Thursday, March 31 Exodus 16- Gift and indicator.

Verse 16 …In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions.

Manna played two roles in the life of Israel during the years in the desert.

First it was gift. Manna was God’s provision to keep the million plus Israelites alive and well fed during their journey. Every day God provided manna. As the evening dew evaporated in the sunlight, manna formed and Israelites could gather and cook food for the day.

But manna was also a test, a test to see if Israel would follow God’s instructions. First they were only to gather enough manna a day that they would eat that day. There was no storing up for the future. No stockpiling manna for a ‘rainy day.’ Any uneaten manna was full of maggots on day two! Also, and more importantly, they were only to gather manna 6 days a week. NO gathering on the Sabbath! To provide for Israel they could gather twice as much on the day before the Sabbath and that manna would not rot overnight.

Would Israel be faithful? Would they follow God’s rules or skirt God’s rules???

Well, some did skirt the rules and God saw their hearts.

I don’t receive manna every day, but the Lord still has rules… do I obey?

Honestly, I skirt some of God’s rules, which is why I need a Savior. He is Jesus Christ, the Lord, who forgives my sins and paid the penalty that my sins deserved.

And Jesus is willing to accept and save any rule-breaker who will turn to Him in faith and follow Him in life.

Will you believe? Will you follow Jesus?

Jesus, I would have been no different than the Israelites in the dessert. I would have sinned and grumbled because they are human and so am I. Thank You for Jesus… and for a way back into relationship with You. I love you, Lord. Amen.


Wednesday, March 30: Exodus 15- Songs and wonderings.

From this chapter springs many devotional moments.

My mind pondered the wonder of song. Moses sang and taught the people to sing. Miriam sang and taught the ladies to sing. And these were songs of faith.

There is something about songs of faith. Each time I gather for worship we sing… we sing of the might and power and goodness and love of God. We sing songs to God, about God and crying out to God.

Song presses deeper into the human inner being than words alone. Religious songs strengthen faith. Patriotic songs breed national pride. Love songs arouse. Comedic songs can cause us to guffaw.

God’s Word is full of song. God’s people have sung of the Lord for millennia. It seems good and wise to sing the songs of old and new songs, songs of today, because the Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8). We should even sing songs of where we are headed… songs of eternity.

As I pressed on in my reading, I wondered how we humans can be so forgetful and fearful. Three days after their miraculous deliverance through the Red Sea, the Israelites apparently stopped singing the song and began grumbling as water rations diminished and thirst grew.

They walked through a sea “tunnel” on dry land and then watched the sea crash in and drown their enemies and yet, they could not see that the Lord would or could deliver them from thirst.

How fickle and momentary we can be!

What have you done for me lately, O God?

Wonderings about how I can sustain my faith and not fall prey, like the Israelites, to fear and grumbling, erupted in my thoughts…

Oh, God, I want to do better than these faith-ancestors did. Oh, Lord, when all is said and done and my body is placed in a grave, as my soul flies to be with You for eternity, I long to be known as one who stood faithfully with You. I long to leave a legacy of faith and service to Jesus.

I long that my life, as well as my mouth sings, Your praise…

Oh, Lord, my God, when I in awesome wonder, consider all thy hands have made…



Tuesday, March 29: Exodus 14- A time to act.

Verses 15-16: Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out our hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.”

As I read this verse, it occurred to me that there is a time to stop praying (crying out to the Lord) and to start acting with the faith we have as be believe the Lord has directed us to act.

Sometimes people can pray themselves into inactivity.

Hmmm, can prayer, misused, be a stall tactic or an action that avoids honest faith action?

I am in no way wondering about normal prayer, because God provides us with an open door to come to Him at any time with any request or problem. But is there a time when God has answered and action is now required, not more prayer.

When I was young, my pastor counseled people when facing a pressing decision and weren’t sure what to do, to set a specific time –maybe a week- to pray about it. Pray fervently, seek counsel from godly friends if that seems right, read scripture and pray, pray, pray. Then when the time you set is up, make the best decision you can, believing that God is directing you.

That seemed like solid advice back then and does to this day. And it seems to generally fit with the situation at hand…

Absolutely prayer is important.  However, there comes a times to end our crying to God so we can step out in faith as God directs…

Lord, thank You that I have 24/7/365 access to You. Thank You that the Holy Spirit lives in me. Thank You that You never leave me or forsake me.  In faith help me, Lord, to LIVE and ACT for You day in and day out, to put my faith and my prayer into action that affects others for good and for You. Through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.


Monday, March 28: Exodus 13- Keeping one's word.

We are in the midst of the political primary season and it seems that no politician keeps his or her word. I’m not talking about changing one’s mind; all of us do that from time to time. I am talking about keeping the promises we have made.

Moses kept the promise to Joseph to take Joseph’s bones with them when the Israelites left Egypt (19). And this is an oath kept for 100’s of years, likely passed down from father to son for multiple generations.

Word keeping… rattled in my thoughts. Too often in my world it seems that ‘word keeping’ is no longer a given. “Till death do us part” or “As long as we both shall live” is a vow in most weddings and yet 50% of weddings end prematurely in divorce. How sad. I wonder how many couples bail rather than working first to keep their word to each other. I just don’t know...

Pre-nups are all the rage these days. Something in me cringes when I think about that. Pre-nups seem to signal, “Hey if/when things don’t work out, these are the assets I intend to keep…”

Like I said, I just cringe at the thought…

Even more, everything these days seems to be finalized by a contract of some kind. A person’s word is no longer her/his bond. And ‘getting out of contracts’ seems to be the business of the day for many lawyers…

Not long ago a contract for a service we had was voided because the entity filed for bankruptcy. I understand those things happen, but only a couple of months before filing, this company pushed us to re-up for the next summer’s contract (paying a slightly reduced fee for 11 months in advance), which we likely forfeited in the bankruptcy. I can’t help but believe that the handwriting was on the wall when they asked us –long term partners- to re-up. Frustrating. Now maybe there was no intention to short us our fee, but something just doesn’t feel right.

And maybe the feeling I have is because all too often people today ‘reneg’ on their word. I don’t think I will ever know the full answer.

This brings me back to the text, Moses and the Israelites keeping the word spoken to Joseph centuries earlier.

God’s not so subtle whisper to me… “Keep your word. Be a man of your word. Let your word be your bond.”

God is asking us to live in His character, for the Lord is a word-keeper! And because of that I can rest assured that when I die eternity awaits, thanks to faith in Jesus Christ. Because that is what God has said in His Word.

Lord God, thank You for keeping Your Word. I believe You. I trust You and I seek to emulate You. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen. 



Saturday, March 26: Exodus 12- The price of freedom.

Someone in a very different context said, “The price of freedom is never free.” The Hebrews certainly learned that on the Passover night. Having endured oppression at the hands of the Egyptians and then living through the plagues, albeit being protected from the final ones, the Hebrews come to this final night in Egypt.

All around them they hear the wailing of families as firstborn children and animals die. God’s hand again protected the Hebrews but they lived amongst the pain. And although they may not have paid the price, their freedom cost the Egyptians heavily!

The connection to the NT and Jesus’ death, as our Passover Lamb, is unmistakable for Christians. For a second time the people of God are brought to freedom. This time it is freedom from sins’ penalty and freedom from Satan’s jail (or kingdom, see Col 1:9). And this time our freedom cost us nothing but cost Jesus everything.

This is the amazing truth of the Christian faith.  Jesus, God’s one and only Son and God Himself, paid the price of our freedom.

Freedom, even spiritual freedom, is never free! Thankfully Jesus paid for the freedom of everyone who believes in Him.

Think about that… a great truth for the day after Good Friday and the eve of Easter! Halleluiah! Amen!

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for the cross and for buying my freedom. Thank You for raising from the dead the first of all who believe in You to eternal life. Halleluiah!  Let all the people sing ‘Halleluiah, Jesus Christ is risen from the dead forevermore’. Amen and Amen.


Friday, March 25: Exodus 11- God provides.

For all Moses’ whining and complaining he couldn’t speak well.  However, it is Moses who delivers these final words to Pharaoh.

God provides what we need when we need it as we execute His will.

And that is my devotional thought for today. God provides what we need to do His will.

Has God called you to do something? If it is truly God’s call He will provide.

David, Gideon, Moses, Peter and the Apostles, Paul and Timothy, Lydia, Mary, the list goes on and continues throughout history to you and to me.

God provides what we need to execute His will.

Is God asking you to do something? Are you balking or procrastinating? Step out of the boat and follow Jesus. ‘His will’ will be accomplished.

Oh, God, give me faith to believe Your call and faith to live in and do Your will. For Jesus, the Father and the Spirit and in Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Thursday, March 24: Exodus 10- Why spar with God.

God is tightening the noose. Pharaoh’s anger is growing and soon God will win.  He always does.

Don't toy or trifle with God. This is what I hear in my heart as I listen to this sad story. Once powerful Egypt is nearing a precipice they will tumble over never to fully rise again.

Quickly my thoughts and musings turn from Egypt to myself. Why would I ever think I could spar with God and win.  Pharaoh will lose in the next chapters. Moses argued and lost. Jonah ran and was found. Even Satan, a most powerful angel, is destined to lose (read Revelation).

My thoughts, my dreams, my goal should be to learn to submit, to obey and to follow immediately as God leads and directs, not argue and whine with God when I hear Him say, ‘Do this or that’.

Oh, God, give me a willing heart. Give me a listening heart that I may follow and serve You, Lord, all the days of my life. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Wednesday, March 23: Exodus 9- The way of the human heart is a mystery .

I wondered how many displays God would have to send Pharaoh before Pharaoh acknowledged that God was God? The answer will be ‘one too many’ because Pharaoh never will acknowledge God.

It seems for some people God can never do enough to break into their lives. This is a profound mystery, one I do not fully understand.

Two people can witness a miracle, one believe in God, the other walk away unconvinced. Two people can hear a sermon preached, one believe in God and the other leave worship unconvinced. Two people raised in the same family, one takes for themselves the Christian faith of the family and the other not. Two people sitting side by side can watch a sunrise, one sees the hand of God, the other the wonder of nature.

The way of the human heart is a mystery. What will unlock faith in God Almighty for one will not for the other.

The way of the human heart is a mystery.

And, yet, God bids His followers to keep on trying to tell others about God, our Father and Jesus, His only Son, our Savior. And so we try one avenue, tact, approach after another, in the hopes that a key to the heart and mind is found and people will believe that Jesus is Savior of the world.

Lord, help me to never tire of heralding Your Good News. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Tuesday, March 22: Exodus 8- An offer too good to be true, but it is true!.

In this chapter, as the story of the plagues progresses, Pharaoh owns his hardening. Twice (15, 32) the text says that Pharaoh hardened his heart. Pharaoh owned his sin. He grew more and more opposed to Moses and the Israelites. Whatever forces were pushing or pulling him away from God and God’s people, Pharaoh owned every step. He was culpable.

Flip Wilson’s, “the devil made me do it” line is never a defense. If we did it, we are responsible for it.

Like Pharaoh I need to admit and take responsibility for my own sin. Fortunately, by God’s grace and the cross of Jesus Christ, there is an answer for my sin… forgiveness through faith in Jesus.

1John 1:9 offers an incredible promise: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. Pause and ponder those words. What an incredible offer. God offers us forgiveness if we will confess our sin. Wow, what a gift!

Imagine if every criminal who went into court was forgiven and pardoned if they would honestly and wholeheartedly confess!

Reading the context of 1John 1:9, implicit in the confession is the desire to turn from the way of sin and follow Jesus. But still it is an incredible offer. One I accept… and I hope you do as well.

Thinking about this promise draws me to God and a time of personal confession…

Oh, Lord, I sit before you, owning the wrong I have done. You alone are righteous. Forgive me and cleanse me. I humbly repent and turn form my ways to Your way. Through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen


Monday, March 21: Exodus 7- Bow or be crushed.

I find myself thinking about Pharaoh. On the one hand he never had a chance… God was going to harden his heart (3). And as the story unfolds Pharaoh’s heart hardens against Moses and the Israelites’ request (13, 22).

It is a sad and defeated situation to have God stand against you.

As the account unfolds Pharaoh grows colder and colder to God. No proof of God’s power seems enough to warm Pharaoh’s heart.

As Jonathan Edwards preached, it is a terrible thing for sinners to fall into the hands of an angry God, and Pharaoh will soon find out how true that is.

My meditations switched from Pharaoh to me.   What can a person do to not feel the weight of God’s wrath and anger?

Bow to Him. Worship Him. Extol the Lord and put one’s belief in Him. And that is what God would desire that I do… bow, worship and extol Him, who is Lord of all and God over all.

Will you join me?...

Lord God, Father Almighty, I adore You and worship You. I acknowledge that You alone are God, my God, and only will I seek you. My heart yearns for You. As a deer pants for water, so my heart pants for You, my Lord and my God. Through Jesus Christ, my Lord, I dare to pray this prayer.  Amen.



Saturday, March 19: Exodus 6- Ingrained habits are hard to break.

God continues to speak with Moses who is now in Egypt among his people. God gives a command and Moses falls back into old habits… he argues back, not with reason, but with excuses.

But Moses said to the LORD, “If the Israelites will not listen to me, why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?”

But Moses said to the LORD, “Since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?” (12 & 30).

How often we tell God why we can’t do something. “Oh, God, I don’t have the time to serve. Oh, God, I can’t forgive ‘so and so’, they hurt me. Oh, God, I don’t have enough money, yet, to give to others. Oh, God, it is dangerous going on that mission trip. Oh, God, I can’t teach children.”

Oh, God, this, Oh, God, that… excuses, excuses, excuses.

I am amazed how whiny Moses, the great faith-hero of the OT, was. And while I realized this is NOT an attitude God desires, He persisted and used Moses to bring about the greatest escape from bondage in the OT.

I certainly do not want to presume God will do the same with me. But it does give me heart that when I whine God probably won’t simply throw me to the side. God will provide a second chance if I repent and turn from my ways and obey Him.

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday and as I gather with God’s people I want to be attentive for God’s voice.  He may issue me a call and I want to be faithful.

Jesus, I keep praying a similar prayer… I am Yours. Use me, Lead me. When I whine or complain, give me a second chance and, by Your Spirit, fill me with courage to say ‘Yes, here I am’ and the boldness to follow You.

In Your name, Jesus, and for the sake of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, I pray. Amen.



Friday, March 18: Exodus 5- Bricks, straw and oppression.

Over the last few weeks I have been speaking about persecution believers are facing around the world, so my mind is primed to connect with these themes in scripture.  Today’s reading gave a direct connection.

The Israelites are oppressed because of their faith. Pharaoh, in part to subdue them, reduces Israelites to servitude making bricks. As 21st century believers these Israelites are our faith ancestors, which should give us a heart for the persecuted and enslaved.

Yes, this is part of the story of Israel’s liberation, the darkness before freedom. But it is also a mirror for me to view my world and what people in my world do to other people. God is the liberator for Israel and maybe He wants me to do what I can to be a liberator for enslaved or persecuted people today. Not that I am GOD, but I should allow my heart to break with things that break the heart of God.  People who persecuted and enslaved, I believe, break God’s heart. His desire is LOVE, not hate and oppression.

When I have these thoughts, questions often flood in and they did today. What would you have me do, Lord? Is there more I can be doing to support persecuted brothers and sisters? Is there more I can be doing to help enslaved people? Is there more I can be doing to help people, any people who are oppressed?

Oh, God, I want my life to count for the things that matter to You. I long for my voice to sing Your praises, proclaim Your good news. Open doors You want me to walk through and close opportunities that are not Your desire for my life at this time. I pray for the sake of Jesus, my Savior and the spread of the glory of Your name. Amen.


Thursday, March 17: Exodus 4- An unlikely hero of faith.

By this point a picture of Moses has been drawn and it is not particularly flattering.

Moses is impulsive and potentially violent.  He killed an Egyptian with no legitimate reason.

He is not particularly faith-filled. He never had his son circumcised (24-26).

Moses was argumentative with God and likely quite fearful. He has had a long and protracted argument with God about God’s call. The conversation dragged on and the questioning of God continued until God grew angry. Don’t miss verse 14!

Only when he was backed into a corner and confronted with God’s anger did Moses relent. His last words were, please send someone else (13).

A most unlikely faith hero, if you ask me…

It was not until he stopped arguing with God and started serving God that faith, boldness and strength of character, will flowed into and through him.

I saw a lesson here. It is when we act that God’s presence manifests in us.

Standing or sitting in the safety of our homes or our church sanctuaries, we are filled with human frailty. However, propelled by the Lord and in the midst of doing His will, God’s gifts emerge and blossom.

In marching to battle Gideon grew brave. In standing on Pentecost day, Peter’s tongue was loosened to preach and proclaim God’s truth. Jonah didn’t find God’s strength until he stopped running from God and began to work for God. Such is the way of God. Gifts and talents are delivered on time for a purpose not to stock shelves and fill coffers.

If we want to be used by God we need to be obedient to God’s call. When we step out in faith God will provide what we need to do what He has sent us to do.

The gifts don’t flow before we go…

Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit, here I am, send me… Amen


Wednesday, March 16: Exodus 3- The call of God.

As I was reading the story of God’s call to Moses from the burning bush, my mind was comparing it to Isaiah’s call in Isaiah 6. Both men had a direct God encounter and heard the voice of God call to them. Their ‘in-the-moment’ decisions were very different. Isaiah said “Here I am, send me… (Isaiah 6:8)

Moses, too. responds, “Here I am” (5). But his follow up was much more questioning, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (11). Then Moses follows up with a few more questions.

Moses’ encounter with God continues well into the next chapter and I will save that for tomorrow.

The chapter ends in ambiguity; we don’t know what Moses will do.

The Moses-Isaiah comparison struck me. How different it was. Isaiah immediately overwhelmed and awed by God was instantly obedient. Moses was unsure and questioning.

People have many reactions to God and it is not the first reaction that ultimately matters, it is our life-long reaction that counts.

We know Moses becomes God’s servant but it takes a while for faith to blossom in him. However, when it does, Moses is steeled for the job.

This reminds me to give people a chance to grow into faith. Oh, it is wonderful when people dive in head first at initial invitation, but that is not always the case. Some wade in slowly, some dabble and question before finally entering. Some dabble or wade for a while and then leave (read Jesus’ parable of sowing the seed in different soil Mark 4).

Despite our beginning, aggressive or timid, once we lay our lives in God’s hands, God is able to use us to do great things.

Where are you in your life with Jesus? Are you all in? Are you ankle deep? Are you dabbling, dipping a toe in once in a while? Maybe today is the day to dive in and see where God will take you and use you.

Think about it…

Lord, I want to be all in for Jesus, soaking wet in the Spirit and being available to Jesus 24/7/365. Here I am Lord, use me. Amen.


Tuesday, March 15: Exodus 2- The power of one.

Pharaoh’s daughter intrigued me. I have to think that she, or someone in her party, knew that Hebrew baby boys were to be killed, drowned in the Nile River (1:22). And yet, here she is drawing a Hebrew boy from the river and saving him. Was she and her entourage rebellious or was it that seeing the little helpless baby body broke through a calloused heart?

I simply do not know, the text is silent. Certainly God was at work in her to draw the baby from the water.

My thoughts returned to the situation.  Seeing a person in crisis is much more likely to move another human being to help, but there are no guarantees. In Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, two people walk by the helpless victim before a third person helps. However still seeing a person in need does change hearts. I read of a study that shows people give more to help the need of one person rather than a huge group in trouble. In other words, tell the story of one refugee in need breaks more hearts that explaining that thousands of people are fleeing for their lives. It seems to be the power of identifying with one person to whom we can relate.

Pharaoh’s daughter saw one Hebrew and her heart broke while hundreds, maybe thousands, were otherwise being killed.

The Lord took me back to yesterday.  Instead of thinking about these massive injustices as dark blotches on landscape of human life, I keep my eyes and heart open for one person, one family in need and help them. What the Lord does in my heart after that is up to Him.

In the mean time I will pray…

Oh, God, give me courage to face the injustices of life when they are brought to my doorstep. May I follow Your lead and do what would please You. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen


Monday, March 14: Exodus 1- Slavery then, slavery still.

An ancillary aspect of the story grabbed hold of me. The Hebrews become slaves. They were oppressed, abused, threatened, violated and killed. It was horrible what the Egyptians did to them.

And the Hebrews are my faith ancestors. So it seems to me that I should have a heart for people who are enslaved, oppressed, abused, threatened, violated and killed.

Maybe I am way off here, but it seems like the abuse my ancestors took should soften me to people in similar situations. I should weep with those who weep…

My world is filled with too much similar abuse… I think of Syrian refugees being abused and threatened, fleeing for their lives.

Oh, God, shouldn’t my heart be open to them?

I think of the 36 million people enslaved in human trafficking or sweatshops or forced labor.

Oh, God, shouldn’t my heart be open to them?

I think of the millions of everyday people threatened by the likes of Al Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram. Most of the people threatened do little more than eek out a living and yet these militants want to steal even that from them.

Oh, God, shouldn’t my heart be open to them?

I see the faces of African students asking me to help with school fees or a child’s medicines or some other pressing need. I see orphans…

Oh, God, shouldn’t my heart be open to them?

And so my mind spins… women abused in many cultures of the world, indigent people alone in hospitals like Roosevelt in NYC, soldiers suffering PTSD, homeless in our major cities… the images and situations keep on coming.

Oh, God, shouldn’t my heart be open to them?

The needs are too great for me; I can feel myself becoming overwhelmed

What can I do, Lord? What should I do, Lord?

Maybe it is my inner being trying to protect myself, maybe it is Holy Spirit sensibility but I sense a voice saying, “You cannot help everyone, but you can help some.” The voice continues, “One thing you cannot and must not do is let your heart grow cold and do nothing, isolate, protect yourself and do nothing.”

It seems to me this voice is the voice of the Lord…

Oh, God, show me.  Should I be doing more? In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, March 12: Psalm 91- .

What a wonderful way to begin a day. Psalm 91 leapt off the page directly into my heart. Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

YES, my heart shouted. The Lord Most High is my refuge. My God is my shelter. I can rest in His shadow.

These thoughts rolled into every corner of my life. I can trust God with my life. I can follow Him and whatever befalls me, God is with me, sheltering, encircling and providing rest.

Words cannot do justice to the peace that descended upon me. I know this to be true. God has never forsaken me. I have never been alone. Through every stormy gale God had guided me.

Swells of love wash over me…

[As one who] dwells in the shelter of the Most High [I] will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

That is my prayer and my declaration to you.

May you find this so…

In Jesus’ name Amen.


Friday, March 11: Psalm 90- Number our days.

My heart was drawn to verse 12, Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. What a prayer, and this from a person who begins, Lord, you have been our dwelling place throughout all generations. Before the mountains were born or you brought forth the whole world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God (1-2). Clearly this psalmist is a lover of God and still he/she longs to gain a heart of wisdom.

An aspect of the wisdom the psalmist seeks is to number our days. My sense is that this phrase means to assess or account for our days well.... to take stock in our days and use them wisely.... to not fritter our days away on nonsensical or ungodly endeavors.

My heart cries for this in my own life, to use my days wisely.  That is, to use my days in ways that honor and glorify the One who is our dwelling place, who is from everlasting to everlasting.

How would the Lord have me use my days to honor and glorify Him?

As I gain more godly wisdom and learn how to number my days, I wonder how God might have me live that is different than I am living right now… this is where my time with the Lord goes today.

Think about it…

Lord, as the psalmist prays so I pray.  Teach me to number my days that I may gain a heart of wisdom. Oh, Lord, God, help me to grow in these areas.  I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thursday, March 10: Psalm 89- The will to remain faithful.

God will keep His Word. Our great God, who is above all gods, will keep His Word. The pounding heart of the psalmist affirms this as he rejoices in God and wonders why God has rejected His people.  Yes, the anointed ones have rejected God, but how long will God punish them? How long will God be against them? How long? How long?

There are times and seasons when we need to will ourselves to trust God. Our natural eyes don’t see the hand or favor of God waving in our direction. We feel abandoned and rejected.

It is in those times that we have to cling, as this psalmist clings, to God’s Words and Promises.

When the doctor calls and health issues are bad; when finances fail; when a loved one dies; when trust is broken and relationships shatter; when depression flairs, we wonder, “where are You, God?” Those are the days to reach deep into the promises of God, that He is near and He is for us. We may not understand it clearly in those moments but we cling by faith… not sight (read Hebrews 11).

Such is the cry of the psalmist…

Oh, God, I pray for faith to believe you today and every day, no matter the circumstances, no matter the situation. Lord, I pray for strength to cling to You. Through Jesus, my Lord, I pray. Amen.



Wednesday, March 9: Psalm 88- Talking to God from the darkness.

This is a dark Psalm. The singer is not in a good place. He/she is engulfed in darkness. Death, at least fear of death, looms large (3-5). Grief and wrath are other words used by the psalmist.

And yet, they are speaking with the Lord. The psalmist is reaching his/her voice to the Lord in faith, not from sight. The more I try to enter this Psalm, the more faith shouts from its verses.

There is no human reason to call to the Lord. No earthly reason to cry out to God. The only reason is believe in One who can save you from the pit.

Despite the darkness, this is a psalm of faith, of hope, of trust in God who saves (1).

The Psalm begs the question, when I am in a bad place, emotionally, physically, spiritually, do I reach out to my God who hears and saves?

Do you?

This Psalm also reminds me that bad things happen to God’s people. We, who love and serve the Lord, are not exempt from hardship, pain, depression, fear, loss, sickness, betrayal and any other mayhem that might befall a human being. Where we are different is that we have someone to turn to during those times. We have someone who can save us from those times. We have someone who will listen and respond during those times. We have the Lord God Almighty as our Lord and Savior. What a comfort in times of trouble that is…

Lord, God, my heart is alive and rejoicing in You this morning. You are always there. You are a call away. Lord, thank You for these words, words I can cry and pray when life pounds and natural words escape me. In those moments I can pray back to You these words You have place in the psalter. I love You, Lord. And I lift my voice to the One who saves me… Halleluiah. Amen.


Tuesday, March 8: Genesis 50- Honoring our word .

Joseph honored his word to bury his father in his home of Canaan. Joseph honored his word and cared for his brothers and their families after their father died. Joseph asked the Israelites to take his bones when God brings them out of Egypt, which they do in Exodus 13:19.

Honoring our word is one way we honor God with our lives. When we say we are going to do something, something honorable that is, we do it. Thus we are people of integrity, which reflects positively on our Lord and God.

God drives this home with a simple question to me, “Bill, do you honor your word? Are you a man of integrity?”

God is asking me this.  Now, I’m asking you. Are you a person of integrity? Do you honor and follow through on your word?

Think about it…

God, I am grateful that You honor Your Word. I can put my trust in what You have said You will do because You do it. Thank You, Lord.

Give me strength to emulate You and in so doing, being a man of my word. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Monday, March 7: Genesis 49- An honest word to each son.

Jacob knows his days are nearing an end, so he summons his sons and speaks a personal word to each one of them. Each word, spoken openly so all will hear, is part blessing, part prophecy and particularly, in the case of the oldest four, part judgment for character faults and wrongs committed.

I was impressed by the honesty with which he spoke.

Genesis chronicles some violent acts committed by the three oldest and I wondered, as the story unfolded, if they would ever be punished for their deeds. I wondered if Jacob knew and just chose to look the other way. Apparently he did not.

Here on his death bed, Jacob speaks to those wrongs…

Maybe he spoke to them earlier as well, we simply do not know, but he does during his final words.

Sin and deliberate wrong has consequences; here we see consequences being meted out. Traditional first born rights fall to Judah.

Stepping back I see honest blessing of his children. Honest in that Jacob recognized glaring character issues and built them into the blessing. Jacob didn’t gloss over faults, he gave them honest weight. And in the case of Levi, the curse of being scattered later became the blessing of priesthood. depriving them of a portion of the land but substituting blessing of the care of God’s tabernacle and temple.

Lord, as I sit and ponder Jacob, I pray that I might be able to honestly bless my children as he did his. I hope and pray I have provided well, a father’s love and correction.  Now that my children are adults, I pray I can honestly bless and keep on blessing them until my dying day. Should there be character issues, I pray that I can speak into them in hope-filled, God-honoring ways, to build up and never to tear down so that they can become everything You desire of them.

Oh, Lord, I pray for my children… that Your blessing will be with them and that they will know the joy of a life lived with You. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.


Saturday, March 5: Genesis 48- Blessing family.

Jacob said to Joseph, “God Almighty appeared to me at Luz in the land of Canaan, and there he blessed me and said to me, ‘I am going to make you fruitful and increase your numbers. I will make you a community of peoples, and I will give this land as an everlasting possession to your descendants after you’ (3-4).

I love the fact that Jacob took this final chance to remind his son Joseph of God’s blessing. Jacob is passionate about the Lord and passionate that his family know that. I’m quite sure that they would share his enthusiasm for the Lord.

As a father, one of my deepest desires is that my children love and walk with the Lord. Jacob’s example reminds me of the importance of telling and retell God’s story. I am not yet on my deathbed like Jacob but I still can seize every opportunity presented to me to remind my family how God has blessed and walked with me and I walked with the Lord. Even as I write this I want to shout, BUT do it appropriately. I don’t want to chase them away, but to reinforce my love for the Lord and His absolute faithfulness!

I want my family to know that Jesus is worthy of every adulation and praise that I can give to Him!

Jacob’s example was a great reminder to me to seize every opportunity to keep telling God’s story to those I love…

Lord, give me words, appropriate words, to share Your love and faithfulness with others, including those I know well and love deeply. Lord, I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Friday, March 4: Genesis 47- A life lived to honor God.

“Swear to me,” Israel said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff (31).

I love the line, Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. Here is this old man, 147 years old, unable to stand without help and he still stands to worship God. What a picture of a life lived to honor God.

A smile grows on my face as I think about most Sundays in worship. Oh, I love vibrant and enthusiastic worship of young people.  However, where my smile grows the widest is watching the likes of Dottie and Peggy and other 80 and 90 year olds coming to worship, often pushing their walkers.

What an honor it is to stand in the presence of these saints who labor on and worship on despite hardship and failing bodies. They stand sentinel, reminding me weekly that I can make it, that the Lord is faithful and deserves lifelong allegiance.

Israel’s health was failing and yet he stood leaning on his staff worshipping God… that is faithfulness. I pray that in years to come should God allow me to live I will be like Israel, worshipping the Lord until my dying breath is taken…

O, Lord God, may it be so. May I worship you till my dying breath and in that way I will go from worship this side of eternity directly into worship with all the saints in Your presence in glory. Halleluiah. Amen!


Thursday, March 3: Genesis 46- Pause to pray.

I was impressed that Jacob paused to worship at Beersheba before he left the Promised Land and went to Egypt.

Conniving at times… Yes. Dishonest, cheating at times… Yep. And yet, Jacob could also be amazingly faithful.

It seems fair to say that as Jacob aged he grew more faithful and mature so prayer seems fitting now that he is older.

Whatever the reason, I am impressed that Jacob paused to pray and God answered and spoke to Jacob as he was embarking on this move.

Do I check in with the Lord and pray before major life decisions?

Jacob did…

Lord, teach me to lean on You at all times not just the important times. Teach me to pause and check in regularly with You. Also, to make sure I am tracking with You and not simply running ahead in my own pursuits. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

Wednesday, March 2: Genesis 45- The power of forgiveness.

Joseph embraced and kissed his brothers… 10 of them sold him into slavery! Then he talked with his brothers… try to imagine that conversation (14-15). He blessed them saying, ‘don't be stressed, don’t be angry with yourselves’ (5). He tried to lift the burden of guilt from them with these words. .

All of this is amazing. A person cannot do this in their own strength. But a person who knows forgiveness and extends forgiveness… such a person can hug and kiss and bless someone who hurt them, even hurt them deeply.

I marvel, the GOSPEL works. God can make old hearts new. God can heal hurting hearts so that they can love again.

In this chapter we do not see how but we see what God can accomplish in a human heart that surrenders to Him.

And God not only can do this, God invites us into His presence where He can and will do it in our lives if we will only let Him.

I am blown away by this… I am humbled and encouraged. God is soooo good.

Do you realize how good God is???

Lord, God, I just want to bless You and bless Your name. Work in me, Lord. Do whatever You deem necessary to make me into the man You want me to be. I pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Tuesday, March 1: Genesis 44- Mixed-bag people in the hands of God.

In terms of devotions, this is kind of a strange story. No mention of God, just the continuing interplay between Joseph and his brothers. Why Joseph schemes up this rouse I don’t know. Could it be that he wants his brothers to feel a bit of the life-uncertainty that he felt when they sold him to the traders? Could it be a small bit of revenge???

I don’t know. If it is a small slice of revenge then this is not something the Lord would have us emulate in Joseph’s life.

Just because it is in the Bible and just because one of the Bible heros does something does not mean it is emulation worthy.

The people in the Bible, even the heroes of faith, are all fully human, which means they are a mixed bag of emotions and motivations, faithful in one moment and sinful in the next. And pretty much every action is a mix of both… just like me and you.

As these words blurt out of me onto the screen, a good news shout echoes back to me. God’s grace is at work. God uses mixed-bag people of every time and age and race and tongue to be His messengers of grace.

Christ followers are not perfect, we are not even better than other people. Despite that, through God’s Spirit who lives in us because of our faith in Jesus, God can and does use us to propel His saving message around the world.

Amazing… mixed bag of good and bad that we are, we are God’s tools to save the world and spread His glory from shore to shore and sea to sea!

God’s desire and will is for us to avail ourselves to Him to be used as He sees fit. This drives me to prayer… and the prayer that forms in my heart and mind comes from the prophet Isaiah:

Here I am, Lord. Send me… use me. Amen.