Verses 3-9 relate the story of the woman with the alabaster jar:
3 And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He [Jesus] sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. 4 But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply. 6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. 7 For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8 She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 9 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
John 12.3 tells us this was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. This costly oil was, probably, worth nearly a year’s salary. She poured it out showing her love and devotion for her Lord.
Others were given the opportunity to pour out for Christ. One that comes to mind is the rich young ruler, but he walked away when Jesus asked him to sell all that he had and give to the poor (Mk. 10.17-21).
What about me? What about you? What are we willing to give back to God? Are we willing to use our gifts and talents to further the kingdom of God? Do we give faithfully of our finances? What about our time? Do we give God an hour or two a week, but no more? Continue reading →
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?
It’s time. God is about to deliver His people. But first, He prepares Moses and Aaron for the task ahead:
¹ So the Lord said to Moses: “See, I have made you as God to Pharaoh, and Aaron your brother shall be your prophet.2 You shall speak all that I command you. And Aaron your brother shall tell Pharaoh to send the children of Israel out of his land. 3 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 But Pharaoh will not heed you, so that I may lay My hand on Egypt and bring My armies and My people, the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments. 5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them” (Ex. 7.1-5).
“I will harden Pharaoh’s heart.” At first glance, that might seem a little unfair! 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 here.
God said He had heard the cries of his people in Egypt (Ex. 3.7), 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 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.
Even in these passages in Exodus, Pharaoh continues to harden his own heart. Ten times it says Pharaoh hardened his heart and ten times God hardened his heart. God’s hardening was judicial hardening in response to Pharaoh’s personal, sinful hardening.
We see a similar picture in Romans 1 beginning in verse 18. We sometimes call this passage the downward spiral of sin. We see men and women refusing to respect God as God though they know the truth and choosing to continue in their sin. In verses 24, 26, and 28 we see the response of God. It says He, “gave them up …,” “gave them up …,” and “gave them over …” John MacArthur says in his Study Bible, “When men consistently abandon God, He will abandon them by removing His restraint and allowing sin to run its inevitable course.”
This results in hearts that are more and more hardened by their own sin. As we look around our world today, we see this in abundance. It’s interesting that the example God uses in Romans 1 is that of homosexuality. Consider that as you listen to the news.
One More Night with the Frogs
One of the plagues God brought on the Egyptians was frogs (Ex. 8.1-15). Can you imagine? Frogs are everywhere—in in their homes, in their beds, in their bowls, in their ovens—everywhere! When Pharaoh had once again promised to let the people go, Moses said, “Accept the honor of saying when I shall intercede for you …” In other words, “When do you want me to get rid of the frogs?” And Pharaoh says, “TOMORROW!” Tomorrow? “Yes, let me spend one more night with the frogs!”
It seems ridiculous, yet, there can be things we refuse to give up in spite of the consequences. Areas where we are saying, in effect, “Let me have one more night with these frogs!”
Then notice verse 15, “But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not heed them, as the LORD had said.”
How many times have you and I repeated the same pattern? We have a crisis Continue reading →
As a nation we have complained, taken credit for His blessings, and kicked Him out of the government, the schools, and the public arenas of life. Is it any wonder it has finally produced “fire in the camp”?
Chapter 11.1, “Now when the people complained, it displeased the LORD; for the LORD heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the LORD burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.”
God had been merciful to the Israelites. He had delivered them from 400 years of bondage in Egypt. He not only brought them out of Egypt without a fight, but had caused the Egyptians to give them a great deal of wealth as they left (Ps. 105.37). He led them and protected them from the pursuing Egyptian army and parted the Red Sea so they could cross on dry land. He comforted them and warned away their enemies with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.
As they traveled their feet didn’t swell and their clothes didn’t wear out (Neh. 9.21). He fed them with food from heaven (manna), gave them water in the wilderness and demonstrated His power and presence over and over.
Yet … what did they do? They complained!
And what about us as Americans? We live in perhaps the greatest and most prosperous nation on earth. Our poor are better off than the majority in many nations. God has blessed us with an abundance of natural resources, a beautiful land, creativity and ingenuity beyond measure. We have freedoms almost unheard of in the world: freedom to worship, freedom to vote, freedom to pursue an education, freedom to live where we want, even freedom to protest. Instead of being thankful we frequently complain.
Not only have we complained, but we have taken credit for the things with which He has blessed us and kicked Him out of the government, the schools, and the public arenas of life. Is it any wonder our complaining, unthankfulness, and rejection of God as a nation has finally produced “fire in the camp”? Continue reading →