Bitter, not bitter

RE Verse reading–Exodus 1:8-22, 2:1-10 (day seven)  “They made their lives bitter. . . in all their hard labor, the Egyptians used them ruthlessly.”-v 14.  God comes to people in trouble.  This is the gospel, the good news.  Life is often not fair.  People can be cruel.  Know anyone who is bitter about life?  Only God offers a way out.  The book of Exodus is both history (Israel) and symbol (church) of God’s actions/principles that set people free from slavery and misery.  Reading it, our eyes should see His offer of grace to us.  THEY were slaves in Egypt.  WE were slaves to sin.  He sent THEM Moses.  He sends US Christ.  THEY wiped the blood of a lamb over their doors and were “passed over”.  WE trust the blood of Christ on the cross and we are “passed over” as well.  Make no mistake, this book is not only about Israel.  It is about us and God’s promise to lead us out of bitterness.

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Rejoicing in Hope

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 1:8-22, 2:1-10 (day six)

If we had never read this book before we would immediately be unsettled by the injustice against the Hebrew people; the slavery and drowning of innocents. Yet, right from the beginning we would see a glimmer of hope. From the beginning we set our hopes on a baby. We don’t know what he will do or how he will do it, but we know somehow he will right the wrongs and set the captives free. Our hearts are drawn to hope. We need hope. It is hope that pulls us into the next chapter, and not just the book of Exodus, but in our own lives.

The birth of a baby boy in Exodus 2 gives us hope in the present. The announcement reminds us that God is not blind to injustice, or our spiritual condition, or our situation. Not only does He know, but He acts; He ignites movements of abolition in the most unlikely and extraordinary places. The birth of a baby boy sets our sights on a greater historical movement of restoration and freedom, the birth of His very own Son Jesus. So, wherever you find yourself today, take hope that God is on the move and has been from the beginning to lift you up out of brokenness and bondage, to lead you to a future hope of peace and reconciliation.

Rejoice with us!

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Pray/Pause

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 1:8-22, 2:1-10 (day five)

Pause Front Logo

Today marks the beginning of Freedom Weekend.  Over a hundred teens from across the city will gather in homes for a weekend designed to gather them around God’s Word in study and community.

The theme/emphasis is “Pause”.  Research shows that with the flood of information, images, and messages that daily cross their eyes, ears, and minds, this younger generation has a tougher time focusing and attaining significant depth in their thinking and processing.  They are masters at multi-tasking.

The scripture prescribes a different kind of attention needed for spiritual thinking and growth.  “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Will you Pray for these teenagers this weekend?  Will you ask the Holy Spirit to give them a hunger to know God and to carve out moments where they set aside activity and distraction to learn and listen to the Holy Spirit through the Scriptures?

If it’s true for teens, it’s true for adults.  Will YOU Pause each day to listen, to learn, to know God ?

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Fear God

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 1:8-22, 2:1-10 (day four)
Don’t you love it when a plan comes together?  Shiphrah and Puah were in a bad predicament.  Pharoah had ordered them as Hebrew midwives to kill all of the Hebrew boys in birth.  The penalty for disobeying Pharoah would certainly be death, but scripture says in verse 1:17 that “the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them… “  Their plan was to tell Pharoah that because the Hebrew women were vigorous, they delivered before the midwives could get there.  God was good to them.  Verse 21 says, “because the midwives feared God, He established households for them.”  These ladies feared God more than man.  Do we?  How many times have we failed to share a witness with someone because we were afraid of what they might think of us?  We fear the persecution, scorn, or ridicule of man more than we fear God and His command to share the Gospel.  May we overcome our fear and be bold in our witness…I love it when a plan comes together!

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Big

Re: Verse reading—Exodus 1:8-2:10 (day three) 
“The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do.”

The saving of the lives of babies in the midst of a campaign of genocide was dangerous work in the face of the absolute power of the Pharaoh.  But these women came to the task with courage and not a little savvy.  Did they make it up as they went?  They might have felt like it at times.  Here’s what we can know: Given the existence of two powers—God and Pharaoh—one of the powers had to give, and the midwives understood that it wouldn’t be God.  With that large thought firmly in mind, they proceeded to work out what that would mean for how they lived from day to day.  We would do well to think as big.

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Growing

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 1:8-22, 2:1-10 (day two) But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread…1:12

Some of us do our best work when we face a deadline or some kind of pressure to finish. There is some kind of inborn fire that ignites when our back is to the wall and we must either succeed or fail. It is interesting that we don’t always use the same zeal when it comes to our faith. Consider the Israelites, brought from starvation to plenty through Joseph’s position and the Lord’s provision, they were now a large people group that caused Egyptian leadership to worry. As a result they were forced into slavery, forced labor. From plenty to hardship within a few generation. But rather than fade into obscurity, the people of Israel thrived and grew. Oppression brought courage, faith, and growth. They were a still a long way from the promised land, and had much to endure before their journey’s end, but they did not allow hardship to overcome them. May the same be said of us.

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In Season and Out

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 1:8-22, 2:1-10 (day one) 
“Then a new king, who did not know Joseph, came to power in Egypt.”1:8.

When Jacob’s family came to Egypt, they were in an advantageous position.  Joseph (son/brother/uncle to the clan) was in a place of power.  They enjoyed protection and favor.  200 years later, the situation rapidly changed.  With the rise of a new dynasty in Egypt, the Israelites fell from favor.  American Christians may feel a similar shift in play.  A few years ago, our faith was appreciated/protected, even by those who disagreed.  Today the winds of suspicion and criticism have blown in with chilling effect.  But God is not hindered.  Despite Egyptian opposition, He patiently and powerfully accomplishes His purposes.  Protects His people, plans the way forward, asks for their trust.  “Preach the word, be ready in season and out of season.”–2 Timothy 4:2.  Times change.  God doesn’t.  When it is popular, and when it isn’t, He calls us to trust  and obey Him.

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Morning has broken

Re: Verse reading–John 21:1-25  (day seven)
“When the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus.”–v 4. (NASV)

Today will be our last day in the book of John.  At least for a while.  Once again, we note John’s use of symbolic language.  The day was “just dawning” as the disciples encountered the risen Christ for the 7th time. (There are 10 resurrection appearances in the Bible).  John’s words are beautifully true.  A new day was breaking!  New realities and possibilities!  In this new day, the church will form, failures will be reconciled, and individual assignments will be embraced.  Are you living in this new day?  Are you aware and expectant for the possibilities of life in partnership with the Living Lord?  “Morning has broken like the first morning, Blackbird has spoken like the first bird, Praise for the singing, praise for the morning, Praise for them springing fresh from the Word.”

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The Fish We Catch

Re: Verse reading–John 21:1-25  (day six)
“Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish you have just caught.’ “–v 10.

It is a small detail.  Easy to miss in the larger story.  Jesus used the fish his disciples caught to meet the needs of the morning.  Only speculation can tell us how the “first fish” got there.  Miracle?  Preplanning?  Whatever we conclude about the Lord’s provision, He didn’t do so much that the efforts of his disciples were extraneous.  The fish they caught were necessary, useful, valued.  None should think that God “needs” our efforts.  I do believe, however, that His love for us includes us in the work of His kingdom.  We are not passive observers.  We are “God’s fellow workers“–1 Corinthians 3:9.  We are servants of Christ and fishers of men.  Inspiring to consider.  Tomorrow at worship, the Lord may say to us, “bring some of the fish you have caught.  I will use your efforts to meet needs.”

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Important Word

Re: Verse reading–John 21:1-25  (day five)

“Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?”  There is uncertainty among scholars about the word “these”.  Did “these” refer to the other disciples?  Did “these” refer to the fish, boats, and nets? Maybe the more profound answer to the clear up this question is “YES”.   What if the most important word in the question was “MORE” ?  Then we filled in the blank “do you love Me more than ______________”.

Jesus challenges that our love and devotion to Him needs to be “more” than our earthly relationships, occupation, priorities, and security.  Is it fair or wise for Him to ask/demand that loyalty?  Again the answer is “YES”!  What Jesus knows, is that loving Him MORE than ___________________, results in us becoming better spouses, parents, workers, students, friends, disciples, and church family.  We gain a clearer understanding and have constant encounters of grace, forgiveness, patience, devotion, and sacrifice.

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