Monthly Archives: August, 2016

Watch Who You Keep Close

The Bible again and again mentions not making treaties with others. It might seem strange to us because we don’t usually go around making treaties. When we thinking of treaties, we think of government alliances. So what can we glean from all of these verses that tell us to “make no treaties”?

These alliances were seen as being bad because of the consequences the people would face for aligning with these people who did not worship God. The people would eventually lead God’s people to worship other gods. God’s people were to be set apart, to be holy. The people were to be a chosen people. If the people had a close relationship with those who did not follow God, they too, would not follow God. Time and time again, we have seen how the people you surround yourself with makes a big impact on your life.

Applying this to your own life doesn’t mean never being around non-believers. We are called to be out in the world, shining a light. We cannot isolate ourselves. However, we need to be careful who we keep close. Our inner circle should be strong God fearing people. Our close relationships should be with those who love God and will encourage us to love God and love His people. Keep people close who will empower you to live for Jesus, who seek your very best.

“Make no treaties with them or their gods.” – Exodus 23:32 [NLT]

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Renewal

As I study Exodus, I am preaching about Genesis. We just finished looking at the Creation story. As you review each day of Creation, you finally reach the seventh day. Rest. I love how God built this great rhythm of work and rest into His creation. This rhythm continues throughout the Bible, and today’s verse is one of these continuations.

God tells His people that the land needs renewal. As I take my morning walks, I often take note of the small things that I wouldn’t see rushing throughout my day. I look around the neighborhood, at the different gardens and flowers. I consider the different seasons, the way the growth patterns work. There is great rhythm in creation, and with it there is renewal that God designed within His creation.

We also need renewal. We need to have time to rest and time to renew ourselves in the Lord. Part of this means being intentional with your time. We have different seasons of our lives, just like there are different seasons of a calendar year. We have seasons of challenge, seasons of loss. We have seasons of growth and seasons of change. Each season is different, but each requires rest and renewal. More importantly, in each season we need the Spirit of God to lead us through, to mold us and grow us for the next season.

“But let the land be renewed and lie uncultivated during the seventh year. Then let the poor among you harvest whatever grows on its own. Leave the rest for wild animals to eat. The same applies to your vineyards and olive groves.” – Exodus 23:11 [NLT]

Stop and Help

In Exodus 23, we read a lot about the commands of the Lord. Some of the commands might seem foreign to us. Do you usually see a “donkey of someone who hates you (that) has collapsed under its load”? Most people do not even know someone who owns a donkey.

Even so, we can glean something from these commands. In today’s verse, we can note that in our culture today, this would be like seeing someone who hates you with a broken down car at the side of the road. Do you go on by or do you stop and help? Do you care?

I’ve been considering that question a lot lately. God wants us to care. If we love God, we should love people like He loves people. He commands it! If we have a heart for God, it is a heart that feels for others. If we don’t care, if we have a heart issue, that can be helped by the Holy Spirit. Allow the Spirit to work on you from the inside out. Pray about it. If you care for only some people, but there are others you disregard, there’s still a disconnect. The “stop and help” command does not change from one person to the next. Today, look inward. When you pass someone with a broken down donkey (or car), do you walk by?

“If you see that the donkey of someone who hates you has collapsed under its load, do not walk by. Instead, stop and help.” – Exodus 23:5 [NLT]

All Alone

Jethro gave his son-in-law some great advice. When he saw Moses before the people all day, he asked what really was being accomplished. Moses was getting worn out by handling everything all day. This would eventually wear the people out as well. We aren’t meant to handle everything alone, nor to do everything. Jethro shared with Moses the importance of delegation.

I have always been a person who likes to take things on; I love a good challenge. But God has shown me that I was meant for specific things, and this is the same for you. Each person is capable of greater things through Christ; however, we are not promised that we can withstand an impossible work schedule. Philippians 4:13 doesn’t say that He’s going to provide strength for us to do things we aren’t meant to be doing. From the very beginning, God displayed the importance of rhythmic balance in life- time for movement and time for rest. If you take on everything, if you live your life as a “yes person,” you will wear out and you will wear out the people around you. If you don’t allow others around you to help, you are not following God’s design for the body of Christ to be fulfilled in your life. Each of us fit perfectly together when we each are doing what we’re made to do in harmony with our brothers and sisters.

Today, take time to consider your home life, work life, and church life. Look at your schedule. Are you doing too much? Do you have time for rest? Are you taking on things that others could be doing? Whenever you say “yes” to something, it takes away from another person’s opportunity to do that activity and grow. You can take away the possibility of someone serving in an area because you take their spot. Also consider who you are mentoring. Who are you investing in, to share your wisdom, to encourage the next generation? If you are keeping it all for yourself, what legacy are you leaving? We are to be planting seeds, not harboring them. Remember friends, loving people includes seeking out the best for them. A huge part of this is encouraging and empowering them to do what God created for them. This glorifies God.

“When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, ‘What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?… You’re going to wear yourself out–and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself… They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.’” – Exodus 18:14, 18, 22-23 [NLT]

Heard about Everything

When Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came for a visit, he had “heard about everything God has done.” This verse isn’t a verse people usually post as the big motivational verse. This isn’t the life-changing verse for most people. But look at it closely. This man had heard what God did for Moses and the Israelites. He heard. To hear, someone must have shared. Not only was someone sharing, but they were sure to mention that “the LORD had rescued them from Egypt.”

This verse speaks volumes about what we should be speaking about with others—how our gift of gab or our social media savvy can help point people to Jesus. Someone who wasn’t able to see how God moved in mighty ways to rescue His people, still heard about what had happened. People gave God the glory. People spoke of the great things God had done. People heard about everything from those willing to share their testimony.

Today, understand that you have a great testimony to share. You might think it’s not as grand as the parting of the Red Sea. Don’t overthink things my friends. Every person has a testimony; each testimony is important. John ended his book to tell us that the world could not contain all that could be written about the works of Jesus (John 21:25). We each have a part to share. Our testimony is a blessing. Our testimony is a gift. Our testimony needs to be shared. Share today. Remember your testimony is not only meant to be kept in your head to remind you of how God acted, but to share with others who desperately need to meet Jesus.

“Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, heard about everything God had done for Moses and his people, the Israelites. He heard especially about how the LORD had rescued them from Egypt. – Exodus 18:1 [NLT]

The Lord is My Banner

In Exodus 17, after the defeat of the Amalekites, Moses builds an altar and named it Yahweh-nissi, which means “the LORD is my banner.” This may seem strange for us to embrace personally, unless we have a good understanding of a banner. When we think banner, we think of something posted at a convention or bazaar.

Think of a banner as the flag taken into battle. To the army, the flag is a great symbol. This shows the side of who you are fighting. This is a symbolization of strength and security. If you are defeated, the flag is taken. Think of capture the flag. The flag is also a place to rally. One would return to the flag, the rally point, after battle. Consider a sporting event, where the individual teams or schools are represented at different rally points. A person knows where to find their teammates when they find their flag. The banner is also lifted high. This is important to the battle against the Amalekites. Remember, as long as Moses raised the banner high, the Israelites were winning. Lifting the flag high was a great symbol against the Amalekites. It showed all that it was in fact the Lord fighting this battle—He was bringing victory for His chosen people.

What can we take away from this? How is the Lord our personal Banner? He is our strength and our security. It is at His altar that we can fall and find comfort in His strength and His security. As well, it is at His altar that we find safety—He is our rally point. We are meant to run to Him. Just as Moses lifted high the banner during the battle, so we lift Jesus high. We lift our hands to Him. We raise our voices to Him. When we think upon these things, it is then that we can embrace Yahweh-nissi. The LORD is my banner.

“Moses built an altar there and named it Yahweh-nissi (which means “the LORD is my banner”).” – Exodus 17:15 [NLT]

A Close Look at Home

This morning, Max was frightened by my daughter, who happened to be in the laundry room doing something she does often. The dog never realized that Jess left her bedroom and went to the laundry room to retrieve her clean clothing. When we walked downstairs to get ready for our morning walk, Max heard someone in the laundry room, and went into attack mode and proceeded to bark while in a full run towards the room. When he realized it was Jess, he calmed down.

We need to always be on guard, especially when we are in our own homes. Sometimes we get ourselves comfortable at home, and we do not see what is lurking about that could lead us to sin. We don’t see what is happening to our own family members. We are so focused on the outside-the-home stuff, that we miss what is right under our nose. This verse written in the letter to Timothy speaks about financial provision for the family. It is an important responsibility to make sure the financial needs of the family are met. Let us remember that spiritual needs are even more important.

Today, remember that you need to be intentional at home. How is your family? How is your spouse? How are your children? How are your roommates? Whoever lives with you – aim to be invested in their wellbeing. Be proactive. You may not see what is even happening because you are looking elsewhere. Family is important. The book of Genesis speaks a lot about family loyalty. We need to first take care of ourselves and our family, and then reach out into the world. Ask the Spirit to reveal anything that needs addressed in your home. Listen closely. Act with wisdom and love. Allow God to grow your family. Then step out together to serve in love.

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” – 1 Timothy 5:8 [NLT]

Just Enough Needed

When the Lord provided the manna and the quail, He was specific about what should be gathered. Each person was to gather what was needed. They were able to gather for six of the seven days and it would provide for the entire week. The key was for each household to “gather as much as it needs.”

God provides us all we need to do what He has called us to do in life (Philippians 4:19).  He gives us ALL we need. We have the choice as to how we will live our lives. We can live wanting more than enough or we can live satisfied with the just enough in life.

This passage isn’t saying that we won’t be given more than enough. This passage is saying we should be satisfied with the just enough. It meets our needs. In life, we don’t need the more but sometimes we hope for the more. Trying to get more than enough can often times keep us from the joy and peace that God has for us. When we are left wanting more, we do not praise the Lord for His blessings. Thank Him today for His provision.

“These are the LORD’s instructions: Each household should gather as much as it needs. Pick up two quarts for each person in your tent.” – Exodus 16:16 [NLT]

Glory

The Israelites were quick to complain about God when they didn’t have their eyes on food. Just after God brought them out of Egypt, they forgot what He rescued them from, because they were hungry. Where was the food? We would be better off back in Egypt.

Even though the Israelites were complaining, God showed His glory to them. He didn’t withhold His glory. How awesome is that?!? He graciously allowed them to “see the awesome glory of the LORD in the cloud.”

Have you ever seen God’s glory? If you haven’t, you haven’t been looking. Despite each of us being sinners, He allows us to see His glory. Despite us often being ungrateful, He allows us to see His glory. Today, thank Him for His gracious ways. Thank Him for allowing us to experience Him—allowing us to see His glory!

“And as Aaron spoke to the whole community of Israel, they looked out toward the wilderness. There they could see the awesome glory of the LORD in the cloud.” – Exodus 16:10 [NLT]

Not Against Us

The Israelites were not happy campers after they left Egypt. The people continued to complain as they went through the Wilderness. The people were hungry and considered how better they would be if they had only stayed in Egypt, because there was food available.

The people went up to Moses and began to complain about their current situation. They were hungry. They were frustrated. They complained. The Bible notes in this verse that the complaints were not against Moses—the complaints were against God. Take nothing personal. They are upset with God.

Many times people get frustrated with their current situation. They lash out at you. But they aren’t necessarily upset with you. They are upset that their plan isn’t aligning with God’s plan. They complain because they only see the present; they don’t see what God has prepared for them. They grumble because they believe the provisions of God aren’t enough. They want more. Keep speaking God’s Truth in love. The battle is His!

“In the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, because he has heard your complaints, which are against him, not against us. What have we done that you should complain about us?” – Exodus 16:7 [NLT]