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Monday, May 31, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 17:16, and he said, “The Lord has sworn; the Lord will have war against Amalek from generation to generation.”

There are battles won once for all, not to be repeated. There are battles warring like invading ants, a persistent, continual threat.

God proclaimed victory over Egypt. God promised permanent war versus Amalek.

Jesus said, “It is finished!” On the cross He vanquished sin and death. Victory, once for all. Yet it is a battle repeated with each decision an individual makes to accept or deny His truth.

Daily our lives pound with unbelief, disbelief. We battle fear for a lifetime. Yet Jesus’ outcome changes not. It is done.

“The Lord has sworn.” He is warring against Amalek in each generation, calling His people to Himself, standing in the breach.

Thank you Lord, that You fight for me. Thank you for Your victorious outcome. May I stand my ground when each skirmish hits, firm in Your conquest.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 33:11

The counsel of the Lord stands forever,

The plans of His heart from generation to generation.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 10:24,…Go, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and herds be detained.

Pharaoh knew that if Moses left the flocks and herds behind, the people would return. And his words seemed so reasonable. Leave something here so we’ll know you are returning. Compromise a little. It’s just a minor detail. Just agree to this small item and we’ll give you your request. And Pharaoh’s words were tempting. If the Promised Land doesn’t quite measure up you can always return to the security of sameness, the familiar blanket bondage gives. Retain your options.

But Lord, You don’t settle for partial. You ask for all, not bits and pieces, here and there, but everything.

Moses could not and would not compromise. He knew You had chosen Israel and called Israel to choose You. He was ready to obey Your will in full.

Accepting Your conditions can be tough for me sometimes, actually most times. Yet Your way cuts the ropes that keep me tied to Egypt. Your word guides me.

Forgive me, Lord, for only making partial commitments and giving half-hearted service to You. Free me from compromise, from lukewarm decisions. Free me to serve You with my whole being, as Moses did. Free me to stand firm on Your principles and have the courage not to settle for Egypt’s comfort.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 135:4

For the Lord has chosen Jacob for Himself,

Israel for His own possession.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 9:20, The one among the servants of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord made his servants and his livestock flee into the houses; but he who paid no regard to the word of the Lord left his servants and his livestock in the field.

The signposts were clearly marked and the speed limits progressively became slower. Our amusement turned to appreciation as we wove along an ever narrowing, wooded coastal road. When we spotted the five mile per hour sign though, we couldn’t believe it, even though the guidelines until then had been acutely accurate. We chuckled. Someone must have a sense of humor. Then as we turned the narrow corner, we instinctively braked and slowed to two miles per hour for the incredibly steep downward curve. A diligent county official had placed a precise warning. We wondered if the swath of broken trees and crushed foliage on the right were evidence of accidents for those who also didn’t believe the caution.

God gave the Egyptians clear notice. The approaching hail would be unlike any ever seen. Those who brought in people and livestock would be safe. Anyone left in the fields would perish. God gave everyone the opportunity to live, to accept His protection.

Belief-disbelief. Obedience-defiance.

The previous plagues bore true witness to God’s words. Pharaoh’s population split. Many chose to listen. Many chose to ignore. Many innocent servants and animals died because of their owner’s denial.

Lord, keep me aware of the warning signs of disbelief in my life. Instead remind me to seek Your protection and Your safety when the road becomes treacherous.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 12:6

The words of the Lord are pure words;

As silver tried in a furnace on the earth, refined seven times.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 9:16, But, indeed, for this cause I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power, and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth.

Storm winds smash into our communities blowing and battering. From branches and leaves to century old trees, debris clutters our streets. Splintered power lines emit dangers. Electrical shut-downs cripple our agendas. We camp out. We wait. We acknowledge the storm’s control.

Subject to the plague’s powerful destruction, Israel and Egypt stood in terrified awe. God’s power. Power beyond human imagination. Power beyond flood, tornado and earthquake. Power beyond comprehension.

Shown for a purpose. To proclaim God’s name throughout all the earth. “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? For Thou alone art holy; For all the nations will come and worship before Thee, For Thy righteous acts have been revealed.” Shown so that none can avoid confronting the truth of God’s power, the truth of God’s name. Shown controlled power under God’s hand. He stays His hand that the people might live.

“The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I come that they might have life, and might have it abundantly,” said Jesus.

Thank you Lord for Your gift of life. Thank you for Your power-filled words, to warn and exhort and encourage. Thank you for giving us Your name.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 72:18-19

Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel,

Who alone works wonders.

And blessed be His glorious name forever;

And may the whole earth be filled with His glory.

Amen, and Amen.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 9:5, And the Lord set a definite time, saying, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land.”

Toddlers and teenagers are notorious for pushing limits. Newly discovered mental and physical capabilities shout for exercise, exploration, experimentation. Life is exciting, challenging, timeless. Boundaries are barriers, limits are made to be broken.

To parents the limits spell security, a safe environment in which their offspring can experience the highs and lows of growing, can understand accomplishments and accept accountability.

The Lord set a specific time frame for Pharaoh, warning a pestilence on Egyptian cattle but safety for Israel. Israel’s boundaries separated and protected them, both by duration and space.

Time is in God’s hands. He holds our situations within His boundaries. He sets a definite time for us; to stretch, to nurture, to mature.

Turn my eyes, Lord, to the possibilities surrounding me. Extend my reach to new capabilities, knowing I am safe in Your secured limits.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 90:12

So teach us to number our days,

That we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 8:10, … So he said, “May it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.”

Pharaoh is disdainful of the Hebrews and their God, yet Moses graciously extends to him an offer; it will be done according to your word, on your say-so, on your time. Moses maneuvered Pharaoh into accountability. Pharaoh could not sidestep the Lord’s answer. He himself had set up the terms. Doubts, excuses, arguments swept away. Relief arrived. Pharaoh hardened his heart.

Passover. Jesus knelt before Judas and washed his feet. Jesus warned woe to the man who betrayed Him. Jesus dipped the morsel and gave it to Judas, saying, “what you do, do quickly.” Repeated opportunities for Judas to repent from his path toward betrayal. Judas departed into the night.

Pausing to look back over selfish pursuits I chose, I see now the signposts warning my paths. You do not leave us blind, Lord; promises of scripture, people to support us. You give with grace. Like Pharaoh, though, when the danger is past, my will stiffens.

Pardon me, I pray, for rejecting Your beacons. Thank you for continuing to admonish and caution me to the dangers. Keep me accountable to You, to Your light. Keep me from a hardened heart.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 19:2

Day to day pours forth speech,

And night to night reveals knowledge.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture Exodus: 7:11, Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts.

Exodus: 7:12, For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.

“Work a miracle,” Pharaoh said to Moses and Aaron. Dutiful to God’s earlier instructions, they complied. When Pharaoh’s magicians duplicated the sign, he believed himself within his rights to reject God’s authority. God’s wonder had an explanation. Pharaoh’s own people could replicate it. Never mind that Aaron’s staff swallowed up the others. Further investigation should disclose the secret. Pharaoh proved he had no obligation to relinquish his power to God.

Hands on science museums give all ages an opportunity to reproduce natural phenomena in a structured environment. A crashing tidal wave or teeth jarring earthquake can be experienced without dread. There’s a comfort to knowing such powerful forces have a definition. We retain a sense of control in the face of the unexplainable. Except the deeper we delve into scientific revelations, the deeper the awe. When we describe in biological details the process involved and potential complications of a child’s first nine months, the birth becomes even more miraculous. Beyond human comprehension. Beyond controllable boundaries.

Face to face with God’s power. Creation.

Pharaoh refused God’s reign. “Coincidence,” mankind reasons. “God-incidence,” said one pastor.

Have I settled in accepting absorbable imitations rather than recognizing Your sovereignty in my life?

Perhaps we’ve learned to make little rainbows, Lord, but none can compare to the majesty of Yours. Thank you for displaying Your signs and wonders throughout all Your creation. Thank you for working Your miracles. Thank you for life.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 77:14

Thou art the God who workest wonders;

Thou hast made known Thy strength among the peoples.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 7:5, And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.

The Egyptians did not acknowledge the Lord and when He spoke they chose to ignore Him, to continue to trust in their idols. Over the years many Israelites also chose to follow the Egyptian gods. They revered their Nile. They knew it and the blessings of harvest and life it bestowed. So they worshipped Hapi, Isis, and Khnum, among others, as guardians of their river. How then could they be sure the Lord was truly stronger and more powerful?

One by one, the Lord turned their idols of worship into symbols of disease, destruction and loathing. Plague by plague He challenged each Egyptian god. He stretched forth His hand and proved their gods false and powerless before Him, the Creator, the true source of life-giving waters.

Lord, I need You to stretch out Your hand to me too, and strip away the false idols that clutter up my days. Have I started to take Your blessings and gifts and begun to idolize them? Show me the areas where I allow my time and energy to be wasted pursuing deceptive idols in ways that keep me separated from knowing You. Lord, please bring me out from the world’s midst and set me on Your journey.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 131:3

O Israel, hope in the Lord,

From this time forth and forever.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Leaving Egypt Behind

Scripture: Exodus 6: 13, Then the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, and gave them a charge to the sons of Israel and to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt.

The Lord gave to Moses and Aaron a charge, a specific direction and a specific message to be delivered to specific people.

God gave this form of charge in limited instances in the Old Testament; to Moses and to Joshua. David gave this definition to his captains, once, and later to Solomon as he began his reign over Israel. This charge ‘enjoins’, ‘constitutes’, ‘sends with command’, says the dictionary.

An appointed task under God’s authority. Sent to put in order God’s inheritance.

“All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I command you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

An appointed church under Jesus’ authority. Sent with a message to receive God’s inheritance.

Lord, am I willing to accept the responsibilities of the cares You lay on my heart, confident that You will provide Your protection? Let me walk in the confidence of Your accomplished charge.

Psalm of Worship: Psalm 91:11

For He will give His angels charge concerning you,

To guard you in all your ways.

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