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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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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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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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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Is It Religion or Is It Relationship?


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Clear enough.)

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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The Real Reason We’re Divided

My heart this week…

If only the world could understand it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sound familiar? It sounds like today.

God says serve me, but we serve ourselves.

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

God says pray, but we say no.

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

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

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

And… (just to name one more)

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

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

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

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

Division. Not because of politics or policy but promiscuity.

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

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

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

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

And so we fight.

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

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

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

Yet…

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

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

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When God Gives a New Song to Sing

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You’ll be fine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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When Expectations Go Unmet

Writing isn’t something I grew up thinking about. I didn’t hide with a notebook as a little girl sketching ideas for my future books. Nor did I study it in college. Even up until a few years ago, besides the weekly grocery list hanging inside my pantry and the occasional prayer in my journal, it wasn’t something I considered much.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 5:3 – 23
Key Verse: “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:9


So when God made it clear He wanted me to write, starting with a weekly devotional I posted online, I honestly expected it to be easy. After all it was His idea, not mine.

Surely, I wouldn’t have to fight tooth and nail for the time to get it done. Surely, I wouldn’t get discouraged. Surely, the readers would come flocking by the crowd full. I’d be filled to the brim with ideas. Agents and publishers would beat my door down. And Deeper Devos would catapult to the New York Time’s Best Seller list in no time. (Ahem. Please excuse me while I give myself an eyeroll.)

By the way, while we’re on the subject, pretty sure I had the same preconceived notions about motherhood, minus the best seller list. But absolutely lots of praise and appreciation and a few Best Mother Ever trophies to place on my shelf. (Side note: My four-year-old is currently crying over a massive bowl of Lucky Charms, refusing to eat those luscious marshmallows and I have no idea why.)

Unmet expectations. We’re OK with it, probably even anticipate it, when it comes to things like government and health insurance and movies and continental breakfasts. But when it comes to God’s will, and our acceptance of it, we’re completely blindsided when things go wrong and expectations go unmet.

We like to assume, if it’s God’s plan, there will be a wide, beautiful, well carved path, already in place. A scenic one with lovely trees and lovely people and maybe even a bench we can sit and rest at, while everything we need perfectly falls into place.

I think it’s what Moses anticipated too. If he was to bring the people out of Egypt then surely there’d be a nice, wide, lovely, path with a few benches. So when the journey began and their first step to freedom lead them right into a giant pot hole, I think it’s safe to say everyone, even Moses, was taken by surprise.

You see, apparently, when the people heard of God’s impending rescue, they no longer felt the urgency to work. (I can’t say I blame them.) But their idleness angered Pharaoh, who of course blamed Moses and Aaron for the people’s sudden laziness (v. 4). As a result, Pharaoh took away the straw the Israelites needed to make bricks and told them to go and gather it on their own. The catch was, they still had to make the same number of bricks.

Unfair? Yes, extremely unfair. The Hebrew foreman, beaten by their taskmasters when quotas weren’t met, went to Pharaoh in hopes of changing his mind, but Pharaoh refused. “You are idle, you are idle…. Go now and work. No straw will be given you, but you must still deliver the same number of bricks” (v. 17-18).

Unnerved by the new requirements the Israelites let loose on Moses and Aaron, “The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us” (v. 21).

Stunned by the sudden large pot hole they’d sunk into, Moses went to the LORD, “O Lord, why have you done evil to this people? Why did you ever send me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has done evil to this people, and you have not delivered your people at all” (v.22-23).

Unmet expectations? I think so. Not only does Moses blame God for this unforeseen trouble, but also for not delivering the people as He’d promised! But isn’t that just like us! To blame God for not doing things exactly as we thought he should. For not fulfilling his promises in the way we thought best. And frankly, letting us down.

I’ve felt it. The tug of disappointment when life didn’t sail as I thought. Up until 1am trying to finish a devotional I was just sure God had totally abandoned me on. Warn down from an unending virus circulating through our house. Fighting what seems to be an upheaval of demands on me as a mother, wife, committee member, employee, (fill in whatever title you’d like). Wondering if I took a wrong turn or did something wrong.

They (whoever they are) say the first step is always the hardest. But I beg to differ. The hardest steps are the one’s right in the middle. When doubt threatens to take over and fatigue sets in and we’re bombarded by the enemy in subtle, yet significant ways we hadn’t anticipated. Believing then God’s still in it, when our expectations go unmet, that’s the hard part.

Moses, however, did the right thing. He took his concerns to the LORD and then he held on. He stuck with it. He believed the LORD and in turn, saw the miraculous hand of God in ways he never could have fathomed. The plagues, the parting of the Red Sea, the manna from Heaven, the giving of the law, the indwelling of the Tabernacle, the passing of God’s glory, the long conversations with Jesus.

All of it, I’m just certain he’d say, was worth the unexpected pot holes.

And as far as unmet expectations, when all was said and done, think Moses still had any? Do you think he got to the end of his life and thought, “You know LORD, you could have done better.” No. Not a chance.

“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:9

In his presence is fullness of joy and at his right hand are pleasures forevermore (Ps. 16:11). Even in the scorched places. The places our hearts are scarred with disappointment and unmet expectations – there is joy and satisfaction in Christ. (Isaiah 58:11)

So don’t give up on Jesus. Instead, draw near. Do what Moses did and ask the hard questions. And then, wait. Because unmet expectations aren’t an indication of God’s absence. But an opportunity for God’s presence. A filling more desirable than anything we could have ever dreamed of.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What unmet expectations have you dealt with? How might those expectations be filled in Christ?
When and where have you seen God do far more abundantly than you ever could have imagined?

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The Most Important Question You Will Ever Answer

There is not a single human being who hasn’t met, face to face, some element of God’s grace. His undeserved goodness, His kindness, His patience has laced the souls of men from the beginning of time. From the caution to Cain to be careful, “sin is crouching at the door” (Gen. 4:7). All the way to the end, “And let the one who is thirsty come” (Rev. 22:17), the Scriptures are steeped with grace.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 4:29-5:2
Key Verse: “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:18


Not to mention the breaths in between. The deep inhales of an orange and pink sunrise, a sloppy baby kiss, a tender I’ll-never-forget-this moment, a tulip in spring, a filling of peace, a long-awaited hello. It’s entwined with grace. All of it. Some measure of it giving glory to a creative, more than able, God.

As do the long exhales. The hard to get through seasons. The ones we get on the other side of and think, “I have no idea how I did that.” Grace. That’s how. God’s sweet enabling when honestly, we deserve much less.

It’s everywhere, God’s grace, and it met Israel face to face the day Moses unexpectedly walked back into their lives, with big brother Aaron by his side, to faithfully speak on his behalf of the suffering that had not escaped God’s sovereign glance. The land flowing with milk and honey. The freedom. And the impending rescue.

The people long in bondage heard it and saw it and accepted it for what it was. Grace cascading over their parched hearts. They believed Aaron. They believed Moses. They took God at his word and “they bowed their heads and worshiped” (v.31).

This the appropriate response to grace, surely filled Moses with a bucket or two of confidence prior to his initial meeting with Pharaoh. For when the moment came Moses and Aaron approached the king with awe-inspiring boldness. Like two men on a mission, they were out with it: “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness” (5:2).

And just like that God’s grace poured forth without restraint or apology, before Pharaoh as well. Yes, that’s right, grace. Though it wasn’t recognized as such, it was grace indeed.

You see the LORD had every right to take Pharaoh out then and there. Dismantling him from power. Eternally dismissing him with the lost for mistreating His firstborn son (Ex. 2:22). But God didn’t, not even close. Instead God gave him a chance, an opportunity, to say yes. (Grace.)

To step into the most beautiful of all relationships. The Creator with his creation. But Pharaoh rejected it. Seeing it as nothing more than a ridiculous notion, He responded to Moses and Aaron with the question every living, breathing soul must face at one point or another. “Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice and let Israel go?”

Who is the LORD? Have you asked it? It’s a question we all must answer. Our response, leading us to either accept the grace before us or reject it. There’s no middle ground. No gray area to land within and still be ok. Jesus said, “Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters” (Matt. 12:30). It’s a with or against situation. You’re either covered by the blood of Christ or you’re not.

John 3:18 says, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already,” leaving no space for wiggle room. Either you’re a servant of righteousness or a slave to sin (Rom. 6:16). A child of God or a child of the devil (Matt. 13:38). Doing the will of the Father in Heaven or doing the will of the father of lies (John 8:44).

Face to face with God’s grace, you either accept it or you don’t. And here in Exodus we see the stark contrast of those who accept it and those who don’t. Israel worshiped, but Pharaoh scoffed, “I do not know the LORD, and moreover, I will not let Israel go” (v.2).

Grace my friend, it’s there for the taking. Wrapped in God’s mercies renewed with each day. Never diminishing in quality. Never ceasing in quantity. Yet the likes of which requiring a response. An answer to the still pertinent question: “Who is the LORD?”

Is He Jesus? The King of kings, the descendant of David, the bright morning star, the light of the world, the Savior, the Redeemer? The way, the truth, and the life? “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Heb. 12:2).

Or is he not? I know my answer. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). Jesus Christ, who came from the Father full of grace and truth (John 1:14).

And so I worship the King. The riches of his love too much for me to understand. “Saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:12)

Because grace met me. In the fullness of my sin, it met me. As it did on the banks of the Nile. When Moses and Aaron spoke first to the Jews and then to the Gentiles of the plan. The good news, that God had come to rescue his people. The gospel, if you will.

Received by one, but not the other. Resulting in worship by one, but not the other. Because of their answer to one simple question. “Who is the LORD?”

Thanks be to my LORD and God, Jesus Christ, through whom “we have all received grace upon grace” (John 1:16). Which is never a warrant to sin, but always and forever a means to worship.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Who is the LORD to you? Does your definition match the one given in the Bible?
How have you experienced God’s grace in your life?

This Week I’m Thankful for the Hard and Here’s Why

There’s an age old question: How could a good God let bad things happen? It just doesn’t make any sense to us. It feels incongruent because good and bad don’t go together. Yet there’s no way around the fact that God allows, and at times even ordains, both (Isaiah 45:7).


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 1
Key Verse: “When I have broken their chains of slavery and rescued them from those who enslaved them, then they will know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 34:27b, NLT)


The first chapter of Exodus places a similar question before us: What kind of a God would let his chosen people be slaves in a foreign land for not just one or ten or fifteen years, but four hundred long, hot years? We’re talking generations who experienced nothing but brutal slavery while the iniquities (sins) of the Amorites and Perizzites and all the other “ites” in the land of Canaan rose to a level in God’s eyes that warranted destruction. (Gen. 15:13-14; Deut. 7:1-2)

Because that was the deal, do you remember? God promised the land of Canaan to Abraham and his descendants, but He wouldn’t destroy the peoples of Canaan without just cause. Without time to repent of their wickedness. Ezekiel 33:11 says, “As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.” He is a gracious God.

Yet on the flip side, he willingly enslaved His chosen people, not just allowing them to be treated harshly but planning for it. Psalm 105:25 says, “He turned their hearts to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants.” 

The Pharaoh who first oppressed the Hebrews likely rose to power about eighty years after Joseph’s death. A foreigner – he cared nothing for Egypt’s history or a Hebrew governor named Joseph who died before he was even born.

He just wanted to be sure the growing people group in the Negev didn’t escalate to numbers that might pose a threat to his reign. And the best way to do that – keep them busy. Really busy. Afflicting them with heavy burdens like building storehouses for Pharaoh called Pithom and Raamses (v. 11).

Verse 14 goes on to say the Egyptians “made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field.”

Day after day they got up and felt the whip of slavery on their back, thirsting for not just water but freedom. Yet in spite of the injustice upon them – they multiplied. They fell in love. They married. Men went home after long exhausting days and loved their wives. And women in turn came alongside their husbands and they had families.

The people increased greatly – growing “exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them” (v. 7), much to the dismay of Pharaoh, who decided to take an even more extreme approach when he realized the people were still increasing.

He called Shiphrah and Puah, two Hebrew midwives, and explained, “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women and see them on the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him, but it if is a daughter, she shall live” (v. 16).

But they wouldn’t do it. Fearing God more than man, they let every new baby breath life. And as a result, God rewarded them with families of their own.

Yet He didn’t make the problem go away. He didn’t instantaneously strike Pharaoh down for such a grossly detestable idea. He let him live and since the midwives couldn’t get it done pharoah instructed the Egyptians to take on the task. “Every son that is born to the Hebrews you shall cast into the Nile” (v. 22).

I almost can’t even think of it – the smell and feel of my own newborns always just one lucid memory away. Inviting me to recall the sweetness of their small innocent frames.Their button noses. Their milk white puckered lips.

I shudder at the realization this was not a bad dream these sweet mama’s woke up from, but a nightmare they lived through. Their babies, their little ones, their sweet boys ripped from their arms and tossed into a river as though they were nothing.

Why LORD? Why did it have to be that hard? Why must life be that unfair? Why must we go through things that shatter our already tired and tattered hearts into even tinier pieces?

Couldn’t it be easier? It could. But here’s what I’ve realized: It’s only in the grip of great need, that we begin to grasp the expanse of a great God.

Just think for a moment – If it didn’t hurt, we wouldn’t know God as Healer (Ex. 15:26). If we didn’t have needs, we wouldn’t know God as Provider (Gen. 22:14).  If we didn’t have problems, we wouldn’t know him as powerful. And if we didn’t have worries, we wouldn’t know him as the God of Comfort.

If we could walk through every inch of life on our own, we’d never know He was willing to carry us (Deut. 1:31). If we could fight all of our own battles, we’d never know He was willing to fight on our behalf (Ex. 14:14). If we were never thirsty, we’d have no idea how satisfying He really is (Ps. 107:9).

And if the Israelite’s hadn’t been enslaved, they’d never have known God as Redeemer. Nor experienced a rescue beyond anything the world had ever seen then or now. A rescue that symbolizes the life of every believer – once enslaved to sin, but set free through Jesus Christ.

Why does God sometimes allow the hard?  So we can get to know the Healer.

Because there’s simply nothing better than knowing Him. A God who is good and right and perfect. Who’s just in all He does. Whose greatness is unsearchable. Whose understanding is beyond measure. A hiding place for the wounded and a shield to the faithful – he is the LORD and there is no other.

Ezekiel 34:27b says, “When I have broken their chains of slavery and rescued them from those who enslaved them, then they will know that I am the LORD.” (NLT)

Sometimes it’s hard my friend, not because God doesn’t love us or forgot about us or turned his back for a few minutes, but so we will will know and experience beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is the LORD.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What difficult circumstances has God used to reveal himself to you?
If you’re going through a tough time right now, how might these insights change your perspective?

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It’s week one of a year long study through Exodus. If you haven’t signed up to receive Deeper Devos in your e-mail, please do so! And do me a favor: tell a friend! It thrills me beyond words when you share Deeper Devos with others. Thank you! Until next week, Stacey