"No lusting after your neighbor’s house—or wife or servant or maid or ox or donkey. Don’t set your heart on anything that is your neighbor’s." - Exodus 20:17
Most everything you see today will try to convince you that you need some different stuff, new stuff, better stuff. Your neighbor's got that new car - you've seen the commercials where the people next door are be utter than you because they've got the brand new 2018 Ford/Chevy/Dodge/Honda/Toyota/Hyundai/whatever and you... you've got that old thing. Yours was cool yesterday. Now you need the new thing that they have. Your life is not complete without it. Sure. Trust them. They know and you are missing out.
Only you are not - not at all - because God Himself says not to go there. Contentment is the key to fulfillment, not getting the latest greatest whatever they advertisers want to sell you. Don't set your heart on anything that is your neighbors. Jesus filled it out further by saying
God will get you what you need today. Trust Him and His goodness toward you. Most of us are pretty good at believing God wants good for others but we might have a hard time accepting that for ourselves when times are tough. Take it to heart right now - you believe He is going to care for others, believe that for yourself too. There's no need to focus on what the person next to you has - God will provide what is best for you. Focus on Him and let Him take care of you. Be thankful. Be content. Keep trusting. He is your hope and Source of joy - not the stuff.
Spark. Useful for warming, cooking, propelling you forward.
Moses said to the people, “Always remember this day. This is the day when you came out of Egypt from a house of slavery. - Exodus 13:3
Always remember the day. Remember the day God set you free. Remember the day when you said "YES" to Christ. Remember what life was like for you before Jesus. Always remember.
Why does Moses have to remind them not to forget? Its because we so easily DO forget. We get on with our lives, things improve and if we are not paying attention, we forget. We forget who we were before Jesus. We forget how we were before Jesus. We forget where we were before Jesus.
Today, take a second and remember what a difference He has made and is making in you. Always remember.
Spark. Remember the first time you felt the warmth of the Flame.
"And the people trusted and listened believingly that God was concerned with what was going on with the Israelites and knew all about their affliction. They bowed low and they worshiped."
- Exodus 4:31 from The Message
Do you know that God knows? Do you trust that He knows where you are, what you are going through that He cares and is about to do something about your situation?
Do you trust and read the Bible listening to God's Word "believingly" (what an adverb!) as you hear His voice? In other words, do the words on the page find a heart of faith, ready to receive His truth and expecting something good to come out of hearing His Word? Jesus gave us a picture of God's Word being like seed scattered on the hearts of those who hear it. Some hearts are like ground that is hard packed from being walked all over. The seed doesn't get in and then the Enemy comes and steals it away. Others hearts are full of cares, concerns and competing priorities that act like weeds to choke out God's Word. Still others let His Word in but they are shallow and the moment hard times or challenges come, they give up and quit.
Notice what happened in Exodus 4 - for a brief and shining moment they believed, understood, gained comfort from it and it moved them to worship. They didn't stay this way (read the rest of Exodus - what a bunch of boneheads! ... and we can be like them too - but that's for another day). But God came through for them - and He will you. Hear His promises. Believe His compassion for you. Humble yourself today and worship the One who IS going to come through on your behalf.
Spark... Big toasty bonfire available if you'll just tend the flame.
So Joseph bought up all the farms in Egypt for Pharaoh. Every Egyptian sold his land—the famine was that bad. That’s how Pharaoh ended up owning all the land and the people ended up slaves; Joseph reduced the people to slavery from one end of Egypt to the other. - Genesis 47:20-21
We remember the story of Moses and the Exodus starting with how the Hebrews were so oppressed as slaves in the land of Egypt. What we forget is that one of their great patriarchs, Joseph, was the original one who got them into slavery in the first place. Sounds harsh but it was initially part of a very good thing - God was using Joseph's leadership to save the entire region during a time of extreme famine. But the people ended up slaves (including the Egyptians, by the way) which was a bad thing. Of course a couple generations later it ends a very bad thing as the Egyptians are again free and busy treating their Hebrew slaves harshly with God's people crying out to the Lord in their suffering. But then that story ends up in a very good way with Moses and the people leaving with great wealth as God leads them out in a glorious victory! Whew, my head hurts... its enough to make yo emotionally motion sick!
It helps to know this because you may be facing something tough today. It might be an unforeseen outcome of something that initially looked good... and now is looking to be heading in a bad direction... and maybe God is yet going to turn it to something amazing. Hold on, trust the Lord with all your heart. He hasn't lost sight of you. He hasn't dropped the ball. Sometimes God's plan for His people involves some unexpected twists and turns, some drama before the great good arrives.
Patience. Trust Him with your story.
A Spark to warm your soul during dark times.
Then the man said, “Your name will no longer be Jacob ("Schemer"), but Israel ("Prince with God"), because you have struggled with God and with humans and have overcome.” Jacob said, “Please tell me your name.” But he replied, “Why do you ask my name?” Then he blessed him there. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “It is because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.” The sun rose above him as he passed Peniel, and he was limping because of his hip.
- Genesis 32:28-31
We have this repeated context in the Bible - God changing someone's name. It happened to Abraham, Sarah, Peter, etc. We understand how this is a sign of blessing and great significance. We also know that seeing God is huge thing: Moses said to the Lord "show me your face". Philip said to Jesus "Show us the Father and that will be enough for us..." Well Jacob gets both and one other thing - a limp. The context is Jacob conniving to try and make sure his brother (that he tricked out of a big blessing) doesn't KILL him. Jacob is busy putting this big scheme to butter him up by sending him all these gifts - you can find the story in the earlier verses of Genesis 32. So let's summarize:
Okay - so let's talk about you. You are probably like Jacob if you are reading this. You want to be draw closer to God. You want to be blessed. You want to find your identity in Him rather than who the world - or even you, yourself - think you are. You might have a history of unfinished business in your life partly due to things that you maybe are not so proud of? If so, then you are like Jacob - a good candidate for some serious progress with God!
But you may find that it requires the same things Jacob had to go through - it can cost you. He wrestled with God. Maybe its you wrestling with God's Word over how you view things, how He sees them, and how He's asking for an adjustment on your part. Maybe it's wrestling with obeying God. Maybe it's all about fighting through your doubts and fears. You are going to have to be tenacious and hold on like Jacob. The wrestling means you will walk differently afterward - sure, walk in God's path, in His new sense of who you are, in His blessings - and it may hurt, just like Jacob's limp. I wonder what a dislocated hip feels like. I've had a dislocated shoulder and it is no fun at all. I wonder how long Jacob limped... the Bible doesn't say. How long will I be tender after I encounter God?
The point is this: Today if you want God's blessings and plan for you - you may have to reach for it, brace for a shock as you wrestle through encountering the truth of God, and be prepared for Him putting you in your place a bit in the process. The progress you'll make is worth it - just don't expect for an encounter with Him to be a completely comfy thing - making progress may involve some pain. The pain is worth the progress - but it is still pain - and it may remain. It's worth it.
Spark. Find some gas to dump on it.