Are You About to Circle the Israelites?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Exodus 16:4- Then the LORD said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.” (New International Version)

Exodus 16:16-20- This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Each one is to gather as much as he needs. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent. 17 The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18 And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as needed. 19 Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.” 20 However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them. (New International Version)

Eeeks.

Since this past week, God has been taking me through the Israelites’ escape from 430 years of slavery in Egypt guided by the Lord’s Mighty Hand, Moses and his brother Aaron. Their journey picks up in Exodus Chapter 1 with the previous book of Genesis ending with the Israelites (the 12 tribes of Jacob) migrating to Egypt during the seven-year famine. Joseph who was Pharaoh’s second-in-command, had done well and wisely to preserve food for the region and people based on Pharaoh’s dream that Joseph correctly interpreted warning of the seven years of abundance and seven years of famine.

In Exodus 1, if you know the story, a new king emerges unaware of Joseph and his people. Joseph has since died. The Israelites have now multiplied significantly in number and the king is concerned about being overtaken by them if war breaks out. It’s at this point that he devises their enslavement to prevent their rising up.

In reading about the Israelites’ enslavement and steps taken toward their release, to their freedom, to their being encamped in the wilderness, God gives specific instructions throughout this process. From where to camp, how to proceed, to what food to eat by day and by night, how to gather and prepare the food, God is not short on details.

Their plight continues into the books of Leviticus, Numbers and beyond—a journey that was only to take 11 days that extended to 40 years!! They never never left the wilderness nor entered the Promised Land (Canaan) since much of that generation died off during their 40 years of wandering. They grumbled (complained), exhibited unbelief, worshiped other gods, and repeatedly disregarded God’s instructions. For this writing, I am focusing on their disobedience.

Joshua 5:6- For the people of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished, because they did not obey the voice of the LORD; the LORD swore to them that he would not let them see the land that the LORD had sworn to their fathers to give to us, a land flowing with milk and honey. (English Standard Version)

Israelites Disobedience

I wonder in our walk, how many times we have ignored God’s instructions, thinking that somehow we knew “how to do it better” or “surely He doesn’t mean it for this instance.” Maybe we’ve almost circled the Israelites by spending years in disobedience. Hopefully we learn sooner than 40 years.

Even though I like to be compliant, I know of times that I thought I knew better than God and operated outside His instructions—only to find myself back where I started, maybe a bit worse off, or preserved from further missteps by His merciful grace. I sensed that in my impatience, God was having me repeat lessons until I learned patiently to follow His instructions, to shed rebellion, to trust Him implicitly, no matter how tedious, mundane or odd the instructions.

I can recount such instances even in my earlier years such as this scenario with me and my brother:

In my hurry and struggle to open the package that clearly instructed “Open Here,” I tore into the package on the opposite end, thinking that I had one-upped the creators of the product — only to find out in my disobedience I had opened the package incorrectly.

“Nik, you’re so heavy-handed,” my brother would say as we both stood with our mouths open in shock over the item that was now broken because I bypassed the instructions on how to appropriately access it. “Now look what you’ve done,” he said. Why hadn’t I learned this lesson? Why did I bypass the instructions provided by the product creator? It also begs us to ask why do we presume to know more than God our Creator and bypass His instructions? Then we immediately feel the burden of our mistake and wish we could rewind time to reverse that outcome. We’re now also grumbling because of the situation our disobedience has caused.

In life, when we bypass God’s instructions, He also presents us with the lesson again for an opportunity to obey. Praise God! But if we continue in disobedience we will be met with those consequences and possibly without God’s intervention.

Are you about to circle the Israelites by spending more time in disobedience? Could your 11-day journey turn into 40 years by your sheer disobedience?

There are many scriptures to encourage our obedience to God. God absolutely desires our obedience which also shows our love for Him. When we really love Him, we desire His ways. This moves Him! This also moves Him to give us more when we can be faithful with little. He will give you the instructions. God will not leave it to you to figure things out. He will absolutely lead you (and me) if we trust Him and obey.

deuteronomy-5-33 smaller

For more on the Israelites’ 40 years of wandering in the wilderness read this Got Questions? article.

-Nicole

 

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Is God Precise or Vague?

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

Is God precise or vague?

When it comes to understanding God’s character, His nature, His Word and His promises toward us, is He precise? Or is He vague?

To answer this, let’s review some scriptures, shall we?

Creation

“Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with the seed in it, according to their various kinds.” (Genesis 1:11, NIV)

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” (Genesis 8:22, NIV)

noahs-ark

Noah’s Ark 

14 “So make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out. 15 This is how you are to build it: The ark is to be 450 feet long, 75 feet wide and 45 feet high. 16 Make a roof for it and finish the ark to within 18 inches for the top. Put a door in the side of the ark and make lower, middle and upper decks.” (Genesis 6:14-16, NIV)

12 And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: 13 I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life.” (Genesis 9:12-15)

Son of God, Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ: King of kings, Lord of lords

10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2:10-12, NIV)

16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NIV)

6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NIV)

His Promises

25 “I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint.” (Jeremiah 31:25, NIV)

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (ex: giving resources, extending mercy, forgiveness, love, etc., it will be returned to you in the same measure from the same or different source). (Luke 6:37-38, NIV)

16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth.” (Jesus promises the Holy Spirit to those who receive Him) (John 14:16-17a, NIV)

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27, NIV)

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:33, NIV)

7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8, NIV)

2 “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you may also be where I am.” (John 14:2-3, NIV)

birth-of-christ

In these few passages of scripture provided, does God’s Word appear precise or vague to you? Did your perception of God’s precision of instruction and faithfulness to His Word waver between any of the sections or specific verses? If so, you may ask yourself if you trust God to be the same in all aspects of His Word. Certainly, there are some aspects of His Word that are contingent upon our obedience, whether we exercise faith, His sovereignty and His perfect timing. Nevertheless, His Word is precise. He is trustworthy.

God is watching over His Word to see that it is performed (fulfilled) as told in Jeremiah 1:12. In this Christmas season of hope and believing, in any areas that we doubt, may we learn to trust God and His infallible Word.

Merry Christmas!

-Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

 

 

 

 

The Deception of Progress: A Harmful Illusion

“If you want to change the direction of our country, vote.”  And in doing so, what are we advancing?

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (liberty).  (2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV)

Nicole Headshot in blue shirt

Nicole D. Hayes, Founder, Voices Against the Grain

In referencing the above New Testament scripture, I’m attempting to draw the clearest line, paint-by-numbers directions for this world to obtain true freedom instead of the counterfeit freedoms they currently pursue.

Liberty: the pursuit of it underpins our democratic society. Indeed, voting is important to register your voice in how our government should operate in serving our interests and preserving our freedoms.

But when such exercises compromise or disregard God’s laws for the sake of “progress,” we’ve not grasped the unprotected turmoil we’ve therefore brought upon ourselves. We’ve grieved God and incurred His judgments.

So why are many baffled by the decay our country lies in today?

“The irony of America’s quest for happiness lies in the fact that she succeeded more obviously than any other nation in making life “comfortable,” only to run into larger incongruities of human destiny by the same achievements by which it escaped the smaller ones. Our very success in this enterprise has hastened the exposure of its final limits.” – Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History (1952)

Though Reinhold Niebuhr, an American theologian, ethicist, commentator on politics and public affairs, and professor at Union Theological Seminary, penned this quote 64 years ago, his message still rings truth today.

America has sought greater liberties to make people “comfortable” with their immoral lifestyle choices. Ironically, in pursuing such liberty, perfect harmony is yet to be achieved.

deception-john-rizzuto

 

The irony is that the immoral have gotten the liberties they’ve pushed for, but oh, it comes with so much more. The disappointment of the “so much more” is concealed until you get the package home, unwrap it, celebrate its novelty and then realize it is bundled with unwelcomed outcomes.

The duplicitous nature of such progress masquerades itself as a solution to accommodate our self-interests—absent of critical thinking, absent of considering the future ramifications. The only advancement in this type of progress is to advance gross deception within the recipient. This is a harmful illusion. The lesson in this is be careful what you ask for. You just might get it and other things along with it you didn’t ask for. This is the trickery of ungodly progress.

How Do We Obtain Authentic Liberty? 

“Liberation is not found in escaping or manipulating what God requires of us, but it is found by embracing and being faithful to God’s ideals.”- Charles “Chuck” Colson and Nancy Pearson, How Now Shall We Live (1999)

In Niebuhr’s words, our culture has hastened the exposure of the limits of what worldly progress/liberty can bring. There are far too many deceived in these last days.

Lord Jesus, we pray that those deceived would have the veil removed to clearly see that their freedom rests in You alone. May those pursuing ungodly progress be quickened in their hearts by hearing Your Word and be led to repent and recognize that true progress rests in our obedience to You, rooted in love for You. Jesus, You alone remain our intervention and deliverance from temporal and eternal ruin. Life in You is how we transform our country and our very lives.

Are you advancing decay or true liberty through Christ Jesus? The integrity of God and His Word are impeccable. Be very clear: God will not violate His integrity nor His Word. Those who seek liberties outside of His will are grossly deceived.

Why Are We Telling You This? 

At Voices Against the Grain, we present God’s Word to: 1- bring clarity and restoration so you can navigate successfully out of and away from deception, 2- to educate and equip you in God’s truth for abundant living—so you can truly live free as God designed, 3- to encourage you, and last, 4- to love you as we’re telling you the truth. Our platform messages, primarily geared for the Believer, also serve to educate the unbeliever.

We are grateful for our brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ who are advancing God’s Kingdom alongside us and within their communities. Thank you for exposing deception with truth and transforming one heart at a time in the love of Jesus Christ, so that those transformed are empowered by the Holy Spirit to help transform others. This is progress.

-Nicole

Nicole D. Hayes is the founder of Voices Against the Grain, a bold teaching ministry launched in May 2013. Nicole’s purpose in creating Voices Against the Grain is to be light in darkness, to boldly instruct truth amid confusion so as to bring clarity and restoration.

Learn more about Nicole D. Hayes here.

Homosexuality and God’s Word: 5 Truths

Legalize Love imageHomosexuality. It’s a sensitive subject. Often uncomfortable and unpopular to discuss among those who share differing views about the lifestyle. Christians are challenged regularly on the topic as they engage with colleagues, loved ones, neighbors, and lawmakers. As Believers, one of our objectives is to present truth to those deceived so restoration can occur. Unfortunately, inharmonious debates exchanged between Believers and non-believers have sent both parties sputtering in the wrong direction. Read my article featured in Gospel Today to receive five truths to help Believers strike the right chords in a world out of tune. “5 Truths That Strike the Right Chords in a World Out of Tune.” 

Guide Me

Read the following excellent post written by Hakim Hazim, dear friend,Voices Against the Grain radio show guest, national security expert, author and co-founder of Christian think tank, Freedom Squared. His post “Guide Me”  reminds believers to remember from where their guidance comes. Thank you Hakim for allowing us to share this message with our readers.

Psalm 119:105 – “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (English Standard Version)

Hakim Hazim, Co-Founder of Freedom²

Hakim Hazim, Co-Founder of Freedom²

God’s word comes to us in the scriptures, wise counsel, gifts of the Spirit, and providential instruction. The verse above illustrates the wisdom of the psalmist. He grasped the concept that God’s Word alone could guide his path and enable him to walk in a way that would secure an eternal future for him, his contemporaries, and anyone who would believe in generations to come. Our approach toward divine revelation should be the same.

We fall woefully short of this, and sadly we live in an age of cynicism. Believers are seen as irrelevant, unscientific folks who follow fables. Our security and certainty offends in this age of insecurity and uncertainty. Very few people drawing breath know what they should be doing, where they are going, or who they should follow. Scripture insists that every person will ultimately have to make a decision between following God’s light, their own, or someone else’s. Like the world, we too were taught to sketch out a future for ourselves and forge our way ahead while ignoring God’s instructions along the way. Upon salvation, we turned from that way of life; yet, the gospel of self remains the same. Believing in one’s will power is the ultimate form of self-actualization, and those who have achieved this are in high demand.

And so the self-appointed fill the headlines today boasting of their achievements with cleverly crafted words, mantras, and theories that cast wide nets that ensnare the unstable who are void of faith or uncertain of Christ. These self-promoters are in places of worship, politics, entertainment, business, and the scientific arenas. Beware! They are blind guides that will lead many to ruin. One thing remains clear and certain; God will guide His own. He still speaks the same words today that he did milleniums ago. These are the very words that changed my life: “Follow me.”

About Hakim Hazim

Hakim Hazim, author of several published books and articles, nationally recognized criminality and national security theorist is the co-founder of Freedom², which focuses on believers in America and other free societies. Hakim, who is based near Boise, Idaho, was raised Muslim and is a born-again Christian since 1993. Daniel Jackson, a former youth pastor, is the organization’s other founding member and technology expert with a Fortune 500 company. Other project partners include researcher Charles Holmes, Jr., and Dracy Jenkins. Hakim is also the founder of the Christian-based national security consultancy, Relevant Now, which provides clients with ”timely, insightful and transformative information.” Hakim has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas and a Master of Arts in National Security Studies from the California State University San Bernardino.

No Shades of Gray: White or Black

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Nicole D. Hayes, Creator of Voices Against the Grain

Those of the world would love it if God’s people agreed with their deviant ways so we could stay “cool.” However, God’s Word is very clear—no shades of gray. His Word is white and black. No compromise. 

We at Voices Against the Grain LOVE the song “No Gray” by Christian recording artist Jonathan McReynolds. Read the lyrics below. Listen to it here.  Thank you to Ana Martinez for sharing his music with us. We will certainly invite Mr. McReynolds as a future guest on our radio show!

Now I know wrote this song for somebody

Cause I figure at some point in everybody’s life
We just feel like

Verse 1
Lord I’m split in two
Part of me loves the world
And the other loves You
So what do I do
I wanna be saved
But I got to stay cool too
And no I’m not a fool
I know eventually I’m gonna have to choose
And really I don’t wanna lose
My ticket into heaven
And a chance to be used by You

Chorus

And if it’s You I’m after
Then I can’t serve two masters
And before something happens
I got to turn it all around
Because I know
I can’t just have my cake and eat it too
Cause it’s real easy to stay on the fence and still do you
And it’d be cool if we could love the Lord and still go do our thing
But see it doesn’t work like that
I got to be white or black

Oh ooohh

Verse 2
Lord I’ve realized
when it comes to sin
You just don’t compromise
It’s a matter of death and life
Be weak and do wrong
Or be strong and do right
And I don’t wanna keep going to church
Singing about how much You’re worth
And then continue doing my dirt
Living as if I didn’t care if You’re hurt

And if it’s God that I’m after
Then I can’t serve two masters
And before something happens
I gotta turn it all around
Because you know
You can’t just have your cake and eat it too
Cause it’s real easy to stay on the fence and still do You
And it’d be cool if we could love the Lord and still go do our thing
See it doesn’t work like that
You got to be white or black

Bridge
We saint’s got to
Get it together
Just got to
Get it together

And if it’s God we’re after
We got to pick one master
And before something happens
We better turn it all around
Because you know
You can’t just have your cake and eat it too
Cause it’s really easy to stay on the fence and still do you
And it’d be cool if we could love the Lord and still go do our thing
See it doesn’t work like that
You got to be white or black

Cause it don’t work like that
You gotta pick white or black…

The Kingdom is Inseperable from the Gospel

PLEASE READ. Those who preach the “prosperity gospel” for selfish gain have hijacked God’s Word from its true intention.  Because of this blatant distortion of God’s Word that many have fallen prey to, I am compelled to share the following Freedom Squared blog post written by dear friend, mentor and colleague, Hakim Hazim.  The blog post, “The Kingdom is Inseperable from the Gospel” is part of their Self-Deception Series. In the post he writes, “The gospel is not about health and wealth, it is not an insurance policy from the lake of fire. It is good news for the elect. To focus on anything other than the one who saves is to make salvation a means to an end.”

Thank you Hakim for sharing with us this timely message to successfully discern truth from deception.  Read it below.

Hakim_Bio_Photo_in_Grey_SuitThere has been quite a bit of noise and controversy made in recent decades regarding preaching and doctrine. Perhaps the rapid expansion of the prosperity/wellness gospel and the insurance gospel are not indicators of revival but men’s ability to hijack and distort God’s word. The two spring from the same tree: man’s self-seeking heart.

To be more specific, the health and prosperity gospel are tied to securing benefits in this that alleviate or eliminate physical suffering or deprivation of any type. The insurance gospel rests on the idea that a sinner can say a prayer and be indemnified from eternal judgment, if he is sincere at the moment he says it. These notions of the gospel perpetuate the deception that man can be in charge of his temporal and eternal destiny by sincerity and believing alone. Although these sentiments are understandable from a human vantage point, they fall short of historical, biblical standards. God must give us the faith to believe and purify our hearts so that we can be sincere. These doctrines are made in America and made for Americans, but they are foreign to the sound teaching of scripture.

Election teaches us that God examines, draws and secures the hearts of all who will ever belong to Him. The gospel issues from the sovereignty of God and is but one aspect of governance from His vantage point. We would do well to remember this in a humanistic age.

The gospel is not about health and wealth. It is not an insurance policy from the lake of fire. It is good news for the Elect. To focus on anything other than the one Who saves is to make salvation a means to an end. The Lord despises the misuse of His word for selfish gain, but He is also quick to forgive those who repent of this (We have all done it in some manner or form). The Kingdom is moving and you will move with it or it will move against you. Lay hold of it friend. Lay hold of it.

Here is a good read that amplifies some of the points I have made: http://chalcedon.edu/research/articles/the-gospel-of-the-kingdom-of-god/

About Hakim Hazim

Hakim Hazim, author of several published books and articles, nationally recognized criminality and national security theorist is the co-founder of Freedom², which focuses on believers in America and other free societies. Hakim, who is based near Boise, Idaho, was raised Muslim and is a born-again Christian since 1993. Daniel Jackson, a former youth pastor, is the organization’s other founding member and technology expert with a Fortune 500 company. Other project partners include researcher Charles Holmes, Jr., and Dracy Jenkins. Hakim is also the founder of the Christian-based national security consultancy, Relevant Now, which provides clients with ”timely, insightful and transformative information.” Hakim has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Washburn University in Topeka, Kansas and a Master of Arts in National Security Studies from the California State University San Bernardino.