Please check out Tammy Toney-Butler's blog and prophetic healing ministry working directly with survivors of human trafficking, sexual assault, childhood trauma, intimate partner violence, and more at www.reflectivespacesministry.com.
Welcome to Reflective Hour with Tammy Toney-Butler. I'm your host today, but we all know who's responsible for this hour, this time that we have together, and that's Christ. Our Lord, our Savior, our Redeemer, our Comforter, our Advocate, our Healer, our Helper, Jehovah Rapha, Jehovah Jireh, our ever-ever-present help in times of trouble.
Holy Spirit, we ask You to come and blanket this time that we have together with Your peace that surpasses all understanding, with Your truth, Your spirit so that they can see the light in the middle of the darkness and they can have hope. Let This Be a mirror, a mirror of hope because all I want to do is reflect You onto them so that they see You the way I see You: as the Redeemer, the one who delivered me out of Egypt, out of bondage, much like You did the Egyptians in Exodus. Let's look back. Let's reflect on Your Word and see where it takes us.
Grab your coffee, grab your tea, and let's reflect together; let's journey together. Here we go.
Being delivered out of bondage can be messy work. After all, people become comfortable in the uncomfortable, in the day-to-day misery of their jobs, in poverty, their troubles, and abusive relationships. We do that. We can become stuck in adverse circumstances, negative thought patterns, and periods of drought in our lives.
Change can be hard, as for the Egyptians. When we look at Exodus 5, we see how Aaron and Moses went to Pharaoh to say, Let My People Go. When we look back at those times, we see that even by going and asking for help, seeking the appropriate channels, and asking for relief from their circumstances, they just faced greater persecution.
That change that was asked for resulted in having their workload increased by their taskmaster and they were beaten, they were hurt. And I wonder how many of you are beaten down battered, bruised, struggling under a taskmaster, a master like the Egyptians, unable to find your way out of your negative circumstances, unable to find your way to God, to the Cross, to lay it at the foot of the Cross.
That's how I was set free. I laid everything at the foot of the Cross: the shame, the guilt, the fear, the regret, the self-loathing, the panic attacks, the anxiety. The trauma that I'd stuffed down for years and refused to deal with. I put it up on a shelf in a box and couldn't take it down until it started to fall off the shelf itself. Trauma has a way of doing that. Life has a way of opening up raw wounds, especially in times when you're already grieving and full of sorrow or in the middle of a trial. That's when those things can manifest.
Triggers. Anger. Anxiety. Depression. Suicidality. Addiction to cope. That's what I call addiction. It's just basic, ritualized comfort-seeking. That's what others have called it. Those are not my words. And we do that. We cope with the "icky" with the weight of the trauma through drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, shopping, and so on.
Now, let's look again at Exodus 5, and I always put the King James Version, the New International Version, and the Tree of Life Version. Today, I'm going to read from the New International Version of Exodus 5. It's titled Bricks Without Straw.
New International Version
Bricks Without Straw
1: Afterward Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘Let my people go, so that they may hold a festival to me in the wilderness.’”
2: Pharaoh said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.”
3: Then they said, “The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Now let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, or he may strike us with plagues or with the sword.”
4: But the king of Egypt said, “Moses and Aaron, why are you taking the people away from their labor? Get back to your work!”
5: Then Pharaoh said, “Look, the people of the land are now numerous, and you are stopping them from working.”
6: That same day Pharaoh gave this order to the slave drivers and overseers in charge of the people:
[How many of us feel like that today? We're stuck in jobs that they pile one more task on us. They want us to do more with less and expect the same results.]
7: “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw.
8: But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to our God.’
9: Make the work harder for the people so that they keep working and pay no attention to lies.”
[Pharaoh wanted them to focus on him and the task. And get caught up in it, caught up in the work so that they could not see their God, that they could not worship God, that they could not seek Him for freedom and redemption.]
10: Then the slave drivers and the overseers went out and said to the people, “This is what Pharaoh says: ‘I will not give you any more straw.
11: Go and get your own straw wherever you can find it, but your work will not be reduced at all.’”
12: So the people scattered all over Egypt to gather stubble to use for straw.
13: The slave drivers kept pressing them, saying, “Complete the work required of you for each day, just as when you had straw.”
14: And Pharaoh’s slave drivers beat the Israelite overseers they had appointed, demanding, “Why haven’t you met your quota of bricks yesterday or today, as before?”
15: Then the Israelite overseers went and appealed to Pharaoh: “Why have you treated your servants this way?
16: Your servants are given no straw, yet we are told, ‘Make bricks!’ Your servants are being beaten, but the fault is with your own people.”
17: Pharaoh said, “Lazy, that’s what you are—lazy! That is why you keep saying, ‘Let us go and sacrifice to the Lord.’
18: Now get to work. You will not be given any straw, yet you must produce your full quota of bricks.”
19: The Israelite overseers realized they were in trouble when they were told, “You are not to reduce the number of bricks required of you for each day.”
20: When they left Pharaoh, they found Moses and Aaron waiting to meet them,
21: and they said, “May the Lord look on you and judge you! You have made us obnoxious to Pharaoh and his officials and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
[They were focusing on their trouble. They were focusing on Pharaoh, on what they were facing odds. The odds were not in their favor. The circumstances were not in their favor, but when you have faith, You realize it's not about luck. It's about God. It's about His promises, His truth, His deliverance. Let's keep reading.]
God Promises Deliverance
22: Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Why, Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Is this why you sent me?
23: Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people, and you have not rescued your people at all.”
Then, you can go on and read the Tree of Life version as well. It's all about perspective. The people focused on their slavery, bondage, and overwhelming burdens. They saw Pharaoh's truth with their natural eyes instead of God's truth with their spiritual eyes. Pharaoh wanted the people buried in work and tasks, In troubles in the day-to-day operations of just existing and survival, so they could not focus on God who could change it all for the good and deliver them out of Egypt, out of bondage.
That's what happens to us today. We get caught up in tasks. We get caught up in day-to-day operations. We get caught up in material possessions and idols in this world, serving things that are not of God. We don't look to Him to deliver us, to deliver His people. We don't repent. We don't turn.
The people got upset with the messengers, Moses and Aaron. Moses protested to God and blamed God for the suffering of the people that increased. Moses expected them to be delivered from their trouble faster, with fewer problems and faster results. How many of us do that today? We call out to God in the middle of our circumstances, our trials.
Why have you forsaken us? Why have you left us? But what is it that God wants us to see? Maybe our perspective needs to change. When God is at work in your life, suffering setbacks and hardship may still occur. What does God wanting you to learn in the current situation you're facing? Problems exercise patience and develop our character. Often, in the crushing, pruning, and crushing process we are developed and delivered.
Problems teach us to trust God to do what is best for us. They teach us to praise and honor God and worship. Worship God in good and bad. By focusing on the good in any situation our perspective changes to gratitude. Instead of bickering, instead of having that critical spirit when we focus on our problems and not on our Deliverer. God is not the source of the problem. We live in an evil, fallen world. But God can be our Deliverer if we trust and obey Him. If we trust in His Son, Lord Jesus. God will never abandon us and will supply all of our needs. Not our wants but our needs.
Trust God. Wait for His plan to manifest in our lives and sit still in blind obedience. Blind trust. Knowing by faith, He will deliver us. That is what we are called to do, especially as leaders. Now, let's look at Luke 9: 10 -17. I've got the King James Version, but I think I'll keep it consistent, and I'll stick with the New International Version, entitled Jesus Feeds the 5,000.
New International Version
Jesus Feeds the Five Thousand
10: When the apostles returned, they reported to Jesus what they had done. Then he took them with him and they withdrew by themselves to a town called Bethsaida,
11: but the crowds learned about it and followed him. He welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing.
12: Late in the afternoon the Twelve came to him and said, “Send the crowd away so they can go to the surrounding villages and countryside and find food and lodging, because we are in a remote place here.” [A desert place]
13: He replied, “You give them something to eat.”They answered, “We have only five loaves of bread and two fish—unless we go and buy food for all this crowd.”
14: (About five thousand men were there.)But he said to his disciples, “Have them sit down in groups of about fifty each.”
15: The disciples did so, and everyone sat down.
16: Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke them. Then he gave them to the disciples to distribute to the people.
17: They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.
And then, of course, check out the Tree of Life version.
Luke 9, 12.
When we look at that, the disciples found themselves in a desert place. They were tired from the journey and wanted, like Moses, faster results and an easier way out with fewer problems for them.
Leadership is not easy. It is tough, and we have to make tough decisions. The disciples focus on the enormous mountain in front of them of 5,000 hungry, needy people instead of focusing on the all-powerful, mighty God we serve, who will supply all of our needs in periods of drought and famine, whether that's spiritual or physical.
What did Jesus do as a leader? What did God want Moses and Aaron to do as leaders?
God wants us to obey and lead by example, to obey God at all costs, and have that miracle-producing faith that Jesus exhibited here in this miracle of the feeding of the 5,000. Jesus did not turn His back on 5,000 needy people, and God did not turn His back on the suffering and bondage of the Egyptians.
God will never leave us nor forsake us. He will deliver us, no matter what you are currently facing. In the desert place you find yourself in today, God will see you through; God will meet you where you are and carry you out of the bondage of addiction, the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.
Christ took the five loaves and two fishes and looked up to Heaven, focusing His eyes on God. He blessed them and broke them, mirroring His work on the Cross. Broken, looking up to Heaven for the solution. Christ was the solution. His work on the Cross set us all free from those desert places, those places of brokenness, loneliness, and sure defeat. We became, and we become overcomers, conquerors, victorious, as He was victorious over sin with His death.
Christ is Life. Christ is Healing. Christ is the Answer to whatever you are facing today. For whatever trial that is that you're facing, He's the answer. Look to the Cross, look to His truth, repent, turn back towards God, or face certain judgments as Pharaoh faced when he refused to deliver his people. God will have His way. Famine will come, plagues will come, judgment will come, but we have to look to hope. We have to look to the bright light of hope, the steadfast spirit that He wants to cultivate in us in times of adversity and trials, to overcome the darkness of this world and become victorious over sin, as His son did.
That's today's Reflective Hour with Tammy Toney-Butler.
May you see Christ at work in your life and experience the freedom that I have by surrendering it all to the Lord Jesus Christ, being lifted up, transformed, and renewed in mind, body, and spirit.