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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A Water Worth Drinking

There’s just some things I don’t get. Like why our soybeans didn’t grow well this year. Why they charge to see the tractor pull at the county fair. (It should be free.) Why some people can eat anything and everything they want and never gain weight, yet if I look at a piece of cheesecake for too long, I gain two pounds. Seriously, I don’t get it.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 17:1-7
Key Verse: “For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness.” 1 Corinthians 10:1-5


Then there’s the things other people don’t get. Like why I let me children climb up and around and through and under the shopping cart while buying groceries. (They’re fine. I promise. You should see them at home.) Why I let my kids eat Lucky Charms for breakfast. (Um well, because they’re delicious.) Why I do anything and everything I possibly can to avoid public restrooms. (I mean, do I have to explain this one?)

Then, there’s the Israelites. Who just plain didn’t get it. Delivered by God. Led by God. Protected by God. Continually in the presence of God. Yet once again thirsty in the desert and instead of remembering how God provided water for them oh say a few weeks before, they accuse Moses of premeditated murder. “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?” (v. 3)

Concerned for his life, Moses goes to God, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me” (v. 4). Apparently, things were a little tense. So God tells Moses to take the staff he struck the Nile with and strike the rock at Horeb. “Water shall come out of it, and the people will drink” (v. 6).

Water from a rock. Interesting. But God didn’t choose such a method because there was some deep-water reservoir under the rock that no one knew about. (He doesn’t need reservoirs.) Nor did he choose it because he wanted to play games with the people. No, God chose such a method because it had purpose. As in everything God does, there was meaning behind it.

Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 10, the rock was a picture of Christ. “And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (v. 4).

They received life giving water from the Rock that was Christ because He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Apart from Him no one gains eternal life. (Even the Israelites.)

Jesus told the woman at the well in Samaria, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14).

There’s only one way to Heaven and it’s to drink the cup that Christ offers. The cup of his death, burial, and resurrection. “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Thus, there was only one-way God wanted Moses to get water out of the rock. He wanted Moses to strike the rock with his staff. The same staff he used to bring judgment on the Egyptian people. Because unless Christ was struck, the living water would not flow.

For “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Heb. 9:22).

Jesus said to the crowd in John 7, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (v. 37-39).

It’s not only that we get to drink the living water, but through the gift of the Holy Spirit, this living water now flows from within us. (Phew. I am unworthy.)

“The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he” (Deut. 32:4). He is the Rock and there is none other. “The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge” (Psalm 18:2).

Do you see it friend? Do you see the purpose God had in the rock at Horeb when the Israelites thirsted and there was nothing they could drink, nothing that could satisfy, except the abundant flowing water of the rock?

I take comfort in the fact that God can place His purpose on all things, even when at first, I can’t see it. Even something as insignificant as a rock or as inconvenient as thirst. I love the picture God draws for us here, yet little did the Israelites realize the significance of what was before them.

Furthermore, the picture expands when almost forty years later, prior to entering the Promised Land, the Israelites complained of thirst yet again at the same location, Meribah, which means quarreling by the way. If you read the account in Numbers 20 it sounds like the same story only this time God instructs Moses to simply speak to the rock and it will yield its water (Num. 20:8). The same rock; the same Christ.

But instead of speaking to it, Moses strikes the rock (yet again). A serious offense that cost Moses entrance into the land. Why? Because Christ our Rock was struck once, for all, not twice. For “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10).

Moses didn’t need to strike the rock again, he just needed to speak to it. And the fresh and full water would flow. The grace. The blessings. The living water welling up into eternal life available to all who are willing to drink, would flow if Moses would simply ask.

What a depiction! Ask and you shall receive, the living water, the Holy Spirit (Luke 11:13).

God loves painting pictures my friend. Beautiful displays of His glory in our lives, just as He did with Israel. And really, there’s no greater privilege. So hold on. Even if you don’t understand, even if it doesn’t make sense and feels harder than it should be, keep trusting. He’s got a plan and purpose more marvelous than any of us can even imagine.

But first, we’ve got to drink the water.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Have you drunk of the living water? If so, is the living water, i.e. the Holy Spirit, evidently flowing out of your life?
What situation do you need to trust Christ with today? Do you think it’s possible God could be painting a beautiful display of his glory amid your difficult circumstances?

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