More information about the year-long, 2-A-DAY reading plan, including the readings schedule, can be found on the 2-A-DAY page.
By Tim Harvey
“Today we know that the LORD is in our midst…” – Joshua 22:31
…fellow-workers for the kingdom of God…and they have proved to be an encouragement to me. – Col. 4:11
These disparate chapters from the Old and New Testaments provide some great lessons and examples for my own interactions with my brothers and sisters in the faith. Consider the situation in Joshua 22, where the rest of the Israelites went to confront the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh over an altar that the three tribes had built by the border of their land at the Jordan River. The altar appeared, to the other Israelites, to be a substitute worship location other than the Tabernacle where God had commanded that sacrifices be offered – a fundamental misunderstanding that could have easily turned into war (v. 12). But look at how it was handled by both sides:
• The Israelites, although their opening dialog was quite accusatory and based on wrong assumptions (v. 16-20), were nonetheless willing to listen to and consider the answer that the three tribes gave them. In the end they were willing to revise their initial assumptions about the three tribes’ motives.
• The Israelites also graciously offered a “way out” of the apostasy they thought their brothers had fallen into, offering to share their own land if necessary (v. 19).
• The three tribes were willing to enter into dialog and provide an explanation for their actions.
• Both sides, in fact, were motivated by zeal to obey God and honor His word.
• The peaceful resolution of this tense situation was recognized as evidence that God was present and at work among them.
How many of these characterize my interactions with my family, with my fellow believers, or with the world? Although this chapter is far from a perfect example of brotherly love, I wish I could model more of the above traits.
I also wish I could better follow Paul’s example in the relationships he depicts in Colossians 4. Consider:
• He remembers his friends and fellow-workers by name.
• He offers specific encouragements and commendations.
• He passes along greetings to affirm and build up long-standing relationships; most of those named in this chapter are mentioned elsewhere in Acts or other epistles.
• His commendations, greetings, and instructions are neither inconsequential fluff nor boring administrative details, but all reflect the deep partnership he had with these fellow-workers in the work of spreading the gospel.
I wish that my communications were more characterized by these kinds of things as well. In short (and I’ll cheat here to bring in Colossians 3), I want my interactions especially with brothers and sisters in the faith to be characterized by love: “And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.” – Col. 3:14
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September 17 2014 at 11:52 am 0 Comments
We built one another up as a community.
We greeted one another, welcomed guests, gave offerings to further the kingdom. We heard announcements about our life together, including upcoming classes and events.
We were sent into the world.
Mark Mitchell shared a few words to help us personally apply the sermon, and we closed with a doxology from Ephesians 3:20-21.
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September 9 2014 at 10:15 am 0 Comments
More information about the year-long, 2-A-DAY reading plan, including the readings schedule, can be found on the 2-A-DAY page.
By Tim Harvey
“Now these are the kings of the land whom the sons of Israel defeated and whose land they possessed…” – Joshua 12:1
“…walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing forbearance to one another in love…” – Eph. 4:1-2
My commentary devotes barely any space to Joshua 12, referring to it as simply an appendix to the history of Canaan’s conquest that is recounted in the preceding chapters. And there doesn’t seem to be a lot of spiritual insight to be gained from the long list of defeated kings and their city-states, all of whom are long forgotten except for their final ignoble mention here as having been defeated by the Israelites. But maybe that’s exactly the point – God’s kingdom and His purposes go irresistibly forward, while His enemies are swept aside and remembered only because of their defeat.
However, God’s enemies seem to be faring pretty well these days, if my daily newspaper is any indication. Look close to home or across the world and everywhere we see the ascendancy of those who “call evil good and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20) and who do “what [is] right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6). What’s happened to the irresistible march of God’s kingdom that Joshua 12 so clearly displays?
Ephesians 4, I believe, points us toward the answer. God’s kingdom is marching forward, but no longer by means of national conquest. Rather, it is moving forward with the “weapons” of humility, gentleness, patience, forbearance, and love. These weapons don’t bring down walls or cities; they break through to hard hearts and blind eyes. They don’t display the greatness of a nation or its army; they display God’s power to transform individual lives. Just as there was no earthly way the Israelites could have defeated all those kings in their own strength, there is no way that we can “walk worthy” in the ways Paul outlines apart from the indwelling power of God. As we walk in these things we demonstrate the power and presence of God as decisively as any list of defeated kings.
And our calling to “walk worthy” is not just an individual calling, but one we are to walk out in unity with our brothers and sisters – “being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” as Paul puts it in verse 3. The tribes of Israel were united (unfortunately only temporarily) as they fought the Canaanite kings. God’s call to His church in our day is that we would be similarly united for His purposes and His kingdom, as we “grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ” (v. 15).
Hope for the Pagans
by Jose Troche
Joshua 11 is one of those chapters in the Old Testament where we read about many battles, deaths, and destruction, as the Israelites take over the land that God had promised to them. Many kings had joined forces to fight against Israel (v.5). They had come out with all their troops, a great horde, in number like the sand on the seashore (v.4). This alliance may have seemed intimidating, but the Lord was with Joshua and had commanded him, once again, not to be afraid, for He was going to give over all of them to Israel (v.6). And Joshua and all his warriors fell upon them and struck them until he left none remaining (v. 7-8). And Joshua’s army continued capturing cities, striking with the sword all who were in them, devoting them to destruction, not leaving any who breathed (v. 11, 12, 14, 17, 21).
We can picture smoke coming out from burned cities, corpses infesting the landscape, utterly defeated armies, ubiquitous devastation… For it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be devoted to destruction and should receive no mercy but be destroyed (v. 20). What a sobering and horrifying passage! Many find these events perplexing and disturbing.
The pagans that heard about the breathtaking wonders that the God of Israel was performing responded with consternation, their hearts melted and no spirit was left in any of them (Joshua 2:10-11). The Bible openly paints a terrifying image for those who are against the Lord. His judgement is unbearable. It is certainly a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God!
As I try to fit myself into this story, an extremely troubling reality dawns in my mind. I am not an Israelite by birth, I am a pagan! If all I have is the Old Testament, I am left in a hopeless condition. If I do not belong to ethnic Israel, I am destined to be devoted to destruction, just like the heathen of Joshua 11.
Praise be to God for Ephesians 3, for the amazing mystery that was hidden for ages but revealed to Paul and the apostles (Eph. 3:5), that we, the Gentiles, the pagans, are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel (v.6). Praise be to God for extending undeserved mercy to helpless pagan sinners like me, so we can comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ (v.18-19), who shed his blood for the forgiveness of our traspasses (Eph. 1:7), so we can be members of the household of God (Eph. 2:19).
To Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Eph. 3:21)
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August 22 2014 at 9:45 am 0 Comments
More information about the year-long, 2-A-DAY reading plan, including the readings schedule, can be found on the 2-A-DAY page.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 22 | Joshua 5
By Jessica Kendal
Praise God for a second crossing through the waters! In Joshua 5, the Israelites had finally begun their transition into the “promised land.” God in His kindness showed them His might once again as the waters of the Jordan piled up and His people walked through on dry ground. But even while the Lord was melting away the resistance of many enemies, there is still a battle on the horizon: Jericho. Walls that seem unbreakable, and yet God is calling them to move forward in confidence. How? What can prepare a person—or a people—for this sort of conquest?
Consecration—and even a renewing of the Covenant! (vs. 1-9) God’s people had been wandering in the wilderness so long, even the physical marks of their covenant with Him had all but disappeared. The Lord commands that the new generation be circumcised, starting fresh and rolling away the “reproach of Egypt.” What is the Lord asking you to cut away today, so that you can renew your love for Him and start fresh?
Remembering His Faithfulness (vs. 10-12) In God’s perfect timing, following the renewal of their covenant with the Lord, it was time to celebrate the Passover. In doing this, the Lord also began to show His people His new provision for them: the “fruit” of the land, no longer the provision of manna. Remembering His faithfulness is crucial to having the strength for spiritual battle and opens our eyes to new things He’d like to do. What might God want you to remember about Him as you face your battles of today?
Choosing God’s Side (vs. 13-15) I once read that our gut reaction is often the same as Joshua’s, faced with the “commander of the army of the LORD”—we blindly approach Him and ask if He’s on our side, or not?? But what God really wants is to know if we are on HIS side! To do this, we’ve got to recognize who He really is. When Joshua realized who he was actually talking to, he fell on his face, and asked what was required of him! The reply? “Take off your sandals…for the place where you are standing is holy.” Friends, in Jesus Christ, we walk on holy ground every day! Remind yourself of His astonishing holiness and greatness. How can you choose to be on God’s side today, rather than asking if He’s on your side?
Lord, we pray today for grace to see You for who You really are. You know that we are facing battles that seem too big to fight—but if YOU are our Commander, no walls are too high. Help us ask what You require of us, and give us confidence in Your strength, not ours. We love You, Jesus, and pray this in Your precious Name!
What God Does and What He Says Will Stand Forever
By Rhoda Dixon
“For the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the LORD is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.” (Joshua 4:23-24)
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)
The instruction from God to Joshua to the people regarding the setting up of the memorial stones are to direct God’s people to remember always what God has done for them. His mighty act in this moment in leading them safely through the Jordan is part of a greater work of His enduring mercy and faithfulness to His people. The instructions are to accomplish a work in God’s people in two ways: The command to build the memorial stones and the crossing of the Jordan are to build faith just prior to their entering the land He has promised. And these stones are to direct their hearts to worship and trust God always.
While the stones were to be a reminder to God’s people of what God has done, Jesus provides words of comfort in the midst of great difficulty and suffering detailed in Matthew 24. Both the fall of Jerusalem and the end times are being described here, but with His words and life Jesus provides hope for all who know Him. Jesus Himself is the answer to the difficulties and anguish, and His words of life and salvation will never pass away. Throughout history the Lord has preserved His church, and at the end of time His people will be with Him, in the place He has provided in His presence for them for all of eternity—the eternal rest that is the ultimate fulfillment of the promised land we will read about in Joshua. As God’s people, we can remember all our God has done, finding rest in knowing that our Lord’s words provide everlasting hope.
As He led His people through the Jordan, He will be faithful to lead and remain with His people, leading them through the end of time, until we are finally in our promised Home with Him forever.
Dear Lord, I thank You because You always lead and guard Your people. You who is in control over creation, time and all that has been and what will come ahead; You alone are our hope in every step, today and forever.
Sometimes mid scenes of deepest gloom,
Sometimes when Eden’s bowers bloom,
By waters still, over troubled sea,
Still ‘tis His hand that leadeth me.
He leadeth me, He leadeth me,
By His own hand He leadeth me;
His faithful follower I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me. (Joseph H. Gilmore, 1862)
By William Li
Matthew 23: Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice.
The nation of Israel was truly in dark times during this era of their history. Politically, their homeland was ruled by Rome. Religiously, the people were being lead by false guides. With no good shepherds in the community, Jesus gives us some words of wisdom in this passage. He points people to follow the teaching of the Pharisees despite being hypocrites.
Consider the question, how can a person distinguish if something a hypocrite said was true? If we disregarded everything any hypocrite said, we would have to discard everything every man has ever said. For we all falter and fall short at some point as a result of the Fall. The question then becomes, in a world of hypocrites, how can I seek truth?
As Christians we are called to be faithful to God rather than a person. Often times it is difficult to distinguish truth from falsehood when words and actions do not line up. Jesus teaches us that even a hypocrite can teach us truths. However Jesus was able to live a life free of hypocrisy. He is the living embodiment of truth and righteousness. Only in His life was truth and personhood fully unified.
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in.[d] 15 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.
The Pharisees were a group that had more access to the Word of God than the rest of the population. But instead of leading people into the Kingdom of Heaven, they were putting obstacles in their way. Hypocrisy is one of the biggest obstacles the Israelites had to overcome in order to seek God during this time. My encouragement to anyone who wants to see a true life, untainted by hypocrisy is to study the life of Jesus. It wasn’t just the fact that Jesus said the truth but that He was Truth itself.
The Lord said to Joshua, “Today I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, that they may know that, as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. 8 And as for you, command the priests who bear the Ark of the Covenant, ‘When you come to the brink of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’” 9 And Joshua said to the people of Israel, “Come here and listen to the words of the Lord your God.” 10 And Joshua said, “Here is how you shall know that the living God is among you and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Hivites, the Perizzites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, and the Jebusites. 11 Behold, the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is passing over before you into the Jordan. 12 Now therefore take twelve men from the tribes of Israel, from each tribe a man. 13 And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.”
When God lead the people out of Egypt using Moses he opened the Red Sea allowing the people to walk across on dry land. But Moses sinned and was forbidden to cross over to the Promised Land. So Joshua was now commanded to lead the Israelites. God invokes the same miracle except now it is over the Jordon instead of the Red Sea.
In Numbers 14 Joshua and Caleb were sent to the land of Canaan to survey the land. Many spies were sent out but only Joshua and Caleb trusted the Lord would give the Israelites the land. All of the other spies came back reporting how it was impossible to go against the people of Canaan. When the Israelites heard the report from the spies they were ready to stone Moses for leading them there.
Joshua had great faith to follow the Lord. Not grumbling or rebelling against the Lord who intended to do good to him and his countrymen. It is fitting that Joshua become the leader of the Israelites and be the one to take his people over to the Promised Land. He had become God’s chosen instrument to deliver His people.
How many times have we grumbled in our hearts against the Lord? We ask for blessings but not hardships. But the Bible teaches us that God uses both to sharpen and shape us, for we are all clay in the potter’s hand. Joshua demonstrates how important it is to trust God in all situations. Joshua trusted God in the 40 years in the desert enduring the trials with patience. In that time of faithfully trusting God, he was molded to become one of the greatest leaders in Biblical history.
by Tim Harvey
“…for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath.” – Joshua 2:11
“Go therefore to the main highways, and as many as you find there, invite to the wedding feast.” - Matt. 22:9
If there was ever someone gathered in by God’s grace from off the highways of life, it was Rahab. Consider her spiritual résumé: a pagan and also a prostitute perhaps associated with one of the idolatrous fertility cults of ancient Canaan. No hint that she was a sincere seeker of truth along the same lines as the magi who visited Jesus, nor an exemplar of righteous living like the Roman centurion Cornelius in Acts 10. Yet in biblical history Rahab is well-known as one of the heroes of the faith, commended by the writer of Hebrews (Heb. 11:31) and by James (James 2:25), and an ancestor of David and Christ Himself (Matt. 1:5). How could this happen? Is Rahab just another example of the mystery of God’s providence, or do we have something to learn from her life and example?
I believe the answer is yes on both counts. Certainly no one – no matter how well taught in the Scriptures or how righteous in their living – is saved apart from God’s sovereign call. The fact that He would choose someone like Rahab is a dramatic reminder that we are all saved by grace and grace alone.
But Rahab’s words in verses 8-13 illuminate the work that God was doing in her life, and I believe offer us guidance on how we ought to pray for His work in our lives and the lives of others. Rahab did not have any more information than other people in Jericho – the news of the Israelites’ amazing military victories and the power of their God were obviously common knowledge. But Rahab, through God’s provident work, was given eyes to see through these mere events to perceive the God who was behind them. Her words reveal an astonishing grasp of who God is and what He was doing through the events that had so stirred the region. In marked contrast to the Pharisees of Jesus’ day, she was given “eyes to see and ears to hear,” and she did not hesitate to act on what she had seen.
I want to have the same eyes of faith that Rahab had! I want to see, as Rahab did, my circumstances and the world around me in light of who God is and His eternal purposes. And I want the same for those around me who walk in spiritual blindness. That’s why I am praying earnestly for God to do this kind of work that only He can do.
by Jose Troche
It had been a long and tedious journey for the people of God. Several years wandering in the desert, doubting, rebelling, and sinning against the LORD. He had so mightily delivered them from dreadful slavery to lead them into wonderland, a place of indescribable fruitfulness, prosperity, peace and rest. The type of place where all human beings deeply long to be.
We read in Joshua 1 about God declaring that no man will stand against Joshua, because the Almighty himself will be on his side. God had chosen Joshua to be the successor of Moses, and to lead his people into the land that he had promised to Abraham several centuries before. The Hebrew name Joshua means “Yahweh saves”, and in a real sense that is what God was going to do through Joshua: to save his people from his enemies as they conquered the land.
We also read that God calls Joshua to be careful to do according to all the law, without turning to the right hand or to the left, and not allowing it to depart from his mouth, but rather meditating on it day and night so that he may have good success and prosperity wherever he would go (v. 7). His triumph depended on his careful observance of the law. The standard for him was high because he was a representative of his people; as Moses’ successor, he was also a mediator between God and men.
Although deep knowledge of the law is very important, it is not sufficient, as we learn in Matthew 21:18-46. The Pharisees and chief priests were a respected religious group in the time of Jesus. They knew the law inside out, and they thought they obeyed it. But Jesus assessment was different. In that passage, Jesus curses a fruitless fig tree. Later, he tells a parable where he compares the religious leaders to children that do not do the will of their father. Finally, he states his judgment announcing that the kingdom of God will be taken away from them and given to a people producing fruits.
So here is the dilemma. God offers good success as long as the law is perfectly obeyed and fruit is produced. But who can do that? Who can act according to the law, without going to the right of to the left, meditating on it day and night?
It turns out that there is another man with the same name as Joshua and with a similar mission. Jesus is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name Joshua. And we read in Matthew 1:21 that Jesus received that name because he would “save” his people from their sins. As important as Joshua was in the history of Israel, he was really pointing to a greater representative, mediator and Savior. He was pointing to Jesus, who magnificently makes honor to his name as we contemplate how “Yahweh saves” his people through him. He is the only one who perfectly obeyed the law. He is the one who triumphantly and ultimately will lead his beloved to wonderland.
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July 8 2014 at 7:01 am 1 Comments
FRIDAY, JULY 11 | Galatians 1 and Exodus 15
Reflection on Galatians 1
By Art & Jeannie Shenk
Thinking about the wonderful way Paul begins his letter to the churches in Galatia to confirm the importance of justification by faith alone (vs. 3-5):
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Real peace in life only comes by grace not works, deliverance only through the death of another.
Matthew Henry remarks: “Especially mark well the words, ‘who gave himself for our sins.’ ...not only to redeem us from the wrath of God, and the curse of the law; but also to recover us from wicked practices and customs, to which we are naturally enslaved.”
Father, today I am so grateful that the peace in my heart and freedom from condemnation is from being reconciled to you by grace not my works. Thanks that you loved me so much that you would crush your sinless son for me and raise him from the dead to deliver me, through faith in Jesus’ completed work on the cross for me and trust in you, so I might live free from sin, free from fear of your justified wrath and free from the bondage of this evil age and its wicked practices and enticements that would enslave me. To you be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
Reflections on Exodus 15
By Jessica Kendal
I will sing to the LORD, for he has triumphed gloriously;
The horse and his rider he has thrown into the sea.
The LORD is my strength and my song,
And he has become my salvation;
This is my God, and I will praise him,
My father’s God, and I will exalt him.”
Isn’t it beautiful? Only a few verses into Moses’ spontaneous song of praise, we can sense the exultant joy of the Israelites’ deliverance. Moses entwines the story-telling of their rescue from Egypt with powerful descriptions of the Lord’s might, majesty, and glory. Miriam and the women brought out the tambourines and echoed the men. With 600,000 and more, the shouts and songs of praise to God must have been almost deafening. Imagine multiple Super Bowl stadiums, filled with fans—cheering wildly not for sport, but for the Holy of Holies!
Isn’t it interesting that following this amazing time of singing worship, the desperately thirsty Israelites were led to bitter water, which only the Lord could make sweet?
Songs of deliverance aren’t just for the Old Testament, and worship songs not just for Sundays. The Lord wanted the Israelites to apply that song of deliverance to their everyday difficulties, letting those bitter waters draw them to Him. Sometimes—many times—songs of praise are just what the Lord uses for our comfort, healing or a breakthrough. He is both our strength and our song.
I encourage you to sing to Him today and see what happens. In your car, in your closet, in your kitchen—sing! I pray, in Jesus’ name, that those songs would rise and join with the praises of other believers around the world, creating a mighty roar of worship to our God that delights His ears. And if you are tasting bitter waters, I pray they become sweet as He grows your trust in His faithfulness. He is good, and His love endures forever.
By Rhoda Dixon
The God of glory is with His people
Our reading in Exodus 13 ended with the description of God’s presence being amongst the people in a pillar of cloud and fire to lead them by day and night. In our text today from Exodus 14, God, in His faithfulness, might and mercy has promised to save His people. He will make a way for the people of Israel safely through the Red Sea, then bring an end to the Egyptians who are pursuing them—all the while providing His presence in the pillar of cloud and fire to demonstrate that He is with them. He alone will receive the glory as He shows forth His might in how He saves and leads His people. Moses proclaims these encouraging words that tell us of who God is and what He will do:
“Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.” (Exodus 14:13-14)
The chapter then concludes with these words:
“Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses.” (Exodus 14:31)
The God of peace is with His people
Then, in our text in Romans 16, we again encounter God’s covenant people, members of the church in Rome. Paul offers his affectionate and specific greetings with an emphasis of ways the Lord is at work in the lives and hearts of the church members, and how they have been used in Christian service (vs.1-16). It is a sweet treasure that through Paul’s words we can learn from these dear believers. And then, just as we read in Exodus 14 that God was with His people and saved them from their Egyptian oppressors, Paul gives final encouragement to the Roman church that reminds them God brings salvation and is with His people:
“The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (Romans 16:20)
In the wilderness, in Rome, today and forever, God is always with His people; He provides salvation for His people and leads them. He gave His presence in the pillar of cloud and fire, and He now gives us His grace through Christ Jesus our Lord. He is always with His people and He will continue His faithfulness to them. All glory belongs to our God!
We look to the only wise God
A few application recommendations for the days ahead:
May we be expectant for how the Lord will speak to us through His word each day.
What are a few spiritual and practical ways that you have seen the nearness of God to you this month? Even in some small way, where do you see that He indeed is with you?
May we also consider how we can encourage other believers in how we see the Lord at work in their lives, as a way to remind them and ourselves that our ever-present and faithful Lord is with us. A few potential ways this can done is by sharing how you observe them using their gifts, or how you notice them trusting the Lord in the midst of their circumstances.
Dear Lord, may my heart be quieted before You as I consider Your glory and greatness. Every day, and in every moment I need Your grace and leading. As Your people, we thank you for how You always remain with Your people; You dwell amongst us, daily giving grace to guard and lead us. It is You alone who saves, through the sending of Your Son. We come now to say that we look to You alone; we trust You, and we give You all the glory, today and forever.
“To the only wise God be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ. Amen!” (Romans 16:27)
By Jessica Kendal
“And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the LORD may be in your mouth. For with a strong hand the LORD has brought you out of Egypt.” (Exodus 13:9)
Yesterday, our brother Tim Harvey shared a wonderful reflection about remembering. This idea is continued strongly in Exodus 13 and Romans 15, so if you’ll indulge me, allow me to ask: Have you ever gotten to the end of a long week and found yourself unable to remember most of it?
Now imagine this: you experience the miraculous intervention of the Lord, but that miracle is followed by a detour into frenzied busyness, trials, or tests of perseverance. Or, maybe, all of those things. After the detour—maybe even during the detour—would you remember the miracle? Would I?
The Lord, in His infinite wisdom, knows that His fallible, human sons and daughters need reminders.
The Lord knew that His people were about to leave—in a hurry—and end up on a long, arduous journey. A journey that would leave them open to fatigue, complaining, self-sabotage, idolatry…sound familiar? So He doesn’t just ask them to remember, He commands them to remember—and remember in community. In both solemnity and celebration. They are to “remember” so visibly that it is as if they are “marked” on their hands and between their eyes, with the law of the Lord continually “in [their] mouth.”
This verse—Exodus 13:9—can slip by, but it is of enormous significance if we look carefully. A few thoughts on why our Creator may have given us this word picture:
Hands—our hands are the center of so many aspects of our lives: work, giving and service, creating, touch. We see our hands—and others see the results of our hands—all day, every day. Lord, please help us remember what You’ve worked with Your hands as we work with ours.
Between our eyes/forehead—did you know that the front part of our fearfully, wonderfully made brain is where we make decisions? And think of the last really meaningful conversation you had with a friend or loved one. Did you look at their eyes? Lord, please help us remember that our decisions should reflect Your mercy and grace in our lives. Help us love You and love others with our decisions, and help us see them through Your eyes.
Having the Word “in our mouth”—we are to be both “eating” and speaking His Word at all times! There is no greater gift towards remembering Jesus than the Word of God. Lord, please help us to have a hunger for consuming Your Word and a desire to speak it and share it.
But after all this: the best part, really, is why He commands His people to remember. In Romans 15:8-9, Paul says:
“Remember that Christ came as a servant to the Jews to show that God is true to the promises he made to their ancestors. He also came so that the Gentiles might give glory to God for his mercies to them…”(NLT)
Just like the Israelites, it is for our good and, most importantly, His Glory that He commands us to remember. This is why we remind ourselves of the Gospel, why we sing His praises, why we want to show evidence of His love and mercy in our lives like a mark, right between our eyes, where the world can’t help but see.
Have you remembered Him yet today?
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” (Romans 15:13)
by Tim Harvey
Exodus 12, which tells the story of the first Passover when the people of Israel were delivered from Egypt, seems to be as much about remembering as it is about their actual deliverance. God didn’t need the blood on the doorposts to know who His people were. Rather, the Passover lamb, the blood on the doorposts, and the unleavened bread were all part of a holy drama that God planned to help His people remember what He was doing then and to point them forward to the ultimate salvation He would bring about later through the Messiah. Even in the middle of what I imagine must have been pretty urgent instructions about how to get out of Egypt, God (in verses 14-20) and then Moses (v. 24-27) take time to describe the specific steps for how Israel is to reenact and remember this first Passover “throughout your generations.”
The themes of remembering and looking forward are also woven into Paul’s exhortations to holy living in Romans 14. In verse 9 he invites us to remember Christ’s death and resurrection as proof that our lives are in His hands: “For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.” Remembering this, Paul says, helps us avoid judging our brothers and sisters over debatable matters since in the end each of us belongs to the Lord. And in verses 10-12 he points us forward to the coming divine judgment as the reason why we can rest in God’s judgment rather than rushing to make our own:
But you, why do you judge your brother? Or you again, why do you regard your brother with contempt? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.” So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.
I find that the times I am quickest to judge my brothers and sisters, the times when I am not committed to “pursuing the things which make for peace and the building up of one another” (v. 19) are times when I have forgotten what Christ has done for me and have lost sight of what He has promised to do in the future. I am a forgetful man, all the more so when my pride or my opinion is at stake, and I need the Lord and faithful friends to help me remember and help me look forward with faith.
Lord, help me to remember what You have done and who You have shown Yourself to be in my past and help me to never lose sight of what You have promised for the future. May my family and this church and Your people around the world be people who remember You, who believe in Your promises, who look forward to seeing Your promises fulfilled, and may that be evident in how we live with our brothers and sisters.
by Jose Troche
The Lord said to Moses, “Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward he will let you go …” (Exodus 11:1)
The people of God had been under cruel oppression for many, many years. They were slaves of the Egyptians. Their masters afflicted them with heavy labor. They restrained their growth by brutally killing their baby boys. Life was miserable and hopeless. They desperately longed for a Savior that would deliver them from their dreadful bondage.
God heard their cry. He sent Moses with this message to Pharaoh: “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel: ‘Let my people go’” But Pharaoh arrogantly responded: ”Who is the LORD that I should obey his voice and let Israel go?”.
In an extraordinary display of his power, God sent nine plagues to persuade Pharaoh to release his people and yet Pharaoh stubbornly refused to obey God. At the beginning of chapter 11, God announces that he is sending one last devastating plague that will result in the long awaited liberation of his people.
In Exodus 11:5-8, we read more about this last plague: “every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die.” The scope of destruction will be pervasive throughout the land of Egypt. It will reach the prominent and the common, the free and the captive, the rich and the poor, the masters and the slaves, people and beasts, with no exceptions. The strike will be so overwhelming that “there shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again.” The wrath and judgment of God will be unleashed in such a way that the humiliated Egyptians will bow down before Moses and plead with him to go out with all the people of God.
After so many years of wicked tyranny, the day of deliverance is finally near. God is about to act decisively to deliver his people. What for them will be a great day of joy and celebration, will for the Egyptians be a day of judgement and anguish.
This day points to an even more frightening day of final judgment and a more sublime day of utter freedom. The day when Jesus returns for his people and forever delivers them from sin, while punishing his enemies eternally. That day the children of God who accepted the gracious provision of the ultimate Passover Lamb of God, Jesus himself, will experience indescribable exultation, for there will be no more chains, no more pain, no more tears, and no more death.
Let us live in light of that day, “for salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed. The night is far gone; the day is at hand. So then let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:11-12)
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July 7 2014 at 10:38 am 0 Comments
We’re excited to share a reflection we received from Art & Jeannie Shenk on the 2-a-Day readings for July 4. As fellow believers let’s help each other dwell on the Word of God.
“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
I love Paul’s passionate appeal to us to be “living sacrifices”:
I invite you to join me TODAY by devoting yourself to being transformed (present tense). It starts by renewing your mind, engaging by faith to consider and apply the words of spirit and life found in God’s word to everything you do. Why? One reason is by doing this, we will push back against the temptations and enticements of the world to live for self rather than God. And why should we do this? To test and prove that God’s will is in fact the only way to live that is good and acceptable and perfect and in the end will be far better than anything the world has to offer for God’s glory and our best good.
“I think the best answer is to see the connection between verses 1 and 2. My suggestion is that verse 2 is the realistic explanation of the more symbolic verse 1. Verse 1 talks about sacrifices and worship. Verse 2 talks about your mind being renewed and doing the will of God….use your renewed mind to prove what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable and perfect.” -John Piper
Have you ever thought about what it would be like to be Moses being told by God to bring plague after plague, a total of 10 plagues on Egypt before Pharaoh finally gave in to set the Israelites free? Moses must have felt some compassion toward those being afflicted but must have been sobered by Pharoah’s hard heart, obstinacy and pride in the face of the severity of God’s judgment over and over again. Lesson learned? As Charles Spurgeon puts it, “God would stamp the early history of Israel with the deep impression of his Godhead. His overthrow of the proud Egyptian king should let Israel know in the very beginning how great a God had chosen her to be his own peculiar portion.”
What God did was designed to set Israel free, yes, but more importantly to magnify his name for generations:
“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.’” (Exodus 10: 1-2)
Mathew Henry says of this passage:
“The ten plagues of Egypt must be inflicted, that they may be recorded for the generations to come as undeniable proofs, (1) of God’s overruling power in the kingdom of nature, his dominion over all the creatures, and his authority to use them either as servants to his justice or sufferers by it, according to the counsel of his will. (2) Of God’s victorious power over the kingdom of Satan, to restrain the malice and chastise the insolence of his and his church’s enemies. These plagues are standing monuments of the greatness of God, the happiness of the church, and the sinfulness of sin, and standing monitors to the children of men in all ages not to provoke the Lord to jealousy nor to strive with their Maker.”
Prayer: Father, thanks for the reminder that you are the undeniable ruler of the universe as demonstrated so severely to the hard-hearted Pharaoh of Egypt. Thanks that out of the kind intention of your will, you have chosen us to be servants to your justice rather than suffers of your wrath. Work in us TODAY to be soft-hearted not hard-hearted toward you and be led by the Spirit to demonstrate to others that we believe in you and submit to your ways as our Lord and Savior. Also, help us to have compassion on those whose hearts are yet to be soft toward you so in your timing, they may know that you are the Lord.
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