Archive for August, 2015

God allows us to have a fleeting glimpse of an uncomfortable season in the life story of Miriam, and it is an ugly picture.  I say that not because I am free of the envy that seeped into the brave prophetess. I have been there too. I have looked at others and wanted, desperately at times, what they had. It may have been their financial state, their employment position, their appearance, their home, etc.

Envy is a hideous thing. It has the power to consume us, twisting us into spiteful, bitter individuals if we let it. It creeps into our minds and hearts with a longing whose grasp controls our attitudes and our actions.

Miriam’s envy, recorded in Numbers 12, stemmed primarily from the fact that God had chosen Moses as His primary spokesman for the Israelites. She sought to veil it by a critical remark regarding his marriage to a Cushite woman. You and I have likely done the same in our not so fine moments. Whether the words were spoken out loud or took up residence in our thoughts, we have tried to disguise our envy with judgment.

She wouldn’t have that great vacation (or car, or wardrobe, etc.) if she actually gave to charitable causes!

Of course she has time to maintain her figure (or home, or business, etc.).  She doesn’t spend the time I do lovingly caring for my kids (or church, or community, etc.).

As hard as it is to admit, we all have Miriam moments… moments when we let our desires cloud our vision. We see only what we do not have instead of basking in the beauty of all God has provided.

After the Apostle Paul expounds on the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5, the chapter concludes with an appeal to follow the Spirit.

“Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (Galatians 5:24-26).

“Guard your heart above all else, for it is the source of life” (Proverbs 4:23). The imperative seems impossible to attain, but God does not leave us without instruction on how we can do just that, “Let your eyes look forward; fix your gaze straight ahead” (Proverbs 4:25).

The consequences for Miriam’s sin was a skin disease that kept her out of the camp for seven days. God’s actions may seem harsh to the onlooker in this story, but they serve as a powerful reminder that envy is ugly. Miriam held a high office with great responsibility, and as such, the consequences of her sinful actions serve as a clear statement to us of God’s displeasure with envy.

Where are you looking? Are your eyes on others or are they fixed on the One whose love is sacrificial and unconditional? Are you looking at what you do not have or keeping your eyes on Jesus and celebrating all that He has already provided? As we bask in His blessings and focus on Him, He is sure to mold us into beautiful, grateful women of God.

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The escape through the Red Sea is one of those passages of the Bible that few forget. The path we see the Great Rescuer unveil for the Israelites fleeing their Egyptian pursuers is a miraculous wonder that exudes His power. The story is recorded in Exodus 14.

In celebration of God’s mighty deliverance, Moses and the Israelites sing a song to the Lord that can be found in Exodus 15. What is intriguing to note is that we see Miriam once again, and this time she is described as a “prophetess.” Evidenced in her title is her connection with the Creator. But this title is not what causes me to take notice, rather it is her leadership in corporate worship… her uninhibited public demonstration of praise!

“Then Miriam, the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took a tambourine in her hand, and all the women followed her with their tambourines and danced. Miriam sang to them: Sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted; He has thrown the horse and its rider into the sea” (Exodus 15:20-21).

Miriam led her people and her fellow women in a celebration that God deemed worthy enough to include in His Word. Her gratitude to the Lord is a lesson to me. How often I have seen God’s hand in my life… His deliverance and His power! I usually take a brief moment to thank Him, but celebrate??? My dancing and musical abilities are subpar to say the least, so how would this even look? How could I reveal my gratitude to God for what He has done?

“Give thanks to Yahweh; call on His name; proclaim His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him; sing praise to Him; tell about all His wonderful works! Honor His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek Yahweh rejoice” (1 Chronicles 16:8-10).

Maybe I can’t dance like Miriam, but I can rejoice.   Miriam’s actions remind me that we need to rejoice in the rescue. God has done wonderful works in each of our lives. What has He done for you? Proclaim His deeds. We would love to hear your story and honor His name today.

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Miriam: Bold Enough in Him

With her presence concealed, Miriam surveyed the scene playing out in front of her. Pharaoh’s daughter was so consumed with the crying baby in the bulrushes that Miriam’s next move could go unnoticed… especially if she headed back home.

Retreat was not to be, however, for the brave Hebrew sister. With the life of her brother hanging in the balance, she stepped courageously before the princess with a plan only God could have made clear.

“Should I go and call a woman from the Hebrews to nurse the boy for you?” young Miriam inquired (Exodus 2:7).

Her swift action allowed for the mother of Moses to care for him (with pay) until Pharaoh’s daughter made him her own. Her words had encouraged the princess to consider protecting his life instead of taking it.

I have thought about her bravery in these beginning verses of Exodus 2 and considered my own life. Would I have spoken? I am easily intimidated by bigger personalities, and certainly an Egyptian princess would be considered a big personality here. Miriam’s family had been mistreated by the Egyptians, and yet she did not cower behind a tree, or as we sometimes do, a falsehood. She didn’t let fear consume her… paralyze her from speaking the words that God had placed within her.

When have you known you needed to act or speak, known God was prodding you to do so, but allowed your fears of what others might think to prevent you? Was it in the workplace? With a neighbor? In a family conversation?

“For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Miriam’s early years gives us a picture of boldness that reminds me of the bold faith with which the Apostle Paul spoke: “My eager expectation and hope is that I will not be ashamed about anything, but that as always, with all boldness, Christ will be highly honored in my body, whether by life or by death” (Philippians 1:20).

If we are to draw others to Christ, we can’t be afraid to speak truth. As Paul so eloquently records in his letter to the Ephesians, “Pray that I might be bold enough in Him to speak as I should” (6:20).

I can’t help but wonder if that was Miriam’s prayer before setting foot in front of royalty. Surely, she knew that she had the greatest King of all on her side.

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“You must throw every son born to the Hebrews into the Nile,

but let every daughter live.”

Exodus 1:22

Pharaoh’s orders breathed hatred. His deadly command revealed his oppression of the Israelite people was in no way coming to an end. But God saw His people and their suffering, and His rescue was imminent.

In a papyrus basket hiding among the reeds of the Nile lay the one whom God would use to execute His plan. “His sister stood at a distance in order to see what would happen to him” (Exodus 2:4).

I have pondered those words over and over again. Did Moses’ mother send Miriam? Did Miriam come on her own accord? What drew her to that hidden vantage point… was it obedience to her parents or a desire to protect her younger sibling? Scripture does not disclose the answers to my questions. It does say she was there to see what would happen to him.

I could speculate her purpose, or I could remember what I know of my God and recognize that her presence was Godsent. We will see just how God uses Miriam next week, but for today, let’s simply reflect on the truth that God is our Protector.

Her timely presence reminds me that God protects His children, and His Word confirms this:

“The one who lives under the protection of the Most High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.”

~ Psalm 91:1

“You are my hiding place; You protect me from trouble. You surround me with joyful shouts of deliverance.” ~ Psalm 32:7

“The Lord protects you; the Lord is a shelter right by your side.” ~ Psalm 121:5

As Miriam waited expectantly on the banks of that Egyptian river, we see a young woman, child perhaps, who was likely desperate for God to move… to act… to protect.

Maybe today you feel like a Miriam… you are waiting for God to show His hand. Wondering what’s next. Wondering when He will move those mountains out of your way and deliver you from a troubling or painful circumstance. Take refuge under His wings, my friend. Let His faithfulness be your protective shield (Psalm 91:4).

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Moses. Even if you haven’t read the Bible, you have certainly heard his name. His prominence as a hero of the Hebrew people was applauded in 20th century film and recognized with historical significance. He was the one who defied the Egyptian pharaoh. The one who conversed with God through a burning bush. Perhaps you recall the story of the Red Sea?

The name of Moses conjures up thoughts of biblical leadership, but the son of Amram and Jochebed had a sister whose first appearance in Scripture elevates her as one fully capable of leading as well. In the coming weeks, we will peek into Miriam’s life and her heart in hopes of uncovering lessons that can relate to our everyday lives. We will meet her by the banks of the Nile and follow her across a dry sea. We will watch her dance and exalt the Lord with her tambourine, but later fall prey to jealousy and judgment.

As her life plays out before us through the pages of the first books of the Bible, I hope you will be able to examine your own heart. Psalm 139:23-24 guides us in this, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way.” In Proverbs, we are instructed to “guard [our] heart above all else, for it is the source of life” (4:23).

As you prepare your heart for this journey, remember that the God who used Miriam, an imperfect woman with some of the same weaknesses and strengths as the rest of us, can certainly use you. He will “show Himself strong for those whose hearts are completely His” (2 Chronicles 16:9).

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