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Exodus 32-34; Acts 2 & Psalm 16

When the people saw Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him ‘Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ So Aaron said to them, ‘Take off the rings of gold that are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’ So all the people took off the rings of gold that were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. And he received the gold from their hand and fashioned it with a graving tool and made a golden calf. And they said ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it.” (Exodus 32:1-5 ESV)

What in the world just happened? The Israelites were slaves in Egypt. God brought on plagues to wake their captures up and parted the Red Sea to set them free. All of this just happened and now because Moses is taking a bit longer than they hoped to return from talking with God, they get impatient. They get so impatient that they seem to completely forget what just happened. They get so impatient and in need of “worshipping” something that they build an alter to a golden cow. This sounds crazy!

Looking back on their story now I want to shout “what in the world are you thinking? How forgetful can you be, not to mention ungrateful?” But then I wonder if I’m like the Israelites. I praise God when times are good and I do reflect on all the good He has blessed me with. But do I get impatient and take matters into my own hands when I don’t have an answer right now like I would prefer? Is my tendency to worry about things a flaw of mine that means I don’t trust Him as much as I should?

And Peter said to them ‘Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and all who are far and off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Himself. And with many other words He bore witness and continued saying ‘Save yourselves from this crooked generation.’ So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.” (Acts 2:38-41 ESV)

On the day of Pentecost, it was publicly announced that salvation was open not just to the Israelites, but to Gentiles and all who call upon the name of the Lord. People from all over, heard the Good News in their language so they would have the opportunity to believe. Three thousand believed that day.

I would have loved to have been a witness to the events of Pentecost, with Peter’s sermon and thousands coming to salvation. What marvelous sights and sounds!

I bless the Lord who gives counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because He is my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fulness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” (Psalm 16:7-11 ESV)

Amen and amen.

~Kellie

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Exodus 22-24; Luke 23; Psalms 12, 14

Is there a way that we can tie these passages together? It does seem like there may be a progression here:

  • In the Exodus chapters we see God challenging Israel to obey him and obey his festivals and rules. As we continue to read through the Old Testament, we realize they never did. Can you imagine how different the world would be if we saved our enemy’s animals when they were in distress (Exodus 23:4&5)? Or let’s say no one ever shares a false report! What a blessing that would be (Exodus 23:1). But Israel did not listen to the word of God, so that leads to a further alienation from God.
  • In Psalm 22, not only do people not save their enemy’s animals they spread lies about their neighbors that they should be friends with: Save, O Lord, for the godly one is gone; for the faithful have vanished from among the children of man. Everyone utters lies to his neighbor; with flattering lips and a double heart they speak (Psalm 22:1&2). It seems as if Israel is moving further and further away from God. That leads to the ultimate denial of God in Luke’s Gospel.
  • In Luke 23 we find the leaders of Israel demanding to murder the very God of the universe! They are acting as if there is no God.

So how do I apply this to my life? Perhaps it’s not such a serious progression against God, but as we do ignore his activity in our lives we start to not treat or relate to him as the God of the universe. I know I have become callous to my sin many times and haven’t treated the God I love with the proper respect and honor due him. And yes, perhaps by starting out obeying in the little things then it becomes easier to honor him in the greater ones.

Father God, help us not to become callous in the things you command us to do and observe. May we always be diligent in the smaller things so that when the bigger issues come our way we are ready to obey your word.

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Exodus 15-18; Luke21

The first time I heard this song, What if I gave all by Ray Boltz, likely a new release at the time, it resonated deeply and still does. That penetrating question it asks repeatedly: “What if I gave all?” My daughter just shared with me the song, “Available” by Elevation with a similar message.

Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins.And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.”

Luke 21:1-4 ESV

My giving to church is often too comfortable. I would likely fall more into the category of the “rich” in this scenario than the poor widow. I live on far more than a dollar a day, and I am tempted to hold too tightly to my time, talents, and treasure. I rarely have to sacrifice a meal let alone my entire bank balance to still give generously to my church and other ministries.

Two convictions weave their way through my thoughts as I read these two passages:

  • I often invest too heavily in temporary treasure
  • I undervalue all that God has done for me

34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap.

Luke 21:34 ESV

I appreciate the clarity the Amplified bible brings to that verse:

“But be on guard, so that your hearts are not weighed down and depressed with the giddiness of debauchery and the nausea of self-indulgence and the worldly worries of life, and then that day [when the Messiah returns] will not come on you suddenly like a trap;

Dissipation is defined as a squandering. The poor widow had nothing to squander. Likely, she was on the alert, looking for the Messiah, definitely not weighed down by earthly possessions. Yet, when God asked her to give all she could have easily replied, “But I have so little already.” Instead she simply said, “Yes.”

The nation of Israel squandered their time post-Egypt. Instead of marveling at how God had preserved them and protected them, they grumbled about not enough water or meat or comfort. After generations of fighting to survive as slaves, they did not know how to shift their thinking and trust God.

“Who is like you, O Lord, among the gods?
    Who is like you, majestic in holiness,
    awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders?
12 You stretched out your right hand;
    the earth swallowed them.
13 “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed;
    you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.

Exodus 15:11-13 ESV

They could sing truth, and live a grumbling life. I can do the same. Worship God with outstretched arms on Sunday and worship my own agenda and comfort the rest of the week. What if I gave all? Every day of the week to him? He has saved me from a life of slavery to sin. He has brought me into a life of complete love and forgiveness, and I worry about an increased cost of living. He secured eternal life for me, and I spend my time and energy on temporary trimmings for this life.

What if I gave all?

Lord God, keep trimming away those items that tempt me to look away from you, to find security and comfort in anything aside from you. Continually bring to mind your blessings lest I invest in the wrong things, lest I lose my grateful heart. You are so good. May I hold nothing back as my gratitude overflows in complete trust for your plan. I love you, Lord. Amen.

Erin (6intow)

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Exodus 5-8, Luke 18

Afterward Moses and Aaron went and said to Pharaoh,” Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.” But Pharaoh said,” Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and moreover I will not let Israel go.”  (Exodus 5:1-2 ESV )

Pharaoh could have said yes right away, but we knew he wasn’t going to because God said He would harden his heart.  Moreover, Pharaoh thought that if the Israelites had time to go and worship their God, they must have time to get their own straw. 

So the people were scattered throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw.  The taskmasters were urgent, saying, “complete your work, your daily task each day, as when there was straw. (Exodus 5:12 ESV)

Because the Israelites now had more tasks, were being beaten, and treated harshly, they were disillusioned as to what God was doing.  Like them, I can’t always look at my circumstances to see what God is up to.  He does work in mysterious ways, and He almost never does things the way I would like Him to.  I must go by what I know about God, not what I see going on around me.  But because the Israelites had been living in Egypt, and probably heard the stories of how the Egyptians took care of them during the famine, their allegiance to God had probably waned, and they looked to Pharaoh as their god.

They met Moses and Aaron who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh, and they said to them, “ The Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”

Then Moses turned to the Lord and said,” O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all.” (Exodus 5:20-23 ESV)

God was working in the hearts of the Israelites, Moses, and Pharaoh.  How like God to begin by orchestrating people, one at a time. God builds faith one person at a time, one step at a time.  When it is happening, you may not recognize the hand of God at the time.

God is building Moses’ confidence in himself, and in God. 

God is showing Pharaoh that He is real, and that He is greater than all his magicians.

God is showing the Israelites that He is God, the same God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  Remembering the same promises He made to Abraham so long ago. 

As they look around at their situation, they could not believe how it can be so.  I can relate with them, with them all!  I have felt the same feelings throughout my life.  I have felt as if I was in charge of my situation and those around me. I have felt that I was not good enough for a specific task. And I have felt as if I was being overlooked at different times, and in different situations. A broken spirit can cause you to draw wrong conclusions. So, at this point, the Israelites cared more about what Pharaoh thought, than what God thought.  After all, Pharaoh was the one having them beaten, and God is the one that caused it.  They wanted to please Pharaoh. They wanted their suffering to stop.

Patience is what they needed, but they did not know it yet.

Moses and Aaron went back to Pharaoh, and said, “let God’s people go!

But still, Pharaoh refused. 

So, God proceeded to turn up the heat a bit. First God turned the water to blood.  The magicians were able to do the same. Pharaoh did not even beg for mercy; he just turned and went into his house.  Maybe he had a stash of Deer Park in his basement.

Next came the frogs.  The magicians were able to make frogs too. 

Why would they want more frogs? Just to prove God wasn’t all that?  There will always be deception around to keep my eyes from seeing God at work.  Satan mimics God at times steals my trust and destroys my faith.  Sometimes he will create bad stuff so I will think God doesn’t care. And sometimes, he puts good in my life, by the hands of someone else not associated with God,  to divert whom I put my trust in.  Fortunately, I have the bible (unlike the Israelites) to help me along the way, but I am sometimes slow to grasp what God is saying to me, how God is guiding me, and who God is and what His character is.

Then came the gnats. The magicians could not duplicate the gnats. 

The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not.  So there were gnats on man and beast.  Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God,” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said. (Exodus 8:18-19 ESV)

Sometimes God uses other people to help me see that God is at work. But sometimes my heart will not believe them. God will not stop trying to reach me, in spite of me.

Next up- the frogs. 

But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen where my people dwell, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth.  Thus I will put a division between my people and your people.  Tomorrow this sign shall happen.’ and the Lord did so. (Exodus 8:23-24a ESV)

God is starting to get Israel’s attention by separating them from the plagues.

Pharaoh would ask Moses to plead for mercy with God, but after he got what he wanted, he would change his mind about letting the people go.  That is how it works with me, sometimes. I can make a promise to God, and if I get my way, sometimes I revert away from my promise.  It shows that I was not sincere with my words, only for the moment, to get my way.  That is why God says let your yes be yes and your no, no. God knows my heart, He knows my sincerity, He also knows my insincerity. But sometimes, I think He works with me to build my faith, and open my eyes to see what He is doing. God meets me right where I am, that is why He deals with each of us individually, because we are in different places, in different situations.  Pharaoh was starting to see God through Moses.  It was a start.

All three, Moses, Pharaoh and the Israelites; are learning that God is who He says He is, and that God will do what  He says He will do. 

When God says He will be with you, He will be with you!  No matter what He has to go through, to make it happen, He will get there, I just need to be patient.  I have no idea how many obstacles he has to go through, one step at a time.  But He will work it all out in the end.

He said,” In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man.  And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying,” Give me justice against my adversary.” For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, “Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so, that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.” And the Lord said,” Hear what the unrighteous judge says.  And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.  (Luke 18: 2-8a ESV)

This sounds like the same situation as Pharaoh and the Israelites.  If God doesn’t seem to answer quick enough for me. I must not give up.  Not necessarily to wear God down, but because I know that I am in the right, and he will let justice prevail, even if it takes longer than I want it to.

Father God, there is so much going on behind the scenes that I do not know about.  Help me to wait on your timing, no matter my struggles, because your answer will be perfect and just what I need.  There are things hidden from me and also things I do not grasp, or understand, such as the whys of the circumstances. Please build my faith and trust to know that you will work all things out for my good. I love you and it is in Jesusname that I pray……AMEN

Carol (carolvorwe)

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Genesis 50, Exodus 1, Luke 16, Psalm 8

So Joseph remained in Egypt, he and his father’s house. Joseph lived 110 years. And Joseph saw Ephraim’s children of the third generation. The children also of Machir the son of Manasseh were counted as Joseph’s own. And Joseph said to his brothers, ‘I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.’ Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear saying, ‘God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.’ So Joseph died, being 110 years old. They embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.” (Genesis 50:22-26 ESV)

Joseph was a leader in his job and in his family. He left behind a legacy to continue on with the future generations. Pharoah did not want this legacy to continue, but the Hebrew midwives feared God.

Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiprah and the other Puah, ‘When you serve as a midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but if it is a daughter, she shall live.’ But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live. So the king of Egypt called the midwives and said to them, ‘Why have you done this, and let the male children live?’ The midwives said to Pharoah, ‘Because the Hebrew women are not like the Egyptian women, for they are vigorous and give birth before the midwife comes to them.’ So God dealt with the midwives. And the people multiplied and grew very strong.” (Exodus 1:15-20 ESV)

No the widwives were not honest with Pharoah but they knew it was more important to serve God than to please man, especially when men are telling you to do things that you know God is against.

And He (Jesus) said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.” (Luke 16:15 ESV)

Jesus is addressing the Pharisees who revered money far too much. But this statement can apply to many things. Whatever man or “the world” worships and treasures, will likely be horrible in the eyes of God. Look to Him alone to be your moral compass.

O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouths of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and starts, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You have given him dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas. O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (Psalm 8)

~Kellie

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