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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The Most Effective Use of Your Time

Mornings are my favorite. I get up before everyone else. And with a cup or two of coffee, I read and pray and study and write. Some days verses jump off the page at me as though God wrote them just for my heart. I treasure those moments. God speaking to me through His word and me embalming my fears and hopes and dreams and doubts with each purposeful promise.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 17:8-16
Key Verse: “Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed.” Exodus 17:11


It’s a sweet time. But then…the kids wake up. And I don’t know what happens, but at the first sign of fighting or whining because we’re not having french toast or complaining because we have this cereal and not that one, I blow up.

Gone is any trace of a quiet time.

In zero to sixty I go from spiritual to barely holding on. Feeling the stark contrast between my new nature and the old, my spirit and my flesh.

Paul understood the struggle. “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law, waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members” (Romans 7:21-23).

It’s an everyday battle. A battle I’m sometimes ready for but half the time not. A battle most scholars agree is typified right here in Exodus 17, in the battle Israel faced against Amalek.

Note when the battle takes place – after the water had fully and freely flowed from the rock at Meribah. After that which symbolizes the Holy Spirit had been given. Then the battle came. Because it’s not until we’ve been given the new nature that we have any fight with the old. And it came from the back no less. It was a sneak attack on the weak and weary; for it’s in my weakness I’m most vulnerable. Look what Deuteronomy 25:17-18 says:

“Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you came out of Egypt, how he attacked you on the way when you were faint and weary, and cut off your tail, those who were lagging behind you, and he did not fear God.”

There is no fear of God in the flesh, is there? Fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom and the flesh is not wise. A lesson we most of the time learn the hard way.

So if “the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do,” (Gal. 5:17) how do we win? How do we have victory when it’s a daily, draining hard fought battle? A battle Satan seeks to see us lose.

We pray.

As Joshua lead the Israelites down below in a sword fight, Moses watched from up on top a hill. But he wasn’t just watching and hoping everything turned out OK, he was interceding on behalf of Israel with his arms raised high, the staff of God in his hand.

1 Timothy 2:8 says, “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.” David said in Ps. 28:2, “Hear the voice of my pleas for mercy, when I cry to you for help, when I lift up my hands toward your most holy sanctuary.”

I’m not saying our prayers don’t count unless our hands are up in the air. No, no. Moses’ hands raised heavenward was simply symbolic of an inner dependence on God. A dependence that takes place through prayer.

And it mattered. Moses’ intercession wasn’t a waste of time. In fact, it was the only thing that mattered. Verse 11 says, “When Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed.”

Moses’ hands had to be up. Joshua couldn’t win in the flesh, without the help of the Spirit. Thus when Moses grew tired, Aaron and Hur sat Moses down on a rock and held his hands up for him. It was that important! It was that necessary!

It’s why Paul instructed us in Ephesians to take up the “sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication” (Eph. 6:18).

And again in 1 Thessalonians, “Pray without ceasing” (5:17). And why Jesus said in Luke 18:1 that we “ought always to pray and not lose heart.”

Prayer is the avenue by which we gain the victory. It’s not an ineffective use of time, it’s the most effective use of time.

Is our country falling apart at the seams? Pray. Is our leadership struggling? Pray. Are the kids driving you crazy? Pray. Do you continually fight for control like I do? Pray. Does your mouth run ahead of you like mine does? Pray.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6).

The LORD didn’t tell us to pray at all times just so He could add something else to our to-do list. He knows full dependence on Him through prayer, is the only way we’ll come out on top. Apart from Him we can do nothing. Jesus said in John 15:4, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”

It isn’t when all else fails – pray. It’s before all else fails – pray.

Yet much of the time, we still try to fight the battle alone. Then finding failure at the end of a long day, it’s frustration we gain instead of freedom. Panic we keep instead of peace. But the victory is always and forever in Jesus and it comes by way of prayer.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Is prayer a daily part of your life or is it a last resort? When have you seen the power of prayer in action?
For what battle do you need to pray about today? Is there someone you can come along side to help keep their arms up?

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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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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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Why The Passover Is As Much Our Backstory As It Was Theirs

Besides parenting and folding a fitted bed sheet and feeding six people breakfast, lunch, and dinner seven days a week, writing has been one of the most challenging things I’ve put my mind to. Sharing details in a succinct manner is not easy. Each new story is like sewing a patchwork quilt. Turning squares this way and that; removing one and replacing it with another; until it looks just right in hopes of producing a “Wow, how lovely,” or “That’s incredible,” or a very special “I need another look,” from anyone who encounters it.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 11 – 12:7, 13
Key Verse: “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.” 1 Corinthians 5:7b


The problem is, there’s always leftover squares. Details you wanted to include but for the sake of impact and purpose and a story your reader can easily follow, they had to be left out. And let me just tell you, choosing which details stay and which go, is like trying to decide which child gets on the plane with you and which one stays behind. It’s excruciating my friend.

Sometimes an author might add a bonus chapter at the end, filled with all the favorites that just wouldn’t fit in chapter five. Or other times after taking several chapters to lead the reader where they want, the author may pause to tell the backstory, adding in elements that didn’t fit elsewhere.

Which is exactly what Moses does for us in Exodus 11 and 12. After weaving the sovereignty of God through nine plagues, over four chapters, he pauses to give us some backstory.

Verses one and two of chapter eleven filling us in on a conversation Moses likely had with the LORD during the dark hours of the ninth plague where the LORD informs him, “You’re almost done. There’s just one to go.” Allowing Moses to respond with “Fine, no problem,” when Pharaoh says to him after the three days of pitch darkness, “Take care never to see my face again” (10:28).

But before Moses walks out leaving Pharaoh in the dust forever, chapter eleven gives us the rest of the story. Verses 4-9 a continuation of Moses and Pharaoh’s final conversation, we learn Moses gave Pharaoh one final warning. “Thus says the LORD: About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die” (11:4-5a).

Midnight! Yikes! Things were happening quickly, wouldn’t you say? Now it’s possible Moses meant midnight tomorrow or midnight in a few days, but it doesn’t say that. The text just says midnight. Leading me to believe there’s mere hours until the grievous final blow against the gods of Egypt.

Which in turn, means Israel was just mere hours from Passover. When the LORD would pass over Israel, instead of striking them with the same deadly plague, as long as the Hebrew household was covered by the blood of the lamb.  (There’s so much symbolism here, I’m giddy!)

But this wasn’t something God sprung on the people the morning before. According to chapter 12 (the backstory), God had been instructing for a few days now and Israel had been preparing. Selecting their male lamb (a year old, without blemish) four days prior to Passover. Separating it from the flock, they checked it over to be sure there were no blemishes. Many probably brought it indoors for those four days, keeping it close, making the sacrifice that much harder. (Think any kiddos grew attached to little lamby?)

Then at twilight on day fourteen, they killed it. At which time they were to use hyssop to place the blood of the lamb on the two doorposts and lintel leading into their homes. Then they were to roast the lamb and eat until it was gone. Any leftovers had to be burned.

When the LORD came that night to Egypt, the blood of the lamb on the doorposts, showed propitiation had been made for the household. Because they weren’t exempt. Ezekiel 20 explains how the Israelites weren’t any better than the Egyptians. They too worshiped idols and whored after false gods (Joshua 24:14). They too were unrighteous and deserving of death, just as we all are. “As it is written: “None is righteous, no, not one” (Rom. 3:10).

But God, for the sake of his glory before the nations and the fulfillment of his promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saved them anyway. Yet he couldn’t just ignore their sin. Payment needed to be made, “for the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Thus, God enacted the principle of substitution. In place of the firstborn, was the innocent blood of the lamb.

A backstory we should be well familiar with because we’ve got the same one. I smile not because my day is perfect, but because my Savior is. I have hope not because I’m any good, but because my Savior is. “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7b).

Hebrews 9:22 makes it clear, “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” Therefore, Christ’s blood was shed in our place. That first Passover and the day of Christ’s crucifixion, the blood was a propitiation (an appeasement) of the wrath of God. It’s not that the penalty for our sins was nullified; it’s that the penalty for our sins has been paid. “We have now been justified by his blood” (Romans 5:9).

Not because we deserve it, but that God might be glorified. That those who hear and believe may praise His Holy Name. Along with the angels, in awe of His willingness to die for a wretched people like us.

On that dreadful night in Egypt, when the LORD passed over, it didn’t matter who was in the Israelite home. It didn’t matter if they had a sketchy past or were a strange mix of people. It didn’t matter if they’d messed up yesterday or the day before that. It didn’t matter if they’d struggled and failed yet again to conquer a particular sin. The only thing that mattered, was the covering of the blood of the lamb.

My friend, it’s not going to church that saves us. It’s not being good. It’s not giving to the poor or walking the straight and narrow. What saves us is the covering of the blood of our Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ. It’s the backstory of every believer and it’s always, every day, one hundred percent, perfectly sufficient.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Are you covered by the blood of Lamb? Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”
If this is your backstory, praise the LORD! Thank Him for his grace and mercy extended to you. And share it! Give someone the extended version today, with all the added details, as to why you smile and why you have hope.

Thanks for studying with me!

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When God Gives Us a Story to Tell

Do you ever get weary of saying the same things over and over to your kids? Me too. Stuck on repeat most of the day all I need is an automated recording of my voice that plays when the kids hit a certain decimal level and I’d be good to go. “Hey, come on guys, get along.” (28 seconds later) “Be nice.” (15 seconds) “Share.” (5 seconds) “If he had the toy first, you need to give it back.” All the while I’m outside enjoying some peace and quiet.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 10
Key Verse: “Then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.” Deuteronomy 6:21


Now Exodus 10 doesn’t say it, but I’m just wondering if Moses was growing a little weary of saying the same thing over and over to Pharaoh. Because this time, with the eighth plague, the LORD adds a reminder. “Go in to Pharaoh…that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them” (v. 2).

“There’s a purpose for all this Moses. So keep at it. Just think of the testimony you’ll be able to tell your grand kids.” (My paraphrase.) And in turn, they can tell their children.

Deuteronomy 6:20-21 says, “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the rules that the LORD our God has commanded you?’ then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand.”

With obedience rooted in salvation, they weren’t to forget how God rescued them. They were to tell their sons and daughters forever. Describing with detail the Nile of blood, the frogs, the gnats, the flies. The death of Egypt’s livestock, the boils, the hail, and then the eighth plague, the plague of locusts.

Reciting each event with awe and gratitude, they were to tell of God’s gracious protection over His people. His power. His glory. His promise. And then the victory. The redemption.

In regard to the eighth plague, they were to tell how the Egyptian servants begged Pharaoh to give in, to look around at the already ruined land, and to say yes to the God of Israel. And how Pharaoh tried compromising by insisting the kids stay behind.

Can’t you just picture the wide-eyed faces of little Jewish boys and girls at this point in this story? “Leave us behind?” And hear the cheers when told Grandpa Moses didn’t give in! “No, no grandpa would never agree to that. Instead he stretched out his staff and a fierce wind ignited blowing in dense swarms of locusts.”

Go grandpa Go!

Darkening the land (v.15), the locusts ate anything and everything left after the hail. Including the wheat and emmer, Egypt’s last hope of avoiding widespread famine. The land already in ruins prior to the invasion (v. 7), I can’t imagine what it looked like after. A skeleton of what it once was, Pharaoh referred to the eight plague as a death for him (v. 17).

No longer was there crops to trade or food to eat. Egypt a wasteland, the average Egyptian had no hope at this point. The gods of the harvest failing them just as every other god had done, what were they to eat in the coming days, weeks, months? How would they survive?

Gloom and doom the banner overshadowing their every move, it appears the ninth plague, darkness, hit close on the heels of the eighth. Verse 21 says it was “a darkness to be felt.” Unannounced in its coming, for three days the people sat pummeled with pitch darkness. (So much for Annie’s “The sun will come out tomorrow.”)

Scared, no one moved (v. 23). After all they had been through, most probably leery of what might be lurking in the darkness. This the final blow to the gods of Egypt, because most, if not all, worshiped the sun god Ra or Re (depending on your source). Deemed creator of everything, he was the big guy in the sky. The god of all gods.

Sound familiar? We have a God of all gods, but it’s not the sun, it’s the Son. LORD of Lords and King of kings, Jesus is the Creator (Heb. 1:2). And the radiance of God’s glory (Heb. 1:3). In fact, in eternity, the new Jerusalem will have “no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb” (Rev. 21:23).

Now I don’t know about you, but I smell a sultry pile of deception. Satan, a master at twisting the truth, was hard at work in the land of Egypt. Just as he is today, deceiving the nations (Rev. 20:3).

Though no people group sits without excuse, for God’s eternal power and invisible attributes have been made evident from the beginning of time (cf. Rom. 1:18-25), there is a roaring lion seeking to pull the wool over our little lamb eyes.

And he’s good at it. Taking Scripture out of context. Making it sound almost right, unfair, impossible, unimportant. Today’s standards overriding God’s ideals. Tempting us to think God’s grace is something of a past paradigm. Ineffective right now because otherwise my life wouldn’t be so hard.

But maybe it’s hard – so we’ll have a story to tell.

So we too can testify of God’s rescue, his grace and mercy, his authority. His deliverance from perils greater than me. His strengthening when I couldn’t walk the dusty road another day. His provision when I had nothing in and of myself to give.

Just think of the impact such a story could give. Maybe you’ve experienced it, the testimony of another encouraging your faith or opening your eyes for the first time to God’s undeniable grace. Or maybe right now, you’re the main character of a cliffhanger. One with an ending not quite written.

My friend, Israel’s story wasn’t quite written in Exodus 10 either. The promise of victory had been given, but they didn’t know exactly how or when it would end. The story wasn’t over. Yet God reminded Moses right in the middle, to keep at it, because the story matters. Not just for today, but tomorrow.

God gave Israel a tremendous story to tell so the next generation (and the ones after that) would know of His faithfulness. His active involvement in their lives. His sovereignty. His power. So they would trust, even when they couldn’t see. So they would believe, even when they didn’t know (their own story not fully written). So they would obey, their obedience deeply rooted in the foundation of God’s loving redemption.

If today, you’re holding onto God’s grace one day at a time, just think of the stories you’ll be able to tell. The glory you’ll be able to give to God when you get on the other side and realize, He was faithful.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What is your redemption story? Have you shared it recently?
What story is God writing in your life right now? Which of God’s attributes can you testify to?

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When the Storm Hits, Where Will You Be?

Storms excite me. Much to the dismay of my mother-in-law whom I left alone in the basement with my four terrified children (one of which was so scared he had just thrown up), because I had to go outside to see the tornado. I know, I’m a terrible mother! Or daughter-in-law, whichever you prefer. But I had to see it! (My excuse still to this day.)


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 9: 13-35
Key Verse: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” (John 3:36, NIV)


And it was worth the peek. God’s power, vividly on display in the storm, amazes me. When I see those dark clouds billowing in the west, I get all kinds of eager. I check the three different radar apps on my phone (don’t judge) and I watch it build. Oh man, it’s coming. How’s it going to hit us? When’s it going to hit us?

Then it gets here. Standing in awe at the window I love watching Jesus direct the lightning bolts (Job 38:35). I can see for miles, each one sent to its place, standing at attention before the King of Glory. Then I count and listen; how close was it? The rumbles of thunder apparently what Heaven’s throne room sounds like (Rev. 4:5). And the closest any of us has come to hearing the audible voice of God (Job 40:9).

But I don’t think I’d have been standing by the window when the seventh plague hit Egypt. Hiding under my bed, is probably more like it. The storm unequal to anything they had ever seen, God warned Pharaoh first. “Behold, about this time tomorrow I will cause very heavy hail to fall…therefore send, get your livestock and all that you have in the field into safe shelter” (v. 18-19).

It’s coming. If you’re outside you won’t survive. Having seen enough already “whoever feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the LORD left his slaves and his livestock in the field” (v. 20-21); much to their detriment.

The next morning, as promised, dark clouds billowed with vengeance. God flinging wide the doors to his storehouses of hail (Job 38:23), it fell hard “with fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail.” The pouring rain and thunder at a standstill over the vast kingdom, except in the land of Goshen. There, it was dry. Perhaps overcast, but I’m picturing sunny with a slight breeze out of the west and eighty-two degrees.

How long did the storm last? It doesn’t say. Long enough to break every tree in the field, strike anyone or anything caught outside, including the animals that had either been spared from the pestilence of the fifth plague or brought from neighboring countries afterwards, and crush the crops. Specifically, the flax and barley, placing the seventh plague most likely in the month of January. With the 10th plague (and thus Passover) occurring around Easter (Fitting huh?).

Growing up I pictured the plagues one right after the other. Ten plagues in ten days, but perhaps it took a year. With enough time in between each one for the Egyptians to consider their losses and their loyalties. The Egyptian gods doing nothing to protect them, can you imagine their dinner conversations? “I think we should serve the God of the Hebrews.” “What? Are you kidding?” But after the seventh plague I’m thinking there were a few more converts.

With a storm of this magnitude there was no denying God’s power or presence in the land of Egypt. God had shown up to save his people. His wrath pummeling the enemy. Incidentally, David spoke of his own rescue in similar manner, describing God’s presence as a storm.

“He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him, thick clouds dark with water. Out of the brightness before him hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds. The LORD also thundered in the heavens…And he sent out his arrows and scattered them; he flashed forth lightnings and routed them” (Psalm 18:10-14).

David goes on to say, “He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me” (v. 17). Sounds exactly like the seventh plague, don’t you think? God thundering from the heavens with hailstones, fire, and flashes of lightning.

And you know what? It’s not the last time God will show up in this manner. In the time of the great tribulation when the seventh bowl is poured out, He plans to do it again (Rev. 16:18). “And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each” (v. 21), will fall on the enemies of His people.

In other words, it’s coming. We’ve been fair warned. The question is, will we heed the word of the LORD, get inside, and be under the covering of Christ? Or will we ignore it, as the Egyptians did, paying little attention to the caution of God.

John 3:36 says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them” (NIV).

We can’t save ourselves, but we can come under the covering of Christ. “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!” (Romans 5:9, NIV)

By sincere, whole-hearted repentance. As opposed to Pharaoh who only went half way. Calling Moses and Aaron (because he knew they were the only ones who could fix this) he said to them, “This time I have sinned: the LORD is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong” (v. 27). In other words, “Make it stop!”

But Moses knew it was a hoax (v. 30). Pharaoh wasn’t sorry that he was a grievous sinner, he was sorry that his crops had been grievously destroyed – his economy collapsing.

My friend, repentance is of the heart, not the heartache. To repent means to change one’s mind. In the Biblical context to repent is to change one’s mind about two things: Who we are (a sinner) and who Christ is (the Savior).

And when that happens, with genuine sincerity, you can know, you’re safe in the arms of Jesus. Brought in, and given shelter from the storm. It’s as simple as “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

So seek shelter while you still can my friend; for there’s a storm brewin’ on the horizon.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Have you trusted in Christ for salvation with a sincerity that spills forth in devotion?
Who can you share the love of Christ with today

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