June 10 – Wait, who? – Jethro

Read Exodus 18:1-27

The modern stereotype of in-laws is not a particularly favorable one. They are often portrayed as annoying, controlling, and invasive. According to the stereotype, the son or daughter-in-law tolerates the in-laws at best or disregards them at worst. Not so in the relationship between Jethro and Moses.

But the takeaway principles from today’s reading extend far beyond that of in-law relationships. There is so much more than that in this chapter. In fact, if you feel overworked or as if you don’t have enough time in the day, there is something here for you. If you are wondering how to multiply yourself, your influence, or your ministry, this chapter offers great insights.

As Moses and the Israelites approached Mt. Sinai, father-in-law Jethro joined them. He heard the stories of God’s faithful delivery of His people as they faced impossible opposition, and he rejoiced. But the next day, he watched Moses, his son-in-law, in action. He watched as people stood around waiting their turn to present their grievance. He saw how Moses delivered verdicts over interpersonal disputes…and that from morning till evening.

“What you are doing is not good” (v. 17). That was Jethro’s assessment of the approach Moses was using. Operating under the existing plan, Moses was going to exhaust himself and frustrate God’s people. Instead, according to Jethro, Moses should have been teaching people God’s ways. He should select others to settle the disputes.

Correction requires humility, doesn’t it? Moses possessed that. He was able and willing to take his father-in-law’s advice that there was a better way. As a result, he was able to give himself more completely to the specifics of his primary calling.

In what facets of your life could you apply this “Jethro principle”? Are you a bottle neck to progress for your work or in your family? Is the fruitfulness of your ministry minimized because of your desire to have your hand in everything?

Don’t miss out on the blessing of inviting, equipping, and releasing others who can do the work. This often has the added benefits of offering you additional time and energy to invest elsewhere. And, you may see others flourish as they find a renewed sense of purpose.

Steve Kern

December 2 – The Songs We Sing – “Holy Ground”

Read Exodus 33:18; John 11:40; 2 Corinthians 4:6; John 8:36; Romans 8:1-39

Listen to Holy Ground by Passion https://youtu.be/xU771D5AYWE

In your time of worship, what do you see? Is there a visual that comes to your mind? Is there truth that pops out as the words fill your heart, mind and mouth? For me, it is a visual of walking into the Lord’s throne room and standing before Him, surrendering all I am and all I have.

It is my honor and pleasure and blessing to be a worship leader for our church. Every morning that I am on the worship team, I pray that the Lord’s will and truth shine brighter for all of us. That we can approach with open hands and surrender everything that is holding us back from being the person He has created us to be. I pray that we can go before the Lord, stand in front of Him, and remember the place where He met us, remember all He has done for us, and worship with the end in mind.

This song, you could probably say, is my heart’s song. The words, the truth it brings forth is a song that the Lord has used over and over again to remind me that He is accessible, that He has won this war. There is victory because Jesus changes everything from the inside out.

Here as we wait
Seek Your face
Come and make Your throne upon our praise
Here in this place
Have Your way
The moment that we see You, we are changed

Show us Your glory
Show us Your glory
In wonder and surrender we fall down
Show us Your glory
Show us Your glory
Let every burning heart be holy ground

Can you picture Moses? These words remind me, that when God shows up, nothing looks the same. That unlike ancient Israel, we are able to be in the Lord’s presence and not be struck to the ground by the power. He welcomes us in and changes our perspective, our wants and desires, and we become the holy ground He resides in to use as we walk this life.

Here, not by power
Not by might
But only by the cross we come alive
Here, we’re undone
Overcome
By heaven’s love revealed before our eyes

We were once the walking dead. Then Jesus came and brought us back to life and disrupted our lives in the most beautiful way. With Jesus, we are able to see with hope and light in mind. We can see what is to come.

Chains fall
Fear bow
Here, now
Jesus, you change everything
Lives healed
Hope found
Here, now
Jesus, you change everything

 I think this bridge sets the tone and realization of the power that Jesus has.

He has broken the chains that bind us.

He has replaced fear with surrender, knowing He is in control and is good.

He has healed countless lives from addiction, loss, wandering and heartache.

He is our HOPE.

Listen to this song again and I challenge you to approach the Lord with open hands in surrender.

I challenge you to give up the things that bind you.

I challenge you to focus on the truth that He loves you and is good.

Praise Him for He is good.

He changes everything.

Kelly Lawson

October 8 – Attributes of God – Jealousy

Read Exodus 34:10-14

“Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” (v.14)

His is a perfect jealousy. Untainted by sin, the one true and holy God calls Himself Jealous and mankind struggles to catch on.

We see the word ‘jealous’ and picture angry spouses and possessive friends whose doubts have turned them into green monsters. We picture resentment that demands more of what cannot be had. That’s what comes to mind when we think of someone jealous, not the God who named Himself as such.

But the God called Jealous is also called Love. He’s called Holy and Faithful and Merciful, and His jealousy for His people is of an entirely different sort.

The kind of jealous we know comes from a fear that maybe we aren’t enough, an uncertainty that we’ll ever have enough to fully satisfy us. But the jealousy of God stems from the secure truth that only He is enough, only He can ever give enough, only He will ever provide everything we need for real life.

So when God made a covenant with the Israelites, He made sure they understood they would only come to Him for worship. Any other god would leave them wanting. He called Himself Jealous because He wanted the whole of their affection and would take nothing less than whole-hearted followers.

That same God has made a covenant with us, His followers, through His Son’s blood. He is still called Jealous. He wants nothing less than everything we are because He knows that devotion to anything or anyone but Him is not real life.

The God called Jealous wants us to only know real life and He knows the only way to real life is being all-in with Him. No side glances at other could-be loves. No flirting with pretend life-givers, the things making like they’re going to fill us up but fall desperately short. Only Him. Only all-in with the one true God called Jealous.

Is there anything in your life that has caused your gaze to wander from truly worshiping the one true God called Jealous?

Bria Wasson

September 6 – The God Who Comes Through – Dwells Among Us and Lives With 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 humanities 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

September 5 – The God Who Comes Through – Revealing Glory and Transforming People

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

Going back to school in the midst a pandemic is tough.  I have been volunteering and subbing in a school since my retirement 8 years ago so I know many of the students who attend there.  We have 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 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

September 4 – 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’ 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

September 3 – The God Who Comes Through – Knowing of 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

September 2 – 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 sea 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

September 1 – The God Who Comes Through – He Quenches Our Thirst

Read Exodus 15:22-27 (cf. John 4:1-26 and Jeremiah 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 of 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

August 31 – The God Who Comes Through – Turning 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 kindergartners but it might easily describe what was going through Moses’ mind when he and the hundreds of 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 does the impossible! 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 though 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