Exodus 15-18; Luke 21

“Then Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: Fill a two-quart container with manna to preserve it for your descendants.  Then later generations will be able to see the food I gave you in the wilderness when I set you free from Egypt.” Exodus 16:32 NLT

I picture the Israelites filling their jars with manna, so that they can remember how God provided for them. I have a journals of God’s past faithfulness, but also some really painful things that he has brought me through. What do I want future generations to know about my life? If I’m honest, I’d like to filter it. And only put in the good stuff.  And hide the rest.  I am encouraged by Moses’s vulnerability to his father-in-law.  He didn’t leave the struggles out.  

“Moses told his father-in-law everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and Egypt on behalf of Israel.  He also told about all the hardships they had experienced along the way and how the Lord had rescued his people from all their troubles.  Jethro was delighted when he heard about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel as he rescued them from the hand of the Egyptians.  “Praise the Lord,” Jethro said , “for he has rescued you from the Egyptians and from Pharoah.  Yes, he has rescued Israel from the powerful hand of Egypt!  I know now that the Lord is greater than all other gods, because he rescued his people from the oppression of the proud Egyptians.” Exodus 18:8-10 NLT

When sharing my story, there are parts I would rather hide. But, than I would be leaving out the ways that God has had the victory in my life.

“Than Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord: “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; he has hurled both horse and rider into the sea.  The Lord is my strength and my song; he has given me victory.  This is my God, and I will praise him-my father’s God, and I will exalt him! The Lord is a warrior; Yawheh is his name!” Exodus 15:1-3 NLT

Thank you Father that you are the true manna who meets my every need. Thank you for your healing, your faithfulness. For your words that speak life into my soul. Amen. 

“Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.” Luke 21:33 NLT

Amy(amyctanner)

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Exodus 12-14; Luke 20; Ps 21

“But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle.” Exodus 13:18

I don’t know about you…but I have a lot of questions for God. I have silly questions like, “Why mosquitoes?” and I have really serious questions like, “Why did Lilly have to die?” There are days the questions haunt me and there are days when the questions remind me I have an extremely powerful God who knows all and is trustworthy. In reading today’s scripture I am reminded again of the gift that God gave us in the Bible. He shared clearly the reason the Israelites had to walk through the wilderness…the purpose of it…to help them and keep them from turning back…but, did they know? Or did they wonder and question God?

I get that! If I had known in my early 20’s the things God was going to lead me through in my 30’s, there’s a good possibility that I would have pulled a Jonah and gone the opposite direction. Not knowing God’s plan and direction too far in advance, kept me from worrying about things I couldn’t change. The experiences of my life, however, that God led me through prepared me for those really difficult things that were to come.

So they asked him, “Teacher, we know that you speak and teach rightly, and show no partiality, but truly teach the way of God. Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar, or not?”   But he perceived their craftiness,”                                        Luke 20:21-22a, ESV

My questions are not bad. They may be annoying at times (just ask my parents) but God has used them as a way of reminding me that He knows my heart. He sees behind my questions and knows the motivation…He knows the heartache that comes with asking about death and suffering. He knows the joy and fun that comes from wondering and asking about things of creation like mosquitoes (and bats…and spiders…and sharks…ok, I’ll stop). God knew the hearts of the scribes and chief priests and knew their intent was to trap Him. And yet…He still answered them. He didn’t ignore them.

“Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength! We will sing and praise your power.”       Psalm 21:13, ESV

Father, may I rest in the knowledge of your wisdom and power.
May I trust your heart and your purpose for my life.
May I know that in the questions and wonderings of life, you are present and you hear my deepest longing for connection with You. Amen

Mandy Baldwin

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Exodus 9-11; Luke 19

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go, that they may serve me.’” Exodus 9:1 ESV

Exodus 9 begins with a warning of a fifth plague upon Egypt, which comes to pass after Pharaoh hardens his heart yet again. It is followed by four more plagues, each ending only to be followed by Pharaoh stubbornly refusing to let the Hebrews go and worship God. Pharaoh’s obstinacy was destroying his land and hurting his people, but he was still too proud to obey God’s commands.

Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the LORD their God. Do you not understand that Egypt is ruined?” Exodus 10:7 ESV

Pharaoh did not represent all the Egyptians. Many of them were tired of his refusal to follow God and the destruction it brought upon their country. In fact, God gave the Egyptians who humbled themselves before His Word the opportunity to save their belongings.

“‘“Now therefore send, get your livestock and all that you have in the field into safe shelter, for every man and beast that is in the field and is not brought home will die when the hail falls on them.”’” Then whoever feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses. Exodus 9:19-20 ESV

God did not punish those who feared Him and told Moses to warn them of the impeding hail. This entire episode almost seems to reflect the Redemption Story as the God-fearing Egyptians who believe God and act in faith are saved while those who refuse to believe God’s words face destruction. God’s mercy on those who trust in him is again reflected in the story of Zacchaeus, a dishonest tax collector who came to hear Jesus’ preaching. After Jesus comes to Zacchaeus’ house, he repents of his sins.

And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:9 ESV

While many judged Jesus for going to the house of a tax collector and a sinner, Jesus states clearly that His purpose on earth was to seek after those who are lost, including the Gentiles, social outcasts, and the disabled.

And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.” Luke 19:45-46

Jesus’ cleansing of the temple is probably one of the most dramatic moments of His ministry as He overturns tables and drives the salesmen out of the Court of Gentiles. The Court of Gentiles itself was suppose to be a place where the foreigners could come and worship the LORD as they were not allowed further into the temple, however, Jesus entered, He found it overrun with salesmen hoping to make a quick buck due to the Passover being close at hand. He was dismayed that the place where the outsiders came to worship God was instead crowded with those who only cared about making money. The cleansing of the temple foreshadows the moment when the veil of the temple is torn and when Paul is told the preach the Gospel to the Gentiles. Jesus was making a way for those who sought God to approach Him. Those who seek Him will find Him.

And he was teaching daily in the temple. The chief priests and the scribes were seeking to destroy him, but they did no find anything they could do, for all the people were hanging on his words. Luke 19:47-48 ESV

Dear God, Thank You for making a way for sinners to come before Your throne. Please help me follow Your Words and obey Your commands. In Your Holy Name, Amen.

Nathanael (nborger2017)

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Exodus 5-8; Luke 18

My friend for more than twenty-five years died the other week. I listened as his wife spoke in eulogy of his lifetime–told about this man I loved, and shared many things about him I never knew. He had delightful interests, so much talent, and his life story was full and generous and loving and adventurous. How I wished I’d had more time with him–he was truly like a father to me. His life, even in death, continues to inspire me: to live in purpose, on purpose.

The weight of grief, worry, strife and stress has felt oppressive in recent years–these things can take me off course, derail me from life and its purposes. I live in the woods, and find myself wishing I was deeper in the forest, averting my eyes and sometimes my heart from making contact—it feels an awful lot like despair.

I’m not sure if it’s circumstance or the things one tells himself or hears from others, but I hear it in Pharaoh’s voice as he tells Moses, “Moses and Aaron, why are you distracting the people from their tasks? Get back to work! Look, there are many of your people in the land, and you are stopping them from their work (Exodus 5:4-5, NLT).”

I can get caught up in the task (of work or routine or stress or grief) at hand, that my focus is redirected into a worldly (small) view instead of a deeper calling and purpose. And whether one places it upon himself, or it’s the voices of those in his life, Kingdom work and purpose can become muddled and muted. Moses and Aaron weren’t distracting the people from their tasks–they were pointing them to it. The world gets it so very backwards, and I fall for it too. Too many hoops, too many tasks, too much people pleasing and accommodating that I neglect the very One who gives me strength, neglect the passions He’s put in my heart and compromise my focus and time until I am weary and worn out. It feels an awful lot like despair.

“Therefore, say to the people of Israel: ‘I am the Lord. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt. I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your very own possession. I am the Lord!’”

So Moses told the people of Israel what the Lord had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery (Exodus 6:6-9 NLT).

Lord, repeatedly I train myself to order my tasks but to keep my eyes on you. Again. Again. When my focus slips to what’s in front of me, I forget what’s inside of me and what’s ahead of me. The shrill of the ringtone, the chipping away at peace, when I lose sight of you, I become too discouraged too.

I set my thoughts on a Kingdom purpose, a Kingdom focus.

29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, 30 will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come (Luke 18:29-30, NLT).”

That rich man was disheartened because, perhaps, his (wealth/success/pride/ability) was his real focus, not the inheritance of eternal life he believed he wanted.

Lord, help me to do what I need to do, and let go of what needs to go. I want to walk in truth, and keep my eyes focused on you. Thank you for a friend like David, whose life spoke of intention and inclusion, generosity and love. Thank you for challenging me to see things in a new way, for revealing truths I didn’t see, and for reminding me to seek your Kingdom first.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 2-4; Luke 17; Psalm 88

Exodus 2:11-15a NIV

One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”

The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”

When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian…

Moses was clearly troubled by what he saw and he wanted to rescue his people. However, rather than seeking God, Moses sought his own intellect and decided to take matters into his own hands. It didn’t work. Instead of things improving, they worsened – not only with the Egyptians, as Pharaoh wanted to kill Moses, but even with his own people, who disrespected and challenged him.

Like Moses, I find it so tempting to take matters into my own hands. When I see someone else suffering, or if I, myself, am feeling overwhelmed, my gut reaction is to jump into action and attempt to work out deliverance for myself. The problem is that my thoughts and my understanding are tainted by sin and emotions that frequently are running out of control. Therefore my actions make things worse rather than improving the situation. I’ve learned that deliverance can only come from God’s hands, not my own.

Moses reacted to the situation by running away – again, I so easily identify with that instinct! However, God used the next 40 years to work in Moses’ heart and develop in him a humility and dependence on the Lord rather than himself. It was a tough lesson to learn, I’m sure – it always is. However, we all must learn it because humility is the prerequisite for being used by God.

In chapter 3, God spoke to Moses and invited him to join Him in delivering the Israelites from slavery. In a shocking contrast to chapter 2, we read that Moses began to argue with God about his inability to rescue the Israelites.

I’ve found that it’s easy to confuse humility with insecurity. I may think I’m acting humble when, in reality, I’m giving into my insecurities. Insecurity causes me, like Moses, to still rely on my own understanding, abilities, and judgment. Humility, though aware of my inability, doesn’t fixate on my failures, but instead trusts in God’s understanding, abilities, and judgment.

While insecurity causes me to question and doubt, humility causes me to say, “Yes, Lord. I know you are able; I will trust you to do what you say you will do.” And that humble surrender is exactly what allows me to begin experience deliverance and, ultimately, victory.

Father, please forgive me for believing the lie that deliverance depends on me. Help me to trust your abilities, your understanding, and your plan in my life and in the lives of those I love. I surrender to what you’re doing and will wait for your direction before I speak or act. Thank you for loving me and being patient with me, even in my failures and when I interfere with what you’re doing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Bethany Harris (drgnfly1010)

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Genesis 50; Exodus 1; Luke 16; Psalm 8

Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. (Gen 50:1) NIV

God had promised Jacob this was what was going to happen. As He assured Jacob he should not be afraid to go to Egypt, God told him Joseph himself would be the one to close his eyes after his death (Gen 46:4). I can imagine Joseph’s tears came from a place so many of us have felt—being cheated of enough time with a loved one. Losing someone we love to death. There was never a doubt in Joseph’s mind that he was loved by his father. Years of separation had not changed that. Now he was gone.

The first separation was not of his doing, it was forced upon Joseph. At that time, he had no idea if he would ever see his father again. Yet, after so many years, here he was blessed to be reunited with his father when he least expected it. Jacob got to see his grandsons grow and speak a blessing over them as was the custom. God orchestrated the grand reunion of father and son. He restored a family—or so Joseph thought.

15 When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “What if Joseph holds a grudge against us and pays us back for all the wrongs we did to him?” 16 So they sent word to Joseph, saying, “Your father left these instructions before he died: 17 ‘This is what you are to say to Joseph: I ask you to forgive your brothers the sins and the wrongs they committed in treating you so badly.’ Now please forgive the sins of the servants of the God of your father.” When their message came to him, Joseph wept. (Gen 50:15-17) NIV

 They had just come back from burying their father—as a family. I think Joseph wept because he was deeply hurt by their words. His brothers did not know him at all. They feared him. Did they not know how much he loved them, that he had forgiven them? They were still living in the place of guilt for their actions. There was still distance between them even though they were all together again.

18 His brothers then came and threw themselves down before him. “We are your slaves,” they said.

Here again, Joseph’s dream was being played out before him (Gen 37:7-9). His brothers were bowing down before him. This time, however, his response was different. As a young man, he saw himself “lording” over his brothers. Now, he was humble and he gave credit to the Lord!

19 But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God?20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.

I am so glad the story of Joseph is in the Bible. It shows me such an example of God’s ability to rebuild and restore relationships. It shows me forgiveness is possible. In the natural, one would think as Joseph’s brothers thought—surely he is going to pay us back for what we did. But God had done such a restoration of Joseph’s heart that he had love and compassion for his brothers. A heart like that can be put in charge of saving a nation from starvation. A heart changed by God!

Lord, I thank you for the work you do in us when we surrender to you! Your supernatural power allows us to do what we could never do in the natural. Forgiveness is never easy. There are wounds only your holy salve can heal. I know there is still bitterness inside of me and I release it to you. Let me say as Joseph did “God intended it for good”. With cleansing tears, I surrender. In Jesus precious name, Amen

Cindy (gardnlady)

 

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Genesis 48-49; Luke 15; Psalm 10

to you the helpless commits himself;
    you have been the helper of the fatherless. ~ Psalm 10:14b (ESV)

We (I) need reminders of two important components of the Christian life — grace and salvation. God LOVES the lost. He is relentlessly seeking them out, chasing them down, driving them home. To Him.

We were all there once. Lost. Alone. Confused. Aimless. In need of a Savior.

So many great quotes in Philip Yancy’s book, What’s So Amazing About Grace, but the one that keeps coming back to me is a re-quote from his earlier book:

A prostitute came to me in wretched straits, homeless, sick, unable to buy food for her two-year-old daughter. Through sobs and tears, she told me she had been renting out her daughter — two years old! — to men interested in kinky sex. She made more renting out her daughter for an hour than she could earn on her own in a night. She had to do it, she said, to support her own drug habit. I could hardly bear hearing her sordid story. For one thing, it made me legally liable — I’m required to report cases of child abuse. I had no idea what to say to this woman.

At last I asked if she had ever thought of going to a church for help. I will never forget the look of pure, naive shock that crossed her face. “Church!” she cried. “Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They’d just make me feel worse.”

He went on to point out that the troubled people in Jesus’ day ran to Him. If we channel God’s grace as we should, we would not be able to keep the needy, the lost away!

God helps the fatherless. Not in a “here’s a Christmas gift while your dad’s in jail” kind of way, but in a life-altering, doesn’t give up, I’ll stay after you like I would a lost sheep or coin kind of way. (Luke 15) He doesn’t quit until He overwhelms their need with Himself.

I forget the power of His grace. I forget the awesomeness of salvation that kicks off a party in heaven.

This baffles the world. They want justice, fairness, world peace, no more starving kids so they can sleep at night. God has a completely different agenda. Some of it might look the same externally, but grace drives the heart to never quit.

When the prodigal son comes dejectedly back home, just hoping for a spot at the bottom of the payroll, his dad runs to greet him! I love how the father completely ignores the son’s carefully prepared speech and jumps in with words he’s been waiting years to say.

Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ (Luke 15 ESV)

Thank you, Father God, for your relentless love. It makes no human sense to love me the way you do. Your grace is completely incomprehensible. Help me pour it out to others as freely as you have on me. Bring to mind often the joy of salvation that I may also seek that joy for those you bring across my path. Use me, Lord, everyday, as often as you can.

In Jesus Name, Amen.

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