January 31 – Today’s Readings – Exodus 10-12
Today I want to spend some moments reflecting on Chapter 12 of Exodus. What we find here is the Jewish “Passover” at its inception. Israel was about to be “saved” from the Death Angel, but the only way of escape was to take a precious “pet” lamb, and shed it’s blood. This blood was to be applied on the sides and top of the doorway of the house. One lamb per household was to be used and all family members were to stay in the house, eating the lamb they had become so attached to. Just imagining this scene and the deep emotions the family must have felt brings a queasy feeling to the pit of my stomach. This was an innocent, playful animal which had probably been named by the children, and may even have snuggled in bed with them at night. He was already part of the family – close and personal to each one who ate the meal.
Here’s the kicker – God In The Flesh (Jesus) is our Passover Lamb. His execution was unfair and unjust. He was executed as a common criminal, yet He was the most precious, innocent, wonderful human being who ever lived. No wonder His disciples were so filled with grief when He willingly offered up His body for them. His blood was shed because the consequences of sin was separation from God. Though this is incomprehensible through the “natural mind”, the death of Jesus was the “only way” for us. You see, in the spiritual realm, there are spiritual laws – one of them states, “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23) Sin is the very essence of separation from God and spiritual death. Genesis 2:17 reads, “but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.” When Adam and Eve disobeyed the only command God had ever given them, they set in motion a spiritual separation from God for all of creation.
Here then is the most wonderful parallel to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross in the entire Bible. We find that the Passover Lamb’s blood was shed to save Israel from sin and certain death. We see that the Whole Lamb (not just the parts they preferred ) had to be eaten and become part of them. We know that the Passover was very much a household event and that within that spiritual house there was spiritual protection. Those who “ate” the Lamb were God’s people, either by birth or adoption. The Lamb became the great dividing line – the line of salvation. Think of it – your spiritual covering relies on the condition that you are “under the blood” and “in the house”. Praise God for His great spiritual covering!
To those who “ate His body and drank His blood”, God granted adoption as sons and daughters. No wonder John the Baptist prophesied, “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”. (John 1:29) No wonder Jesus said, “Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life within you”. (John 6:53)
1. Are there any “parts” of the Lamb of God that you have so far refused to consume?
2. Please comment on what “the Passover” means to you.
January 30 – Today’s Readings – Exodus 7-9 and Psalms 30
Plagues! Wow this is really intense. Did you ever wonder why all this stuff was happening in Egypt?
Yes, yes – I know – God wanted to deliver His people – but aside from that, I think God wanted to speak to Egypt (and the then-know world as well). He was also ready to pass judgement on all the nations living in the land of Palestine. Think about it. How was the Lord going to get the attention of the Egyptians and give them a revelation that an all-powerful and all-knowing “Living God” was able to set people free?
He first had to confront their “gods”, bring down their economy and radically alter the sinful culture that epitomized this super-power. Most scholars believe that Egypt was one of the strongest nations on earth at the time of the Exodus. They were self-sufficient, proud and very powerful. God literally set it up so that all Egyptians from the greatest to the least would see the glory of God and come to a knowledge of God.
So – though God had a plan for Israel, He also had a plan to reveal Himself to Egypt – so that all the nations would hear of the miracles that had taken place at the hands of Aaron and Moses.
He still confronts people and nations with hard hearts and lets them know that there is a God to be reckoned with. In our day and hour, God usually reveals Himself through His loving servants – but I’ve know people who were “smacked with a two by four” so that God could get their attention. We often believe that everything is about us. We interpret all the happenings around us as though God is doing something for us alone. Ponder this – half the World lives in near-complete economic disaster and all we can think about is whether we will purchase a Kia or a Ford! Perhaps God uses things like hard economic times to get people to quit relying only on their own wisdom. Maybe He uses “hard times” to draw individuals to Himself. This is not to say that God creates hard times only that He uses opportunities including hard times to reach a people with love and grace. I don’t know about you, but I would gladly suffer hard times if it meant that lost souls would be drawn to God because of it. Wouldn’t it be nice if we became so sensitive to God’s voice that we would respond the instant He speaks? There is no need for us to be “confronted” by the Lordthe way Egypt was if we have our spiritual ears open. May we be guided by the slightest glance of His eye today! I don’t want to have any “plague” experiences because of the hardness of my heart.
1. Has God ever used a “difficult thing” to get your attention? Tell us about it!
2. Give an example of how “hard times” have drawn you closer to God.
January 29, Today’s Readings are Exodus 4-6 and Psalms 29
I love the simplicity of the way God works. Moses is trying to figure it all out (as we all tend to do) – and asks the Lord – “What if they don’t believe me?” He is very busy looking at his inadequacies and at the impossible task ahead of him. The answer comes – “What is that in your hand?” Of course, the “thing” in Moses’ hand was a shepherd’s staff – the symbol of his last forty year’s labor. This was not a symbol of authority, nor was it an object of royalty with which a man could direct an army. The question “What is in your hand” is an all-important one because it points directly to the fact that Moses, at this point in his life, was nothing without God. What was in Moses’ hand was mundane and God was about to change the mundane into something that would help solve a big problem. I believe that Jesus often asks us to look at what’s in our hand. He takes the mundane things and solves big problems with them. Let me go a step further – He takes mundane PEOPLE and solves big problems with them. He takes you and I and expects great things from us – even if we believe (as Moses did) that we are not the person for the job. How is it that He entrusted the entire future of
God’s kingdom on earth to a bunch of unlearned, uncouth, unspiritual disciples? How come He still does the same today? Could it be that He has very little use for those who are full of themselves, but sees tremendous potential in people who will let God lead? As Scripture says – “But God chose thefoolish thingsof the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong.[1Corinthians 1:27] He empowers humble people to do great things.
One note of caution, as you read – God does not take kindly to those who continually put themselves down and say, “I can’t”. As a matter of fact God got angry with Moses when he said, “I can’t”. Why? It’s because but He wants us to believe that HE CAN.
What is it that you have in your hand? What small skills do you possess? Are you willing to let God use what you have?
January 28 – Today’s Readings – Exodus 1-3 and Psalms 28
Welcome to Exodus!
Most scholars agree that the nation of Israel was in Egypt for generations. They had “evolved” from the status of favoured people under Joseph, to one of captivity and slavery after Joseph passed off the scene. Depending on who you read, scholars Say that by the time of their “deliverance” at the hands of Moses and Aaron, they had multiplied to as many as 4 million people. The description of their “Exodus” contains a lot of encouragement for readers of this book but it should also be understood as a “type” or “parable” of our salvation – of God calling us from the dominion of darkness and bringing us into the kingdom of His dear Son (Colossians 1:13). This account paints a clear picture of how Jesus confronted the Devil and, through mighty deeds, set us free from the slavery of sin. As you read this book, keep this allegory in mind and you will be blessed as you discover the parallels.
I find it fascinating that no matter what the Egyptians threw at God’s people, they multiplied and prospered – so much so that the Egyptians were in dread of Israel. On the one hand Israel was groaning under the load of hardship and slave labor and at the same time, the Egyptians could plainly see that God was with them. The tougher things got for Israel the more they began to cry out for deliverance.
The grand theme of this book is that God heard their cry, and in His sovereign timing, sent a deliverer to bring them out of slavery. The deliverer, Moses, had a vision from God (perhaps encouraged by his mother) at a young age that this Exodus was going to happen. He even tried to make it happen outside of the timing of God, but ended up in the desert for forty years – a direct result of his mistake.
Can we learn something from all of this? Well, for starters – it really doesn’t matter which “captivity” we find ourselves in, if God is with us we can prosper anywhere – but we have already learned this lesson this from Joseph’s life. I also think that the Lord is on the lookout for people who are “groaning” to be set free. We all need to come to a point in life where we are ready for a deliverance or a revival from God but we also should be on the lookout for others who groan in their sin, wanting deliverance and change so that we can join ourselves to them. Finally, we need to be patient when we feel that a certain issue needs to be resolved immediately. God seems to have His own deliverance schedule and His timing is always sovereign. To me, this means that God keeps some things secret or keeps His people on a “need to know” basis. Get used to it – there are some answers that can only be found on the other side of death’s door.
1. What spiritual place did the Israelites come to before God sent deliverance?
2. What are some of the secrets God will reveal only when we get to heaven?
January 27 – Today’s Readings – Matthew 26-28 and Psalms 27
The Gospel of Matthew wraps up with some powerful life lessons. Let me draw your attention to one of them in Chapter 26:7 where a woman (no name) brought “very expensive” perfume and worshiped Jesus by pouring it out on Him. Her attitude was wonderful – her heart was perfect – she wanted to honour Jesus. The disciples’ response however, was far from perfect! They felt that this much money should be allocated to a different cause. This “worship offering” was considered a squander – a waste – after all, it wasn’t part of the budget! It caused such offence in Judas’ heart that he got bitter about it, left the Church, and eventually turned Jesus over to the chief priests!
There is a pivotal question we must ask ourselves as we read this passage – Is it “wasteful and excessive” or is it “worship”? It all has to do with the way we spend our money and our time. Now, don’t get me wrong – we know that Jesus had nothing negative to say about spending money on things like the “Social Activist Gospel”. On the contrary, He told the rich ruler to sell all he had, give the money to the poor and follow him. When He was speaking of true Christianity, Jesus referred to those who fed the poor, took care of widows and orphans, visited those in prison, etc. How we treat the poor and needy is of utmost importance. Why then did Jesus rebuke the disciples and praise the actions of this woman? Was it perhaps because she offered pure worship from the heart? Is worship (even outrageous worship) WASTEFUL? I believe Jesus was trying to tell the disciples that this woman’s offering was indeed wonderful even though it probably cost her an entire inheritance – or perhaps all of her Registered Retirement Plans. Just think about how we respond to other peoples’ offerings of worship or their giving habits. We have been schooled concerning finances – we want “control” over how our money is spent and which project our cash will go towards. Most Church splits include an element of division concerning the allocation of funds. Even Jesus experienced the first Church split over the issue of finances!
There must always be an element of “feeding the poor or reaching out” when it comes to God’s money. We are supposed to be givers even as God is a giver. However, if you really want to get some heavy criticism concerning your Christianity, try being extravagant in your worship and your giving. People will call you a fool to your face if you describe the extravagant sacrifice you made in order to express your love to the Lord. Tell the average guy at the office that you give ten or twenty percent of your earnings to the work of the ministry and see what kind of reaction you get. How much more negative would this reaction be if you said you had emptied you bank account and poured it out at the feet of Jesus!
1. Why do you think “money” has always been such an issue in the Church?
2. Comment on some of the other “excessive” acts of worship mentioned in Scripture.