The Mind of the Lord

samplesermon

Today’s Passage – Leviticus 24 – 25 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – John 17 – 18; Proverbs 12; Psalms 61 – 65)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 47:1

Read the “0212 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And they put him in ward, that the mind of the LORD might be shewed them.” (Leviticus 24:12)

“For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 2:16)

In our reading passage today in Leviticus 24:10 – 16, we read about a man who had a mother who was an Israelite from the tribe of Dan, but his father was an Egyptian, presumably one of the mixed multitude that followed the Jews out of Egypt. The story tells us that this man (the son) “blasphemed the name of Lord and cursed”. The Israelites brought the man that cursed to Moses, but they were not sure what should be done to this young man by way of punishment, so they put him in prison (“in ward”) until they could find out “the mind of the Lord”. In other words, they were trying to discover God’s will.

My thought this morning has little to do with the fact that the man blasphemed. Nor does it have anything to do with the mixed nationalities of his parents. What caught my attention was the fact that Moses and the Israelites did not react hastily to the situation, they waited until they knew what God wanted them to do. They want to make sure they had “the mind of the Lord”.

What a great lesson this is to all of us reading this passage today. So many times when faced with new or difficult problems, we react rashly before we carefully discern the will of God regarding the situation. Proverbs 3:5 and 6 states:

“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)

There is a recipe for discerning the will of God that contains four ingredients:

1  Wait – don’t do anything until you know for sure that you are doing the will of God. Too many of us rush into a decision before we have had a chance to determine what God wants us to do. My children would sometimes come to me asking for permission to go with a friend somewhere, and sometimes they would need an answer right away, and in those cases the answer would always be no. Why? Because I didn’t want to be rushed into making a bad decision.

2  Study – Go to God’s Word and see what it says about the problem you are facing or the decision you need to make. Bible principle will answer so many questions before they are even asked.

3  Pray – Ask God to give you wisdom to help you specifically apply His word to your unique situation. In our story today, the specific situation that Moses faced had not clearly been addressed in the Law, so they needed God’s help to figure out what to do in this unique set of circumstances.

4  Counsel – Seek the wisdom of others who may have already faced the situation that you are facing. Seek the he help of those who are students of the Word, and have the ability to discern God’s will through study and prayer. “In the multitude of counselors there is safety.”

We may be tempted to think that the punishment for this young man’s crime was kind of harsh, but at least we know that the decision to stone him did not come from Moses or one of the other elders of Israel; it came from God. Moses and the men of Israel made sure that they were doing exactly what God wanted them to do.


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Take Time To Remember

Today’s Passage – Leviticus 22 – 23 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – John 15 – 16; Proverbs 11; Psalms 56 – 60

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Matthew 6:33

Read the “0211 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.” – (Leviticus 23:4)

In chapter 23 in the Book of Leviticus, we see the Lord giving His instructions regarding special days that would be set apart from other days. On these holy days, or “holidays” the people were commanded to stop their normal routine, and refrain from doing any kind of work. God wanted their focus to be on Him during these days. The special days (or in some cases weeks) listed in the chapter were as follows:

1  The Sabbath – every Saturday the people were to take a break from their work in order to rest. God rested the seventh day after He created the earth, so in some ways the Sabbath was memorial of God’s work at creation.

2  The Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread – a memorial to God’s deliverance of the children of Israel from their bondage in Egypt. It seems to be that God wants us to remember some things. We are quick to forget the provision and protection that God has given us.

3  The Feast of First fruits – this Feast took place on the day after the Sabbath of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. This feast was an acknowledgement that the whole barley harvest belonged to the Lord.

4  The Feast of Weeks or Pentecost – This was a dedication of the wheat harvest. It took place in May/June 50 days after the Sabbath before the Feast of First fruits.

5  The Feast of Trumpets – 1st day of seventh month – it consecrated the entire seventh month as a Sabbatical month.

6  The Day of Atonement – 10th day of the seventh month – this was the day the priest went in to the Holy of Holies to offer for his own sins, and the sins of the nation.

7  The Feast of Tabernacles (also called Booths or Ingathering) – beginning on the 15th day of the seventh month – commemorated the time that God provided for Israel as they wandered the wilderness in tents after being delivered from Egypt. This feast is also a celebration of the fall harvest.

All of these special days and feasts were designed to help the children of Israel to remember things that should be important to them. God wants His children to remember all of the wonderful things that He has done for us. We tend to get very discontented when we forget all of the blessings that God has provided in our lives.

I believe it is important to continue these traditions in our lives today. We may not observe the same days, but there ought to be some special days in our lives where we take time out to remember. And, I believe we should be very careful to come apart on the Lord’s Day – Sunday –  that one day out of seven for the purpose of resting the body, and reflection upon Christ. We are all busy people, or at least, we should be; but we need to take time out to remember. We need to take time to remember God on a daily basis by spending time with in our devotions. We also need to keep the Lord’s day holy and separated from the normal routines of the week. And there also needs to be some special days in the calendar year when we set apart time to remember important blessings from God.

There also ought to be special days that we set apart time for reasons other than spiritual. Families should observe special days, like birthdays and anniversaries. We ought to go out of our way to remember the important events and people in our lives.

Added Thought from the passage

“And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.” – (Leviticus 23:22)

In the middle of this passage dealing with special days and feasts, God instructs the people of Israel to remember the poor. They were to intentionally leave some of the fruit from the harvest in the fields so that poor folks could come by and gather it. Today, we need to also remember that there are people less fortunate than ourselves that need some help. God has blessed many of us tremendously with financial blessings, and we need to remember to share some of what the Lord has given us with others. Just a thought.


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Love Thy Neighbour As Thyself

Today’s Passage – Leviticus 19 – 21 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – John 13 – 14Proverbs 10Psalms 51 – 55)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 34:1 – 4

Read the “0210 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “What’s the Difference

“Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 19:18)

We read the commandment, “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” often in the Scriptures, especially in the New Testament where it appears seven times. Leviticus 19, however, is where this phrase appears first. The context surrounding verse 18, is replete with laws for Israel, many of which have to do with how the people of God treat one another.

In verses 9 and 10, God tells the people to make sure that they leave a little food for the poor:

“And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not wholly reap the corners of thy field, neither shalt thou gather the gleanings of thy harvest. And thou shalt not glean thy vineyard, neither shalt thou gather every grape of thy vineyard; thou shalt leave them for the poor and stranger: I am the LORD your God.” (Leviticus 19:9-10)

In verse 13, God warns them not to take advantage of people who work for them:

“Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning.” (Leviticus 19:13)

God was very concerned that His people be different from other people who did not know Him. The principles that God gave in the Law were not given to put an unreasonable burden on the people, but rather were given to help them to live selfless, yet profitable and abundant lives. As long as God’s people continue to love Him, live for Him, as well as loving their neighbors, God abundantly blessed them.

Maybe this is why America is struggling so much today. We have long ago cast God and His Word aside, and, as a result, we have become a very selfish and materialistic nation. Perhaps, if we could learn to love God and our neighbors again, God would see fit to bless us once again.


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Chosen, Royal, Holy, and Peculiar

oday’s Passage – Leviticus 16 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – John 11 – 12Proverbs 9Psalms 46 – 50)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 25

Read the “0209 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from this morning’s passage – “It’s Still in the Book“ and “There is a Fountain

“Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, I am the LORD your God. After the doings of the land of Egypt, wherein ye dwelt, shall ye not do: and after the doings of the land of Canaan, whither I bring you, shall ye not do: neither shall ye walk in their ordinances. Ye shall do my judgments, and keep mine ordinances, to walk therein: I am the LORD your God. Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments: which if a man do, he shall live in them: I am the LORD.” (Leviticus 18:2-5)

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” (1 Peter 2:9)


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Connecting the Old to the New

Today’s Passage – Leviticus 14 – 15 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – John 9 – 10Proverbs 8Psalms 41 – 45

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 40:31

Read a previous post from this passage – “Leprosy in the House

I thought it would be interesting this morning to connect the instruction of the Old Testament Law given through Moses to a New Testament passage that discusses the same topic.

“This shall be the law of the leper in the day of his cleansing: He shall be brought unto the priest:” (Leviticus 14:2)

Leviticus 14 deals with the offering that was given to the priest by a leper if his leprosy was cleansed. In the New Testament, in Luke 5:12 – 15 , we read an account where Jesus healed a leper. There are a couple of interesting points from the passage in Luke that help us to better understand these Old Testament readings. First of all, we read in Luke that Jesus “put forth his hand and touched” the leper. Leviticus 13 tells us that lepers were forbidden to come into contact with anybody, but Jesus apparently was not afraid to get close to this needy man. A second observation from the passage in Luke’s gospel is that Jesus told the cleansed leper to not tell anybody what Jesus had done for him, but instead go to the priest and “offer for thy cleansing, according as Moses commanded” in Leviticus 14. I am not sure that the man who was cleansed was obedient to the Lord in not telling everybody what Jesus had done, but he had to tell the priest. I am also fairly sure that the priest had never before seen someone healed who was “full of leprosy.” No doubt, even if the cleansed leper kept his mouth shut, the priest would tell many people of this miracle.

The second connection that I would like to point out this morning is from Leviticus 15 to Luke 8

“And if a woman have an issue of her blood many days out of the time of her separation, or if it run beyond the time of her separation; all the days of the issue of her uncleanness shall be as the days of her separation: she shall be unclean.” (Leviticus 15:25)

And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace.” – (Luke 8:43-48)

Notice in chapter 15 the instructions given regarding a woman who had “an issue of blood” that continued beyond the normal period. She was to be separated from everybody, and had to constantly wash everything she came in contact with. Notice the New Testament reference (above) of the woman that was healed by the Lord Jesus after having an issue of blood for twelve years. I am not sure if she strictly observed all of the rules mentioned in Leviticus involving her separation, but I am very sure that her disease was not only very debilitating physically, but also caused her a great deal of problems with her relationships with people. I am sure she was somewhat isolated from family and friends. Can you imagine finally being pronounced “clean” by the Lord Jesus Himself, after twelve long years. By the way, Jesus wasn’t troubled at all by the touch of this “unclean” woman. Sometimes we have to rub shoulders with people that are “unclean” in order to help them. Just a thought.


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Priest or Doctor

Today’s Passage – Leviticus 13 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – John 7 – 8Proverbs 7Psalms 36 – 40)

Read a previous post from this morning’s reading – Unclean

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 19

Read the “0207 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And if the priest see that, behold, the scab spreadeth in the skin, then the priest shall pronounce him unclean: it is a leprosy.” (Leviticus 13:8)

I never really made this connection before I read this passage today, but the Old Testament priests had so many more responsibilities than just ministering spiritually to the people of God. As we can see from today’s reading, the priests were also the doctors for the congregation, and they also served as the Board of Health or Center for Disease Control (CDC).

In Leviticus 13, we read that the priest had the responsibility of diagnosing and distinguishing leprosy from other, less dangerous diseases. Leprosy is known today as Hansen’s disease and can be cured with a multi-drug therapy. In Bible days, however, it was slow and debilitating, and ultimately, a death sentence. It was also, in most forms, very contagious. The priest, while determining the condition would isolate and observe the patient until determination could be made. If leprosy was the final diagnosis, however, the patient would then be permanently separated, not only from the congregation, but also from his family. They would have to dwell outside the camp or city, and if anyone approached them, they were to cry out, “unclean, unclean.” It was up to the priest to make that determination. As far as I can see, the only mention of medicine or physicians other than the priests in the Old Testament was in Jeremiah:

“Is there no balm in Gilead; is there no physician there? why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” (Jeremiah 8:22)

In Old Testament Israel, it was up to the priests to oversee the health of God’s people. Today, the pastor / preacher would certainly not be the primary choice for health needs, but the Bible still is a tremendous source of principles for healthy living, both in the spiritual and physical sense. A person can not be wholly healthy, unless they are spiritually well, and it is the preacher’s job to give out God’s prescription – the Word of God – in order to minister to God’s people.

By the way, the Old Testament priest was also the local butcher, and was an expert in the anatomy of the animals used for sacrifice. But, that is a subject for another blog article.


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Provision for the Poor

Today’s Passage –Leviticus 11 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – John 5 – 6; Proverbs 6; Psalms 31 – 35)

Read a previous post from this passage – Creeping Things

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 18:3 & 46

Read the “0206 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth.” (Leviticus 11:2)

Our reading in Leviticus 11 records the dietary requirements for Israel. As I read this passage, I asked myself the question: why did God have all of these rules regarding eating? I am sure that there are many reasons, but one of them must be that God was concerned about the health of his people. The creatures that God permitted them to eat were healthier for them.

Leviticus 12 discusses the laws for women regarding purification after giving birth. If she had given birth to a boy, she would be separated from the rest of the congregation for a total of 41 days. For the birth of a baby girl, the time of her separation was even longer, totaling 80 days. Again, I am not sure as to why God required these specific numbers of days, but I think it provided the mother with a sufficient time for rest and recuperation, as well as a period of needed bonding with her child.

The thought that captured my attention from this passage, however, was the fact that God made provision for those that were poor among his people when it came time to offer their sacrifices for ceremonial cleansing after giving birth. Typically, a lamb was required along with a turtledove or pigeon; but for the poor, two turtledoves or two pigeons were all that was required:

“And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.” (Leviticus 12:8)

Mary and Joseph must have been pretty poor, because there is no mention of a lamb being offered at the time of Mary’s purification at the Temple:

“And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.” (Luke 2:22-24)

It’s hard to believe that the God who owns all the silver and gold, and a cattle on a thousand hills, was born into poverty; but He was.

“For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9)

God did not demand unreasonable expectations on the poor. Even the system of tithing was not unreasonable. Both rich and poor were to give a percentage, and percentages are fair to everyone.

God loves all people, the rich as well as the poor, and God does not want the poor to be neglected as far as ministry is concerned; nor does He want them to be excluded from participation in worship. The New Testament church opens its doors wide to everyone:

“My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” (James 2:1-5)


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Strange Fire

strange-fire

Today’s Passage – Leviticus 8 – 10 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – John 3 – 4; Proverbs 5; Psalms 26 – 30)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Joshua 1:8

Read the “0205 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took either of them his censer, and put fire therein, and put incense thereon, and offered strange fire before the LORD, which he commanded them not. And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them, and they died before the LORD.” (Leviticus 10:1-2)

This is a very scary passage of Scripture. God kills the two sons of Aaron for offering “strange fire” before the Lord. This story reminds me of when God killed Uzza for putting his hand upon the ark of God in an attempt to steady it and keep it from falling off of the cart that it was being transported on. (See 1 Chronicles 13) On the surface, these accounts make God seem to be unfair in that He kills people over minor infractions, but let’s consider this “strange fire” passage before us in Leviticus.

Why was God so upset about the “strange fire”?

1 They were supposed to take the fire from off of the brazen altar and use it to burn the incense. Apparently, they had violated God’s clear command and had taken a short-cut to accomplish their purpose. God does not like when people do His work in their own way. (See Exodus 30:9; 34 – 38)

2 Though we cannot be sure, it appears from the context that they may have been drunken when they were serving in the Tabernacle. Notice what God commands Moses in verses 8 – 11, just after this event takes place:

“And the LORD spake unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations: And that ye may put difference between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean; And that ye may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the LORD hath spoken unto them by the hand of Moses.” (Leviticus 10:8-11)

God is very serious about His service. People who minister for the Lord need to be extremely careful that they are serving God His way, and that they are giving Him their absolute best. God may not kill us today for taking the ministry lightly, but just think about all of the people who will suffer spiritually when we serve God in our flesh and don’t give Him our best effort.


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Ignorant But Not Innocent.

Baby_boy

Today’s Passage – Leviticus 5 – 7 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – John 1 – 2; Proverbs 4; Psalms 21 – 25

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 119:105

Read the “0204 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Or if he touch the uncleanness of man, whatsoever uncleanness it be that a man shall be defiled withal, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty. Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these. And it shall be, when he shall be guilty in one of these things, that he shall confess that he hath sinned in that thing:” – (Leviticus 5:3-5 )

I read today’s passage once through, but I struggled with what I should write about, so I went back to read it again. The second time around I noticed in chapter five that God was instructing the Israelites regarding sins of ignorance. I had to think about how a person could sin without knowing it, but it didn’t take long to figure out that we sin ignorantly all the time. Think about it. We do all kinds of things that are wrong and cause harm, without intending to do so. Also, we have done many things in the past, perhaps before we were saved, that we didn’t even know were wrong. The Bible says that even the thought of foolishness is sin. How many of us ever considered when we were yet unsaved that our thoughts were just as sinful as our actions. We may have been ignorant while doing these things, or thinking these things, but we were not innocent. Plus, there is the fact that some actions may be permissible for some, but wrong for others. The Bible says,”Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” – (James 4:17)

The bottom line is that we are sinful creatures. Not only do we intentially sin, but we also do many sinful things without fully realizing it. In our passage, God gave the children of Israel a solution for this dilemma. He told them that when they found out about their guilt, they were simply to confess it, and then offer a sacrifice for it. Praise God, today we do not have to offer up sacrifices to God for our sin because the Lord Jesus took care of all of the sacrifices necessary to atone for our sin when He was sacrificed once for all on the Cross of Calvary. But, I think it is still imperative for us to confess to God our sin when we find out about it, and then thank Him for the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ that atones for it.

The idea here is that we need to stop trying to pretend that we are not guilty. We need to lower our defenses, and fire our “inner lawyer”, and get to the place where we recognize that we are full of sin, completely guilty before God, and totally unworthy and undeserving of His love and forgiveness. Stop trying to pretend that you are above sin, or that you have arrived at some kind of spiritual plateau where you are somehow better than other people. You are a sinner. I am a sinner. On my best day, I am still full of sins, most of which I am too dull spiritually to even recognize; but that’s OK, because I have a Saviour that I have completely trusted to save me from the eternal penalty of my sin, and I also trust Him daily to forgive and restore me to a place of fellowship with Him. Thank God for Jesus!

One more quick thought, If just now you have come to the place where you realize that you are a bigger sinner than you thought you were, yet you also understand that God still loves you and forgives you anyway; why don’t you cut the other sinners around you some slack; they’re struggling with the same sinful condition that you are. Just a thought.

Oh, and by the way, the baby pictured above is also not innocent, but the blood of Jesus atones for his sin, and protects him until he comes to the maturity level where he realizes that he is guilty before God. There will come a day when he will know that he is a sinner, and then he will be accountable for his sin. He will then have to either receive or reject the atonement made by the Lord for his sin.


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It Is Finished!

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Today’s Passage – Leviticus 1 – 4 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 23 – 24; Proverbs 3; Psalms 16 – 20)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Deuteronomy 32:4

“And he shall lay his hand upon the head of the sin offering, and slay it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering. And the priest shall take of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it upon the horns of the altar of burnt offering, and shall pour out all the blood thereof at the bottom of the altar:” – (Leviticus 4:33-34)

“Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots.” – (Luke 23:34)

“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” – (John 19:30)

I must confess that as I was reading the 4 chapters from Leviticus this morning, I kept thinking to myself: “what am I going to write about from this passage?”. The four chapters are all about the Old Testament offerings. We read about the burnt offering, the meat offering, the peace offering, and the sin offering. I have been a student of the Bible for many years, and I still don’t have all of the Old Testament offerings straight in my head. I really was not looking forward to writing a devotion on one or all of these Old Testament sacrifices. But, then I read the “second miler” passage for this morning from Luke 23. I read where Jesus said, “Forgive them”, and I thought about when He said in John’s gospel, “It is finished”; and then I got excited. I realized that I don’t have to know  all of the details of the Old Testament sacrificial system because all of those sacrifices and offerings pictured and pointed to one thing: the sacrifice that Christ would make on the Cross of Calvary. It truly is finished! We don’t have to run down to the Tabernacle or Temple every time that we sin. We do not have to keep it all straight, because Jesus Christ paid for it all when He died for our sins. Praise God!

The next thing that I thought about this morning was that I don’t fully appreciate what the Lord did for me on the Cross. I cannot imagine what it must have been like to live in Old Testament Israel. It certainly would have been very burdensome to live under the Law; and it was also impossible to live it perfectly. Do you think that even the best of the Israelites did everything the way they were supposed to. Do you think that every time they committed a sin of ignorance (and didn’t get caught) they went down to the priests with a sacrifice. I doubt it. But then that must have led to a lot of guilt, because they knew in their hearts that they were not fully obeying the Lord. What a relief it is to know that all sin: every sin, whether they be sins of ignorance or not, are forgiven. They are all under the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. I feel like speaking in tongues right now! (just kidding) Praise God for Jesus!!!!

Oh Oh! I just got another thought: a thought about sacrifices. There is one more sacrifice that I should consider today: the living sacrifice. I am to present my body a living sacrifice to the Lord. I am no longer my own: I am bought with a price, and I belong to Him; and that is my reasonable service. It is the least that I can do to live for the Lord since He was willing to die for me.

All of those thoughts from what I thought at first to be a dry and tedious portion of Scripture. Thank God for the Book of Leviticus!

Did you also notice with many of these offerings or sacrifices for sin that the man that committed the sin was the one who had to kill the animal? That makes it very personal. I do not like to kill things. I guess I am a little squeemish. I don’t even like to kill bugs. When I find one in the house, I usually bring it outside. For me to have to kill an animal every time I sin, would certainly be enough to cause me to not want to sin anymore.

Now think about the Lord Jesus. Did you ever think that every time you sin, it is like you personally crucifying the Lord. It is you and me that are piercing His brow and His side. It is you and me that are driving the nails into His hands and feet. Think about it. If every time you sin, you thought about having to slay the Lord of glory to atone for it, wouldn’t that deter you from wanting to sin anymore. I guess that is what the Bible means when it says the love of Christ constrains us. He loved us so much He was willing to die for our sins, and it was our sin, my sin that put Him on that cross. Think about it.


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Too Much?

3.3-Giving-1857345-Offering

Today’s Passage – Exodus 36 – 38 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 19 – 20; Proverbs 1; Psalms 6 – 10

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 89:1

“And they spake unto Moses, saying, The people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the LORD commanded to make. And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary. So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.” – (Exodus 36:5-7)

I am always amazed when I read this portion of Scripture. This seems to be the first building fund in the Bible, and it may even be the first special offering. God asks the congregation of Israel to give to Moses an offering of the necessary materials to build the Tabernacle and all of its furniture. The people gave generously, and gave more, and kept on giving; so much so that the workers were complaining that there was way too much stuff given. They didn’t know what to do with all of the gold, silver, brass, skins, wood, and fabric that the people were anxious to offer to the Lord to be used in this tent of worship.

I know that many of you have seen this passage before, and no doubt, you may even have heard messages from this text; but when was the last time that you heard a preacher get up and tell you to stop giving. Can you imagine me standing at the pulpit this Sunday morning and announcing to the congregation that we have more money than we know what to do with? Can you picture me saying, “please stop giving!”? I can’t either. Why is it that in the ministry today there seems to be such a shortage of the things that are necessary to do the work of God. We seem to always be “behind the eight ball”, so to speak. Why is that?

I believe that there could me many individual reasons; but I will offer some of my thoughts. One reason that I believe people are reluctant to give today is that they do not understand the clear teaching of Scripture. The Bible gives a lot of instruction regarding giving, both by way of commandment as well as encouragement. Many people just don’t know (or don’t want to know) what the Bible teaches about the subject.

Another reason that people may be reluctant to give is that they just don’t trust the stewardship of the local churches. There has been a lot of financial corruption and scandal in recent years involving church leadership and people wonder if their money is really going to the work of the Lord, or is it lining the pockets of the spiritual leaders. Maybe they feel that the church is spending too much money on facilities, etc. Even in our independent, fundamental churches we have gotten used to luxurious accommodations. Now, don’t misunderstand, I think the church house should be comfortable, and beautiful, but I think that it should also be very functional and practical. Church leaders need to be very conscious of the fact they have been given stewardship of the Lord’s money, and it should be spent very prayerfully and wisely.

I will offer one more thought regarding the lack of commitment on the part of the people of God in the area of giving. People today are just not as committed in general. Think about it. In Moses day, there was nothing else for the people but God. The Tabernacle would literally be at the very center of their lives. Today, the worship of God is hardly at the center. It may be a part, even a big part of some people’s lives; but to say it is the center would be a far stretch. We are very busy and very distracted today; and we have a lot more to spend our money on. What were the people going to do with that stuff anyway? Where were they going to spend it? They didn’t even have houses to live in. But we do, don’t we? And with them big mortgages and rents, and car payments, and phone bills, and cable bills. You get the idea. If we are ever going to get the people of God back to where they once were, we will have to help them realize that God needs to be at the very center of their lives. Putting God back at the very core of people’s lives will help them to remember what’s really important, helping them to prioritize their lives; not just in the area of finances, but in every other area of their lives.


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Beaming

darknesslight

Today’s Passage – Exodus 33 – 35 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 17 – 18; Proverbs 31; Psalms 1 – 5 (Jump start on February because it is a short month)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – 1 John 3:1

Read the “0131 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s reading passage – “Willing Servants

“And he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights; he did neither eat bread, nor drink water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.” – (Exodus 34:28-29)

In chapter 34 of the Book of Exodus, Moses is back up on Mount Horeb receiving the Law of God for the second time. You will recall that the first two tables of stones were broken by Moses upon his return from the first trip. The people had corrupted themselves by creating and worshipping the golden calf. At any rate, this time he comes back and finds that the people had behaved themselves. What a blessing it is to return home from a trip and find that there are no problems.

My thought this morning is not about what Moses saw when he returned from his 40 days with God; rather, I want to give you a few thoughts about what the people saw in their leader. They said that his face shone. I believe that these people actually saw some kind of physical radiance beaming from the face of Moses. I do not think that what they saw could actually be duplicated today, but I do believe that people should be able to see a difference on our countenance, and in our attitude, when we have spent time with the Lord. I remember when I first became a Christian, we went to a conference to see a particular preacher. When we arrived, the preacher, whom I had never seen before, was standing in the front of the auditorium, and fellowshipping with a few other people. For some reason, I was able to spot him out of the crowd. There was just something about him. His presence revealed that he had been with God. He literally had God all over him. I wonder if people can see the presence of God in my life? Can they see Him in you?

In our passage, we see that this radiance came about after Moses had spent 40 days in the presence of God. He didn’t eat or drink during that time. He didn’t have access to a television or the internet, or even his  iphone. There was no other people to share the experience with him. It was just him and God, alone, free from any type of distraction. I wonder what God could do in our lives if we had a similar experience. We may not be able to spend 40 days in His presence, but how about 40 minutes. What could God do in your life and mine if we just spent 40 minutes of time alone with Him. I bet it would show up on our faces as well. I bet people would say about us that we were “glowing”, or “beaming”, or “shining”. The presence of God will lighten up our lives, and through us, the lives of those around us. Why not peel yourself away from other people today; away from the cell phone, the television, and the computer; and get alone with the Lord. Let Him light your life up.


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Called of God, Filled with the Spirit, and Gifted with Abilities

blueprints

Today’s Passage – Exodus 30 – 32 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 15 – 16; Proverbs 30; Psalms 146 – 150

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 55:17

Read a previous post from this passage – “Who Is On The Lord’s Side?”

“See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: And I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, … And I, behold, I have given with him Aholiab, the son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan: and in the hearts of all that are wise hearted I have put wisdom, that they may make all that I have commanded thee;” – (Exodus 31:2-3, 6)

“But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” – (Philippians 4:19)

“For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:” – (Romans 12:4)

“But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.” – (1 Corinthians 12:18)

I just want to give a quick thought from chapter 31 of the passage in Exodus that we are reading together today. I was tempted to write something from chapter 32, but I decided that this thought was more appropriate for the people of Jersey Shore. I am thankful because this message is a little more encouraging than what I would have said about chapter 32.

In the preceding chapters God has been instructing Moses regarding the Tabernacle. God gave him a complete set of blueprints, with detailed instructions about how to go about building it. The problem was that Moses was not necessarily gifted in the area of construction. He was a great leader, but he certainly did not possess all of the skills necessary to do all that needed to be done; nor would he have the time to do it all himself. God understood this, so He raised up men who were gifted in construction, at least the type of construction required for the Tabernacle and all of the furniture and coverings involved with it. They were going to oversee the building of the tabernacle so that Moses could do what he needed to do.

I remember when we were building our little addition to the church building. It was only a 900 square foot addition to the auditorium, but honestly I knew very little about what was needed to complete it. God raised up a man in our church to oversee the construction. The project was completed on time and under budget. Everybody congratulated me on what a wonderful job I did with the building, but truthfully I had very little to do with it. And, because I didn’t have to focus on the construction, I was able to fulfill, without distraction, my primary duties of ministry. Thank God for Don Price who was gifted and used of the Lord in a great way to fulfil this particular task.

God equips the local church with what it needs to do what God wants it to do. Part of my job as a pastor is to try to figure out what the gifts and talents are in the people, and put them to use. People who are not being used are unhappy people, and unhappy people will not stay long and their talents will be wasted. God also equips each and every one of us with what we need so that we can fulfil His will. He will never ask us to do something without providing the tools and materials that are necessary in order to get the job done.

Have you discovered what talents and abilities that God has equipped you with? What gifts has God entrusted to your life? Are you allowing Him to use all of those things for His honor and glory? Why not find a place to serve in the local church where your talents can be used to the fullest? God wants to bear fruit in your life. Allow Him to use you.


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Interceding on Behalf of God’s People

Interceding

Today’s Passage – Exodus 28 – 29 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 13 – 14; Proverbs 29; Psalms 141 – 145)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – 1 Timothy 1:17

Read the “0129 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel: Six of their names on one stone, and the other six names of the rest on the other stone, according to their birth. With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, shalt thou engrave the two stones with the names of the children of Israel: thou shalt make them to be set in ouches of gold. And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulders of the ephod for stones of memorial unto the children of Israel: and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial. (Exodus 28:9-12)

” And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it. Foursquare it shall be being doubled; a span shall be the length thereof, and a span shall be the breadth thereof. And thou shalt set in it settings of stones, even four rows of stones: the first row shall be a sardius, a topaz, and a carbuncle: this shall be the first row. And the second row shall be an emerald, a sapphire, and a diamond. And the third row a ligure, an agate, and an amethyst. And the fourth row a beryl, and an onyx, and a jasper: they shall be set in gold in their inclosings. And the stones shall be with the names of the children of Israel, twelve, according to their names, like the engravings of a signet; every one with his name shall they be according to the twelve tribes. (Exodus 28:15-21)

Exodus 28 gives us a description of the garments that Aaron the high priest was to wear when he went into the presence of the Lord. You will notice from the verses above that he was to wear the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel both on his shoulders and in the breastplate upon his heart. These names reminded him that he represented the people to their God.

There are two thoughts that I would like for us to consider from this passage:

1  The Lord Jesus Christ also carries His children upon His shoulders and in His heart. He bears our burdens for us and He thinks about us continuously. He intercedes on our behalf before His Father. What an awesome comfort it is to know that our Lord loves us and watches over us. I reminded of the story Jesus told in Luke 15 of the shepherd who found his lost sheep and when he found it he carried it upon his shoulders. I know there have been many times in my life that my spiritual strength was so weak that the Lord had to carry me. What a wonderful Lord that loves and cares for us!

2  God’s ministers today are also supposed to shoulder the burdens of the people they minister to by interceding for them through prayer, and they should also keep the people close to their hearts. The Apostle Paul told the church at Philippi that he had them “in his heart”. (Philippians 1:7) When someone in our congregation is experiencing a trial I find myself thinking about them constantly, almost brooding over them, which causes me to pray for them. I want to fix their problem for them and remove the trial, but I am most often powerless to do so. But, I can pray for them, and I can love them and let them know that they are close to my my heart.

It is amazing how these Old Testament descriptions of the Tabernacle and its ministers paint a wonderful picture of our Lord Jesus Christ, and also provide practical principles for us today as we minister in the New Testament Church.

“I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;” (1 Timothy 2:1)


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Pattern What You Preach

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Today’s Passage – Exodus 25 – 27 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 11 – 12; Proverbs 28; Psalms 136 – 140

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 48:1 & 2

Read the “0128 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them. According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it. … And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.” – (Exodus 25:8-9, 40)

In chapters 25 – 27, God is instructing Moses regarding the construction of the Tabernacle. He first tells him that he must take up an offering from the people, collecting all of the materials that would be needed in order to construct it. This was no small undertaking as the tabernacle with all of its curtains and coverings and with all of its gold, silver, and brass, not to mention the wood that would be required, was a masterpiece of magnificent beauty and elaborate detail. Yet, it is interesting to note, as we will learn later in future passages, that Moses had to eventually stop the people from giving because they had given much more than was necessary to construct the Tabernacle. We don’t see that very often today, do we. Can you imagine what could be done in our churches today if God’s people were this excited about the work of God?

God then shows Moses a pattern; a picture of what the tabernacle was to look like. He no doubt also showed him blueprints of each element of the tabernacle, including all of the pieces of furniture. Moses had a clear picture in his mind of what it all would look like when he was finished. Then, God goes on for several chapters giving Moses detailed instructions outlining precisely how the tabernacle was to be built. So, in review, we see that God showed Moses an example, and then he gave him clear instructions, or exhortation.

I got to thinking how that this is how the ministry is supposed to work. God commands those of us who minister to His people to be a good example (or pattern) of what He expects in a finished product, and then He wants us to give clear instructions of how the people are to go about it. If the picture we are presenting is not consistent with the instructions we are giving, we will not be able to clearly help the people do and be what God expects of them. I know that none of us is perfect, but it is imperitive that we keep this thought in mind as we go about our business of serving the Lord. People will sometimes learn more from what they see, than from what we tell them. Both our example and our exhortation must be right, if we are going to effectively be used of God in building the lives of people for His glory.

By the way, this does not only apply to pastors and teachers. It applies to every believer. Your life (pattern, example) must back up what you are trying to instruct people. Parents, you need to be the right examlple to your children. They will not listen to your exhortation if your example is not what it should be. And to those of you that are concerned about winning people to Christ, which should be all of us; make sure your life backs up your profession. We have an awesome obligation to show people Christ with our lives as well as to tell them with our words. Think about it? Have you given much thought to your example; your pattern? Is it sending the right message to the people around you? Do the things that you do and say point people to the Lord, or do they send a conflicting message? Just a thought.


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Living in Canaan

Canaan

Today’s Passage – Exodus 22 – 24 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 8 – 9; Proverbs 27; Psalms 126 – 130)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 51:11

Read the “0127 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“I will send my fear before thee, and will destroy all the people to whom thou shalt come, and I will make all thine enemies turn their backs unto thee.” – (Exodus 23:27)

In Exodus 23, we see the nation of Israel travelling in the wilderness on their way out of Egypt and into Canaan, the land of promise. The verse cited above is one of those promises that were associated with the land. A careful reading of the chapter will reveal that God promised his people prosperity, which included abundant provision and divine protection if they were to obey Him. God promised that the inhabitants of the land would be driven out, and all of the enemies of Israel would flee from them. Again, these promises were contigent upon the nation’s obedience in wholly following the Lord.

In this passage we see a picture of the Christian life today. God has also delivered us out of Egypt when He saved us. He wants to bring us into the spiritual land of Canaan, which is the Spirit-filled, Christ-centered life. Canaan of the Old Testament is not a picture of Heaven. You will remember the people still had battles to fight there, and there will be no more battles to fight once we get to Heaven; but Canaan is a picture of spiritual victory. Entering Canaan today for the believer is also contigent upon our submission to the will of God. Too many believers today are content to wander in the wilderness of their own reasoning and understanding. They are doing their thing instead of God’s thing. What’s worse is that there are also many genuine believers who live with their backs turned from Canaan and their focus still on Egypt (the world).

It is my desire to live in Canaan. I want to have the victories that God promises those who are surrendered to Him. I am tired of wandering in the spiritual barreness of the wilderness. How about you? God has an abundant life prepared for you which also includes provision, protection, power, and a wonderful purpose; but you cannot do it your way. You must surrender your will to the perfect will of God. Let the Holy Spirit of God control you and guide you, and you will experience the wonderful blessing and abundant life that God desires for you in your spiritual Canaan.


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Sound Advice

delegate

Today’s Passage – Exodus 16 – 18 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 5 – 6; Proverbs 25; Psalms 121 – 125

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Psalm 34:1 – 4

Read a previous post from this passage – “Remember Sunday

Read the “0125 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And it came to pass on the morrow, that Moses sat to judge the people: and the people stood by Moses from the morning unto the evening. And when Moses’ father in law saw all that he did to the people, he said, What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand by thee from morning unto even? … Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone. … If thou shalt do this thing, and God command thee so, then thou shalt be able to endure, and all this people shall also go to their place in peace. So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said.” – (Exodus 18:13-14, 18, 23-24)

In our passage today, we see that Moses gets a visit from his father-in-law, who is not an Israelite, but apparently had placed his faith in the Lord. (see 18:11 – 12) While visiting, Jethro got a chance to observe the day to day ministry of his son-in-law, and determined that Moses was doing way more than any man could handle by himself. Moses was judging and advising the large congregation of Israel all by himself from early in the morning until late at night. Moses, like many leaders, apparently felt that he was the only one who could do the job right, so he did it alone. However, Jethro knew that if Moses kept up that pace, without getting any help, he would wear down physically, and eventually would become less effective at what God had called him to do.

Jethro advised Moses to allow other godly men within the congregation to share in the burden that Moses was carrying. Moses would still be in charge, and he would handle all of the really important matters, but others would be assisting him in dealing with the day to day decisions within the congregation. This advice given by Jethro helped in several ways:

1  Moses got the help that he needed, which freed him up to dedicate more time and do a better job in the important matters.

2  Moses was probably less stressed and better rested than before.

3  The congregation was served better. Even though Moses may have been able to do a better job than most of his helpers, he certainly could not get as much accomplished as all of them together. More was getting done.

4  Leaders were being developed within the congregation. People need to be given opportunities to serve if they are going to be able to grow.

If our ministries are going to get all of the help that they need today to fulfil the will of God, more people than just the pastor are going to have to be involved. The pastor must work at developing leaders, and delegating responsibility.

A secondary thought from this passage is that Moses was willing to listen to advice, even from a guy that was not an Israelite and had not even been a believer very long. Pride will sometimes keep us from listening to sound wisdom. God will often use people to teach us things. We should be ready to listen. We may not always heed the advice of others, and we certainly need to check with God to see if the advice given is in fact His will, but we can still listen.


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Quit Griping!

quit-your-belly-aching

Today’s Passage – Exodus 13 – 15 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 3 – 4; Proverbs 24; Psalms 116 – 120)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Isaiah 51:11

Read the “0124 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“Then sang Moses and the children of Israel this song unto the LORD, and spake, saying, I will sing unto the LORD, for he hath triumphed gloriously: the horse and his rider hath he thrown into the sea.” – (Exodus 15:1)

“And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?” – (Exodus 15:24)

Exodus 15 is an amazing chapter of Scripture, which demonstrates the fickle nature of God’s children. The first 21 verses, which comprises more that three-fourths of the chapter is the record of God’s people singing, dancing, and praising Him for the great miracle that He had done in delivering them from the hand of the Egyptians. Specifically, they are praising God and thanking Him for parting the Red Sea so that they could pass through on dry ground. You will remember, the Egyptians tried to follow them and that same sea closed up upon them and drowned them. The people of God were thrilled that God took away the water so that they could travel to other side. Now, at the end of the chapter, they are complaining that there is no water. First they want the water to go away, and then they want it back again. You just can’t make these Israelites happy, can you? I am kidding, of course; but I do want to point out the tendency that Israel had (and we have today) to forget about all of God’s past blessings by griping about some apparent injustice that seemed to be taking place in the present. Here, they begin to think that God delivered them from Egypt only to kill them with dehydration in the wilderness. Absurd! That big God that they were worshipping in the beginning of the chapter all of sudden got smaller when the people got a little thirsty.

I find that we are no different today. We sometimes see God do wonderful things in our lives, and from that mountaintop we offer up to Him praise and worship. But then when God allows a little testing to come our way, our attitude changes completely. Our view of God seems to be based solely upon what He does for us. When we are getting popcorn, bubble gum, and ice cream, God is good; but when God says that we should eat a little broccoli because it’s what we need at the time, God becomes some mean ogre. We act like little children in the nursery, don’t we? Let’s grow up! Let’s mature in our faith to the point where we trust God completely. God is good when the circumstances in life are great; but God is also good when things are not going as we would like them to. God is always good. He loves us. He says He will never leave us; never forsake us. He has our very best interests at heart. Trust Him even when you don’t understand; and whatever you do, don’t gripe. Griping is perhaps the most predominant cause of death in the Old Testament. I am not saying that you should not bring your concerns and burdens to Him. There is a big difference between a prayer request and a complaint. Let’s get to the point in our Christian walk where we can praise Him even in the dark days. Remember, there are others out there that have it worse than you. God is not just good, He is awesome. Learn to wait on Him. He will deliver you if you will simply trust Him, obey, and be patient.

Look, we are all really good at spotting problems, but instead of murmuring, why don’t we try becoming part of a solution. We can pray, and we can work to make the situation better. Anybody can complain, and they often do; but it takes a person of true character to actually make a difference.

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings:” – (Philippians 2:14)


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Now Do I Have Your Attention?

Today’s Passage – Exodus 10 – 12 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Luke 1 – 2; Proverbs 23; Psalms 111 – 115)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Isaiah 40:31

Read the “0123 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read previous posts from today’s passage in Exodus – “Your Free To Go” and “What Can Wash Away My Sin?

“And Pharaoh rose up in the night, he, and all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt; for there was not a house where there was not one dead. And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said. Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also. And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men.” – (Exodus 12:30-33)

Flies, frogs, locusts, darkness, hail. All of these and more sent by the hand of God in order that the Egyptians, as well as the Israelites, would know that there is an awesome and powerful God in Heaven. God’s command to the king of Egypt was simple: “let my people go”. However, Pharaoh was not too willing to heed the request of God. He seemed to be more willing to endure all of the plagues that God was sending his way. That is, all until his first born son was taken from him at the hand of God. God finally got his attention. He was finally ready to yield his stubborn will to the will of God.

There was a lot to think about in the passages of Scripture that we read this morning and I understand that there are deeper theological truths behind the hardness of Pharaoh’s heart, but I couldn’t get past the thought that sometimes God has to allow some especially painful things in our lives in order to get our attention. We are sometimes like that hard clay that the potter must soften before he can use it. I’m just wondering this morning, is there something that the Lord has been trying to do in your life that you have been resisting. Have you hardened yourself to the point where, in order for God to accomplish His will, He will have to break you. What will God have to do to get your attention?  I suppose this thought applies just as much to the Christian that is fighting against God’s perfect will as it does to the lost person that is resisting salvation. Whichever your case is, the remedy is the same. Soften your heart, and yield to God’s will. Is there some sin that you are holding on to? God will do what He has to do in order to get you to repent of it and forsake it. Whatever it takes, God will accomplish His will for your life. You cannot win in a battle with God.


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Did Pharaoh Have a Choice?

Pharaoh

Today’s Passage – Exodus 7 – 9 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 15 – 16; Proverbs 22; Psalms 106 – 110)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Proverbs 27:15

Read the “0122 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.” (Exodus 3:19)

And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. (Exodus 7:3)

“What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth.” (Romans 9:14-18)

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29)

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13)

I have listed a lot of verses above that are important for our discussion this morning regarding whether or nor Pharaoh had a choice or not when he refused to let the children of Israel go out of the land of Egypt. There are many more verses that could be used by either side of the argument, but I will use these just to start the discussion. It is my firm belief that Pharaoh acted according to his own free will when his heart was hardened, whether or not the Scripture states that it was hardened by God, or that he himself hardened his heart. Theologians on the other side of this argument would almost have us to believe that Pharaoh’s personal desire was to convert to Judaism, but God forced him against his will to oppose Moses and the Nation of Israel. Please do not misunderstand, I am not saying that God did not work in Pharaoh’s heart in order to achieve His goal of glorifying Himself in the sight of both His people and in the eyes of the Egyptians. However, God had a very willing participant. Pharaoh had already rejected God:

“And Pharaoh said, Who is the LORD, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:2)

I firmly believe that God wants all men to be saved, and he desires all men to serve and glorify Him, but He also has given man the free will to make his own choice about that. God did not create a bunch of robots that do exactly what He wants at all times. It wasn’t God that caused Satan to rebel against Him, and it wasn’t God’s manipulation that forced Adam and Eve’s choice either. Does God know who will be saved? Absolutely. But, He doesn’t make that choice for them. Pharaoh had already made his mind up about God and His people, Israel; and God knew that there was nothing that would change Pharaoh’s will about that, so God used Pharaoh to help Him achieve His (God’s) goal. God is big enough and sovereign enough to use both the saved and the lost in order to achieve His purposes.

God will have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and He has chosen to have mercy on “whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord.” In my view, this makes God infinitely bigger and more powerful. He runs His creation, and will achieve all of His purposes, even though the people He created are acting according to their own will. He is absolutely awesome!


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Excuses

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Today’s Passage – Exodus 4 – 6 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 13 – 14; Proverbs 21; Psalms 101 – 105

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – 1 John 4:7 & 8

Read a previous post from this passage – “Expect Opposition

Read the “0121 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Moses answered and said, But, behold, they will not believe me, nor hearken unto my voice: for they will say, The LORD hath not appeared unto thee.” (Exodus 4:1)

“And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but Iam slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” (Exodus 4:10)

“And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send.” (Exodus 4:13)

It has always amazed me how our human nature kicks in when we are asked to do something, even when we are asked by God. There is something inside of us that immediately begins to reason that it cannot be done, or should not be done. We begin to figure out ways to get out of doing it. We don’t come right out and say that we don’t want to do it, at least not initially. We just say that it can’t be done, or shouldn’t be done, or that it will be way too difficult. Most projects get shut done by negativity before they even get off the ground.

Moses did the same thing here in Exodus 4. The first excuse that he gives is that the people will not listen. Basically he is telling God that it can’t be done. This is really nothing more than unbelief when it comes to things that God calls us to do. If it is truly of God, He will bring it to pass. All we need to do is obey Him. The results are up to Him. God does not need advisers, He needs obeyers.

The second excuse that Moses offers is really the root of the problem. I know that it is the same thing that often keeps me from fulfilling God’s will. Moses says that he is not the man for the job, that he is not able to do it. Now he is no longer doubting God’s ability or anybody else, he is merely doubting his ability to do what God asks him to do. This is not necesarily bad. We need to realize that we can’t do the work of God in our own power or ability. It can only be done through the power of God. What Moses needed to do (and what we need to do) is believe that if God asks us to do something, He will also equip us to do it. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) We truly can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth us.

Finally, Moses is exasperated. He just doesn’t want to do it. He tells the Lord to send somebody else. God finally convinces him to do it, but he certainly was not a willing servant initially. If we refuse to be obedient to the calling of God He may just choose somebody else, but we will miss out on the blessing of being used of God. Know this, though, that if God asks you, you are the man (or woman) for the job. Don’t refuse Him. Stretch your faith. Allow Him to show you what you can do in His strength when you are yielded to His will.


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Growing Through Affliction

plant-growing-through-crack-in-concrete

Today’s Passage – Exodus 1 – 3 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 11 – 12; Proverbs 20; Psalms 96 – 100)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 121

Read the “0120 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.” – (Exodus 1:12)

In our passage of Scripture this morning we read about the nation of Israel after they had been in Egypt for 400 years. When we last left the family of Jacob at the close of the Book of Genesis, the people of God were prospering, but after many generations have passed in this foreign land, they are now being persecuted. It seems that the Egyptians had recognized the hand and blessing of God upon His people, and became afraid that the Hebrews would take them over. So, they enslaved them, and made their lives bitter. However, the more the people of God were persecuted, the more they were grew. On a natural level, this doesn’t make any sense, but then again, the principles of God often go against human reasoning. These Egyptians simply couldn’t keep God’s people down, no matter how hard they tried.

There are two observations that I would like to make from this passage:

1  Throughout the history of the Christian churches, there have been periods of intense persecution. Persecution is a tool of the devil to defeat the people of God. However, again we have observed through history that some of the greatest times of growth in Christian history have come about as a result of persecution. Notice what happened to the church at Jerusalem after the death of Stephen:

“And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. … Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word.” – (Acts 8:1, 4)

“But I would ye should understand, brethren, that the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel;” (Philippians 1:12)

The devil attacked the church at Jerusalem, and it resulted in the spreading of the gospel throughout the rest of the world. Persecution actually caused the church to grow. Paul was persecuted throughout his ministry, but he states that the things that happened to him caused the gospel to go further. In America today, we are experiencing the greatest prosperity and freedom that we have possibly ever had in Christian history. However, are the churches growing? Are we seeing more people converted to Christ? Most Christians today are not even aware of what our true mission is in this life. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not asking for persecution, and I certainly don’t look forward to it, but I am convinced that a revival of true church growth will only take place if God allows things to heat up a bit.

2  The second observation that I would like to make has to do with the personal walk of the individual believer. We also tend to grow more during times of trial and testing than we do during those mountaintop times. Consider these passages:

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:” – (1 Peter 1:6-7)

“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” – (1 Peter 4:12-13)

“My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” – (James 1:2-4)

I know that when I look back in my own life I can clearly see that more growth came during those difficult days rather than the days that I was “at ease in Zion”. Again, I do not enjoy the hard times, but I have learned to embrace them, and also embrace the God who loves me enough to mature me and, with the trials he brings me through, conform me into the very image of Christ.


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Just Let It Go

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Today’s Passage – Genesis 45 – 47 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 7 – 8; Proverbs 18; Psalms 86 – 90)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – James 4:10

Read a previous post from this passage – “The Big Picture

“And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while. And Israel said unto Joseph, Now let me die, since I have seen thy face, because thou art yet alive.” – (Genesis 46:29-30)

“He that covereth a transgression seeketh love; but he that repeateth a matter separateth very friends.” – (Proverbs 17:9)

I could be wrong about this, but I do not believe that Joseph ever told his father what his brothers had actually done to him. He does discuss it with the brothers, but only to assure them that he had forgiven them, because he knew that God had allowed all of it to happen for a greater purpose. Joseph was certainly in a good position to get even with his brothers, but what good would that have done. He also could have brought their evil report to their father as he had done earlier in his life, but that would only have hurt his father, and further damage relationships within the family.

Joseph was a great picture of Christ. He not only forgave their sin, but he also worked hard to restore the relationship. We need to learn to be more like Joseph. Too many of us are harboring bitterness and unforgiveness in our hearts toward those who have wronged us. We refuse to just let things go. We want to keep punishing the people who have hurt us in the past, and we want to make sure that everbody else knows what they have done. But in the long run, we are only hurting ourselves, and that bitterness that is oozing from our hearts is literally destroying us from within.

Let it go. Learn to forgive, forget, and move forward in your relationships with people. Yes, we have been wronged, but we also have wronged others as well. It profits none of us to continue living in the past.


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People Can Change

change1

Today’s Passage – Genesis 43 – 44 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 5 – 6; Proverbs 17; Psalms 81 – 85)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 92:1 – 4

Read the “0117 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s reading passage – “Passed the Test”

“And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.” (Genesis 37:26 & 27)

“Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren. For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad benot with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.” (Genesis 44:33 & 34)

There is quite a contrast between the events that take place in chapter 37 and those that happen in chapter 44 of the Book of Genesis. In chapter 37 the brothers of Joseph want to put Joseph to death (all except Reuben). Judah, who is the fourth oldest son comes up with idea of selling his brother into slavery. His idea does save Joseph’s life, but consider with me what this heinous act did to Joseph’s father, Jacob. We are all familiar with the events that transpired in the life of Joseph; they are recorded in these chapters 37 through 44. God had his hand on Joseph, and although he certainly suffered, God raised him up to a position of great influence and authority. But what about Jacob? For years Jacob thought his favorite son, Joseph, was dead. Joseph’s brothers seemed to have no problem going home and telling their father that their brother was killed by some wild beast. How could their level of compassion and care for their father be so low that they would be willing to put him through the tragic loss of Joseph.

There is certainly a change, however, in chapter 44. Joseph puts his brothers through a series of tests. (You will have to read the story for yourself in order to fully grasp the thought I am trying to convey here.) The final test is when Joseph arranges to “set up” Benjamin his youngest brother. I think Joseph was really trying to keep Benjamin safe with him, away from his other brothers. He tells the brothers that Benjamin is going to have to be kept as a bondman in Egypt. But notice how Judah intercedes this time for his brother. He remembers what the loss of Joseph did to his father, and now he is doing everything in his power to keep the same thing from happening to Benjamin. He knows that the loss of Benjamin will completely destroy his father. He even goes as far as to offer to take the place of Benjamin. This is certainly a change from his earlier days.

Judah changed. God changed him. God can change you and I too. People can change. I believe the best way to bring about the needed changes in your life is for you to get as close to God as you can. I am convinced that as we draw nigh to God, He will purge the dross from our lives, and conform us to the image of the Lord Jesus. Do you desire to remain the same or do you desire to be more like Jesus in your life? Judah certainly bore a resemblance to the Lord Jesus here in chapter 44 in the way that he interceded for his brother, and by the way he was willing to be a substitute. God can do the same for you and me as we yield our lives and our will to Him.

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” – (2 Corinthians 5:17)

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” – (Romans 12:2)


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Give God the Glory

Today’s Passage – Genesis 41 – 42 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 3 – 4; Proverbs 16; Psalms 76 – 80

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Ephesians 4:32

Read a previous post from this passage – “In His Time

Read the “0116 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace.” (Genesis 41:16)

In chapter 41 of Genesis, we hear about Pharaoh’s dreams of the corn and the kine. He know that these dreams mean something, but he has no clue what the significance of them is. He learns that there is a man named Joseph down in the dungeon that has been known to interpret dreams for other people. Joseph is hastily summoned to appear before Pharaoh, and Pharaoh questions Joseph about “Joseph’s: ability to explain the meaning of these of these dreams. Joseph is very quick to deflect the focus from himself to the Lord. He doesn’t take any credit for his gift but immediately gives the glory to God. In fact, five times in Joseph’s discussion with Pharaoh Joseph mentions God to Pharaoh. (vs. 16, 25, 28, and 32) Pharaoh gets the message also, because in vs. 38 and 39, he acknowledges that the interpretation of the dream can from God also:

“And Pharaoh said unto his servants, Can we find such a one as this is, a man in whom the Spirit of God is? And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath shewed thee all this, there is none so discreet and wise as thou art:” (Genesis 41:38-39)

This heathen king was introduced to the God of the Universe all because Joseph took an opportunity to use a gift that was given to him by God and acknowledge the fact that it was God who enabled him to do it. 

How many opportunities do we get each day to display our God-given abilities to the lost world around us? But, when we do a good job and we are recognized, do we give God the glory by letting everybody know that it is God who is working through us. Let’s not steal God’s glory, and let’s not waste opportunities to be witnesses for the Lord. Our sole purpose in life is to make God look good; to glorify Him in front of a lost and dying world. If we meet Pharaoh in Heaven someday, it will be because Joseph made God look good. How many people do we point to God?

By the way, the opposite of this story is also true. When we do wrong things in front of the lost people around us, we are making God look bad. What an awesome responsibility and privilege we have to represent the Lord in this world. Let’s be sure to give Him the glory when we get things right, and take the blame when we do things wrong. Let’s make God look good to the world around us.


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What About Judah?

Lion-Of-Judah-HD-Wallpaper

Today’s Passages – Genesis 38 – 40 (Click on the references to listen to the passages. Click here to view today’s passage on Blue Letter Bible.)

(Second Milers also read – Mark 1 – 2; Proverbs 15; Psalms 71 – 75)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 89:1

Read the “0115 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.” (Revelation 5:5)

We don’t talk a lot about Judah as a man. We know that Jesus comes from the tribe of Judah, and we know that when Israel split in the time of King Rehoboam that the tribe of Judah alone stood in Jerusalem and demonstrated better adherence to the Law of God than her neighbors to the north did; but what do we know about the man, Judah. I have been guilty of assuming that the reason that God chose the tribe of Judah above all of the other tribes was due to the fact that Judah was a more honorable man than his three older brothers. In fact, I recently posted that thought in the “Boys Will Be Boys” post from two days ago. However, after reading today’s passage, I had to give it a little more thought.

In chapter 37, we discover that it was Judah that suggested to his brothers that they sell Joseph to the Ishmaelites, and there is nothing in the context to support the fact that he did so for the purpose of sparing his life:

“And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he is our brother and our flesh. And his brethren were content.” (Genesis 37:26-27)

It appears that he merely wanted to make a profit from the situation. Killing Joseph would not have benefitted him financially. By the way, we usually don’t think too highly about Reuben, but it was he who tried to save Joseph, not Judah.

Chapter 38 is a parenthetical digression dealing solely with the family of Judah. In it we see that Judah marries a woman from Canaan:

“And Judah saw there a daughter of a certain Canaanite, whose name was Shuah; and he took her, and went in unto her.” (Genesis 38:2)

You may recall that Isaac strictly forbid Jacob (Judah’s father) from taking a wife from the daughters of Canaan. (Genesis 28:1, 6)

Later on in chapter 38, we read about Judah purchasing a prostitute, which turns out to be his daughter-in-law:

“When Judah saw her, he thought her to be an harlot; because she had covered her face. And he turned unto her by the way, and said, Go to, I pray thee, let me come in unto thee; (for he knew not that she was his daughter in law.) And she said, What wilt thou give me, that thou mayest come in unto me?” (Genesis 38:15-16)

Now in a couple of days we are going to read a story about Judah where he is doing a good thing. In Genesis 44 he will be interceding with Joseph, pleading with him to allow Benjamin to go home to his father, Jacob. He even offers himself as a substitute. Judah got this one right:

“Then Judah came near unto him, and said, Oh my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh. … For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever. Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren.” (Genesis 44:18, 32-33)

So, here it is: the bad and the good about Judah, and it seems that there is more bad than good recorded. So why did God choose Judah? Was it because he was a good man as opposed to his evil older brothers? No, I don’t think so. He did, however, demonstrate Christlikeness when he offered himself as a substitute for his brother Benjamin. But I still do not think that is the reason why Christ descends from Judah. Judah was just like you and me. He was a sinner. He did bad things, just like us; and it was only because of God’s grace that He could do anything with Judah at all. By the way, it is only because of God’s grace that He can do anything with you or I. He saves us by His grace, and He can only use us by His grace as well.

“Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.” (Genesis 49:8-12)


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The Green Eyed Monster

Envy

Today’s Passage – Genesis 36 – 37 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 27 – 28; Proverbs 14; Psalms 66 – 70

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Matthew 6:33

Read the “0114 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

“And his brethren envied him; but his father observed the saying.” (Genesis 37:11)

“And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,” (Acts 7:9)

“O, beware, my lord, of jealousy;
It is the green-eyed monster which doth mock
The meat it feeds on; …” (“Othello” – Shakespeare)

“For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.” (Mark 15:10)

“Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:26)

“Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?” – (Proverbs 27:4)

You have probably heard the expression, “Jealousy is a terrible thing.” There can be no clearer illustration of this truth than the example given here in Genesis 37. Here Joseph’s brothers are so jealous (envious) of Joseph that they first conspire to kill him, but finally acquiesce to selling him into slavery. What would cause them to envy there brother so much that it would cause them to sin so against him (not to mention against their father)? I believe we can see three ingredients that fueled the jealousy.

1  The Favoritism of the Father – Joseph was one of only two boys that was born to Rachel, the wife he loved dearly; and he was the second youngest of all of his children. Jacob did not attempt to veil his love for this child, either He made it clear to all others inthe family that He had a very special place in his heart for Joseph. He made him a beautiful coat of many colors. The other brothers received no such token of the father’s affection. It is not wrong to treat our children individually, based upon the needs that each may have; but it is wrong for parents to love their children differently. I confess, that at times this can be difficult; but we must strive to assure each of our children that we love them, and that our love for each does not exceed the love of another.

2   The Folly of the Son – I may be off base here; but Joseph did not show much wisdom in his bold declarations of the dreams to his brothers. God had obviously revealed a special plan for Joseph: a plan which involved him being placed in a position of authority over, not only his brothers, but also his father and mother. Maybe it was just because of his honest nature, but Joseph seemed to almost rub it in the face of his brothers.

3  The Finger of God – God obviously had his hand on the boy’s life. He had a special plan for Joseph. God’s hand upon Joseph was clearly evident to his brothers, and I believe this was the real problem. They saw in Joseph something they had lost. Joseph had a purity about him, that we have already seen to be lacking in some, if not all, of his brothers. They saw in Joseph what they should be, and instead of rejoicing in his devotion to the Lord, they attempted to destroy the reminder.

Envy is a terrible thing. I fight it all of the time in my life. I hear of a preacher being blessed of God in his ministry, and often the “green eyed monster” rears his ugly head. I sometimes have to force myself to rejoice in the victory that God is giving to my brothers. I bet that some of you have this problem as well. God blesses somebody in your life, maybe financially or materially, and you get jealous. Maybe your peer at work receives a promotion, and you don’t. How does it make you feel? Ask God to help you rid your heart of this monster. This green beast does not come from the Spirit of God; he is purely a product of your sinful nature. Don’t allow him to influence you to such an extent that you sin against God and others with your words or actions. The “Green Eyed Monster” needs to be put to death in all of our lives. Remember, God is not a repecter of persons. He loves no one more than he loves you, and He has a special plan for your life, just as much as He has used others.


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Boys Will Be Boys

Today’s Passage – Genesis 33 – 35 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 25 – 26; Proverbs 13; Psalms 61 – 65)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 55:17

Read the “0113 Evening and Morning“ devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from today’s reading – “Lead On Softly

And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males.” (Genesis 34:25)

“And it came to pass, when Israel dwelt in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine: and Israel heard [it]. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve:” (Genesis 35:22)

I grew up in a home with four boys. We were blessed to not have any sisters. Girls have cooties: at least that is what I was told as a boy. In fact, even in my extended family, on my dad’s side, there were only boys. I had six male cousins, but no girls. I remember my grandmother would often get frustrated with our bad behavior. We were always fooling and fighting. We were being boys. She would often go get my dad and tell him: “Those Boys!” I must have heard that phrase come out of her lips a thousand times, and it usually meant that we were in trouble.

Jacob also had a bunch of boys that would often find themselves in trouble. In fact the verses above tell of the shinanigans that three of the sons were involved in. The first involved sons numbers two and three: Simeon and Levi. (I was often referred to by number as a child as well.) It seems that these boys wanted to exact revenge upon a local huligan that had raped their sister. Now, there is nothing wrong with these boys wanting to see justice done to this guy; but they took it way too far. Without the permission of their father, they go into this man’s village and kill every male. Jacob later recalls the event and says that the boys were instruments of cruelty, and that their anger was fierce. I don’t blame them for the way they felt, and I do not fault them for desiring revenge. I have three daughters of my own now, and I don’t even want to think about what I would do if this happened to one of them. But, there will be many times in life where our passion, and our thinking need to be yielded to the will of God.

The next incident involves son number one; the oldest, Reuben. This man also had a big problem with passion, but with him it was a sick lust for the opposite sex. This man actually had sex with his father’s concubine (kind of a second class wife). His fleshly desires were out of control. He was certainly not considering the will of God when he did this. Consider for a moment the depravity of the human heart. Your heart and my heart. We need to yield our members as instruments of righteousness; and we need to walk in the Spirit so that we will not fulfil the lusts that are inside each of us.

Unfortunately for these boys there were some pretty severe consequences for their actions. You will recall that the boys involved in these two incidents were boys one through three, right? Reuben, who was the firstborn, should have been the one with the birthright, but he lost it. Simeon and Levi were disqualified also. Guess who got it? Your right. Boy number four, Judah. I seem to recall that Jesus is called the lion of the tribe of Reuben, right? No. He is the lion of the tribe of Judah. Jesus descended from Son Number Four. The only thing good that came from Reuben is a tasty sandwich with Pastrami and Swiss Cheese. The bottom line is that I want to exhort you to think before you allow your passions to take control. The act of passion takes only a moment, but the consequences are long term. Please, walk with God. Run every decision, every word, every act past His desk. Let Him control your passions.


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Surprise!

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Today’s Passage – Genesis 29 – 30 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read –Matthew 21 – 22; Proverbs 11; Psalms 51 – 55)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture song – Isaiah 40:31

Read a previous post from this passage – “Moving Forward

And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me? (Genesis 29:25)

It this passage we see that Jacob who had deceived his father is now being deceived himself. He had left Canaan (Israel) and travelled back to the place where his family originated (near Babylon) in order to find a wife. He arrives and meets a beautiful young lady named Rachel who happened to be his cousin (OK back in those days – really wierd today). He falls in love with her and strikes a bargain with her uncle to work for him for seven years as payment for his daughter. Oh how I wish that we still followed this program today. I have three beutiful daughters and I would have been rich. Anyway, after his seven years of hard labor is completed, Jacob wants his wife. However, when he wakes up in the morning he does not find beautiful Rachel lying next to him in the bed, but instead he sees Leah, Rachel’s older sister. You can imagine the suprize that must have been on his face when he laid eyes on Leah who the Bible describes as “tender- eyed”. That was the phrase you used in Bible days when you wanted to be kind when describing someone who was ugly. Jacob was tricked by his uncle Laban. The deceiver was deceived.

I have two thoughts regarding this passage of Scripture. The first is the principle of sowing and reaping. Jacob reaped deception because he was a sower of deception. In fact, I think we learn in the coming chapters that Jacob reaps a little more than he sowed. We sure have to be careful in our lives because this principle is certainly in effect today as well. The Bible says be sure your sin will find you out; and the way of the transgressor is hard. It will eventually come back to bite you. I have seen this principle often in my life and ministry. Many of the problems that I have dealt with as a pastor have been areas where I have been guilty in the past. However, the principle works for good things as well as bad. Sow some good things in your life and you will reap some good things back. Sow a little mercy toward others and you will reap a little mercy from others. Sow a little kindness, and reap a little kindness; sow a little compassion, and you will reap a little compassion. You get the idea.

The second thought is that you cannot trust the world. Laban was not a saved man, and Jacob was trusting him to be faithful and trustworthy in his dealings with him. Laban is a type of the devil. If you make a deal with the devil or the world for Rachel, you are going to wake up someday with Leah. Satan is a liar, and this world is completely out for itself. Even God’s people can be downright untrustworthy at times; but know this: you can trust God completely. He will always deliver what he promises, and He will always do right. Even when we don’t understand what He is doing, or why; we can be assured that He loves us, and that He has our best interests in mind.


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I Am With Thee

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Today’s Passage – Genesis 27 – 28 (Click on the references to listen to the audio – Click here to view the passage from Blue Letter Bible)

(Second Milers also read – Matthew 19 – 20; Proverbs 10; Psalms 46 – 50)

Listen to this morning’s Scripture Song – Psalm 48:1 & 2

Read the “0110 Evening and Morning” devotion for today, by the late Charles Haddon Spurgeon.

Read a previous post from this passage – “The House of God” and “Savory Meat

“And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again into this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” (Genesis 28:13-15)

In today’s passage we read about Jacob fleeing from his brother Esau into the land of Mesopotamia (Padanaram) where he will live for twenty years with his Uncle Laban. Along the way he stops at a place that he would later Bethel, which means “house of God”. There the God of his grandfather Abraham meets with him personally for the first time, and there God will confirm His covenant with Jacob. God now makes the same three promises to Jacob that He originally made to Abraham back in chapters 12 and 15. The covenant includes:

Provision of Land (v 13)

Progeny (Children – v 14)

Protection and Prosperity (v 15)

My thought this morning surrounds the phrase, “I am with thee”. Jacob had certainly done nothing to deserve God’s presence in his life. His history thus far has only demonstrated that he was a deceiver. Yet, God promises to bless him and go with him. God can do what He wants to do, and He sees what we cannot see. He sees beyond the mistakes that we have made in our past. He sees what we will be, what He will mold us to be. God made the very same promise to Isaac back in Genesis 26:24. God would later repeat the phrase several times in regard to the entire nation of Israel. The only other time the exact statement is made is in the New Testament to the Apostle Paul. (Acts 18:10)

What an awesome privilege it is to have God’s presence with us. He indwells the believer today with His presence:

“Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” (John 14:17)

“In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,” (Ephesians 1:13)

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19)

As you go through your day today, go with the assurance that the same God that was with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob so many years ago is also with you. He will “never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5)


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