When It’s NOT OK to Compromise

As a farmer’s wife who built a house in the middle of a field, close enough to our hog barns it’s convenient to spread manure on, I have certain – how shall I say this – privileges, not everyone gets to experience. Like flies. Thousands upon thousands of flies in the heat of July, covering my lovely abode, like a bunch of sugar crazed elementary kids out for recess.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 8:20-32
Key Verse: “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:2


Dare to open the front door and recess just moved inside. The problem is when four children live in your home, you might as well take off the hinges and call it indoor/outdoor living because let’s be honest, kids don’t know how to close doors.

Anyway, with his otherwise even keeled wife (at least that’s how I like to think of myself), about to hop tractors over to the funny farm, my man did what every good husband would do: he googled it. Wherein he was told this fly bag, filled with decaying chicken scraps or spoiled milk, would trap them all. Of course we bought one.

The smell was horrid but praise be to Jesus, it worked. There were still flies, mind you, but we could once again walk outside without being attacked. (Though I still yelled kindly asked my little lovies to CLOSE THE DOOR whenever they went outside.)

The poor Egyptians however had no Google, no Amazon Prime, and no fly bags. (Sheesh, life must have been rough.) So when God sent swarms and swarms of flies to cover their land and houses and food and bodies and everything they owned – I can only imagine, it was crazy town.

Except in the land of Goshen, the part of Egypt the Israelite’s called home. There, not a fly buzzed, not a woman swatted, not a speck of land was ruined, because God protected Israel from the devastating effects of the fourth plague. Declaring it the first ever “no-fly zone” (literally) so that Pharaoh would know He is the LORD. And consequently, so would Israel and Egypt alike.

Because in every other part of the country the land was ruined (v. 24). Devoured by swarms of ruthless flies (Psalm 78:45), yet Goshen miraculously remained untouched.

This truth ruffling Pharaoh’s headdress enough he alas yielded, a little. “Go sacrifice to your God within the land” (v. 25).

Not a bad concession for a guy like Pharaoh. In fact, many would have chalked it up as a win for Moses and Aaron. (Come on guys, just take the deal.) But without hesitation, Moses declined. Telling Pharaoh, no way, no how was that going to work. “The Egyptians will stone us for having a nationwide BBQ right in front of their fly eaten faces.” (My paraphrase.)

Probably true. But the real reason Moses said no isn’t for fear of the Egyptians, but for fear of God.  The LORD’s instruction was clear, “Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness” (Ex. 7:16). Not in bondage, but in freedom.

Egypt’s deliverance a picture of our salvation, it wasn’t going to work to stay in Egypt to worship God. “For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death” (Rom. 8:2). Made new in Christ, we’re free. He doesn’t lead us half way out of bondage and then tell us “That’s good enough.” No, He takes a repentant sinner all the way to victory, every single time.

The problem is, we tend to compromise. The problem is, us. Given the freedom to make choices we walk right back into Egypt. Right back into the place we’ve been comfortable in for so many years. Because it’s easier. (No one ever said living apart from the world was going to be easy.) Because it looks more fun. Because otherwise we might be labeled one of those fanatical Christians.

Or maybe because we don’t believe we’re actually free. Lured by Satan’s compromises we take the deal. We worship, but we stay in Egypt. Holding onto this habit or that one because we couldn’t really give it up. Making little allowances here and there. Going to church but carefully blending in the rest of the week. Believing the lie, we can be buddies with the world and with Jesus all at the same time, a win-win for everyone. (cf. James 4:4)

But like Moses, no way, no how, can we take the deal. It’s not what God intended. It’s not what’s He’s commanded. He’s instructed wholehearted obedience. “But as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct” (1 Peter 1:15). I know not totally possible while still in the flesh, but we’re to give it a go nonetheless.

He’s instructed us to be set apart. To be in the world but not of the world. No longer conformed, but transformed by the renewal of our minds (Rom. 12:2). Abhorring what is evil and holding fast to what is good (Rom. 12:9).

But it’s not going to happen unless we decide we’re all in. Freed from sin and death and not going back. No matter how good the deal might sound, we’re not taking it. We won’t compromise, not when it comes to God’s word. Though we know the devil will try.

As he did with Eve (And we know what happened there.) As he did with Jesus. (And we know what happened there!) And as he will do again, offering the bait of compromise over and over.

Accordingly, this is the first of three compromises offered by Pharaoh (Satan doesn’t give up easily.) The second came at the threat of locusts. Urged by his servants to “let them go already!” Pharaoh says OK fine the Israelite’s can go, but no taking the women and children! Only the men can go and sacrifice to the LORD.

Knowing he’s in a losing battle, ever seen Satan try that one? Keep us too busy, keep us distracted, keep us entertained long enough to leave our kids behind. To not teach them the ways of the LORD. Or not include them for one reason or another in the ministry we’re involved with. Maybe it’s to protect them. Or maybe like me, it’s because we’re just too tired. So they miss out at seeing the hand of God at work. They miss out on answered prayer. And then what? They grow up and walk away from Jesus.

The third suggested compromise came with the ninth plague. Pharaoh conceded that the entire family could go, as long as the herds and flocks stay behind. A bit of a problem if they were to fulfill the required sacrifices.

We see this one daily too. Don’t give God your time. Don’t give God your talents. Don’t give God your best. Those are for you to enjoy. Besides, it’s too much effort and you deserve the proceeds, not Him. (I’ve certainly been tempted, you?)

But when it came to God’s instructions Moses was nonnegotiable. And the result? A work of God in his life so marvelous it took his breath away. My friend, compromising isn’t worth it. It may look good. It may even look like a win-win, but decide today, right now, you won’t take the deal. Because when it comes to the word of God, victory is never found halfway.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
In what areas are you compromising with God’s word? Have you taken any deals?
How can you experience victory today?

Photo by Pixabay

When History Repeats Itself

I have a confession to make. I’m scared of frogs. And a myriad of other four legged creatures. (But that’s topic for another day.) I know, I know, they’re cute. And I agree, they’re darling in the Frog and Toad children’s books. I mean who doesn’t love a frog reading a book or riding a bicycle or building a snowman with his best friend (ribbit – ribbit).


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 8:1-15
Key Verse: “Let my people go, that they may serve me. But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will plague all your country with frogs.” Exodus 8: 1b-2


But I’ve yet to see one cycling down my street. Usually, they’re hiding in the rocks beneath my favorite flower pots, waiting to attack my face. (Word to the wise: Never trust anything with eighteen toes.)

So to think of them invading my home by the droves. Popping out of the oven, leaping from the bread bowl. Wild eyes sneaking up between the couch cushions, lying in wait between my sheets, my pillow. Preying on me at every corner. Croaking, over and over. Long, slow, deep, and rhythmic; for days on end. (I can’t even.)

Yet the Egyptians did, for who knows how long, during the second plague. The second judgment of God on a people who bowed down to anything and everything but Him. Like frogs, for example.

Heqet, the goddess of childbirth and fertility, had the body of a woman and the face of a frog. Women wore an amulet of a frog around their necks during pregnancy. Egyptian midwives called themselves “servants of Heqet.

Naturally, when the Nile annually flooded and receded small pools of water dotted the countryside. Allowing for a vast frog population and an unhealthy reverence for amphibians. Being sacred, the killing of one of these creatures, even if accidental, was punishable by death. So during the God ordained invasion, not a one could be squashed. Can you imagine? After all, what if it was Heqet?

When Pharaoh decided enough is enough, he called on Moses and Aaron. Recognizing God’s authority in the situation he said to them, “Plead with the LORD to take away the frogs from me and from my people, and I will let the people go to sacrifice to the LORD” (v. 8).

To which Moses replies, “Alright, when would you like them gone?” (My paraphrase.) And here’s the best part. Pharaoh says, “Tomorrow!” Um excuse me? Why not RIGHT NOW! “Well, I think I’d like to sleep with my new slimy friends one more night, if it’s alright with Jesus.”

OK, OK, Pharaoh didn’t say that, but don’t we? Every time we ask the LORD to help us tomorrow, instead of right now? To let us stew just a little longer in anger, before we forgive. Sit in our sin one more night, before we break free. Just one more magazine. One more episode. One more day of binge eating. Then I’ll stop. Then I’ll move on.

LORD Jesus, free us right now! Not tomorrow, today!

But so Pharaoh would know “there is no one like the LORD our God” (v. 10), Moses requested God take the frogs away tomorrow and the LORD did. All of them died, except for those in the Nile. The Egyptians shoveled them into piles and the land stank of dead amphibians. Providing a tangible message to anyone wearing a Heqet amulet – I’m sorry, but your goddess is dead.

It’s Jesus who creates. Jesus who authors life. Jesus who rules and reigns. He is the LORD and there is no other. The one who steps into relationship with Him, honoring Christ as LORD, trusting in Him as Savior, will carry the benefits of salvation from this life into eternity.

But to the one who doesn’t – God’s wrath is waiting. The plagues are not just a window into the sovereignty of God, they are a window into the coming judgment of God; bearing a striking resemblance to the trumpet judgments to come in the last days (i.e. plagues according to Rev. 9:20).

When the first trumpet blows in the time of the tribulation, destructive hail will fill the sky, just as there was in the seventh plague on Egypt. Only next time God rains hail from heaven in judgment of the inhabitants below, it will be mixed with fire. And a third of the earth will be burned up (Rev. 8:7).

At the second trumpet, a third of the sea will be turned to blood (Rev. 8:8). (Sound familiar?) The fourth trumpet will bring darkness, as the ninth plague did to Egypt. And the fifth? Locusts. Only the locusts spoken of in Revelation 9 are not to wreak havoc on the earth, as they did in the eighth plague on Egypt, but on the ungodly. With stinging tails like scorpions, the face of a human, the hair of a woman, and the teeth of a lion, they will torture people for five months (Rev. 9:10).

Boils show up in Revelation 16:2, at the pouring of the first bowl judgment. As does more darkness, one-hundred-pound hail stones, and the rest of the sea and rivers and springs are turned to blood as the other six bowls cascade upon the earth.

And frogs? Spoken of in Revelation 16:13. Coming out of the mouths of the dragon, beast, and false prophet are seen “three unclean spirits like frogs. For they are demonic spirits, performing signs, who go abroad to the kings of the whole world, to assemble them for battle on the great day of God the Almighty” (Rev. 16:13b-14).

But these aren’t the only similarities. Israel will yet again be under great persecution. Jeremiah 30:8 describes the time to come, yet the description could easily fit the time of Exodus. “And it shall come to pass in that day, declares the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from your neck, and I will burst your bonds, and foreigners shall no more make a servant of him.” So Israel can serve the LORD their God.

Just as we see Satan replicating the miracles of the LORD during the Egyptian plagues, Satan will once again perform counterfeit miracles to deceive the people (Rev. 13:13-15). And the hearts of the ungodly will be hardened as Pharaoh’s was. Though God will send two designated witnesses to work miracles before the world (Rev. 11:3-6), as he sent Moses and Aaron before Egypt.

We have a consistent God. The same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Jealous for the worship of His people. Unwilling to let His well-deserved glory go to another. He is not dead, He is alive. The stories of the plagues were real. It happened and it’s going to happen again. Only next time more terrible than the first.

Worship the King, my friend, and no other. He is faithful to His people and faithful to His promises. But He is also faithful to His justice and will not allow the diminishing of His name to go on forever. Judgment is coming, are you ready?

Contemplate and Evaluate:
What similarities do you see between the plagues of Egypt and the End Times? How should the fact that judgment is coming influence us today? Are you ready for the King to come?

photo by Pixabay

Why I’m Thankful God Hardens Hearts (I Know, Surprising)

“As the LORD had said,” is the last five words of verse 13. It refers to the LORD’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. And is the closing refrain to the hold-your-breath second encounter between Moses, Aaron, and Pharaoh. The one where they obediently did just as God commanded, throwing Aaron’s staff to the ground so it could miraculously turn into a serpent and prove their legitimacy.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 7:8-13
Key Verse: “Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the LORD had said.” Exodus 7:13


It’s a phrase we’re good with when it frames instances such as the birth of Isaac or the fulfilling of covenant promises. But when it’s attached to something like the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, we squirm. Causing at least me (and I’m thinkin’ a few others) to question the inevitable truths pouring fourth from its reality.

Did God really harden Pharaoh’s heart? Or did he just predict it? I’d like to think he just predicted it, but there’s no denying God had something to do with it. In Exodus 7:3 God tells Moses, “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart.” (Sounds pretty cut and dry if you ask me.)

And so with Aaron’s staff turned serpent slithering about the room, Pharaoh called for backup. His magicians, Jannes and Jambres, according to 2 Timothy 3:8, were able to mimic the same miracle without much effort. “For each man cast down his staff, and they became serpents” (v. 12).

Taking the hissing slithering snake count from zero to three in a hurry. These were no garden snakes either. The Hebrew word used here for serpent is tannin which can also be used to refer to large reptiles like crocodiles. A possibility I wouldn’t rule out seeing as it was Egypt and not some place like Ohio. But the same Hebrew word is used in Deuteronomy 32:33 to refer to venomous snakes – something along the lines of a cobra.

Which is the direction I’m leaning for several reasons.

#1 The Bible says serpent. (So let’s not complicate things).

#2 The serpent was the symbol used by Egyptian Pharaohs to signify their sovereign, fierce, and undisputed power, typically displayed on a headdress they wore. (So I just think it makes sense.)

#3 This wasn’t just a diplomatic get together or a quarrel among men. But a spiritual battle of epic proportions against Satan, the ancient serpent (Rev. 12:9), who stood no chance of winning against the one and only Almighty God. Exemplified for everyone in the room when Aaron’s staff turned serpent easily swallowed the serpents of Pharaoh’s magicians. (Spoiler alert: Jesus wins.)

(And thus ends my three-part thesis as to why I’m going with snakes and not crocodiles. You can thank me later.)

I’m guessing tensions mounted quickly when the count went from one to three venomous snakes. Did anyone panic?  Did the guards flee? Were Moses and Aaron a bit taken back? I can’t help but wonder how long it took before Aaron’s staff swallowed theirs? Seconds? Minutes? Was it loud? Swift?

Inhaling for the first time in who knows how long, I’d have had a hard time not exhaling a big fat “What up now Pharaoh?”

But it wouldn’t have mattered. Pharaoh’s heart was hard, as the LORD had said, not only prior to this encounter, but all the way back in Midian when God told Moses, “But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go” (Ex. 4:21). A theme we’re going to see mentioned another 16 times before we’re out of Egypt. So apparently, it’s something God wants us to pay attention to.

But why? Doesn’t it put God in a bad light? If God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, isn’t he the one responsible for Pharaoh’s sin?

Some explain the concept away by saying Pharaoh’s heart was already hard. God knew what was in his heart (which is true), so he just went ahead and made sure it stayed hard during the plagues. (A theory I won’t argue against.)

But this isn’t the only time we see God harden a heart. Psalm 105:25 says God turned the hearts of the Egyptians “to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants.” Deuteronomy 2:30 says the LORD hardened King Sihon of the Amorites so he would not let Israel pass through. Joshua 11:20 speaks of the LORD hardening the hearts of the Canaanites “that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction.”

Aye yi yi, is this the God we love and serve? Yes, yes it is. God said to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Exodus 33:19). “So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills” (Rom. 9:18).

“You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resister his will?” But who are you, O man, to answer back to God?” (Rom. 9:19). (Paul’s words via the Holy Spirit, not mine, just so there’s no confusion.)

The truth is – we’re not going to understand it because His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are far above our thoughts. But here’s where we can rest: “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).

If he hardens the heart of man (or woman for that matter) it’s done in holiness and faithfulness and perfection. It’s done in wisdom. It’s done without iniquity and is fully just. Desiring that all men come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), God does not harden the heart of a man for pleasure (Ezekiel 33:11), but for purpose.

God hardened Pharaoh’s heart that his power might be seen and his name proclaimed in all the earth (Rom. 9:9). Hence, we’re still telling the story today!

But you know who else God hardened? Israel. So the Jews of Christ’s day would put him on the cross. So the prophecies would be fulfilled. So every bit of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection could take place “as the LORD had said.” So we the gentiles, could have a chance. Could experience his mercy. Could be grafted in as sons and daughters of God; heirs of the promise of Abraham. (Anyone else besides me starting to feel differently about this hardening thing?)

My friend, if it weren’t for God’s ability to harden the hearts of men, we’d all be in trouble. Additionally, if He has the power to harden, He also has the power to soften. To not only turn the heart of the king (Prov. 21:1), but the hearts of my kids and my heart and yours and our neighbors and loved ones. Oh how thankful I am for God’s sovereignty over the hearts of men because it’s His mercy he continues to let in.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Does the concept of God hardening the heart of Pharaoh, or anyone for that matter, bother you? Or is something you readily accept?
How does the fact that God hardened the hearts of the Israelites, so that salvation could be available for all people, help you better understand the concept?

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?

The Result of Faith

I wrapped it carefully, as though my entire world sat inside that little rectangular box. Curling the ribbon just so – I couldn’t wait for dinner. Couldn’t wait to give my mom her mother’s day present so our little secret could finally taste freedom.


Devotional Scripture: Exodus 2:1-10
Key Verse: “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.” Hebrews 11:23


Married just three months, I knew the baby bib inside that box would shock everyone at the table. “You’re pregnant?” The scene looped through my head over and over. What would they say? How would they react?

I knew there’d be congratulations because we were a polite family and that’s what polite families do. But would they think us too young? Because wasn’t I too young? I stared at the box, willing the growing butterflies keeping my baby company to simmer down. Everything was going to be fine. A baby is a blessing. New life is a blessing, right?

It’s no secret a baby can bring with it all manner of emotion. Everything from elation to trepidation, depending on circumstances. Which has me wondering where Jochebed, mother of Moses, may have fell on the spectrum.

It wasn’t her first baby. She already had a daughter, Miriam, and a son, Aaron, who would have been two at the time (see Ex. 7:7). Though unable to give her children freedom (as a slave in the land of Egypt), she’d been able to give them life – a blessing she’d surely enjoyed. But this time, this time, might be different, finding herself pregnant under an edict to toss all newborn Hebrew boys in the Nile.

Had it been me, I would have been begging God for a girl. “It’d just be easier LORD. Please, please, let it be a girl.” But what if it was a boy? Certainly angst grew right along with her stomach as she waited for her day to come.

“It’s a boy!” Whispered the midwives.  Exodus 2:2 says when she saw “he was a fine child, she hid him three months.” Because what else are you going to do? But Hebrews 11:23 states it was more than elation that caused Jochebed and Amram to hide their son. It was faith.

Faith? But how could it have been faith, if “faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). My take on things – they had a word from the LORD. Because faith is not merely hope, it’s believing in the word of God and acting upon it.

While other mothers were weeping for their littles, Jochebed believed something different for hers. A belief that was by faith. Otherwise, I don’t think she would have sent Miriam along to watch. Nor do I think she would have placed him in the very river that had claimed the lives of so many, unless directed by God.

Left to my own reasoning, I would have gotten as far away from the Nile as possible. Run away if you have to, but don’t go near that river!

Yet there she was among the reeds sweetly surrendering her son in a basket made of papyrus, coated carefully in bitumen and pitch. How you let go, how you walk away, is beyond me.

But she did. And then she waited. For minutes? Hours? Did the river move unusually slow that day as it carried her son into a wake of unknown? Interestingly enough the Hebrew word used for basket in this passage is tebah. It can also be translated ark. It’s used in Scripture only here and in reference to Noah’s ark, which was also covered in bitumen and pitch – a tar like substance to keep things sealed.

A coincidence? No. Noah’s ark was a vessel of salvation for him and his crew, just as that little basket was a vessel of salvation for Moses. And a picture to us of Christ – the vessel of our salvation. It was faith that placed Moses in that ark and faith that places us in Christ.

Though crocodiles were probably a threat, though the basket could have tipped, though someone else could have grabbed him, carried along by God, Moses had never been safer than he was in that basket. (And in Christ, I’d say we could say the same.)

Did Jochebed have any idea how God would save him? Any idea it would be through the princess? I doubt it. But just hours after releasing him to the hand of God, there she sat nursing her sweet boy, and getting paid for it.

Not because she begged and pleaded and threw a fit. Not because she schemed a great plan. Not because she took matters into her own hands. But because she had faith. Faith in a God who is bigger. Faith in a God who is always faithful to his word.

My friend, it’s faith that opens the door to far more than we can imagine (Eph. 3:20). Faith that lends us the opportunity to experience the goodness of God. And faith that allows us to be part of what God is already doing.

God had a plan to save his people. A plan Pharaoh could not stop – or Satan for that matter. For it’s God who “frustrates the plans of the wicked” (Ps. 146:9, NLT). But it’s only by faith we can be part of it.

Because it’s not fits or fighting or a fabulous plan that’s gonna throw a wrench in evil’s way, it’s faith in a God who’s already got it worked out.

If we want to experience the goodness of God, landing a front row seat to his sovereignty in motion. If we want to be part of what God’s already doing. If we want to be front and center of a plan far beyond anything we could ask or imagine – it’s going to require faith.

It may be hard, but walking forward in faith is never a leap into the unknown, it’s a clear path into the sovereign hand of the living God. So what, I ask you, are we waiting for?

Contemplate and Evaluate:
When have you stepped out in faith and experienced the goodness of God in a way you never imagined?
What do you need to trust God with today? Your family? Your future? How can you best walk by faith?

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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

Why I Pray for Israel

Maybe it’s because I’m with them all day. But for some crazy unheard of reason my kids don’t always listen to me. Can you believe it? However if daddy declares it or says it or asks for it – there’s usually a response. And a quick one at that.


Devotional: Genesis 47:7-31
Key Verse: I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:3


“Why is that?” I asked the kids after a long morning of hearing myself give instructions to apparently no one in particular. “Maybe because daddy always means what he says.” (Emphasis on the word always please.)

“Well how very insightful my dear, sweet, precious children.” At least that’s how I think I responded. Or maybe responded or wished I responded. Anyway, once the shock wore off of hearing I only sometimes mean what I say, I realized maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing. Not that the kids don’t mind me, but that they have a dad who always follows through with what he says. Because they also have a God who does the very same thing.

Every single word God speaks comes forth exactly as He says it will, because the LORD always means what he says. Proverbs 30:5 says “Every word of God proves true.”

So when God told Abraham in Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse,” He meant it. Anyone who stood by Abraham would be blessed, but anyone who stood against him would suffer the consequences.

It’s a promise wrapped in what we like to refer to as the Abrahamic Covenant. A group of promises given to Abraham, reiterated to Isaac and Jacob, and passed to their descendants – the nation of Israel.

So when Pharaoh reached down into the pit and made Joseph governor of Egypt; when he graciously welcomed Jacob’s family into the kingdom; when he granted them rights to the best land in all the region, he was not just being nice. He was unknowingly blessing God’s people.

Therefore God blessed him in great abundance. First through the words of Jacob who was brought into Pharaoh’s throne room after his sons were escorted out. And then by the work of Joseph…

When the Egyptians ran out of money to buy food during the famine they came to Joseph for help.  “We’re out of money but we need more food!” So Joseph allowed them to sell their livestock in exchange for more. But a year later they were in trouble again. With no money and no livestock left to their name they suggested Joseph buy them and their land in exchange for more food that they might survive the famine.

So he did. He sold grain to the people in exchange for their land and they became Pharaoh’s servants. It may sound harsh to us but it was a win win as far as the Egyptians were concerned. They not only had food to eat and seed to sow but got to keep four fifths of the crop for themselves. Even in years of plenty, only twenty percent would go to Pharaoh.

And through it all, Pharaoh was immensely blessed with livestock and land and great wealth. Why? Because God was faithful to his word to bless those who bless his people. Is the promise still in effect today? Does God still bless those who bless Israel and curse those who dishonor them? Well quite honestly I don’t see why not. And have no desire to test God on the matter.

First of all the promise was restated in a blessing spoken over Israel in Numbers 24:9, “Blessed are those who bless you, and cursed are those who curse you.” Secondly, God still loves Israel.

They are the apple of his eye (Zech. 2:8). He chose them out of all the peoples of the earth to be his treasured possession because of his oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (cf. Deut. 7:6-8) And I don’t know about you but I don’t usually discard my treasured possessions.

Romans 11 says the Jews are ““beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable” (v. 28-29). He cannot and will not go back on his word.

Though for a time God has hardened the heart of Israel, “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Rom. 11:25), he has not deserted them. Look with me at Revelation 21. When the holy city, the new Jerusalem, referred to as “the Bride, the wife of the Lamb” comes down from heaven it will have a great wall with twelve gates and twelve foundations. On the gates will be “the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel” (v. 12). And on the foundations will be the “names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb” (v. 14).

Someday, in someway, God will bring his beloved bride and his beloved people together forever. Until then we stand by their side because “salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22). “To them belong the patriarchs, and from their race, according to the flesh, is the Christ who is God over all” (Rom. 9:5).

Beloved of God, pray for Israel. And pray for the leaders of our nation. Pray with me that we will always and forever be a blessing to Israel not just for our own protection, but because they are God’s treasured possession and a vessel of blessing to all families of the earth through Jesus Christ our LORD. My friend may we never forget, our Savior bled Jewish blood.

Contemplate and Evaluate:
Since World War II America has given over 120 billion dollars in aid to Israel. We have stood by their side continually. Do you think there is a correlation between the great blessings our nation has experienced and the hand of blessing we’ve extended to Israel? Why or why not?
How has God been faithful to his promises in your life? What promise are you holding onto today?


If today’s Deeper Devo was encouraging to you or insightful you have my permission to share it! My heart’s cry is for God to use my writing to encourage, enlighten, and educate hearts of believers and nonbelievers every single week. Thanks my friend!