July 17 – His story : Man’s rescue – Judges

Read Judges 3:1-4:23

Conquest.” That is the overarching term that is often placed over Joshua…both the book and the person. Under this man’s leadership, the people of God settled into the Promised Land, routing the people who were there.

But as we move into the book of Judges and that period of HIS story that goes by the same name, we discover something interesting. Not all of the enemies had been eliminated. The land promised by God to Israel was still peppered with Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jubusites (3:5). God intentionally left them there. You see, He wanted to test His people (3:4). How committed were they to obeying Him?

There are some interesting parallels for us, aren’t there? God seldom completely clears our lives from some form of opposition, trial, or testing. Chances are, you know that full well from something you have just been through or from something you are currently experiencing. If those challenges are designed to test your commitment and to produce in you a persevering godliness, how are you doing?

Well, the Israelites did not fare well. If you read closely in the book of Judges, you will discover a cyclical pattern in their experiences that included:

• The evil behavior of the Israelites (3:7, 12; 4:1 from today’s text). In most instances this included a departure from exclusive loyalty to God alone to serving the pagan gods.

• A desperate cry from Israelites to God for rescue (3:9, 15; 4:3 from today’s text). It is interesting to observe how people appeal to Him in times of difficulty.

• God’s deliverance through a judge (3:9, 15; 4:4). God does hear the cry of His people and He responds to it.

• A period of rest (3:11, 30 from today’s text). This seemed to last as long as the people’s obedience to the Lord.

Once again, we see how God rescued His people from the challenges they faced. But their rescue went hand in hand with their repentant, desperate pleading with Him.

Do you recognize any parallels in your life? Have you seen similar cycles in your life? Faithfulness to the Lord does not guarantee a lack of problems, but it sure does limit the resultant pain!

Steve Kern

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July 16 – His story : Man’s rescue – Conquest

Read Joshua 1:1-2:24

She isn’t exactly the kind of person you would expect to play a key role in HIS story or in man’s rescue, but she certainly did!

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Forty years had passed since yesterday’s reading. The Israelites had experienced many highs and lows. All those who had been over twenty years old had died in the wilderness wandering. Even Moses had only looked across the river to the Promised Land. He died without entering it. Joshua, Moses’ right hand man, was the new leader. He had been appointed by God and approved by His people. An overwhelming task stood before him. Under his leadership, they were to conquer those inhabiting the land God had promised His people. Like you and me in the challenges we face, he would need instruction from the word of God…and courage to do it. If he put together those two ingredients, God guaranteed success.

Like forty years before, spies were sent. But this time was different. Though the later spies also saw a fortressed city filled opponents, unlike the majority of their earlier counterparts, they returned with confident faith that God would allow them to conquer the opponent while delivering them safely. And this unlikely woman would play a key role. God used her…even though her past was tainted by the immoral vocation she had chosen. She protected the spies and refused to tell the city officials. As a result, God conquered the city while rescuing her and the Israelites. Hebrews 11:31 tells us that she responded in faith. Something caused her to turn from her past and trust God.

But God’s work through her did not stop after her deliverance from Jericho. Genealogies…yes, those less read portions of the Bible…indicate that she later married a man by the name of Salmon. Together, the two of them stand as important pillars in the lineage of Christ! That’s right, she was the great, great, great, great (not sure how many “greats” to include here)…grandma of Jesus! God used this woman with a questionable past to rescue the spies, the Israelite nation, and all who place personal faith in Christ.

Do you have a past that isn’t particularly stellar? All of us do.  God can use you too!

Steve Kern

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July 15 – His story : Man’s rescue – Wandering

Read Numbers 13:1-14:45

HIS story of man’s rescue is not a passive, universal one where the Creator steps in and saves every person independent of their willingness. It requires a faith response of individuals. It always has. It always will.

After their miraculous release from Egypt and after God’s amazing provision as they encountered the obstacles of enemies, hunger, and thirst, the Israelites had witnessed firsthand the gracious, loving care of their Father. Surely, He was One who could be trusted! But, then again, could He?

One delegate spy from each tribe went on a scouting trip to bring back a report about the land, the fruit, the people, and their cities. Sure, the land sounded good. If the grapes were any indication, the crops would be great. But, it was the stories of the size and strength of the people and their fortified cities that scared them…not the “shaking in your shoes but moving ahead in faith anyway” kind of scared. No, this was the “we’re going to die if we go, so let’s pull up tent pegs and retreat” kind of scared. It’s true, there were two voices of faith, but the people listened to the ten voices of disbelief.

As a result of their disbelief, the people would wander for 40 years…and the older ones (with the exception of Joshua and Caleb) would die without ever entering into the very land to which God wanted to deliver them. The thing that seemed most disappointing to God was expressed in 14:11: “How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the signs I have performed among them?” Even though they had witnessed God’s past provision, that track record of His faithfulness seemed meaningless in the moment.

If you have walked with the Lord for any time at all, you have experienced His faithfulness and His provision. Do you find yourself just now in the presence of “giants” that seem undefeatable? Are there “cities” that seem like you could never conquer? Are you doubting God’s ability to rescue you from what lies ahead. Are you tempted to retreat? Allow His track record of faithfulness to count for something and trust Him with what lies ahead.

Steve Kern

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July 14 – His story : Man’s rescue – Law and Rescue

Read Exodus 19:1-20:26

HIS story includes rules/commands that He gave to His people.

Someone told me recently about a person who was cited with a traffic violation for backing out of their driveway onto the street. Was there a sign on the street saying that it was illegal? I don’t know. It surely doesn’t seem intuitive. Frankly, it even seems unfair because I wouldn’t expect it to be illegal. But, when the law is clearly defined, you can’t argue with punishment.

God did at least two things to define His commands to mankind. First of all, He gave us a conscience through which we have a general, intuitive understanding of right and wrong.

Moses Receives the Ten Commandments

Though a person can ignore the pangs of conscience and even dull the sensation, each person has one. But God also expressed His will for His people Israel in the written law. It is important to note that He gave these commands to them because obedience to them pleases Him and because He knows what is best for man. Although the ten most prominent of those commands are expressed in Exodus 20, they are only ten of six hundred thirteen in the Old Testament “law.”

Are these ten still valid today in the church age? The New Testament seems to underscore everyone of them (although the Sabbath seems to be a broader principle to be practiced rather than a rigid observance from sunset one day until sunset the next). In fact, in Matthew 5, Jesus even narrows the interpretation of murder to angry words and of adultery to lustful thoughts. Can you say, then, that you have perfectly kept the Ten Commandments?

God already knows your answer to that question.  No one has obeyed every dimension of His will.  In fact, the book of Galatians even informs us that the ultimate purpose of His laws is to expose the fact that we do not measure up.  In so doing, it points us to Christ (Gal. 3:24).  In other words, the Law was designed to help us to see how desperately lost we are so that we might call out to Jesus as our rescuer.

Steve Kern

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July 13 – His story : Man’s rescue – Passover

Read Exodus 11:1-12:50

HIS story is indeed one of man’s rescue. After 400 years of life in a foreign country, God was about to escort His people to their homeland. After years of bondage and servitude, He was about to offer them freedom. After identifying Moses as the man to lead them, God was about to use him to deliver them. In spite of plague after plague and one empty promise from Pharaoh after another, God was about to bring the plague that would lead to release.

But what became a plague for some became reason for celebration for others. Whether a person rejoiced or regretted all hinged on a lamb and its blood. Those who painted the blood of a perfect lamb on their frame of the door to their house were spared. Those who failed to do so suffered. The Israelites painted the blood and headed off to the Promised Land. The Egyptians didn’t and grieved the loss.

This “Passover plague” was more than just an event recorded in the annals of Jewish history. Its importance is illustrated in the fact that God commanded that the Israelites commemorate the Passover on an annual basis. He wanted them to reflect often on the events of that evening and celebrate what He had done.

Still, there is more. The New Testament makes clear that God wanted to use the Passover as the precursor to and backdrop for understanding the sacrifice of His Son. Through His shed blood, God offers people deliverance from sin to all. The Passover’s timing and imagery coincide with the sacrifice of Jesus as the perfect lamb.

Still, a response is necessary. Just as the Israelites of old had to by faith paint the blood of the lamb on their door frame, so too a person today must by faith personally appropriate the shed blood of Jesus as necessary and adequate for the forgiveness of his/her sins. And those who do have every reason to celebrate…even to celebrate and reflect regularly on what Christ has done by participating in Communion. Will you join us for Communion at either 11:00 a.m. or 6:30 p.m. on November 16th?

Steve Kern

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July 12 – His Story : Man’s rescue – Moses as Deliverer

Read Exodus 3:1-22

HIS story of man’s rescue required a rescuer. Well, actually, it required several of them over the course of the millennia. Of course all of those “rescuers” remind us in some way of the One who saves people from the ramifications of their sin. That One is the perfect Son of God who was crucified, buried, and raised. Let’s face it…all other rescuers seem almost laughable. And yet, God used them.

Such was the case with Moses. His feeble attempt in Exodus 2 to offer aid to the people of God who were hundreds of miles from home and engaged in forced labor had gone belly up. And yet, in chapter three, God’s plan for deliverance begins to unfold. Likely, it didn’t come as early as some would have liked, but it was right on time according to God. He invited Moses to be the point person in His plan.

Initially, Moses had two questions worth noting…questions that he posed to God:

1. Who am I (vv. 11, 12)? Why would God choose Moses…or you for that matter…to serve Him? Aware of weakness, most of us struggle to think that God would want to use us. And that He would use us to do anything of significance is even more unbelievable. The New Testament confirms, however, that he wants to use all of His children. There is no good explanation other than God’s sovereign choice. But there is His promise that those He calls He also empowers and accompanies!

2. Who are you (vv. 13-15)? Can Moses…or you…really count on God? Is He worth trusting? When He calls me to do something for Him, can I really trust Him. The divine response is that God is the great “I AM.” He is the self-existent One, who is not dependent upon anything. He is not a “has been” whose days of glory are somewhere in the past. He is not a “will be” who is developing skills that are still being perfected. He is right now, in this moment of time, all that you need.

As you face challenges and opportunities today, answer these questions in light of biblical truth:

Who am I?

Who is God?

Steve Kern

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July 11 – His story : Man’s rescue – Joseph and Egypt

Read Genesis 41:1-57

In this portion of HIS story of man’s rescue, the land of Egypt became the center of the earth. All eyes turned there.

But chapter 41 is only a small portion of a larger installment that spans from Genesis chapter 37 to chapter 50. It is the story of twelve brothers…the sons of Jacob. Prophetic dreams made clear that one of the brothers, Joseph, was to have an important, dominant role among them. His jealous brothers sold him to merchants who carried him off to Egypt. And here in chapter 41, Joseph interprets dreams which depict years of abundant harvest followed by years of famine. Joseph, this descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was given the responsibility of helping Egypt prepare for the famine.

As a result of Joseph’s preparation, Egypt became the center of the earth. Apparently the other peoples on the earth had not been given the same divine foresight of the coming famine. It seems that they did not have their storehouses filled with food in anticipation of widespread hunger. Word spread quickly that Egypt was the Wal-Mart of the world. In a small microcosmic way, the promise extended to Abraham was being realized. The nations were blessed through one of his descendants.

News of the food supplies even spread to the rest of Abraham’s descendants…Joseph’s brothers…the very ones who had sold him into slavery. Their eyes also turned to Egypt. There, they encountered Joseph…first of all without realizing who it was. Through a series of unusual requests and responses, the brothers experienced reconciliation. In fact, Joseph’s father, brothers, and their families eventually uprooted from their land and settled in the land of the pyramids.

God rescued His people from famine and starvation. He used one of His own, Joseph, in order to bring it about. In fact, Joseph’s actions resulted in the feeding of countless thousands around the world. But Joseph is but a foreshadowing of one who does much more than save people by satisfying their temporal hunger for food. Jesus satisfies the deepest longings of the heart…and He saves those who express repentant faith in Him from the eternal ramifications of sin.

Steve Kern

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