It’s interesting how in life there are trends that come and go. Today we find ourselves in a place where there are people arguing over truth. Today we find ourselves in a place where people are divided over right and wrong. Today we find ourselves in a place where even though a person is doing what they said they would do before getting elected there is a great divide between those who like it and those who don’t. Because of this there seems to be many hot spots in the nation where the environment seems very hostile. The hostility is against him and anyone who seems to think he is doing a good job. Ever had someone question how anybody could think he is doing a good job? Ever consider its because those people who voted for him are seeing him not looking like a politician who just says stuff to get elected and then doesn’t do but rather is doing what the platform he ran on spoke of?
No matter which side you are on isn’t there some way to find common ground and stop the hostility?
Are you seeing hostility taking place in other parts of your life too? Are you seeing hostility taking place for other reasons? Are you feeling hostility because of what you believe? Are you feeling hostility in the workplace? Is the hostility because of what you believe in? who you believe in?
No matter what is going on, trust in God and allow His wisdom and direction to guide you and keep you! With God all things are possible! With God in the midst of the hostility we can still survive and thrive! So don’t lose hope! Let’s be ambassadors of peace! Let’s be ambassadors of love! Let’s be ambassadors of Jesus!
Day 39: Bible In One Year 2017 Devotional, Psalm 19:1-6, Matthew 26:1-30, Exodus 1, Exodus 2, Exodus 3
Today’s devotional brings the topic of living in a hostile environment to the surface…
How to Live in a Hostile Environment
1. Study God’s revelation … Psalm 19:1-6
1The heavens declare the glory of God;the skies proclaim the work of his hands. 2Day after day they pour forth speech;night after night they reveal knowledge. 3They have no speech, they use no words;no sound is heard from them. 4Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,their words to the ends of the world.In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun. 5It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,like a champion rejoicing to run his course. 6It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other;nothing is deprived of its warmth. –from Psalm 19
Do you see in the silent of night the amazing glory of God? Do you see in the beauty of the day the amazing creation of God? God’s revealing himself to us through His creation! When we look at all that is out there — the universe reveals God’s existence to us! Every day, everyone is bombarded with this truth and has to make a decision what they will believe. There are some who will worship the creation rather than the creator. How will you receive the inputs of God’s creations that you see, you hear, you smell, you taste, you touch?
Today’s devotional shared an interesting story about the research into DNA…
Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, led a team of over 2,000 scientists who collaborated to determine the three billion letters in the human genome – our own DNA instruction book. He said, ‘I cannot see how nature could have created itself. Only a supernatural force that is outside of space and time could have done that.’ — from Day 39: Bible In One Year 2017
So today let’s take hold of God’s revelation through taking in His creation!
2. Understand God’s solution … Matthew 26:1-30
Today’s reading comes from Matthew 26 but the two verses that come to mind when I consider the topic of hostility are from James and John. One is to consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds and the second is that we will have troubles in this world.
1When Jesus had finished saying all these things, he said to his disciples, 2“As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified.” 3Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, 4and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him. 5“But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.” 6While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table. 8When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9“This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” 10Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. 12When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” 14Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over. 17On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Where do you want us to make preparations for you to eat the Passover?” 18He replied, “Go into the city to a certain man and tell him, ‘The Teacher says: My appointed time is near. I am going to celebrate the Passover with my disciples at your house.’ ” 19So the disciples did as Jesus had directed them and prepared the Passover. 20When evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the Twelve. 21And while they were eating, he said, “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.” 22They were very sad and began to say to him one after the other, “Surely you don’t mean me, Lord?” 23Jesus replied, “The one who has dipped his hand into the bowl with me will betray me. 24The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born.” 25Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, “Surely you don’t mean me, Rabbi?”Jesus answered, “You have said so.” 26While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. 28This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” 30When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
–from Matthew 26
Ever been falsely accused? Ever been betrayed by someone you trusted? Ever been plotted against? Ever been in an environment where some were hostile towards you? It all happened to Jesus but He didn’t stop, He gave His all not stopping because of the resistance! The resistance tends to be hardest right before the breakthrough!
Today’s devotional speaks to these points as follows:
Have you ever been falsely accused or betrayed by a friend? Have you had people plotting against you? Or have you ever experienced some other form of personal hostility? Jesus experienced all these things.
God has revealed himself in creation. However, his supreme revelation is in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ.
God himself has come to be part of this hostile world, to do something about it. In this passage we see a glimpse of God’s solution, which he achieved through coming in the person of his Son Jesus Christ and dying for us. Yet the world was hostile even to Jesus.
We should not be surprised by the world’s hostility to Jesus and to Christians today. Jesus knew he would be ‘handed over to be crucified’ (v.2). The chief priests and elders ‘plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him’ (v.4).
Jesus says to the Twelve, ‘One of you is going to hand me over to the conspirators’ (v.21, MSG).
When a woman came to Jesus ‘with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head’ (v.7), even the disciples regarded what was done for Jesus as a ‘waste’ (v.8).
There is something deeply moving about this incident. Jesus is given for us. The cost is beyond anything we can ever imagine, and his death is imminent. A jar of expensive perfume is only fitting, and yet the disciples are fussing about waste.
Most people understand your works of social action (for example, in response to poverty) but they find it harder to understand your worship of Jesus and all the things associated with it. They regard these things as a ‘waste’ and think that surely there is a better use of your time and money (v.9), but Jesus sees things differently: ‘She has done a beautiful thing to me’ (v.10). She showed her extravagant love for Jesus.
What people will do for money! Judas waited for an opportunity to hand over Jesus for ‘thirty silver coins’ (v.15). It is hard to imagine just how painful this must have been for Jesus. Judas was one of his closest ‘friends’, one of the inner circle, one of the twelve he had chosen. He knew – ‘one of you will betray me’ (v.21).
Yet Jesus in his extraordinary love, rather than rejecting them all, dies for them. During a meal together, he begins to explain the meaning of his death. He explains through the breaking of the bread and drinking of wine that his blood is to be ‘poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins’ (v.28). Jesus’ answer to a hostile world was to be crucified in order to make forgiveness and redemption possible.
Every time you receive communion, you are reminded both of the hostility of the world towards Jesus and of his love for that same world.
3. Know who God is … Exodus 1:1-3:22
Who are you? If you will humble yourself and be obedient to God then you can be His hands helping, His arms embracing, His feet going. Do you realize how much God loves you? He loves you just the way you are but too much to leave you there! Don’t forget who God is! People may be lifted up or put into positions of power for a time, but over time there are many who will forget about them. Don’t just go with the flow (when you know it is wrong) instead choose to stand for what is good and what is right! Yes, it may come with some hostility because of it, but if you stand for what is good and what is right you will have hope when you do it while putting your trust in God! Will you take the road God is calling you to walk? Will you choose to do what is right and good over what is easy and wrong? The choice isn’t easy, but we are faced daily with choices that we have to make and if we don’t put on the full armor of God and stand on the rock of Jesus Christ and align with the cornerstone who is Jesus how far off track will we go? So rather than focusing on ourselves, let’s focus on God who is greater than any of the troubles or problems that could come our way! Let’s trust in Jesus who has gone in advance to prepare a place for us! Let’s trust the Holy Spirit when He speaks to us through that still quiet voice to help us stay on track and find a peace that goes beyond all understanding!
The Israelites Oppressed
1These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family: 2Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; 3Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; 4Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. 5The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.
6Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, 7but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.
8Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. 9“Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. 10Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”
11So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13and worked them ruthlessly. 14They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.
15The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16“When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” 17The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”
19The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”
20So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.
22Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”
–from Exodus 1
Will you shine for God? Will you multiply and spread even in the midst of the trials and hostility? Will you consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds? Will you be overcomers? Will you build up your endurance through the testing of your faith? Will you allow that endurance to help you persevere till the end?
The Birth of Moses
1Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 2and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.
5Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. 6She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.
7Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”
8“Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 9Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”
Moses Flees to Midian
11One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. 12Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”
14The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”
15When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian, where he sat down by a well. 16Now a priest of Midian had seven daughters, and they came to draw water and fill the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17Some shepherds came along and drove them away, but Moses got up and came to their rescue and watered their flock.
18When the girls returned to Reuel their father, he asked them, “Why have you returned so early today?”
19They answered, “An Egyptian rescued us from the shepherds. He even drew water for us and watered the flock.”
20“And where is he?” Reuel asked his daughters. “Why did you leave him? Invite him to have something to eat.”
21Moses agreed to stay with the man, who gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses in marriage. 22Zipporah gave birth to a son, and Moses named him Gershom, saying, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land.”
23During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. 24God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. 25So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them.
–from Exodus 2
God cares for you and for me! He loves us so much that He sent Jesus to save us! Will you decide today to follow Jesus? Will you press on even through the hostility that Jesus will be known in and through you? What would it take for you to do something bigger than yourself? Would it need to be a divine encounter with God? Would it need to be a miracle? Could it be a still quiet voice? Would it have to be a big booming voice? Would it be an offer? Would it have to be a threat? The reality is that it’s more of a matter of trusting in God! It’s not about what you can do or say, it’s about the fact that with God all things are possible and if we will submit, He can work in and through us for the greater good!
Moses and the Burning Bush
1Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.”
4When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”
And Moses said, “Here I am.”
5“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.
7The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 9And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them. 10So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”
11But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”
12And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”
13Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”
14God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ”
15God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord,the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’
“This is my name forever,
the name you shall call me
from generation to generation.
16“Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. 17And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.’
18“The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt and say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God.’ 19But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. 20So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. After that, he will let you go.
21“And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. 22Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. And so you will plunder the Egyptians.”
–from Exodus 3
Today’s devotional closes on this subject as follows…
Moses asked God, ‘Who am I, that I should go?’ God replied by telling him who He is. In the end, the answer to all our questions and problems is not to be found in who we are but in who God is.
If you asked a Jew in the first century who was the greatest person whom ever lived, they would have replied, without doubt: ‘Moses’. He was the supreme figure in their history. He rescued them from slavery into a life of freedom. He gave them the law. The book of Exodus presents us with the constitution of a new nation and introduces us to the man who was responsible for it.
A ‘new king’ came to power who ‘did not know about Joseph’ (1:8). The ‘new king’ was ignorant of the fact that Joseph had saved Egypt. People quickly forgot the good that the people of God had done in the past. The government started to oppress them ‘ruthlessly’ with forced labour (vv.11–14). They cried for help and ‘God heard their groaning’ (2:24).
People have tried throughout history to get rid of God’s people – but it has never worked. ‘The more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread’ (1:12). Even today, when the church is persecuted and oppressed, it often multiplies and spreads.
Moses was Pharaoh’s adopted grandson – a powerful prince. Money, sex and power would have been at Moses’ disposal in abundance. But he chose to endure hostility instead. He obeyed God’s call and chose to identify himself with God’s people – a group of people whom those with an upbringing like Moses’ would have regarded with contempt, a slave nation – Israel.
Through the lens of the New Testament, we see that Moses ‘chose to be ill-treated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a short time. He regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward’ (Hebrews 11:25–26).
It was not an easy choice to make. However, in the end he obeyed God’s call and took on a hostile world.
At the heart of his obedience was the recognition of who God is. God revealed himself in various ways to Moses in these verses, and promised, ‘I will be with you’ (Exodus 3:12). The revelation of his name was particularly significant, as names were understood as a declaration of a person’s character or nature: God reveals himself as, ‘I AM WHO I AM’ (v.14). The only way in which God can be fully described is with reference to himself.
This name declares the unique greatness and eternal nature of our God. This name (in a contracted form) then becomes the name by which God is known throughout the rest of the Old Testament. In Hebrew it is Yahweh, normally translated into English as ‘the LORD’. Moses’ subsequent obedience to God was rooted in his understanding of who God is.
In effect, God tells Moses not to worry about the hostility he will face. All that matters is that ‘I AM WHO I AM’ is with him. He is sufficient for all your fears, anxieties and challenges. When you know ‘I AM WHO I AM’ is with you, you can relax and be at peace.