Thursday, January 28, 2010

Seems Like a Trend

Obedience and discouragement seem like partners.

I miss Colorado. For those of you who think that I never wish things weren't different or that I struggle with "why!"  Well, I do!  I am human......although, it would be wonderful to be who you compliment me to be.

Here is what I see.......

The time had come for Moses to step out in obedience to God and go to Pharaoh. He was probably nervous, yet excited to be part of God’s plan.  Like I have said before, to HEAR God say GO and to obey. How good is that?

Moses faced so much discouragement in the midst of obedience. As he became discouraged, he began to question his role in delivering the Israelites.  I have been feeling this so deeply in so many areas, including my weight loss. As I have lost only .8 lbs. in 1 week. 

I do realize that discouragement is an inevitable part of ministry and life. BUT I HATE IT!!  We will see successes and positive results, but we will also see failures and disappointments. Sometimes those failures are a result of our own self-effort. Other times, I believe God uses them to remind us of our dependence on Him and His overall sovereignty in life. I have been asking God to speak to my heart!
Trying to encourage myself in Moses' story.  The results of Moses’ obedience to God: he did what God asked him to do, and yet, the results were less than desirable. His obedience had a negative impact on the very ones he wanted to help. God works in ways that we cannot always understand. He doesn’t ask us to understand, but to trust.

Even when our obedience leads to unexpected or negative results, we must trust that God is still in control and that this is part of His plan for us. I have been taking some time to be honest with Him, as Moses did, and give my feelings and thoughts to the Lord. Asking Him to give me the grace and patience to wait on Him and His timing. Maybe I should also be praying that I stop sharing them all with my husband. Oops!

THIS IS JUST THE PICTURE OF WHAT I HAVE BEEN DEALING WITH.....Moses had stepped out and obeyed God, yet the results were not what he had expected. The Hebrew foremen were already criticizing and complaining about Moses. He thought God would deliver the people immediately, even though God had told him that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart. Moses, in his discouragement, went to God and poured out his heart. I can imagine their conversation. “Look. I’ve done what you told me to do. I have held up my part of the deal, but you have not kept your promise. What is going on? You said you would deliver your people, but instead they are worse off than before. Why?” I think most of us have come to that place at some point in our lives where we have questioned what God is doing.

BUT THIS IS MY ANSWER, TOO! In Exodus 6, God encouraged Moses.  He told Moses WHO He was!! 

BUT HERE I AM AGAIN!  Moses had spoken to the sons of Israel to encourage them with God’s words, yet the people did not listen. Think how Moses must have felt. At the end of Exodus 5, we see him in the midst of discouragement and doubt. God greatly encouraged him in Exodus 6, and he was probably feeling much better about the situation…until the people did not listen. I so often do this...I then start questioning who I am and God's plan.  Do I see myself through God’s eyes or my own eyes, like Moses?

Moses turned his focus inward instead of keeping his focus on God. He began questioning and doubting himself. Have you ever felt like Moses, discouraged about something, but feeling better about it after spending time with God and in His Word, only to lose heart again when things didn’t unfold the way you had expected? I have. Yet, we must keep our focus on Him and not on ourselves.

Things had not gone smoothly for Moses. Pharaoh increased the labor of the Israelites, and they were upset with Moses, blaming him for their plight. Yet, God once again sent Moses and Aaron back to Pharaoh, in the midst of Moses’ self-doubt. Even though it must have been hard for him to go back to Pharaoh, Moses made a choice to obey and follow God’s command once again.

What moves you to obedience? In other words, why do you obey God, even when it is difficult?

Obedience requires listening to God, not our feelings.

You don’t have to understand what God is doing in order to be obedient to His call. God delights in our obedience. Are you listening to God’s Word or to your feelings? Are you hesitant to step out in obedience because you feel inadequate or discouraged? Spend some time with Him. Be honest with Him about your feelings. Trust Him and His leading in your life. I am trying!

WHERE I DON'T WANT TO BE!  God told Moses that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart. The hardness of his heart prevented Pharaoh from listening to God. Was Pharaoh responsible for his hardened heart, or God, or both? I admit that this is a difficult question. When it is hard for us to comprehend or understand a concept of the way God works in people, we must trust in His sovereignty and in His ultimate purpose.

A hardened heart prevents us from listening to God and obeying Him. I don't want to have a hardened heart, so I must "check" myself.  Keep my heart soft.

I know what it feels like when you want to “quit” because you feel that you are not capable of doing something well.  I relate to Moses, as if God were telling me, “Get out there and do what I’ve called you to do. Get your eyes off yourself and focus on Me.” My prayer for you is that you would listen to God’s Word, not your feelings, if you are in the midst of discouragement. God uses these discouraging times in our lives for a reason. In my own life, they have brought me to a deeper dependence on Him.

Moses could have quit in the midst of discouragement, but he didn’t. God could have given up on Moses, but He didn’t. We will all face discouragement in life and ministry in some way. Satan would love to see us discouraged and ready to quit, but we must keep pressing on and being obedient to God’s call, regardless of how we feel.


Bonnie said...

Great message, Serena. I love the transparency here. That's a trait that I'm always thankful for in a fellow believer. Boy, have I been there a time or two! As difficult and disheartening as it can sometimes feel, I happen to also love being there. As you've described, it's in those times we find ourselves completely desperate and dependent. I happen to believe there's no better place to be!

I believe we're standing together for the things we're both believing and trusting for!

Josh Abdelaziz said...

Amazing post, Babe! I love seeing you when you have heard God's voice on a subject. Great insight into obedience and discouragement. This would preach really great! Regardless of what you say you are quite the writer. I would say you should start exploring the options of authoring a least start. I love you and am so proud of you. Josh