. What God requires of me is that I demonstrate my confidence in Him to do what He says He will do. This I do, only, by obedience to Him.
  • To obey God is to trust our TOMORROW to His care by doing what He wants us to do, TODAY.
Hebrews 11:1 paints an interesting picture of what FAITH looks like: it isn’t based on what we see, nor is it based on what we can prove. Faith is based on a premise that the One who has made it, is able to keep it; confident of this, we press forward in obedience.

It is easy to SAY we trust God. The real challenge is stepping out in faith to act on it, especially when we don’t know what tomorrow looks like.

It reminds me of a time, while I was a student in boarding school, that God taught me a valuable lesson about the rewards of obedience to His Word. I woke up one Sunday morning to discover that I all I had in my wallet was ₦10. Realizing that this was all I had to my name, I resolved to make it last for the next two weeks until the day my parents would come to visit me. I knew that – later that morning I would need to give something during the offering, but my flesh that thought it illogical to give my last currency seemed to prevail over my spirit which knew that to obey was better.

At last, I figured a way out: I would just leave the cash in my locker, and go to church without it. I quickly got dressed, and joined my friends for breakfast. An hour later, we made our way to the church service. All through the service, I could not concentrate on what was happening; my mind was on the money sitting in my locker. As the time for collecting the offering drew closer, I more anxious I got. Unable to bear the guilt, I excused myself from the service, ran as fast as I could to my dorm room, grabbed the cash, and was back in time to drop it off as the collection plate passed by. While a part of me screamed “fool, fool, fool!” at what I’d done, the better side of me was grateful to have a clear conscience. I’d done my part. I had to trust an uncertain two weeks to God.

Later that afternoon, as I lay in my bed, a student came running with news that my mother was waiting outside for me. Surprised, I quickly got up and followed after him, while – the entire time – I wondered why she was visiting. The pessimist in me began to think the worst: “Did something happen to someone in my family?” “Is everyone okay?” “Is my dad okay?” All those fears were soon dispelled when, as I got closer to her, I saw a smile break out on her face.

I hugged my mom like I’d not seen her in years. Her presence was so refreshing. The words out of her mouth would be impactful. Earlier in the day, as she sat in the service, my mom says she felt compelled to come and see me at school. She argued within herself that visiting day was just a couple of weeks away and that there was no urgency to come now. Still, she felt the Holy Spirit impress on her that she needed to come to my school. Knowing my mom and how sensitive to the Spirit’s direction, she quit arguing and made plans to come and visit me. On the way, she – again – felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to stop by the market to buy me a fresh stock of food provisions.

When she opened the trunk of the car, it was loaded with food – much as it would be if I was starting a new school year. When I started the day, I had an empty pantry. I couldn’t believe it. But mom... God, wasn’t finished. Mom reached into her purse and proceeded to hand me ₦300. I started to tell her what had happened that day, and together we gave thanks to the Lord for the way He orchestrated provision when I needed it most.

I don’t share this to create the impression that God will always reward our obedience the same way as He did mine, that day. But, what I do know is that the best way to show that I trust my tomorrow to Him, is to be obedient to what He is asking me to do, today.
  • To obey God is to demonstrate your LOVE for Him, and with it a resolve to PLEASE Him above yourself.
2 John 1:6 teaches that love for God is best demonstrated by our obedience to Him. To walk in disobedience, is to display a lack of love for the Lord, choosing my will above His.

Do you love God? Are you showing it by your obedience? It’s never too late to start walking in love.
Finally,
  • To obey God is to affirm your DEPENDENCE on Him, displaying absolute TRUST in His love for you.
The Psalmist, in Psalm 52:8-9 gushes about his decision to place his trust in the Lord. He describes himself as being like “an olive tree, thriving in the house of the Lord.” He recognizes that God’s love for him is more than enough reason for him to obey God, knowing that no one loves more than He does.

Part of the motivation for obeying God has to be our absolute trust in the love He has for us. It is a trust that believes that no one cares more deeply about you, or wants what’s best for you than God does.

When we obey God, we’re saying that we trust His love for us as expressed in His instruction to us. When we obey God, we’re saying that nothing will bring us lasting peace more than doing life God’s way.

The road to breakthrough requires obedience, if we want see God’s promise fulfilled in our lives; it will happen outside of this.

Obedience matters. Remember that, as your breakthrough draws nearer.
 
NEXT WEEK: Persistent Praise.

Series: BREAKTHROUGH_The Road Ahead

FEBRUARY 3 // Breakthrough_The Road Ahead (Part 3)


PARALYZED BY PESSIMISM:
Can you think of a time when you experienced an overwhelming emotion, to the point that you found yourself unable to respond, i.e., it as if you were paralyzed?

When I was a teenager, I experienced being paralyzed by fear. Here’s how it played out: I came home from boarding school – for what was an extended weekend – only to find that my family was out of town. I quickly settled in, ate dinner, and sat in the living room – upstairs – to watch a movie. Now, before I go on, it’s important that I tell you that I am “deathly” terrified of snakes. In a minute you’ll understand why I share this. Of the many great options of movie to watch, I decided to watch one that was about a deadly... you guessed it... snake; specifically, a black mamba. Everything in me wanted to change the channel, but the storyline was so compelling that I found myself stuck on the scenes. By the time the movie was over, I was 100% convinced that my world and the movie’s had merged. So much so, that I became wracked with the fear that the snake – in the film – was now lurking somewhere in my house. I was so worried about getting out of my chair, for fear that the snake would come out from the shadows to attack me, that I – no kidding – sat glued to the same spot all through the night into the next morning. It wasn’t until the rising sun’s rays filled my home that I finally felt comfortable enough to get up. I was, literally, paralyzed by my fear of a snake that I could not move.

On its face, it sounds utterly ridiculous that a strapping teenager like myself would be so afraid as to sit in the same place for hours on end. But it really happened. And I can definitely relate with someone that talks about being so overwhelmed by an emotion that they literally find themselves unable to do anything meaningful.

What emotion has left you paralyzed, unable to do something that you knew you should do? For the people of Israel, they knew the feeling of being paralyzed to a point of inaction. It would happen when the weight of Pharaoh’s opposition to God’s plan for their liberation would become too much to bear.

In Exodus 6, we find a people who – in the wake of receiving God’s promise of breakthrough – have become despondent because rather than set them free, Pharaoh decides to further oppress them. Seeing this, God sends Moses to remind the people that He is – still – in charge, and that His promise to liberate them from under Pharaoh’s rule is still in effect. Unfortunately, so beaten down were the Israelites that, in verse 9, we see them respond – seemingly paralyzed by pessimism: So Moses told the people of Israel what the Lord has said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery.”

They felt defeated, like their hopes for freedom had played out to be nothing more than a cruel hoax. It didn’t matter what Moses promised; their present condition left them feeling that they would never be free.

PESSIMISM. It’s one of the most-subtle, yet powerful emotions a person can ever experience. It’s not an emotion we are attracted to. Yet, we are easily caught in its snare, when we decide to base our worth and value on what we have (or don’t have).

According to Webster’s dictionary, Pessimism is defined as ...a tendency to mostly see the worst aspects of things, or to expect the worst to happen; it’s a feeling of lacking hope or confidence in the future.”

What causes people to see the worst in situations, rather than the best case? Why is it so easy for many to latch on to a hopeless attitude?

As I spent time pondering over this, I couldn’t help but come to the following conclusion:
  • We lack a sense of CONTROL over the condition, or direction, of our lives; in our minds, we’re nothing more than VICTIMS of circumstance.
  • We cannot help but gauge our future POTENTIAL through the lens of a painful PAST. We are led to believe that our past errors, mistakes, or struggles – will always – define us. No matter how much we distance ourselves from it, we never will.
  • We lack CONFIDENCE in the RELIABILITY of God to do what He said that He will do.
Like the people of Israel, we find ourselves unable to keep trusting God’s promises, likely, because it is taking too long – in our minds – to materialize, or because things seem to get worse rather than better.

Consider today’s GUIDING PRINCIPLE: The delays in receiving our promised breakthrough are never a credible reason to give up on God’s ability to fulfill it.

What do we need to do as we learn to trust God during the delays to His promise of breakthrough in our lives?
  • Believe that God remains in CONTROL, even when HISTORY seems to say otherwise.
In Exodus 6:6 & 8, God points to Himself, when providing the Israelites with a reason why they must never give up on His promises:
“6 Therefore, say to the people of Israel: ‘I AM the Lord.” 8 I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as you very own possession. I AM the Lord!”
 
One of God’s names is YHWH, pronounced “YAHWEH.” It is what we also refer to as  JEHOVAH, and it means “Lord,” or “Master,” and denotes the supremacy of God, as absolute ruler, over everyTHING and everyONE.
 
In introducing Himself as, “I AM THE LORD,” or “YAHWEH,” God was – then – and still is reminding us that He does not cease to be in charge simply because we experience pain on our way to His promised breakthrough.
  • Remember that God’s promises for your life are His RESPONSIBILITY to WORK out in your life.
Again, in verse 6 and 8, we see God point to Himself as the focus of their confidence that their promised breakthrough would be fulfilled. In these verses God, again, reminds the people that it is He who will “free,” “rescue,” “redeem,” “claim,” “bring,” and “give” to them the breakthrough He has promised.

We must recognize that anything that God promises to do, is HIS responsibility to carry it out. God does not make promises that He does not, or cannot, keep; rather, He does what He promises to do. We must resist the urge to question, or doubt, His care and concern for us by believing that His power is limitless to carry out His purpose – no matter what kind of opposition we face.

Above all, we must always...
  • Recognize that while breakthrough is always for your GOOD, it – above all – must be about giving God GLORY.
In Exodus 6:7, God tells the people that when He has fulfilled His promise to them, they will – beyond a shadow of doubt – recognize that it is ONLY by His hand the promise has become a reality in their lives.

The Lord, in Isaiah 42:8 declares, “I am God. That’s my name. I don’t franchise my glory...”

God will not be a part of something that involves depriving Him of the glory He deserves in our lives. He will not bless, or sanction, anything that compromises His standing and character. God will not have His hand in that which leaves us giving credit to ourselves – for our breakthrough – or to anything other than Him.

So, as you’re facing delays in waiting on the Lord, remember that their existence does not indicate that God is incapable of carrying out what He has promised, to do, in His Word. Your response is to, simply, trust His Word, and thank Him for what He is doing along the way.

Remember, your breakthrough is coming.
 
NEXT WEEK: Obedience Matters.

Series: BREAKTHROUGH_The Road Ahead

JANUARY 27 // Breakthrough_The Road Ahead (Part 2)









FIGHT PATIENTLY:

Last week, we began talking about the process which God takes us through in order to experience the breakthrough He has promised. We took a look – in the mirror, if you will – at the life of Moses, addressing the “elephant in the room,” i.e., those limitations that – unknowingly self-imposed – in our eyes disqualify us from God’s best for us.

Today, we fast-forward to the first of many confrontations that Moses (and Aaron) would have with Pharaoh of Egypt. As was to be expected, Moses’ announcement that God wanted His people, the Israelites, to be released from 400+ years of enslavement was not received positively. In fact, not only did Pharaoh object, he would go on to turn up the heat on the people, prompting many of them to accuse Moses (and God) of making their plight worse.

Boy, how things can change in a short time. Remember that, when the people of Israel first got word that Moses had come – from God – to free them from their captivity, they couldn’t contain their joy. But then, at the first sign of trouble, they quickly turned against Moses, and God; it would be a sign of future bemoaning to come.

Can you think of a time when, after you received a promise from God, your life seemed to – rather than get better – take an unexpected turn for the worse? Those can be trying times, especially as you fight – within you – the urge to either question, doubt, or disbelieve God’s care or concern for you.

Remember what we said, last week, about the process of breakthrough? Let me remind you: breakthrough is like a seed that doesn't bloom immediately it is planted; rather, it must first go through a process of maturing, until its moment is ripe.

While Pharaoh’s response to Moses’ initial invitation to “let (God’s) people go,” may have come as an unexpected surprise to the people of Israel, it was not a surprise to God, nor should it have been a surprise to Moses. Why? Because God had already warned him of Pharaoh’s reaction.
In Exodus 4:21, God – prior to his arriving in Egypt – warned Moses, saying, “I will harden Pharaoh’s heart so he will refuse to let the people go.”

In warning Moses, God wasn’t simply trying to temper his expectations of a stress-free fight for freedom; rather, God wanted His servant to understand that his greatest weapon would not be a sense of urgency, but a sense of patience.

Which brings us to today’s principle: The longer we wait for our promised breakthrough, the greater our resolve must be to endure it with patience.

Though the people expected breakthrough to come without hindrance, God wanted them to understand that the process to find breakthrough would require a patience to wait on His timing.
 
(CONSIDER) Exodus Chapter 5:1 - 23.

What truths can we take away from this period of waiting that Moses and Israel had to patiently endure, in order to realize God’s promised breakthrough?
  • Remember that God’s Word WARNS us to EXPECT trials.
James 1:2-4 challenges us to see challenges as an opportunity to grow. Easier said than done, right? Right. And yet, it must not be impossible, if God is asking us to take on this attitude.

Just as God warned Moses, that Pharaoh would resist His will, so the Bible reminds us – over and over – that there is a “type” of Pharaoh – today – who exists to oppose God’s will and plan for our lives: His name is Satan.

There are many adjectives used to describe him, in the Bible: Enemy. Thief. Deceiver. Liar, among others.

John 10:10 warns that his “purpose is to steal and kill and destroy.”

1 Peter 5:8 warns, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

Nothing about Satan, with regards to His nature and character, is inviting. And yet, he has – and continues to – easily deceived many. It is why Paul, in Ephesians 6:12, would add his voice to the chorus of many warning us to expect opposition to God’s will for our lives: “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”

The bottom line is this: If you are indifferent, or apathetic to Satan’s agenda regarding God’s plan for your life, realize that you’re setting yourself up to be ill-equipped to resist his schemes against you.
  • Believe that trusting God’s TIMING works FOR, not AGAINST, you.
Rather than see prolonged struggle as an opportunity to bail (out) on God, rather embrace it as an opportunity to see God at work in, and through your situation, for His glory and your good.

In Habakkuk 1:3, the Prophet declared to a despondent people, saying, “This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled. If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.”

In Romans 8:28, Paul writes, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”
  • Realize that WAITING doesn’t mean God has ABANDONED His plans for you.
When Pharaoh tightened the screws, so to speak, on Israel’s chains, even Moses accused God of sending him on a mission that was doomed to fail before it had even begun. Clearly, the Lord did not lose sight of something that Moses had – clearly – lost sight of in the face of difficulty: GOD.

It’s important to always keep in mind that though we might not understand WHAT God is doing, it doesn’t mean that God has – Himself – lost sight of WHY He is doing it the way that He has chosen to.

As you look ahead to the fulfillment of God’s promised breakthrough, don’t lose sight of the fact that opposition will come; most importantly, never lose sight of the God who has promised it. Resolve to wait on Him, and to fight the opposition which confronts you, with patience.

Your breakthrough is coming.
 
NEXT WEEK: Paralyzed by Pessimism.

Series: BREAKTHROUGH_The Road Ahead

JANUARY 20 // Breakthrough_The Road Ahead (Part 1)


THE STRUGGLE WITHIN:
At the start of this New Year, our Lead Pastor, Stephen Banning declared that 2019 would be a "Year of Breakthrough."

What does it mean to "experience" Breakthrough? The dictionary defines it as "an act or instance of removing or surpassing an obstruction or restriction; the overcoming of an obstacle."

What a bold promise God makes to us, that whereas - to this point - we might be experiencing an obstacle or restriction to the fulfillment of His promise in our lives, this is the year they will be removed, for His glory!

As exciting as the prospect of breakthrough is, no matter what your struggle is, it is just as important that we have the right expectation regarding the process by which it will come to us. Very rarely does God make a promise and it is fulfilled in short order; that is, unless He has specified that it will come quickly. 

In case we need to be reminded, our Heavenly Father is not a "drive-thru" God. He is sovereign, meaning that everything moves according to His beat, including the timing and completion of promises He has made to us.

It is why, we must remember that, breakthrough is like a seed that doesn't bloom immediately it is planted; rather, it must first go through a process of maturing, until its moment is ripe.

Someone once said, "Before every victory, there is a battle to fight. Before every sunrise, one must live through the night. Before the grave burst open on a resurrection morn, there is a hill to be climbed, and a cross to be borne." God has promised us breakthrough - in 2019 - but we must go through a maturing process so we're ready to receive it when God says so.

This is the story of the people of Israel, from the moment God first introduced Moses to His plan to liberate a people from 400+ years of slavery, to bring them to the place He had promised to give their ancestor, Abraham.

Before a nation of two million could experience breakthrough, it needed to take place in the heart of the man God would charge with the task of leading the exodus out of Egypt.
You and I are not all that different from a man named Moses. Like you and I, Moses had his share of insecurities; self-imposed limitations that – at least, in his eyes – disqualified him from meaningful influence. And yet, God would task him with the burden of advocating for the release of over 2 million men, women, and children.

As is the case when we’re called on to carry out a work that requires us to depend on power greater than ours, we attempt to deflect by making excuses for why we cannot be relied on to do it. And until we learn to look past ourselves, to the bigger picture of what needs to be accomplished, we will never take that step of faith to make a difference.
For Moses, his insecurities had to do with his – perceived – inabilities:
  • “I’m not good enough.”
  • “I have nothing, of value, to offer God.”
  • “I have not earned the right to be heard.”
  • “I am not (God’s) best option.”
How many times has God invited us into something He is doing, and we start to express our unworthiness of it. It’s as if we believe that God is not aware of those limitations we battle within ourselves; that, somehow, by making Him aware of them, He would change His mind/plans concerning us.

Like Moses, we all need a “burning bush encounter” in order that we might learn that GOD IS NEVER HINDERED BY THE LIMITATIONS WE PLACE ON OURSELVES.

(CONSIDER) Exodus Chapter 3:10 – Chapter 4:17.

What life-lessons can we glean from Moses’ conversation with God regarding limitations that hinder our personal breakthrough?
  • Your LIMITATIONS are never enough to DISCOURAGE God’s call on your life.
  • What you think DISQUALIFIES you, God sees as USEFUL when you surrender it to Him.
  • If you GO where God leads, when He tells you to, He has promised to GIVE you what He knows you will need.
When we learn to see that God is not hindered by the limitations we or others have placed on us, then and only then can we begin to step out in faith, confident that as long as we do our part – in His strength – God will always do His part in, and through, our lives.
What is holding you back from fully-pursuing God’s calling on your life, today?

Will you embrace His invitation to do the following:
  • "Believe that (God) – in choosing you – does not make mistakes."
  • "Give (God) what you have, no matter how “unattractive” it looks."
  • "Trust (God) to open the right doors in your life, and step through them."
  • "By your obedience to (God), you will prove to be His best option."
 
NEXT WEEK: Fight Patiently.

Series: BREAKTHROUGH_The Road Ahead