The One Thing You Should Eat Daily

I love food. I mean, what’s not to love? The taste, the satisfaction, the variety, the smell (most of the time). The delight of sweet and the sensation of salty. And when you mix the two. (Hold on, I need a minute.)


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 16
Key Verse: “And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.” Deuteronomy 8:3


Then there’s breakfast. Eggs, bacon, pancakes, coffee. You know it’s a good thing if restaurants advertise they serve it all day long. Furthermore, I don’t skip meals. And if I’m forced to, it’s not pretty. OK, I admit it, I get hangry. (hungry/angry)

But according to Exodus 16, I’m not the first to have this problem. (Nor will I be the last.)

The Israelites had been out and about for a month. Leaving Elim but not yet to Sinai they found themselves in the wilderness of Sin. Meaning they’d left the delightful shade of the palm trees but hadn’t quite made it to the mountain of God.

And they were hungry! All two million of them – or however many there were. In fact, the whole congregation grumbled against Moses and Aaron saying, “Would that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into the wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger” (v. 3).

See, they were hangry. In one fell swoop they rejected God’s leadership, stomped on His redemption, blamed Moses/God for trying to kill them, and embellished the life they’d lived in Egypt. Cherishing their captivity instead of their freedom. (Hmmm, I don’t think it’s by accident they were wandering in the wilderness of Sin.)

After all God had done for them, He should have pummeled them right then and there, don’t you think? Problem is, then He’d have to pummel all of us because like it or not we’re guilty of the same sins. Blaming God. Wishing away our current circumstances. Cherishing the old life instead of the new. Embellishing things of the past instead of faithfully moving forward in the present. (At least I’m guilty on all accounts.)

But instead of setting the Israelites straight. Instead of reminding them they had flocks and herds for food if necessary. (Silly people.) Instead of reiterating His promise to bring them safely to the mountain of God and not starve them, He gave them manna.

It was grace in the wilderness of sin. Beautiful, undeserved grace for a people God chose to love not because of who they were but because of who He is. Filling them morning after morning with bread from heaven.

But it wasn’t loaves of bread like we think of. “It was like coriander seed, white and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey” (v. 31). “A fine, flake like thing, fine as frost on the ground” (v. 14). And faithfully, day after day, year after year, God provided it until they reached the promised land. (Except on the Sabbath.) For forty years God fed them this way, providing for them, nourishing them, raining grace upon them daily.

And you know what, he’s still doing the same for us. Jesus said to the hungry crowd in John 6:32, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world” (v. 34).

Grace in the wilderness of sin. That’s what we have day after day in Jesus Christ.

“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (v. 35). Not physically speaking of course. Our bodies were made for food. But spiritually speaking, Jesus is the manna, the provision we need to live.

And we feed on him through the Scriptures. For Jesus is the Word made flesh (John 1:14). Revelation 19:13 says, “the name by which he is called is The Word of God.” Thus the correlations between the manna and the Word are many.

  1. The manna was miraculous. It was supernaturally given, not man made. As was the birth of Christ, along with the Word we now hold in our hands. “For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21).
  2. The manna was gathered daily. They weren’t allowed to gather a week’s supply in one fell swoop. They were to get it fresh each morning. Just like we can’t gather a week’s supply of God’s Word on Sunday. It needs to be fresh daily to provide the nourishment we need. (“Give us this day our daily bread” Matt. 6:11.)
  3. The manna was near. Every morning it was right outside their tents. When they walked outside they had a choice to either gather it or trample over it. Like it or not, we have the same choice. Jesus is near to all who call on him in truth. He came and “tabernacled” among men. His Word is readily available. But we have a choice to make. We can either take the time to gather it or we can walk out our door, ignoring the Lord and trample it.
  4. There was more than enough for everyone. This blows my mind. Exodus 16:16 states that each person was to collect an “omer.” An omer was about 6 pints. So with a conservative estimate of two million people, we’re talking 12 million pints of manna or 9 million pounds every day. Or as Arthur Pink put it, “Hence, ten trains, each having thirty cars and each car having in it fifteen tons, would be needed for a single day’s supply” (Gleanings in Exodus, p.124). But is it any surprise, since God’s word has always been and will always be more than enough for a world in need?
  5. The manna was gathered first thing in the morning. A reminder to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt. 6:33).
  6. The manna revealed God’s glory. In reference to the manna Moses tells the Israelites, “In the morning you shall see the glory of the LORD” (Ex. 16:7). Right there in the wilderness of Sin, the glory of God came forth. As did the glory of God in Christ in a land rampant with sin. “And we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (Jn. 1:14b).
  7. The manna was preserved. In a jar, as a remembrance of God’s provision to the generations to come; just as God’s word has been preserved for each generation to come.

How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth,” Psalm 119:103.

He’s provided the sustenance we need my friend and modeled for us how to use it. When tempted by Satan after forty days and forty nights of fasting in the desert, Jesus responded to Satan’s lure with Deuteronomy 8:2. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” The question is, will we eat it?

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Is the Word of God sweet to you?
When and how do you daily nourish yourself in the Word?
Is time in His Word a habit or a hope?

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How the Bitter Things Become Sweet

One of the biggest misunderstandings of the Christian walk is that life will be easy. Saved by the blood of Christ, it feels like we should also be saved from the trials of this life. After all, we’re God’s children. Doesn’t that mean something?


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 15:22-27
Key Verse: “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the LORD will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them.” Isaiah 41:17


Yes, oh yes, it means my God is for me and no longer against me. It means I have a hope and a future. It means I have an advocate in Heaven and every spiritual blessing. It means I am never alone. It means I am indwelt by His spirit. Able to please my Father. Able to store up treasure in heaven. Able to spend forever with my Savior.

But it does not mean I get an address on Easy Street. That my friend is a lie of the devil. Meant to sabotage the trust we’ve placed in Jesus. (I think our brothers and sisters in Florida and Texas and Montana and Idaho and California and Washington and Oregon would agree. Phew, did I miss anyone?)

Three days into the journey (post Red Sea) it wasn’t Easy Street for the Israelites either. With their tongues sticking to the roof of their mouths, and not a drop of water left in the can (at least that’s how I’m imagining it), they at last spot water up ahead. Oh thank goodness! But when they got to it, they couldn’t drink even the smallest amount, for it was bitter.

Now I’ll be honest, I’ve never been three days in a hot, dry desert with no water. I’m guessing thirsty at that point is an understatement. (Especially considering the giant water bottles we lug around these days. Gotta get in our H2O.) So I get it – they had a problem. Our bodies can only go so long without water.

But to their discredit, just 72 hours before they had witnessed God’s authority over water. (The parting of the Red Sea.) So when they got to Marah (which means bitterness by the way), and the water was bad, they should have been like, “No problem! Our God’s got this!” (Can you imagine how that would have pleased the LORD?) Yet instead, they grumbled against Moses. Or rather against God, since He is the one who led them there.

Dumbfounded at their predicament the Israelites asked Moses, “What shall we drink?” (It sounds so casual but I don’t think they were nice about it.) To which Moses, unsure, went to God. Who showed him a log (or tree) that he could throw into the water to make it sweet.

Right, a log. Sure.

But oh the significance of that log! I can think of another log (or tree) that’s sweetened my life. Can you?  1 Peter 2:24 states, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree.” Why? So we could enjoy the sweetness of eternal life, instead of the bitterness of death.

Do you see the comparison?

In this life, we’re going to face bitter, hard things. There’s just no way around it. Unimaginable things. Things that don’t seem fair. Things we’re going to question and shake our heads at. And it’s only Jesus who can make it sweet. Because of his death, burial, and resurrection, on the tree, we can still celebrate.

Nothing can sweeten the bitterness of life like Jesus can. He alone can work things together for our good and His glory. Taking what’s messy and making it shine with brilliance and purpose. Using the worst of situations to draw us into the sweet surrender of His presence.

The cup He offers is delightful. It’s not wrath, it’s rest. In Christ, the things that are naturally bitter in this world become sweet to us who seek life in him. Who patiently endure. Who share in his sufferings, but also share in his victory. “But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed” (1 Peter 4:13).

Take Paul and Silas for example. Beaten with rods and placed in prison, they sang songs of praise to God. The cross (or tree for that matter) sweetening what should have been bitter waters.

But what about when it’s not just bitter waters I’m wading through, but the driest of deserts? What about then? When my marriage is shriveled up. When my patience is dried up. When my job is messed up.

Just turn to Jesus my friend, he’s waiting to provide.

Isaiah 41:17-18 says, “When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst, I the LORD will answer them; I the God of Israel will not forsake them. I will open rivers on the bare heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.”

Pools of water! Overflowing fountains! In the driest of places. It’s God who is able. Then look what comes next in that passage: “I will put in the wilderness the cedar, the acacia, the myrtle, and the olive. I will set in the desert the cypress, the plane and the pine together” (Is. 41:19).

Not only water, but God will give shade in the desert! A place to sit and cool thyself. A place to rest and enjoy.

Consequently, look what came next for the Israelites: “Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees, and they encamped there by the water” (Ex. 15:27). Shade! After Marah, came Elim. Water and shade in the desert. Refreshment for the weariest of souls.

Our God is so kind.

In John 10:10 Jesus says, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Not just in eternity, but now, in the sweetness of His presence. In diligent obedience, there is blessing to be had.

In addition, it wasn’t just drinkable water God offered the Israelites. But sweet water. He made that which had been bitter taste good.

So how about it? Are you thirsty? Are you worn out? Are there bitter waters to wade through? Or dry deserts to walk through? Come, taste, and see, that the LORD is good my friend! “Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.” (Psalm 34:8).

Or as Israel might have said that day…

Blessed is the soul who holds on to Jesus until even the bitter things become sweet.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Where do you seek for satisfaction? In Jesus or the things of this world?
How have you experienced the sweetness of His presence?
When has Jesus made even the bitter things sweet for you?

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Is It Religion or Is It Relationship?


During my time away (Let’s just call it an August Sabbatical…It makes me feel more important.), I not only wrote the first two chapters of a book I’ve been dreaming up for a few months now. (Who’s excited???) But I spent time studying the Kings. And I mean s-t-u-d-y-i-n-g 1 and 2 Kings. I’m not sure how I ended up there. But it was good.


Devotional Scripture: 1 Kings 15:1-8; 2 Chronicles 13:1-20
Key Verse: “And Samuel said, “Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams.” 1 Samuel 15:22


If you read 1 and 2 Kings through quickly chapter after chapter, it’s like wait a minute – What guy is this? What kingdom is he with? (There were two – Israel and Judah.) Did he love God? (Chances are probably not.) It all just runs together into a big messy blob of long ago people.

There are well, a lot of kings. Twenty kings for the southern kingdom (Judah), and nineteen kings for the northern kingdom (Israel), in case you were curious. If you do the math, that’s thirty-nine kings to keep track of (not including Saul, David, and Solomon) and twenty years can go by in a matter of about three verses.

(It’s hard enough keeping track of four kids, let alone thirty-nine kings.)

But I had to try. So I went slow. I made notes. I compared 2 Chronicles verse by verse with 1 and 2 Kings. I fit in what prophet went where. I inserted some of the Psalms where theologians think they go. And I loved every minute of it. (I do kind of sort of love history though, as long as there’s no multiple-choice test involved, so I’d say that played in my favor.)

And when I came to Abijah or Abijam (depending on your translation), God was like, “No, you’re stopping here for today.” (He didn’t really say that. It was just one of those mornings a thought hit me so strongly, I couldn’t go on. Holy Spirit speaking? I think so.)

Abijah was the second king of Judah’s lengthy list. He only reigned three years. Probably taking the oath of office about 913 BC. 1 Kings 15:3 has this to say about him, “And he walked in all the sins that his father did before him, and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father.”

Hmmm, not exactly what you hope the Bible will say about you. So what were the sins of his father? Well, mainly idolatry. He led the people into the worship of false gods. Setting up high places and pillars and “Asherim on every high hill and under every green tree” (1 Kings 15:23). Asherim were probably wooden in nature. I’m picturing something tall and skinny carved in the form of a woman because it represented the goddess Asherah, wife of the chief god El and mother to the other gods.

Verse 24 says Abijah also allowed male cult prostitutes in the land. Lovely eh? This guy cared little for the LORD and his commands and ways and glory.

But if you jump over to 2 Chronicles 13 you realize Abijah had a whole different view of himself. While trying to entice the northern tribes to follow him instead of Jeroboam (the northern king), Abijah had this to say, “But as for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him. We have priests ministering to the LORD who are sons of Aaron, and Levites for the service. They offer to the LORD every morning and every evening burnt offerings and incense of sweet spices, set out the showbread on the table of pure gold, and care for the golden lampstand that its lamps my burn every evening. For we keep the charge of the LORD our God, but you have forsaken him” (2 Chron. 13:10-11).

Oh really Abijah. What about the high places? What about the Asherim? What about the male cult prostitutes? But because they kept the daily, weekly, and festival sacrifices, offered incense, set out the weekly bread, and took care of the lampstand (all things we’re going to study in Exodus), Abijah thought they were good.

Interesting. Look at the way he points the finger at Israel – “We keep the charge of the LORD our God, but you have forsaken him.” Not so Abijah. The charge of the LORD is to love him with all our heart and soul and might (Deuteronomy 6:5). Not possible when there is idolatry going on.

But it made me wonder, how many, especially in America today, are floatin’ in Abijah’s boat?

Oh I’m good, I go to church Christmas and Easter.

Oh I’m good, I went forward when I was a kid.

Oh I’m good, I say my prayers every night before bed. I give to a local charity. I do my best to love others.

All good things. But what about the heart? Look what the LORD had to say about their actions – “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6).

(Clear enough.)

So concerned is God about the heart he goes so far as to say to Israel, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you” (Ezekiel 36:26a). A new heart! Not because they deserved it but for the sake of God’s holy name, which Israel profaned among the nations by making God into a religion.

But God desires relationship. “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).

In other words, it’s not about the stuff my friends, it’s about the stuffing. What’s in you? Apostasy? Idolatry? Or a wholeness of heart devoted to God.

Ritual without faith based obedience is unacceptable to God. Sacrifice without faith based obedience is unacceptable to God. Worship without faith based obedience is unacceptable to God.

King Abijah thought he was good but God saw his heart and it “was not wholly true to the LORD his God” (1 Kings 15:3). Which begs the question, what would the Bible say about us? Or for that matter, about a nation who professes to know His name, but their hearts remain far from Him. (Sounds so vaguely familiar, doesn’t it?)

“Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry.” 1 Samuel 15:22-23a


My Father in Heaven, please forgive us. Help us to see it’s not about religion, but relationship. It’s not a list of do’s and don’ts. It’s a YES to Jesus because while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. In Jesus name, because he made a way, Amen.

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The Real Reason We’re Divided

My heart this week…

If only the world could understand it.

There’s only ever been two nations founded on godly, Biblical, principles. Israel and us (the United States). Both declaring themselves to be one nation under God.

Yet not long after Israel became a nation, it found itself divided into two kingdoms. Two sides. Two halves. Brother vs. brother fighting against each other.

Just as the United States, seems to find itself today. Still young (relatively speaking), brother vs. brother, divided over just about everything. (We could list it all but seriously who’s got time for that?)

But why? Why has our country divided? I think the answer lies with Israel.

It wasn’t because of politics Israel divided. It had nothing to do with the right verses the left. Nor was it because of health care costs. Israel found themselves divided for one reason and one reason only.

They forsook the LORD their God (1 Kings 11:31-34).

Worshiping false gods instead of the LORD. Refusing to walk in His ways. Replacing the commandments with whatever felt right in their own eyes.

Sound familiar? It sounds like today.

God says serve me, but we serve ourselves.

God says love me, but we love money and sex and Hollywood.

God says pray, but we say no.

God says “Be holy,” but we live in unrighteousness.

God says teach your children about me, but we’re too busy.

God says don’t take my name in vain, but we use it relentlessly.

And… (just to name one more)

God says flee sexual immorality but we’ve embraced it.

Which is what also led to Solomon’s downfall. The third and final king before Israel split.

“And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart had turned away from the LORD…Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this has been your practice and you have not kept my covenant and my statutes that I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom from you and will give it to your servant.” 1 Kings 11:9-11

But because of God’s promise to David, Solomon’s son (Rehoboam) got to keep one tribe.

Division. Not because of politics or policy but promiscuity.

Is it any wonder then, our nation is split two seams right down the middle and crumbling underneath? We’ve laid the welcome mat for sexual immorality on so many levels. And then excused it under the pretense of a television show or just one chapter in a book or the way I feel or the way I’m made.

We’ve turned a blind eye to idolatry; calling it necessity. We’ve taken truth and trampled it; calling it tolerance. We’ve sidled up next to murder; calling it women’s rights.

Well, it’s time we stop making excuses. It’s time we fess up. It’s time we wake up.

Israel divided because they did not wholeheartedly serve the LORD (1 Kings 11:6). And America? Well, it’s plain to see we’re no longer one nation under God.

And so we fight.

My friend, it’s not compromise we need. It’s not better policies. It’s not better protections for blacks or for whites. It’s Jesus we most need. It’s a common coming under of God’s word that will mend us back together. (Then the rest will take care of itself.)

Peace is not by way of men, it’s by way of Jesus. It’s by living for and with and under God’s divine and living and breathing Word.

“You are righteous, Lord, and your laws are right. The statutes you have laid down are righteous; they are fully trustworthy. My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words.” Psalm 119:137-139

Yet…

“Your promises have been thoroughly tested, and your servant loves them.” Psalm 119:140

Wholehearted obedience. That’s where it ended and that’s where it will yet begin again.

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Sometimes You Just Gotta Rest

In this crazy busy gotta-do-everything-right-now life we lead, seasons of rest seem to be less and less. So, I’m forcing myself to take one during the month of August. But don’t worry! I’ll be back. (I’m going to pretend you were worried.)

I’ve got some fun things lined up for the fall. Including a guest posts at (in)courage coming at ya on September 2nd and a free giveaway I’m working on with some other writers. It’s good stuff!

In the meantime, because I know how much you’re going to miss your weekly Deeper Devo, here’s a few of my favorites, from last year, to tide you over. (Hint, hint: They cover the life of Joseph.)

The Biggest Misunderstanding of God’s Love

When You Feel Disappointed with God

How to Navigate the Best Life Even Amidst the Worst of Circumstances

The Best Decision You’ll Ever Make

The First Step to Reconciliation

How We Move Past the Hurt and Heal

I appreciate you friend. Without your support (and the encouragement of Jesus of course), I probably would have quit this journey a while back. Will you do me a favor? Over the next month, will you share Deeper Devos with someone new? Muchas gracias! See you in a few weeks!

When the Pressure Is On, Do We Remember?

It’s no secret, I have a terrible memory. I’m not sure why. Partly I think it’s my lack of observation skills. You could tear a large building down. One I’ve driven by time and time again, and for the life of me, I’ll not be able to tell you what’s missing. “Well, hmmm, are there more wildflowers than usual?”


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 15:1-21
Key Verse: “The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation; this is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him.” Exodus 15:2


But it’s not just scenery I struggle to take note of. Lines from movies? Forget it, they don’t stick. Historical facts? Let’s just say I’m the last person you want on a trivia team. Names of people at church? I really don’t want to go here. Incidents from high school? I’m beginning to wonder if I was even there. (Okay, maybe it’s not that bad. But can we avoid the specifics please?)

I’d like to blame it on pregnancy and lack of sleep and the craziness that comes with being a mother of four. Because let’s be honest, there’s a lot to keep track! Like the last time they each bathed. (Was it Monday? Or was it Saturday? Oh dear, was it Saturday?)

But really, I think I just have a bad memory. And apparently, so did the Israelites.

They’d seen God administer ten miraculous plagues, marched safely away from their captors with the wealth of Egypt on their backs, and crossed the Red Sea with a wall of water on their right and their left. Then they watched as God pummeled one of the strongest military forces in the world (at that time) into the depths of the sea.

To say they’d seen a lot, would be an understatement. Clearly the LORD was on their side and now the entire world knew it. (Or at least all the parts of the world that mattered to Israel.) And the Israelites, safe and free on the other side of the Red Sea, knew it too.

Filled with gratitude and awe for the God who’d just delivered them from captivity, they sang a song of praise, declaring all the things they now knew of the LORD. Let’s look…

Verse 1: Man’s best defense is no match for God’s dominion.  “For he has triumphed gloriously.” Pharaoh’s army was state of the art. With the best equipment, the latest and greatest chariots, the strongest horses – yet they were nothing compared to the LORD. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Ps. 20:7). (The perfect verse for the Israelite’s, don’t you think?)

Verse 3: “The LORD is a man of war.” He doesn’t sit back and let the enemy win. He is a God of justice who fights for his people and delivers them. “The LORD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation” (v.2). (Truly, He had.)

Verse 6: His right hand is “glorious in power,” shattering the enemy. (They watched it happen. They knew He could do it.)

Verse 7: “In the greatness of your majesty you overthrow your adversaries,” consuming them like stubble. (Remember stubble from Exodus 5? When the Israelite’s were sent out to gather their own straw, they scurried about the land of Egypt gathering stubble for straw.) He is a God who pays attention my friend. He is a God of retribution.

Verse 11: There is no one like the LORD. He is “majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deed, doing wonders.” (He is in the business of doing wonders.)

Verse 13: His love is steadfast. He guides with his great strength, not to a place of forlorn isolation, but unto his “holy abode.” He frees His people to draw them near. (Is that not amazing?)

Verses 14-16: The neighboring nations have heard and tremble at the greatness of God. “All the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away.” And they did! Remember what Rahab said to the spies, “For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea…and as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted and there was no spirit left in any man because of you” (Josh. 2:10-11). (And that was forty years later.)

Verse 17: God would faithfully bring the people in and plant them on his own mountain. (Israel knew this was God’s plan.)

Verse 18: And there “the LORD will reign forever and ever.” (No one and nothing could change that.)

These are the verses Israel sang loud and proud beside the Red Sea. These are the things they knew to be true of God. They knew there was no God like Him. They knew nothing could stand against Him.

Yet a year later, at the edge of Canaan, faced with a report that the land was good but the people were big and fierce, they forgot the truths they’d sung. They forgot who stood on their side. They forgot the works God had done. They forgot who it was that fought for them.

Oh how quickly we can be a people that forget! And oh how devastating is the result when we don’t take the time to remember! He is God and we are not. Remember when He saved us? Remember when He drew us out of the pit and brought us near? Remember when He filled us with His Spirit? A spirit “not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1:7).

Have we forgotten who He is? Have we forgotten He’s called us to a life of holiness? Have we forgotten the victory we have in Christ? Have we grown fearful and timid at the report of the enemy?

May we always remember who it is we serve and the great and mighty works He has already done. Not to mention the works still to come! Because He who promised is faithful and He will raise us up on the last day to be with Him in the land of promise forever.

So don’t be afraid of the enemy, even when they do look bigger and stronger. For they melt away at the mere thought of Christ. Remember and stand strong, for it’s the LORD who is on our side.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What truths are you going to focus on today? When the enemy hits, will you remember?
What tactics can you use to remember the truths of God’s Word, not just during a crisis, but in the quiet of day by day?

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When God Gives a New Song to Sing

On any given Sunday, you’ll find congregations of people around the world singing songs to the LORD. Beautiful songs with lyrics like, “Show us your glory.” “Open the eyes of my heart, LORD.” “Draw me close to you.” Raising our hands in sincerity to a God we know rules on high, we sing loud and with conviction.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 14
Key Verse: “The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” Psalm 118:14


But then Monday comes. Or Wednesday or Friday. And life goes a little askew. Hard things happen. Things we don’t quite understand. Overwhelming things. Unfair things. Things that take us by surprise.

And with no thought to what we just sang on Sunday, we wonder why is this happening? Why is God allowing this? I do my best to serve Him and this is what I get? Upset we lose site of an important truth we see throughout the Bible.

It’s often in the difficult things we best see His glory and come to know Him more.

But I’m not pointing fingers! When I’m up to my neck in circumstances, it’s not generally the splendor of my Savior I’m most concerned about. It’s my survival. Though I know I’d have more peace if I’d simply focus on the Savior.

Just as Israel would have if they’d looked to God when stuck between Migdol and the sea. Strategically speaking, they were doomed. With the sea on one side and the Egyptian army fast approaching on the other, things had suddenly taken a turn for the terrible.

When they looked up, it wasn’t the pillar of cloud they saw. It wasn’t God’s presence they focused on. It was an angry Pharaoh. Who’d sought counsel with his advisors and realized maybe it wasn’t such a good idea he’d just let his entire workforce go. After all, they had a nation to rebuild!

“So he [Pharaoh] made ready his chariot and took his army with him, and took six hundred chosen chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them” (v. 7).

With every Egyptian chariot locked and loaded and headed straight for them, I can’t totally blame the Israelites for their over the top reaction.

Scared out of their newly tied sandals, “They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness” (v. 11-12).

(Sounds like one of those dramatic speeches I hear from my children when I tell them we’re doing chores Saturday morning. “No, it’s not fair! It would have been better for me to have school today than break my arm vacuuming.”)

You’ll be fine.

Which in short, is the same speech Moses gave Israel. Except a little more valiant. “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today…The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be still.” (v. 13). (Perhaps I’ll break into this speech next time my little loves complain.)

But in all seriousness, Moses gets major points here. Though his blood pressure had to be off the charts, he pointed the people to Jesus. Reminding them, it’s God who’s in charge. It’s God who fights for you. (Remember all those plagues you just witnessed?)

But keep in mind, Moses didn’t know either how God was going to get them out of this little predicament. Not until God told him anyway! “Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground” (v. 15-16).

Ohhhh, so that’s how you’re going to get us out of this.

Then the angel of God (Jesus) who had been leading the way, went behind the people. (Reminds me of the verse, “You hem me in behind and before.” Psalm 139:5) And of course the pillar of cloud went also, because Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory. Providing light on one side so the Israelite’s could see and cross safely. (Literally, a light unto their path – Psalm 119:105). And darkness on the other so the Egyptian’s could see nothing as Moses raised his staff and the people crossed.

What a night! Could they see the fish in the walls of water? How tall was it? What did it sound like? An unimaginable experience, not even their sandals were muddy. God, in kindness, dried the ground for his people! Allowing each one of them to cross in safety before lifting the cloud so the Egyptians would follow in after, only to be swept away by a sudden, massive deluge of water.

“The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen; of all the host of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea, not one of them remained” (v. 28). “Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians” (v. 30).

Giving them a new song to sing! (See Exodus 15.) “I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously; the horse and the rider he has thrown into the sea” (15:1).

But they didn’t stop there. The Psalms are full of songs regarding this incident.

Psalm 66: 5-6 “Come and see what God has done; he is awesome in his deeds toward the children of man. He turned the sea into dry land; they passed through the river on foot. There did we rejoice in him.”

Psalm 77:19 “Your way was through the sea, your path through the great waters; yet your footprints were unseen.”

Psalm 106:1-2, 9 “Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever! Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD, or declare all his praise? He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry, and he led them through the deep as through a desert.”

And that’s just a sampling. There’s more!

My friend, to see God at work and experience the helping hand of the Almighty we may need to walk through some tough stuff. Sometimes he may part the waters. Other times, he may not. But if we look to Jesus, either way, He’ll walk us through it. And in the end, we’ll have a new song to sing! One that if shared could be sung for generations to come, both now and in eternity.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
When have you seen God powerfully work in your life? Did He give you a new song to sing?
If you were to write a new song today, what would the first line be?

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The Kindness of God Israel Missed. Have We Missed it Too?

God is so kind. Have you figured that out yet? Instead of leading the people into a battle with the Philistines they #1 weren’t ready for and #2 weren’t prepared for, He led them south. Yet I wonder how many Israelite’s mistook God’s kindness as an act of stupidity. “Why in the world are we going this way?” “This is ridiculous.” “The most direct route is over there.”


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 13:17-22

Key Verse: “By a pillar of cloud you led them in the day, and by a pillar of fire in the night to light for them the way in which they should go.” Nehemiah 9:12


I can almost hear the murmurs. Can you? Mostly because I know I’ve said something similar. Or perhaps it was more like. “You know, if I were running this show, we’d be doing things MUCH differently.” (Guilty again.)

Nonetheless, out of kindness, God took them south. Leading the people with a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night. Anyone else a little curious what that looked like? Did it reach to heaven? Could you see at the back of the pack? I imagine so. Since it says pillar I’m picturing something tall and skinny that during the day spread out at the bottom like a huge cloud to cover the people from the hot desert sun. (Again, kindness.)

Psalm 105:39 says, “He spread a cloud for a covering, and fire to give light by night.” Protection at all hours of the day! The people, though in a land they didn’t recognize, were never without a visible manifestation of God’s presence.

At the completion of the tabernacle God’s glory in the form of cloud and fire then settled into the Holy of Holies. Exodus 40:38 says, “For the cloud of the LORD was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.” If the cloud lifted the people knew it was time to pack up and move again. But if the cloud stayed put, the people stayed put.

They never had to question when or where to move. They never had to wonder if God was with them. They never had to debate the glory or existence of the eternal God. He was right there!

God could have just privately told Moses where to go, but instead, in kindness, He made His presence known.

A picture to us of the Holy Spirit today. Who out of kindness, has been given to us as a helper to guide our steps; to show us which way to go; to counsel us in the ways of the word; to comfort and protect. Though not visible, the Holy Spirit is a manifestation of God’s presence in every believer so we don’t have to go this journey alone. Or question the existence of the eternal God because He’s always and forever right here!

Do you see it? The similarities between the pillar of cloud/fire and the Holy Spirit are many.

1. The “cloud” was not given to Israel until after the lamb had been slain, just as it was not until after Christ had been crucified, resurrected, and ascended that the Holy Spirit was given. (1 Peter 4:14 – But now we can say “the spirit of glory and of God rests on us.”)

2. The “cloud” was a merciful and gracious gift to Israel. Nowhere does it indicate that the people asked God for a “cloud” to guide them. And nowhere in the New Testament does it indicate that the apostles asked for the great Comforter to be given to them. It is God’s daily gift to us.

3. Just like the cloud was a covering over Israel, so is the Holy Spirit a covering over us. Protecting us from the evil one and sealing us for the day of redemption (Eph. 1:13-14).

4. It was from within the cloud that the LORD spoke to Israel (Psalm 99:7; Ex. 33:9; Num. 12:5). Just as it’s by way of the Holy Spirit God speaks to believers. Instructing us in the way of truth. John 14:26 says, “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”

5. The “cloud” was with Israel until they reached the promised land. And so too is the Holy Spirit with every believer until we reach heaven. God didn’t remove his presence when the Israelite’s failed or rebelled and neither does he remove his presence from us. Purchased by the blood of the Lamb, it’s a done deal. Jesus said in John 6:37, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.”

Just as God was with Israel day in and day out, so is He today with every one of His children, day in and day out. The question is, will we listen? Will we pay attention? Will we follow? Or like the Israelites will the manifestation of God’s presence come to mean nothing to us?

A year later (give or take), standing at the edge of the Promised Land, the pillar of cloud and fire having lead them every step of the way, the Israelites grumbled in their tents saying, “Because the LORD hated us he has brought us out of the land of Egypt, to give us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.” (Deut. 1:27).

Never mind God’s kindness to us thus far. Never mind His constant presence. God must hate us because the people are like giants in the land of Canaan and the cities are too big! Ever been there? At the corner of bleak and uncertainty, a little dumbfounded as to why God would bring you here, to this place, at this point in your life?

Like the Israelite’s, in overwhelming situations, we’re often quick to forget the Holy Spirit is still guiding, still helping, still comforting, still protecting. And instead of looking up to the pillar of cloud still standing tall over the top of us we look down, overcome by worry at what might lie ahead.

If the Israelite’s had taken a moment to remember God’s kindness, seeking comfort in God’s presence, instead of sinking in their circumstances, I think the story would have turned out much differently. Yes, it was the pillar of cloud that lead the Israelite’s into the wilderness, but it was their sin that kept them there. God was ready to go, but they weren’t willing to follow.

Are we? With the Holy Spirit ever with us, guiding, comforting, helping, protecting, will we go where God calls? Or will we stay put? Forgetting all about His kindness and the promise of His presence no matter where life leads.

Psalm 105:37 says when the LORD brought the people out of Egypt, “there was none among his tribes who stumbled.” Lead by God, under His watch, not one fell on the rough terrain. Likewise Jude 24 says, “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,” be all the glory!

God’s got this! In kindness, He’s given us His spirit to guide us. He alone can keep us from stumbling. The question is, are we willing to follow?

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What similarities do you see between the pillar of cloud/fire and the Holy Spirit?
How have you seen God’s kindness in your life?
Faced with difficult circumstances when have you been willing to follow and when have you not?

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So You’ve Been Redeemed, Now What?

And they’re off! All 600,000 men, plus women and children. Perhaps making our grand total of Israelite’s hittin’ the road between two and three million. It’s only a guess, we won’t argue about it. But keep in mind Exodus 1 said God multiplied them greatly. And Moses says to the people in Deuteronomy 10:22, “Your Fathers went down to Egypt seventy persons, and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.”


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 12:37-13:16
Key Verse: “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the age has come.” 1 Corinthians 10:11


Can you imagine the potty stops with all those people? This was some caravan. Laden with the treasury of Egypt, did they have carts to pull and wagons to pile their stuff in or did they carry it all?

According to Exodus 3:22 they were to have their sons and daughters wear the jewelry they’d acquired. Perhaps here is where we get the phrase “travel in style.” Those kids were looking good. With moms and dads keeping close watch on their littles, I imagine an air of excitement permeated the people.

“Can you believe we’re doing this?”
“I never thought it’d happen!”
“Joseph, slow down, wait for mommy” (Oh you know there was some of that.)

Fresh off the heels of God’s deliverance, I’d say they were happy to carry their kneading bowls of unleavened bread on their shoulders. Shifting baskets of goods from one hip to another. “Don’t worry about it, we’re free!” I’d have been giddy – a fresh start before me.

Like we often are when someone comes to Christ. Freed from the grip of sin, granted new life in Christ, we celebrate, don’t we? We hug and cry tears of joy, exhaling big sighs of relief that our dear friend is now a sister in Christ. And they, cleansed, made new, indwelt by the Holy Spirit, experience a fresh start.

But then what? Usually it doesn’t take long and we (they) are back to reality. Oh yeah, I’m still a sinner. The Christian walk a little more taxing than we thought, we grumble. We grow weary. We sit down. We question. We waiver. We doubt. (See any of that in the book of Exodus? Um, yes.)

Because their story of redemption, echoes ours not only in the rescuing part, but in the journey also. So by stepping back and looking at Israel’s ride, we can gain a better understanding of not only God’s expectations for us. (And His love and patience.) But it also offers a glimpse of what might be waiting for us over the horizon. 1 Corinthians 10:11 says, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction.”

Specifically, I see five takeaways in today’s passage:

  1. The Feast of Unleavened Bread was immediate.

Directly following the Passover (the night of their redemption) came the Feast of Unleavened bread. From the fourteenth through the twenty-first of the month of Abib, they were to eat nothing with yeast to commemorate their Egyptian exodus. “For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses” (Ex. 12:19).

Yeast or leaven often a picture of sin in Scripture, Jesus told the disciples to be careful of the leaven of the Pharisees (Matthew 16:6). (Because a little bit of sin can permeate the whole batch of dough. You get the idea.)  But what got me here is the timing of the feast. It started the day of Passover. Not a few days later or two months down the road, but that day. A picture to us of immediately, in Christ, leaving our life of sin behind. Not next month or two years from now. But at the point of salvation, having been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, we’re called to live a righteous, holy life.

  1. God took them the long way.

Verse 37 says, “The people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth.” Away from the land of the Philistines, though that would have been the shortest route (Ex. 13:17). Then from Succoth they went to Etham and then turned back to Pi-hahiroth (Ex. 14:2), where they found themselves in a bit of a pickle. But it was there between the Sea and an approaching Egyptian army (because Pharaoh had changed his mind), that they experienced one of the most remarkable miracles of all time – the parting of the Red Sea.

Ever feel like God’s taking you the long way? Uh-huh. Yet just like with Israel, maybe he’s protecting us from a battle we aren’t prepared to fight. (They weren’t ready to face the Philistines.) Or maybe he’s leading you to a place where his power and protection and providence will be so evident, like the parting of the Red Sea, you’ll praise him for it the rest of your life. Keep in mind the route made no sense to Israel, but made perfect sense to God.

  1. They were told to remember.

“This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast” (Ex. 12:14). Remembering was everything. If they forgot, they’d turn away. So, from the get-go they were told to celebrate annually the Passover and Feast of Unleavened bread.

We’re not to forget either. Meeting together on Sunday’s, we remember. Partaking in communion, we remember. Annually celebrating the resurrection at Easter, we remember. Or do we? Distracted by the music we don’t like or the events going on later that day or Aunt Margaret’s comment to me last year at the Easter gather, do we remember?

  1. They were to consecrate to God all the firstborn.

Whether it was an animal or a child, the firstborn belonged to God. The firstborn acting as a representative of each one to come after, it established God’s ownership over a family. How’d they do this? Well, if it was a firstborn ox, sheep, or goat, it was sacrificed on the altar. But if it was a donkey or a child, a lamb was offered in its place. (Anyone else find it interesting we’re in the same category as donkeys? Both stubborn, both unclean – the only answer is a substitute!)

Later on, in Numbers 18 the redemption price for a firstborn son was set at five shekels of silver. (Joseph and Mary even paid this for Jesus.) A reminder to every set of new parents that they’re kids belonged to God. Today we might do a baby dedication at church, and the idea is the same. The key is to follow through with it, trusting that God loves our kids even more than we do.

  1. The enemy wasn’t far behind.

Fresh out of the gate and who was behind them? Pharaoh and the hosts of Egypt. A vivid reminder there’s an active enemy out there, pursuing us with all they’ve got. 1 Peter 5:8 says “Be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

So what do we do? We stand firm in our faith (1 Peter 5:9). Because just like God showed up for Israel, he’ll show up for us. Restoring, confirming, strengthening, and establishing us in Christ (1 Peter 5:10).

The parallels are many my friend, but the promises are more. So don’t lose heart – take heart. Jesus will walk us through it. Just like He did, hour by hour, day by day, with Israel.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What parallels do you see between Israel’s journey out of Egypt and the Christian life?
Which parallel are you dealing with right now?
What promise can you hold onto to make sure you are standing firm in the faith?

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It’s Not What We Have, It’s How We Use It

It was done. The LORD passed over as he’d said and just like that the 10th plague was finished. The firstborn of every Israelite family was still safe, alive, and covered by the blood of the lamb. While the Egyptians, stunned, heartbroken, scared, mourned the loss of theirs. The death of their loved ones not necessarily a quiet passing, it says the Egyptians cried out in the night. Along with Pharaoh, who now faced life apart from his oldest boy.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 12:29-36
Key Verse: “The people of Israel had also done as Moses told them, for they had asked the Egyptians for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing.” Exodus 12:35


The loss more than he could handle, Pharaoh called in Moses and Aaron while it was still dark. “Get out of here. Go, all of you. Your flocks, your herds, your little ones. Leave. And bless me on your way out!” (My paraphrase.)

At last, they heard the word they’d been waiting for! “Go!” The Israelite’s after 430 years were free! Redeemed! No longer slaves in a foreign land, but God’s chosen people on their way to the Promised Land.

Walking away from the only life they’d ever known, with no time to prepare. The exodus so sudden, not even their cakes of dough had time to rise (v. 39). But it didn’t matter because the LORD was on watch that night (v. 42). They’d be fine, this was God’s will and He was with them. (A point I’d do well to remember when life surprises me, giving me little time to prepare.)

But they certainly weren’t leaving empty handed. Instructed to ask the Egyptians “for silver and gold jewelry and for clothing” (12:35), they had plenty. In fact, they were rich! The Egyptians more than a little afraid of the Israelites by this point, gave abundantly and gave freely. So much so, verse 36 says they plundered the Egyptians.

Can you imagine that conversation? “Hey, can I have your gold?” Or was it, “Oh by the way, I’d like your valuables. And that blue fabric back there – I’ll take that too.” Or maybe the shyer type took the lighter approach, “So I was thinkin’ maybe you could give me your valuables?” No matter how you state it, sounds awkward doesn’t it?

Yet the Israelites were told to ask. Specifically, the women, according to Exodus 4:22, “But each woman shall ask of her neighbor…for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing.” Fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham hundreds of years prior to bring his descendants out the land of their affliction “with great possessions” (Gen. 15:14). Another example to us that God never forgets a promise.

But the gold and silver spilling out of their pockets was more than just a fulfilled promise, it was a visible demonstration of God’s justice. Back wages, if you will, for their years of unpaid service. Not a day of injustice went by that God didn’t see and calculate. A refreshing thought, isn’t it?

It’s also a picture for us of the riches we gain at the point of salvation. Keep in mind the overall picture being developed in Exodus is Christ’s ability to redeem all people, not just the Israelite’s. And when He does, he grants us gifts. #1 Lavishing us with every spiritual blessing, “according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7). #2 Sealing us “with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it” (Eph 1:7, 13-14). #3 Filling us each with spiritual gifts. Ephesians 4:8 says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”

Gifts like teaching, serving, encouraging, leading. Or mercy, wisdom, faith. (There’s more. God’s creative. This is not an exhaustive list.) In the first century church, there was also the gifts of healing, miraculous powers, the speaking of tongues, and the discerning thereof. Which God used to confirm the truth of His message. (Now we have the Bible to do that.)

In addition, James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.” And I’ve got a lot of those! The point is, our pockets are just as full as theirs were! But the question is, what will we do with it all?

The Israelite’s chose well when they used their abundance of riches to build the Tabernacle. They gave freely and without restraint. Each one more than willing to handover the wealth I’m sure they’d come to cherish. In fact, they gave so much, Moses told them to stop!

Hearts overflowing with gratitude for the salvation they neither earned nor achieved, the Israelite’s used what they’d been given for God’s purposes. Their willingness a notable example to us of using our gifts for God’s glory. Building up and enhancing his kingdom, instead of our own. Keeping in mind if it weren’t for God, we’d have none of it.

But the pouring back of our gifts, the using them for God’s purposes and not our own, is not our natural bent. What if we need that money? What if we could use our talents for something beyond the church? A thought that if we’re honest, floats in and out of our minds. But the blessing of using what we have for God’s glory, will always far outweigh the blessing of using it for our own.

What I can gain now, is no comparison to what I can gain later. Besides, using the gifts God’s given me for my own purposes, doesn’t typically lead to good places.

Unsure if Moses would ever come down from the mountain, it was only a matter of weeks before the Israelite’s reached into their gold laden pockets to make a calf to worship. Using the gifts God had given them for their own satisfaction resulting in a fast and furious walk down the path of sin!

Igniting God’s anger. (He sent a plague.) Putting them at risk of attack. (Ever considered how sin puts us at risk of attack by the enemy?) And causing division. It’s at this point the Levite’s were separated from the rest of the nation as God’s ordained priests. But the original plan was for everyone to be a priest.

Because of Israel’s choice to serve their own desires, they missed out on some serious blessing.

To whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). But we don’t sweat it. Just as God never missed a day of injustice, neither does he miss a day of offering given in His name. “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do” (Heb. 6:10).

Our pockets are plum full. Overflowing actually. The question isn’t, do we have anything to give? The question is, what will we do with what we’ve been given?

The choice is ours. Choose wisely.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What gifts has God given you that you can use for His glory?
How are you currently using the gifts God’s given you?

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