May 13 – Defining Moments – Moses

Read Exodus 3:1-4:31

About 6 years ago, my granddaughter, Kalie, chose quilting for her 4-H project.  Since neither she nor her mother could sew, I was elected to be her helper and, since my sister had experience with quilt making, the project soon became a “family affair”.  

Throughout the project, Kalie and I often expressed frustration when we made a mistake, if a seam wasn’t perfectly straight or if the fabric was cut a little crooked. But time and time again, my sister would assure us that it would all work out in the end.  And she was correct!  Once it was all put together, the mistakes and imperfections seemed to disappear into the overall design.

After one quilt, Kalie moved on to other interests, but I had fallen in love with quilt making! I love seeing how the random scraps of fabric can be pieced together to make beautiful designs, often ones I had never envisioned in the beginning.          

That is what happened to Moses. 

There is no doubt that God had had His hand on Moses’ life from the beginning. He had escaped certain death at the hand of the pharaoh by being plucked out of the river by none other than the pharaoh’s own daughter! Then it just so happened he was returned to the arms of his very own mother to be nursed and raised in the knowledge of God. God continued to protect him throughout the rest of his life until finally Moses came face to face with God at the burning bush! 

That was the defining moment for Moses!

The pieces of his life were being put together into a powerful “quilt” to free God’s people from bondage and God was ready to reveal it to him.  

Like Kalie and I, Moses wasn’t so sure that the plan was going to work.  He wasn’t a good speaker.  What if they didn’t listen to him?  Who should he say sent him?  Moses was looking at all the crooked seams and not the big picture that God saw.  But God was ready for him with assurance that it would all work out!

Do you know what God’s plan is for your life?  Does His plan match yours?  What are the random pieces of your life that God is putting together in His design for you?  Are you resisting like Moses and pointing out every flaw and fear you might have? Or are you trusting that whatever it is He wants you to do, He will also equip you with skills and hidden talents, even some you never knew you had? 

What will your life quilt look like?

Will it include singing, teaching, praying, writing, speaking out for God, volunteering, cooking, talking to your neighbor, holding the hand of someone who is hurting, or possibly the ministry?

Are you ready to answer His call for your life? 

Are you stepping forward saying, “I am here Lord, use me?”

Pat Arnold

May 8 – The God Who Comes Through – He Dwells Among Us

Read Exodus 40:1-38

The God who comes through is also One who shows up!

His glorious presence was something that Moses yearned for at a crossroads in the Exodus experience. He pleaded with God, “If Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here” (Ex. 33:15). It could be argued that there is nowhere that any of us can go where God is not present. After all, God is always and everywhere present in this world (Ps. 139:1-6). We refer to this as His “omnipresence.” But Moses was calling for that and more. He yearned for God’s revealed and directive presence that assured him he was not on his own.

The tabernacle served as an expression of that. It was a sort of portable, pop-up tent in which God manifested His glory and from which a cloud would rise to lead God’s people. Surrounding the tabernacle was an outer courtyard. Inside, the tabernacle was comprised of two sections; each with its own objects and symbolism. There was the Holy Place. And then, further inside was the Most Holy Place, into which only the high priest could enter once a year to offer sacrifices for himself and for the people (Heb. 9:7). It was there that God’s presence resided and His glory was revealed. It was also from the temple that the cloud would rise to lead the people onward.

The tabernacle is an important part of both the Old and New Testament.

  1. It was a tangible, earthly depiction of heavenly realities fulfilled with Jesus as our sacrifice and High Priest (Heb. 9:23-28).
  2. Its blueprint helped in the future design of the more permanent temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 6-9).
  3. The temple curtain was torn without human help at the time of the crucifixion (Matt. 27:51) indicating humanity’s access to God through the sacrificial, atoning death of Jesus.

But for believers in Jesus, there is one more important symbolism of the temple. It is the fact that the God Who comes through now lives in you! You have become the temple of the living God as the Holy Spirit resides in you (1 Cor. 6:19, 20).

As His temple, you and I should choose to glorify God with our bodies (1 Cor. 6:20). This includes issues of addiction to sexual expression. In what ways do you glorify Him? In what ways do you need to make changes?

Keep in mind…the God who comes through not only shows up. He chooses to live in His children.

Steve Kern

May 7: The God Who Comes Through – He reveals His glory and transforms His people

Read Exodus 34:29-35 (cf 2 Cor 3:12-18)

Going back to school in the midst of a pandemic is tough.  I had been volunteering and subbing in a school since my retirement 8 years ago, so I knew many of the students who attended there.  We had talked, laughed, hugged and learned together throughout the years.  However, when I was required to wear a mask, my greetings were met with lots of quizzical looks as they searched their memories to recognize me, using only my eyes for clues. We could talk thorough the masks, but it wasn’t until I slipped the mask down and said, “It’s me!”  that the lights of recognition and smiles returned to their faces.

For so many years, Moses had talked to God.  He had seen His miraculous power.  He had followed God’s direction and God had heard his pleas.  But it was when God removed the mask and revealed His full glory that Moses was so filled with His glory that his face actually glowed!  It glowed so much that the other people were afraid.  Moses put a veil over his face until he was once again in the presence of God in the tabernacle.

Being in the presence of God was deemed to be way too much for any normal person and even the priests needed to stay behind a veil that separated the holy of holies within the tabernacle.

But that veil, that separated the normal people from God, was torn in two when Jesus died on the cross, giving you and me full access to God Himself. We are God’s children and, as such, we can boldly approach Him with our prayers, requests and thanksgiving. He is never too busy to chat with us. Being able to talk directly to God gives us comfort and strength. Through His guidance, anything is possible.

Our great nation was formed through His guidance.  The Pilgrims left the comfort of their homeland to sail across the ocean to an unknown land for the right to worship Him. 

Through His guidance, a small fledgling group of states dared to challenge the powerful English military to build a country whose motto is “In God We Trust.” Through His guidance that same country has been the beacon of life and liberty to the rest of the world!

When God reveals Himself, He can empower the meek. He can bring hope to the injured.  He can comfort the lonely and frightened. He can bring healing to the sick. We just need to be bold enough to ask.

Do you recognize God when He speaks to you? Or are you still seeing Him through a mask of doubt?  Maybe you need to pull down your mask and say,” Hey, God!  It’s me! Can we talk?”

Trust me – you will never be the same!

Pat Arnold

May 6: The God Who Comes Through – He keeps His covenant

Read Exodus 32:1-35

In a conversation I had last week, a friend said something that got me thinking. She said, “Sometimes I try so hard to manipulate my circumstances so that, in the end, things turn out the way I think is best.” I don’t know about you, but I am guilty of living like this. So often, we carelessly throw God’s plans and promises for our lives out the window. We think we know what is best for ourselves and will do just about anything to try and make sure things end up that way. This issue is not unique to us today. In fact, there’s a story recorded in Exodus 32:1-35 where we see God’s people manipulate their circumstances and even break their covenant with God, in order to get what they want.

Moses was leading the Israelites at the time this story took place. The Israelites were settled near Mt. Sinai and there was a period of 40 days where God called Moses up onto the mountain to meet with Him. While Moses was up on the mountain meeting with God, the Israelites grew impatient and questioned where their leader was. They wanted to keep moving on to the land God had promised them and Moses was taking too long! So, they asked Moses’s brother, Aaron, to make them gods who would go before them and lead them. Aaron listened to the people and created a god for them, an idol made out of gold. In creating this idol, the people broke their covenant with God by disobeying His commandment given to them in Exodus 20:4. They manipulated their circumstances by taking the control that belonged to God.

In Exodus 32:10, God responds to what His people have done. He said to Moses, “Leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.” Because God is just, righteous, and holy, disobedience angers Him. In His power, He could have wiped the Israelites out right away. But, there is a beautiful truth about God that is put on display in this story. While the Israelites sought their own favor, Moses sought the favor of God and, in faith, asked Him to turn from His anger. Verse 14 says, “Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.” Even though God’s people deliberately broke their covenant with Him, He does not break His covenant with them.

The same God keeps His promises to us today. His promises for us can be found in His Word. Even though we continually try and take control from Him, He will never cut off His promises to us. We don’t deserve the kind of faithfulness He shows us, but that is why we can praise Him for who He is.

Sidney Rupp

May 5: The God Who Comes Through – He gave His law so that we might know our sin

Read Exodus 20:1-19

The God of heaven is indeed the God who comes through!

By this point in the book of Exodus, He has protected His people, provided a leader to bring them out of bondage, and miraculously guided them by cloud and fire…even through a sea! If you have followed along in the reading, you have also identified the fact that He can come through in your life.

The setting for today’s story is a mountaintop. With the people of Israel gathered in the valley below, the peak was covered in a cloud as thunder bellowed and lightning flashed. As if that wasn’t enough, the ground quaked as God captured the nation’s attention in holy fear. The God who comes through wanted to clearly communicate His expectations for His people…the 10 Commandments.

What were God’s intentions in giving these famous words? Of course, they communicate His desires for mankind, giving us instruction for life, but here are some of His broader intentions:

  1. These commandments remind us of the simplicity of the Christian life. In total, the Old Testament Law consisted of 613 commandments. Here we have 10 that serve as a summary of God’s two-dimensional plan for living. You can mentally divide these 10 into “two tablets.” The first four commandments remind us how to love God and God alone. The last six commandments point out how to love our neighbor as we relate to them.
  2. These commandments point out the impossibility of measuring up. That’s right, it is through the law that we gain an awareness of sin. By defining what the bullseye is, we understand how we have missed the mark. The God who comes through intentionally outlined His righteousness demands for us (Rom. 3:20-23).
  3. The commandments lead us to the necessity for faith in Christ. We can be so grateful that God does not leave us in a position of sin, guilt, and judgment. No, the God who comes through uses the Law to point us to our need for the grace of God, extended to us in the person of Jesus (Gal. 3:23-25). That was part of His purpose in giving us the Commandments.

The God who comes through does more than define the target. He makes every provision for all who cannot hit it!

Steve Kern

May 4: The God Who Comes Through – He satisfies our hunger

Read Exodus 16:1-35

“It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat.” (v.15b)

It had been two months and fifteen days since the Israelites had walked through the middle of the Red Sea. These people had walked straight down God’s miracle mile into liberated life apart from the Egyptians. But new life started in a desert. They’d spent their first two-and-a-half months of freedom camping out, walking from desert to desert. 

The Israelites had seen God do amazing things for them. But now they were hungry. And hunger has a way of bringing out the worst in people. It has a way of revealing true character, showing what a person is really made of. And what God’s people, the Israelites, were made of was less than stellar. They blamed Moses and Aaron for letting them starve, as if they were the providers. They forgot who’d dried up the dirt for their walk down Red Sea Lane. They lost track of who had turned the bitter water they found into the drinkable water only He could offer. Yes, hunger has a way of showing off the true state of someone’s soul and what they really think.

I wonder if that’s why God let them get so hungry before He served up the manna and quail.

I wonder if that’s why sometimes God lets us walk wilderness miles before raining down the only kind of bread that’ll satisfy our hunger. Maybe it’s the only way we’ll see who actually provides what we need for real life. Does God sometimes lead us into brokenness so we can see how much we lack, how incredibly unable we are to provide for ourselves any true kind of soul-sustenance?

These people had just walked to freedom by the leading of a God whose words made ocean water step aside, dry up, then wash the bad guys away. Only the one true God could do that. So when the manna bread came, they couldn’t deny whose hand it was that made it. Always exactly as much as they needed. Never more, never less. 

In the same way, only God can provide exactly what we need. Even when we’re walking from desert to desert. Even when we feel like we’re lost, without purpose. Even when we’re so hungry for something to satisfy that we forget who He is, God will always provide what He knows we need. And it will always be enough.

 Bria Wasson

May 3: The God Who Comes Through – He quenches our thirst

Read Exodus 15:22-27 (cf. Jn. 4 and Jer. 2:13)

In these verses the people were physically thirsty but didn’t have any water that was fit to drink.  Once again, Moses prayed and God supplied their needs by having Moses put a piece of wood into the water to make it drinkable. God took care of their physical thirst. 

However, there are more ways people can be thirsty.  There is the physical thirst, but there are also emotional and spiritual thirsts that people don’t often recognize.  There is a thirst to be accepted, to be loved, to be wanted, to be recognized.  Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount talked about people who would hunger and thirst for righteousness. With all the complaining that the Israelites were doing to Moses even after experiencing God’s miraculous power, maybe they were thirsty for something other than just water.

The woman at the well, who met Jesus, was, as the old song title says, Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places. She had been married 5 times and the man she was living with wasn’t her husband.  Since she was at the well in the afternoon instead of the morning like all the other women in the village would have been, she was probably rejected by them and was thirsty to be accepted. She probably put on a “good face” and pretended that their insults and looks didn’t hurt, but they did. She was emotionally thirsty!

Jesus saw through all of it and offered her living water that would quench her thirst, and she would never be thirsty for love and acceptance again.

Just like Moses took the piece of a tree that God had provided out in the desert to make the water sweet again, He supplied a branch off of His own family tree, His son Jesus, to quench her spiritual thirst.

And Jesus is here to quench our thirsts too, if we will let Him.

The Lyrics of the song, Come to the Well, by Casting Crowns says it all:

“I have what you need
But you keep on searchin’
I’ve done all the work
But you keep on workin’
When you’re runnin’ on empty
And you can’t find the remedy
Just come to the well

You can spend your whole life
Chasin’ what’s missing
But that empty inside
It just ain’t gonna listen
When nothing can satisfy
And the world leaves you high and dry
Just come to the well

And all who thirst will thirst no more
And all who search will find what their souls long for

The world will try, but it can never fill
Leave it all behind, and come to the well

So, bring me your heart
No matter how broken
Just come as you are
When your last prayer is spoken
Just rest in my arms a while
You’ll feel the change my child
When you come to the well”

What are you thirsty for? Be honest!  Leave it all behind and just come to the well of Living Water, take a deep drink and thirst no more!

Pat Arnold

May 2: The God Who Comes Through – He turns seas into highways

Read Exodus 14:1-31

Can’t go over it! Can’t go under it! Can’t go around it! I guess we’ll have to go through it!

This is a fun chant that I used with my kindergarteners but it might easily describe what was going through Moses’ mind when he and the thousands of Israelites were trapped between the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s army! God said, “Go through it!” Moses, being the spiritual man he was, did as God commanded, raised his rod and the waves parted and he led his charges through the dry sea bed safely to the other side. 

One of my very first memories of going to the movie theater with my grandmother was to see the movie, The 10 Commandments. I can still see the waves rolling back to both sides as Charlton Heston raised his rod with the wind blowing through his hair and beard! The impossible became possible that day! Our God is a god of possibilities! He will never leave nor forsake us, if we will only listen to His voice for guidance. He will part the hazards of your life and guide you through. He won’t always remove what is in your way but walk beside you as you go THROUGH it, coming out on the other side stronger than before.

David, in the 23rd Psalm, says, “. . . even thought I walk THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me.”  Not just into but THROUGH!

So, when you face heartaches, disease, cancer, disabilities, or any hardship, know that God is with you.   He has your hand and He won’t let go!

The lyrics of this old song say:

“God will make a way,

Where there seems to be no way.

He works in ways we cannot see.

He will make a way for me.

He will be my guide.

Hold me closely to His side.

With love and strength for each new day,

He will make a way. He will make a way!

He turns seas of trouble into highways of hope. And those highways lead you directly to Him if you will let them.”

Pat Arnold

May 1 – The God Who Comes Through: He leads by clouds and by fire

Read Exodus 13:17-22

What a sight it must have been . . . during the day a pillar of cloud and at night a pillar of fire that was so large it gave light to the entire group of Israelites. Keep in mind that this group could easily have been 2 million people when you count all the men, women and children. That would take a very big cloud and fire.

Also, it wasn’t just that God sent the cloud and fire but He was actually in the pillar leading His people.

Not only did He lead them but He led them in the way that was best for them. As they left Egypt, they were ready for battle but God took them on a longer path, around an enemy, because he knew it could be too hard for them if they faced battle right away.

 So what did the people have to do to be guided?

They just needed to keep their focus on the pillar.

 Let’s look at today. Who is guiding your life? Is it God or yourself?

Take me as an example and we will compare me leading my life vs God’s leading.

When we look at me, I am a limited human being who can only see a very small part of the past and even the present and certainly not the future. My power to affect significant change is very limited at best.

God on the other hand, knows absolutely everything past, present and future. He is sovereign which means He is in control of every little detail of all of our lives so brining about change is nothing for Him.

Also, He loves us so much, with an unconditional love, that He sent His son Jesus to die for us.

 So it’s completely clear to me that our Heavenly Father is infinitely better equipped to lead my life than I am. I can think of many times in my life that I went my way instead of God’s and it didn’t work out well at all!

So since I’ve never seen a huge pillar of cloud/fire, how does God lead us today?

I believe there are many ways and I think we should start with His word (bible). It’s like the user guide for human beings.

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path.

Psalm 119:105

 There is basic guidance for anything we will face.

 He also uses the Holy Spirit. When someone chooses to accept the free gift of forgiveness, offered through Jesus Christ, that person also has the Holy Spirit come to live inside of them. How great is that, God actually living in us. That’s even better than having God’s presence in a pillar!

 I believe God can use people to help guide us. He can even use dreams and visions.

 No matter how we get the guidance, we want to make sure it’s really from God and the best way I know to do that is to test it against His word. God would never lead us in a way that is contrary to the bible.

So how is God leading you?

 It’s so critical that we spend time with God and a big part of that time is listening. After we have listened and are convinced the guidance is from God, we need to trust and follow (obey) even when we don’t think He is leading us in “best” or easiest way.

 So please, get rid of the distractions, listen to God and act on the guidance.

Focus on our Heavenly Father the way the Israelites focused on the pillar.

 You won’t regret it!

Mike Molter

April 30 – The God Who Comes Through – He leads people out of bondage

Read Exodus 12:29-42

In the text, God is leading His people out of bondage.  The bondage is clear in this case, it’s forced labor/slavery that has been going on for centuries. It’s also clear that it takes God’s power to free them from the grip of this bondage.

Interestingly, God not only frees them but also has the Israelites “plunder” the Egyptians and they take silver and gold and clothes from their former oppressors. They didn’t take these things by force but just as a result of asking because God had already done a work in the Egyptians.

There are many ways to be in bondage. You can be in bondage to fear, to food, to anxiety, to money/possessions, to sex. The list goes on and on. It can even be someone or something that starts out as good but becomes an idol.

There was a time when I was so into classic cars that I was spending tremendous amounts of time and energy on the cars I owned. After a while, I got to the point where I felt like I was owned by the cars. In time, I started selling them and finally even sold the truck and car hauling trailer.

Occasionally, I feel like it would be nice to have one of them again but, most of the time, I just feel free!

Over the last few years, as a result of some significant health issues, I’ve had trouble with fear and anxiety. However, what has helped the most is God’s word. Here are just a few of the verses that have been so helpful to me:

10 So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10

Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—
who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, Psalm 103:2 – 3

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. I Peter 5:7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:6 – 7

14“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God[a]; believe also in me. John14:1

Sometimes we aren’t even sure what is holding us down but if we ask God He will show us:

23 Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23

When you know, take it to God and He will provide the power to break the chain of whatever is holding you down.

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline. 2 Tim 1:7

You may be afraid to give up something that you feel will make you happy but consider this:

19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Phil 4:19

He wants us to be free and not just survive but to thrive:

32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32

10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:10

Keep in mind that these promises are reserved for who have chosen to accept the free gift of forgiveness from Jesus Christ and are allowing Him to be the leader of their life. If you have not yet made that decision, I want you to know that you can be forgiven for all you have done past, present and future:

            Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved          Acts 16:31   (Trust in Jesus)

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.              I john 1:8 – 9

Either way, I challenge you to find out what has you in bondage, take it to God and let Him set you FREE!

Mike Molter