7 Evidences God is Good (Found in the Most Unlikely of Places)

“God is good.” Have you said it? Perhaps on the heels of a promotion or a problem solved or a pleasant night with family or friends, you’ve felt the words swell in your heart until it broke through on your lips.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20:13-21
Key Verse: “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore he instructs sinners in the way.” Psalm 25:8


Nothing wrong with that! I praise the LORD alongside you for his kindness toward mankind. Though it’s not our circumstances that make God good. It’s not the outcome of a situation that determines God’s virtue. He is good with or without us. He is good whether we’re happy or sad. Whether our dreams come true or crumble to pieces.

All the time, His steadfast goodness pours forth, in ways we can’t even comprehend. Even amid the Ten Commandments, His goodness shines brightly. Though on the surface, it may not seem like it with a list of “you shall not’s” a mile long.

A list that reads like this: “You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s” (Ex. 20:13-17).

Phew! And if that isn’t enough, Jesus took each of these rules a step further by making it not just a command of action but of heart.

“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” Matthew 5:21-22

And then He went on…

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Matthew 5:27-28

It’s condemning, isn’t it? How can any man live that perfectly? The answer is, we can’t. It will never happen. It’s impossible to measure up to God’s perfect standards. Which is why salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and not by works of the law (Galatians 2:16).

(Our first evidence that He is good.)

But we should still try. Because God’s law is not just a list of “shall not’s” for the sake of making life hard on us, but as a parent sets rules for a child, they are there for our protection! Take the sixth commandment for example, “You shall not murder.”  Not only is it flat out wrong to unjustly take the life of another, but the hatred that comes first will ruin anyone who embarks on such a path.

And the envy and anger and bitterness that comes before the hatred will eat you alive. Holding you captive. Keeping you from a life of peace and joy. Therefore God said, “Don’t even think about it.” Not because He’s mean but because He’s loving. Caring so much about the life we’re living He gave us the stipulations necessary to live well. Making the sixth commandment more than just a command not to murder, but a protection over life, the very life we’re living right now. (Our second piece of evidence that God is good.)

(Side Note: If it’s not okay for us to do it, then why is it okay for us to watch it on TV? Just a little something to think about.)

But what about the seventh commandment, “You shall not commit adultery,” can we see God’s goodness there? You better believe it. It’s God who gave us marriage. It’s God who brought the first man and woman together. (Evidence enough in my opinion.) Establishing an intimacy so deep and fragile it’s to be guarded with a valid effort.

An effort that involves not even looking on another with lust. Because if you do – it’s like pouring gasoline all over a dry wheat field and then waiting for the lightning to strike. And God knows the lightning will strike. And it will hurt. And it will leave you scarred and broken. So don’t even look He says. Guard your mind and heart and body. Give it only to the one you’ve pledged your life to because the alternative is crushing.

Then the eighth, “You shall not steal.” With God over everything, there’s no need to take from another. He is the provider. So stealing is not just a sin against a brother, it’s a lack of trust in the Almighty and a pitfall to much worse. Like pride for example. By taking what rightfully belongs to someone else we place ourselves in the seat of God. For if all things are His, is it not His right to determine who they belong to?

Therefore, the eight commandment is not just a protection of property but a protection against pride. Against falling into a pit so deep we’re not sure which way is up. Only a good God would give us such a parameter. (Offering us our fourth piece of evidence.)

But what about the ninth, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” Does it declare God’s goodness too? When viewed in light of what it protects, which is truth, relationships and integrity, His goodness regarding the ninth commandment cannot be denied. In reality, it’s a protection against falling prey to the father of lies (John 8:44). It’s a push to live in step with a God who is truth (John 14:6). (Our fifth piece of evidence.)

Then we come to the tenth. “You shall not covet.” Do you know what this really is? It’s the secret to a happy life. Stuff does not bring joy. It does not lead to satisfaction; it leads to emptiness. But “godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Timothy 6:6). To be content with what you have is to possess a peaceful heart. And could there be any greater earthly possession? (Other than the certainty of eternal life of course.)

And you know, God didn’t have to share that secret with us. But He did. Giving us our sixth piece of evidence today that God is indeed good.

As a loving parent does, God set the rules, though he knew we’d break them.  He knew we’d fall short. But instead of punishing us as we deserve, He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to take the punishment for us. To bear the iniquity that is ours. And that my friend is our seventh piece of evidence. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom. 5:8) And there is no greater evidence of His goodness than that.

A goodness independent of my circumstances. Independent of my good days and bad. Unchanging in nature. Unyielding. A goodness able to soften even the hardest of hearts. Indeed, God is good my friend. Indeed, He is good.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
How do you generally view God’s commands, as parameters with a purpose, or as a bunch of rules that zap all the fun out of life?
Do you truly believe God is good all the time? Why or why not?

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5 Reasons You May Not Have Thought of to Discipline Your Child

Parenting is HARD. There’s no clocking out. There’s no “I’m tired of this job. I think I’ll look for a new one.” There’s not even sick days for cryin’ out loud. It’s all day, every day. Holidays. Breaks. Nights Weekends. It’s tiring. So believe me, I get it. I can barely make it into bed at night. Which translates to not washing my face. Which means eventually my skin is going to look like something along the lines of an elephant’s ankle. (It’s a good thing God made me a writer.)


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20:12
Key Verse: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” Exodus 20:12


And you better believe I will blame my children! (Do you see these wrinkles? You put them there!) (Just kidding.) (Maybe.)

But tiredness is not a Biblically mandated excuse for not doing my job as a parent. Actually, there are no excuses. “Children obey your parents” – the fifth commandment – yeah, it’s on us.

(Side note: If you’re just joining us we’ve been making our way through the book of Exodus and we’re currently in chapter 20 – The Ten Commandments. Click HERE if you’d like to go back and start with the first commandment. Or click HERE if you are in need of a laugh and would like to read my take on motherhood. Or click HERE if you’d like to subscribe and never miss another Deeper Devo. I don’t promise all fun, all the time. But I do promise honesty and truth and a deeper look at the Scriptures. Or feel free to ignore me, and just keep reading. I ignore me all the time.)

Anyway, my job as a parent isn’t to make my children happy. It’s not even to successfully get them through another day. (Though I do see that as a nice byproduct.) No, my job as a parent is to raise responsible God-fearing adults.

And the bottom line is, they aren’t going to get there on their own. For some reason we’ll go through great pains to train a puppy but our kids? Eh, they’ll catch on eventually. (No they won’t.) We have to teach them to do so. We have to, dare I say it, discipline. There, I said it.

And here, my friend, are five reasons to motivate us to do so…           

  1. It shows them love.

I know it sounds like the opposite of love, but discipline is a facet love. Which is why God says he disciplines those whom He loves (His children).

Proverbs 13:24 “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”

Proverbs 3:11-12 “My son, do not despise the LORD’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the LORD reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights.”

So to NOT discipline my children is to NOT love them to the best of my ability. I do them a disservice every time they do wrong and I choose to ignore it.

Proverbs 29:15 “The rod and reproof gives wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.”

To discipline (in an appropriate and loving manner mind you) is to teach them the way to life, but to not discipline is to put them on a path of futility.

Proverbs 12:1 “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” (Sometimes the Bible just says it like it is.)

  1. You will gain their respect.

I respect those who say they’re going to do something and then do it. And you know what, it’s the same with our kids. When we follow through with expectations – it harbors respect in their hearts.

Hebrews 12:9 “Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live?”

But when we don’t follow through. When we lack consistency. When we lay the boundaries out and they choose to cross them, yet no consequences follow, they may be relieved in the moment but with time, respect will wane because we didn’t mean what we said.

Proverbs 29:17 “Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to you heart.” Because his/her respect will run deep.

  1. It shows them the Father.

Hebrews 12:6 “For the Lord disciples the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.”

If God disciplines those he loves because they are his sons and daughters, yet we don’t discipline our children, what does that teach them? Honestly, I’m afraid to answer. But I know one thing, it certainly doesn’t mimic the LORD.

God is not mean. We’re not to be mean. God is love and in his goodness, corrects (when necessary) with discipline. Not to get back at us. Not to make us sad but for the purpose of keeping us on a path that will give us the best life possible. And don’t we want the same for our kids?

  1. It reveals the Father in them.

Hebrews 12:10 says God disciplines us for our good, “that we may share his holiness.”

Discipline is character training.

Proverbs 23:13-14 (NLT) says, “Don’t fail to discipline your children. The rod of punishment won’t kill them. Physical discipline may well save them from death.”

Because left to ourselves we won’t walk in the light, as God is in the light. We’ll walk in the ways of darkness. A path I don’t want for my children!

Proverbs 22:15 says, “Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him.”

It’s not natural for our kids to do what’s right. In fact, it’s not natural for any of us. (“The heart is deceitful above all things.” – Jeremiah 17:9) Which is why over and over in Scripture we’re instructed to “Abide in Him.” “Take every thought captive.” “Flee from evil.” If the Apostle Paul struggled to do what is right and not wrong, how much more will our kids?

So we discipline, that they too might be imitators of God (Ephesians 5:1).

  1. In the end, it will bring them joy.

We all want our kids to be happy right? We want what’s best for them. But what’s best for them is what’s best for us – living within God’s parameters. Not so we’ll be confined, but so we’ll thrive!

Proverbs 6:23 “For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.”

And the way of life, leads to blessing!

Psalm 94:12 “Blessed is the man whom you discipline, O LORD, and who you teach out of your law.”

Job 5:17 “Behold, blessed is the one whom God reproves; therefore despise not the discipline of the Almighty.”

The word blessed means happy. Why is the person who is disciplined happy? Because discipline leads to righteousness, which leads to blessing, which leads to joy. And oh my do I want my kids to be happy!

As you ponder these truths remember this – “For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” (Hebrews 12:11)

It may seem hard now, but here’s the promise. Later, it will yield fruit of righteousness. And that my friend, is enough reason for me.

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The Sanctity of Sunday: Does It Really Matter?

If you want to push my buttons, and I mean really push my buttons, then all you have to do is tell me all soccer games will be played Sunday afternoons (which I’m not too excited about anyway). And then go and schedule a game for 10:15 on a Sunday morning. My fuse will light faster than a torch in a hay loft.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20:8-11
Key Verse: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” Exodus 20:8


Because excuse me, there are still people in this world who GO TO CHURCH. Which is exactly what I told our local soccer club in the nicest but most straight forward way I could; with smoke blowing out my ears and all engines on red.

Sadly, in a society rapidly straying from God, Sunday is no longer a day set aside for rest and worship, but merely the second day of an already too short weekend.

But God (two of my favorite words by the way) didn’t set the pattern of six days of work and one day of rest just for kicks and giggles. He intended it as a gift. A gift I’m afraid we’ve gone and shoved back in His face. (Present company included.)

He mandated the idea with Israel through the fourth commandment. “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gate” (Ex. 20:8-10).

Then the LORD goes on to say why he’s giving such a command. “For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Ex. 20:11).

In other words, here’s the pattern, now follow my example. Not just because it was best for their bodies to take a break and have a breather. But by doing so it identified the Israelites with the true Creator of heaven and earth, the LORD God Almighty.

This was His story. He’d made the earth and heavens and all that is within them in six days and rested on the seventh. Therefore, His people were to do the same that the world might know the Israelites didn’t depend on Ra the sun god, or Baal or Asherah, or any other false Canaanite god they’d be introduced to in the years to come but in the LORD God. The one who created everything in six days and rested on the seventh.

It was about identity.

And boy was God serious about this. Just before handing Moses the tablets of stone with the law written on them, God says to him, “You are to speak to the people of Israel and say, ‘Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths…Everyone who profanes it shall be put to death.’” (Ex. 31:13-14).

Above all else, God said, they were to keep the Sabbaths holy. Now that’s saying something. I probably would have chosen a different commandment to highlight. Like the first one. “Above all else…you shall have no other gods before me.”

But God knew their obedience to the other commandments hinged on this one. If they kept the Sabbath they would serve Him above all other gods. If they kept the Sabbath they would serve Him in the right way. If they kept the Sabbath they would be careful to respect His name. They would teach their children accordingly and they would strive to love their neighbors as themselves.

It all hinged here, with the Sabbath. Because it’s with the Sabbath they remembered who they were and who God was and what He had done for them. And remembering is the catalyst to obedience.

Deuteronomy 5:15 says, “You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.”

The pendulum of their commitment to God hung right here with whether or not they kept the Sabbath.

“Therefore the people of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, observing the Sabbath throughout their generations, as a covenant forever” (Ex. 31:16).

Yet Israel didn’t keep the Sabbath. And so they didn’t remember and chose instead to identify themselves with Baal and Asherah and other false gods. Ultimately, there worship went elsewhere.

Now we could sit and argue about whether or not as Christians today we’re still mandated to keep the Sabbath by way of the LORD’s day, Sunday, the day Christ arose from the dead. We could agree to disagree about what kinds of things we should or should not do on Sundays. We could look down our noses on those who work or do things we don’t agree with.

Or we could set aside the arguments of what and when and how and consider the why. Why God gave it to Israel in the first place. Recognizing it was for their good and His glory. It was so they’d remember and identify themselves with Him.

And then maybe we’d realize setting aside Sunday as the LORD’s day does the same thing for us. Going to church every week isn’t just for kicks and giggles. Setting that time aside, making it a priority no matter what else arises, marks me as a Christian. It’s an initial step in identifying myself as a Christ follower.

Secondly, making Sunday different than the other days of my week, gives me a weekly reminder of who I serve. The LORD God is His name. It’s Him I trust. It’s He who’s redeemed me. And if I make it a priority to remember such things on a weekly basis, surrounding myself with the body of Christ, the church, I’ll be less likely to wander.

It’s for my protection and it’s for God’s glory. And it’s a gift. A time to rest and take a breather. But Hebrews 4 gives believers an additional reason to celebrate the LORD’s day, setting it aside as holy. It’s a picture for us (and the rest of the world) of ceasing from working for one’s salvation and instead by faith trusting in Christ.

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his” (Heb. 4:9-10). Could there be any better reason?

Yet if we don’t heed one day a week as God’s day, if we don’t make the day any different, if we don’t set it aside, then what kind of picture are we painting? One in which we don’t need God? One in which we need to work, instead of trust? One in which worshiping God is optional?

I don’t think it’s just a happen so that as our country has scooted further and further from the sanctity of Sunday, it’s scooted further and further from God.

He is the LORD and there is no other my friend. And setting Sunday aside is one way we identify with Him.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Do you set aside one day a week to rest and remember? How so?
Why above all else, do you think this commandment was so important for the Israelites to follow? What does that mean for us?

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12 Benefits of Being Thankful

I have a sign in my family room that says: “There is Always Always Always something to be thankful for.” And while I know it’s true, I’ll be honest, I don’t always feel like being thankful. (Like um, last Tuesday.) BUT the Bible says to give thanks in all circumstances. Stating in matter of fact fashion that being thankful is God’s will for me (1 Thessalonians 5:18). So, well, I best be giving thanks.

But this doesn’t mean I walk around with a fake smile plastered on my face. It doesn’t mean I can’t be sad. It doesn’t mean I can’t cry or struggle or wish things were different.

It simply means despite my circumstances, I still agree, God is good and faithful and worthy of praise. A statement even more breathtaking in the wake of a broken heart, don’t you think?

But there are benefits to this thankfulness thing. It isn’t just for kicks God urges us to “Give thanks” sixty-two times in the Bible. Buffering our Christianity with verses like, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise…giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:15, 20).

Specifically, I thought of twelve noteworthy benefits. (Feel free to add more!)

  1. It Rights Relationships. I think you’d agree, it’s hard to stay mad at someone when you turn to God in thanks for them. The seeds of a thankful heart are able to overtake the roots of bitterness any day.

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.” (Philippians 1:3)

  1. It Gives Light to the Heart. To give thanks is to blaze a pathway for righteousness. It readies the mind for more, but ingratitude is an avid partner in turning one’s back on God.

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools.” (Romans 1:21-22)

  1. It Makes Unbearable Circumstances Bearable. Do you know what Christ did the night before he was crucified? He gave thanks (Luke 22:19). An unbearable situation was made bearable because Christ set his mind on one thing and one thing only – the Father.

“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (1 Corinthians 11:23-24)

  1. It Silences the Enemy – Satan holds no power over a heart full of thanksgiving. As a sacrifice of praise, thanksgiving focuses our attention where it should be, on the provisions of the Father. While self-pity puts us right where Satan wants us – defeated, disappointed, doubtful, and despairing.

“Through the praise of children and infants you have established a stronghold against your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger” (Psalm 8:2; NIV). And if a child can silence them, just think what the conscience choice of thanksgiving on the heels of heartbreaking circumstances might be able to do!

  1. It Glorifies God – And there is no greater accomplishment. Nor is there anything more fulfilling.

“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!” (Psalm 50:23)

  1. It stills anxiety – Oh but the bitter bite of anxiety is fierce. Stealing any sense of control we may feel. BUT to be thankful in the wake of uncertainty is to embrace a heart of peace.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)

  1. It Shields Against Other Sin. Psalm 86:12 When I’m giving thanks with my whole heart there is little room for much else. But when I’m grumpy or bitter or moping around like a sad Eeyore (think Winnie-the-Pooh) the flood gates swing wide for a wide array of sins.

“I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me.” (Psalm 86:12-13a)

  1. It Helps Us Remember. When we give thanks, we tend to remember a little better who God is and what He has done. But a thankless heart is a heart that’s forgotten who God is compared to who we are, and yet he died for us anyway.

“I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds.” (Psalm 9:1)

  1. It Leads to Joy. When I stop and consider all the blessings I’ve been given in Christ, how can I not be joyful? And I don’t mean the kind the kind of joy that comes with opening a fresh box of Lucky Charms. I mean the kind of joy that permeates even the hardest of days.

“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 118:1)

  1. It Gives Way to Contentment. To be thankful is to nourish contentment. And to be content is to recognize God is a faithful provider.

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:25-26, 33)

  1. It Teaches the Next Generation to Do the Same. Truth be told, if we don’t live it, they won’t either. But if we live a life of thanksgiving, giving praise to God for everything, so will they.

“But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.” (Psalm 79:13)

  1. It Brings Us Together. Tragedy may bring people together, but it’s thanksgiving that keeps them together.

“Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.” (Psalm 111:1)

In addition, Proverbs 15:15 says, “The cheerful of heart has a continual feast.” But I dare say the feast begins with thanksgiving.

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The Most Accepted Sin of Our Society

Have you ever wanted to speak truth, but were afraid if you did, you’d be left with no friends in the room? That’s where I’m at today. Hands filled to the brim with truth, but unable to form the words because well…I like having friends.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20:7
Key Verse: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7


But by God’s grace, at this stage in the race, I care more about pleasing my heavenly Father than invites to parties. At least most days. It also might help that I’m an introvert and enjoy sitting on my couch, so I’ve pressed on.

But truth be told, it’s taken me two weeks to write this devotional and it’s over one verse. Which verse has me so tied up in knots I’m concerned about losing friends you ask? The third commandment.

“You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.” Exodus 20:7

And there it is. Straight forward. Simple. Yet, we are. God’s name is being vainly proclaimed with a vengeance. Whether the commandment has simply been forgotten, misunderstood, or intentionally set aside, I’m not sure. But it’s a blatant problem.

We could otherwise state the commandment as, don’t use God’s name in an empty way, void of who He is, without reverence, without meaning, without purpose.

You can pick the situation – they all fit. Whether in the court of law or by way of promise (I swear by all that is holy…) or in the backyard, or on the couch, or in a church pew when our mouth is singing one thing and our mind is somewhere else, it doesn’t matter. God says here – don’t take my name in vain.

But there it is every time I turn the TV on or peruse social media or go out in public. It’s even been given its own abbreviation – OMG. And it’s wrong. To toss God’s name about as though it’s nothing more than an empty expression of disbelief, we might as well go bury our Bible’s in the mud. Because that’s basically what we’re doing – tossing God’s character to the wayside.

You see His name is more than just a name. It describes who He is, embracing the holiness of His character. In Exodus 34 when God proclaims His name to Moses he doesn’t just use one word. He uses a description. “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but will by no means clear the guilty” (v. 6-7).

And since there is only one true and living God this is whom we’re addressing when we flippantly type OMG in a text or a Facebook response. This is who we’re dragging through the mud. (Forgive us Father.) In fact, we’ve gotten so lax we’ll watch television shows that abuse it relentlessly and still call it the best show of the season with the argument that we weren’t the one actually saying it. But so what if we didn’t say it, didn’t it just get piped into our homes at volume thirty-three? And we took it, without even a flinch.

It’s interesting though, because the third commandment does not keep us from using God’s name at all. It simply says not to use it empty. In fact, we’re to use God’s name in many ways, just not without reverent purpose.

We’re to praise the name of the LORD all day long. (Ps. 148:3) “For his name alone is exalted; his majesty is above earth and heaven” (Ps. 148:13).

We’re to bless the name of the LORD. (Ps. 113:2)

We’re to call on the name of the LORD when we need help. (Ps. 116:4)

We’re to fight evil in the name of the LORD. (Ps. 118:10)

We’re to give thanks in the name of the LORD. (Ps. 122:4)

Not to mention, we’re to baptize in the name of the LORD. Proclaim the name of the LORD in word and deed and speech. “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17). And trust in the name of the LORD (Ps. 20:7). For “the name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe” (Prov. 18:10).

It’s a gracious God to give us the use of His name! Christ even said we can ask things of God, in his name! (John 14:13-14) Um, that’s A-mazing.

But.

Just don’t do it in an empty way, says the LORD, without reverent measure for what you’re saying. For, “Great is the Lord! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness” (Ps. 145:3, NLT).

No one. It’s beyond comprehension. So value me, says God. Hold my name in high esteem and use it accordingly. Otherwise, and here is the warning, beware, “for the LORD will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain” (Ex. 20:7b).

Our words have consequences. In Matthew 12:36 Jesus says, “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak.” Every careless word, including the use of His name.

For there is no other name by which we can be saved! (Acts 4:12) But now I’m really going to meddle. (Please still invite me over for dinner.)

Did you know gosh is a euphemism for God? It’s not just a nice little substitute. The word origin of gosh is God. But there’s more. Do you know what a euphemism is? Yeah, I didn’t either. So I did what all good researchers do, I googled it. And found out a euphemism is “a mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing.”

And then I melted ten feet into the floor. (Guilty.) Is God unpleasant or embarrassing? Or is the use of his name unpleasant? It is a strong tower! The name of our God is wonderful! The name of our God is to be praised!

Blessed be his glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with his glory!” (Ps. 72:19)

And may His name be spoken with the worth He deserves.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Does it bother you to hear God’s name taken in vain?
As a believer, what parameters have you put in place to help you uphold the name of the LORD?
On the flip-side, what allowances have you made regarding the third commandment? Are there changes you need to make?

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It’s The First And Greatest Commandment But Why?

Most Christians know the first commandment. “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3). Or at least they know it as Christ stated it. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.” (Matt. 22:37-38).


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20:1-4
Key Verse: “Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above on the earth beneath; there is no other.” Deuteronomy 4:39


But have we ever stopped long enough to think about why it’s the first and greatest commandment? Is it because God is a dictator? Is it because He’s unreasonable? Is it because He wanted to see us fail?

Nope.

It’s because He alone is God. And He knows it. “There is no other god besides me, a righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me” (Isaiah 45:21b).

“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other” (Isaiah 45:22).

The LORD is the one who blots out our transgressions and remembers our sins no more (Is. 43:25).

The LORD is the one who made the earth and created man on it (Is. 45:12).

The LORD is the one who stretched out the heavens and put the stars in place (Is. 45:13).

The LORD is the one who forms light and creates darkness (Is. 45:7).

The LORD is the one who changes times and seasons. He alone removes kings and sets up kings (Dan. 2:21).

I love the way God says it in Isaiah 44:8, “Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any.”

So nothing else will do. Only God. Everything else will fail us. Therefore, He started with this… “You shall have no other gods before me.” It makes sense really that a loving God would begin with a request for allegiance because He knows anything other than him will disappoint. Leaving a gaping hole in our quest for life and love and satisfaction.

If we want love – God is love.

If we want peace – God is peace.

If we want joy – God is joy.

If we want life -God is life.

If we want truth – God is truth.

Chase me God says. Put me first. Because to seek God first and foremost is to seek the utter most longing of our soul. When we chase after anything other than God, we are always left with less than. Yet for some reason we still think it’s money or a home or a spouse or a child we most need. Or the fulfillment of a dream or job or fame we most want. The lap of luxury that will bring the most joy. Or a night in front of the television or an extended vacation that will build us back up.

But it’s none of those. It’s God. Why is it that those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be satisfied? (Matt 5:6) Because it’s God who satisfies. So love me with everything you’ve got, says the LORD. With your heart and soul and mind and body. You won’t regret it.

And do it in the right way.

Which brings us to the second commandment. “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (Ex. 4:4).

In other words, don’t make idols. Don’t carve a face into a piece of wood and call it a god. Don’t liken the Creator to something He’s created. It reduces his power to an item. “I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols” (Isaiah 42:8).

We are to worship in spirit and truth, not stationary items and false convictions. By faith, not fabrication. With God’s might and majesty exceling beyond anything we could even imagine, God says, “Don’t even try.” Any and every attempt will fail.

“All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit” (Isaiah 44:9a).

Furthermore, we don’t need to make things to represent God since “his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made” (Rom. 1:20). We already have plenty to spur us on to worship.

What we need to do, is be the image of God.

And therein lies the kicker. God’s already made something to represent Him. He’s made us, in his own image! Bringing a whole new meaning to the commandment, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:16), don’t you think?

It’s not our responsibility to make things that represent God, it’s our responsibility to be a representation of God.

“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:1-2). That the world might see God in us. That they might come to know Him. That they might reject every other false attempt at deity, except the LORD Almighty, the gracious God and Savior, Jesus Christ.

It won’t be long and every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD (Phil. 2:10-11). So why wait? “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one” (Deut. 6:4). “Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above on the earth beneath; there is no other” (Deut. 4:39).

And that my friend is why loving God with everything we’ve got and everything we are is the first and greatest commandment. Let us go and let us love Him and let us do it in the right way.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
How might your life change if you truly sought God at all times? What would be easier? What would be harder?
We aren’t to make images of God but we are to be the image. Can you give an example when the world saw God in you? How did they react?

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God’s Second Greatest Act of Love (It Might Surprise You)

If you know me, this won’t come as a surprise, but I’m a rule follower. Mostly because I strongly dislike getting in trouble. However, when it comes to driving the speed limit, I tend to curb the rule following. Especially since nine times out of ten, by the time I have everyone in the van, with appropriate attire on their feet, we’re running late.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20
Key Verse: “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.” Psalm 19:7


I’ve tried to leave earlier – I don’t know why it doesn’t work. Though in almost twenty years, I’m happy to say, I’ve only had one ticket and it happened not long after acquiring my license. (Watch, I’ll probably get one tomorrow.)

The worst part was the police officer pulled me over in the parking lot of our church Thanksgiving dinner. (Hello there so many people who know me.) To put it mildly, I was devastated and no longer in the mood to be thankful. One look at my hot mess of a face and my mother let me go home to sit in the bathtub. The fact that I’d just gotten in trouble in front of well, half my church, left me in need of bubbles, not turkey.

(Ugh, I hate getting in trouble.)

The problem is, not everyone shares my fondness for rule following. In fact, the Bible says even my preconceived notion to follow the rules (minus the speed limit) is a hoax. Psalms 3:2-3 states, “The LORD looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.”

Not even one – we’re a sad case. But if we did follow after God, after his precepts and rules, oh the life we would lead. Not because all would be well and dandy with wild flowers doting our every path but because of the closeness of God we would know and experience.

Obedience is the soil by which the knowing of God will grow.

1 John 2:4-5 says, “Whoever says I know him but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.”

If you want to know God – you’ve got to obey him. Why? Because the law is the essence of God’s heart. Consider this..

God called David a man after His own heart not because he lived life perfectly (i.e. Bathsheba), but because he loved the law (see Psalm 119) and the law reflects God’s heart, expressing His nature in multiple ways. The law is good and righteous and true and so is God. “Righteous are you, O LORD, and right are your rules” (Ps. 119:137).

But unfortunately rules have gotten a bad rap. Gaining the reputation of boring, restrictive, stuffy, tiresome, tedious. A technicality not worth following. Especially God’s rules. Which the world now views as relative for some and not for others depending on how you feel that day. Or your upbringing. Or your circumstances.

A sad delusion that’s significantly damaged our relationship with God.

Because His ways are not restrictive, they’re freeing. Psalm 119:45 says, “I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments” (NLT). When God’s commands are followed blessings abound (Ps. 1:1-2). Peace is given (Ps. 119:165). Understanding is gained (Ps. 119:99). The heart overflows with joy (Ps. 119:111). Comfort is received (Ps. 119:52). And something more valuable than gold is attained (Ps. 119:72).

God’s rules are like a map for living the best life possible. Turn left here, turn right there, leading to the most amazing treasure we could ever receive – God himself.

“Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me” (Ps. 119:175).

Therefore, God’s second greatest act of love is right here in Exodus 20: the giving of His law. It’s not the first because “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13, NIV). Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection for a people like us – yeah, nothing tops that.

But for God to come down from Heaven and speak the outpourings of His heart to a people He knew couldn’t follow it and wouldn’t follow it – this is love. Yet for the purpose of guiding us and them unto himself through the work and person of Jesus Christ, God shared His desires anyway.

We call them the Ten Commandments. So important were these rules to God, He wrote them himself on two stone tablets that were to be kept in the ark of the covenant. They weren’t to go anywhere. Their permanency guiding generation after generation; even in the New Testament.

Though today the church no longer needs to follow the ceremonial law (the sacrifices) or civil law (the rules that governed Israel as a nation). The moral law (i.e. the Ten Commandments) are very much still in play.

Why? Because God’s heart didn’t change. His guidelines for life and joy and holiness are still the same. What changed was our ability to follow them. So important are these rules to God He put his own spirit within us to help. “And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezekiel 36:27).

No longer would it be done in the old nature but with the new. In the Spirit, instead of the flesh. In Christ’s strength, instead of our own. “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). (The true essence of that verse.)

Yet God knew we couldn’t keep His rules perfectly and it’s perfection he requires. Thus, we’re saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not by keeping the law. Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, just as Israel was. (Giving us all the more reason to obey Him!)

God’s heart is before us in Exodus 20. Just as we set rules for our kids because we love them, our Father cared enough to set rules for us. It’s not out of spite He’s asked us to live a certain way, it’s out of love. “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul” (Ps. 19:7).

He’s not only a God who loved us enough to give us His son, He’s a God who loved us enough to give us His law.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
How do you view God’s laws? As suggestions? Commands? Relevant or no longer necessary?
Are the Ten Commandments something you still try to live by today?
Why is the giving of the law a loving act of God?

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The Attribute of God We’ve Forgotten

If there’s a way God is most thought of these days, I’ll tell you one thing, it’s not holy. First off you can’t turn the TV on without hearing his name misused. Nor can you walk down the hallway at school or buy Christmas tree ornaments for that matter. (Yes, I saw “OMG” on a Christmas Tree ornament last year. After gasping in sheer revulsion, I ran for my life in fear of the store going up in flames.)


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 19:9-25
Key Verse: “You came down on Mount Sinai and spoke with them from heaven and gave them right rules and true laws, good statutes and commandments.” Nehemiah 9:13


Then there’s the flippant way we talk about God. (As though he owes us something.) The lax way we approach God. (As though it ain’t no thing.) And the general way we feel about God and His word. (Most days we could take it or leave it.)

But God, He is holy. Set apart. There is none like him; perfect in goodness; flawless in righteousness. A consuming fire, He is to be worshiped with reverence and awe (Heb. 12:28-29). Dwelling in unapproachable light, God is so holy it is unsafe to just barge into his presence. The only way to enter is to be holy thy self. “Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Ps. 24:3-4a). A feat accomplished only in Christ.

So when God announced to Moses that he was going to come down on Mt. Sinai and meet the people – there was some serious preparing to do. For two days they got ready. Verse 14 says they washed their garments and Moses consecrated them. How? It doesn’t tell us. Perhaps by offering sacrifices on behalf of the people. For without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. (Heb. 9:22)

Furthermore, they were to abstain from sex and anyone, young or old, who even touched the edge of the mountain was to be killed. It was serious stuff. God’s presence was not to be taken lightly.

Then on the morning of the third day, “there were thunders and lightnings and a thick cloud on the mountain and a very loud trumpet blast, so that all the people in the camp trembled” (v. 16). Even the mountain trembled at God’s arrival (v. 18) and smoke went up from it like a kiln, “because the LORD had descended on it in fire” (v. 18).

Consequently, when Isaiah had a vision of God sitting on the throne, “the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke” (Is. 6:4). Then later when John got a glimpse of God’s throne in Revelation we find out, “From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings, and peals of thunder” (Rev. 4:5).

So I don’t think the thunder and lightning was there just for effect. God himself had descended on the mountain. Shrouding himself in smoke so the Israelites would not be consumed in the presence of His glory.

And when the Israelites heard the trumpet blast they didn’t pat each other on the back saying, “Hey cool! There’s God!” No, they were terrified. And so was Moses for that matter (Heb. 12:21).

So terrified in fact, the people told Moses, “Hey from now on, why don’t you just go up and talk to God and then let us know what he says. Deal?” (My paraphrase.)

Which in turn, pleased the LORD. “They are right in all they have spoken. Oh that they had such a mind as this always, to fear me and to keep all my commandments” (Deut. 5:28b-29a). Why was God pleased?

Because reverence for God determines the godliness of our response.

To set apart Christ as holy (1 Peter 3:15) is to determine that His honor and glory come first. God’s holiness is everything. It’s why we do what we do. 1 Peter 1:15-16 says, “But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16).

Just as Leviticus 19:2 says, “Speak to all the congregation of the people of Israel and say to them, You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.”

So to disregard the holiness of God is to disregard all reason for godly living.

Which is where I think we’ve gotten off track. No longer is God esteemed as he should be. If He were, we’d uphold his commands as invaluable. We’d respect His words. We’d fear the God who is able to save and destroy. Like a student under the watchful eye of a head master, we’d do what we’ve been told, instead of weeding through the stuff we like and rejecting the things we don’t.

To revere God is to fear God. Not in the sense of being afraid because we know there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1), but to be in awe of Him. To tremble in the wake of His vast glory, as Israel did the day they saw God descend on Mt. Sinai.

He is still the same God today as He was then. Just because we’ve been declared holy by the blood of Christ and allowed to enter God’s presence, doesn’t mean God is any less holy. It simply means He is kind. And merciful. And abounding in love to a thousand generations. Nonetheless, that’s the temptation, isn’t it? To bring God down to our level.  To diminish His excellency.

We’re quick to forget we haven’t been invited to the throne through any means of our own. We’re on the guest list because of Christ. God owes us nothing, yet we owe him everything.

He is still untouchable. He is still to be feared. He is still to be praised. Honored with our mouths and respected in our homes. Yet where has the reverence gone? Why has the adoration subsided?

Oh that we might fear God as Israel did the day they heard His voice and saw the mountain quake at His presence. For we too have heard His voice. Not audibly of course, but in our hearts, the day he called each of us to repentance.

And He is with us. His presence a promise we can hold fast to. Yet He is still God my friend. Holy and awesome, there is none like Him. “To the King of ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Do you think God’s holiness is lost or upheld in the church today? What about in the home?
Why should God’s holiness motivate us to live upright and obedient lives?
What choices have you made to honor God as holy?

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The Role of a Believer. It May Surprise You.

Monumental spiritual moments don’t come every day. Though I wouldn’t mind if they did. Do you know the kind I’m talking about? The undeniable moments God makes his power and faithfulness so clear, you must cease what you’re doing to take it in. At times it’s simply been a verse leaping off the page of my Bible into the gaps of my anxious heart; filling me with assurance I’d prayed to gain the day before.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 19:1-8
Key Verse: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9


Other times, it’s been an answered prayer, a protection, or a perfectly timed word of encouragement from a friend. A vivid reminder, my God is faithful. Perhaps I’ve jarred your memory to a few of your own monumental moments. Well, I think it’s safe to say Moses had a few as well – some more obvious than others. And I’m willing to guess one such moment took place at the beginning of chapter nineteen -with Israel’s arrival at Mt. Sinai.

Why was this such a big deal? Because Mt. Sinai is the mountain where God first called Moses. Also called Mt. Horeb, it’s where the burning bush took place. It’s where God soothed Moses’ anxious mind with the following promise: “But I will be with you, and this shall be the sign for you, that I have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall serve God on this mountain” (Ex. 3:12).

A lofty promise. One only attainable by a sovereign God. But here in Exodus 19, it’s fulfilled. They’d made it, just as God said. With every Israelite young and old accounted for, God brought the people safely to the mountain, safely to himself (v.4). (Is there any better place to be?)

Then while all the people camped below, Moses went up to God. As though he was headed to the neighbor’s house to say hello.

(But honestly, isn’t that the goal? A relationship with the Father so embedded in my life it’s the most natural thing to knock on His door the instant I get home?)

And God said to Moses, “Tell the people of Israel: You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”

In other words, remind them Moses how faithful I’ve been. How I protected them. How I’ve provided. How I carried them, while they had nothing to do with it. And then say to them:

“Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (19:5-6a).

Freed from slavery it was time to talk about obedience. Time to talk about the guidelines, a.k.a. laws. But note God didn’t bring this up until after he saved the Israelites. If obedience to the law had been required for redemption, there never would have been a redemption.

Saved by grace to live for His glory, it’s important not to get the order confused. It wasn’t the law that saved them, it was God. But it was living according to the law that would bring them blessing.

Huge, wonderful blessings like being God’s treasured possession among all the nations.

Can we just sit in that for a minute? The world is God’s. The universe is God’s. Created by Him and for Him and through Him. Yet his most valued, most cherished belonging – is a heart fully devoted to him. Specifically, a people fully devoted to him. It’s why the church is the bride of Christ.

God loves it. It’s why His eyes “run to a fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him” (2 Chron. 16:9).

Additionally, the other big blessing Israel would have (if they set their minds on obedience), is to be a kingdom of priests.

Not that it was God’s desire to have them all walking around in robes with an ephod on their shirt. But a kingdom of priests in the sense that every person declared the glory and goodness of God by what they talked about, how they acted, responded, and lived in a world always a little off kilter. Pointing people to the Creator with every breath they took.

With that definition in mind, can you imagine the effect on a broken world if and when there was an entire nation of God following priests?

Yet this was God’s desire! This was God’s plan! For Israel to be a holy nation and a kingdom of priests. That they might know the blessing of sharing God’s love with others. And be the pathway by which the rest of the world could experience their own monumental spiritual moments.

But did they do it? No, they didn’t. They forsook God for idols. They set aside His laws and made up their own. Getting pulled in by the world instead of pulling the world toward God.

Then the most amazing thing happened. The most glorious of all monumental spiritual moments – God himself hung on a cross and paid the penalty for their sins. Our sins.

That we too might be His treasured possession. “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

And it’s His desire as it was for Israel that we be a holy people, a priesthood, living day after day not in robes with an ephod on our clothing, but in such a way that we lead others to Him. Declaring day by day the marvelous majesty of a God who saved us out of darkness and brought us into the light!

It’s every believer’s job to preach in this world, but not necessarily from a pulpit, though God calls some to do just that. But from the kitchen table. From the grocery store checkout lane. From the family room. From the office. (You get the idea.) Living in such a way that holiness speaks louder than hell, we preach grace and peace and love and truth to a world in desperate need of knowing Him.

But the question is, are we doing it? Are we preaching the excellencies of Christ so not just we, but they, the world, may have their own monumental spiritual moments?

It’s a job God’s granted us because he knows there’s great blessing in doing it. And a position I think it’s time we recognize. We aren’t just a people sitting around with little to do. We’re the priesthood my friend. God’s treasured possession and we’ve got a job to do.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Whether we like it or not, everyone is preaching something. So by your actions and attitude what have you been preaching lately?
How does thinking of yourself as part of the priesthood make you want to change your behavior? Would you say you are a worthy member of the priesthood? Why or why not?

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You Don’t Have to Go It Alone

Sometimes life piles on top of us, doesn’t it? Whether it’s the kids or work or the weight of ministry or let’s just say it, laundry. Life can be overwhelming! The other day, all at once, I had dinner burning on the stove, one child who was bleeding, another who could not find a single pair of underwear, two more in need of a referee, and a husband who needed me to answer the phone.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 18
Key Verse: “You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone.” Exodus 18:18


It’s moments like that we moms need an automatic reply button. “I’m sorry, but I’m out of the office today. If you need anything please just do it yourself. If it’s underwear you’re looking for then either check the dryer or wear your brother’s. Thank you and have a great day.”

Oh it’d be nice, wouldn’t it? But not just for me, I think Moses could have used something similar. With one or two million people in camp, and only one man to settle disputes and answer questions about God’s will for this or that, Moses was a busy guy.   So busy in fact, when Moses’ father-in-law arrived he was a little stunned. “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, and all the people stand around you from morning till evening?” Sounds just like my day!

But with that many people, can you imagine the line? It was probably wrapped halfway around camp. “I’ve come to speak to Moses. Well get in line brother, so has everyone else.”

There’s no doubt Moses was left with little time to do what mattered most – commune with God. With just 5 people vying for my attention, I know how challenging it can be to carve out time with the LORD. I can’t even fathom millions!

Yet Moses trudged through, that is, until Jethro got there. “Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. You and the people with you will certainly wear yourselves out, for the thing is too heavy for you. You are not able to do it alone” (v. 17-18).

Jethro had come to bring Moses’ wife and sons back to him. At some point, perhaps after the circumcision incident on the way to Egypt (See Exodus 4:18-31 for a reminder), Moses had sent them back home. Most likely to protect them.

But now it was time to reunite. So Jethro, anxious to hear how everything had gone, brought them to Moses himself. Verse 9 says after Moses filled him in on the details, Jethro rejoiced “for all the good that the LORD had done to Israel.”  Then Jethro blessed the LORD, bringing a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; “and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law before God” (v. 12).

It was a blessed night. A sweet time of fellowship for Moses. But then morning came and it was back to reality. Back to the people; giving Jethro the opportunity to see how Moses usually spent his day. At the front of an endless line of upset people.

So he gave Moses some advice. “Look for able men from all the people, men who fear God, who are trustworthy and hate a bribe, and place such men over the people as chiefs of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties, and of tens. And let them judge the people at all times” (v. 21-22). Jethro goes on to say the difficult matters they can still bring to you Moses, but the small stuff, they can decide on their own.

In other words, “Moses, get some help!”

Oh the treasure to be had here my tired friend. We aren’t meant to bear the burdens of this life alone. Come what may – we can ask for help. Even in ministry! Yet how often we still try to do it alone! (And by the way mama’s – motherhood is ministry.)

With the mantra, “It’s my cross to bear,” we often trudge through on our own because it’s my kids to deal with or it’s my mess to clean up or it’s my God given calling or my path to walk. Thinking to ourselves, whether it’s big or small, “God chose me so I’m gonna have to figure it out.”

But what if your burden, is someone else’s blessing?

Scholars differ on the timing of Exodus 18, but it’s possible Jethro didn’t come to visit until after all was said and done at Mt. Sanai. (i.e. after the law had been given and the Tabernacle built). If so, Numbers 10 and 11 may add more to our story. And just look what God does for Moses! “Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel…And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone” (Num. 11:16-17).

Can you imagine the blessing for those men? The Spirit of God resting on them! What a confirmation of faith. Yet if Moses hadn’t reached out for help, they would have missed out on the blessing.

God draws wide circles my friend. Doing more with our messes than we can imagine. It’s one thing to figure something out on our own, but it’s quite another to share it with others!

This concept is all over the New Testament. In Acts 6 the disciples chose deacons to help bear the weight of ministry in the church. In First Thessalonians 5:11 we’re told to “Encourage one another.” In Galatians 6 we’re told to “bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (v. 2). And thereby imitating Christ, who carried the weight of our sin all the way to the cross.

Jesus said in Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

We have a God who never intended for us to go it alone. It’s why He gave us His Spirit; the Helper. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” (John 14:16). See, it’s OK, He knew we’d need help!

Yet more often than I’d like, instead of reaching out for the help of my gracious God and Savior, I get caught up in the frenzy of life and unravel.

But the bottom line is, we don’t have to do this life alone. “My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Ps. 121:2). And you know what else? God likes it when we not only look to Him for help, but we do it together. Hand in hand, the body of Christ working together as one.

It’s all right tired friend, go ahead and ask for help. You never know when your mess might be a blessing in waiting for someone else.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Do you more often try to go it alone or with the help of the Father? How is the body of Christ a support for you to lean on?
Who can you encourage today? Is there an area of life you need to reach out for help?

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