Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Exodus 39-40

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

It took a little while to read through Exodus, didn't it? But you made it. It would have been quicker if Moses hadn't repeated himself so often. He would write God's instructions, such as "make the ark of acacia wood, overlaid with gold, with four rings of gold and poles of acacia wood, to these exact dimensions." Then he recorded their obedience, saying all over again: "We made the ark of acacia wood, overlaid with gold, with four rings of gold and poles of acacia wood, to these exact dimensions." Moses wrote how God wanted the tabernacle designed, then he wrote how they built it. All the details, over and over, repeating the same words.  

Why the repeats? Exodus 40:16, "This Moses did; according to all that the LORD commanded him, so he did." Moses and the people of Israel were learning to obey God, down to the very details. Moses wanted this emphasized to the Israelites (and to us), so he repeated the details, because the details were important.  

Many centuries later, Jesus said, ""If you love me, you will keep my commandments" (John 14:15). His final instructions to his disciples included, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." One of his disciples, John, reminds us, "By this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments" (1John 2:3). The details are important.  

Trust in the LORD with all your heart, 
and do not lean on your own understanding. 
In all your ways acknowledge him, 
and he will make straight your paths.
~Proverbs 3:5-6

Daily Prayer

My Lord my God, Your ways are so good.  They take me the right direction in life.  It baffles me why I don't follow them always, because when I get off Your path, I find myself in trouble.  Help me keep my eyes on You.  Remind me that I belong to Your Kingdom, not to this world.  

I pray, God, that I would shine Your glory into a dark world that needs the light.  Like salt, that I would bring out the best and preserve goodness.  To do this, Father, I must love Your Word and follow it.  May I be devoted to You, that may You delight in me.  


Monday, January 30, 2012

Exodus 36-38

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp, "Let no man or woman do anything more for the contribution for the sanctuary." So the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more (Exodus 36:6-7).  We receive offering at the end of each Sunday service.  I have yet to make the same announcement Moses just made.  Enough already!  Stop giving.

It is time to build the tabernacle.  Something changed in the Israelites, because their whining hearts became willing hearts and they "kept bringing Moses freewill offerings every morning."  So much so, that Moses had to put a stop to it.  When God's people know God is behind something, they are generous indeed.  I'm impressed with the people, but also with Moses.  He was seeking to glorify God, so he wasn't after the wealth of the people, but their hearts.  And that was delivered in abundance.  

"Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." ~2Corinthians 9:7  

Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your abounding grace toward me.  May I return my thanks to You with glad heart and an open wallet.  I pray for a thankful heart that is displayed in a cheerful generosity.  You have called us to love others with the same love we have for You.  May my love be one of action, demonstrating itself in service and compassion.  


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Exodus 33-35

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

Question: Why does God describe himself as a jealous God?  "For you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God" (Exodus 34:14).  Isn't jealousy wrong and unworthy of God?

God is #1.  All-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, ever-present, fully good, full of love.  Hard to beat?  No; Impossible.  In each plague, Moses proclaimed to Pharaoh, "that you may know that there is none like me [the LORD] in all the earth."

I am the LORD, and there is no other, 
besides me there is no God.
~Isaiah 45:5

God knows this, not because he is cocky, but because it is the truth and God is always true.  He does not share his glory willingly, because it rightfully belongs to him, and because he is jealous, not of us, but for us.  God promised, "I will be your God; you will be my people."  It's a relationship akin to marriage.  In fact, when Jesus comes, he describes the church as his bride and he is the bridegroom.  No one would fault a husband's jealousy for the affection of his wife.  It is not to be shared or spread around.

But it is more than that.  When God says, "I love you," he is also saying, "I want the best, the very best, for you."   He is saying, "I love you enough to die for you, so that you can have the very best."  What is the very best?  It is God.  God is the very best. Always. Forever and ever.  God's jealousy for us is the best thing that ever happened to us.

Daily Prayer

My heavenly Father, from eternity past to forevermore, You are God, who was, and is, and is to come. Timeless, You created time, then entered time. I long to be present with You in eternity, where Your holiness reigns forever.

Forgive me, God, when I pursue something less than you.  Everything else is less than You. May You always be my first love, may I first and always seek Your Kingdom, your righteousness, and leave everything else in Your care.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Exodus 30-32

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

Question: Why would the Israelites turn away from God so quickly and easily?

Moses was temporarily unavailable, up on the mountain receiving God's Law. God was being slow.  

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, "Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him." ~Exodus 32:1

People are impatient and fickle. They were then and they are now.  For example, a good web site designer knows the first law of the web, The Law of Stickiness: People are sticky, but they are not loyal.  If they find a web site that serves their needs they stick with it, but the moment that site disappoints (by being slower than usual, or temporarily unavailable), they move to the competition.  

The Law of Stickiness says God must improve his performance or we will make a golden calf.  We will move to the competition.  However, the Law of God says, "I am the LORD your God.  You shall have no other gods before me."

"Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart, that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath; there is no other."  ~Deuteronomy 4:39

What do you do when there is no competition to move to? The LORD alone is God. You wait.  If God is slow, wait.  

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, 
and in his word I put my hope. 
~Psalm 130:5

He makes all things beautiful in his time, not ours.

Daily Prayer

My Father in Heaven, how I trust in You. My confidence is in Your goodness and Your strength. My life is in Your care. I know that You offer life, life overflowing, abundant life.

May I always seek You first. May I always seek You only. Your kingdom with Your Son on the throne is my greatest hope. May I at all times maintain loyalty to You, keep faith in You, wait on You, trust in You. You are God.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Exodus 28-29

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

We become accustomed to the way things are.  In the movie Grand Canyon, five hoods threaten a tow-truck driver doing his job in the bad part of town. "Man," says the driver, "the world ain't supposed to work like this. Maybe you don't know that, but this ain't the way it's supposed to be. I'm supposed to be able to do my job without askin' you if I can. And that dude is supposed to be able to wait with his car without you rippin' him off. Everything's supposed to be different than what it is here."

We need reminders that there is something better.  "Then burn the entire ram on the altar. It is a burnt offering to the LORD, a pleasing aroma, a food offering presented to the LORD" (Exodus 29:18).  The Hebrews sacrificed daily offerings to God, a pleasing aroma, an aroma that filled the air, reminding all that this life is not the way it's supposed to be.

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God-this is your true and proper worship. ~Romans 12:1-2

To follow Jesus is to be that pleasing aroma to God, a reminder that this life is not the way it's supposed to be.  That there is something better.  That there is something good.

Daily Prayer

God of heaven and earth, You are wonderful, marvelous. You fill creation with Your glory. It is beyond spectacular. The use of the word awesome would be rightly reserved for You and Your works alone.

God, made in Your image, should I reflect Your glory? Of course! Should others see me and praise You? Absolutely. Forgive me, then, because I fall short. Teach me to walk in Your ways, so others will see the way to You.


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Exodus 25-27

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

1) I am the Lord your God.  You shall have no other gods before Me.  2) You shall not make for yourself an idol.  3) You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.  4) Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.  5) Honor your father and your mother.  6) You shall not murder.  7) You shall not commit adultery.  8) You shall not steal.  9) You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.  10) You shall not covet.

The Commandments of God were placed in the Ark of the Covenant, God's covenant with the people of Israel.  I will make you a great people, and I will be your God, and You shall be my people.  Except there was no way the people could hold up their end.  The rich young man claimed to Jesus that he had obeyed all of the commandments since he was a child.  Well, I haven't!  And neither had he, to be honest.  And neither could the Israelites.  The Law does not make us holy; it exposes our sin.

The Ark would have been a reminder of our hopelessness, if God had not covered it with the mercy seat.  God put his mercy in place as he gave us his Law.   You shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark, and in the ark you shall put the testimony that I shall give you. There I will meet with you. ~Exodus 25:21-22

If we meet God with the Law, we can not face him.  But we meet God at the mercy seat.  We are covered with the blood of Christ, his death paying the penalty of our sin, his mercy lifting the burden of the Law and setting us free.   

Daily Prayer

Holy God, You made this world and You planned from the beginning to display the glory of Your love, Your mercy, and Your grace in it.  It is displayed on the cross.  Even while we are sinners, You died for us.  What an amazing grace, what a wonderful salvation.  

I live in a continuous state of thankfulness.  It fills me with joy, knowing I am loved unconditionally by so great a God.  How can I not say "Yes" to the life You set before me.  I will follow You, walk in Your ways, and display Your love to others.  


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Exodus 22-24

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

Question: Aren't all sins the same in the eyes of God?

I hear that all the time.  Maybe it comes with good intentions.  No one is worse than anyone else.  God loves us all the same.  That's what my Gramma always said when we asked her who she loved most.  "I love you both the same."  God and Gramma - they don't pick favorites.  No one is better, therefore no one is worse.  Then point to James 2:10, "For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it."  See!  No particular sin is worse than any other.

But that's not what the verse is saying.  It says that every sin, no matter how bad, is equally effective in separating us from God.  Why?  Because the standard is "Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).  Doesn't matter if you miss  by an inch or a mile, you missed.  Whether you sin badly or not-so-badly, you missed the standard, and you need saving and you need grace and you need Jesus.

One last observation: which sins get punished the most severely?  In the first 15 verses of Exodus 22, every one who does wrong gets fined.  In the next nine verses, they die.   But look what happens when you mistreat aliens or orphans or widows.  "My wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless" (Exodus 22:24).  Ouch!

Tells you something about the heart of God, doesn't it?

Daily Prayer

Almighty God, Your ways are truly so much higher than mine.  I'm amazed that You are concerned about me, who I am and what I do.  You care about my everyday life.  It is so good to know what is right and what is wrong, how You expect us to treat each other, what is pleasing in Your eyes.  Thank you, Lord, for showing us Your laws that lead to the good life - a life marked by right living.  Help me God to remember how personal you are, that You are very close, and that You will lead me.  I need to follow!

God, make me keenly aware of those who most need my attention.  Give me a heart of compassion for the outcasts, the weak, the poor, and the helpless.  


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Exodus 19-21

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

"You shall have no other gods before me," the first, the foundation of all the other commandments.  Keep this one and the rest fall in line.  But listen to it.  Hear it as the Israelites did.  You are to have no other gods.  There were many gods, all kinds of gods.  This was a polytheistic world, and people picked their favorite brands to worship.  

The God of Israel had given Israel his name, Yahweh, I AM.  If I AM, the other gods are not, which Yahweh had demonstrated repeatedly in the Exodus from Egypt.  Yahweh reminds them, "I AM Yahweh, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery."  Who saved you?  Me and Me Alone.  Who shall you worship?  Me, and Me Alone.  

We live in a world that tells us no god is above another.  That all are to be respected.  But we worship Jesus Christ, and Christ alone.  Why?  Because we know that "there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).  We worship Christ alone, because Christ alone saved us.  Who brought you out of Egypt? Who died for your sins? Through whom did you experience God's forgiveness? Who gave you a new life? That is the One and only One worthy of your worship.

Daily Prayer

O LORD my God, You and You alone are God, worthy of my devotion, my worship, my love, and my life.  With all my heart, soul, mind, and strength, I love and adore You.  You bring each day afresh and put a thankful expectation of Your grace and glory in my heart.  As I live this day for You, may I see Your handiwork in this world.  May I reflect Your grace to others.  May I love the people You created with the same tender love that led Your Son to endure the cross.  

Fill my thoughts with the wonder of Your Kingdom and guide my steps toward righteousness.  May I be so heavenly-minded that the world cannot help but see Your goodness shine.  Teach me to obey all that You have commanded, because that's the best way to live.  I love You.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Exodus 16-18

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

Usually, I picture a leap when I think of faith.  Stepping forward when I cannot see the future.  But faith can be a daily discipline, as well.  Gather meat in the evening and manna in the morning, as much as you want, no more than you'll eat.  If you save some until the next day, it won't keep.  Some saved some anyway, and "it bred worms and stank."  

Also, once a week, on Friday, gather twice as much, because tomorrow is the Sabbath. There won't be anything to gather.  You can save half overnight.  It won't stink.  Some didn't gather twice as much.  They went out on the Sabbath and there wasn't anything to gather.  They went hungry.  

Six days on, one day off.  This isn't daring to leap, it's learning to walk.  It is a discipline of trust, gathering enough and only enough, believing God for our daily bread, a discipline of resting every seventh day.  It is the discipline of living by God's word, being blessed in his care.  That they might know the LORD is their God and they are his people.  

Daily Prayer

Righteous God, You are holy and just, and we sin.  Your grace gives us time to discover Your forgiveness before we encounter Your judgment. Thank You for Your Son, Jesus Christ, who fulfilled all righteousness and made our salvation possible.

Father, I pray that I may trust fully in You, following closely as You lead.  May my life declare and display Your good news, proclaiming Jesus to this world in what I say and what I do. I pray that all would receive Your grace before the Day comes when You settle accounts, that wonderful day when You make all things right again.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Exodus 13-15

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

God remembered his covenant with the Hebrew people (Exodus 2:24), and delivering ten monumental blows, leveled the Egyptians and freed Israel.  In turn, he commanded they "remember this day in which you came out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, for by a strong hand the LORD brought you out from this place" (Exodus 13:3).  

Not long after, the Israelites were trapped between the sea and an terrifying army of Egyptians.  "What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt?" they complained. "It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness."

They had already forgotten.  

Moses responded, "Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD!"  The story of God in Scripture is a continual reminder that God is on our side.  He provides all we need to stand firm.  "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."

Love is not an issue. God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ~Romans 5:8

Power is not an issue. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. ~1John 4:4

Confidence is not an issue. If God is for us, who can be against us? ~Romans 8:31

Significance is not an issue. Through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. ~Ephesians 3:10

Freedom is not an issue. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. ~Romans 8:1

Life is not an issue. The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. ~1Corinthians 15:56-57

Eternity is not an issue. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. ~Romans 8:38-39

I have nothing to add. I have all I need. I can stand firm. I can be still and know that He is God.

Moses answered, "The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." ~Exodus 14:14

And remember.

Daily Prayer

God, You are my refuge and strength, always with me in times of trouble. I will not fear, though the earth shakes and the mountains quake. Whatever comes before me, You, the Lord Almighty, are with me. Greater is He who is in me than He who is in the world.

I will be still, and rest in the knowledge that You are God. You will be exalted among the nations, You will be exalted on the earth. The Lord Almighty is with me; You are my fortress. On this I take my stand and still my heart.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Exodus 10-12

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

The tenth plague, the death of the firstborn, introduces Passover.  God certainly knew which homes belonged to Egyptians and which were Israelites.  Why didn't he simply skip the Israelite homes?  Why did God require blood on the doorframe of a house to protect it from death?  

Let's go back to the beginning.  When Adam and Eve chose their own desires rather than God's, they chose death.  Judgment was immediate.  They were instantly severed from God.  That is dead because God is life, and this has been passed on to each and every one of us.  We are all dead, separated from God because of sin.  But Grace began immediately, as well.  God allowed Adam and Eve, though dead, to keep breathing, and he launched his plan of salvation.

Fast forward to Exodus 12.  The judgment that would be passing through the land was just.  Every family deserving of death would be visited by the destroyer, and every family deserved death.  Even the Israelites.  That Passover night, the destroyer would be indiscriminate.  Egyptian or Israelite, either would be visited, unless...  

Blood on the doorframe was a sign that death had already been to that household.  A substitute had been sacrificed, a lamb approved by God had paid the price.  The death of the lamb covered the sins of the household.  

Fast forward to A.D. 30.

The next day John the Baptist saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" ~John 1:29

Daily Prayer

Almighty God, Your goodness runs deep, but I choose to wallow in the shallows of my desires.  Still, despite my rebellion, Your grace seeks me through the loving sacrifice of Your Son.  Your righteousness consumes my own passions, and my desires become Yours.  In response to Your never-ceasing, never-ending love, I live thankfully and joyfully in a world made new again.   

What a wonderful Savior.  What amazing grace.


Friday, January 20, 2012

Exodus 7-9

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

Twice now, God says to Moses, "I will harden Pharaoh's heart." (Exodus 4:21; 7:3).  What choice does Pharaoh have then?  Fifteen hundred years later, the apostle Paul answers the question.  Sort of.  In Romans 9:20-21, Paul writes, "But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, 'Why have you made me like this?' Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?" In other words, God is God and you're not.  Not a terribly satisfying answer, but then, God does not have to satisfy me.  

Still there is more.  Going back to the plagues, God hardened Pharaoh's heart times, but in six plagues, Pharaoh hardened his own heart.  God is in charge, but Pharaoh cooperates.  He is not a witless pawn.  

Now the 'why' question: Why would God want Pharaoh to stubbornly resist? The answer is in the first commandment, "You shall have no other gods before me."  At the time, everybody had gods.  Lots of them.  So, the One and Only God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, wanted to demonstrate that he is God like no other.  The first couple plagues, the Egyptian magicians were able to mimic the work of God, but they couldn't keep up.  By the third plague, they admitted, "This is the finger of God," and God continued seven more plagues to hammer that home.  The Egyptians would never forget the Hebrew God, and the Israelites would always remember the God who delivered them from bondage.  

Daily Prayer

My God, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last, the One and Only Creator of the heavens and the earth, You alone I worship and adore.  Your ways are good and there is none like You.  Why would I ever seek good from another source?

May Your Name be known always in my house.  May You always be God of my family--we seek no other.  May my children and my children's children (someday!) follow You and worship You.  You are my Lord and Savior.  I will always remember.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Exodus 4-6

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

At a lodging place on the way the LORD met him and sought to put him to death. Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son's foreskin and touched Moses' feet with it and said, "Surely you are a bridegroom of blood to me!" So he let him alone. 
~Exodus 4:24-26

Question: Why does God threaten Moses with death shortly after he had commissioned Moses to go to Egypt?

God made a promise, a covenant, to Abraham that he would be a great nation.  Circumcision was a sign of that covenant (see Genesis 17:9-14).  Delivering the Israelites from slavery to Egypt was part of God keeping his promise.  But Moses, God's chosen leader, had broken covenant.  It seems Zipporah, his wife, was repulsed by the very idea of circumcision, and Moses had accommodated his wife, rather than do what was right.  Zipporah acquiesced, circumcised her son, and Moses recovered.

I'm reminded of Jesus stepping up to John the Baptist, desiring baptism, another sign of another covenant.  "I should be baptized by you!" John argued.  But Jesus said, "No, this is the right thing to do.  It fulfills all righteousness."

Following God means you do the right thing.  Then you do the next right thing.  Yes, there is forgiveness in there.  We wouldn't survive without the grace God has given us in Jesus Christ.  But when we fail and accept forgiveness (and fail again and accept forgiveness again - it doesn't run out), you know what we do next?  The right thing.

Daily Prayer

Mighty God, thank You for salvation and grace and Your goodness.  You saved me from bondage of my own making, my sin.  Thank You, as well, for Your righteousness and holiness.  Saved by grace, may I live for You.  May I hunger and thirst for Your righteousness.  May I live rightly.

I should not cheapen Your grace by taking advantage of it.  Instead, I shall each day wake up and see the day before me as a gift from You, and delight in it.  I shall remember that I am Your workmanship, made to do good works, that others will praise You.  I shall love You fully, and live out Your love to this world.  Help me do that, God!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Exodus 1-3

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

Children play a wonderful game called "Simon Says." One kid is up front, and he thinks he is in charge.  He commands us to stand on one foot, but no one does.  He tells us to jump up and down.  No one jumps. Finally, he says, "Simon says," and we all do it. No one knew who Simon was, but apparently he's the one in charge.  We didn't do anything unless Simon said it.

The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, "When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him" (Exodus 1:15-16).  The king of Egypt thought he was in charge.

But the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them (Exodus 1:17).

Daily Prayer 

My God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of the Hebrews, the God of this world, the one and only God. May I know You, love You, and listen to You. May I know Your voice, and when I hear it, follow it.

God, You are good. Everything that is good comes from You. When I pursue righteousness, when I love my neighbor, when I serve the least of these, I live according to Your kingdom. I display Your kingdom on earth. Your will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Genesis 48-50

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

Moses was called by God, but who put Pharaoh on the throne of Egypt? For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth" (Romans 9:17).

Wicked nations cleaned up God's people.  For behold, I am raising up the Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation (Habakkuk 1:6).  They were God's servants, whether or not they intended to be.

Would Jews ever partner with Romans? Never!! "This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men" (Acts 2:23). Except they did, because God required a cross.

Jesus chose twelve disciples, including one named Judas Iscariot. Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil" (John 6:70).

And 10 brothers were intent on murder, but God was intent on salvation, so Joseph was sold as a slave to be just the right person in just the right place at just the right time. "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today" (Genesis 50:20).

This world has never been out of God's control, and when you know that, you know what happens next.  And Joseph said to his brothers, "I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob" (Genesis 50:24).

Whatever God has promised.

To God's Glory,

Daily Prayer 

Sovereign God, the mountains and the oceans, the sun and moon and stars display Your majesty.  I hear Your story in the history of my world. I see Your love and Your lordship in, and often in spite of, the events around me.  Throughout history, we people try to live without You and against You.  How foolish!  How foolish we are if we do not call You King of kings and Lord of lords.  You are sovereign over the good and the bad.  Over all.

Lord, may I live in such a way that people see good works and praise You. God, may I always walk in Your Holy Spirit and do those works You have set before me, good works that reflect Your love to this world.


Monday, January 16, 2012

Genesis 46-47

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

God tells Jacob to go to Egypt where he will make Jacob's descendants into a great nation. God also mentions that this great nation will be persecuted slaves for 400 years (see Genesis 15:13) before they get to the Promised Land.

What should Jacob do, knowing this?  There will be suffering.  Is it worth it?

God has invited you to be a child in his Kingdom through faith in Jesus Christ. He also mentions you will suffer for your faith. A lot. And the world will hate you. Such an offer!

Do you say, "Yes"?  You should.  It's not only the right thing to do, it's worth it.

There is this crazy, wonderful guy named Mike Yaconelli who said, "Yes."   

If I were to have a heart attack right at this moment, I hope I would have just enough air in my lungs and just enough strength in me to utter one last sentence as I fell to the floor: 'What a ride!' My life has been up and down, careening left then right, full of mistakes and bad decisions, and if I died right now, even though I would love to live longer, I could say from the depths of my soul, 'What a ride!'
~Mike Yaconelli, Dangerous Wonder: The Adventure of Childlike Faith

Now if we are children, then we are heirs - heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. ~Romans 8:17

Mike Yaconelli died of a heart attack in 2003.  He was driving late at night, alone in his truck, so we do not know if it was uttered, but it does seem likely... "What a ride!"

To God's Glory,

Daily Prayer

My God, I praise You. I love to say Your Name.  I love to proclaim Your Name. Let the praises ring!  Let the ride begin!

I say "Yes," and am ready for whatever comes.  In the confidence of Your salvation, with the Spirit in my heart, I will share in the sufferings of Your Son, Jesus Christ. May I hold on tight, always keeping my eyes on Your Son and the future glory. 


Sunday, January 15, 2012

Genesis 43-45

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

Jacob, knew the sting of favoritism.  His father had preferred his brother.  (Isaac loved Esau, but Rebekah loved Jacob. ~Genesis 25:28).  Favoritism produced pain and division, yet, Jacob, in turn, chose a son to love, as well.

Now Israel [Jacob] loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. And he made him a robe of many colors. ~Genesis 37:3

After Joseph was gone, Jacob promoted Benjamin in his place.  The favorite's chair continued to be filled.  Even Joseph played favorites (Portions were taken to the brothers from Joseph's table, but Benjamin's portion was five times as much as any of theirs. ~Genesis 43:34).

The chain would be broken, at last, through humility.  Judah, one of Joseph's brothers, chose to be last instead of first.  Judah said to Joseph, "Let Benjamin go back to his father.  Let him be a favorite.  I will be a servant, instead."  Judah offered his life for the sake of his brothers and his father.

Joseph seems to be the hero of the last dozen chapters of Genesis, but God's Son, the Servant King of Kings, came through another son of Jacob.  Jesus...the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham.  ~Luke 3:33-34

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, 
and to give his life as a ransom for many. ~Mark 10:45

Daily Prayer

My God, what humility from the King of kings and Lord of lords.  We don't rule that way, but our Creator does.  How pompous we are, the desire to be first reigns in our heart.  Yet, the One who is truly First places Himself last, in the role of servant.

I have learned from Your Son, my Savior, that to be first I must be last, as well.  That You shine through me when I love and serve others.  May I be one who follows You downward, emptying my own pride, and replacing it with love and sacrifice.


Saturday, January 14, 2012

Genesis 41-42

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

Remember the two dreams Joseph had when he was 17?  Sheaves of wheat in one, the sun, moon, and stars in the other, and they all bowed down to Joseph. Those dreams spoke of great promise for Joseph someday, but so far, they had been nothing but trouble. Joseph, the "dreamer" his brothers called him, had been disowned by his family, enslaved in Egypt, and forgotten in prison. 

Joseph, now 30, is sitting in a dark cell, when he is called before the Pharaoh.  "I had a pair of dreams," said Pharaoh, "and no one can tell me the meaning.  I have been told you are good with dreams."

If you're Joseph, how do you feel about that?  You had a pair of dreams once.  God showed you a great future, but nothing so far has happened.  Me first, God.  What about the answers to my dreams?

Instead, Joseph replied to Pharaoh, "God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires." ~Genesis 41:16

Joseph said, "God first."

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.
~Matthew 6:33

Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you." ~Genesis 41:39-40

And they all bowed down to Joseph.

Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father, You called me and saved me in order to make me like Your Son, my Lord Jesus Christ. Change me, day by day, by the work of Your Holy Spirit, so that I may grow more like Jesus in all that I think and say and do.

Help me to remain faithful to You and Your calling upon my life.  Strengthen and grow my trust in You, as the trials and experiences of life shape my faith.  You know best, God.  Help me remember that.  It's amazing how much different, how much better, how good my life is, when I put You first.


Friday, January 13, 2012

Genesis 38-40

Daily Reading
   Genesis 38-40
Bible with Cross 
Daily Thought

Speaking with a friend last night, a friend whose life and family has been turned upside-down this past year and wondering, "Where is God in all this?", I suggested reading through Genesis. One after another, the families of Adam and Eve, of Noah, of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob are a mess. Simple as that. Yet, through it all, God is with them, God works through them, and God is leading them forward. It is humbling, and it is wonderful.

I unearthed this poem, written by Carol Wimmer, expressing the gratitude we should have for this grace of God.

When I say..."I am a Christian

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting, "I am saved"
I'm whispering, "I was lost"
That is why I chose this way

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I don't speak of this with pride
I'm confessing that I stumble
And need someone to be my guide

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong
I'm professing that I'm weak
And pray for strength to carry on

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success
I'm admitting I have failed
And cannot ever pay the debt

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I don't think I know it all
I submit to my confusion
Asking humbly to be taught

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect
My flaws are all too visible
But God believes I'm worth it

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain
I have my share of heartaches
Which is why I speak His name

When I say..."I am a Christian"
I do not wish to judge
I have no authority
I only know I'm loved

Daily Prayer

My God, how wonderful is Your love for me, Your attention to my life, Your wisdom and direction in leading me forward.  You ask me, simple enough, to follow.  You do not ask me to win any battles, but to stand in the victory already won by Your Son.   

I shall spend my days exploring the Your wonders of Your revelation. You have made Yourself known in Your Word, and in the Word, which is Jesus. May I everyday become more intimate with You, and may I reflect Your grace and truth to a world that desperately needs the faith, hope, and love of the good news of Jesus Christ.    


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Genesis 35-37

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

Meanwhile the Midianites had sold Joseph in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard. ~Genesis 37:36

All Jacob knew was that his son, his favorite son, Joseph, was gone. Apparently dead. The sons of Jacob knew more. They knew Joseph was gone, too. Not dead, but as good as dead, sold into slavery. Nobody knew about "meanwhile."

Meanwhile happens at the same time, in another place. Meanwhile means that the story isn't over. Meanwhile is a place where God is at work.

Meanwhile explains Romans 8:28, And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Sometimes we make decisions about circumstances, life, and God based on all we know. All we know does not mean we know all. God may be up to something in the meanwhile.

Daily Prayer

Sovereign God, You not only know the future, You make the future. You are good and all that You do is good. I trust in You, not because I know Your plans (I usually don't), because I know You.

You are the Potter and I am the clay. As You mold me, Your wisdom and beauty is on display. Father, may I not resist, but rather surrender to Your hands and trust in Your skill.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Genesis 32-34

Daily Reading
Daily Thought

Then he said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed." ~Genesis 32:28

It had been quite a night, wrestling in his sleep with what at first Jacob thought was a man, but could only have been God. Jacob lasted the fight and won a blessing. But before the blessing, God gave Jacob a new name to remind him of the curse - the curse man and woman have known since they ate the forbidden fruit. That we will fight with creation, creatures, and Creator.  God gave Jacob a lifelong reminder, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel." Israel.  Literally, "The one who struggles with God."  Jacob looked out for himself, struggled with God, and overcame by fighting. Just like me.      

There will come another man with another Name who will teach us a different way.  His Name is above all names, and changes everything. Jesus looks out for others, listens to His Father, and overcomes by serving.

Daily Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Son, my Savior, the Name above all names. Thank You for Your grace, that You came to seek and save the lost. Me!

God, teach me to serve others, to love others. Father, may I stop the struggle and surrender to Your ways. May I serve You by serving others. May I overcome the curse by being a blessing in Your Name.