rev-joaquin-willis_web.jpgIn Exodus (5:4-9), God directed Moses to tell Pharaoh to release the Israelite slaves: “Let My People Go.”  God had promised Moses, “I will be with you” (Exodus 3:12), and Moses knew he was “Standing under Grace.”

An angry Pharaoh asked of Moses and Aaron, “Why are you trying to take the people away from their labors? Let them get back to work!”   According to Exodus (5:8-9), Pharaoh mandated that the slave overseers order the Israelites to maintain brick production quotas, but ceased supplying straw.  (Bricks were made more durable by adding straw to the mud mixture.)  The slaves were forced to find their own straw.
Often, in service to God, hardships result from our obedience to Him.  We ask:  “When doing what God asked, why do we suffer?” Or:  “Why, in our call to serve God, does life become harder?”  It may seem that evil-doers are living an easier life, even prospering.  But when life seems bleak and miserable, avoid the mistake of assuming a fall from God’s grace. 

How does one know he is standing under (God’s) grace?  In Acts (10:34), Peter said, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts men from every nation who fear Him and do what is right.” Peter, like Moses, had received an order from God. Peter was to meet with Cornelius, a gentile (as was Pharaoh). 

A great barrier to our witnessing Christ to others is expecting God to show favoritism, when what we need is favor.  

Both Moses and Peter lived in scary spiritual and economic times.  Both men were sent forth to defeat leaders of different cultures while obeying God’s call.  Both were “standing under grace.” Like Moses and Peter, we should not allow fear to prevent us from doing as God commands.  We must maintain an attitude of gratitude.  

Consider that we’re all standing under grace.  God’s grace is God’s favor.  Pastor Eric Jones of Koinonia Worship Center said of favor, “It is disobedience that holds up blessings! Our blessing (favor) is just beyond our reach, and God is just waiting for our obedience in order to release our blessing, as soon as we do what He wills, God blesses us!”

As we know, God can bless us at any time, without explanation.  Scripture implies, however, that blessings often follow obedience.  When we pass His tests of faith, we become graduates eligible to handle larger blessings, and to be a blessing to others. 

We often whine, especially upon learning that we must gather our own straw, and still make the same number of bricks. God doesn’t like whiners!  While we cannot expect to remain cheery through every trial, we can avoid losing God’s umbrella of grace by stopping to pray, and by refusing to allow negativity to overwhelm us.   

During life’s storms, God’s grace protects us and frees us to truly serve Him.  When we are tested, Christ can better use us to draw others to God. While standing under grace, we can see the darts of Satan falling, and hear cries and complaints all around us.

But we can always look up, with the assurance of seeing God’s blessing raining down upon us.  God’s grace molds our hearts, shapes our thoughts, and creates an attitude of gratitude. Suddenly, we know, as did Moses and Peter, that we are standing under grace.

The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door at 6001 NW 8th Ave., Miami.  To contact the church, call 305-759-0373 or email the pastor at pastoropendoorc@