What Jethro Can Teach You

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

There is hardly a better investment in this life than recruiting, mentoring, and releasing leaders into the service of that over which God has given you authority.

Good-Best

Going Deep // Focus: Exodus 18:13-17

Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. When his father-in-law, Jethro, saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?” Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.” Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good.

This a story in Exodus 18 provides us with some helpful insights into why we should raising up leaders and how we can go about it—whether that be in our home, business, church or any other arena of life where God has given us influence.

First, the why: in the work of the Kingdom, good is often the enemy of the best. You will notice in Exodus 18:9 that “Jethro was delighted to hear of all the good things God had done for Israel.” Israel had witnessed the mighty hand of God — divine protection, outstanding miracles and supernatural progress. But they had settled for something less than God’s best. As the story continues, Jethro watched Moses wearing himself out administrating the blessings, so he said Exodus 18:17, “What you are doing is not good.”

God’s blessing on a thing is never an excuse to settle for that—it is never the end. The blessing is only the beginning for more blessing, which always requires a realignment of the way we administrate God’s favor. God blessed Israel—that was good—but a release of even more blessing required Moses to release leadership to others to help administer it—that was better.

So Jethro showed Moses how he was to recruit leaders to take on ministry—which would release Moses to even greater productiveness. Here are six laws of leadership recruitment that worked for Moses, and will work for you:

The first law of leadership recruitment is SELECTING. The Exodus 18:21 calls Moses to “select capable people—they fear God, are trustworthy and hate dishonest gain.” Your assignment as a leader is to continually watch for people with leadership potential. How do you identify those capabilities? Jethro says they are to: One, have a deep reverence—they have the fear of the Lord. Two, have proven themselves dependable in smaller matters—they are trustworthy. Three, have pure motives—they hate dishonesty

The second law of leadership recruitment is EQUIPPING. In Exodus 18:20, we see there must be an ongoing, systematic program to train all people in the principles of Godly leadership. Not everyone will become a leader, but everyone can benefit from the principles of leadership. That’s because they all will have roles of influence somewhere…home, business, community. Training all the people in your sphere of influence will expand the leadership pool from which you recruit.

The third law of leadership recruitment is MENTORING. In the last part of Exodus 18:20, Jethro said, “Show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform.” Basically, your responsibility is to reproduce yourself in the lives of others. If you’re not doing that, you are not a leader—or a very effective one. But good leaders show by their lives and their actions a good pattern for others to follow. That implies you have an intentional plan for mentoring, and not just a hope that others will pay attention to what you’re doing.

The fourth law of leadership is EMPOWERING. In the last part of Exodus 18:21, Jethro says that Moses is to appoint them as “officials”. In other words, don’t just give them a title and a responsibility, give them authority to lead.

The fifth law of leadership recruitment is ACCOUNTABILITY. In Exodus 18:22 Jethro says that with responsibility and authority there must also be accountability: “Have them bring the difficult cases to you.” There is to be a system where the new leader circles back to the chief leader, whose discernment will always be needed. So they will have to be accountable to you, and you will have to stay involved monitoring their ministry progress and effectiveness.

The sixth law of leadership recruitment is SANITY. In Exodus 18:23, Jethro says to Moses, “if you do this, you will be able to stand the strain of leadership and all the people will be satisfied.” Leadership should never drive you crazy or stress you beyond your ability to cope or destroy your personal life. Leadership is meant to be a joy. And your leadership is meant to produce deep satisfaction in the lives of those you lead. The presence of unrelenting stress in the leader’s life and dissatisfaction among the people is a clear indication that these godly principles of leadership development have been ignored.

Then Jethro gave the best reason of all to put these principles to use when he said to Moses and by extension, to you and me, in Exodus 18:23, “And so God commands.”

There is hardly a better investment than in recruiting, mentoring, and releasing leaders into the service of that over which God has given you authority.

Going Deeper With God: Is there someone in your sphere of influence you can train for leadership? Do it—it’s a worthy investment of time, energy and resources.

Yaweh Nissi: Our Divine Force Field

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan, as C.S. Lewis noted. That means if you’re doing God’s will, you will be attacked. But it also means that if you’re doing God’s will, you will be victorious!

Yahweh Nissi

Going Deep // Focus: Exodus 17:8-9, 13

The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.” … So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.

One of the things that I quickly had to come to grips with when I entered the pastoral ministry was that there were people who didn’t like me. Yeah, I know, hard to believe! Not because I was unlikeable (not in every case, anyway), but simply because I represented something at an invisible, subconscious spiritual level within them that rubbed against the grain of their fallenness.

It was likewise helpful for me to learn that I was not alone in this experience. All pastors deal with unhappy people.  And furthermore, anyone who steps out to do God’s will get attacked. Let me say it another way:

THEY WON’T LIKE YOU!

Jesus predicted as much, didn’t he? Now we don’t need to go out of our way to tick the people of the world off, but the truth is, the world will hate us because we represent the Savior, whom they crucified. And the sooner we get over our neurotic need to be liked, we can get on with being the distinct witness God has called us to be and the world desperately needs us to be.

In the case of the Israelites, escaping Egypt by the mighty miracles of God and being led to the Promised Land by the mighty hand of God didn’t preclude enemies who would attack them early and often in their journey of faith.

In this case, the Amalekites, who lived on the northern edge of the wilderness through which Israel travelled, stood between the promise and the fulfillment for the people of God. They didn’t like Israel, for no other reason than the reason you and I will get attacked: we belong to God, and since Satan hates God, and everything of God, he attacks what is most precious to God—you and me.

As the story goes, Moses sends out a young general named Joshua to fight the enemy while Moses, aided by Aaron and Hur, stand on an overlooking hillside to lift his hands in supplication for the battle. And of course, God grants his people a stunning and overwhelming victory.

End of story. Yet there are important lessons to take away from this account. Here are a few:

  1. You will be attacked when you do God’s will. Just mark it down and don’t be surprised when it happens. If we naively assume that doing what God asks will be unimpeded, you are on the road to disheartenment. To be forewarned is to be forearmed—an important principle in the spiritual warfare you will face.
  2. You will be attacked by the people you would least expect to attack you. The Amalekites were actually distant cousins of Israel—Amalek was the grandson of Esau. They should have acted favorably toward the Israelites. They didn’t. Psalm 83:4, 7 reveals the Amalekites motives: “Come, let us destroy them as a nation, that the name of Israel be remembered no more.” There is some belief that these very Amalekites lived on clear down to Esther’s day when their offspring Haman was still plotting to do away with the people of God hundreds of years later. In the case of Joshua, the record of this battle was written so that he would know that the Amalekites were to be completely annihilated. (Exodus 17:14) Sounds harsh, but the point being, the kingdoms of this world will never think kindly toward the kingdom of God. Again, doing God’s will sometimes stirs unresolved issues of godship even in the lives of people who should know better.
  3. You need support in the battle. Joshua had Moses. Moses had Aaron and Hur. You need somebody, too. So do I. I cannot tell you how many times in facing attack in the ministry that God gave me an Aaron and a Hur to hold up my hands. They were life to me in that moment of attack. You were not meant to do this alone, so ask God to give you spiritual partners who will hold up your hands in those critical times.
  4. You need to record God’s faithfulness in giving you victory against attack as a testimony. Moses instructed Joshua to literally write the account down. (Exodus 17:14). Why? For among other reasons, because it will give you confidence and courage when the next attack comes. The “next” attack? Yes, there will be others. But do not be disheartened (but I am getting ahead of myself).
  5. You need to remember that God is your banner. Moses’ outstretched hands represented his appeal to God: Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. He said, “Because hands were lifted up to the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.” (Exodus 17:15-16) When you are in God’s will and you are getting hammered for it—whether by Satanic forces from the invisible realm or Satanic inspired forces coming from real people—your appeal is to God Almighty. And he will give you victory!

Here is the deal: when you are doing God’s will, you will be attacked. When you are doing God’s will, you will be victorious!

Going Deeper With God: Are you in a battle, being attacked by someone you would least expect? Are you facing down a hostile enemy—invisible or visible? Seek our a prayer partner to hold up your hands. Believe me, if you ask, there will be people who will come to your aid.

Heads Up World: You Are The Potter’s Clay!

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

As the created, living on the planet formed by the hands of the Creator, out of nothing, mind you, we never, ever, have the right to have a “not in my back yard” attitude before him. The earth belongs to him. It exists for his purpose—whatever that purpose it. And we exist for his purpose, too—whatever that is.

Clay in Potter's Hand

Going Deep // Focus: Exodus 9:16

But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

Psalm 24:1-2 declares, “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.”

Since that is the case, why do we try to limit the Almighty with our cultural sense of fairness? Who are we to tell God how he should or shouldn’t act toward the people of the earth? After all, he is the one who designed and built the earth, he placed it exactly as it should be; it is for his purpose and pleasure that he laid it out the way it is and populated it with life.

As the created, living on the planet formed by the hands of the Creator, out of nothing, mind you, we never, ever, have the right to have a “not in my back yard” attitude before him. The earth belongs to him. It exists for his purpose—whatever that purpose is. And we exist for his purpose, too—whatever that is. As the prophet Isaiah so bluntly reminds us,

Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker,
those who are nothing but potsherds
among the potsherds on the ground.
Does the clay say to the potter,
‘What are you making?’
Does your work say,
‘The potter has no hands’?

God is God and we are not! We would do well to remember that—not only for ourselves, but as we interpret the current issues in our culture. The fact is, like it or not, God can raise us up for his glorious purposes, or he can cast us down for the same. Presidents, politicians, poets, celebrities and tycoons—no matter how powerful the world declares them to be, no matter how mighty they proclaim themselves to be—are still clay in the Potter’s hands.

And you? You are the Lord’s! God has raised you up to show his great power in you that his name might be proclaimed through you. And your life-mission is to spread his fame among the peoples of the earth and the principalities looking on from the unseen realm. That is your singular job as clay in the Potter’s hand: to make him famous.

Going Deeper With God: Today, be intentional in making Jesus famous in your world.

The God Who Is—And Will

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

Sometimes the journey takes us to “the wall.” The proverbial wall is a place our faith rarely anticipates. Yet the Biblical record reminds us that what we can’t see past the wall is that the God who is—and will—is already there, already at work, already securing victory in the assignment he has called us to. Walls are no big deal to the God who is—and will!

The Wall

Going Deep // Focus: Exodus 6:6-8

Therefore, say to the Israelites: “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. And I will bring you to the land I swore with uplifted hand to give to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I will give it to you as a possession. I am the Lord.”

After 40 years of desert training, God finally gets Moses back on track with a divine assignment—and what an assignment it is! He is to go, as God’s voice, and demand that Pharaoh, the world’s most powerful leader, let the tribes of Israel leave Egypt. And not just for a field trip, mind you—to permanently leave in order to establish their own nation elsewhere. That would mean over two million unpaid laborers leaving Egypt’s workforce. From a human perspective, this is a non-starter; God is sending Moses into a mission that will be dead on arrival.

Further complicating the matter, Moses was painfully insecure about himself—from his past failures, his personal limitations, and from his brutal sense of reality—he knew the ways of Egypt, having been a one-time prince there, and he knew that this was definitely a very bad plan. Not only that, Moses’ previous attempt to submit a leave request for Israel had resulted in Pharaoh increasing their workload while decreasing the raw material need for their project. This was a case where God’s will had made things worse before it would get better. The Israelites were in the “things are worse” phase and couldn’t see the “things will get better” phase, and they were none too happy with Moses and not too thrilled with God. At this point, they were not listening to either.

So at this point in the Exodus story, Moses has hit the wall. Doing the will of God did not bring immediate success. On the contrary, it brought more difficulty—more failure and more insecurity, a real reality-check for the reluctant deliverer. When you listen to his arguments with God over the past three chapters, you get the sense that Moses felt abandoned by God, hung out to dry and given an impossible task. Now he was the cause of even greater hardship for his people, which left him with a deep sense that he had missed the will of God by miles.

Side Bar: Obviously, you have felt that way in your walk with God, too. I’ve certainly been there. That is just part and parcel of what it means to walk in faith and obedience with God. How often does the journey take us through a place that is darker than what our definition of faith allows before we come into the sunshine of divine favor. And it is in those dark places that we doubt ourselves, our calling and our God.

But in response to Moses’ pleadings, we see two eternal truths about God that should help us in those times when doing the will of God seems to bring us up against the wall:

First, we see that five times, God says, “I am…” That is who God is: the Great I Am. He is the Eternal One, the self-existent Sovereign of the Universe. And he makes no mistakes—ever! When he calls you, he will care for you in the journey. Where he guides you, he will provide for you. Don’t focus on the I can’t—lean into the Great I Am. He knows what he is doing, even if you don’t.

Second, we see that times God says “I will…” God is not the God of the past, he is the Ruler of the present. He is not a laid-back noun; God is in action. He is always at work—even right at this very moment. You can’t see it, but you can trust it: God is working to perfect his will through what he has tasked you to do. In the Christian walk, in reality, there is no such thing as “a wall”; there is only an “I Will!”

The Lord is with you and ahead of you. When God calls you to a step of faith, in reality, he has already gone before you and is waiting where the step of faith will take you. Yes, he goes before you (“the Lord is going before you, and the God of Israel is your rear guard.” Isaiah 52:12), he prepares the way for you (“I am going to send an angel before you to protect you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared.” Exodus 23:20), he gives you safety and protection on the journey (“For the Lord your God walks throughout your camp to protect you and deliver your enemies to you.” Deuteronomy 23:14), he guarantees your success (“if you are careful to obey each of his laws, then you will be successful in everything you do.” Joshua 1:7) and he ensures the journey of faith will leave you with an outstanding testimony (“If you do, he will make you greater than any other nation, allowing you to receive praise, honor, and renown.” Deuteronomy 26:19). So wherever God calls, step out, even if it means stepping through the wall.

Your God is the God who is—and will!

Going Deeper With God: Read James 1:2-8 and you will see how your difficulties and God’s will go together. You will discover how God employs temporal hardship to build eternal character in your life. Now, if your faith has led you into a difficult spot, quit focusing on “the wall” and start looking for the “I Will” from the God who is “I Am”.

When You Are About To Break—Don’t

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

God will never forget you—even if you are in the fog of negative and discouraging circumstances. And God’s track record is to use your worsening circumstances to bring an even greater deliverance, a more powerful testimony of his power for your life, and greater glory to himself as you snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat. As Frederick Douglas said, “Without a struggle, there can be no progress.”

5421-Napoleon-Quote-Victory-belongs-to-the-most-persevering

Going Deep // Focus: Exodus 5:22-23, 6:5

Moses returned to the LORD and said, “O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people? Is this why you sent me? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble upon this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.” The Lord: “I am well aware of my covenant with my people.

Who knows how many spiritual victories and miraculous interventions God’s people forfeited because they retreated from God’s work in the face of increased adversity; they pulled up just before the finish line. Such was the case of Florence Chadwick, a world famous swimmer who famously gave up just a half mile shy of the California coastline on her record swim from the Catalina Islands.

Previously, Florence became the first woman ever to cross the English Channel twice both ways. But on the fourth of July 1952, the thirty-four year old swimmer was set on being the first woman to swim the twenty-six miles between Catalina Island and the shores of the Golden State. After fifteen hours of swimming, a thick, heavy fog set in. Florence began to doubt her ability, and she told her mother, who was in one of the boats, that she didn’t think she could make it.

Her mother and her trainer encouraged her to not to give up, to press on because the coast had to be close. But all Florence could see was the fog—and she gave up, in reality, so close, yet in her mind, so far.

Neither could Moses see what God saw. Moses saw only the reality of rejection and increasing hostility as Pharaoh threw him out of his presence. God had instructed Moses to declare before this great world ruler that it was time to let Israel go. But this time, Moses’ message fell on Pharaoh’s deaf ears. Yet it was not deaf ears, it was a hard heart—hardened by God for a forthcoming purpose that would be glorious beyond belief. Moses could only see the fog of defeat in front of him. Above the fog, God was bringing the victory for his people closer and closer.

As someone has said, it is always darkest before the dawn. Sometimes God’s best activity is directly preceded by the last throes of Satanic struggle—one last surge to discourage the child of God into retreat and surrender. What we should never forget is that at the darkest, most difficult moments of our conflicts, God is well aware of his covenant with his people—a covenant that guarantees victory, not defeat.

God will never forget us—even if we are in the fog of negative and discouraging circumstances. And God’s track record is to use our worsening circumstances to bring an even greater deliverance, a more powerful testimony of his power for our lives, and greater glory to himself as we snatch victory out of the jaws of defeat. As Frederick Douglas said, “Without a struggle, there can be no progress.”

So when you are about to break—don’t! You’re inches away from an amazing breakthrough!

Going Deeper With God: If you are in a really hard place right now, wondering where God is, and ready to pull back from taking steps of faith, let me suggest a prayer for you to offer to God: “Dear God, I am struggling with the difficult and discouraging times in my life. Just at the time where I have hoped and prayed for a breakthrough, it seems as though I am about to break. But I will seize upon your promise to Moses: I am well aware of my covenant with my people. Lord, you remember us…you remember me. Now I pray, strengthen me to remain faithful and not to retreat in the face of adversity; let me not forfeit the victory that you have in store for me. Show me your unfailing love and great favor—and may it begin anew today!

Who? Me?

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

The weaker the vessel, the greater the glory to the One who pours his presence and power into and out through that vessel. The more obvious the inadequacies, the bigger the challenge and the greater the unlikelihood, the larger the set-up for a testimony that will be passed down through generations of the power of God displayed in the life of one human being who was surrendered, if not reluctantly, to purposes of the Almighty.

Who Me

Going Deep // Focus: Exodus 4:10-13

Then Moses said to the LORD, “O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” So the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD? Now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.” But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.”

Like most people, even great leaders, Moses was a pretty insecure guy. He had lost a great job, and while landing a minimum wage gig just to make ends meet, he had nevertheless wandered in obscurity for forty years before the Lord appeared to him in a burning bush with a new assignment. And while that new assignment would thrust Moses into the history books as the greatest leader of all time, at this point in his life, he was the most diffident deliverer ever!

Now keep in mind that it was a burning bush from which God spoke! You typically wouldn’t backtalk God if he spoke to you from a burning bush, yet Moses offered one excuse after another as to why God had come to the wrong guy. You would think if the Almighty showed up in such dramatic fashion Moses might have been convinced that he indeed must be the right man. A God who is powerful enough to speak through a burning bush that doesn’t consume itself, and in fact, calls out your name from the bush, doesn’t tend to show up at the wrong address.

Moses’ problem was that he was more focused on his own inadequacies than on God’s adequacies. Moses was not the one who would have to do all the heavy lifting—God would. Yet God always works through human beings—men and women, by the way, who end up getting a lot of credit when God works through them. And, you know the rest of the story. That is exactly what happened: Moses got more than his fair share of recognition for the mighty acts that God wrought through him.

The truth is, the weaker the vessel, the greater the glory to the One who pours his presence and power into and out through that vessel. The more obvious the inadequacies, the bigger the challenge and the greater the unlikelihood, the larger the set-up for a testimony that will be passed down through generations of the power of God displayed in the life of one human being who was surrendered, if not reluctantly, to purposes of the Almighty.

You may not be called to call down plagues or part the Red Sea, but I’ve got a feeling that you are exactly the kind of person God is looking for. If he is calling you to step out for him, surrender, for he makes no mistakes. And since he has selected you, apparently he plans to do some incredible stuff through your obedience.

Going Deeper With God: Try offering this prayer of the reluctant: Dear God, I understand Moses’ reluctance. Sometimes I wonder why in the world I am someone you would want to use. Yet you are the One who made me just as I am, placed me where you want me to be, and called me to represent your name. And if you called, you will provide all the resources needed to secure victory, bring greater glory and honor to your name, and leave a legacy of what God can do through simple people submitted to your purposes. Lord, help me to place greater confidence in you than I’ve ever done before. And through my life may your name be exalted in all the land. May my life be a testimony to future generations of the power of God, that a people not yet born will gain great confidence in you and do mighty things in your name, all to your praise and glory.

The Tools of Your Trade

ThanksLiving: 365 Days of Gratitude

God works in mysterious ways. Sometimes the blessings he gives us bring about the discomforts we try to avoid; sometimes those very discomforts are the blessings, albeit in disguise.

What Hurts Instructs

Going Deep // Focus: Exodus 1:6-9

Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, but the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them. Then a new king, who did not know about Joseph, came to power in Egypt. “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become much too numerous for us.”

The purpose of Exodus 1 is to set up the story told in the rest of Exodus clear through the book of Deuteronomy—the delivery and birth of the nation of Israel. Specifically, this first chapter sets the stage for Israel’s misery under Pharaoh and the rise of their leader, Moses.

Now the greatness and power of God demonstrated through the deliverance of Israel from Egypt along with the incredible leadership skills that were developed in Moses through the life-changing encounters he had with God would not have been possible without chapter one of Exodus: The descent of Israel into Egyptian bondage.

Of course, that reminds us of an undeniable and sometimes uncomfortable truth about God: He works in mysterious ways. Sometimes the blessings he gives us bring about the discomforts we try to avoid; sometimes those very discomforts are the blessings, albeit in disguise. We saw this powerfully illustrated in Genesis, where God sovereignly preserved Jacob’s family from famine in Egypt only by first sovereignly allowing Joseph to be sold into slavery in Egypt years earlier.

We find in Exodus 1:1-14 that God has blessed Jacobs’ family in such an extraordinary way that they literally become a great nation. Yet those very blessings-their explosive growth and economic prosperity—are the things that threaten Israel’s host nation, Egypt, who ultimately responds by forcing the Israelites into slavery and bondage.

God’s blessings end up causing Israel great discomfort and hardship—but in all of this God is setting the stage for a deliverer, Moses, whose story we will read in Exodus 2.

So what is the greater point to all of this? God’s blessings sometimes bring discomfort. However, discomfort is often the seedbed from which God’s greater blessing grows.

We must come to understand, in spite of unwanted and uncomfortable circumstances, that God is faithful—always. We need to establish that truth in our hearts and minds ahead of time, never permitting that settled law to be challenged when our circumstances take an unexpected and undesired turn. We need to learn to keep our eyes fixed on the faithfulness of God during those times of difficulty. I love how the hymn-writer, Maltbie Babcock, so eloquently put it in his hymn, This Is My Father’s World,”

This is my Father’s world, O let me ne’er forget; that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet.

And not only is God faithful, he is also watchful. Even when the storms of life prevent you from seeing God, he sees you.

Furthermore, not only is God faithful and watchful, never forget that he is always at work. Even in Israel’s years of bondage and slavery, God is preparing to reveal his glory and his greatness at a future time in ways unmatched even to this day. So even when it seems like God is not in our circumstances, we can be assured that he is at work, setting the stage for a greater purpose that could only be revealed as a result of what we are experiencing in the present. As Henry Ward Beecher said, “Troubles are often the tools by which God fashions us for better things.”

Got any troubles at the moment? Just remember, they are God’s tool! And when he is through crafting you, you are going to make quite a fashion statement.

Going Deeper With God: Here is a prayer you might want to offer to God today: Lord, develop in me the faith to always see through my circumstances, no matter how difficult they may be, to see your hand at work, setting the stage to reveal your glory. Help me to obey, even when to obey would allow those circumstances to threaten my health or happiness. And Lord, open my eyes to see and receive your blessing when it would seem impossible that blessings could happen.