Moses Meltdown

By Steve Marquez

Traveling along the rocky road of a cancer patient brings incredible highs and devastating lows. It is inevitable that along the way you meet people who happen to be going in the same direction. Relationships are developed that make the travel a little lighter. Then, one by one, they are called to their eternal home. Their wandering is complete. It is a great joy for them and a blow to us who cherished their friendship.

There are turns along this highway, a scan, a doctor’s appointment that doesn’t go quite the way it should, and darkness takes over. People ask how I am able to overcome and even put a smile on my face when things are so difficult. They say that my wife and I are such great examples. But they don’t see the times that I am in tears and want to give up.

Moses felt that way. He was the reluctant champion of the children of Israel as he exclaimed to Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” Pharaoh responded by making life more difficult for the Hebrew slaves. Moses went before God and asked why he would call him to make life more difficult for those who were already oppressed. Eventually, God set the people free only to see them commit the sin of unbelief and, for forty years they wandered aimlessly through the desert. During that time, Moses would hear the murmuring and complaining of the people over and over and over again. It was too much for him. He broke down. 

“I am not able to carry all this people alone; the burden is too heavy for me.”

Numbers 11:14, ESV

There comes a time when we all reach a tipping point. We have tried to maintain the balance. Ruin on one side, glory on the other; but then we tip and fall. We can’t handle that burden and, we are at our wits end; exactly where God wants us to be. The time must come when we realize we can not hold things together on our own. We need strength above what we can muster, to find it, we must give up. Jesus said,

“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”

Matthew 16:25, ESV

This hope is what puts a smile on my face after the initial shock of a new diagnosis; or an existing painful medical issue that must be dealt with by either new medication or surgery. When I have a Moses’ Meltdown, I must remember where my strength comes from.

“He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:29–31, ESV

Waiting for God is a euphemism for a life devoted to him. Physical strength doesn’t matter. Weakness, sickness, disease? They do not matter. When we devote ourselves to God, he devotes himself to us and we find the strength we have been looking for.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28–30, ESV

Do you have a huge burden to carry? Jesus says, “Come.” Are you suffering the painful loss of a loved one and you are overwhelmed? Jesus says, “Come.” Did a doctor tell you that you have terminal Stage4 cancer? Jesus says, “Come.” If we come to him, we will find rest for our souls. Oh, how we need rest. Do you feel his gentle heart as he speaks peace to you now?

God loves you even though you are suffering. He has his reasons for allowing you to go through the pain. Perhaps it is because he wants to show his strength in your weakness. Fall on him if you can not stand. He will lift you up.

A Father; A Grandfather

As I was reading scripture this morning, I noticed something about Josiah, king of Judah. His dad, Amon, did evil in the sight of the LORD; his grandfather, Manasseh, was one of, if not the most wicked king Judah ever had. Yet, at a very early age, Josiah sought the LORD.

“For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet a boy, he began to seek the God of David his father… (2 Chronicles 34:3, ESV)

Why would this boy-king seek the Lord at the tender age of sixteen? Although his grandfather’s wickedness is legendary, so was his repentance. Manasseh was captured by the enemy and imprisoned. While there, he sought the LORD with all his heart, humbling himself, committing himself to do those things that were right in the sight of the LORD. 

As I read about this king or that king in their early stages of reign in the book of 2 Chronicles, I see that some kings did that which was good and others that which is evil, often in succession. A good king fathers an evil one and vise-versa. Manasseh fathered Amon; Amon fathered Josiah. In one instance, a young king’s mother influenced him for evil. (2 Chronicles 22:3) Perhaps this was the case for all the kings? Did they have nanny’s that had an influence on them? Teachers, as in the case of Jehoiada? (2 Chronicles 24:2) Whatever it was, the change could be stark; one king wanting to destroy everything evil, the next raising those things back.

In the case of Josiah, I’ll bet his grandfather’s transformation, and the unmitigated deviation shown by his wicked father, had an impact on him. I would like to believe that the contrast of Grandpa Manasseh’s contrast showed Josiah that the LORD will receive all who come to him and will in no way cast them away for good.

Manasseh had a great influence on his son as well. Amon wanted to be like his dad, doing everything just as dad did. He relished in it and knew that not only would he be like father, but would even outdo him. When Manasseh returned from captivity, he was a changed man. I am sure Amon could not, or would not, understand. I could hear there conversations now. 

“You must serve the LORD now, Amon. I was wrong in all the evil that I did. I led the nation in wickedness and evil, but now I see the desolation I caused, and it is beyond what I can bare.” Said the older and wiser king.

“But dad, you were great at what you did! You were feared. You were a great king. You still are a great king! I loved everything you did and all that you accomplished.” Said the young prince.

“No, my son,” said Manasseh, “You must not say such things. Remember the LORD. Learn of him, seek him, he will be found by those who seek him.”

“I just don’t get it dad.” Said Amon.

But, in the room was a four-year-old little boy named Josiah. His ears were as open as his heart and such a tender age. Josiah loved his grandfather. He never knew him as the evil, harsh man he was before, but only a tender, loving, and godly grandfather. Josiah knew that one day, he would want to be like his grandfather.

When he began to reign as king, just four years later, he would only remember grand-dad and his admonition to follow the LORD. Even at that age, although not really ruling, but under tutors and teachers to learn how to reign, he knew he wanted to be a godly king. The reason? Because of a godly man that once was a wicked man. As he progressed in school, he began to be assured in his desire to seek the LORD and, at sixteen, he made his choice as king. 

Where are you at, dad? Do you feel as though your B.C. (Before Christ) days are haunting you? Do you see that your children are not walking in the ways of the LORD? Each son or daughter will have to make a choice for themselves. They will have to decide whether they will do that which is right in the sight of the LORD or whether to do evil. But that does not mean that you do not have a chance to make a difference, even when you feel as though your words are hitting a brick wall. Remember, God is faithful. Continue in prayer. Continue to be a light and a witness. Don’t give up because God will not give up on you.

Calling All Sinners

“And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Mark 2:17, ESV

Jesus broke the mold. According to Leviticus 22:1–6, if a person touched or even was around someone unclean, they became unclean. So eating and drinking with ‘sinners’ was tantamount to committing Rabbinical-Holy-Man suicide. Jesus ate with sinners and tax collectors (the worse category of sinners of the day) because they needed the most help.

This reminds me of my High School days. A lot of the time I got to know my teachers and sat in the front row of desks. Why? Because I was such a good kid? No. I was actually kind of a pain in the neck. I was constantly getting into trouble, oh, not bad stuff, just ‘horsing’ around and constantly joking and talking. The teacher would put me in front because she wanted to keep her eye on me. I truly believe they wanted to help me. 

Later, when I became a believer at 16, I still wasn’t fully under control yet. I remember ditching one of my classes and sitting on one of the stairways, the principal walked up and asked me what I was doing. Actually, I was reading my Bible and showed him. He was not mad. He didn’t even tell me to get to class. He asked if I believed what the Bible said. I said I did. He asked for the Bible and he opened it up to Proverbs 12:1 and showed me where it read:

“Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, But he who hates correction is stupid.”

Proverbs 12:1, NKJV

I’ll never forget that day. A man of such a high standing in the school and he spent time with me. He knew I didn’t want to be stupid. Then he said I could have the day off from that class, but I needed to be there the next day.

Jesus did something similar when he met with those who were the social outcasts of the day. Instead of making him unclean, he made them clean. He preached the gospel to them. He allowed them to get to know him and offered them forgiveness. 

Jesus was a religious leader. And he wasn’t. He wasn’t anything like those who paraded around in flowing robes demanding respect from the masses. No, he was a leader with integrity. The other religious leaders could not understand why Jesus would meet with sinners. But there were no others that needed the kind of doctoring he would bring them. They needed compassion. The religious leaders wanted them to be isolated.

When Jesus said that he didn’t come to call the righteous, but sinners, he didn’t mean that there were certain righteous people that could not be saved, but in reality, there were none that could be saved. Only a confessed sinner sees their need for a Savior. A self-righteous person does not, and therefore, they never are saved.

The Great Physician is with you. If you humbly go to him, he will give you the greatest of all healings-the forgiveness of sins and being accepted in his family. 

What Would You Give Up?

…what will a man give in exchange for his soul?

Matthew 16:26b, NKJV

What are we willing to give for our soul? What does a soul cost? What did it cost God? The price of something, contrary to popular belief, is not equal to its value but is equal to the value placed upon it by the purchaser. My house is only worth what someone will pay for it, not how much I want to sell it for.

God places our souls at a high value. He purchased our soul, not from us, but from, as it were, in slavery. We were wholly owned by another. We sold our soul to the selfish way, to the pride and foolishness for the purchase price of that for which gains us nothing. Have you ever desired something so great, then when you finally received it, the shine dimmed? You were no longer enamored by it. In fact, many have garages that are littered with things that we HAD to have. We paid high prices for each because they had value to us, but in the end, the thing was not as valuable to life as we supposed.

Have you ever made the foolish deal and traded something that had great value for something that had little or even became worthless with time? When I was a much younger man, I did. I had a very nice 12 string acoustic guitar and an electric, with an amp and traded it at a pawn shop for a drum set that was worth half the price, which I later had to sell to pay some bills. I wondered at the time why the owner of the shop was so eager to make the deal. The pawnshop is both the greatest ally and fiercest enemy of the musician. When we need money, they provide it, but, like the devil, when we want it back there is a much higher cost.

Reminds me of the proverb…

It is good for nothing,” cries the buyer; But when he has gone his way, then he boasts.

Proverbs 20:14, NKJV

In Jeremiah 2:11-13, the accusation by the Holy One is that Israel has made a deal with the pawnshop—in my vernacular. They traded that which is priceless for that which is worthless. How? Because it looked shiny. We always want the shiny and reject the consistent. We have everything and we become bored with it. Oh, that we would see the value of our relationship with God and never underestimate our worth to Him.

May we repent of that which causes the behavior to flourish. Foolishness and pride are the roots that must be removed. Although it is difficult to do so, ultimately, if we are to be fruitful, even if an exhausting and punishing task, the result will be worth every bead of sweat.

D.V.

May the LORD richly bless you. Have you sinned a sin of which you believe God will never forgive? Rest assured that you will find the blood of Jesus a great cleanser indeed. There may be consequences to your actions, but His grace will change you from the inside out. Ask him for his forgiveness and for Him to shine his light in your darkness to find the recesses and corners that might be cleansed. Follow Him all the days of your life and you will see, over time, a transformation of mercy and a walk of grace. For prayer, please email me or leave a comment.

Blessings!

Our Days Are Numbered

Steve Marquez
July 1, 2015

“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

Psalm 90:12

Wisdom is knowing our limitations. I remember a few years ago that I played basketball with some young men at Calvary Chapel Bartlett. After a few minutes, I was completely exhausted. I had to step out of the game and let a younger man take my place. When I sat down next to another man my age, I told him, breathing heavy, sweat pouring down my face, and every muscle in my body aching, that I was exhausted. Staring straight forward and shaking his head, he said,

“A man’s got to know his limitations.”

How true that was and is. There is wisdom in knowing limitations. We can thrive when we know them; we can kill ourselves when we don’t.

There is a limited amount of time to accomplish what God wants to accomplish in and through us. It is as if the clock is ticking and we are on Jeopardy. If we wait long enough, the buzzer goes off and we lose the opportunity. For some, the buzzer of life will sound sooner than they thought. I have read countless obituaries where a young man or a young woman had been driving too fast, flipped their car, and died on the spot. I am sure when they left the house that day, they said goodbye to their parents, and didn’t realize it would be their last goodbye.

The wisdom in numbering our days is realizing that no matter how long we have, it is a short time. Even if we live seventy or eighty years it’s a short time. When I was first diagnosed with cancer and went through surgery after surgery, I realized how fragile life was. A doctor could tell someone that they only have a month to live, but they could step off a curb the next day, get hit by a car, and die. The doctor was wrong, they only had one day to live.

Wisdom is learned by understanding the fragility of life. We have a short time. What are we going to do with what we have? Paul said,

“See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

Ephesians 5:15-17

What should we do with the time that we have? We should focus on what is important. Being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness puts things into perspective. When the doctor says, “Cancer” things change. At that point, life is not so much about stuff as about people. The spiritual world becomes more important; the physical goes away. Family and friends become much more important.

We’ve all been given the same diagnosis. We each have a disease that will eventually kill us. It’s called sin. There is a treatment for it, but eventually, it will get us. On that day when we take our final breath, we will not be concerned about how much money we made or about the accumulation of stuff.

For me, my thoughts went to what kind of husband I had been. What kind of dad? Did I impart enough wisdom to my boys? Did I show them enough discipline to develop their character? Did I point them to Jesus? What did I do to influence them for the kingdom of God?

As an exercise, today I will diagnose you with a deadly disease. I don’t know how many days you have left, but they are numbered. Write down what you’d like your legacy to be… and, with wisdom gained, live it while you still have the chance to do so.

Eleven Days Equals Forty Years

“…It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by way of Mount Seir to Kadesh Barnea.”

Deuteronomy 1:2 NKJV

Every time I read this it makes me laugh, but then, I realize that many times in my life this has been me. God has a plan. He has a streamlined, fast way to get there, then I do something stupid to ruin the plan and then I have to take the long road. 

An 11-day trip took them 40 YEARS! They didn’t enter because they didn’t trust the Lord.

Praise God that today we don’t have to be worried about being kept out of the promised land. Our sin has been forgiven on the cross. But I must tell you that I am tired of having to take another lap around the mountain. Yes. It gets tiring. 

My prayer is to get so in-tune with God’s plan that no matter what crazy thing He tells me to do, I immediately obey. I want to arrive in under two weeks, not in 40 years. God has been so gracious. 

Where are you on this journey? Have you missed God’s plan? Are you walking on the dark side of the mountain ready to see the same sights and eat the same food and wear the same clothes for the next 40 years, or are you ready to repent and look for God’s Grace in your life? Are you ready to come to Him as a child that you would be counted as one who gets to enter heaven? He loves you and He died for you. Receive Him as your Savior and trust Him with your life. Let the short journey begin into the family of God and all the blessings that come with it. 

Amen!

Overwhelmed or Exhilaration?

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.”

Proverbs 3:5-8

While making the surfing movie, “Mavericks”, actor Gerard Butler almost died in what was described as a “two-wave hold down.” It is when the first wave takes you down, then, before you have a chance to get back up, the second wave keeps you under.

Butler said, “‘I was down for that wave and I was down for a long time just turning and turning and then the next wave came over and I began to think ‘Wow, I’m going to die making a movie.’” He continued, “It was like a Tsunami coming in and I was down and I just didn’t come back up really,” The actor described it by saying that it wasn’t a place he wanted to be.

In Streams in the Desert, a beloved devotional, there is a haunting poem. Here is a somewhat related excerpt:

“Who would dare the choice, neither or both to know, the finest quiver of joy or the agony thrill of woe! Never the exquisite pain, then never the exquisite bliss, for the heart that is dull to that can never be strung to this.”

Streams in the Desert, January 28th, selected poem


Waves can also come in life. One after the other. An example of this is the story of Job. Who could read that book and ever forget the “As he was still speaking…” moments when servants came to tell Job of the great losses he had incurred. It was wave after wave of woe. What do we do when life brings this “tsunami” on us? If a surfer is to ride the waves, he must first journey through those that are breaking in front of them. They do this in various ways. Sometimes they are able to float over them before they break. Other times, they dive under the wave and come out the other side. Then there are those times that they misjudge and are caught in what we used to call, in my younger surfing days, as “the washing machine.” You just turn and turn and turn and are at the mercy of the wave and whitewash until you can come up for air. Those are scary times, as Butler can attest.

Have you ever felt this way? Do you feel as though life is hitting you again and again and all you can do is come up for air and go immediately down again? You need strength to overcome. You need help. Gerard Buttler was helped by two surfers with years of experience at Mavericks. We need help as well. Later Butler said he wanted to go back out and surf again. As believers in Jesus, we need His help to overcome. Once we figure out how to dodge the breaking waves in front of us, soon we’ll be out in the perfect point break, where, instead of being destroyed by the waves, we’ll ride them to victory in this life, and into eternity with Jesus.

The LORD Has Kept You From Honor

“…the LORD has kept you back from honor.” Numbers 24:11b

At first glance, you might think that this is in response to some sin. The Lord has kept you back from honor… because you have sinned and done evil in His sight. But that wouldn’t be the case. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Balak, king of the Moabites wanted Balaam, a wayward prophet of the Lord to come and curse his enemy. The problem? The enemy was the Children of Israel. They were the chosen people, the people of God.

These are the words of Balak, “The LORD has kept you back from honor.” After asking three different times to curse the people, Balaam actually ended up blessing the people—one time without even being asked! Balak was going to pay Balaam a fortune to curse the people. But now, Balaam wouldn’t receive a penny.

When Balaam was first asked to curse the Children of Israel, he was told by the LORD not to say anything accept what He told him to say. When Balaam spoke to the messengers from Balak, he said that even if the king was to give him a house full of gold, he couldn’t say anything accept what God told him to say. Balaam told Balak again that he could only bless the people because that is what God wanted him to do and to say. Balak then said, “The LORD has kept you back from honor.”

My favorite “go-too” devotional right now is Valley of Vision. Here is a snippet that I read earlier today:

“May thy dear Son preserve me from this present
evil world,
so that its smiles never allure,
nor its frowns terrify,
nor its vices defile,
nor its errors delude me.
May I feel that I am a stranger and a pilgrim
on earth,
declaring plainly that I seek a country,
my title to it becoming daily more clear,
my meetness for it more perfect,
my foretastes of it more abundant;
and whatsoever I do may it be done
in the Saviour’s name.”

—Valley of Vision, “The Savior”

What is it that the world would want you to do that is outside of the word of God? What allurements or delights? If you follow what Christ says, will they say, “The LORD has kept you from honor?” Better to be a person of integrity than to be honored by the world. When the world tempts you with all it’s enchantments, remember your Creator. Remember what God has said and whatsoever you do, may it be done in the Savior’s name.

Blessings,
Steve Marquez

If you have lost hope in whatever you are going through, might I encourage you to visit www.stage4ministries.com where you will find encouragement for your battle? Send us an email and let us know how we can pray for you and what we can do to help.

D.V.