Tuesday, March 31, 2009

2009 – Day 89.Mar. 31 – Written Instructions

2009 – Day 89.Mar. 31 – Written Instructions

Passage of the Day: Exodus 19: 16 – 20: 26 …
Link to Exodus 19 – 20 for study …

My Journal for Today:
Swindoll’s devotional for this last day of March – the 89th day of the year, still focusing on the life of Moses, emphasizes the importance of God’s WRITTEN word, noting that the passage for today begins the description of God’s primal effort to impart His written instructions – His life commands – to mankind. Swindoll leaps ahead a bit, citing Exodus 24: 12 – 13, to indicate where God imparts His intent to Moses to do just that.

And Swindoll’s point is well taken here in the Moses story … that we have a tendency to take this incredible gift – of God’s written word – for granted. … Guilty, as indicated !!!

I have at least a half dozen printed copies of God’s translated word in my possession, representing at least four different scholarly or paraphrased versions of the Bible. I can, with a few keystrokes, pull up a myriad of other versions of God’s word on the internet from this very computer right here where I sit this morning. And I can do all sorts of word or topical searches/studies involving God’s word with various software tools which I have available to me. And with all of that, I’m afraid that I – at times – take the written and Holy word of God for granted.

Swindoll tells a poignant story of a Russian man at a book convention in Moscow, in the days of the Soviet Union before the fall of Communism, who was waiting in line to get a free Bible at the meeting, the Soviets having finally allowed Bibles to be given away, … a rare instance in those days. Well, when the Bibles ran out before he could get one, the man asked for the cardboard box in which the Scriptures came. He was very disappointed that he couldn’t have a Bible; but if he couldn’t have a written text, at least he wanted to have the empty box in which they came. That’s how much he treasured and desired access to God’s written word.

We hear stories all the time about people in China, or in other places where the Bible is forbidden, passing a few pages from the Bible from one Christian to another so that they can memorize as much of the treasured Scriptures they can before they must pass them on to others. And I ask myself, “Does my ready access to God’s word take away my reverence for what God has imparted to me? It’s no wonder the early Hebrews revered the first five books of the Bible and the later copies which were passed on in scrolls from one priestly group to another. This was then – and now still is – God’s written word.

I stand convicted as I write this that I need to be humbled by the reality of the miracle I am writing about here. God has given to mankind – to me – His very word; and we New Covenant Christians have so much more of it than even His chosen people did. I simply MUST NOT take it for granted! Each morning I come here to journal my thoughts, ideas, and applications of God’s word; and I need to realize – with more intensity – just how important is this process.

Each day when I read and study from God’s word and I take my interpretations and instructions from it, GOD HIMSELF is speaking to me. Yes, GOD HIMSELF is imparting His love for me through His word. When I read the Bible, GOD HIMSELF is giving me instructions on how to live, move, and have my being. And GOD HIMSELF is telling me … from Genesis to Revelations about His Son Who came to ME, died for ME, and now is Heaven interceding for ME [see Phil. 2: 5 – 11 - link provided].

All of this is saying to me, Bill Berry, “This is infinitely important!!” And if you’re reading this, join me in saying a prayer in reverence for God’s written word.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, forgive my surface attitude about your Holy Word. Help me to take every word from the pages of my Bible to heart for my life and for my witness of Your truth. Amen

Monday, March 30, 2009

2009 – Day 88.Mar. 30 – A Healthy Fear

2009 – Day 88.Mar. 30 – A Healthy Fear

Passage of the Day: Exodus 19: 16 - 25 …
Link to Exodus 19 …

My Journal for Today:
Swindoll closes his devotional this day by quoting from Psalm 119: 103 – 105; and I want to begin my journal entry with this reverent reference to God’s word …103 How sweet are Your words to my taste, … Sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104 Through Your precepts I get understanding; … Therefore I hate every false way. 105 Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

Whoever the Psalmist was for this wonderful Hebrew poem really had a genuine reverence and fear of God and a love affair with His word. And that should be the attitude we Christians should have. In fact our attitude should be a reflection of what the people of God must’ve felt when Moses was called up to Mount Sinai to be with God as the Lord inhabited that place. Swindoll asks us to imagine what it must have been like as the cloud of God’s presence descended upon the top of the mountain and the ground around the encampment of the people rumbled.

But unfortunately we believers in God don’t have that kind of fear of God shining a light on our path. Remember, these people, who no doubt bowed in fear and reverence as God came upon the Mountain Moses ascended, were the same people who would, in a short time, build a golden calf to worship. No, the reality of our lives, even as believers, is that we let selfish choices creep into our conscious lives; and I agree with Swindoll that in those moments of sinfulness, we “… momentarily block out any fear of God.” Swindoll goes on to write, “A healthy fear of God will hold us in awe and do much to deter us from sin. … When we actively engage in sin, we consciously put aside what we know to be the truth about God. We deliberately suppress the knowledge of Him in our hearts and minds.”

That’s why the Psalmist of Psalm 119, proposed God’s prescription for avoiding sin, when he wrote a prayer to God, (in verses 9 - 11), ... How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my who heart I have sought You; oh, let me not wander from Your commandments. Your word I have hidden in my heart … that I might not sin against You.” And that is why mentor used to teach me that to know God (really know Him through His word) is to love God; and when we love God, we will reverence and obey our God as we serve Him. I do pray that I will come to grow in my knowledge of my God, primarily through His word; because I want to hold on to the awe of His very Name so that I can have the humility which is needed to receive and use His enabling grace.

Again to quote Swindoll: "When you come to that understanding, and God’s light breaks into your life like the pure whitewater of a rushing river, you learn to thoroughly hate and dread those actions that will plunge you into darkness.” And to close this circle, I refer any readers here again (above) to meditate on Psalm 119: 103 – 105.

My Prayer for Today: Oh, Lord, may I never lose my awe of Your truth and the reality of your Holy Name. Amen

Sunday, March 29, 2009

2009 – Day 87.Mar. 29 – A God Too Small

2009 – Day 87.Mar. 29 – A God Too Small

Passage of the Day: Exodus 19: 1 – 15 … Link to Exodus 19 …

My Journal for Today: Pastor Swindoll ends his devotional entry from Exodus 19: 1 – 15 today with two questions, which I repeat here:
>>> … What has been your concept of The Lord?
>>> … Who is your God?
These questions must be answered by today’s Christian because Swindoll posits, and I agree, that many, if not most, Christians today trivialize God, trying to make our Lord their buddy … their “papa” … the “big guy in Heaven.” As Swindoll points out, these days we’re trying to bring God down to our level, rather than bringing us up to His level. In today’s passage from Exodus 19, God made it clear, through Moses, that where He was mankind could not even walk for fear of death.

It makes me uncomfortable when I hear some of my dear Christian friends praying to “Papa God” or when contemporary praise songs sing words like, “My God, … He calls me friend.” Now, I know that God’s word [as in Romans 8: 15 - link provided] does say that we can think of our Heavenly Father as “Abba, Father,” and that does refer to a close, loving relationship of a father to a child. And Jesus did say that we could call Him friend [see John 15: 14-15 - link provided], which was Jesus’ attempt for us to be able to relate to the relationship we now have with God because of what Jesus would do for us on the cross. We no longer are God’s enemy if we receive His saving grace through the shed blood of the Lamb of God for our sins. But going back to the passage in John 15: 14 [see above link], we need to remember that we can only be His “friend” when we obey His word and live according to the will of our God. And as “a friend,” He’s not our buddy, buddy; He’s the “FRIEND”, Who is our God, … our Lord.

So, … these truths do not give us license to trivialize our relationship with the sovereign, holy God Who created the universe. Somehow, even though we can go right to our Lord’s throne of grace; and because of Jesus’ complete sacrifice to His Father, we can be with Him anywhere … anytime, we should not try to bring our Lord down to our level in our minds. He is still Jehovah, the eternal Holy One … a God to be exalted above all that we tend to make holy in our lives. We still serve a God so Holy that any concept of our Lord is exalted above any concept of self.

So, when you think of your “Abba Father,” [i.e., “Papa God”]… do think of Him as a loving Father; but don’t forget that He is also the infinite pinnacle of holiness and hates all that is sinful in our being. He is the One Who created all the billions of galaxies in our heavens. He is the Father Who gave His Son so that we could call Him “Friend.” Our God is THE WAY BIG GOD; and we must always keep that in our minds as our hearts seek after His love.

My Prayer for Today: Heavenly Father, … You are my LORD! You are my God, and I’m so grateful You have made it possible, dear Jesus, to come to Your throne and worship You with my life. Amen

Saturday, March 28, 2009

2009 – Day 86.Mar. 28 – Delegate the Workload

2009 – Day 86.Mar. 28 – Delegate the Workload

Passage of the Day: Exodus 18: 1 – 27 …
Link to Exodus 18 for your study …

My Journal for Today:
Exodus teaches a powerful lesson about Godly leadership; and the main point is the willingness and vulnerability to delegate power and authority to others.

It is obvious that Moses did not have the Spirit-given gift of administration, because he was taking the burdens of all of God’s people onto his own shoulders. In today’s business world we’d call that “micro-management.” And this error in management style is an obvious sign of pride getting in the way of prudent people management. It is often the case, when power or authority rests on a leader, that such a manager will think that he/she must be in on every decision and know ALL the details which are going on in the organization. However, effective leaders, who use the “Jesus style” of management, will tell you that micro-management can kill an organization.

That’s why I believe God brought Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, to his side. Moses admired Jethro greatly from their 40 years spent in the desert together and their family relationship. And so, when Jethro called out Moses and counseled him on his need to delegate leadership to trusted co-leaders, Moses listened. And in this story we see that a leader, like Moses, who is able and/or willing to be a “servant-leader” (what I called the “Jesus-style” of leadership), the entire organization of God’s people will benefit.

Again, I repeat from a past lesson. Jesus only used two self descriptors to describe Himself; and they are “humble” [i.e., lowly of heart] and “meek” [i.e., gentle] (see Matt. 11: 29 - link provided). Those are the two hallmark character qualities needed to be a great leader; and Jesus, The Messiah, is our consummate model. Jethro recognized that Moses needed to utilize these qualities or he (Moses) was going to burn out by listening to and judging all the peoples situations and problems. So, we see a great lesson in leadership being espoused in Exodus 18. And Moses listened; and he implemented Jethro’s counsel. And God’s people were the benefit of God’s wisdom in this case.

Satan loves to maneuver Christians into thinking that we must take on every opportunity which comes along and take it upon our own shoulders. Many gifted Christians, perhaps you’re one of them, take on many, many GOOD things … to the point that they can’t do God’s BEST things well or effectively. It’s easy to let this happen; and it’s always a sign that pride is getting in the way of doing God’s will when we are not willing or able to prioritize within God’s will.

Moses learned this lesson; and God’s kingdom was the better for it. I’m blessed to have a “Jethro” in my life with the gift of administration; but she is a woman … my wife. And when my dear wife, Elly, counsels me on how I prioritize things, I listen, … having learned over the years that I have blind spots when it comes to managing my life in the context of God’s will, … especially given my roles of family leader, Church Elder, and Ministry Director. I hope you have a “Jethro” in your life if you have roles of authority or leadership which fall on your shoulders.

If you don’t, find a “Jethro” to give you advice, I’d exhort you to find one. But, … if you do, LISTEN to that God-given counselor when it comes to helping you see and act as a leader for God’s kingdom purposes.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, thank you for giving me a “Jethro” in my wife; and keep me humble and meek to listen to her. Amen

Friday, March 27, 2009

2009 – Day 85.Mar. 27 – The Wilderness Cycle

2009 – Day 85.Mar. 27 – The Wilderness Cycle

Passage of the Day: Exodus 17: 1 – 16 …
Exodus 17, linked for your study …

My Journal for Today:
As I read the first portion of today’s highlight passage (Versus 1 – 7 of Exod. 17) I couldn’t help but reflect on the modern definition of “insanity;” and that is, “Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” And Moses must of felt “insane” with frustration at times at times (see today's passage, v. 2) with the Hebrews wandering in the wilderness desert , … headed toward the land of Canaan, promised to Abraham; but with these people grumbling about God’s provision at every turn.

Swindoll points out that the lesson here is that our conversion and commitment to the Lord is either a dramatic thing, like the crossing of the Red Sea for the Hebrew people; … or it may be so far in our past that we have a tendency to forget its impact. Either way, in the here and now, especially when those circumstances are testing or trials and tribulations, we humans, even those who declare our allegiance to God, will have a tendency to question God or to remember only our immediate desires in the face of privation. Swindoll is right; … for some, the wilderness may be our children; … for others it may be our marriage or job relationships; … for yet others, it may be financial difficulties; … or in the case of many whom God has led me toward in ministry, it may be sexual brokenness.

But whatever our wilderness experience as God leads us through our deserts of life, we need to learn the lesson of Chuck Swindoll’s high school history teacher, Mrs. Allen, who used to say to her students, “There are two things you can do with history; you can ignore it, or you can learn from it.” That’s wise counsel, Mrs. Allen.

God’s children in the desert were not very good learners; and I’m afraid neither are most of us. We don’t remember the lessons from our past; and we live in the here and now, rather than trusting God for what He’s led us to or through from our past. Swindoll advises, “You have never lived the seven days in front of you, and you will never live them again.” We need to live the next seven days remembering the God ordained lessons from the past; but we need to live those days, trusting God that He has already gone ahead of us to set out our future [see Deut. 31: 8]. In my devotionals over the past years, I’ve repeatedly been asked, or I’ve asked in my journals, “Do we really believe the truth that God has given us in Romans 8: 28, or do we choose to ignore it as truth?”

If you’ve been a Christian for any period of time, you should know by now the truths of Romans 8: 28 or Hebrews 13: 5 or from the OT in Isaiah 41: 10 (I hope you have those verses memorized!). We either know them or we don’t. We believe them or we don’t; and we will live them, … or we won’t!

What about it fellow warrior; are we learning from our past; and are we leaving our future entrusted COMPLETELY to God? Do we stand on the truth of 1st Cor. 10: 13? I’m going to leave you to dig that passage out if you don’t know it in your heart. Meditate on it as absolute truth from God; and then join me in a covenant to learn from our past and to move forward as we’re exhorted in Phil. 3: 13 – 14 [link provided ], looking ahead for the prize God has in front of us.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, help me to remember the past but to live my future following Your path which leads to Your prize. Amen

Thursday, March 26, 2009

2009 – Day 84.Mar. 26 – The Test of Time

2009 – Day 84.Mar. 26 – The Test of Time

Passage of the Day: Exodus 16 …
Link to Chapter 16 …

My Journal for Today:
In Exodus 16 we read of the outset of God’s TEST OF TIME for His people. And have you ever noticed how often the number 40 is used by God when testing is involved in the lives of God’s special people. Moses had to wander 40 years in the wilderness, being tested and prepared to be God’s delivery agent for His people from Egypt. Here, in this chapter, we see (if you analyze the dates in Exod. 16: 1) that the people, who had only taken three days to find water after crossing over the Red Sea, now had to wander 40 days without food before they began grumbling to Moses about their bellies being empty. Later in the chapter we read that their journey to Canaan would take 40 years so that God could purge His people of the grumblers and complainer in this generation. And the number 40 is also highlighted when Jesus (see Matt. 4 or Luke 4) fasted for forty days/nights before He encountered Satan in the wilderness.

Yes, God’s number 40 and being “in the wilderness” are often biblical pictures of God’s preparation and purging of our souls for His glory. So, when I read Gods’ word touting the number 40 and/or His “wilderness” experiences, I pay attention; because I know God is teaching me something about my character, my needs, and His provision.

I don’t know about you who might be reading here; but I’m no different than God’s lazy people there in the wilderness with Moses. My soul begins to “grumble” when I’m deprived of food or any of the comforts of life. Actually gluttony is one of my besetting sin patterns; and God had to give me diabetes before I became serious about being thankful for what God gives me that I can eat to leave. I can see why the fasting of food became a discipline of the faith, to show God when we, His children, are serious about looking to our Lord, and only Him, for the provisions of life, whatever our needs may be. Yes, I’m one of those grumblers, who find it hard to remember, trusting God completely, that He will supply all of our needs at all times in our lives [see Phil. 4: 19].

And interestingly enough, it took exactly 40 years in my life, coming to Christ in 1983, 40 years after my birth in 1943, for me to wander in life’s wilderness of sinfulness before I became broken and surrendered to Christ as my Savior and Lord. Now, I hope I’ve gotten God’s message; and I’ll never have to wait even 40 minutes to acknowledge God’s provision is enough for any or all of my needs. My Lord is Jehovah Jireh, my everlasting provider [go to this link for a beautiful look at our Jehovah Jireh]; and He will always provide all I need at all times and in all circumstances. All I have to do is look to Him to be my provider first and always (see Matt. 6: 33).

Oh, don’t you wish that Moses’ followers had gotten that message. God even provided them with manna; and yet they wanted more and better provisions. I look at all we have in our world now, even as we are in an economic “down-turn;” and people are grumbling big time these days. And yet even the homeless can find food and water and even shelter in our welfare culture. Is God going to have to put us through 40 years of economic privation to get us to trust Him as our Provider. I sure hope not! But if that’s what it takes, as it did for the followers of Moses, then, “Lord, bring it on!”

My Prayer for Today: My Lord, I trust You for all our needs. Amen

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

2009 – Day 83.Mar. 25 – Baby Steps

2009 – Day 83.Mar. 24 – Baby Steps

Passage of the Day: Exodus 15: 22 – 27 …
22 So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. 24 And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them, and there He tested them, 26 and said, “If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you.” 27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees; so they camped there by the waters.

My Journal for Today: A very good point is made by Chuck Swindoll in his devotional for today from Great Days with the Great Lives. And he uses this passage from Exodus 15 to show his readers, as God is showing us through His word in today’s passage, that often God uses tough travels in the wilderness to test and grow His children.

Swindoll points out that the God Who parted the Red Sea could have taken His people quickly and easily to the land of milk and honey in Canaan; but after crossing the Sea, God led them first to a place with poisonous water, which he made sweet to show the people that God provides and they needed to be dependent on His provision. And after this lesson was taught, God gave them the promise of good health and welfare in the desert. But the test and lesson of provision had to come first.

If you’ve been reading along with me, some time ago I quoted our dear, now departed, friend, Loretta Fields, who used to say often, “First obedience; … then the blessing.” And it’s true; … we don’t learn to be obedient and humble by going through life the easy way. No, as Swindoll writes, “… our spiritual roots only grow deep when the winds around us are strong.” And if I poled all who read here, I’d bet that most, if not all, of you would recall that you grew strongest when you were put through some test of fire.

In Scripture we often read of God using a word picture of His using life circumstances to burn away the dross from the silver to make it purer or stronger (see examples in Prov. 25: 4 or Is. 1: 25). And in today’s passage we have another Old Testament picture of God testing His children, as He does us, to shape us into the image of His Son and our Savior, Jesus Christ. But our nature would desire the easy route and to avoid the heat, wouldn’t it? Who wants testing? “Just give us the good stuff, Lord!” That would be our sin nature talking.

But our God is actually merciful to lead us through the fire to find His bountiful blessings. We usually think of God’s “blessing” or His “grace” as being the warm-fuzzies of life. But the truth reveals that it is God’s GRACE which takes us through the fires of life to burn and purge the dross from our nature. Without the fires we would remain impure and weak. Yes, … a prayer like, “Lord, make me humble” or “God, help me to be patient” is often answered by life lessons, … tough situations, which shape our character so that we can become humble and patient, which are pre-conditions for God’s warm and fuzzy blessings.

So, as we wander through the wilderness of our lives, often feeling the heat of the desert, may we come to realize that this is God’s “blessing” of purification in our lives? He’s getting us ready for the greatest blessing of all, eternal life with our Lord in heaven; so, let’s all take one baby step after another in the desert so that we may be ready for what He has for us ahead in this life … and more importantly, … the next.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, I may hesitate; … but I do pray for humility …so that You may bless me in Your way and in Your time. Amen

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

2009 – Day 82.Mar. 24 – Sing It Out!

2009 – Day 82.Mar. 24 – Sing It Out!

Passage of the Day: Exodus 14: 23 – 15: 22 …
Link to Exod. 14 – 15 for study …

My Journal for Today:
Interesting to read about this wondrous deliverance experience in the history of the Jewish nation as they were delivered from the Egyptian army and they launched into their journey to Canaan through the desert. First there is the elation of their freedom, even stopping to record the songs they sung in Scripture, praising God for their deliverance. And then right after the joy and exuberance of this freedom experience, they begin to encounter the realities of life as they traveled through the wilderness of the desert, …hot and dry and dangerous … but free.

Isn’t that what many Christians experience in coming to Christ? We finally come to recognize that we’re in bondage to self and sin; and we repent of that life and receive Christ as our Savior and Lord. And He frees us to be able to walk free. Perhaps we feel the elation; and Chuck Swindoll in the devotional I’m using daily even encourages his devotional readers to do what the Hebrews did, … to write songs of praise. Many would say, however, that they don’t have the ability to write a poem or a praise song to honor God for saving us. But Swindoll exhorts us to try; … or at least perhaps, we can, as I do here, refer to a song or songs which express your feelings about your salvation experience. Right now I’m thinking of some wonderful songs I hear on my Ipod as I’m doing my morning devotional, … songs like …
I Will Choose Christ … sung by Kathy Triccoli;
Jesus, You Are My Life … sung by the Maranatha Singers;
Finally Free … sung by Nichole Nordeman; … or
He’ll Do Whatever It Takes … sung by Phillips, Craig, and Dean

In fact, as I do often when I’m drafting my journal entries early in the morning, as now, I have my earphones on, listening to songs like these, … songs which remind me of what God did to save me and just how much God’s amazing grace means to me. Maybe you have wonderful praise songs which are your favorites and express your love for the God Who reached down and saved you on that Cross from your enslavement to sin and set you free to walk in freedom. Right now I’m listening to the old hymn, Fairest Lord Jesus, sung by Scott Underwood. As I listen, I’m uplifted and filled with the joy of my salvation.

But after we’re uplifted by these songs and we turn off the music, we’re stricken by the realization of our salvation in Christ. Like the Hebrews in the Exodus story, we recognize that our sanctification and walk of freedom sometimes finds us walking in the desert, alone and seeing that we’re still enslaved. However, this time we come to see that we now must choose to realize we are bond slaves to Christ. He saved us so that we can realize how dependent we are on the God who graces us to walk in freedom. Right now as I’m sitting here I’m listening to another song by Phillips, Craig, and Dean entitled, Your Grace Still Amazes Me, which sings for me my wonder at the enabling grace of God which allows me, each day, as I fall on my knees, to recognize just how amazing is God’s grace, allowing me to live in and for my Lord and Savior, Jesus.

If you’re no poet or song writer, I hope you have songs in your life, as do I, which remind us of our wondrous love relationship with the God Who saved us and the God Who sustains us. If you don’t, write some or find some. They will help you in your freedom walk, especially when you find yourself in the deserts of life, needing to remind you to sing for joy in spite of your circumstances.

My Prayer for Today: Oh, Lord, Your Grace Still Amazes Me. Amen

Monday, March 23, 2009

2009 – Day 81.Mar. 23 – Highway to the Promised Land

2009 – Day 81.Mar. 23 – Highway to the Promised Land

Passage of the Day: Exodus 14: 15 – 22 …
Link to today’s passage …

My Journal for Today:
As I read today’s passage where God begins to unfold His plan of deliverance for Moses and His people trapped against the sea with Pharaoh’s forces bearing down, I can’t help separate my mind from the old, famous Cecil B. DeMille movie with Charlton Heston standing against the sea, holding his staff up for the waters to part. Actually, as we read in Exodus, God took His sweet time pulling off this incredible show of power, which wasn’t so sweet for the people. I’m sure there was a whole lot of nail biting going on as the people thought they were about to be slaughtered by the Egyptians. Those children were up against it; and they didn’t know that they were about to see God open up the road to the Promised Land right through the middle of the Red Sea.

As Swindoll points out, even Hollywood can’t upstage God. When God does a deliverance, He does it so that only He can get the credits. And that’s what we see here; and perhaps you can identify with those poor Hebrews who were up against it. Swindoll gives us a couple of examples in his devotional for today. Perhaps you’re a single mom who’s been abandoned; and you don’t know how you’re going to feed the kids. Perhaps you’re a young father who’s trying so hard to make a living that you can’t make a life. Perhaps … well, you know what you’re story is like, being so up against life that you just can’t see how things could be any worse.

Well, you’re right in the place where God can do a parting of the seas for you. But maybe you’ve been there and you’ve seen God come through with His deliverance miracle. I certainly was there … back in 1983, totally broken and needing a deliverance miracle. And I didn’t even believe in God until He showed up and did some stuff I simply could not deny was a “God thing!” I won’t retell the story here; but on April 13, 1983 God parted my Red Sea; and I simply had to walk through and follow Him to the Promised Land. And like it was for the Hebrew nation, the road to God’s promises has not be easy; but He’s been there all along the way, making the way for me, leading me with His version of the cloud/fire signs … for me.

Dear one, I hope you’ve got a Red Sea story; or maybe you’re in a place where you need one. Perhaps you’ve got some sin stronghold which you know must be set aside; but it’s going to take a deliverance miracle to bring it about. Well, if God can part the Red Sea for the Jews, He can lead you to the Promised Land of freedom from sin. He made the way on that Cross for you; and the Deliverer awaits your surrender to show you the way to the land of freedom.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, I pray for any who need to follow You out of the wilderness of death to the calm waters of life where You reside. Amen

Sunday, March 22, 2009

2009 – Day 80.Mar. 22 – “Do Not Fear!”

2009 – Day 80.Mar. 22 – “Do Not Fear!”

Passage of the Day: Exodus 12: 31 – 14: 14 … Exodus 12 – 14 for your reading of today’s passage …

My Journal for Today:
Have you ever felt yourself in a tight predicament? Maybe you felt like you were led into a cul-de-sac; and you felt helpless? Well, what’s the normal, human reaction in such a situation? Well, … Swindoll writes that the normal human reaction is generally to show our fear by either running or fighting; and we will usually also find the person who feels threatened pointing a finger of blame at someone, usually a leader, and squawking their complaints loudly. And that was exactly what happened in the scenario from today’s passage from Exodus.

The Jews had been led to a place where they were facing the Red Sea, and the chariots of Egypt with an angry army were at their backs with the intent of killing them all. They wanted to run in fear; but there was no place to run. They would fight in their fear; but they had no weapons to match the Egyptian army. So, they yelled their fear-driven complaints at Moses. And Moses then gave them God’s prescription for handling predicaments like the one they were in.

In essence, Moses told the people something outlandish. He told them to stand be quiet and watch the Lord do His thing. And we know the story. God did just that; but you can imagine the human feeling, having been led into that predicament by Moses, who was speaking for God. I think we all get to places in our lives, when we feel that God has led us into something we can’t handle. Most of those times, however, it is not God who has led us into the predicament. We put ourselves there; and then we express our fear and anger by blaming someone in authority or at God Himself.

But as I do often, I invoke the claims of God, which I’ve burned into my heart from passages like Romans 8: 28, 31 or Phil. 4: 13, or also from Paul in 1st Cor. 10: 13 or 2nd Cor. 12: 9, or from the OT in Isaiah 41; 10. All of these Scripture passages [good ones to memorize], as well as the lessons from today’s passage, help us realize that God does His best work when we helpless humans believe that His grace is sufficient and that His power to help us can deal with any predicament in which we find ourselves. But we’ve got to believe that God is the helper of the helpless; and we’ve got to stand in faith, BE QUIET, and wait on God to lift us up when our backs are against the wall. Not easy to do; but necessary!

The Hebrews were led by God to this frightening place; and Moses showed them something we still talk about to this day. It was a lesson in faith over fear that we must believe and live, or we are forced to run and fight on our own. Personally, I think it best to trust that God cares enough for me (amazing as that truth is!) and that He will watch over me in any predicament.

My Prayer for Today: You led me here, Lord! I stand in faith, waiting on Your deliverance. Amen

Saturday, March 21, 2009

2009 – Day 79.Mar. 21 – Historical Joy

2009 – Day 79.Mar. 21 – Historical Joy

Passages of the Day: Exodus 12: 29 – 30 …
29 And it came to pass at midnight that the LORD struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of livestock. 30 So Pharaoh rose in the night, he, all his servants, and all the Egyptians; and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where there was not one dead.

Psalm 105: 26 - 38 … Link to Psalm 105 for study …

My Journal for Today: Today Chuck Swindoll focuses on the joy expressed by the elated Hebrew people as they recognized they had been passed over by the Angel of death; and they were leaving 400 years of slavery behind and heading toward the promised land of Canaan. Joy, joy, joy!!

And then Swindoll asks his devotional readers to compare that historical joy with the very personal realization of freedom when we left our chains of sin behind and walked from our slavery to self into the promised land of freedom in Christ; and I remember that day and time well. And yes, there great joy in my heart as I came to realize that this Jesus of Nazareth was THE CHRIST; and He had died for my sins, setting me free and giving me the grace to choose freedom rather than to wallow in my sinfulness. I still revel joyfully when I relive that morning when I was set free and began my walk toward the promised land of freedom in Christ.

Some of you, who read here, however, may not have had a clear time of passover and release into freedom as I did. Maybe you’ve been a Christian for as long as you remember, … maybe having come to Christ at a very young age. Maybe you’ve just come to forget the joy of being released from the prison of sinfulness and breathing freedom for the first time. I still remember that time, which was a little over 25 years ago; but Swindoll makes a good point for all Christians, whether they had a later life conversion or not. He asks us to remember that every day we can and should revel in the joy that there is more to our life than just being saved from our sinfulness.

Yes, any Christian at any time – like today – can (and should) live in joyfulness because God wants to move us even further out of our “Egypt” and away from the land of slavery to sin. Remember, fellow Christian, … God wants to lead us – everyday - toward His promised land of freedom. As Swindoll points out, God has given us a way – everyday – of celebrating joyfully the reality that we can, by His grace, choose to avoid sin and be free in Christ. Plan A for God, was salvation; but his Plan B in your life or mine is the walk to freedom which we should recognize and celebrate EVERY DAY of our lives as Christians.

So, let’s you and me join the voices of over 2,000,000 Jews at the time of the first Passover, singing God’s praises and joyfully thanking our Lord for setting us free on that Cross so that all who receive Christ as Lord and Savior can be freed from our bondage to sin; and we can march toward the promised land of freedom in Christ – FOREVER!

Yes, for sure … JOY, … JOY, … JOY !!!

My Prayer for Today: On this first day of Spring, as Your timing would have it, Lord, I walk to freedom, following You. Amen

Friday, March 20, 2009

2009 – Day 78.Mar. 20 – Historical Obedience

2009 – Day 78.Mar. 20 – Historical Obedience

Passage of the Day: Exodus 12: 1 - 28 …
Link to passage for study …

My Journal for Today:
In today’s passage we read about the establishment of Passover. God instituted, through Moses, a feast of remembrance which was given to God’s people to highlight their need to be obedient – or die! And the people heard Moses, and as we read in verse 28 of Exodus 12, they obeyed. Pharaoh didn’t; and we know what happened. God’s people made history by escaping slavery; and Pharaoh became history with the demise of his mighty nation.

The lesson is clear. When you know God’s will, (again the Nike slogan), “Just do it!” But do we? No, in many ways we’re like Pharaoh and Egypt; or we’re like God’s people, who went on to become wanderers in the desert of disobedience. Here today, we Christians have the great advantage of having God’s compendium of truth in the Bible, which lays out for us – quite clearly as Moses did for God’s people – the truth and the way. And we even have the words and life of THE WAY and THE TRUTH in the person and recorded life of Jesus, THE CHRIST. However, we often either deny it or simple disobey it. And is it any wonder that we encounter our God rather than live a life encompassed by His blessing?

In this one instance of HISTORICAL OBEDIENCE [i.e., today’s passage], the Hebrews heard the word of God, and they obeyed. And we see that they were blessed by deliverance from their slavery. But we also know – also from history – that these same people, over and over again, had to be subjected to God’s hatred of disobedience and ungodliness; and they paid the price for disobedience over and over and over again. All one has to do is read the Book of Judges and you’ll see how repetitive disobedience incurs God’s wrath of separation, whereas man’s obedience of God’s will results in God’s blessing of His presence and His providence.

I think about this truth and I read Romans 1: 18 – 32 [link provided]; and it’s a bit scary. It’s like I’m reading a picture of the disobedience of God’s truth which we see in this world today; and I’m greatly concerned for the lives of our grand children, who may, along with the disobedient ones in today’s culture experience the wrath of God Who lifts His protective blessing over this nation (and others), allowing the horror of Satan to be visited upon the world. May God have mercy upon us?!

But I have hope in Christ; and I know that God will never forsake HIS CHILDREN. It is true that the rain falls on the obedient as well as the disobedient. But the rain of eternal death, which will befall the wicked, will never fall on the obedient and faithful in Christ. So, my mission in life is the same as that as my Lord’s, which was prophesied in Isaiah 61: 1-2 as well as voiced by our Savior in Luke 4: 18-19; and that is to do all I can to impart God’s truth to my family and this world, allowing any or all who believe and receive the truth to escape the prison of sin and to live eternally with our God.

My Prayer for Today: Help me, Lord, to know Your truth, to live by it, and to share it with all I can in my life. Amen

Thursday, March 19, 2009

2009 – Day 77.Mar. 19 – The Essential Ingredient

2009 – Day 77.Mar. 19 – The Essential Ingredient

Passage of the Day: Exodus 11: 1 - 10 …
Link to the passage …

My Journal for Today: Earlier this month we were reading how Moses had gotten to a very low place, being rejected by Pharaoh, ridiculed by the Egyptians, and even hated by the Hebrew leaders. But though Moses had doubts about himself as God’s leader, he stuck in there and was obedient to God’s plan. And as Swindoll points out in today’s devotional entry, and reading ahead in Exodus 11 – 12, that is the main point – the essential ingredient – of success in God’s eyes … OBEDIENCE. God plans it. He wills it. We, who follow Him, do it.

At this point my memory harkens back to an old advertisement slogan from the Nike company: “Just do it!” And the slogan was referring to the effort and discipline it takes to be great in the sports world. One may have the talent of a Michael Jordan in basketball or a Tiger Woods in golf; but those two become the leaders in their field of endeavor do so because of obedience to the truth that it takes practice and discipline to be the best. Moses, as we read in today’s passage, even became esteemed to the Egyptians, … not because he did things his own way. No, it was because he stuck with God’s plan and purpose.

We receive power when we are witnesses for and with God, doing life “HIS WAY,” not our own. Swindoll quotes Proverbs 16: 7 which states that even our enemies will admire us when we do life in the center of God’s will. And that’s what had come about with Moses; but Pharaoh hated him with extreme jealousy. And those who were unwilling to do things God’s way were about to pay a horrible price. God’s plan was unfolding, even in the details of the people asking for gold and silver, which would one day be used for God’s Tabernacle in worship. And I’m sure that some of God’s people were disobedient and ignored what Moses asked them to do. But in God’s time they would not have the favor of God as would those who were obedient.

Many times in my devotionals over the years I’ve quoted a dear, departed friend of ours who had a saying that many of us called "1st Loretta 1: 1." Loretta used to say, “First obedience, … then the blessing.” And that’s what today’s devotional is all about, challenging me (and you) to ask, “Just how obedient am I in living out life in God’s way?” Other question could be asked more specifically, such as, “Am I tithing as God’s word commands (see Malachi 3: 8 - 12 and 2nd Cor. 9: 6, 7)?” Or, you might realize that we can’t ignore giving our best, using the time God gives to us for His glory by getting in and staying in God’s word (see Joshua 1: 8 and Ephesians 5: 15-16)?

In the time of Moses, all who followed Moses obediently were blessed. All who were disobedient to God’s plan, spoken through Moses and Aaron, incurred God’s horrible wrath. And, as I’ve said many times before, “We either choose to humble ourselves before our God, or He will humble us in His sight.” We choose Whom we’ll follow. God chooses the outcome.

My Prayer for Today: I choose to follow You, Lord. Amen

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

2009 – Day 76.Mar. 18 – Plagues That Preach

2009 – Day 76.Mar. 18 – Plagues That Preach

Passage of the Day: Exodus 7 - 10 …
Use this link to read these four chapters …

My Journal for Today: God’s wrath is horrible. … But God’s grace is wonderful.

Normally I write a lot each day to document what God shares with me in these devotionals. But today I think I could just share what I’ve shared in these two sentences above; and that would say it all. I’ve experienced both sides of God … His wrath and His grace. And take it from me – or from these four chapters in Exodus, you don’t want to experience the purposeful wrath of God, which He uses to break the will of the Pharaoh’s of the world. I was one of those once; and it ain’t pretty.

But on the other side of that coin, having experienced God’s wondrous saving grace and His powerful enabling grace, which is offered freely by the sacrifice of Christ, it is a “no-brainer” to choose God’s grace over His wrath. When God’s wrath comes down, as it did upon Pharaoh or upon Sodom and Gomorrah, or when the flood wiped out all but eight on earth, you don’t want to be the one where God’s plague is preaching his deliverance. Those who experience the horror of God’s wrath either become heart broken or, like Pharaoh, they become heart hardened. Take it from me; you don’t want to be either of these if God is speaking to you through tough circumstances in your life.

But dear one, this story also shows us that it’s far better to be like the enslaved Hebrews, becoming the benefactors of God’s mercy and grace because they were willing to surrender to God’s love. The truth here to hold onto is this: If you won’t humble yourself and receive God’s free offer of grace, He will humble you with His wrath.

I’ve been on both sides of that fence; and take from the former hard-head, it’s a lot better to give it up and walk free FOR God, rather than being broken BY God. So, if you’re being Pharaoh and rejecting God’s grace, … BEWARE! At some time, God is going to release His wrath in your life; and you don’t want to be the hard-head who’s been turning away from God. Just give it up now; and take the grace which is freely offered by Jesus. Allow God to free you from yourself so that you can walk free with His grace.

My Prayer for Today: I choose grace, Lord! Amen

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

2009 – Day 75.Mar. 17 – I Will Not Retreat

2009 – Day 75.Mar. 17 – I Will Not Retreat

Passage of the Day: Exodus 6: 13 …
Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, and gave them a command for the children of Israel and for Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt.

My Journal for Today: Moses (and Aaron) had heard God’s command of deliverance for His people before; but things had not gone well in the execution of God’s plan up to the point of today’s passage. And so, as we read above, God forcefully reinstated His command to go forth to set His people free from over 400 years of bondage to Egypt.

Perhaps, like me, you can identify with the challenge to Moses’ faith at this point in the story. He knew what God had related and exhorted in the past; and I believe, at this point, Moses even had faith in God. However, it was a head faith; and it was likely that his head was also reeling with fleshly messages like, “This is not working. Pharaoh is so powerful; and his heart is too hardened against God’s plan; and Egypt is so much more powerful than I am.”

It is so easy to let human logic and temporal circumstances get in the way of believing - in our hearts as Christians - what we know to be God’s will. I think of the times when I’ve known that it is God’s will that all be saved. God’s word clearly says that our God desires that all repent and believe and be saved (I know it from passages like [links provided] 2nd Pet. 3: 9 or 1st Tim. 2: 3-4). And yet many times, I’ve hesitated when I’ve had the opportunity to share my faith with one I knew who was lost, balking in fear.

Moses knew - in his head - that God desired to save the Jews from bondage; and he knew – in his head – that God had set forth the plan of deliverance. But God also knew that Moses needed to get that head belief into a heart belief for God’s plan to go forth; and so, we see a very patient – but a very insistent – God laying out the plan again for Moses and his brother. But this time, God is getting more direct with His command for action.

Chuck Swindoll makes a clear and truthful declaration at the end of his devotional for this day from his book Great Days with the Great Lives. Swindoll paraphrases what God was saying to Moses. He writes as if God were speaking to Moses, “Because I am Who I am, I will do what is best for you.” And then Swindoll adds a powerful conclusion for us all, writing, “There isn’t a day on this side of eternity, no matter how grim, that can’t be improved by clinging to that reassuring thought.”

Do we, as God’s adopted children, … as Christians, really believe – in our hearts – that God will always do what is best for us? That is certainly God’s promise in Romans 8: 28, isn’t it? Well, if we believe that, we need to take up Christ’s challenge (quoted in Luke 9: 23) to deny our own feelings and fears, and to take up the crosses or challenges of life, and to simply follow our Lord without question or hesitation. That’s what God was saying to Moses in today’s highlight passage; and that is what God is saying to me today. How about you?

My Prayer for Today: Lord, help me in my unbelief !! Amen

Monday, March 16, 2009

2009 – Day 74.Mar. 16 – Shortcuts To Futility

2009 – Day 74.Mar. 16 – Shortcuts To Futility

Passage of the Day: Exod. 6: 2 – 29 …
Link to Exod. 6 for study …

My Journal for Today: Here we are, right in the midst of the story of the Exodus; and Moses apparently needed a pep talk from God. Things were not going well. Pharaoh wasn’t listening; and God’s people were balking. So, here in Exodus 6 we see God sitting Moses down and giving him a personal and historical lesson about the One Moses was serving and where the Lord had brought Moses.

And God didn’t rebuke Moses. No, the Lord took the time to retell the whole story to Moses, reminding him of His family and where God had led him. And in this pep talk, as Swindoll points out in his devotional today, we read of God saying clearly to Moses six separate times, “I am the Lord …” [see Exod. 6: 2, 6, 7, 8, 29]. Have you learned, as I have, that when God’s says something multiple times in a short segment of space [in His word], it’s time to pay attention and listen to God? Well, I think that is what God was trying to get across to Moses.

Moses needed to be reminded of the exactly Who was doing the leading here. And sometimes we can, as did Moses, have the tendency to look to the carnal when the Spirit-led course is not apparent in the circumstances of life. Oh, how I have the tendency to look within myself when things are not going the way I think they should. I want to get things done MY WAY; and I just won’t take the time to WAIT ON GOD.

So, here, sort of at the half-time of the Super Bowl of deliverance, God takes Moses into the locker room of life and reminds the quarterback of God’s team just where they are in this game and exactly Who is in charge in this game plan. And we know from “the rest of the story” that Moses listened to God; and he went back out on the field of this contest and did exactly what God coached him to do.

If things are not going well for you in the game of life, let God sit you down, through His written word or with council from a Godly counselor, and remind you that it is the Lord Who is in charge; and all you need to do is follow God’s game plan, which we can read and heed in Deut. 31: 8, Prov. 3: 5 – 6, Luke 9: 23, and all of Romans 8, as well as all of Ephesians 1.

So, if you’re going into the second half of your super bowl of life and things are going poorly, you go back and meditate deeply on those passages and realize that God is with you; … that He will guide you; … and that you serve the God Who cannot and will not be defeated.

Dear one … we have the advantage to see the score at the end of the game; and as I said a few days earlier, “WE WIN!”

My Prayer for Today: Lord, I am lifted up by Your truth and Your victory. Amen

Sunday, March 15, 2009

2009 – Day 73.Mar. 15 – “Watch Me Work”

2009 – Day 73.Mar. 15 – “Watch Me Work”

Passage of the Day: Exod. 5: 22 – 6: 12 …
Link to Exod. 5 – 6 for study …

My Journal for Today: If you’ve read today’s passage, you may be able to identify with Moses. Here he was, as Swindoll says, feeling “as low as a snake’s belly.” He was doing what God’s word had commanded; and nothing seemed to be working as it should. And this is a theme that runs throughout the Bible and a truth that we simply must learn to live in a world which is hostile to God. And it’s a truth which Swindoll admits makes no sense by worldly standards.

The truth is that God’s best work is done when it makes no human sense; and His best use of His servants is done when his servants are at the end of their rope. Think about it in scripture with so many of God’s prophets and servants and His most glaring victories. There was the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham and Sarah with a child being born to two really old folks; and the deliverance of their Son Isaac when God senselessly asked that he die at Abraham’s hand. There was time when Isaiah called down rain and fire from the heavens to the astonishment of the prophets of Baal. There was the time when God saved the Ninevites, much to the astonishment and chagrin of Jonah. There was the time when God led Gideon from threshing wheat in a wine barrel to victory with only 300 soldiers over thousands of the enemies of God. There was the time when Jesus was born into a manger, turned water into wine, walked on water, died on a cross and was resurrected to save mankind.

Do we get the picture? … No, I don’t think we do. It’s an absolute truth that God repeats over and over and over again in His word – that He will do His business in His time and in HIS way. But we, so often, just don’t get it. Jesus’ inner disciples, the twelve who followed the Lord for three years, watching Him perform miracle after miracle after miracle; and they were like all of the rest of us are now. They just didn’t get it. And we need to admit it as well. When we are confronted with the tough circumstances of life which reveal just how weak we are, do we believe the truth from Paul in 2nd Cor. 12: 9 [link provided] – that God’s grace will be sufficient for us in our weakness to demonstrate God’s strength? No, few of us, calling ourselves Christians, really believe the truth of a Romans 8: 28 that ALL things DO work together for the good of a real Christian. … No, in tough times, we mostly react like God’s people reacted in seeing Pharaoh resist Moses in their confrontation of wills. Even God’s Prophet, Moses, balked (see Exod. 5: 22-23 linked above) saying, in essence, “Lord, I did what You said; … what gives?; … Pharaoh’s not cooperating!”

Well, we know, from reading on, that Moses gathered himself and persisted; but the challenge would continue and there would be many more tests and trials and tribulations; and Moses would not have our advantage of knowing (and hopefully believing) what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1st Cor. 10: 13, where God encourages believers that no temptation, trial, or test will be brought into our lives, as Christians, which we cannot handle or deal with when we rely on and stick with God.

I have a symbol which I often use in letters and emails to fellow Christians, encouraging them to “keep on keeping on in Christ.” The symbol is “ <’KOKO>< " … and I’ll let you figure out its significance. But often, when I’m feeling low or incompetent, as Moses must’ve felt, this little symbol helps me remember that God will never forsake me (Heb. 13: 5) and that HE is my strength when I am weak (Phil. 4: 13 - no link here; you should know this one!). So, to any of you who might be feeling weak or incapable right now, I will leave this exhortation with you …


My Prayer for Today: Lord, Your grace is sufficient – ALWAYS! Amen

Saturday, March 14, 2009

2009 – Day 72.Mar. 14 – Misunderstood

2009 – Day 72.Mar. 14 – Misunderstood

Passage of the Day: Exod. 4: 29 – 5: 23 …
Link to Exod. 4 – 5 for study …

My Journal for Today: Have you ever been where Moses found him self in this passage of his story? Here Moses did exactly, … EXACTLY, what God asked of him; and the leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel were backing Moses. Then the wheels seemed to come off; and Pharaoh didn’t react as it might have been predicted by Moses, Aaron, or God’s chosen ones. No, … for a period, it appears that Pharaoh is the one in control, telling the Hebrews that they must glean their own stubble to use as hay for brick-making and that they will fall under the whip if they couldn’t come up with the count of bricks required for building.

And then Moses responds as most of us would react when and if we face disappointment, disillusionment, and doubt. He first asked “WHY,” and then he asked, “HOW?” Have you ever been misunderstood when you were doing the right and righteous thing? And isn’t your first reaction to go to God and say, “Why, Lord?” And, as Swindoll writes, that is followed by, “Why me; … why now; …why this?” I’ve been there … well, maybe not with the Pharaoh of Egypt, but with many who were following me being adamant that I had blown it when I knew in my heart I had done the right thing. It’s tough to lead when you believe one thing and the world sees it another way.

And the result of what transpires with Moses tells us the story. If you read on ahead, and perhaps you know this old story, life, for a time, looks like the worldly leader, Pharaoh, is in control; but behind the scenes of life, God is ALWAYS in control; and it’s the ones who stay with Him, even when life shows a really hand, who will see righteousness prevail. When the cards really look bad; and the believer in the One True God stays with the hand he is dealt, God will turn the cards – in time – to be in the favor of the faithful ones. And we know that this took some time and a lot of stages of rejection by Pharaoh; but God was there all along and when Moses remained faithful, even through the specter of darkness, the Light of God’s deliverance appeared for God’s people.

It’s so easy to feel abandoned when our righteous acts are misunderstood and rejected by the world. Right now there is much going on in 2009 when I write this which appears like the world is winning over God’s clear way of truth. The leaders and governments of the world are making decisions and passing laws to silence the people of God and put the spokesmen for God in straight jackets of silence. It appears that Pharaoh is winning the war? But those of us who’ve read “THE BOOK” and know “The Truth” must follow our Savior even unto death if that’s what it takes. Because in the end, WE WIN!

And so, I hope we can avoid the WHY NOW syndrome; and stay with the YOUR WAY IS THE ONLY WAY point of view as things get hotter and more difficult in this world. God will never abandon His chosen ones; but we must rise above doubt and show our faith to the world.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, help us to stay the course! Amen

Friday, March 13, 2009

2009 – Day 71.Mar. 13 – Soul Brothers

2009 – Day 71.Mar. 13 – Soul Brothers

Passage of the Day: Exodus 4: 27 – 28 …
27 And the LORD said to Aaron, “Go into the wilderness to meet Moses.” So he went and met him on the mountain of God, and kissed him. 28 So Moses told Aaron all the words of the LORD who had sent him, and all the signs which He had commanded him.

My Journal for Today: Do you have a “soul brother?” God knew that the task ahead of Moses would be a lonely one; and so the Lord prepared Moses’ blood brother, Aaron, the Levite, to go down to Moses and hear the younger brother’s wild tale of the burning bush and all the commands which Moses would have to level against Pharaoh. And Aaron, sent by God, listened to Moses; and then he told him that Moses could count on Aaron to be there in the tough times ahead.

Do you have an “Aaron” in your life? I do. Well, he’s not my blood brother; but he’s definitely my “soul brother.” He hears me anytime I need a listening ear; and he stands with me any time I need a “brother” to stand with me. When I’m weak, he’s there to lift me up. When I’m strong, my “brother” keeps me grounded in truth and humility. He’s my “soul brother.”

This is not going to be a long-winded journal entry. But what I say here is important if you don’t have a brother like an Aaron in your life … a true soul brother. And if you don’t, Swindoll in his devotional, and I here, challenge you to go to the same God who led Moses back to Egypt to free his people, … the same God who would stand before Pharaoh, … the same God who would part the seas to deliver His people, … and the same God who sent Aaron to Moses to stand with him; … go to our God and ask Him to send you a real “soul brother” go be there for you in the tough times of life just as Aaron was for Moses.

And right here and now I thank our God for sending me such a brother …

My Prayer for Today: Lord, he came to me when you sent him to me; and “… he ain’t heavy, … he’s my brother! “ Amen

Thursday, March 12, 2009

2009 – Day 70.Mar. 12 – The Staff of God

2009 – Day 70.Mar. 12 – The Staff of God

Passage of the Day: Exodus 4: 20 - 23 …
20 Then Moses took his wife and his sons and set them on a donkey, and he returned to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the rod of God in his hand. 21 And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. 22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.”’”

My Journal for Today: What we read developing here is a total change of mindset for Moses from the insecure servant at the burning bush to the man at this point who’s ready to confront the most powerful political and military king on earth to honor to follow the one, true God. And God was instructing Moses to tell him, with confidence, that the Pharaoh must let God’s people go or see his son die. And as we know from the rest of the story, Moses did just what God commanded, carrying God’s Staff with him before the worldly king.

What we see in the quiet confidence and assurance of Moses at this point is a man who had been seasoned for humility for 40 years in the wilderness and a man who had total belief in His God. Moses knew that he was totally within the will of God’s declared word; and so he went forward to do what God had instructed him.

This begs the question I sense from God to me, “Bill, do you believe what I have said in My Word? And if so, are you willing to do what it says to be totally within My will?” Well, I don’t hear those words audibly as I’m meditating on today’s passage; but my mind and heart is certainly being challenged with these questions about my assurance and belief in my God. There are more questions like, “Do you really desire to be centered in MY will?” Or, “Do you really believe (i.e., have total faith) in passages from My word like Prov. 3: 5 – 6, Romans 8: 28, Romans 8: 31, 1st Cor. 10: 13, or 2nd Cor. 12: 9?” Because if I did believe in God’s word as Moses believed in God’s revealed word, I would be willing to go wherever God leads me and do whatever He commands of me? …

But, do I? Will I? And right here as I sit here, pondering these questions, I would hope I would. But then again, there are times when I shrink from sharing my faith with others because of fear of failure or how I might be seen by others. So, … in reality, I don’t have the faith or quiet confidence that Moses showed us before Pharaoh. And I’m convicted, almost in shame, as I confess this here before the God Who created me, Who saved me, and Who desires fellowship with me.

And that’s where this devotional today is calling to our hearts; … well, at least to mine. Are we willing to pick up the staff of God, which, for us, is His word; and are we willing to pursue and stay within God’s will, from His word, doing life His way? You have to answer that for yourself; but knowing those passages I have mentioned above and believing, at least in my head, what they say, I need to do all I can to put these truths and all of God’s commands into action, taking my belief from my head into my heart and making choices like Moses made to honor God and to quietly and confidently mover forward to be within God’s will.

My Prayer for Today: Oh, Lord, help me to seek and do Your will. Amen

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

2009 – Day 69.Mar. 11 – You Are His Concern

2009 – Day 69.Mar. 11 – You Are His Concern

Passage of the Day: Exodus 4: 19 – 20 … 19 Now the LORD said to Moses in Midian, “Go, return to Egypt; for all the men who sought your life are dead.” 20 Then Moses took his wife and his sons and set them on a donkey, and he returned to the land of Egypt. And Moses took the rod of God in his hand.

My Journal for Today: Swindoll uses this little, very personal vignette in the life of Moses to remind us how our God’s concern runs very deep. God’s love for His servant Moses shines through clearly as God exhorts Moses onward to Egypt, taking his family and heading back to the land where Moses had been public enemy #1 forty years earlier, a memory which had to have been a concern for Moses. But, we read of God’s personal concern when the Lord says to Moses, and I paraphrase, “Oh, BTW Moses, all those dudes who were after you 40 years ago are dead now. So, take that supernatural staff with you; and go with your family where I lead you.”

And that’s exactly what Moses did. He became a living example of the truth in Proverbs 3: 5, 6 by trusting in God completely and not leaning on his own fears or anxieties. He just acknowledged that God would make way straight and that His Lord would protect His family. And Swindoll is so right that those who shrink into self protection, ignoring or avoiding God’s calling on their life, will never experience the exhilaration of feeling the power of God going on ahead and leading the faithful servant into the “sweetspot” of life which comes from being obedient to God’s will and calling.

My Pastor teaches that Christians experience the “sweetspot” of their faith when their decisions and actions fall into complete alignment with God’s will. That’s the essence of obedience; and to describe this “sweetspot” of Christianity, my Pastor uses the word picture of a golfer hitting a drive, … where the swing brings the face of the ball during a hard swing into perfect alignment with the face of that club, powering the ball as far and straight down the fairway as is possible. But if one swings that club out of alignment (i.e., as when one is out of fellowship with God), the ball never hits the “sweetspot” of the club and the result is a drive which goes in errant directions.

But maybe you’re not a golfer; and this word picture means nothing to you in picturing Moses’ obedience to God’s calling. Well, let me use another analogy. If you were given a recipe to bake a cake which you had loved; and you decided to leave out a key ingredient like baking powder or sugar, would the cake come out tasting the way it should? No, of course, it wouldn’t. Well, Moses had been given God’s recipe for success in baking God’s redemption cake. And not following His recipe, either by disobedience or by mistake, would lead to an outcome which would not taste as it was designed and planned by our Lord. So, Moses set out, taking God’s recipe, and following it to the tee.

I’ve said it before, remember, … in Luke 9: 23, where Jesus gives us His recipe for the sweetness of discipleship … to deny our selves, to take up the crosses of life daily, and to follow our Lord. And that’s exactly what Moses was doing; and it’s exactly what we, who follow Christ, must do. And when we do, we will have God’s power driving us far and straight from the “sweetspot” of obedience. We will taste the sweetness which comes when we follow God’s recipe for success in life (which, BTW, you can also read about in Joshua 1: 8).

So, … off we go, … following God to Egypt and beyond.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, I follow Your recipe for life from your Book; and I know it is my sweetspot in serving You. Amen

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

2009 – Day 68.Mar. 10 – Covering Home Base

2009 – Day 68.Mar. 10 – Covering Home Base

Passage of the Day: Exodus 4: 18 …
18 So Moses went and returned to Jethro his father-in-law, and said to him, “Please let me go and return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see whether they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.”

My Journal for Today: Today we have an extension of our discussion from yesterday on Moses’ communication of God’s big plan to his father-in-law and family. And Swindoll, in discussing this, lauded Moses as an exemplar of humility, sensitivity, and grace in the way he communicated this incredible set of circumstances to his family, especially to Jethro who had adopted him. This plan of God’s was to be a big deal for Jethro and the family; and Moses was so gentle and caring in the way he laid out God’s plan for him.

And Swindoll points out two sets of principles we can all learn from this Bible story in the life of Moses. And the first of these is somewhat redundant from yesterday in highlighting the need to be very sensitive in communicating a God-ordained course change to others in your life who might be effected by the change. Swindoll reminds us that we are the ones who have gotten God’s calling; and others have not. They will not feel the same tug on the heart that the called one will feel. In fact, they may have a tendency to see only how that change in the life of the called one will affect them or the risks it might bring about for their loved one who is proposing the change. Therefore, Moses here is a great example of being very sensitive and simply giving out the basics of where God is leading with the Lord’s new directions.

The second principle is related to the first. When God calls, providing the calling for a new direction in life, He will open the doors of hearts and set out the providence to make things happen for His own glory. If God’s plan is truly the way of the Master, the Lord is going to smooth the way and lay out the resources for His plan to be carried out. There are other examples of this in Scripture, like how Nehemiah’s calling to go back to Jerusalem from Babylon was shaped and smoothed by God to soften the heart of the Babylonian king and to provide the resources for Nehemiah to change his life course completely to move as God directed. And here we see the same thing. God called, Moses answered; and when he went to Jethro, giving the Old Sheik only sketchy information, Jethro was all go – primarily, I believe, because it was God’s Spirit leading the way to provide for that attitude from Moses’ daddy.

So, we learn a good lesson from this. When God sets out a radical plan for our lives, if it’s truly God’s plan, the hearts of those who are affected will be prepared, even though we should be gentle and sensitive in laying out the change for them. And also, if it’s truly God’s life-changing plan, He will provide the resources and the directions for God’s plan to happen. Doors will fling open and provisions will come forth; and all the called one must do is walk through the doors and receive God’s grace along the way to make the plan happen for God’s glory.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, when You call; help me be ready to go. Amen

Monday, March 09, 2009

2009 – Day 67.Mar. 9 – Leave Of Absence

2009 – Day 67.Mar. 9 – Leave Of Absence

Passage of the Day: Exodus 4: 18 …
18 So Moses went and returned to Jethro his father-in-law, and said to him, “Please let me go and return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see whether they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.”

My Journal for Today: I’m glad that Swindoll highlights this transitional passage in Moses’ life, which shows a lot about how Moses’ character had developed out there in the desert.

Here we are. Moses had just been hanging out with God Himself in the form of a burning bush; and God has recruited the shepherd to be His agent of redemption for God’s people, the Jews in Egypt. And Moses now knows that he will carry a staff which can become a snake; and he will be crying out, in God’s Name, to Pharaoh, “Let my people go!” … But does Moses take all that to Jethro, the man who had become his adopted daddy?

No, in meekness and humility and respect, he simply goes to the man who had entrusted his flocks to Moses for 40 years and quietly asks if he may be released to go down and see about the status of his brethren, the Jews, in Egypt. And Swindoll points out that this shows a lot about both the man Moses had become and the God, Who was calling Moses out to be the savior of God’s people.

Here we see what Moses had become in 40 years, … a GENTLEman, … a humble man, … both qualities we know are primary facets of the character of our Savior. By the way, they are the only two descriptive qualities Jesus ever used to describe Himself (you can check that out in Matt. 11: 29). So, he goes to Jethro in gentleness and humility; and he doesn’t bowl him over with a wild story, something like, “Dad, you’re not going to believe what I just saw. I was in the presence of The God of our father, Abraham, in a burning bush up there on the mountain. And God says I’m going down to Egypt and lead my people out of there! So, I’m out of here tomorrow. Sorry!”

No, God doesn’t demand his believers, especially those whom He calls into leadership, to be flashy and flaunt the power of God within. God only asks us to be available, to be humble, and to follow where He would lead. In fact, God will honor the kind of humility and meekness exhibited by Moses in today’s highlight passage from God’s word by pouring mercy and grace into these Christlike qualities. Scripture says it in many places in the Bible that God pours His grace into humility; but He cannot do so to those who are filled with puffed-up pride. (Check it out in Prov. 3: 34, James 4: 6, and 1st Peter 5: 5-6)

And so, we see God’s man, exhibiting God’s love and patience and a servant’s heart as he goes to the Midianite Prince and asks for a leave of absence to go to Egypt. And God, in His love and mercy and grace had prepared the heart of Moses’ adopted dad to give Moses the release he sought to go down and do business for God in Egypt. This is certainly an attitude lesson for us all. Patience and gentleness and humility should always be our M.O., rather than puffed-up pride and power-driven ego.

God simply says [from that verse I refer to so often in Luke 9: 23), “Deny yourself and follow Me.” And that’s exactly what Moses did.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, I have Your power in me; but all You ask me to be is Your feet, when You say, “Go!” Amen

Sunday, March 08, 2009

2009 – Day 66.Mar. 8 – Going It Alone

2009 – Day 66.Mar. 8 – Going It Alone

Passage of the Day: Exodus 4: 11 – 17 …
Read passage from this link …

My Journal for Today: Today, I must separate myself from the teachings of Chuck Swindoll in his devotional entry for this date. But to be fair, let me represent what Swindoll is teaching here today. … He contends that, and I quote, “While I believe with all my heart in accountability, God’s call does not lend itself to the buddy system or to group excursions.” And Chuck is citing Moses in today’s passage, bailing out to get assistance from his brother, Aaron, feeling that he could not go it alone in this task as God’s leader for His people. We know, of course, (see Exod. 32) that Aaron ultimately failed Moses and God; and certainly God knew that when he allowed Aaron to be Moses’ mouthpiece before Pharaoh. And Swindoll is contending that sometimes we simply must “go it alone,” when we’re called out by God.

But I simply cannot buy into this position. Yes, my calling is MY CALLING, not someone else’s. And what God calls me to do for His glory will not be the same as someone else; but I also believe, and know from God’s word and experience, that Christ is in the business of using His Body, working together, for each of us to be maximized in our individual gifts and calling.

I’m very much against anything that smacks of “Lone Ranger” Christianity; and I’m afraid that Swindoll seems to be heading his readers today toward that leaning. I firmly believe that God uses us individually best when we stand together and work together with other believers. If that were not the case in this scenario, why would God not have insisted that Moses go it alone? If “going it alone” was the way to go in life, why would Jesus, when training his disciples, send them out two-by-two on field trips of training in discipleship; and why, when He charged His followers with the Great Commission did He allow for them to begin their ministry right there in Jerusalem working together in a Body?

If God wants us to go it alone in ministry and mission work, why does God’s word strongly teach that a three fold cord is stronger than a single strand (see Eccl. 4: 11-12) and that iron sharpens iron (see Prov.27: 17)?

No, I’m sorry Chuck, … I just don’t seem to be buying your contention that Moses should have gone it alone and not relied on someone, like Aaron, to carry out God’s will in freeing His people. Yes, I agree that one’s individual calling is not someone else’s calling; but I think it’s very important for God’s army to be fighting the battles of life, back-to-back with a band of brothers, … a unified and cohesive force, working TOGETHER for God’s glory.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, I am responsible for your calling on my life; but I thank You for the grace of sending others into my life to bring Your calling to fruition. Amen

Saturday, March 07, 2009

2009 – Day 65.Mar. 7 – And The Answer Is …

2009 – Day 65.Mar. 7 – And The Answer Is …

Passage of the Day: Exodus 4: 1 – 10 …
Read passage from this link …

My Journal for Today: Swindoll’s right again. After one reads this scenario of Moses trying to apply his human weaknesses to the potential of trying to be God’s spokesman before Pharaoh, the excuses Moses comes up with are pictures of our own feelings as we are called by Christ by the Great Commission (Matt. 28: 19-20) or God’s charge to be His witness to the world (Acts 1: 8).

But just as in those New Testament callings, God gives us, as he did with Moses, His power to take away all of our excuses. But our first reaction, when we think of God calling us to be His spokesperson here on earth, is to balk in fear. And why is that? And Swindoll nails it again, our feeble excuses and fearful back peddling always comes from the mother of all fears, … the parent emotion of all sin, … and that is PRIDE.

We rightfully imagine that our own strength or intelligence in trying to witness for God will not be strong enough; and we simply don’t want to seem like a fool in front of our family, friends, or fellow humans. Ironically, as I indicated, the first part of our assumption is accurate. We are not smart enough or strong enough, in and of our own abilities, to be God’s witness. But where do we get the idea that saying, “I don’t know,” will be put down by others to whom we witness about God in our lives.

No, when we are confronted by someone who has to admit weakness or error, the truth is that we don’t disrespect another who says, “I don’t know.” Admit it. When we pump them with logical questions about something, and we back them into a logical corner, when they admit their weakness, we don’t disrespect them for admitting weakness, do we? No, the truth is that honestly admitting ignorance or weakness is viewed with empathy and respect when someone else is courageous enough to admit he or she can’t handle a situation. But because of pride we let our imaginations run wild when we think of trying to witness for God, thinking that others will see us as stupid or weak.

The reality, which I’ve come to discover over the years, is that when I’m witnessing for God, especially with my testimony, no one can argue with me. Oh, my antagonists may be able to pump unanswerable questions at me or challenge the logic of Scripture, if I were to quote it. However, NO ONE can argue with a personal testimony. So, when I witness as to how God has changed my life, there’s no smart comeback to challenge me; and in situations like those God’s power is in my testimony.

And the other point I’ve come to understand and trust is the truth that God will not only never leave me in the lurch when I’m witnessing for Him; but He has always goes on ahead of me to set the ground for me as I stand for Him. That’s the promise of Deut. 31: 6, 8 from the Old Covenant as well as Hebrews 13: 5 in the New Testament is that God will NEVER forsake me. Just as Moses discovered that God will allow us to be His witness with the Lord’s power speaking, we can go forth and witness to the world with the Holy Spirit preparing the way for us and being there in our testimonies.

Oh, it may not be a rod turning into a serpent or the hand in the bosom slight of hand as it was for Moses; but it will be God standing with us when we stand for Him. We simply have to set aside our human pride and fears; and trust that God will be there with us when we become witnesses for Him. As we’ll be seeing in upcoming devotionals, Moses would learn that truth; and he would come to stand with and for God against Pharaoh. But right now we need to be asking ourselves why we don’t or can’t go forth in faith to witness for our Lord; and we need to do so with the faith that God will never put us in a situation we cannot handle with Him being there with us (see 1st Cor. 10: 13). When we learn that lesson, we can be just as “dangerous” for God as Moses was about to become in Pharaoh’s court.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, I go forth to witness for You. Amen

Friday, March 06, 2009

2009 – Day 64.Mar. 6 – Hard of Hearing

2009 – Day 64.Mar. 6 – Hard of Hearing

Passage of the Day: Exodus 3: 4 – 22 …
Read from this link …

My Journal for Today: Well, this new deal from God to Moses was a bit hard to take. I can imagine Moses saying to himself, “Did I hear that right?” … Here was the transformed shepherd who had been working his flocks in obscurity for the last 40 years; and now this bush was telling him that God would use him as the instrument to deliver God’s people from 400+ years of slavery.

“Did I hear that right?”

Many times it’s hard to hear God’s calling through the tyranny of the urgencies of life, … through the din of informational noise coming from our culture, and filtered through our out-right deceitful hearts. We can become spiritually hard of hearing when God tries to break through with His plan … with His calling for our lives.

I know when God began calling me into ministry in my discipleship years ago, my first reaction was, “Who, God, … me?” I simply couldn’t imagine that God would take a sinner like me with a track record of over 20 years of habitual sexual sin and over 12 years of infidelity to my wife and to use me for His glory. I was definitely hard of hearing to God’s call for me to be used by Him as a delivery agent to help transform other Christians who had become mired in sexual sin.

So, I identify with Moses’ selective spiritual “hearing loss.” It’s tough to hear God calling when we’ve got mufflers on our spiritual ears from years of sin and shame. It’s tough to hear God’s will when the enemy would deceive us with his very loud lies of condemnation and discouragement. But when we do try hard to listen, God will speak His will for us. Oh, it may not be in a burning bush; but it will come through His word, through His witnesses, through His ordained and anointed preachers and teachers, and through that still small voice He has planted in our hearts, … the Holy Spirit.

And when we do hear God calling, we need to recognize and acknowledge a truth taught to me by my mentor years ago; and that is, “God’s calling is His enablement.” As Swindoll points out, “In God’s calling, He has a plan; but He never expects you (alone) to carry out that plan. He’s going to pull it off. He simply wants you to be the instrument of action. After all it’s His reputation that is at stake, not yours. All He asks is that you give yourself to Him as a tool He can pick up and use.”

How about it? Are you ready to unplug your ears; and listen carefully so that God can give you His plan? Are you ready to be used for God’s glory … maybe loudly like a Moses … or maybe quietly like a Daniel. But if you are His, He CAN use you! And if you hear His will and follow it, He WILL use you.

My Prayer for Today: Lord, thank you for calling me out and giving me the ears to hear. And oh how I want to be surrendered to be used by You. Amen

Thursday, March 05, 2009

2009 – Day 63.Mar. 5 – Flammable Bushes

2009 – Day 63.Mar. 5 – Flammable Bushes

Passage of the Day: Exodus 3: 4 – 10 …
4 So when the LORD saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then He said, “Do not draw near this place. Take your sandals off your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” 6 Moreover He said, “I am the God of your father—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God. 7 And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. 8 So I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up from that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites. 9 Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel has come to Me, and I have also seen the oppression with which the Egyptians oppress them. 10 Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring My people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt.”

My Journal for Today: Swindoll today in the devotional I just read from his book has come up with a fascinating word picture of what God came to Moses to set in motion for his destiny. What God needed to set His people free was a flammable bush whom He could easily set on fire for God’s glory.

Forty years earlier, Moses probably thought of himself as a strong and growing specimen of a plant; but God had to take him into the desert and replant him to re-grow this plant into a more common variety bush, tinder ready to burn for God. When Moses was exposed to God, THE Burning Bush, that day, he had to come to see that God had been preparing this newly regrown plant so that he could burn brightly for God.

And Swindoll brilliantly pictures what it takes to be a burnable bush for God’s kingdom purposes. To burn for God, one has to be a plant that has been prepared and pruned to be dried up, thorny, and brittle … qualities that appear very ordinary, but they are elements of readiness where all it takes is a spark from God’s Spirit to set the plant on fire for God. As Swindoll points out, Moses 40 years earlier was green and had foliage which was almost like asbestos, … beautiful to view, but unburnable when touched with God’s torch.

And Swindoll is right on in his contention that there are many believers out there in this world who are doing all they can to be beautiful looking plants but are totally unburnable for God. We’ve become a body of Christians who are fed by the streams of this world. Our foliage is green and very resistant to being lit up for God. What God needs, as he did with Moses, is a tinder-ready bush, prepared to burn brightly when lit by God to burn brightly in the darkness of the world.

For those 40 years in the desert, God had been pruning and drying out the bush who was Moses, making him available and quite ordinary looking, but making him a torch-ready plant who would light up the world for God. Perhaps you have wondered what it takes to burn for God’s glory in this world. And maybe you’re coming to realize what Moses was about to learn up there on that mountain in the presence of God, the Burning Bush. Yes, Moses learned that God can use any old, common looking, and possibly thorny, bush who is simply ready to be tinder branches when God lights him up.

What God needs is readiness and availability. He can prepare you as a burning bush for His glory if you let Him. But we need to allow the Lord to shape us, prune us, and prepare us to be burnable for Him. All too often, as Swindoll points out, we try to prepare ourselves; and we become plants who look good to the world but would not burn for God’s glory, even if lit by napalm. I want to be lit by God’s torch and to burn brightly, lighting up at least a small corner of God’s world so that my Lord will be glorified in heaven (see Matt. 5: 16).

How about you? Are you ready to be set on fire for God?

My Prayer for Today: Lord, make me a bush which burns brightly for Your kingdom glory. Amen

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

2009 – Day 62.Mar. 4 – I’m Here

2009 – Day 62.Mar. 4 – I’m Here

Passage of the Day: Exodus 3: 4 [see highlighted verse in bold] ...
2 And the Angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire from the midst of a bush. So he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. 3 Then Moses said, “I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn.”
4 So when the LORD saw that [Moses] turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush and said, “Moses, Moses!”
And [Moses] said, “Here I am.”

My Journal for Today:
When an Orthodox Jewish boy passes from childhood to manhood in his bar mitzvah, the Jewish coming-of-age ceremony, he declares before God and his Rabbi, “Hineini [!],” which is Hebrew and the same term that Moses responded when God called him (read above in Exodus 3, our highlighted verse 4. It is simply translated, “Here I am.” But to the Jew this means, as it did for Moses, much more than a simple acknowledgement of one’s presence. It is a declaration of one giving life over to the one who calls. It is a recognition of total surrender to a calling in one’s life.

You can also find this concept being echoed by others in the OT; … for example, by Abraham in Gen. 22: 11 when God called on this daddy to sacrifice his son. It is the surrender voiced by the Prophet Isaiah, found in Isaiah 6: 8, when God was calling Isaiah, saying, “Whom shall I send?” And in today’s verse, Moses, was doing his routine thing in the desert; and he turned aside to hear a bush on the mountain calling his name.

And what did Moses say? He said, “Hineini !” And in responding in this way, he was saying, in surrender, “I’m here; … show me the way!”

Have you ever had a moment when God called to you? Maybe it was in hearing a sermon that you felt was speaking only to you. Maybe it was a set of circumstances in your life which simply could not occur by chance and could not be ignored. Maybe it was life crashing down around your head, screaming, “Life’s not working for you, dude! Try in My way.” I had one of those moments on April 13, 1983, where God used the number “13” to change my life. It’s a bit of a long story; but please bare with me for a moment while I relive my “hineini” moment.

In those days I was searching for spiritual strength in my life, totally lost in myself and calling myself an “agnostic.” One morning, listening to a cassette tape a friend had loaned me on the way to work, I heard a story of a young quadriplegic who testified that Christ had given him the strength to live his life with purpose in the face of his paralyzed limbs. Then I got to work that morning and I had a pamphlet on my desk planted by my Christian secretary. On the cover was a Bible verse with it’s reference, “I can do all things through Christ, Who gives me the strength (Phil. 4: 13).” I took note of the Bible reference; and I looked up at my desk clock which was flashing the date – “4 – 13.” It was April, the 13th, and I realized that I was being called out to find the source of strength for which I was searching. Now, you need to realize that those two “13s” on that day really got my attention because I met my now wife on the 13th of a month. We were married 13th of a month. Our first child was born 13th of a month. My doctorate was awarded 13th of a month. And there had been others. So, when I saw the reference to Phil. 13 on April the 13th, somehow I knew in my heart, God was calling me out. And in my own way that morning, I said, “Hineini !” Well, it wasn’t in Hebrew, of course; but it was the same emotional response which Moses or Abraham or Isaiah responded to God’s calling. And on that morning in 1983, I went into surrender mode, giving my life over to the One Who was calling me to follow Him.

Really, when Moses cried out, “Hineini,” that’s all God needed to hear; because Moses was saying to God, “I’m here, Lord; show me the way; … I will follow.” And if you’ve followed my journaling for any time, you’ve no doubt heard me teach that Christ is continually calling His disciples out by saying to us, (as He did in Luke 9: 23) “Deny yourself, … and follow Me!” And all He needs to hear from us (emotionally) is “Hineini!”

As Pastor Swindoll so aptly puts it in his devotional for today, “[God’s] not impressed with you. He’s checking out your humility, … your sensitivity, … your availability. He’s looking for someone who will slow down long enough to check out a burning bush. And when He call, all He asks is a simple acknowledgement, …” And I think you know what that is.

Are you ready to say “Hineini” to God? I am …

My Prayer for Today: Hineini, Lord! Send me. Amen