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

January 17 – Gospel Readthrough – Matthew 19

Read Matthew 19:1-30

When it comes to winning the favor of others, what bullet points are on your resume?

The resume of the man who came to Jesus in verse 16 of this chapter certainly had a number of impressive points. First of all, there was his age. He was a young guy (v. 22). Our culture today values youth and the energy that is so often associated with it. Secondly, he was moral (vv. 18-20) . . . at least in his own estimation and perhaps from the perspective of others. You wouldn’t find his picture hanging in the post office as “wanted.” Thirdly, he was wealthy (v. 22). Money certainly impresses. For many, riches are an indication of doing something right. In fact, even the disciples in Jesus’ day marveled at the thought that it is difficult for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. They, too, were apparently impressed by this man.

But this man, who was likely deemed a success among his contemporaries, walked away disappointed from his encounter with the Lord. Why is that?

While man looks at the outward appearance, God looks at the heart (1 Sam. 16:7). Maybe the man had never murdered, but murder was more than an action in that it included an attitude of the heart (Matt. 5:21-26). Perhaps he had never been intimate with another person who wasn’t his spouse, but adultery included glances and thoughts (Matt. 5:27-30). Omnisciently, Jesus understood that this man’s greatest point of vulnerability was found in his possessions and resources. These had become idols that he was unable to subordinate and surrender to God. Indeed, the kingdom of heaven is like a treasure in a field, for which one sells everything to possess (Matt. 13:44).

In some ways, then, a person’s spiritual resume is measured less in terms of possessions and performances that might impress others. Instead, it is measured in terms of surrendering and following Jesus.

What is it that you are pursuing? Is it the applause of other people who might look at you and say, “He/she sure is successful!” Or is it the approval of heaven where no sacrifice is too great and no path for following Jesus is too difficult?

Steve Kern

December 9 – Open Letters – Grief

Read Matthew 7:24-28

Dear Storms of Grief,

What a broad spectrum of life you cover. You’ve touched many, if not all lives. Sometimes you sweep over me like a flash flood. Sometimes you creep in slowly like a thunderstorm… low rumbles bearing witness of what is to come. Yet, even the foreknowing of your coming does not lessen your impact. You take on many forms… the death of a loved one… a circumstance beyond our control. Different forms, yet, you remind us that life is beyond us, BUT NOT beyond GOD. I am actually (only a little) thankful for you. Because, when you enter the life of a believer, you remind them of the goodness of God. Just as the darkness makes the light’s glow much more apparent, you make God shine even more.

Matthew 7:24-28 talks about storms. There’s even a childhood song written about it, that I can so easily recall!

The wise man built his house upon the rock… and the rains came tumbling down… the rains came down as the floods came up… but the house on the rock stood firm! …So build your house on the Lord Jesus Christ… the blessings will come down as your prayers go up… so build your house on the Lord!”

Thank you, Storms, for teaching me that, even though you may seem to knock me down, in my heart I can stand strong on the rock of my Lord! And, Matthew 8:23-27 reminds me that Jesus Christ has power over the storms! AND, that He walks on stormy waters, in Matthew 14:22-32!

Thank you for reminding me of the power of God.

Thank you for reminding me to cling to Him.

Though some days I might wish I could control certain circumstances, thank you for bringing me to rest in the arms of God… tears, anger, confusion, exhaustion and all.

Thank you for reminding me of HIM.

Though losing someone dearly loved OR feeling life spin out of control are real feelings, the Truth of God’s stability is even MORE real. I can rest in TRUTH. I can rest in the knowledge that God’s “got the whole world in His hands” yet He knows the tears I cry and will hold me through them. (Psalm 56:8) In the end, to Him be the glory always!

December 8 – Open Letters – Rejection

Read 1 Peter 2:4-8

Dear Rejection,

You managed to steal some time in my life that I will never get back.  You ruled my heart in middle school when I didn’t get invited to ‘that party’.  You tore at my identity when I heard adults talking about how bad my parents were.  You even entice me daily when I open social media to a photo of close friends doing things together, knowing I wasn’t invited.  You almost took me to the point of no return when I experienced the ultimate rejection – in the most sacred of relationships.

You will never again have the last say in my life.

Before becoming a Christ follower, I held on tightly to how you saw me.  If I’m honest, you ruled my life.  Surrendering my life to Jesus changed all of that.  Not immediately, but over time, as I spent more and more time with Him.  God’s Word teaches me in 2 Corinthians 5:17 that I am made new in Him.  When I look to Him first, He never fails me.  Where I have failed is each time I resort back to my old ways, instead of turning to the promises in God’s Word, I allow you to have a foothold in my life.

Rejection, you reveal – you clearly show me – what is most important in my life – Is it more important to allow you to steal my joy or to show the world the love I have in Jesus?

Rejection, you refine – God allows you to happen to refine me into something much, much more for His future plans.

Rejection, you can lead to revelation – God knows my future, He holds it in the palm of His beautifully scarred hand.  I believe His plan for me is perfect.  He may take me through some of your darkness to make my light shine even brighter for Him.

Rejection, you are going to happen, as this is a very fallen world.  However, 1 Peter 2:4-8 beautifully explains to me how my reaction to you changes everything.  Peter said it is often the stone that the builders reject that becomes the very thing that God builds up.  I’m clinging to that.  What you meant to harm me, God will use for my good.

Rejection, you do not have the last say in my life.  

Jesus does.