Prioritization! Put first things first!


Ever wondered why you aren’t making much progress? Ever wondered why things seem out of alignment? Ever wondered why challenges are coming up? I remember many years ago when my diabetes went out of control and I was faced with the question “what’s most important to you?” At the time I had a full time job and working crazy hours, was volunteering with a Homeowners association, was volunteering at church, I was married with 1 child. As I considered the question and needed to realize that whatever the order, I needed to start living my life out in the right order, putting first things first! And what a difference it made in my life to my health, my marriage, my family, and my job.

  • God
  • Marriage (my primary calling)
  • Family
  • Job (my primary ministry)
  • Ministry

When I was going through this I remembered an audio book I had listened to carpooling back and forth to work many years earlier called “First Things First“. So coming to that realization, I had to make some changes in how I worked, in how I served, in how I spent my time to align with these priorities! When asked how can you … the big answer is by setting your priorities right and then by living by them!

Today’s devotional (Day 47) quotes Goethe who said “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”

So if we want to make sure things go well, we need to make sure we have our priorities in place and in the right order and then that we live them out that way! If you check someone’s calendar/schedule or someone’s checkbook/bank account, you can tell what their priorities really are! Where are they spending their time and their money? Point pretty closely to what is most important to them!


Day 47: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Psalm 22:12-21, Mark 1:29-45, Mark 2:1-17, Exodus 19, Exodus 20

1. Priority of relationship

12Many bulls surround me;strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. 13Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me. 14I am poured out like water,and all my bones are out of joint.My heart has turned to wax;it has melted within me. 15My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;you lay me in the dust of death. 16Dogs surround me,a pack of villains encircles me;they pierce my hands and my feet. 17All my bones are on display;people stare and gloat over me. 18They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment. 19But you, Lord, do not be far from me.You are my strength; come quickly to help me. 20Deliver me from the sword,my precious life from the power of the dogs. 21Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;save me from the horns of the wild oxen. –from Psalm 22

Our first priority needs to be God! We are to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness! By putting God first, we are setting things in motion for Him to be able to use our lives for the glory of His kingdom! We are giving Him the opportunity to take the little we have, multiply it, and use it so that He is glorified! We are giving Him priority to make sure we do what is important, so we can love, we can share joy, we can live in peace, we can have patience, we can show kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control! He can help prioritize the events of our day! (our schedule) He can help us hear what is really going on! (our wisdom) He can help us know what to speak! (our discernment) So that in all thing and through all things that we do, we can exalt Him giving Him the praise, the honor, and the glory in accomplishing His purpose and His plans for our life!

Today’s reading prophesies about Jesus and what He would go through on the cross! Today’s devotional pulls it together this way…

It is as though this psalm is written in the first-person singular by someone hanging on a cross, hundreds of years before the Romans even invented crucifixion. It is an extraordinarily accurate prophecy about the suffering of Jesus – describing the cruelty of crucifixion.

  • ‘All my bones are out of joint… My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth’ (vv.14a,15b; John 19:28).
  • ‘They pierced my hands and my feet’ (Psalm 22:16c; John 19:37).
  • ‘A band of evil people has encircled me. I can count all my bones, the people stare and gloat over me’ (Psalm 22:16b–17b; Luke 23:17,35).
  • ‘They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing’ (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23–24).

As we saw yesterday, the suffering of Jesus on the cross was far greater than even the horror of crucifixion. He bore our guilt and was God-forsaken on our behalf (Psalm 22:1). Jesus died for you so that you could be restored to a relationship with God.

from Day 47: Bible In One Year 2017


2. Priorities of Jesus

29As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. 32That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33The whole town gathered at the door, 34and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. 35Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” 38Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. 40A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” 41Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. 43Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44“See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 45Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere. –from Mark 1

We need to make time to spend with God and hearing from Him! We need to make time to communicate with God, praying! Prayer is the key! Worry changes nothing, but prayer changes everything! Do you make time to spend with God? Do you give Him priority and spend time praying and reading His Word? Do you allow Him to speak with you throughout the day? Do you get away from the hustle and bustle of life so that you can be alone with God? Is God important enough to you that you are putting Him on your calendar in a prime spot? Do prioritize Him to the point where it is impacting your day? When you get up? When you go to bed? Where you go? How you get there? What you do and say? Who you speak to? How you speak it? Why you do what you do?

1A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7“Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11“I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” 13Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. 15While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” –from Mark 2

Jesus priorities were clear – God first and people second! Jesus went about proclaiming the kingdom of God and He wanted to make sure as many people as possible would get to hear the Good News! Jesus wanted people to see where they were at and turn back to God and believe the Good News of God! As I have learned in my life and as Jesus was trying to teach them, it is all about the power of forgiveness! Forgiveness saved me! Forgiveness rescued me! Forgiveness freed me! Forgiveness taught me that not only could I be saved from my sins, but also that me forgiving others could save me from bitterness, sadness, anger, and depression!

I was asked to do a short talk to help people get to know me better, but it couldn’t have something to do with work but it had to have the flow of this is where I was, this happened, and this is how my life is changed.

It may not be easy but it is definitely worth it! God’s Word tells us that we need to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within it! God’s Word tells that we are to go out and proclaim the good news! We will be given favor and brought before kings! We will be put in situations where we can share the hope that is within us! We need to help them see the reality of Jesus so that they can be set free too!


3. Priority of love

At Mount Sinai

1On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. 2After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.
3Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
7So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. 8The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.
9The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.” Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said.
10And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 11and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. 13They are to be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person or animal shall be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.”
14After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. 15Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.”
16On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountaintrembled violently. 19As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.
20The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up 21and the Lord said to him, “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish. 22Even the priests, who approach the Lord, must consecrate themselves, or the Lord will break out against them.”
23Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, ‘Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.’ ”
24The Lord replied, “Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the Lord, or he will break out against them.”
25So Moses went down to the people and told them. –from Exodus 19

The Ten Commandments

1And God spoke all these words:
2“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3“You shall have no other gods before me.
4“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
8“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13“You shall not murder.
14“You shall not commit adultery.
15“You shall not steal.
16“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
18When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
20Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
21The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.

Idols and Altars

22Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: 23Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.
24“ ‘Make an altar of earth for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle. Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you. 25If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it. 26And do not go up to my altar on steps, or your private parts may be exposed.’

–from Exodus 20

Today’s reading is filled with truth and power! Today’s reading is calling us to set our priorities straight! Today’s reading is to teach us how to live and help raise the bar bringing up the average so that there will be hope in their lives! Today’s reading is calling for us to consider our priorities and then consider it in response to how we are living it out! Put first things first! Don’t allow the important things to be at the mercy of the least! If we consider the prioritization squares and quadrants don’t allow the least urgent and the least important to steal from the other areas of your life!

Urgent vs Important

So let’s close considering the final words from today’s devotional

Although God invites you into intimacy with him, never forget the wonder of his holiness and power. God has such a passion for you, and therefore he will not let you be less than you can be. He wants us to learn holiness from him.

From Exodus 19 to Numbers 10:10 the Israelites stay in the same place learning how to be God’s people. They begin by learning the holiness and power of God. They cannot even touch the mountain on which his presence rests. Then he speaks to them about their priorities through the Ten Commandments.

  • God loves you
    The context is in 20:2: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.’ God is a God who shows ‘love to a thousand generations’ (v.6). We see pictures of his love earlier in the passage. God says, ‘I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself’ (19:4). He says, ‘You will be my treasured possession… you will be for me’ (vv.5–6). Our love is a response to God’s love.

    The context of the Ten Commandments is God’s love for you. Some people miss this fact and see them merely as a set of rules. God gives the commandments as an act of love for us, and we are to obey them as an act of love for God.

  • Love God
    The first four commandments are about how we respond to God’s love by loving him: ‘We love because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). Our love is to be exclusive (Exodus 20:3–4), respectful (v.7) and is demonstrated by setting aside time to be with him (v.10).
  • Love others
    The last six commands are all about our love for others – our families (v.12), our husbands/wives (v.14) and our neighbours: ‘No murder. No adultery. No stealing. No lies about your neighbour. No lusting after your neighbour’s house – or wife or servant’ (vv.13–17, MSG). Jesus summarised it like this, ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’ (Matthew 22:37–40).

The Ten Commandments were not given as a ladder that people had to climb up to get into God’s presence. Rather they were a God-given pattern of life for those who had already known God’s grace and redemption. They are not given to restrict your freedom, but to safeguard it. They help you enjoy the freedom of living in a relationship with God, showing you how to live a holy life just as God is holy. Your love for God flows out from, and is a response to, God’s love for you.

from Day 47: Bible In One Year 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stay connected thru the highs and the lows


Ever gone through times of extreme highs? Success? Pleasure? Excitement? Discovery? Victory? Freedom? Experience? Love? Joy? Hope? Encounters? Answers?

Ever gone through times of extreme lows? Failure? Betrayal? Lies? Loss? Deaths? Temptations? Opposition? Healthy issue? Sadness? Exhaustion?

Through it all did you stay connected? Through it all did you stick close? Through it were there people you stayed connected with? Through it did you stay connected with God? Through it did you isolate yourself? Through it did you turn you back? Through it did you run away? Through it, how did you respond?

Do you realize the importance to staying connected? Do you realize that by disconnecting you are opening yourself up for the lies and attacks of the devil? He is trying to separate you from the flock so that you will be isolated and listen to things you would normally just shrug off or have someone else speak truth and life and hope through and in the situation. It’s important to stay connected to God! It’s important when we come to the reality of what has taken place that like the lost son we turn back and go back to our heavenly Father! Hopefully we come to our senses before we hit rock bottom! Hopefully we come to our senses before we are too isolated! Hopefully we remember when we get to the end of our rope that God loves us! God’s love is unconditional! He will never leave us nor forsake us! So we just need to turn back and cry out to Him!

Do you realize the importance of staying connected through the highs and lows of life?


Day 46: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Psalm 22:1-11, Mark 1:1-28, Exodus 17, Exodus 18

1. Trust that ultimately suffering will end in victory

1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?Why are you so far from saving me,so far from my cries of anguish? 2My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,by night, but I find no rest. 3Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;you are the one Israel praises. 4In you our ancestors put their trust;they trusted and you delivered them. 5To you they cried out and were saved;in you they trusted and were not put to shame. 6But I am a worm and not a man,scorned by everyone, despised by the people. 7All who see me mock me;they hurl insults, shaking their heads. 8“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,“let the Lord rescue him.Let him deliver him,since he delights in him.” 9Yet you brought me out of the womb;you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast. 10From birth I was cast on you;from my mother’s womb you have been my God. 11Do not be far from me,for trouble is near and there is no one to help. –from Psalm 21

Could you imagine living through the highs of walk with Jesus and all that you would have seen? Could you imagine living through the low of the cross and seeing Jesus die on it? Could you imagine living through the high of the resurrection and getting to see that Jesus conquered the grave and made a way for us to find eternal victory no matter how high the high was or how low the low was! Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding! Remember no matter what happens on this earth, there is a victory coming when Jesus comes back! So put your trust in Him no matter what comes your way! Don’t get disconnected from God no matter how high the highs or how low the lows, stay connected and realize that He is for you, He is not against you, He wants what is best for you! His plan is to give you a hope and a future! His plan was that through Jesus we would be saved and our relationship with God would be restored! Remember it’s a season! If it is a low it won’t last! If it is a high and your life continues there is more incredible things ahead and some may be highs and others may be lows, life is a journey! So don’t lose hope through each season! Remember what Solomon shares in Ecclesiastes 3! Through it all stay connected to God and keep trusting in Him!

2. Grow in authority through the battles and blessings

1The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, 2as it is written in Isaiah the prophet:“I will send my messenger ahead of you,who will prepare your way”— 3“a voice of one calling in the wilderness,‘Prepare the way for the Lord,make straight paths for him.’ ” 4And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5The whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 6John wore clothing made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7And this was his message: “After me comes the one more powerful than I, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” 9At that time Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10Just as Jesus was coming up out of the water, he saw heaven being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” 12At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him. 14After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 15“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” 16As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 18At once they left their nets and followed him. 19When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. 20Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him. 21They went to Capernaum, and when the Sabbath came, Jesus went into the synagogue and began to teach. 22The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, not as the teachers of the law. 23Just then a man in their synagogue who was possessed by an impure spirit cried out, 24“What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” 25 “Be quiet!” said Jesus sternly. “Come out of him!” 26The impure spirit shook the man violently and came out of him with a shriek. 27The people were all so amazed that they asked each other, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority! He even gives orders to impure spirits and they obey him.” 28News about him spread quickly over the whole region of Galilee. –from Mark 1

When we stay connected to Jesus in the highs and the lows, we are able to experience the authority of Jesus in our lives, in our situations, and in the world around us. Jesus has so many highs and lows and through them all we see how Jesus’ battles and victories! Having a relationship with Jesus is urgent and important! Sharing the Good News is something that should be top priority because it is in the upper right quadrant of the prioritization quarters. We need to be able to share the Good News with everyone who needs to know and hear about it. We need to find a door that will get people excited and want to know how those things could be possible. Jesus is the answer for the blessings in my life! Jesus is the answer for the hope that is within me through the highs and through the lows! Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and is the way I was able to get reconciled back to God the Father! No need to beat around the bush! Jesus is the answer for everyone who is seeking! Jesus is the answer for everyone who is needing! Jesus is the answer for everyone who is asking! If you are in a high or walking through a desert and being tempted, don’t lose hope and don’t disconnect from God! Stay connected for He will give you wisdom! He will give you strength! In this world we will have troubles, but take hope because Jesus has overcome the world! Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds because it will build up our faith, so persevere allow it to complete it’s work so that we can come out the other side complete and lacking nothing! The devil is going to try as hard as he can to separate you from God’s presence so he can fill your head with lies! The devil is going to try and trick you or trip you up so that you think you failed and walk away from God! God will never leave you nor abandon you, however, you can try to walk away from Him and out from under His protection! So turn back when you realize that you have walked away! Cry out to Him when you realize you have gotten out from under His protection and covering! And turn back to Him quickly! God is giving us authority thanks to Jesus! Authority that Jesus received through the highs and lows while never letting go of His connection to God! Authority to evangelise, to lead, to teach, and to heal! What authority have you received from God? What opportunity do you have to use that authority to serve others who are in need of it? Get connected to God! Let the Holy Spirit fill you! Be grafted back onto the branch  so that God’s work and flow into and through you into the world around you! Let’s complete the work God has given us to do so we can hear “well done my good and faithful servant” as well as “this is my child with whom I am well pleased”.

3. Pray and act to turn the lows into highs

Water From the Rock

1The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”
Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the Lord to the test?”
3But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”
4Then Moses cried out to the Lord, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
5The Lord answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7And he called the place Massah and Meribah because the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the Lord saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

The Amalekites Defeated

8The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim. 9Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”
10So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill. 11As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning. 12When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset. 13So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.
14Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.”
15Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. 16He said, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.” –from Exodus 17


Jethro Visits Moses

1Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt.
2After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro received her 3and her two sons. One son was named Gershom, for Moses said, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land”; 4and the other was named Eliezer, for he said, “My father’s God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.”
5Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the wilderness, where he was camped near the mountain of God. 6Jethro had sent word to him, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.”
7So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent. 8Moses told his father-in-law about everything the Lord had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the Lord had saved them.
9Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the Lord had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians. 10He said, “Praise be to the Lord, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians. 11Now I know that the Lord is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.” 12Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.
13The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”
15Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”
17Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. 21But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”
24Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.
27Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.  –from Exodus 18

We were never meant to do it alone! We were created to live life with God and with one another! So be it the highs or the lows, don’t go it alone! Don’t make it to the mountain top alone! Don’t walk through the valley alone! Let’s be able to give others encouragement and by not going it alone, allow others to speak encouragement into our lives too! We need people to be around us to help us when our arms grow tired or our bodies grow weak! We need to be walking out life with one another as God had originally planned! God saw that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone! God knows we need one another! We need others to be praying for us when we are going through the journey of life! We need to also be praying for others who are going through life! Let’s be interceding for one another! We need to be able to delegate! We shouldn’t try to go and do it all alone in our own strength! We need to share the load! When we partner with Jesus we know that the yoke is easy and the burden is light! When we can find people who will come alongside us with a common belief and a common purpose we will discover many hands make light work! Let’s lead in a way that brings people together towards a common purpose, serving them like Jesus did and accomplishing great things for the glory of God! We were never setup to do it alone! We need to find the right leaders to come alongside us so that we can not only delegate but also trust and be in alignment around the work! We need to be able to trust them so that we can empower them to go and do the work and release them to get it done! Micromanagement doesn’t scale! God has given us various talents and abilities! So we need to be wise when we delegate so that we give to people in accordance to their abilities!

 

If you could get the answer to one question what would it be


You get picked to ask one question. What would you want to know most? What would it be about? Would it make a difference? Would it open any doors? Would it provide insight? Would it provide wisdom? Would it change the way you live? Would it change the way the world runs? If you could get the answer to one question what would it be?

Who would you ask? Who would you want to get to give you the answer? Would it matter who gave you the answer in relations to what the answer is? Would it make a bigger difference to you and to the rest of the world? Would it make it more impactful based on who answers you? If you could get the answer to one question what would it be and who would you want to answer it for you?


Today’s devotional draws us in this direction with the title:

The Most Important Question in the World

They share a story about Professor Joad and how he was asked if he could ask one question what would it be and who would he ask and his answer and the importance of the question:

Professor Joad answered without hesitation: ‘I would meet Jesus Christ and ask him the most important question in the world – “Did you or did you not rise from the dead?”’

There came a day in Professor Joad’s life when he assessed the evidence, encountered Jesus himself and wrote a book called, Recovery of Belief. If Jesus Christ is risen from the dead, this changes everything.

When the New Testament writers speak of God’s love they point to the cross. When they speak of God’s power they point to the resurrection. God’s ‘incomparably great power’ was ‘exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead’ (Ephesians 1:19–20). The risen Jesus says to his disciples, ‘All authority (all power to rule) in heaven and on earth has been given to me’ (Matthew 28:18, AMP).

The resurrection means that the risen Jesus is present with us now. Jesus continues, ‘I am with you always’ (v.20).

The result of the resurrection is not only his power and his presence but also his provision.

from Day 45: Bible In One Year 2017


The 3 keys from today’s devotional are:

  1. His power … Psalm 21:8-13
  2. His presence … Matthew 28:1-20
  3. His provision … Exodus 15:1-16:36

Day 45: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Psalm 21:8-13, Matthew 28, Exodus 15, Exodus 16

1. His power … Psalm 21:8-13

8Your hand will lay hold on all your enemies;your right hand will seize your foes. 9When you appear for battle,you will burn them up as in a blazing furnace.The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath,and his fire will consume them. 10You will destroy their descendants from the earth,their posterity from mankind. 11Though they plot evil against you and devise wicked schemes, they cannot succeed. 12You will make them turn their backs when you aim at them with drawn bow. 13Be exalted in your strength, Lord;we will sing and praise your might. –from Psalm 21

God’s strength and power can give us confidence in Him! We can trust Him! He will bring justice to the world! We see here and we see where Jesus is now seated being connected by the reference to God’s right hand! His power and His might! Jesus who is sitting at the right hand of the Father interceding for you and for me. So there is power in the name of Jesus, the name above all names, the name that is like the stamp to ensure our letter gets delivered to God! We can lean on God because of His power! We can trust in Him because we know that Jesus has promised us greater things than what we have to go through here! We can consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds because Jesus granted us the wisdom to know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And so we can let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. He also told us so that we won’t be surprised that in this world we will have troubles but that we can take heart because He has overcome the world!


2. His presence … Matthew 28:1-20

Jesus Has Risen

1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.
2There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.
5The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”
8So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.

The Guards’ Report

11While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

The Great Commission

16Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

–from Matthew 28

Have you experience an encounter with Jesus? Have you been able to start the journey of a life long relationship with Him? Are you able to walk in peace no matter what comes your way because He is with you? Are you able to cry out to Him in your times of trouble and pain? There is nothing like it!

Jesus wants us to take this hope that is in us and the truth of who He is and share it with the world around us so that we many will be saved and get to spend eternity in His presence! We were created on purpose for a purpose and we are right where we are now for greater things! Will you share the hope that is within you? Will you point people to God? Will you allow others to find the presence of God? Will you be a helper to others in order that they too may be taken into the presence of God? Jesus will never leave us nor abandon us! As he tells us in today’s reading “I am with you always”!

Today’s reading has an incredible feeling whenever I read it because I have gotten the opportunity to play the angel at the tomb in a production. Two things come to mind from it: first how angels always try to bring calm to the situation (do not be afraid) because seeing them is going to be a shock and the people tend to freak out right after that and second how angels always come with a message to help the people right where they are at and even remind them of what they are to do!

Jesus rose from the dead! From the beginning the plot to hide that truth began and continues to this very day! Hold onto the truth and rebuke the lies which don’t line up with the evidence that has been shared as well as found over the years. Death and burial are not the end! Jesus has provide us with a way and a promise beyond the grave through His Power and His Presence and His promises!

So from that first moment we start our relationship with Jesus till the end of our days, Jesus is with us always!


3. His provision … Exodus 15:1-16:36

The Song of Moses and Miriam

1Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the Lord:
“I will sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea. 2“The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father’s God, and I will exalt him. 3The Lord is a warrior; the Lord is his name. 4Pharaoh’s chariots and his army he has hurled into the sea. The best of Pharaoh’s officers are drowned in the Red Sea. 5The deep waters have covered them; they sank to the depths like a stone. 6Your right hand, Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, Lord, shattered the enemy. 7“In the greatness of your majesty you threw down those who opposed you. You unleashed your burning anger; it consumed them like stubble. 8By the blast of your nostrils the waters piled up. The surging waters stood up like a wall; the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea. 9The enemy boasted, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake them. I will divide the spoils; I will gorge myself on them. I will draw my sword and my hand will destroy them.’ 10But you blew with your breath, and the sea covered them. They sank like lead in the mighty waters. 11Who among the gods is like you, Lord? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? 12“You stretch out your right hand, and the earth swallows your enemies. 13In your unfailing love you will lead the people you have redeemed. In your strength you will guide them to your holy dwelling. 14The nations will hear and tremble; anguish will grip the people of Philistia. 15The chiefs of Edom will be terrified, the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling, the people of Canaan will melt away; 16terror and dread will fall on them. By the power of your arm they will be as still as a stone—until your people pass by, Lord, until the people you bought pass by. 17You will bring them in and plant them on the mountain of your inheritance—the place, Lord, you made for your dwelling, the sanctuary, Lord, your hands established. 18“The Lord reigns for ever and ever.”
19When Pharaoh’s horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the Lord brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground. 20Then Miriam the prophet, Aaron’s sister, took a timbrel in her hand, and all the women followed her, with timbrels and dancing. 21Miriam sang to them:
“Sing to the Lord, for he is highly exalted. Both horse and driver he has hurled into the sea.”

The Waters of Marah and Elim

22Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. 23When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) 24So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, “What are we to drink?”
25Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became fit to drink.
There the Lord issued a ruling and instruction for them and put them to the test. 26He said, “If you listen carefully to the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you.”
27Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs and seventy palm trees, and they camped there near the water.

–from Exodus 15

Manna and Quail

1The whole Israelite community set out from Elim and came to the Desert of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had come out of Egypt. 2In the desert the whole community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. 3The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the Lord’s hand in Egypt! There we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted, but you have brought us out into this desert to starve this entire assembly to death.”
4Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will rain down bread from heaven for you. The people are to go out each day and gather enough for that day. In this way I will test them and see whether they will follow my instructions. 5On the sixth day they are to prepare what they bring in, and that is to be twice as much as they gather on the other days.”
6So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you will know that it was the Lord who brought you out of Egypt, 7and in the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we, that you should grumble against us?” 8Moses also said, “You will know that it was the Lord when he gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning, because he has heard your grumbling against him. Who are we? You are not grumbling against us, but against the Lord.”
9Then Moses told Aaron, “Say to the entire Israelite community, ‘Come before the Lord, for he has heard your grumbling.’ ”
10While Aaron was speaking to the whole Israelite community, they looked toward the desert, and there was the glory of the Lord appearing in the cloud.
11The Lord said to Moses, 12“I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’ ”
13That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. 15When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.
Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. 16This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’ ”
17The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. 18And when they measured it by the omer, the one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little. Everyone had gathered just as much as they needed.
19Then Moses said to them, “No one is to keep any of it until morning.”
20However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.
21Each morning everyone gathered as much as they needed, and when the sun grew hot, it melted away. 22On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much—two omers for each person—and the leaders of the community came and reported this to Moses. 23He said to them, “This is what the Lord commanded: ‘Tomorrow is to be a day of sabbath rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord. So bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil. Save whatever is left and keep it until morning.’ ”
24So they saved it until morning, as Moses commanded, and it did not stink or get maggots in it. 25“Eat it today,” Moses said, “because today is a sabbath to the Lord. You will not find any of it on the ground today. 26Six days you are to gather it, but on the seventh day, the Sabbath, there will not be any.”
27Nevertheless, some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather it, but they found none. 28Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commands and my instructions? 29Bear in mind that the Lord has given you the Sabbath; that is why on the sixth day he gives you bread for two days. Everyone is to stay where they are on the seventh day; no one is to go out.” 30So the people rested on the seventh day.
31The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. 32Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the wilderness when I brought you out of Egypt.’ ”
33So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be kept for the generations to come.”
34As the Lord commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna with the tablets of the covenant law, so that it might be preserved. 35The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.
36(An omer is one-tenth of an ephah.)

–from Exodus 16

Don’t worry for worry changes nothing! Choose not to worry and when things come your way instead choose to pray! Prayer has power and makes a difference! Trust God’s provision in and through it all! Worrying about tomorrow wastes today! What do you have need of? Just like we see in today’s reading He will provide enough for your needs! Just like the widow who said she didn’t have anything except a bit of oil. Just like when the 5000 were following Jesus and He asked them to feed them but all they could find was 2 fish and 5 loaves. Just like when the widow cried out to Jesus because her son had passed away. God will provide for all our needs … be it a job, be it health, be it family, be it finance… put your trust in God! God will provide! Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and see if all the other needs of your life will not also be met! So let’s trust Him! So let’s worship Him! Let’s give this day into the hands of the Lord! This is the day that the Lord has made so let’s rejoice and be glad in it! Let’s trust Him daily for that day’s needs! Let’s give it all up into God’s hands trusting that He is under control and will take care of the other things!

As we close and cling onto this, let’s take hold of what Jesus said in John…

48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. 50 But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” –from John 6

How will you make a difference?


We are all here for a reason! We’ve all been created for a purpose! We’ve all been created on purpose! We’ve all been given a choice as to how we will live out our lives! We’ve all been given the choice of how we will serve! We’ve all been given the opportunity to make a difference!

What will you do today to impact the lives of the people around you? What will you do today to impact the lives of those who are in need? What will you do today to make a difference in the lives of the people that you interact with? The choice is yours! Will it be a positive impact? Will it be a negative impact? Will you be an encourager or a discourager? Will you be an ambassador of peace? We each get to choose! We each will have different opportunities come across our lives today and we will each need to choose how we will respond! Will we speak up? Will we speak out? Will we step in? Will we step out? Will we step up? Will we choose to make a difference? Will we choose to make something beautiful out of our lives?


Day 44: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Proverbs 4:20-27, Matthew 27:45-66, Exodus 13, Exodus 14

Today’s devotional is titled:

Make Something Beautiful Out of Your Life

Will you choose to cooperate with God’s plans for your life? Will you choose to join forces with God to accomplish the plans and purpose He has for your life? Will you choose to accept God’s  help to complete the purpose for which you were created? Will you choose to be obedient to God’s calling upon your life? Will you choose to walk with Him daily so that together in your imperfection and His perfection something beautiful will be made out of your life? Will you get off the sidelines and get onto the field allowing your actions to speak for the faith and the hope that is inside of you because of Jesus? Jesus wants us to walk with Him daily to walk out the plans and purpose He has created us to accomplish! Will you allow Him to be a partner in your daily life? Will you choose to cooperate and respond to the still quiet voice, the prompting of the Holy Spirit in each situation that God could be glorified? Will you take hold of Romans 8:28…

 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

So let’s reflect on all of this through the key points from today’s devotional:

1. Walk wisely … Proverbs 4:20-27

20My son, pay attention to what I say;turn your ear to my words. 21Do not let them out of your sight,keep them within your heart; 22for they are life to those who find them and health to one’s whole body. 23Above all else, guard your heart,for everything you do flows from it. 24Keep your mouth free of perversity;keep corrupt talk far from your lips. 25Let your eyes look straight ahead;fix your gaze directly before you. 26Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. 27Do not turn to the right or the left; keep your foot from evil.

–from Proverbs 4

From the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks! It’s not what goes into us that taints us or tarnishes us, but what is in our heart that overflows into the words we say that impairs or contaminates us! We need to allow God’s Word and God’s Commandments to be written on our hearts! We need to invite Jesus into our heart so that He can help clean up the past and help us walk out our present so that we can arrive at the future that we can hope for that He has gone ahead of us to prepare and has promised. Let’s not allow the storms or the challenges to take our eyes off of God! Let’s keep our eyes on Him for our God is greater than any problem that could come our way! Let’s walk out this life in alignment to His will and His calling upon our lives! It will impact where we look! It will direct what we say! It will guide us in what we see! It will instruct in where we go!

Today’s devotional shares the following in relation to today’s reading and first key:

You have a part to play in responding to God’s call, staying on his paths, living wisely and thereby making something beautiful out of your life. In this passage we see four areas in particular that you need to watch if you want to enjoy victory over temptation:

  • What you think about
    You can choose what you think about. This is of first importance because the life you lead will flow from your heart. ‘Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life’ (v.23). You are to fill your hearts with good things – especially the words of God (vv.20–21). They bring ‘life’ and ‘health’ (v.22). Think about ‘things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy’ (Philippians 4:8).
  • What you say
    Your words are powerful. Use them carefully. ‘Put away perversity from your mouth; keep corrupt talk far from your lips’ (Proverbs 4:24). It is said that the words of the tongue should have three gatekeepers: ‘Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?’
  • What you look at
    Guard your eyes. Be careful what you look at (especially in this age of TV and internet). ‘Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you’ (v.25). Jesus warned that if you look at the wrong things, your ‘whole body will be full of darkness’. But he also said, ‘If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light’ (Matthew 6:22–23).
  • Where you go
    You will avoid a lot of temptation if you are careful about where you go. ‘Make level paths for your feet… keep your foot from evil’ (Proverbs 4:26–27). The writer of Hebrews quotes from this verse. He urges us to ‘run with perseverance the race marked out for us’ with our eyes fixed ‘on Jesus… “Make level paths for your feet”’ (Hebrews 12:1–2,12).

from Day 44: Bible In One Year 2017


2. Give generously … Matthew 27:45-66

45From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). 47When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.” 48Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.” 50And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. 51At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people. 54When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” 55Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons. 57As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb. 62The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63“Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.” 65“Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

–from Matthew 27

Jesus suffered so much in order that we could receive and experience the presence of God! Not only did He give up His life on the cross but also He had to deal with abandonment for our sake! He put it all on the line so that God’s perfect will could be accomplished! We couldn’t never do it in our own strength and God had to take things into His own hands in order to make a way when there didn’t seem to be a way! Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, nobody comes to the Father except through Him! He bridged the gap that sin had created and had caused a separation between God and man!

So we need to make a choice! We have the freewill to choose whom we will serve! Have you decided to follow Jesus yet? If not, why not make today your day?

Today’s devotional shares the following in relation to today’s reading and second key:

Jesus experienced appalling suffering and real separation from God in order that you could enjoy the presence of God.

Jesus was abandoned by the religious leaders, by his own family, by the crowds, by his disciples and finally, ‘Jesus groaned out of the depths, crying loudly, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”’ (v.46, MSG).

Jesus’ words of agony express a real sense of alienation from God. He is quoting from Psalm 22:1, which is a cry of suffering, lament and alienation from God. In the book of Job we saw how Scripture engages with the difficulties and complexities of human suffering. At the cross though we see God’s ultimate answer to our suffering – he chooses to enter into it and take it upon himself.

John Stott reflects on suffering and the cross: ‘I could never myself believe in God if it were not for the cross… in the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?’

Yet Jesus’ embrace of our suffering on the cross goes beyond mere solidarity. His words reflect how he came ‘to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Matthew 20:28). He died so that you could go free. Jesus was abandoned so that you and I might be accepted by God.

We see the reality of this acceptance by what happens at the moment of Jesus’ death: ‘the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom’ (27:51). The symbolism of this is explained in the book of Hebrews. The curtain separated the people from the ‘Most Holy Place’ – that is the presence of God (Hebrews 9:3).

Now, through Jesus and because of his death on the cross for you, you can experience God’s presence and an intimate friendship with him. Even the very detail that the curtain was torn from the top to the bottom reminds us that it was the work of God, and not of humans, that enabled our acceptance into God’s presence. You can know God’s acceptance and presence because of Jesus’ abandonment and suffering.

Even at the moment God acted decisively in human history through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, he included human beings in his plans. He used a rich man called Joseph of Arimathea, who had become a disciple of Jesus, to buy the tomb where Jesus was to be buried and then resurrected (Matthew 27:57–60).

What matters is not so much whether you are rich or poor; but how you respond to what Jesus has done for you and what you do with what you have. Joseph gave generously and God made something beautiful out of his life that has been remembered for all time.

from Day 44: Bible In One Year 2017


3. Trust totally … Exodus 13:1-14:31

Consecration of the Firstborn

1The Lord said to Moses, 2“Consecrate to me every firstborn male. The first offspring of every womb among the Israelites belongs to me, whether human or animal.”
3Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast. 4Today, in the month of Aviv, you are leaving. 5When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites—the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey—you are to observe this ceremony in this month: 6For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to the Lord. 7Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders. 8On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. 10You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year.
11“After the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites and gives it to you, as he promised on oath to you and your ancestors, 12you are to give over to the Lord the first offspring of every womb. All the firstborn males of your livestock belong to the Lord. 13Redeem with a lamb every firstborn donkey, but if you do not redeem it, break its neck. Redeem every firstborn among your sons.
14“In days to come, when your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ say to him, ‘With a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 15When Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord killed the firstborn of both people and animals in Egypt. This is why I sacrifice to the Lord the first male offspring of every womb and redeem each of my firstborn sons.’ 16And it will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the Lord brought us out of Egypt with his mighty hand.”

Crossing the Sea

17When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.
19Moses took the bones of Joseph with him because Joseph had made the Israelites swear an oath. He had said, “God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up with you from this place.”
20After leaving Sukkoth they camped at Etham on the edge of the desert. 21By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. 22Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people.

Exodus 13

1Then the Lord said to Moses, 2“Tell the Israelites to turn back and encamp near Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea. They are to encamp by the sea, directly opposite Baal Zephon. 3Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are wandering around the land in confusion, hemmed in by the desert.’ 4And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” So the Israelites did this.
5When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds about them and said, “What have we done? We have let the Israelites go and have lost their services!” 6So he had his chariot made ready and took his army with him. 7He took six hundred of the best chariots, along with all the other chariots of Egypt, with officers over all of them. 8The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly. 9The Egyptians—all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, horsemen and troops—pursued the Israelites and overtook them as they camped by the sea near Pi Hahiroth, opposite Baal Zephon.
10As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them. They were terrified and cried out to the Lord. 11They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? 12Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”
13Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. 14The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
15Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. 16Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground. 17I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them. And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18The Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”
19Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them. The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, 20coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel. Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.
21Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the Lord drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land. The waters were divided, 22and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.
23The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea. 24During the last watch of the night the Lord looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion. 25He jammed the wheels of their chariots so that they had difficulty driving. And the Egyptians said, “Let’s get away from the Israelites! The Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.”
26Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.” 27Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the Lord swept them into the sea. 28The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.
29But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left. 30That day the Lord saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore. 31And when the Israelites saw the mighty hand of the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

Exodus 14

God made a way when there didn’t seem to be a way! He showed first at the Red Sea and finally through the cross! Share the Good News with the people around you! Make a difference today! Share the hope that is within you! Make today beautiful!

Today’s devotional shares the following in relation to today’s reading and third and final key:

God’s deliverance through Jesus is foreshadowed in the Old Testament. As God opened the way into his presence through the tearing of the curtain, so God opened a way through the sea by the parting of the waters.

All the way through, we see God’s initiative in delivering his people out of Egypt: ‘The Lord brought you out… Tell your children, “I do this because of what the Lord did for me”… For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand… The Lord brings you into the land… with a mighty hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery’ (13:3–16).

God led his people all the way – although, interestingly, he did not take them the shortest route (v.17). Sometimes, instead of taking us the easy way, God takes us a longer and more difficult way to prepare us for the battles ahead. Even though they were now out of Egypt they were going to have to fight one battle after another. They needed to learn to rely totally on God’s strength and guidance.

He guided them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (v.21); he guided them constantly. This is what we need individually and as the community of the people of God – his constant guidance.

Sometimes we get into situations where there seems to be no way out. The Egyptians were behind them and the sea was in front of them, ‘they were exceedingly frightened’ (14:10, AMP). Yet Moses totally trusted in God to deliver them. He said, ‘Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today… The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still’ (vv.13–14). I often come back to these verses when I find myself in a situation where I cannot, humanly speaking, see a way out.

Moses had to play his part (‘Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea’, v.16a), God’s part was rather harder; he divided the waters. When we pray, for example, for someone to be filled with the Holy Spirit, God uses us. You have to stretch out your hands and pray. But God fills people with his Spirit – he does the hard part. Nevertheless he involves you in his plans.

God’s part was to bring rescue and salvation: ‘The Lord saved Israel’ (v.30). Your part is to trust in God: ‘the people put their trust in him and in Moses his servant’ (v.31).

God wants you to cooperate with him. This is the way that he has designed his creation – whether it is the natural world (where we plant and God gives the growth) or the kingdom of God (where God brings about his kingdom, yet you have a part to play).

from Day 44: Bible In One Year 2017

 

Do you need a savior?


Are you in need of help? Are you in need of rescue? Are you in need of being saved?

What’s coming after you? What’s chasing  you? What’s holding you back? What’s holding you down? What’s keeping you from your goals? What’s keeping you from your plans? What’s keeping you from your calling? What’s keeping you from your purpose?

Do you know where to look? Do you know where to turn? Do you know who to ask? Do you know there is hope? Do you know there is an answer? Do you know He is right here waiting for you to ask? Who you gonna call?

Will you point people in the right direction so they can be saved? Will you be more interested in others getting saved? Will you be like the first responders who are running into the building so that others can be saved?

Jesus is the answer! He did not save himself from going to the cross because He was more interested in providing a way for everyone to be saved from the pits of hell than His comfort and safety! He was able to conquer the grave which gives even more hope because not only are we saved but we will be resurrected to get to spend eternity with God!


He Saved You


Day 43: Bible In One Year 2017

Devotional, Psalm 21:1-7, Matthew 27:11-44, Exodus 11, Exodus 12

1. Saved by God … Psalm 21:1-7

1The king rejoices in your strength, Lord.How great is his joy in the victories you give! 2You have granted him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. 3You came to greet him with rich blessings and placed a crown of pure gold on his head. 4He asked you for life, and you gave it to him—length of days, for ever and ever. 5Through the victories you gave, his glory is great;you have bestowed on him splendor and majesty. 6Surely you have granted him unending blessings and made him glad with the joy of your presence. 7For the king trusts in the Lord;through the unfailing love of the Most High he will not be shaken. –from Psalm 21

We can’t save ourselves! It takes an act of God which Jesus provided to be saved! For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. He saves us out of His unfailing love so let’s put our trust in Him today just like David did!

Today’s devotional speaks to today’s Psalm as follows…

This psalm begins with David praising God for his salvation: ‘The king [David] shall joy in your strength, O Lord; and in your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!’ (v.1, AMP).

In this passage we see some of the many blessings that salvation includes:

  • Answered prayer
    ‘You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips’ (v.2, AMP).
  • Unending blessings
    ‘You send blessings of good things… You set a crown of pure gold on his head… You make him to be blessed and a blessing forever’ (vv.3,6a, AMP).
  • Eternal life
    ‘He asked life of you, and you gave it to him – long life forever and evermore’ (v.4, AMP).
  • Victorious living
    ‘Through the victories you gave, his glory is great; you have bestowed on him splendour and majesty’ (v.5).
  • Joy and gladness
    ‘You make him exceedingly glad with the joy of your presence’ (v.6b, AMP).

–from Day 43: Bible In One Year 2017


Will you choose Jesus and choose to be saved? Will you allow the first responders to help you or will you resist and die in the building?

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2. Saved by self-sacrifice … Matthew 27:11-44

11Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?” “You have said so,” Jesus replied. 12When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor. 15Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. 17So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him. 19While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.” 20But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed. 21“Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.“Barabbas,” they answered. 22“What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.They all answered, “Crucify him!” 23“Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!” 24When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!” 25All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!” 26Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. 27Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. 32As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37Above his head they placed the written charge against him: this is jesus, the king of the jews. 38Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42“He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’ ” 44In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him. –from Matthew 27

Jesus paid it all! Jesus fulfilled the prophecies from over hundred of years!

Today’s devotional speaks to this reading as follows…

The people of God in the Old Testament expected a Messiah (Christ). This Messiah would ‘reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness’ (Isaiah 9:7).

However, in the Old Testament there was another stream of messianic expectation. This is seen in the ‘suffering servant’ of Isaiah 40–55 who ‘was led like a lamb to the slaughter’ (Isaiah 53:7), who would take the sin of the world on himself and die on behalf of the guilty (vv.5–6).

Nobody expected the messianic king and the suffering servant to be the same person. Yet, in a breathtaking way Jesus brought these great messianic themes together. Jesus is both the King and also the suffering servant.

  • Messianic king
    When Pilate asked Jesus, ‘Are you the king of the Jews?’ (Matthew 27:11a) he replied, ‘Yes, it is as you say’ (v.11b). The soldiers mocked Jesus, dressing him up as a king and pretending to salute him and kneel down before him. They said, ‘Hail, king of the Jews!’ (v.29b).

    ‘Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS’ (v.37). The religious leaders also mocked him, saying, ‘He’s the King of Israel!’ (v.42).

    Matthew makes clear that the only crime of which Jesus is ‘guilty’ is being ‘the King’ (v.11), the ‘Christ’ (Messiah) (v.22) and ‘Son of God’ (v.43).

  • Suffering servant
    Jesus also fulfilled these prophecies. ‘He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth’ (Isaiah 53:7).

    When he is accused by the chiefs and elders, ‘he gave no answer’ (Matthew 27:12). When Pilate asked him, ‘Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?’ (v.13), Jesus ‘made no reply, not even to a single charge – to the great amazement of the governor’ (v.14).

    Jesus, the innocent suffering servant, died in your place – so that you may go free. In this sense Barabbas represents us, the guilty. He is ‘a notorious criminal’ (v.16). It is a question of ‘Barabbas or Jesus’ (v.17). The people asked for Barabbas and put Jesus to death (v.20). Barabbas is set free (v.26). The prophecy of Isaiah about the suffering servant is fulfilled: ‘He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;’ (Isaiah 53:5).

Although Jesus was the long-awaited king, he was not the kind of king that the people expected – such as one who would go from one great victory to another. Rather, Jesus had to deal with envy, false accusations, unjust criticism, unfairness, misunderstanding, weak authorities, mockery and insults from religious people and the secular world – even the robbers. It came from all sides.

Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent. He realised that it was ‘out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him’ (Matthew 27:18). (Envy is often the sin of the religious. There is a temptation to envy those whom God appears to be using more than he is using us.) Pilate knew that Jesus was innocent for another reason also. His wife had been warned in a dream and confirmed that Jesus was an ‘innocent man’ (v.19). He foolishly ignored her advice.

Pilate thought that he could avoid responsibility by blaming someone else. Ironically, the man who was to be remembered throughout history as the one responsible for the death of Jesus (‘crucified under Pontius Pilate’ – recited in the creed for hundreds of years throughout the world) said, ‘I am innocent of this man’s blood… It is your responsibility!’ (v.24).

Jesus’ blood was shed as he was flogged and handed over to be crucified (vv.24–26b). Again, Matthew draws out the great irony of the situation: Those who passed by said, ‘Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!’ (v.40b), but Jesus died as the Lamb of God who came to take away the sin of the world. The onlookers didn’t understand that Jesus’ self-sacrifice was voluntary. They said, ‘He saved others… but he can’t save himself!’ (v.42a).

He saved you and me because he was willing not to save himself.

–from Day 43: Bible In One Year 2017


3. Saved by the Lamb of God … Exodus 11:1-12:51

Jesus gave His all! He sacrificed Himself as the passover lamb to make a way when there didn’t seem to be a way! Jesus was the lamb of God in His first visit to earth! He will be the Lion of Judah when He comes back the next time!

The Plague on the Firstborn

1Now the Lord had said to Moses, “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go from here, and when he does, he will drive you out completely. 2Tell the people that men and women alike are to ask their neighbors for articles of silver and gold.” 3(The Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people.)
4So Moses said, “This is what the Lord says: ‘About midnight I will go throughout Egypt. 5Every firstborn son in Egypt will die, from the firstborn son of Pharaoh, who sits on the throne, to the firstborn son of the female slave, who is at her hand mill, and all the firstborn of the cattle as well. 6There will be loud wailing throughout Egypt—worse than there has ever been or ever will be again. 7But among the Israelites not a dog will bark at any person or animal.’ Then you will know that the Lord makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel. 8All these officials of yours will come to me, bowing down before me and saying, ‘Go, you and all the people who follow you!’ After that I will leave.” Then Moses, hot with anger, left Pharaoh.
9The Lord had said to Moses, “Pharaoh will refuse to listen to you—so that my wonders may be multiplied in Egypt.” 10Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country. –from Exodus 11

The Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread

1The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, 2“This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year. 3Tell the whole community of Israel that on the tenth day of this month each man is to take a lamb for his family, one for each household. 4If any household is too small for a whole lamb, they must share one with their nearest neighbor, having taken into account the number of people there are. You are to determine the amount of lamb needed in accordance with what each person will eat. 5The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the members of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. 9Do not eat the meat raw or boiled in water, but roast it over a fire—with the head, legs and internal organs. 10Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. 11This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the Lord’s Passover.
12“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.
14“This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance. 15For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. 16On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat; that is all you may do.
17“Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread, because it was on this very day that I brought your divisions out of Egypt. Celebrate this day as a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. 18In the first month you are to eat bread made without yeast, from the evening of the fourteenth day until the evening of the twenty-first day. 19For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And anyone, whether foreigner or native-born, who eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel. 20Eat nothing made with yeast. Wherever you live, you must eat unleavened bread.”
21Then Moses summoned all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go at once and select the animals for your families and slaughter the Passover lamb. 22Take a bunch of hyssop, dip it into the blood in the basin and put some of the blood on the top and on both sides of the doorframe. None of you shall go out of the door of your house until morning. 23When the Lord goes through the land to strike down the Egyptians, he will see the blood on the top and sides of the doorframe and will pass over that doorway, and he will not permit the destroyer to enter your houses and strike you down.
24“Obey these instructions as a lasting ordinance for you and your descendants. 25When you enter the land that the Lord will give you as he promised, observe this ceremony. 26And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ 27then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’ ” Then the people bowed down and worshiped. 28The Israelites did just what the Lord commanded Moses and Aaron.
29At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh, who sat on the throne, to the firstborn of the prisoner, who was in the dungeon, and the firstborn of all the livestock as well. 30Pharaoh and all his officials and all the Egyptians got up during the night, and there was loud wailing in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead.

The Exodus

31During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. 32Take your flocks and herds, as you have said, and go. And also bless me.”
33The Egyptians urged the people to hurry and leave the country. “For otherwise,” they said, “we will all die!” 34So the people took their dough before the yeast was added, and carried it on their shoulders in kneading troughs wrapped in clothing. 35The Israelites did as Moses instructed and asked the Egyptians for articles of silver and gold and for clothing. 36The Lord had made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.
37The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. 39With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.
40Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt. 42Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the Lord for the generations to come.

Passover Restrictions

43The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “These are the regulations for the Passover meal:
“No foreigner may eat it. 44Any slave you have bought may eat it after you have circumcised him, 45but a temporary resident or a hired worker may not eat it.
46“It must be eaten inside the house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones. 47The whole community of Israel must celebrate it.
48“A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it. 49The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.”
50All the Israelites did just what the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51And on that very day the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions.

–from Exodus 12

Let’s choose to come under the blood of Jesus and the protection it provides against the fiery darts of the devil! Let’s choose to come under the blood of Jesus so that when God looks at us, He see us through the prism of God’s love and who we are in Christ Jesus!

Today’s devotional speaks to how Jesus is the Passover Lamb as follows…

Jesus says to his disciples, ‘As you know, the Passover is two days away – and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified’ (Matthew 26:2). St Paul writes, ‘For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed’ (1 Corinthians 5:7b).

The blood of a lamb protected the people of God under the old covenant at the first Passover (Exodus 12:1–30). You are far better off now under the new covenant. The blood of Jesus (the Lamb of God) cleanses and protects you permanently (Hebrews 9:12–26).

At the first Passover a lamb had to be sacrificed. The lamb had to be ‘without defect’ (Exodus 12:5), pointing forward to the innocent Jesus. There is great emphasis on ‘the bloodof the lamb (vv.7,13,22–23). The blood of the lamb without defect was to be shed as a sacrifice (v.27). When John the Baptist saw Jesus he said, ‘Look, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!’ (John 1:29).

The blood of the lamb gave the people protection from God’s judgment. It was the ‘Passover sacrifice’ (Exodus 12:27). This foreshadowed the sacrifice of Jesus.

It is interesting to note in passing that God’s instruction, ‘Do not break any of the bones’ (v.46) was specifically fulfilled at Jesus’ death. Breaking a person’s legs was a way of speeding up death through crucifixion. They broke the legs of two men crucified with Jesus, ‘but when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs’ (John 19:33).

Where there was blood on the door-frames of a house, it indicated that death had already taken place in the household. Those who obeyed God’s word by putting blood on the door-frames were spared. The blood of Jesus, the Lamb of God, has been shed for you and me. The Passover points forward to how Jesus died as a sacrifice on our behalf. He saved you.

–from Day 43: Bible In One Year 2017