I love a good shortcut. Almost every day as I drive to work, I take a shortcut. Yet there are times in life when shortcuts are not best—when the easy way isn’t the best way.
When we dream about something we desire for the future, we want a shortcut to reach the dream. We want the money, but we do not want to do all the work. We want the title, but we don’t want to start from the bottom. We want the stuff, when we do not yet have the money to pay for it. We want the relationship, yet we do not want to make the investment.
In today’s passage, we read of the Israelites leaving Egypt, and of how God did not lead the people to take the shorter route. It’s true—sometimes shortcuts are great. Yet in life, we oftentimes have something to learn on the journey that we can only learn by travelling for a longer length of time. Suffering less is desirable, yet in suffering we often grow in our dependence on God, and our faith flourishes. Next time you have the opportunity to choose a path to take, instead of immediately jumping at the quick results, ask God what will bring you closer to Him.
“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’” – Exodus 13:17 [NIV]
Kindness is always refreshing. In this dark world, kindness is a great light that shines brightly. Paul wrote about how he had such joy and comfort from knowing of the love that was being shown to others.
Paul also recognized that kindness refreshes people’s hearts. The word that is used means “to give rest.” It means to have a pause, rest, or to take ease. Kindness allows people to be free to simply share the love. For many it is a breath of fresh air. Kindness makes life much easier, and much more blessed.
Today, share that refreshing kindness to others. Ask the Spirit to help you be a blessing to someone. Be intentional. Look out for the best interest in others. Take notice. Speak life. Hold open the door. Smile. Your kindness is refreshing. Consider how God will use whatever you do in His name to further His kingdom. That one smile could encourage someone to be bold today. That one word of encouragement could be the push that starts a fire in someone’s heart. That extra time spent being kind to someone could help someone to truly feel the love of our Father.
“Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.” – Philemon 1:7 [NLT]
When God sends the plague of flies, He says that He will make a “clear distinction” between the people. Everyone would know what people were His people and what people were not His people. The actual word used for “distinction” is “peduth,” which means division, ransom, or redemption.
Today, there should be a clear distinction of God’s people as well. You will not see this division by looking at where the flies hang out. Instead, the distinction should be something everyone visibly sees by the way a person lives. A person who is a child of God should stand out as a rebel. A person who is a child of God should not look like a person of this world. Remember, God’s people are not of this world. We should not be transformed by this world—we should be transforming the world.
Continue to shine for Jesus. Focus on what is good, pure, and lovely. Don’t allow the world to infiltrate your life, but instead, spread God’s Word through your words and your deeds. By living this way, there will be a clear distinction between you and the world. By the way you live your life, people will know that you are a child of God. By the way you live your life, people will see Jesus.
“I will make a clear distinction between My people and your people. This miraculous sign will happen tomorrow.” – Exodus 8:23 [NLT]
Jesus gave His life so that we can be free. We are free from every kind of sin. Jesus gave His life so that we can be cleansed. Because He carried all of our sins, because He paid the penalty of our sin, we are redeemed. We are cleansed by His cleansing blood. He made the atonement. He paid the price. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, we are made righteous through faith. Because of Jesus, we have the opportunity to be God’s very own people.
When God created man, He created man to live with Him. He walked with Adam and Eve before the Fall. After the Fall, God still had a heart for His very own people. With Abraham, He made covenant. He promised blessing and descendants and land. As the descendants multiplied, the Israelites were His very own people; however, they continued to go astray. Every time they fell away, God brought them back. Every time they went against God, He forgave them and showed them mercy.
Today, God wants you to be His very own. He has offered you freedom. He has offered you cleaning. He has offered you a new life. He loves you. Take the step today to reach back to the One Who always has His arms reaching towards you.
“He gave His life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us His very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.” – Titus 2:14 [NLT]
In Jeremiah 2, the words are harsh. The Lord asks what the people found wrong with God that made them go after other things. The verse says that because they went after worthlessness, they became worthless. This is blunt. This is harsh. This is difficult to swallow.
It is hard to read this truth and feel any grace. The reason the people had become worthless is because they were deep in idolatry. They could not be used by God for His glory if they were running after other things. It is difficult for you to selfishly and foolishly run toward something in place of God and be used by God for great things for His glory. At the end of the day, not only is it a choice that will be regrettable, but it is also very unfruitful.
Verse 11 makes it clear that this way of living does not profit. The people, His people (note “my people”), decided to cast aside their specialness. They were a chosen people. They cast it aside for something else. The something else was not better. Rather, this action caused them to settle for something that would lead them nowhere good, nowhere they would want to be if they knew the truth. Today, look within. Are you useful? Are you fixated on other things? Imagine what God can do through you for His glory.
“Thus says the LORD: ‘What wrong did your fathers find in me that they went far from me, and went after worthlessness, and became worthless? Has a nation changed its gods, even though they are no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which does not profit.’” – Jeremiah 2:5, 11 [ESV]
Have you ever been called a “nobody”? In this world we spend many hours trying to show people that we are somebody, that we are important, that we mean something. There are books written about how to turn your life around and go from a nobody to a somebody. There are lectures and programs built around this idea of turning your life around from being nothing to being something.
God sees things differently. Yes, we all are nobodies traveling the earth, but we each have a purpose. We each are valuable. No one is more valuable than another. We are all important. We can all be somebodies. We simply need to find our way back to God and follow our purpose, God’s awesome plan. Trust me, it is an awesome plan, a plan we cannot even fathom.
Now being a somebody does not mean you will be a millionaire or a celebrity or even find great earthly success. But it is so much better. You are a child of the King. You will have eternity to enjoy. You are forgiven. You are redeemed. You are restored. These things make you a Somebody. Without Christ, we are all forever and always nobodies, no matter how hard you work and how much time and effort is put into changing your status. In Christ alone we are Somebody.
“But down the road the population of Israel is going to explode past counting, like sand on the ocean beaches. In the very place where they were once named Nobody, they will be named God’s Somebody. Everybody in Judah and everybody in Israel will be assembled as one people. They’ll choose a single leader. There’ll be no stopping them—a great day in Jezreel!” – Hosea 1:10-11 [MSG]
God wants to be your God. Isn’t that awesome? God offers us the greatest blessing—Himself! How great is our God? How blessed are we?
In the Old Testament we read about the Tabernacle. It was God’s way of creating a way for His presence to dwell on earth in the midst of His people. Later Solomon built the Temple and God’s glory went into the Temple. Disobedience caused God’s glory to depart from the Temple (see Ezekiel 10), but God had other plans.
In John 1, we read that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (ESV). Once again God sent up a tent. The Tabernacle was back. Jesus walked the earth. After Jesus was crucified and rose again, He sent us the Advocate, the Comforter, the Holy Spirit—to dwell within us. We became the temple. And one day Revelation promises that God’s glory will fill the entire earth. He wants to be your God. How awesome is that?
“I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” – Genesis 17:7-8 [NIV]