While reading this morning Exodus chapter three again, a question and a statement came to mind. The question was “What came before the Exodus?” And the statement was “you need an encounter with God before your exodus out of whatever it is God wants to deliver you from.” So, what is an exodus? An exodus basically means mass departure or going out. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word itself is derived from the Greek word Exodos which literally means “the road out”. We know that in Exodus three that God commissions Moses to lead His people out of years of oppression and suffering. God saw and heard His people and He said to Moses, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering (Exodus 3:7 NLT). He then goes on to say that I have come down to rescue them. This is where Moses fits in and gets welcomed to join God in His mighty work.
Does God See Our Tears?
Exodus had to remind me that God hears and He sees. Often, many of us saved or unsaved cry out that God does not see all of the suffering in the world or even in our individual lives. He does. He is aware. That is why He sent His Son to bring His Kingdom here on earth and bring salvation and reconciliation. We now have an opportunity to one day no longer suffer and be in agony and turmoil.Moreover, as I read Exodus three, it dawned on me that some things preceded the exodus of the Israelites. For one, Moses had an encounter with God. And some other things took place also but first let me encourage you that God sees your suffering and He hears your cries.
Circumstances Don’t Have The Last Say
Circumstances in life, especially ones that won’t let up, won’t let you sleep, and keep popping back up, will make you feel like running and throwing in the towel. I have had days where my conversations with God are full of tears, pleas and cries of wanting to just give up. However, a Bible plan I read left me with the impression that God will either deliver you from it or see you through it. The line in the Bible plan actually read “that sometimes God doesn’t deliver you from the trial. Instead He saves us through it.” In my struggles with anxiety and fear as well as other circumstances presented in my life, I sometimes think that this would be a lifelong struggle that eventually I would lose. But the devil is a liar. And John 16:33 reminds me that Jesus has already overcome the world, and therefore, He has already overcome the issues that plague it too. We may lose some battles in our human experience but Jesus overcame the war. I may deal with anxiety for the rest of my life, but I know one thing God is teaching me through all of this, and that is to trust Him one day at a time.Shoot, the second thing He is teaching me is that He sent me a helper, the third person and He is called the Holy Spirit. He is my Comforter and constant, unparalleled peace in the midst of any storm. Three, I must surrender all to God. I must surrender to His love and lordship. And four, God does want to deliver me. There will be times I will be afraid and anxiety will rear its ugly head to challenge me to run and hide, stand still and give up, or tremble and fight. But the Holy Spirit will help me to get to the point where fear will not control me. And I will take my focus off of fear and anxiety and put it back on Jesus. I will live in the presence of God. The spirit of fear will not choke out my destiny or become my identity. The spirit of fear will not dictate the quality of life I will have or shall I say lack thereof. God did not give me a spirit of fear, but that of power, love and a sound mind. I will receive the life and life to the full Jesus came to give me. I will see myself the way God does. I will experience the joy that comes from God here on earth instead of believing I have to wait to experience it in heaven. The joy of the Lord is my strength. I will be fulfilled by only the One who can fulfill me and that is God. Life is not and will not always be comfortable. In fact, storms come and go. But I can walk in the freedom and wholeness of God, knowing that in His presence and with His grace, I can live simply, fruitfully and purposefully.
What Comes Before An Exodus?
Now back to what comes before the exodus.
- God heard and saw. He sees your suffering. He feels your pain. He acknowledges what you’re feeling. Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. Exodus 3:7 NLT
- God remembers His covenant and promises. “Now go and call together all the elders of Israel. Tell them, ‘Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—has appeared to me. He told me, “I have been watching closely, and I see how the Egyptians are treating you. I have promised to rescue you from your oppression in Egypt. I will lead you to a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.”’ Exodus 3:16-17 NLT
- You have an encounter with God. One day Moses was tending the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian. He led the flock far into the wilderness and came to Sinai, the mountain of God. There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of a bush. Moses stared in amazement. Though the bush was engulfed in flames, it didn’t burn up. “This is amazing,” Moses said to himself. “Why isn’t that bush burning up? I must go see it.” When the Lord saw Moses coming to take a closer look, God called to him from the middle of the bush, “Moses! Moses!” “Here I am!” Moses replied. “Do not come any closer,” the Lord warned. “Take off your sandals, for you are standing on holy ground. I am the God of your father —the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God. Exodus 3:1-6 NLT
- God invites you to join Him in His mission. Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them. Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.” Exodus 3:9-10 NLT
- You get His instructions and encouragement. Then the Lord told him, “I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.” But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” God answered, “I will be with you. And this is your sign that I am the one who has sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God at this very mountain.” But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” God replied to Moses, “ I Am Who I Am . Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations. “Now go and call together all the elders of Israel. Tell them, ‘Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—has appeared to me. He told me, “I have been watching closely, and I see how the Egyptians are treating you. I have promised to rescue you from your oppression in Egypt. I will lead you to a land flowing with milk and honey—the land where the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites now live.”’ “The elders of Israel will accept your message. Then you and the elders must go to the king of Egypt and tell him, ‘The Lord , the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. So please let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord , our God.’ “But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand forces him. So I will raise my hand and strike the Egyptians, performing all kinds of miracles among them. Then at last he will let you go. And I will cause the Egyptians to look favorably on you. They will give you gifts when you go so you will not leave empty-handed. Every Israelite woman will ask for articles of silver and gold and fine clothing from her Egyptian neighbors and from the foreign women in their houses. You will dress your sons and daughters with these, stripping the Egyptians of their wealth.” Exodus 3:7, 10-22 NLT
Lastly, I would like to say that God is right there with you in your healing journey. He is our Shepherd and we have all we need because He cares for us and He will always provide for us. He never lies and never fails. Before our exodus, we must also come to let our flesh die daily. This means that with God’s grace and prayer, to humble ourselves before God and surrender to Him as well as keep renewing our minds with His word to transform our hearts. We must take time to spend time with God and make sure we keep our prayer altars lit. Let Him guide us and prepare us for each day as well as our deliverance, however that deliverance looks like to God. God is an amazing God and He loves us so!Tannika Nikeya 🙏🏾
I don’t play sports at all and I know nothing about football. Yet, I have seen a football in the hands of an athlete, held tightly like it was a gold nugget, and being carried through the hustle and bustle of other players serving as obstacles aiming for a chance to steal the ball and thwart the player’s chance to make it safely to the opponent’s end zone. And so I think about what if the player, who is carrying the football, fumbles and drops it. He must carry the ball and protect it with his force, focus and perseverance.
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
Proverbs 4:23 NLT
How much so must we guard our hearts, not our physical hearts (which need taking care of too) but the part of our being that carries our souls. Our hearts are more valuable than a football. Our hearts are the breeding grounds for thoughts and seeds to be planted, and prayerfully the right seeds. They are the epicenters of our emotions, wills, desires, intellects, goals and dreams, etc.
Now, I am no expert on the body, soul and spirit either but I do know we are a three part being (1 Thessalonians 5:23). We possess all three: a spirit, body, and soul. All three must be tended to with care in order to function in this earth realm and live a quality life. And moreso to fulfill our God-given destinies.
So back to our hearts. Just like our bodies, our hearts are so vital to our existence here on earth. Our hearts exude our perspectives on things and direct our actions. It is crucial that our hearts our cared for and guarded because they are just as precious, valuable, and imperative to who we are and how we impact the world around us. So, let us protect and care for our hearts. And remember every part of our being matters to God, our bodies, souls and spirits.
Our thoughts, our self-esteem, our goals. Everything concerning our hearts concerns God.
So, why must we guard our hearts. Well, first we must remember that if we have to guard something, it is because it is valuable. We guard our hearts because our hearts are:
2. Necessary for survival
3. Will impact others in some kind of way.
Our hearts and we in totality are valuable to God and to each other. Moreover, relationships are imperative for our survival, relationship with God and relationship with others. We were all created with purpose, talents and gifts that are to be operated in good stewardship, wisdom, and according to God’s will to help and bless others. We are valuable and we are here to make an impact in the lives of others. And we as the Body of Christ especially should be impacting others through the wisdom and love of God.
Now lets look at the second reason we must guard our hearts. We must guard our hearts because we have an enemy.
Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 NLT
1. We have an enemy, the devil, to protect our hearts against.
2. The enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy.
3. The mind is often our biggest battlefield.
Anxiety, depression, and suicide is on the rise. The minds and attention of our youth are gravely under attack. Parenting is difficult more than ever. Marriages are crumbling. Perversion, lovers of self, and haughtiness are growing rapidly. Destinies and dreams are also going to the graves. And a person with a wrong perspective, unguarded heart, and one wrong decision can derail his/her future. Some of us are courting secret sins and shame, and I am talking about those of us in the Body of Christ. Some of us are in despair and straddling the fence with God, losing hope and zeal for God. Let us guard our hearts. Let us repent and draw close to God.
So, let’s look at that again:
We must guard our hearts because they are valuable epicenters that house our thoughts, emotions, intellects, wills, etc. that not only affect us but others. And we have an enemy that sees this and wants to distort our epicenters, derail our destinies, steal how we see ourselves and others, kill our hopes and dreams, and destroy the very things (like relationship) that God created us to use to impact the world around us.
Guarding our hearts mean to protect and care for them. Plain and simple. And now we know from who and why we must guard our hearts. So now how?
Guard your heart by protecting its gates (eye gates, ear gates, etc.):
1. What are you watching?
2. What are you listening to?
3. What are you saying to yourself or others?
4. What are you meditating on?
Guard your heart by taking every thought captive.
We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:5 NLT
Catch them thoughts and check them?
Is this a thought lined up with the beliefs of God? Is this a thought from God or the enemy? What are you rooting your belief system in: witchcraft, conspiracy theories, what they say, or God? We cannot serve two masters. Are you feeding your spirit with the Word of God? It is so easy to just let your thoughts slide. But we have to have discipline over what we allow in our heads and what we allow to dominate our thoughts. People who are anxious tend to worry about the future. They tend to overthink and worry and struggle with a spirit of fear. People who tend to struggle with lust need to address when they tend to lust and what does the lust feed on. Pray that God destroy every proud obstacle that keeps us from knowing Him and that He captures our rebellious thoughts and teaches us to obey Him.
And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8 NLT
Guard your heart by reading the Word of God and meditating on it.
For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Hebrews 4:12 NLT
His Word cannot return to Him void. Get His perspective, His views, His thoughts and His wisdom on the matter, about you and the world that surround you.
Guard your heart by developing discipline and obeying God’s word.
It is not enough to just hear and read God’s word but we must obey God. Trust His intentions and purpose for us are good. Do not harden our hearts when we hear God’s voice. Allow the Holy Spirit to guide us. Seek God for help. Rely on His grace for it is sufficient. His strength, power and Word enables us to develop the mindset and discipline we need to live pleasing before God. “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 NLT
Read these relative chapters also.
But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. James 1:22-24 NLT
Now mentioning seeing yourself, guard your heart by seeing yourself the way He does.
It is so imperative to see yourself the way God does. If we are unable to see ourselves the way He does then I wonder if we are truly able to live, act and respond from the most authentic place. Can we really dwell richly in God’s love, that is unconditional and pure? Can we wholly communicate and impact from the Creator who created us with such a zeal and impact that is necessary? If we are unable to see ourselves the way God does, are we leaving cracks in the epicenter that let the enemy slip in?
So there you have it! It is not easy to guard something right? We have to have sharp focus. We have to persevere through countless obstacles and not give up. We have to be vigilant in watching and praying. We have to discipline our thoughts and that alone takes work and surrender to God. We have to not naively guard our hearts because we have a constant enemy. We have to remember the value of that which we are protecting. And we have to guard our hearts as we allow God to prune us and develop us in the fear of the Lord and wisdom of God as well as help us to bear fruit and subsequently more fruit, showing ourselves to be disciples of Jesus. Listen. Moreover, every human should not be guarding their hearts to restrict love, but guarding their hearts so that they can truly love. But to guard our hearts we need Jesus and His grace to be able to do so. We need God’s wisdom and Helper to direct us and heal us to guard our hearts and to also be able to walk in His love and receive His love. That is the last reason why we should guard our hearts. To walk in God’s love and receive it. Let us break it down further; we should guard our hearts:
1. to not be hindered in receiving the love God has for us and
2. to be able to love others as we love ourselves, and lastly but not least
3. …”‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’
Start today in guarding your heart by asking God for wisdom and grace to do so. Gather some scriptures to post on your wall or mirror and meditate upon them daily. Set a plan in place to guard your heart and seek to draw closer to God who loves you with an unfailing love.
I wrote this poem a couple or few months ago but made a few edits recently. This year has been said to be a horrible year, and we are just five months and six days down. This year started off rough for me and has continued on to be a challenge. In fact these past four years or so have been challenging (I use the word challenging because they were still blessings and I have learned so much). However, I remember when this year had just started a lot of people exclaimed that this would be the year of 2020 vision, clarity, the best year, and so forth. One thing for sure it has definitely been a year of clarity. It is like the curtain is being pushed back. But for me personally, this is another year of learning to trust God, another year of healing, and a year where God is drawing me closer to reprioritize and organize so that He can be first and everything else can fall in its right place. And this is the year for me to understand how to overcome and overcome those things that were draining me as well as distracting me, trying to keep me out of my destiny, and from healing and growing. So, this year is an uncomfortable one for me, and I bet it is uncomfortable for many others but this discomfort is needed. Let God open up our eyes and let God sit us down to have those personal and generational talks with each of us. Be willing and lean on Him for grace to receive His truth and His heart.
I see you trying to be still
Trying to keep joy in the midst of chaos and sinking hill
This world is sick
And all signs point to last days
Some of us are so numb that with every new event we are unfazed
The spirit of deception is
Filling the airwaves and skies
Increasing also corruption and lies
People are dying and life ain’t the same
Coronavirus is spreading and taking lives
And it doesn’t care about your money, fame, or name
The foundation of our land
Is crumbling fast
From the seeds sown today as well as the past
Division and Racism
Pride and ego
Corroding the core of our foundation
Nation against nation
Money and fame are our gods
Fear and emotional disarray
Increasing every day
Everybody wants their own way
Envy and lust for power
The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy
he shows up to work every day ready to devour
The fatherless and the widow, not to mention those whose hope is shrinking
And everyone in between
Authenticity of Identity and Empathy has left the scene
Some of our love for others and ourselves are sour
And some of us trying to find our voice and not cower
There is little respect and more destruction of the Black flower
Fighting to survive every hour
Police corruption and racial bias
My skin is a threat
No empathy or sympathy for me
They would say I deserved my death
And pent up pain in our hearts
Many of our youth are lost
We must save our children
And receive the abundant life
But some of us are afraid to take up our cross and count the cost
Dreams and destinies fill the grave
Anxiety and depression are soaring
We have a lot of Elijahs hiding in the cave
Fear of persecution
Fear of being alone
We are living in times where wrong is right and right is wrong
We are drowning in despair
Reaching for someone to stop and truly care
We are starving for integrity,
Humility, and real love
And needing answers that only God can supply from above
By Tannika Moore
Ever had a time when you were so frustrated by your circumstances? (Raises my hand!!!) Trouble and their makers seemed to follow you everywhere you went. Every turn you made, they were right there to annoy you, derail you, and distract you.
Once when we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a female slave who had a spirit by which she predicted the future. She earned a great deal of money for her owners by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and the rest of us, shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are telling you the way to be saved.” She kept this up for many days. Finally Paul became so annoyed that he turned around and said to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus Christ I command you to come out of her!” At that moment the spirit left her. When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace to face the authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These men are Jews, and are throwing our city into an uproar by advocating customs unlawful for us Romans to accept or practice.” The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!” The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. Acts 16:16-33 NIV
Anxiety, trials and tribulations as well as trouble makers may arise and follow you throughout life. They may make you feel so alone, hopeless, and even tired and annoyed. However, after reading these scriptures for the second time, I realized, thanks to the Holy Spirit, three things you can practice to lead your annoyance towards godly action. One, as a believer of Christ Jesus, I am in covenant with Him and therefore, I have authority over every demonic force (Luke 10:19, Luke 9:1). He (the Holy Spirit) that is in me is greater than he (the devil) that is in the world. Two, troubling circumstances are also opportunities to put my trust in God and keep my focus on God. Let me fix my eyes on Jesus for He is the author and finisher of my faith. Three, these are also opportunities to pull out two of my weapons (prayer and praise). Besides meditating on the Word of God, prayer and praise are other weapons to aid me in my battles. Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God instead of latching on to their despair.
Victory will come along.
Just keep on.
And stay focused on Him too.
Keep praising God,
For He will see you through.
What has you in despair or frustrated? What things have you learned to healthily cope? What godly actions do you take to combat against your trials and tribulations? Why is it not a good thing to just avoid issues and circumstances? How does God want us to face them?