Arms Raised High

Raised Arms | Devotion 6: Arms Raised High
Isaiah Combs

The story of Moses, as told in the book of Exodus, is an awesome story of God’s power and love for His people. God used Moses as an instrument for His will to the people of Israel. I like to say that God has a plan and a purpose for our lives, and this is especially true in the life of Moses.

Moses was saved from genocide as a baby. He grew up in royalty. He killed a man and then fled to the wilderness to be a shepherd for 40 years. Then God sent him back to Egypt to deliver a message to the Pharaoh and used Moses to set the Israelites free from 400 years of slavery. He then was put in charge of millions of people who were now homeless and traveling across the wilderness on direction from God who is in the form of a cloud that they follow by day and a pillar of fire they follow by night. They followed God through the wilderness for 40 years. This is not even the full story of Moses. I recommend sitting down and reading Exodus and seeing all the awesome and crazy things that happened to and through Moses.

One of the awesome “God stories” that happened to Moses was when a guy named Amalek and his army decided to pick a fight with God’s people (never a good idea). God promised Moses and his people a victory only if Moses could hold up his staff, the same one he used to split the Red Sea, over his head. Could you imagine how tired Moses would have been to do that all day? I know I could not do it all day, and neither could Moses. So God sent Aaron and Hur to help him hold his arms up in the air. The Israelites won the battle against Amalek.

He then tells Moses to write this as a memorial or testimony to the next in charge of the Israelites, Joshua (Exodus 17:14-16). God wanted the leader and people of Israel to know that the promises of God are real, and sometimes what God wants you to do is going to be hard. It is going to take some effort and some strain. It might be like holding up a staff for a whole day. However, God will send you people to help you and hold your arms up for you. God has other people like Aaron and Hur. It is nothing that Moses did to win the battle with Amalek.

It was all God and His power. God will send you the help you need so you can finish your task.

The Lord is My Banner

Raised Arms | Devotion 5: The Lord is My Banner
Donna Fox

When I became a grandmother for the first time, a dear friend at work gave me a “Grandmother Gift.” I had never heard of such a thing, but it was the sweetest thought. Enclosed in the gift bag was a book for Grandma to write all the memories she has with her grandchild. It suggested items like a favorite book read together or the first trip to the park or zoo, were to be written in the book as a forever memory (We need to admit as we get older, our memory is not as sharp as it once was).

Sometimes we take a picture or write it in a journal, but it is always important to remember special events or life occurrences and pass them along to the next generation.

There are different ways of preserving a memory. Another example is when my father passed away, friends at work got together and gave me a lawn decoration that would always remind me of my father each time I saw it. Memories are important – to remember our failures and to learn from them, but more importantly, to show future generations our successes and how God was in control.

Such was the case with Moses in Exodus chapter 17. God had commanded Moses to go to the top of the hill, raise his staff high, and He (God) would help Joshua and his army defeat the Amalek army. Moses’ arms grew tired.  As the staff dropped, the Amalekites prevailed. When the staff was raised again, Joshua and the Israelite’s prevailed. So Aaron and Hur each held up one of Moses’ arms until sunset, the Israelite’s prevailed, and the army was victorious. Moses was told by God to write this memory down on a scroll (Exodus 17:14) and as a way of remembrance. Moses obeyed, built an altar, and named it Jehovah Nissi, or “The Lord is My Banner” (Exodus 17:15). The name proclaims God’s leadership and protection of His people.

Joshua’s army had defeated the Amalek army, with the help of Moses, Aaron, and Hur, but more importantly, with God’s intervention. God told them what to do, and they would win. They obeyed, and they won. They wanted to leave a permanent marker of this event. The altar named, “The Lord is My Banner” would be for all to see, not to forget this event, and to remember God’s involvement. It was the first time God showed the Israelite nation that He fought for them, He led them into battle, and He protected them. He was their banner.

It is fun for me to look at that book with my grandson and share special memories together. However, it is more important that I share other memories – the times God protected me, guided me, and loved me through the many trials in my life. I want him, and all three of my grandchildren, to see God’s providence in my life and to see, “The Lord is My Banner.”

Herding Cats

Raised Arms | Devotion 4: Herding Cats
Richie Henson

All over the world, there are idioms for pointless endeavors. In America, one of the most used is “herding cats.” Others I have heard are “nailing Jell-O to a tree” or “trying to squish water.” At some point or another, many of us have used a phrase like this in reference to a situation or circumstance that just seems pointless. As I read Exodus and look specifically at the life of Moses, I often think of these phrases. Moses, by the power of God, leads an entire nation out of slavery just so they can complain about the way in which God is rescuing them. As the leader, Moses was overwhelmed by the difficulty of “herding” these people to the promised land.

As if matters were not difficult enough, as we come to Exodus chapter 17, the nation is confronted with their first major battle. It is in this battle that the Israelites win as Moses raises his staff (if you have not read this amazing account, I encourage you to read Exodus 17:8-13). At the end of the battle, Moses is instructed by God to take a written account declaring that God will blot out their enemy (Amalek) and then, Moses builds an altar.

Exodus 17:14-16 says, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.’ And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner, saying, ‘A hand upon the throne of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.’”

In life, we are continually confronted with difficulty. There is always a situation or circumstance that seems to be more than we can handle. I think Moses knew this better than most. He saw that there was no way to succeed. However, Moses chose to build an altar, to make a stand, that the Lord is his banner. That is to say; the Lord is his rallying cry.

Moses continually needed the Lord’s provision to accomplish all things as a leader. Our lives are no different. Unless we continually look to the banner of the Lord, that is salvation and righteousness, as our rallying cry, as our hard fast line for daily battle, we are doomed to drown in waves of anxiety and defeat. However, as we submit our will to God and put our faith in the battle cry that is Jesus’ name, we can live as conquerors.

“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

Being the Second Chair

Raised Arms | Devotion 3: Being the Second Chair
Max Sinclair

Throughout middle school and my freshman year of high school, I was in the school’s band, and I played the trombone. I was not really good, to be honest, I had a hard time reading sheet music, but I knew how to fake it. I sat at the second chair and would be able to use the corner of my eye to see what the first chair player was playing, and I would mimic the slide placement for the instrument making the same note. Now I am not ashamed of my inability to play, but one time, I was promoted to the first chair by a fluke instance. This now brought my insecurity to light, and immediately I realized that I could not pretend to play anymore. I could no longer hide my inability and had to realize that I was not first chair material. I had to come to grips with the fact that I did not possess the skill or ability to be the first chair trombone player for my school’s band. I still do not know how to play the trombone, but the truth that hurts to say is sometimes I need to understand that I am not going to be number one.

Exodus 17:8-13 tells the infamous story about the defeat of the Amalekites by God’s power displayed through the Israelites. The story starts with Amalek raising an army and marching against the Israelites. Moses tells Joshua to choose men and go out and fight with Amalek, and while they fight, Moses will held the Staff of God in his hand while standing on a hill overlooking the battle. Joshua did as Moses instructed and went to battle. As Joshua went into battle, Moses, Aaron, and Hur headed up to the hill. As the battle raged down below, whenever Moses held the staff aloft, the Israelites would start to win, but as soon as he put the staff down, they would begin to lose. The battle went on for such a long time that Moses’ arms grew tired, and his arms would fall. Aaron and Hur went and hold up his arms and even put rocks under them so that the Israelites would win. Eventually, the Amalekites were defeated, and the children of Israel had victory over their enemies. This awesome event shows that it is ok to be the second chair, to not be the leader, and to not be the one in the spotlight.

Over the past few weeks, I feel as if God has really been working in me to reveal my pride and correct it. It has hindered me in the past and has brought me to some of the darkest places I have ever been, all because I thought I knew what was best. I tried to be the first chair of my life, I tried to be the star of the movie of my life, and I realize that it is not about me. In this story, we see that it was not Joshua’s supreme fighting prowess, Moses was not strong enough to hold up the staff for very long, and that Aaron and Hur were smart to find something to help Moses hold up his arms. However, they still did not win the battle. What we need to focus on and look to in this instance is that the battle is the Lord’s.

A few hundred years later, we will see a man, who would later become King of Israel, say the same thing to a giant who stood opposed to God at the Valley of Elah. In 1 Samuel 17:47, David shouted, “And that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.” The battles that we face are already won. We do not win them. Often we sit back in fear and run. We retreat, falter, and fail, but the simple fact is we are not the hero of this story. Christ is the Hero of the story, He is the first chair, and He is the one who brings victory. It is not us nor our actions. In the start of Galatians 2:20, the apostle Paul said, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”

We Need God, and Each Other

Raised Arms | Devotion 2: We Need God, and Each Other
LaRae Wing

“Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, ‘Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.’ So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword.” Exodus 17:8-13

“Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends.”

This line, made famous in a song by The Beatles in 1967 (Yes, I am that old), certainly rings true with me. Have you ever over-committed yourself and basically could not physically or mentally complete the task without help. Honestly, there have been periods in my life when precious godly family and friends have been my lifeline. These situations have been entirely my fault because I have a hard time saying “No.” I do not stop to think about asking God about it, or even think about all my other commitments. I just say, “Sure, I can do that.” Then reality hits and I scream for help. They come to my rescue. Oh, I have been blessed many times in this way.

There have also been times when I was plugging along trying to complete a task that I did not realize was too big for me, and some great friends would just show up to help. They saw that I was struggling when I did not, and they came alongside and supported with physical help, words of encouragement, and needed suggestions to make the job easier. I knew I had received grace upon grace; blessing upon blessing.

In the verses from Exodus, we see Moses following the command of God. Moses was once again trusting and depending on God, knowing that God was the only One with the power to help them overcome the army of Amalek. Moses’ obedience and dependence on God was a great example to the Israelites. It made them realize that God alone was truly able to provide for all their needs. From the time Moses was called by God at the burning bush until this time of the battle, a wonderful relationship had been developed between Moses and his Father God. He had learned that God would never leave or forsake him (Hebrews 13:5) and that God would show him great things when he called upon Him (Jeremiah 33:3). Moses knew he needed to know God and that his relationship with God was paramount in his life.

That is so true for all of us. We need that close, personal relationship with our Heavenly Father (Psalm 23; Proverbs 18:24), and He desires a close relationship with us (Leviticus 26:12; Matthew 11:28). How do we develop a relationship with God? We do it just as we do with others; we spend time with God. We do that through prayer, reading the Bible, and meditating on the Scriptures. It is the sweetest, most fulfilling, and the best relationship we can have.

Likewise, we see in Exodus chapter 17 that God had brought to Moses’ life people who would help him in time of need. Moses’ relationship with Aaron and Hur was one that resulted in assistance and support when needed. As the Scripture stated, Moses would be on the hill holding up the staff God had given to him. It would be a reminder of all the great things that God had done with that staff in the past, and a sign to the Israelite army that God was in the midst of their battle. As the battle continued throughout the day, Moses’ arms grew tired. As long as he held the staff high, the Israelites won the battle, but when his arms began to sag, the Amalekites began to win. Realizing their leader was becoming exhausted during this difficult battle, Aaron and Hur came to the aid of Moses. They gave him a place to sit and held up his arms. Moses needed support, and they gave it.

It is wonderful when friends jump in to help when we need it. Just think about our leaders in the church whom God has called specifically to minister to us. What an encouragement we can be if we come alongside to support them. We need each other. That is the way God made us. He created the Church for us so that we can support and serve one another. God has promised to supply all our needs (Philippians 4:19), and many times, He uses others to supply those needs.

How can you be the hands and feet of Jesus to others today? Can you offer assistance to others with help, encouragement, Scripture, and prayer before they ask? Look around. Who needs relief, comfort, and support? You could be the difference between a loss or a win in someone’s battle.

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