February 1 “The importance of self-examination”

Sick child

As January comes to an end and the second month of 2014 begins, many of us will be thinking about the goals and resolutions we made just a few weeks ago. We’ll examine our progress (or lack of it) concerning a new diet, exercise plan or some other goal.

And when it comes to our health, we get numerous examinations and tests to ensure we stay as healthy as we can. When we go to school, we take examinations to test our proficiency in those subjects. But how many of us take time to examine our lives spiritually? Continue reading

January 31 “Are you raising rulers or servants?”

Happy kids

“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant …” Ask yourself, “Am I raising the kind of son or daughter I’d want to be married to, have working for me, or have as my boss?”

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 11.1-10 & Exodus 12.1-51
Psalm 18:1-12
Proverbs 6:1-5
Matthew 20:17-34

Exodus 11.1-2 & 12.1-51:

The first Passover

Here we see the institution of the Jewish Passover. God is about to deliver His people from Egyptian bondage. But before Pharaoh will let them go, there will be one last plague–death of the first born.

Each Israelite family was to sacrifice a lamb and put some of the blood on the frame of the door to their house. When the death angel saw it, He was to pass over that home.

Jesus, on the night before He was arrested and the events leading up to the crucifixion began, was in the upper room celebrating the Passover with His disciples. On that night, as He was about to become the final Passover Lamb, that celebration or ordinance became what we call “Communion” or “The Lord’s Supper.” It was changed because there was no longer a need for a sacrificial lamb to be slain to temporarily cover sin. Jesus fulfilled that need once and for all. Praise be to the Lamb who was slain for me and for You! Continue reading

January 30 “It’s not fair!”

Fair Not Unfair

It’s not fair! Have you ever looked around at the lives of others and thought just that?

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 9 & 10
Psalm 17.8-15
Proverbs 5.21-23
Matthew 20.1-16

Exodus 9 & 10:

On dogs & sows

Over and over in these chapters we see Pharaoh hardening his heart when the “crisis” of each plague is over and the “pain” is not so intense (see Jan. 29 post). Don’t we often do the same? Proverbs 26.11 says, “As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” When he quoted this proverb in the New Testament, Peter added, “… a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Pet. 2.22). Not a pretty picture.

In 10.7 Pharaoh’s advisers ask him, “… Do you not yet know that Egypt is destroyed?” How pride blinds! Again, we can be guilty of the same thing when we refuse to see the destruction that our stubborn willful sin causes.

As this part of the story unfolds we see God’s final judicial hardening in response to Pharaoh’s continued sin. In Romans 1.28-32 at the bottom of the “downward spiral” it says: Continue reading

January 29 “Sleeping with frogs”

Frogs

Frogs … they’re everywhere! … in their homes, in their beds, in their bowls, in their ovens—everywhere! Yet, when Moses, God’s messenger comes to Pharaoh and asks when he’d like them removed, he says, “Tomorrow.” Just let me spend one more night with those frogs. How about you? Are there any frogs you’re keeping around for another sleepover?

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 7 & 8
Psalm 17.1-7
Proverbs 5.15-20
Matthew 19.1-30

Exodus 7 & 8:

When we harden our hearts

Have you thought about the statement where God says He will harden Pharaoh’s heart? At first glance, that might seem a little unfair! I mean, is God on His throne pointing to one person and saying I don’t like the way she looks, I think I’ll harden her heart? God is God and He can certainly do as He sees fit, but that is not the picture we see in Scripture.

Remember that Pharaoh had already hardened his own heart. When God spoke to Moses from the burning bush, He told Moses that He had heard the cries of his people in Egypt, cries against which Pharaoh had already hardened his heart. When we harden our hearts and refuse to show compassion on others, why should we be surprised if He withholds compassion from us? Even as believers, though we don’t lose our salvation, we can damage our fellowship with Him and can set in motion laws of sowing and reaping (Gal. 6.7-9). And if we repeatedly harden our hearts, it may be a sign that we are not really saved, because the Bible teaches that though believers may sin, they will repent. Continue reading

January 28 “When things get worse”

Upset Young Woman Sitting Alone on Bench Next to Books

Have you ever obeyed God only to have things get worse? What truths can you hang on to when that happens?

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 5 & 6
Psalm 16.7-11
Proverbs 5.7-14
Matthew 18.21-35

Exodus 5 & 6:

Hold on to His promises

Here we see Moses return to Egypt to do what God has told him to do. He has gotten confirmation from Aaron, from the elders and from the people (Ex. 4.27-31). But when he and Aaron go to Pharaoh things don’t turn out so well! In fact, things get worse! Have you ever felt that way? You obey God and things seem to get worse?

You might be thinking, “Well, at least God warned Moses and told him that things would eventually work out.” But hasn’t He told us the same thing, maybe not from a burning bush, but in the pages of Scripture?

Paul said, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8.28), God is saying to us that no matter how things look right now, “I’m working! Trust Me!”

Paul also wrote, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1.6). We may not see the big picture, but if we belong to God, He is at work fulfilling His design and purposes in our lives. Continue reading

January 27 “Parenting & immorality”

mischievous young girls looking for a kiss

Parenting books abound today and most of us have probably read one or more of them at some time. But when was the last time you read the parenting book? All of God’s Word is written from a Father to His children. Proverbs, in particular, contains a lifetime of wisdom to share with our children.

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 3 & 4
Psalm 16.1-6
Proverbs 5.1-6
Matthew 18.1-20

Exodus 3 & 4:

The freedom to choose to obey or not

Chapter 3 has Moses shepherding sheep—a very humble occupation—quite different from life in Pharaoh’s court where he was raised. Sometimes God has to allow us to lose some of the trappings and encumbrances of life before we are fully usable to him.

In chapter 4 after speaking to Moses from a burning bush and commissioning him to go back to Egypt, we see God threatening to kill him because he had not circumcised his son (vv. 24-26). God didn’t make a mistake and forget to check and see if the boy had been circumcised! He is omniscient! He knows everything that ever was, everything that is, and everything that ever will be! But He allows us to make choices—choices which sometimes test our obedience. Moses could have come back and done what he knew was right before leaving for Egypt, but he didn’t. Continue reading

January 26 “Persecution, prejudice & the evidence against you”

Evidence

What is one major root of prejudice and how does it relate to what’s going on in our country today? Where do you stand on the major issues involved?Would there be enough evidence against you to prove that you are a true believer?

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 1 & 2
Psalm 15.1-5
Proverbs 4.25-27
Matthew 17.1-27

Exodus 1 & 2:

Abraham, Joseph … now Moses

Now we begin another adventure into the Word of God! God is getting ready to raise up Moses. Remember, “… whatever things were written before were written for our learning, that we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope” (Rom. 15.4).

When we study the life of Abraham, the Father of Faith, it can help us know and trust in the faithfulness of God to keep His promises. The Scripture says Abraham, “Who, contrary to hope, in hope believed, so that he became the father of many nations, according to what was spoken, ‘So shall your descendants be’ ” (Rom. 4.18).

In Joseph we saw a picture, a shadow, of Christ, the Son who was willing to lay down his life for His brothers, to forgive though they caused His suffering. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5.8).

Now, through the life of Moses, we’ll begin to see more of God as our Deliverer—the One who sees our bondage and hears our cries and “in the fullness of time,” His perfect timing, He delivers us. We’ll talk more about this in the days to come. Continue reading

January 25 “When others mean you harm”

Friends Whispering Secrets

How do you respond when people intentionally hurt you?

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 49 & 50
Psalm 14.1-7
Proverbs 4.20-24
Matthew 16.1-28

Genesis 49 & 50:

The death of Jacob

As we conclude our reading in Genesis, I hope you have enjoyed it as much as I have. Genesis is one of my favorite books and chapter 50 contains one of my favorite verses, verse 20.

In chapter 49 Jacob is dying and he gathers his sons around him to speak to them for the last time. Commenting in depth on what follows in verses 2-27 would require more time and study than I can give here. But remember, God, who knows the end from the beginning, was speaking prophetically through Jacob. The things he spoke foretold future events, but also reflected their pasts and their characters. Continue reading

January 24 “What is a ‘type of Christ’?”

Tintype Camera

Joseph was said to be a “type” of Christ. What exactly does that mean and how should his example inspire us today?

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 47 & 48
Psalm 13.1-6
Proverbs 4.18-19
Matthew 15.21-39

Genesis 47 & 48:

A type of Christ

Here in Genesis 47 we see Joseph’s care for his aging father, “Then Joseph brought in his father Jacob and set him before Pharaoh” (v. 7). Somehow I see Joseph helping his elderly father into some kind of a chair so Jacob can show his respect for Pharaoh and pray for him. But he doesn’t just care for his father; he also cares for his brothers. In verse 11 Joseph “situated his father and his brothers” and in verse 12 he “provided” for his father and his brothers.

Joseph is a type of Christ. A type is a picture (like the old “tintypes,” pictures taken during the 1800s). In this case, a picture of Christ, a glimpse of what was to come. We can look at those old photos and see that while they were not perfect images, they give us some idea of what the real person looked like. Even so, when we look at the various “types” of Christ, each one give us an idea of some of the attributes of our Savior.

In verses 13 and following, we see Joseph’s faithful stewardship of the responsibilities he had been given, showing respect for the authority God had placed over him, “there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God” (Rom. 13.1). Continue reading

January 23 “Responding to betrayal”

Betrayal

How do you respond when some one offends, hurts, or even, betrays you?

Today’s Readings:
Genesis 45 & 46
Psalm 12.3-4
Proverbs 4.14-17
Matthew 15.1-20

Genesis 45 & 46:

Accepting the sovereignty of God

What a reunion for Joseph and Benjamin! But I can’t imagine the shock the other ten brothers must have experienced.

The most amazing part of this story is what John MacArthur calls “a masterpiece of recognition of and submission to the sovereignty of God” (MacArthur Daily Bible). Think about it. Fifteen years had passed since that day when his brothers betrayed him.

Remember there were ten of them—older and stronger. Continue reading