The Opportunity that Awaits Us

As Israel journeys through the wilderness there are multiple occasions we see them play the pessimist. First they’re going to die hemmed in by the sea. Then they wish for death back in Egypt for lack of food. Then they accuse Moses of trying to kill them when they were thirsty. Unfortunately complaining was a pattern for them.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 24
Key Verse: “For this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.” Matthew 26:28


But in today’s passage there is nothing but optimism. In fact, it’s a bit of a party. It’s covenant confirmation day. The day Israel entered into relationship with the LORD. In many ways we could think of it like a marriage ceremony. Since Egypt God had been wooing them. Showing them His might and sovereignty and power through the plagues and then the crossing of the Red Sea. Then revealing His ability to provide through the manna and the giving of water.

Upon reaching Mt. Sanai, God spoke to Israel himself laying out the Ten Commandments. But Israel was terrified so instead they suggest, “Hey Moses, from now on why don’t you just talk to God on our behalf.” Which God was fine with because it’s only by way of a mediator (Jesus Christ), personified in the work and person of Moses, that any of us can have a relationship with God in the first place.

So up the mountain Moses goes to receive the rest of the judgments – the remaining stipulations that would make up the book of the covenant. Once the LORD finished giving these to Moses verse 3 says, “Moses came and told the people all the words of the LORD and all the rules.” (The things we’ve been discussing the past few weeks.)

And the people together said, “We’ll do it!” They saw nothing wrong with the LORD’s stipulations. It sounded well and good to them. In other words, God made the proposal and Israel said yes! So Moses moves to the next step of ratification and writes it all down (v. 4). (Just like we would today if we were entering into a contract.)

Then Moses “rose early in the morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and twelve pillars, according to the twelve tribes of Israel.” And he had certain young men offer burnt offerings and peace offerings on the altar. (The altar represented God, while the pillars represented the people.)

Upon the last of the offerings Moses took half the blood that was spilt and threw it on the altar. (Blood on the altar, are we surprised?) Then he read the Book of the Covenant out loud to the people (think of this as the official marriage ceremony) and Israel responded, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient” (v. 7). (There’s that optimism again.) In other words, Israel said, “I do.”

With a verbal agreement in place Moses took the blood and threw it on the people or perhaps he threw it on the pillars representing the people. Scholars go both ways on that. Hebrews 9 tells us Moses mixed the blood “with water and scarlet wool and hyssop” and also sprinkled the book of the covenant with blood, indicating the covenant was now a matter of life or death.

And for a few brief moments God and Israel were in fellowship together. With the covenant yet to be broken, Moses and Aaron and Aaron’s sons and seventy elders “went up and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness” (v. 9-10).

I know it’s hard to believe, but that’s what it says. They saw the God of Israel.

Verse 11 goes on to say, “they beheld God, and ate and drank.” The word beheld in the Hebrew indicates really seeing and taking it in. It wasn’t just a quick glance. They didn’t have to look away. They weren’t distraught on their faces. They weren’t terrified. They looked and beheld and ate and drank in the presence of God.

Can you imagine? Unbroken fellowship with God. Yet that is exactly what God wants for all of us. It’s not by accident the elders ate and drank with God after entering into covenant with Him. It portrays our ability to fellowship with God and be in His presence through the new covenant in Jesus Christ.

Because it’s still by way of covenant we enter into relationship with God. A covenant today based on grace instead of works. A covenant ratified with Christ’s blood, instead of a burnt offering. Sealed by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, instead of our own weak words.

Jesus said to the disciples at the last supper, “for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28). Invited into relationship, covered with Christ’s righteousness, it’s the pure in heart who get to see God (Matt. 5:8). Though it’s not face to face until we step into eternity, there is a beautiful fellowship available even now for the believer. Through the abiding of us in Him and He in us, we can see and know and have fellowship with this brilliant God Israel beheld.

The opportunity is there.

The problem is we more often than not forsake the feast for famine, by keeping company with idols, instead of keeping company with Christ. And then we wonder why we still feel empty. Which is like laying on the floor complaining about how hungry we are when the table is full of food.

Seek me and find me, says God (Jer. 29:13). “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8). (What a promise, huh?) My friend, fellowship with God is not an unlikely fantasy. It’s not a fairy-tale. It’s the reality of the one who seeks for it knowing there is no great accomplishment than to sit or run or cry or laugh or work in the light of the holy God.

It didn’t take long for Israel to break covenant with God. Yet God was busy weaving another way. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).

In covenant relationship with Christ, the opportunity is there to eat and drink and behold this great God both now and for eternity. It’s what God intends for each of us. To know him and be with him. To see him through creation. To behold Christ through his word, his Spirit, and his people.

But are we too busy? Distracted? Stubborn? Are we lying on the floor complaining about how hungry we are when the table is filled to overflowing with food? Or perhaps we’re merely eating the crumbs off the floor when there’s a chair, with our name on it, right next to Jesus.

It’s a grace filled God who not only paves the way for fellowship but grants us the means to behold him not just once or twice, but all-day long. Oh that we might bask in the opportunity! For His perfect, powerful, and peace filled presence wasn’t just for Israel, it’s for us too.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What differences do you see between the covenant ratified with Israel at Mt. Sanai and the New Covenant given in Christ?
What blessings do we gain because of the New Covenant?
Are you part of the New Covenant? If so, do you take advantage of the fellowship with God offered to you?

Promises For Israel; But What About Us?

The other day I found myself trying to explain to my daughter what a role of film is. “Well it’s this thing we use to put in our cameras. It was all coiled up. And it stored the pictures.” She was amazed and shocked and slightly horrified she might be getting one for her birthday.

Don’t worry dear girl.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 23:20-33
Key Verse: “Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.” Deuteronomy 7:9


But in all seriousness, do you remember how exciting it was to develop a role of film? I would beg to go to the store. But now, we just snap and look and trash and try again, until we get the perfect one. On our phones for cryin’ out loud. Then we upload and share and pretend people actually care that my child just built a Lego tower taller than he is. No more waiting! No more developing 192 photos so you can throw 190 of them in the trash and keep two.

Times sure have changed huh? We could name a million ways life is different today than it used to be. Especially if we go back to Bible times. Yet we could also name a million ways nothing has changed! As Solomon said by way of the Spirit, “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1:9).

Indeed. We still live and die and laugh and love and struggle and celebrate and make memories and rock babies and worry and dread the thought of goodbye. While much of life has changed, much remains the same. Including – the God we serve.

He’s still the same you know (Heb. 13:8). Unchanging in all his ways (James 1:17). Which is what we have to keep in mind when looking at a passage like Exodus 23:20-33. It’s the closing segment of the book of the Covenant. It reiterates to Israel God’s promise of land and a permanent home. It’s the explanation point at the end of a long list of “do this” and “don’t do that’s” because it holds the promise of what God will do if Israel chooses obedience.

Obedience that included not just following the law, but the Lord. “Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him” (Ex. 23:20-21).

This was no ordinary angel they were to obey. This angel could pardon sin or not pardon sin. An angel who held the very character of God within him. There is only one who holds the radiance of God’s glory within and it is none other than Jesus Christ. Who we know was with Israel from passages like 1 Corinthians 10:4, “And all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.”

But Christ didn’t just follow them, he lead them (Ex. 23:23). And if Israel obeyed his voice, then Christ would go before them defeating every one of their enemies. Sending terror on the people of Canaan, confusing them, driving out the Hivites and Canaanites and Hittites, blotting them from existence (Ex. 23:27-29).

Though God would do it little by little, not in one year, “lest the land become desolate and the wild beasts multiply against you” (Ex. 23:29). Oh how I often want God to just hurry up and fix things! Then when He doesn’t I convince myself He doesn’t care. But here, with Israel, his slowness was an act of love and protection over them. A practical but purposeful delay. A means to draw them close. It’s a lie of the devil to think God doesn’t care. A lie I believe more than I should.

But the bottom line is, no matter how long it took to possess the land, Israel need not fear, for Christ was with them. A truth that has yet to change. Though for Israel – it was conditional on obedience.

If they obeyed, God would not only give them the land but bless their bread and their water.  Keep them healthy and strong, no sickness would befall them. None would miscarry or be barren. (Not even the animals – Deut. 7:14). There borders would be set and unmovable. Life would be established and full and multiplied and abundant. (My lands, they had every reason to obey!)

But you know what, so do we, though the promises we cling to are different, in the end the outcome will be the same.

We cannot say today that anyone who miscarries or struggles with infertility must be living apart from God. No, no, let’s not go there. Nor can we assume the same for anyone who has cancer. I’ve been to the funerals of some very godly men in the past several years. And I assure you, God was with them to the very end. Honored in both their life and their death.

No, these specific conditional promises were for Israel alone. But their spiritual parallels are for us. And just like Israel, it’s through obedience we’ll get to experience them.

1. You better believe God is still in the business of defeating enemies. But the enemy is no longer next door. Need I remind you, those are our neighbors, whom we’re to love. The real enemy prowls around like a roaring lion seeking to devour us. But not to worry – “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Rom. 16:20).

2. And God is still in the business of blessing. Just look around. He’s still providing. In His way; In His timing. But it’s no longer material blessing and health and wellness that showcases God’s glory to the world, as it was in Israel’s day. Today, it’s God’s ability to bring us through even the toughest of circumstances that makes the world stop and wonder. For “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3), no matter the valley, no matter the mountain.

But one day, in the not so distant future we’ll know and experience the promises given to Israel as well. In eternity. In the presence of Christ. With borders forever secure. Free of sickness, free of heartbreak, abundance will have no bounds.

Times may have changed my friend, but our God never has. The victory and hope is still ours.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
How are the promises given to Israel different than the promises we have? How are they the same?
What promises are you currently clinging to? How does the idea that God gave Israel victory in Canaan little by little, encourage you today?

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We Bring Nothing to the Table

If there’s a character quality that binds us all together, I think it’s this: We want to bring something to the table. Something of importance or necessity. Something we can be known for. Whether it falls in the category of showmanship or salesmanship we want to be good at something. To be a team member the team can’t live without. Or the missing piece to a puzzle.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 20:22-26
Key Verse: “An altar of earth you shall make for me…If you make me an altar of stone, you shall not build it of hewn stones, for if you wield your tool on it you profane it.” Exodus 20:24-25


We may squawk about the necessity of alone time (at least I do) but deep down it feels good to be needed. In the work place or the home place or the places we favor in between, it’s nice to think we provide (at least in some small manner) a benefit helpful to someone else. A skill, a strength, a shoulder, some smarts, a home cooked meal for a new mama, or at the very least some level headed common sense we’d be happy to share if the world would just listen.

And if none of that is needed, then excuse me while I go eat a tub of ice cream and head back to bed. Because disappointment will abound.

Perhaps that’s why it’s hard for some to accept Christianity. Because truth be told when it comes to salvation, we bring nothing to the table. No works in and of themselves are good enough to get me into heaven. There’s no quota I can fill. No talents or abilities that can help. No amount of good I can accomplish to get me on the right side of eternity.

Because plain and simple, I’m a sinner. We all are. Imperfections and short comings thrive in each one of us. (Sorry for the bad news.) So apart from the righteousness of Christ placed in the account of a believer, we’ve got nothing. “For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 3:22b-24).

To try and justify ourselves apart from Christ is like offering God a pile of menstrual rags and asking, “Here is this good enough?” Disgusting right? But that’s what scripture says our best efforts amount to (Isaiah 64:6).

Now to be clear, I’m not talking about the works we do in Christ. God finds those beautiful. Spirit rendered fruit is not rags. It’s a tapestry God himself is weaving. One that will line the walls of heaven for all eternity.

No, what I’m talking about is the stuff we do beforehand. The things we try and do to prove our worth to God prior to coming to Christ. And every time we come up short.

Look what God says to the Israelites just before entering the Promised Land. “Know, therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people” (Deut. 9:6). It wasn’t because of them, it was because of Him. God did it all. They brought nothing to the table.

Which brings us to our text today. Directly after the Ten Commandments God gives instructions concerning altars. The main point being this: Any altar they built was to either be of dirt or unhewn stone. Meaning no tools were to be used on the altar. No work of man was to be added to the altar of sacrifice.

But why? That’s the question we want to search out. Why was it so important for no chisel to be used? Because the altar pictured the cross, upon which the Lamb of God, would give His life. And to chisel on the altar was to bring works to the cross. And man can add nothing to the cross. It was all Jesus. It was all God.

It’s God who chooses us.

“Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him” (Eph. 1:4).

It’s God who draws us.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him” (John 6:44).

It’s God who nails our sin to the cross.

“And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Col. 2: 13-14).

It’s He who grants us repentance, leading to a knowledge of the truth (2 Timothy 2:25). It’s He who gives us life (Eph. 2:4-5). “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself” (2 Cor. 5:18).

To think we’re responsible for any of it is to bring tools to the altar. But every bit of salvation is the powerful working of God (Col. 2:12). From the drawing to the choosing to the saving to the sealing.

Then on the last day it’s Christ who will raise us up (John 6:40). It’s Christ who will and already has declared the victory (Col. 2:15). We’ve got no reason to boast, but every reason to bow. We have done nothing; He has done everything.

In addition, there could be no steps up to the altar as the pagan shrines often had. Because there could be no going up to God, it is God that would come to us. Redeeming every sinner willing to recognize His ability to do so.

Truly, to realize I bring nothing to the table, yet understand I now belong there, is to sit in the depths of God’s amazing grace.

Think of it this way, the instructions for the dirt or unhewn altar of stone are given on the heels of the Ten Commandments because God knew they would break every one of his rules. So out of mercy God wasted no time in telling them how to construct an altar for when they did. An altar with rough, jagged, perhaps awkward, sometimes difficult to handle, unhewn stone. Because neither they, nor we, can bring anything to the table of salvation. It’s God who does the work at the altar and God who works in our life.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Do you see salvation as something you’ve earned or something you’ve been given? How should the depths of God’s grace effect our day to day living?

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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