Tuesday, March 19: Exodus 17- How do I respond to God?.

Is the path of God supposed to be easy?

Today’s chapter begins with Israel grumbling and complaining again. The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. So they quarreled with Moses and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses replied, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?" But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?" (1-3)

I realize that water is important but is this a model for how to not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6)?

This is at least the third time they have grumbled. Every time they encountered adversity they seemed to grumble.

Do I think following Jesus is supposed to be easy? How do I handle adversity? What is my go-to response to problems? The Lord peppered me with these thoughts. Do I turn faithfully to the Lord or do I whine at others for getting me into this or that situation?

And so my response to The Word went this morning…

Oh, God, I want to be reliant on You not a grumbler against You. Lord, I desire to turn to You in petition with thanksgiving not grumble and moan and complain. But Lord, my desires fall short.  Forgive me when they do. Correct me when I don’t see it and empower me by Your Spirit to live as You want Your followers to live. To You I surrender my life and my life journey. Lead me where You would have me go… through my Lord Jesus, I pray. Amen.


Monday, March 18: Exodus 16- Miracles of manna and more.

As I read this morning, my eyes lit on the many miracles of manna. Manna was given every day and each day.  People gathered what they needed for one day. Any leftovers were rotten and maggot infested the next morning. That was except for the 6th day when they could gather twice as much (food for two days).  This day the manna lasted for two days so that people did not have to work and could rest on the 7th day. No manna was given the 7th day.

Then there was the manna collected and placed in front of the Ark of the Testimony, which lasted for years upon years.

I knew manna was given daily but I don’t think I ever paid attention to the full breadth of the miracle of manna.

Secondly, I saw how God used the manna as a testing device for His people. Verse 4-5: Then the LORD said to Moses, "I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days."

With this observation the Lord spoke to me, “Bill, do you follow my instructions?” My mind whirled instantly through many topics… generosity, loving one another, forgiving others… Do I follow the Lord? Do I? Do you?

Lord, You have said, multiple times, to obey is better than sacrifice.  Oh, God, I want to obey but many times, like the disciples in the garden, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Strengthen me. Send me to the “gym of faith” so that I may train under the Spirit as my “personal faith trainer” in order that that I may follow You more closely. Through Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, March 16: Exodus 15- Songs of praise.

Back in the 1970’s my campus Christian fellowship sang a, then modern, song that was based on the opening of Moses’ song. As I read the text this morning, I could hear guitars strumming as we sang…

I will sing unto the Lord

For he has triumphed gloriously

The horse and rider thrown into the sea.

The Lord my God my strength my song

Has now become my victory!

It is almost word for word the King James Version. After going through it once or twice, the leader would guide us into singing it as a ‘round.’ Funny how clearly I can remember those times and this song.

Songs have incredible power to plant themselves deep into the human memory.

Just this week a group of us were meeting and one person asked, “Can you recite all the books of the Bible?”

Another answered, “Not really.”

Then a third chimed in, “I can and began singing the books of the Bible from one of those children’s CD’s.”

The power of song.

It is no wonder that Moses put this event to song… helping it live in the memory of the Israelites.

The church is blessed with song. Every era has its songs. Song helps us take our experiences with God and plant them deep within us.

It is no surprise then that Moses begins, I will sing to the Lord

I did a quick search, singing to the Lord is also mentioned in Judges, 2Samuel, 1&2Chronicles and 25+times in Psalms.  May we never stop singing unto the Lord for He has triumphed gloriously and He will be our victory!

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of Creation…

O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder…

He is Lord, He is Lord. He is risen from the dead and He is Lord…

A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing…


Friday, March 15: Exodus 14-How do I react in a crisis.

You are marching to freedom with all your belongings plus the silver, gold and other objects given to you by the Egyptians. Your spirits are soaring, God has just orchestrated your deliverance! All of a sudden you hear the pounding of hooves, you look up and you realize you are in trouble. A sea stands in front of you and the Egyptian army is gaining on you from the rear. What do you do?

The Israelites spiral into whining and self pity. Verse 11 astonishes me, the Israelites said to Moses, "Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?”

When I read those words I wondered, why do we go there? The Israelites did what we humans so often do… they whine and pass blame. They could have spent time crying out to God for help and then waited to see what God would do. But no, at the first moment of pain, hardship, and trial, they dissolve into a pity party.

People who never think or speak about God, cry out, ‘Why did God do this to me?’, the moment a crisis arises.

Did the Israelites think the road to freedom would be smooth sailing with no hardship or faith required?

Do we think that following Jesus will be smooth sailing and all sunshine with no hardship or faith required?

When the situation isn’t what I hope or expect, what do I do? Do I whine against God? Do I take matters in my own hands and ‘figure something out?’ Do I pray to the Lord and ask God for direction, guidance or deliverance? Does my response show faith in God or in myself? Do I whine like a spoiled child or put my trust in the Lord Almighty?

These are the faith questions tumbling through my devotions this morning…

Lord, following You means just that… following, trusting, seeking, loving, serving, You. I pray for strength to follow You obediently and closely. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, March 14: Exodus 13- Passing along the legacy.

As I read, verses 8 and 14 connected with me… the passing along of faith traditions and reasons to the next generation.

The Israelites were to observe the Passover in such an obvious manner that children asked, “Why do we do this?” With the door open wide, parents can explain the tradition of the Passover and all that the Lord did in bringing Israel out of Egypt.

What a wonderful plan!  Create a living remembrance that ties families to the core of the faith and do it in such a way that children’s natural inquisitiveness is sparked, so passing along the faith is natural and pertinent. Brilliant!

I find myself thinking through some of the important Christian faith events and asking myself if my family and faith-community traditions do the same things.

I’m concerned that I have allowed the secular aspects of my society to infect my celebrations of Christmas and Easter more than I ever realized.

This stings some…

Lord, where I have fallen short, forgive me and correct me. Give me and give Your Church wisdom in passing along the faith to the next generations. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Wednesday, March 13: Exodus 12- Deliverance, set free.

Reading the account of the Passover was stirring and powerful for me. To think this was God’s answer to the misery His people were facing. They were free… free to follow Him where He led and to live how He designed.

Last year we celebrated a mock Seder with a Messianic Jewish congregation. Reading this account of the original Passover brought renewed understanding of this event in the life of every Jew.

And it was during this feast, and in ultimate fulfillment of it, that Jesus broke bread and shared the cup with His disciples the night before He offered His life as the perfect lamb of God on the cross, once and for all paying for the sins we humans have committed.

Have you “painted the blood of the Lamb” over your life by believing and receiving Jesus? By bowing your knee to Him as Lord, Savior and God?

I pray you have.

And if you have, you are now free… free to follow Him where He leads and to live for Him with all your heart and mind and soul and strength! Alleluia!!!

Jesus Lord of Glory and Perfect Lamb of God, I bow and surrender to You. Lead me… show me the way to live that my life might give maximum glory to You, the Father and the Spirit. In Your name, Jesus, I pray. Amen.



Tuesday, March 12: Exodus 11- God makes a distinction.

As chapter 10 ends, Pharaoh is ordering Moses from his presence never to return. Before Moses leaves God speaks with him and through him to Pharaoh one last time. Chapter 11 is God’s final word to Pharaoh… Death of all first born throughout Egypt…human and cattle!

What struck me as I read chapter 11 was the contrast in sounds between the Egyptian and Hebrew homes that night. There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt--worse than there has ever been or ever will be again (6). I tried to hear in my mind’s ear what that sounded like…. every family struck with death at the same time. Mothers and fathers wailing. Brothers and sisters weeping… all at the same time. My heart ached at the pain.

The Hebrews experienced something very different… the silence of contentment, the silence of everyone enjoying restful sleep, a contented deep sleep. Even the Hebrew animals slept soundly. But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any man or animal' (7a).

God even tells Pharaoh why things will be this way; the ‘you’ in 7b refers to Pharaoh. Then you will know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel (7b). God is putting an exclamation mark on His words to Pharaoh.

I am the Lord! I do as I will and you who think you are a man-god have defied me and you will pay! I alone am Lord and God and Almighty. You will never forget this and even more through your insolence the world will know that I am the Lord!

And so Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh’s presence to await the deliverance the Lord promised!

I thought… the Lord God remains on the throne. He alone is the only Lord God Almighty and we disciples of Jesus Christ still await the final deliverance the Lord has promised.

Thank You, Lord… thank You! Amen.


Monday, March 11: Exodus 10- A 3-day darkness.


The drama grows in intensity… reading a chapter at a time, leaves me hanging. I know the story and I want to get to the end. But reading slowly also give me time to ponder aspects I would ordinarily glance over.

God is in total control and God’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is one piece of God’s plan. And part of God’s end game is mentioned in verses 1-2: Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these miraculous signs of mine among them that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the LORD."

The Lord is orchestrating events of history so that the Hebrews once freed will tell and retell what God did, the miracles He performed and the grace He showed to His people.

God treats His people differently. The text doesn’t say if the locus invasion affected Goshen and the land of God’s people, but the plague of darkness did not affect Israel.

I thought about this. It was a three day darkness, so this wasn’t some simply explainable metrological event like an eclipse. It was three days of total darkness. But to set off this miracle, verse 23 says the darkness did not cover Goshen! God is distinguishing between His people and other people!

When the final trumpet is sounded and God executes His final accounting of all things, then too, God will distinguish between His people and others. And in that day God’s people will be all who follow Jesus as Lord!

Are you following Jesus as Lord?

Jesus, I pledge to follow You, wherever You lead, whenever You direct. In Your name, Jesus, I pray. Amen.



Saturday, March 9: Exodus 9- Stubborn!!!.

Pharaoh, it seems, got to one of those places where his stubbornness would not let him change. Over and over again his heart hardened against the people of Israel and the Lord, and he would not relent. His stubbornness to not repent wreaked havoc on his people and his land.

Repentance, changing our ways, admitting we are wrong can be so difficult at times.

As I think about my own life and the times I got stuck refusing to admit I was wrong for extended times, I find that PRIDE was a major culprit keeping me stuck.

Pride in me is often the inability to admit I was wrong or I need help.

Everything around Pharaoh screamed ‘let Israel go’. Even many of his officials had begun to fear the Lord (20), but Pharaoh couldn’t loose face so he resisted any change…

I am wondering if there are places in my life (or yours) where God is knocking, asking me (you) to change and we, like Pharaoh, refuse to listen and obey?

This is my searching and meditation point today…

Lord, as I set down to pray my tenor changes. Of course there are places I need to change and admit my living and lifestyle is wrong… places I have avoided change, places I flat out reject the change You seek in me. I am far from perfect. Give me another chance, show me and grow me. Holy Spirit, so fill me that I can and will change and even delight in becoming more like Jesus.

In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.



Friday, March 8: Exodus 8- God's in control.

The Lord is doing something mighty. As I read today’s chapter I could feel the intensity of confrontation building and the name of the Lord was ‘growing.’

The chapter began with the plague of frogs, which like the other plagues so far, the magicians of Egypt could reproduce with their magic arts (7). I always wonder why the magicians felt good that they could reproduce the plague. Weren’t they just intensifying the pain? Shouldn’t they have tried to stop the plague to show their strength?

Next came gnats, which the magicians could not mimic! Intensity grows, just listen to the magicians response. "This is the finger of God" (19). And yet Pharaoh still hardened his heart and said ‘no’.

Next came flies. And for the first time God makes a distinction between His people and the Egyptians (23). This plague will not happen to the people of God living in Goshen!

Now God is really making His point. Pharaoh almost gives in, but when the plague is lifted Pharaoh changes his mind and hardens his heart.

God is setting things up for His glory to be broadcast across the entire Middle East.

I sat and meditated on the majesty of God. God is not phased by the magicians and their puny magic arts, thinking they could compete with Him. He just increased His might and they recognized God was in a different league.

God was not phased by Pharaoh’s reluctance. God just turned up the heat.

Things were progressing according to God’s plan. God is in total control.

I may not understand everything that goes on in the world, but God is still in total control…

Thanks be to You, O God. You are the Lord. You are sovereign. Lord, are there any ways, intentional or unintentional, in my life that I am trying to compete with you? Am I hardening my heart against You? Search me, Oh Lord, and show me. Because I want to live for You and not ever against You. Through Jesus, my Savior. Amen.



Thursday, March 7: Exodus 7- The exodus drama opens.

Today we begin reading the account of God’s plan to deliver Israel from Egypt. I often wonder why God used such an elaborate plan with plagues and the pharaoh changing his mind and all the drama. But God did…

I have read how each of the plagues directly connects with one of the gods of Egypt, how God is showing His superiority over all false gods.

I realize how the drama of The Exodus –plagues, red sea crossing, etc.- becomes a news flash that travels all around the Middle Eastern world eventually striking fear into the peoples later conquered (check out Rahab’s response in Joshua 2).

It seems that the Lord is declaring His glory by making sure all people know He is God, that His decrees are true, and that other gods are nothing before Him. These are all lessons I need to realize, meditate upon and incorporate into my life of following the God of gods and Lord of lords…

Father, Son, Spirit… reveal Yourself to me in all Your glory that I might never forget that You alone are God and that I am not and never will be. May my understanding of You grow to be more and more full so that I will surrender more and more deeply to You and Your will. This I pray through the matchless name of Jesus. Amen.



Wednesday, March 6: Exodus 6- A hole in my walk.

How often our personal circumstances impact if and how well we hear the Lord when He speaks with us.

This thought came alive to me this morning as I read verse 9, Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage.

Moses had just finished reporting all that God was going to do for the Israelites but they couldn’t (or was it ‘didn’t’) hear because of their discouragement and cruel bondage.

When I am sick, when I am angry, when I am whinny, when I am… I often do suck into myself, and in those moments of self-absorption, I do not hear the Lord’s voice well.

God is exposing a weakness in my walk with Him. What can I do about this, Lord?

A quiet voice seemed to whisper, “First, pay attention to your internal self. Learn to notice when you ‘suck into yourself.’ Note any attitude indicators that surface when you are in this place.”

“Second, be especially vigilant when you are in that place to listen for My voice because I do speak during those times…”

As I pondered things this morning, I realized that I have to fill this hole in my walk with the Lord and I am sure there is more for me to learn…

Lord God, continue to lead me to deeper and deeper faithfulness. Show me how to fill my faith gaps. In Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, March 5: Exodus 5- When God's plan leads us to pain.

We want things to be perfect, to be neat, clean and tidy. We want life without pain. We want Camelot where it only rains at night.

God’s people cry for deliverance from a hard and oppressive life. Moses is called to be God’s answer. Israelite leadership meets and buys in, “Yep, God wants us delivered.” Pharaoh is confronted and he makes the pain and heartache worse for God’s people. That is not how we want the story to go!

I wondered how many Israelites died from the cruelty and harshness of Pharaoh as he put the screws to the Israelites?

We want the ‘Disney ending’ and ‘happily ever after’ in chapter one.

I do not know what God was thinking and why He allowed the road to deliverance to be paved with so much pain and sacrifice… but this is some of what I was thinking and musing upon.

How much am I willing to sacrifice to see God’s ultimate deliverance in Jesus Christ accomplished here on earth? How much would I sacrifice to see disciples made to the ends of the earth?

Would I remain faithful to Jesus if my lot in God’s plan was to endure suffering, pain, oppression, even death as God worked out His salvation plan?

I don’t like when these questions pop up in my thoughts. I wonder is God setting me up for another stage in life or are they ruminations of someone who has a martyr complex?

What I determine to do is live faithfully for Jesus day after day and see where faithfulness to my Lord takes me.

Spirit, lead me today to do the things You have for me to do today.  Plant seeds of spiritual faithfulness in me today that will mature and be ready to bear fruit when You call me to do something I am not capable of doing today. This is my pray, prayed in and through Jesus, my Lord. Amen.


Monday, March 4: Exodus 4- When God calls God gifts to complete the task .

But God I can’t…. I’m not good enough, strong enough, wise enough, smart enough. Every one of us has said something like this to God. We have this sense that the Lord wants us to do this, that or another thing and then we rationalize ourselves out of it. That is precisely what Moses tried to do.

Despite the burning bush and the fact that he was conversing with God Almighty, Moses tried to beg off God’s call to go and save the Israelites.

We enter the conversation toward the end. Moses said to the LORD, "O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue." The LORD said to him, "Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say." But Moses said, "O Lord, please send someone else to do it." Then the LORD's anger burned against Moses … (10-14).

Moses is pushing God’s patience.  The Lord’s anger is beginning to simmer! What was Moses doing that angered God? Moses was acting as if God could not, would not, give Moses the abilities he needed to do what God was asking him to do!

At this point my meditations flashed across the centuries to me… and the Spirit began asking me about times I have done the same. Times I have said, “Go ahead, God, send someone else. Oh, I just can’t, I am not good enough… I don’t have enough time… I’d rather sit and watch a TV show… not me, God, not today…!”

When God calls God gifts to complete the task. I hear that loud and clear in my reading and meditations today.

I also hear the Spirit reminding me not to trifle with God. After all God is God, I am not! His word rules, not mine.

And so my morning went with God challenging me. Is He challenging you?

I surrender, Lord. I surrender. You are Lord and I submit to Your will. Send me, lead me, direct me… I am Yours. I will go. Amen.


Saturday, March 2: Exodus 3- Wow.

There are so many wows in this chapter. Even though I have read it many times before, what happens in this chapter still amazes me.

The whole burning bush that isn’t consumed is a big wow. And the detail with which the Lord tells Moses what’s going to happen is a wow.

But the wow that knocked my socks off this morning was Moses’ conversation with God. Take a moment to reread it. It is a conversation in every sense of the word. The dialogue, the back and forth, is illustrative of any conversation in which two people meet and connect for the first time. God calls to Moses in essence saying, “hi.”

Moses responds, “I’m over here.”

Then God introduces Himself and now comes a surprise twist, God says “Moses I have a job offer for you.”

After hearing the offer, Moses responds, “This is above my pay grade. I am not prepared for a job like this!”

To which God responds immediately, almost as if He anticipated Moses response, “Not so fast, I will be with You. You will go in My name.”

“Ok, suppose I take your job. Who do I tell people You are. I don’t even know Your name?” questions Moses.

“Fair enough,” replies God, “My name is I AM.”

The conversations continues for a few more moments…

My wow goes beyond the content to the relational nature of this conversation. Moses had a dialogue with God. I mean this could be a recruiter conversation taking place at a table in Starbucks… but Moses is having it with the God of the universe. This just blows my mind.

I have never had a running dialogue with the Lord like this. And yet this vignette fills me with awe and reminds me how intimately and personally God knows us. How closely I can connect with God and the Lord with me… my morning wow keep growing.

God knows us! God connects with us! God invites us to be part of His world salvation plan! These are all thoughts that are spinning as I meditate on this text.

I hope and pray God wows you as you spend time in His word today.

Lord I am in awe that You choose to connect with us, to speak to and with us, and to reveal Yourself to us. Wow. I am enveloped in awe of You Lord. Praise You. Amen.



Friday, March 1: Exodus 2- So many stopping points.

Narratives can provide so many stopping points for contemplation. Here are a few of the places I paused to ponder the ways of God and the message of the text.

I pondered the risks of a husband and wife who defied the law in the hopes of keeping their son alive. What mental anguish and wrestling did they endure to come to this point. I pondered families in China when it had a 1-child policy. I stretched my meditations to families with problem pregnancies and chromosomal issues who defy the logic of many today and birth the child rather than abort. Doing the right thing in the eyes of the Lord often comes with hard decisions and difficult life choices.

I pondered the family and wondered how they came up this the plan to save their baby. I think mom planned, as best she could, these events. I wondered about Moses’ sister, if she was the slave for Pharaoh’s daughter and what it meant to be a slave.

I wondered how God prompted the family to come up with this plan… I wondered about the behind the scenes work of the Holy Spirit, setting up the deliverance of Israel in the years to come. I know there is no formula for the working of the Spirit, but we can certainly work to remain sensitive to His leadings…

I wondered what possessed Moses to kill the Egyptian. He was a son of Pharaoh, he could have used his rank to stop the fighting… Why did he resort to murder?

I pondered how things we do in secret, when we think no one is looking, often come to light!!!

These are some of my ponderings today. Where did God take you?

Lord, thank You for the richness of Your word and for the life of Moses Your deliverer for Israel. Lead me today as You led his parents to be faithful to You. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.