Crossing
Your
Jordan Ministries
Embracing God's Promise of Abundance When Hardship Endures
by Jenny on July 17th, 2019

"When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear." Exodus 20:18

Ever read much of the Old Testament portion of the Bible? Readers of the Old Testament sometimes (oftentimes?) comment that God seemed meaner in the Old Testament than He does in the New Testament. The Old Testament documents the history of Israel as a nation. The Old Testament describes wars and God's judgement and even punishment on both enemy nations, as well as the chosen nation of Israel. But the Bible tells us that God never changes (James 1:17). God demonstrates just as much love and compassion for His people in the Old Testament as He does for His people in the New Testament. But similar to today, God's people--those He has chosen to know Him, those He is in the process of calling to Himself--often fail to recognize all God has already done for them. Rather than drawing near to God to learn more about Him, they stand at a distance from God, trembling with fear.

The book of Exodus tells us that God's people lived in Egypt for approximately 400 years, living the majority of that time as slaves to the Egyptians. But Exodus 7-12 describe the mighty power God unleashed on the Egyptians in order to free His people from slavery. "God caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the Israelites, and they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for" as they departed Egypt (Exodus 12:36). God led His people in a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night (Exodus 13:21). God did not lead His people down the main road, because He knew His people were unprepared to face enemy territory (Exodus 13:17). Instead, God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness (Exodus 13:18), providing for their EVERY need along the way. When they wanted meat, He gave them meat (Exodus 16:12). When they needed water, He gave them water (Exodus 17:6). God led His people in this way to a mountain called Mt. Sinai. At Mt. Sinai God intended to give His people further instruction on how to live. But it is at this place that instead of standing in awe of all God had done for them, God's people stood at a distance, too afraid of Him to draw near. All of God's people stood at a distance, that is, except Moses.

Maybe Moses was just a curious guy. Maybe after spending forty years tending sheep in the wilderness Moses was desperate to see something new. Whatever the reason, when God revealed Himself to Moses through a burning bush in the desert, Moses said to himself, "I must turn aside now and see this marvelous sight . . ." (Exodus 3:3, emphasis mine). Moses bowed down in reverent fear of God many times. But he never let fear of God's power distance him from God. Indeed, it was the very power of God that caused Moses to draw near to Him. Yes, God called Moses and only Moses to meet Him atop Mt. Sinai. But God wanted His people to draw near, not to stand in fear. "Don't be afraid," Moses answered them, "for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of Him will keep you from sinning."  (Exodus 20:20) A reverent fear of God is healthy and appropriate. A trembling fear of God is unnecessary and will cause us to miss out on all He wants to do in our lives.

The New Testament repeats a similar story. Those most familiar with Jesus drew near to Him to listen to His teaching and to witness His miracles (Mark 1:22), and they invited others to do the same (John 4:29). Those unfamiliar with Jesus stood at a distance, trembling with fear (Luke 8:37).

Where do you stand?

God is good (Psalm 119:68). God loves you so much He sent His Son to die for you so that you could come to Him (John 3:16). God came, not for those who have it all together, but for those who are broken, filthy and messy (Mark 2:17). Do not let your fear of God keep you standing at a distance. Come close to God, and God will come close to you (James 4:8).

by Jenny on June 28th, 2019

"When they heard that the LORD was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped." Exodus 4:31b

In the Bible, the book of Exodus describes a difficult time in history for the nation of Israel. God's people lived as foreigners in Egypt. Upon arrival to Egypt, the ruler of Egypt treated God's people well. But the longer God's people resided (and multiplied) in Egypt, the more Egypt despised them. The Egyptians forced God's people into harsh labor for generations. But God remembered His promise to care for His people. God selects a man named Moses to lead His people out of Egypt. When Moses tells the nation of Israel that the LORD is concerned about them and that He has seen their misery, their hearts fill with hope, and they bow down and worship Him. (Exodus 4:31b)

Life can sometimes make us feel hopeless. Like God's people in Egypt, we feel as if we live as slaves to an overbearing taskmaster, whether the taskmaster seems to be our circumstances or sometimes even God Himself. Exodus 6:9 tells us that God's people had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery to believe in God's goodness or to listen to His promises. But God was with them, and He was at work among them the entire time. God cared about them. He was concerned about them. He had seen them. And He sent Moses and Aaron to tell them of His care and concern.

Who do you need to tell? Who do you know that needs to be reminded, or perhaps told for the first time, of God's care and concern for them? Maybe it's you who needs to hear.

God sees you. Hebrews 4:13 tells us that, "nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account." Proverbs 15:3 tells us that, "the eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good." Psalm 139:3 reads, "You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do." God sees you. He is aware of your circumstances.

God cares about you. Difficult circumstances, unfair circumstances, unthinkable, unimaginable circumstances cause us to question God's care. But the Bible is full of stories of "good" people who endured suffering (the Bible is full of stories of "bad" people who suffered too). We do not understand why God allows "bad" things to happen to "good" people but in EVERY story of the Bible, God uses "bad" for "good."

The Scriptures show us that God doesn't come along AFTER the bad and somehow twist it for good. The Scriptures show us that God planned all along, from the beginning of time, to all the time work through the bad for good. Genesis 50:20 reads, "You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." Proverbs 21:12 tells us that, "The Righteous One knows what is going on in the homes of the wicked; He will bring disaster on them." God will bring about His perfect plan for the redemption of the world, which includes redemption for you and whatever circumstances He allowed you to endure. Never relate difficult circumstances with God's failure or inability to love you. He cares for you (1 Peter 5:7).

God is coming for you. Indeed, God has already come for you. In the Old Testament God sent Moses to tell His people of His care and concern and of His plans to lead them out of slavery. In the New Testament God sent His Son, Jesus, so that we might know of His care and concern for us. Jesus made a way for us to escape slavery to sin, that we might be led in Christ in triumphal procession (2 Corinthians 2:14). God has come for you.

The disciples were bewildered after witnessing Jesus' crucifixion--an extremely difficult circumstance. But in Luke 24 Jesus "takes the disciples through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." Jesus tells them all they need to know about Him in light of their difficult circumstances.

In Acts 8 we see the Ethiopian Eunuch struggling to comprehend the Scriptures. So, using the Scriptures, Philip tells the eunuch the Good News about Jesus.

Romans 10:14 reads, "But how can they call on Him to save them unless they believe in Him? And how can they believe in Him if they have never heard about Him? And how can they hear about Him unless someone tells them?"

The Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” Now that you have heard, who do you need to tell? Because when they hear of God's care and concern for them, maybe they, like the Israelites, will bow down in awe and worship of Him too.

by Jenny on June 21st, 2019

"Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a voice will say, 'This is the way you should go,' whether to the right or to the left." Isaiah 30:21

Today is the last day of my husband's current career. On Monday, my foodie-husband will begin selling salt for a living. Yep, salt. (Anyone see a little godly humor in this? God tells us we are the salt of the earth!?!) So many questions arise when making major decisions in life. How do I know if this is the right thing to do? What if I make the wrong choice? The Bible tells us that God has a plan for our lives (Jeremiah 29:11, Psalm 139:16, and countless other Scriptures). Once we are reconciled to God through our faith in Christ, God places His Spirit in us and promises to guide us along the best path for our lives (Psalm 32:8). With my husband's permission, I'd like to share how we came to the conclusion that this new job was indeed the way we should go.

The decision to leave his current position was not an easy decision for my husband to make.
My husband was happy with his current job, and his company has been faithful and generous to our family over the past many years. After informing his boss of his decision to leave, my husband's company made a counter-offer in attempt to get him to stay. In several ways the counter-offer appeared more beneficial for our family. But because the new job seems to better align with some of our family's desires and because the new job came about in such a strange, unique way, like the Jacob of Genesis, my husband concluded, "surely God is in this place" (Genesis 28:16).

I hesitate to give what sounds like a step-by-step process for determining God's will. However, I do believe there are certain steps we can take, certain qualities and attributes we can look for when trying to decide which way to go in life.

God is a God who wants to be known by us. God has revealed Himself--and His will for our lives--in His Word. The Scriptures may not speak to specific circumstances such as choosing one job over another, but God created us with the capacity to know and experience Him and to thereby determine to the best of our ability His will for us.

Psalm 34:8 reads, "Taste and see that the Lord is good." Isaiah tells us in chapter 30 verse 21 of his book, "Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a voice will say, 'This is the way you should go.'" Isaiah later tells us in 41:13 that God holds us by the hand. In 2 Corinthians 2:14-16 Paul explains that God uses believers to spread the "fragrance of Christ." The Scriptures tell us we can know and experience God through all five of our senses!

We do not actually "eat" God, nor have I personally ever "heard" the voice of God with my ears (in Isaiah 30:21 the Hebrew word for "hear" can also mean "understand"), nor have I "seen" God or the incarnate or risen Christ, nor have I physically "touched" the hand of God. These verses don't necessarily describe literal interaction with God, but they indicate that we can know and experience God in many ways. Because we have the capacity to know God and to experience His leading in our lives, we should trust and respond when we believe God is leading us in a particular direction.

Following God's plan starts with recognizing that God has a plan. Matthew 7:7 tells us if we seek Him, we will find Him. Jeremiah 33:3 says, "Call to Me and I will answer you." Psalm 138:8 says, "The Lord will work out His plans for my life." My husband knew to look for God and when he looked, he found Him.

Isaiah tells us that God's ways are not our ways. While we know God will never lead us to walk in a way that is contrary to His Word, the path He lays before us may not always make sense. With a background in engineering, God's ways can sometimes prove especially challenging for me to follow because I like things to make sense. With God, we can not always base our decisions on human logic. If we are unsure of God's ways, that is when we should seek godly counsel because with many counselors, plans succeed (Proverbs 15:22).

When the seemingly-better-counter-offer came through, my husband observed that the new job would require more faith on our part--another clue that God was at work! We know God has a plan, my husband and I have asked repeatedly for God to lead us in that plan, yet we also know God wants to continually grow our faith in Him.

I say again, God will never call us to go against His Word. We should not act in stupidity. We should not test God to see if He will truly show up. The only time God tells us to "test" Him is when giving. "Give generously," the Scriptures say, "and see if I don't bless you more than you can stand." (Malachi 3:10) When Satan encouraged Jesus to test the Father circumstantially, Jesus replied, "The Scriptures say, 'You must not test the Lord your God.'" (Matthew 4:7) We should not throw ourselves in front of a moving car just to see if God will save us. BUT. If you sense God leading you in a particular direction that aligns with His Word and the desires He has placed in your heart (Psalm 37:4 tells us that IFFF we delight ourselves in Him, He will give us--meaning not necessarily fulfill our personal desires, but He will place in us--the desires of our heart), then go! Walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Though God's ways may seem strange to us, if He is truly leading us down a particular path we will experience a peace only He can give (Philippians 4:7). Though the counter-offer seemed better on paper, my husband and I both felt more peace with the change in career.

Fear of making the wrong decision often times paralyzes us from making any decision at all. If we are trying to make a godly decision, God will not let us fall beyond what He can redeem. "Though they stumble, they will never fall, for the LORD holds them by the hand." (Psalm 37:24) Are you facing a major (or even a minor) life decision? Seek Him. He will show you which way to go.

by Jenny on June 12th, 2019

"For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

A few days ago I watched my younger middle three children climb into their grandparents' van as they prepared to leave for an extended visit. It is my first time ever to not have my children at home with me. (I'm a homeschool mom, remember? My children are ALWAYS with me. Smile.) Wanting to avoid a dramatic departure, I forced a smile on my face, gave quick hugs and kisses and waved goodbye. But as my children pulled out of the driveway and all-to-soon drove away, I couldn't help but to think of how unlike God my display of emotions had been.

Rather than gushing over my children as they prepared to leave, I held back. Wanting to quickly dismiss any feelings of uncertainty or sadness, I acted as though their leaving was no big deal. I bottled up my emotions, my very-real sadness, the emptiness I already felt thinking of the days ahead without them. I didn't let them see the depth of my love for them which, in their absence, has caused a heaviness of heart that makes it difficult to take a deep breath. Sure, I did it for their own good . . . or so I told myself.

But God never hides His love from us. Difficult circumstances can cause us to question God's love. Tragedy can make us feel as though God does not love us or has ceased caring about us. But John tells us, "this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us." (1 John 3:16)

God loves us. He loves us so much He gave His Son to die for us. No matter what you have done in the past, no matter what you may do in the future, God LOVES Y.O.U.

In Romans 5:8 Paul reminds us that, "God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." God doesn't just love you once you live how He wants you to live. He loved you before you were born. While you were busy sinning, God loved you, and He loved me, so much that He sent His Son to pay the penalty for our sin.

Allow me to clarify. God does not love it when we sin. He loves us. He does not love our sin. Because of our human nature, you and I will continue to sin, which is why it was necessary for Christ to die as a sacrifice for our sin; to cleanse us of our sin so that we could have the opportunity of being reconciled to God through our faith in believing that Christ died for our sin.

Confused?

We will still sin. But when Christ died, He died for all sin for all time. Because of our sin, we are separated from God UNTIL or UNLESS we accept Christ's payment for our sin. Once we acknowledge Jesus' sacrifice for our own personal sin, we are forever forgiven, forever reconciled to God through our faith, NOT through our ability to live life perfectly.

1 John 3:9 explains it this way: "Those who have been born into God's family [through faith in Christ] do not make a practice of sinning," parenthesis and emphasis mine. You practice something to get better at it. John says believers in Christ will not continue to practice, or attempt to get better at their sin. We will still sin, but our sin will bother us in a similar way, albeit to a lesser degree, that our sin bothers God.

When it came to our separation from God, God was unafraid to show us just how deeply He loved us. He wanted us to know without a doubt how much He loved(s) us, how greatly He would miss us if we were to live apart from Him. God gave more than a kiss or a hug or a pat on the head or a wave of His hand. God loved us SO much, He gave His own Son on a cross; His great love on display for all the world to see.

by Jenny on June 7th, 2019

"Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for." Matthew 7:7

I am the mother of six living children. Three of those children are ages six and under. I receive more questions in one day than I could possibly answer in a week. One child in particular overwhelms me with the sheer volume of his questions. Yet, I have come to realize my son asks questions with a sincere desire for knowledge. He has a curious mind. He wants to know how things work and what will happen next. And because of his age, he is not afraid to keep asking me questions until his quest for answers is satisfied. My son reminds me of a story I recently read about a man in the Bible who also seemingly asked too many questions.

In addition to being the father of many nations, Abraham was also the uncle of a man named Lot. Because both Abraham and Lot owned many flocks of sheep, goats and cattle and needed room for their animals to graze, they agreed to live in separate parts of the country. Lot chose the land known as Sodom and Gomorrah. By default, Abraham chose the land of Canaan.

Some time later the Lord told Abraham, "I have heard a great outcry from Sodom and Gomorrah, because their sin is so flagrant. I am going down to see if their actions are as wicked as I have heard. If not, I want to know." (Genesis 18:20-21)

Abraham understands that the Lord isn't just interested in observing Sodom and Gomorrah. The Lord plans to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. Curious to know more, Abraham begins to ask questions.

"Will You sweep away both the righteous and the wicked?" Abraham asks. "Suppose You find fifty righteous people living there in the city—will You still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes? Surely You wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the righteous along with the wicked. Why, You would be treating the righteous and the wicked exactly the same! Surely You wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?" (Genesis 18:23-25)

The Lord affirms Abraham's concern. "If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city for their sake," the Lord replies. (Genesis 18:26)

Abraham continues. "Suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty? Will You destroy the whole city for the lack of five?"

"What about forty . . . ?"

"Or thirty . . . ?"

"Or twenty . . . ?"

"Or ten . . . ?"


Does the line of questioning sound familiar? It does to me. But rather than growing frustrated with Abraham for the incessant questions, the Lord responds to Abraham with patience and sincerity.

Why?

I believe God knew the motivation driving Abraham's questions. I believe Abraham was likely concerned about the safety of his own family, his nephew Lot, but I think Abraham was also genuinely concerned about the heart and the reputation of his God. "Far be it from You to do such a thing! Far be it from You!" Abraham cries in verse twenty-five. Each time Abraham asked the Lord another question, he prefaced his question with a proper positioning of himself. "Let me speak further to my Lord, even though I am but dust and ashes . . ." (Genesis 18:27)

I believe God answered Abraham's questions because God WANTS us to know Him.

Matthew 7:7 tells us, "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you."

In Jeremiah 33:3 the Lord tells us, "Ask Me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come."

James 1:5 says, "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and He will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking."

Abraham did not ask the Lord questions out of doubt, frustration or accusation. Abraham asks the Lord questions out of a genuine desire to know Him more.

If you are anything like me, your questions are many. Although the Scriptures encourage us to ask questions, the Scriptures also warn about our motivations. James 4:3 reads, "When you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure."

What if our questions revolved more around God, around who He is, around His plan and His glory rather than our own comfort, safety and security? I wonder if we, like Abraham, would receive answers in abundance.

What do you need to know about God? He longs to be known by you. Go to Him, through His Word and in prayer, like a child wanting to know more. If our true desire is to know Him, there is no such thing as too many questions.





Welcome!
Crossing Your Jordan

I am a stay-at-home, homeschooling, Bible-teaching mom of six, and wife to my college sweetheart. I believe everyone can live a life of abundance through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and radical obedience to His Word.

Do you have a relationship with God through Christ? If not, I would consider it pure joy to tell you about God, why you need Him, and how to be reconciled to Him through Christ.

If you know Christ as your Savior, do you know how to follow Him as Lord? If, like me, life's challenges have caused you to question whether you truly want to follow God's plan for you, or you simply don't know how to recognize God's ways due to a lack of biblical literacy, I would love to teach you what I've come to know about God through His Word.

Regardless of who you are (or aren't) or what you have (or haven't) done, I invite you to find a comfy spot, grab a cup of coffee and a Bible, and enter your contact information below.

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Visit the following link to read or search through Jenny's posts dating prior to August 2014. www.jennyhander.blogspot.com