Joshua 3

It had been forty years since the Red Sea parted and the people of Israel walked across into the freedom God had promised them. Forty years of wandering and and sometimes wondering, even though God was there to lead them all the way to the banks of the Jordan River. Forty years had passed, Moses had passed away, Joshua was now leading, but God was still there, even through the wilderness, working to bring about His promises.

The same God who parted the Red Sea to get the people out of Egypt would now demonstrate His power to get the people into the Promised Land. God told Joshua that He was going to show the people that He was with Joshua just as He was with Moses. How would He show them? Joshua 3:13 tells us what He would do, “And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the LORD, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.” Just as they did coming out of Egypt, the people walked into the Promised Land on dry ground.

God brought them into the Promised Land just as He brought them out of Egypt. Two events, forty years apart, but God’s plan was still intact. Sometimes in the Christian life, we need reminding that God’s plan is still intact and that His promises remain unbroken. Paul wrote in Philippians 1:6, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” God didn’t bring the people through the Red Sea and then see the Jordan as an impossible task, and God didn’t call you out of your sin to faith in Christ only to now look at your struggles, as long as they might have lasted, as more than He can handle. He’ll finish His good work in you just as surely He started it.

Joshua 1

Have you ever had something that you knew you needed to do, but just didn’t do it? Maybe it was procrastination or maybe just resistance but you failed to do something you needed to do. For example, some people put off paying taxes or renewing their driver’s license until the last possible minute. It’s not always that what we are failing to do is a bad thing, but for some reason we just put it off. Sometimes we need people to speak into our lives and say “just do it.” In Joshua 1:1-2 it is as if God comes to Joshua and says, “Joshua it’s time.” Look how the book of Joshua begins…

Joshua 1:1 After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, 2 “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.

There is no way that Joshua did not know that Moses had died, so it isn’t as if God is telling Joshua some breaking news. What he is saying to Joshua is, “it’s time. It’s time for you to do the job I have for you.” We could go back to the end of Deuteronomy and see where Moses had laid his hands on Joshua. Therefore we have every reason to believe that Joshua knew he was taking over for Moses as the leader of the Israelites when Moses died. However, Joshua seems hesitant. Maybe he was still grieving. Maybe he had some doubts. The text doesn’t give a reason for Joshua’s hesitancy, so we are left to guess. What is key though is God says arise and go. It’s time. In our lives, we need to listen for the same thing from God. A prompting that says go. This prompting may come through a sermon you hear or a devotion you read. It could be through someone close to you who recognizes God’s call on your life. Or it could simply be the internal prompting of the Holy Spirit that says “Go.” But however that prompting comes, I encourage you to hear the voice of the Lord that is saying “arise and go” because if he has something for you to do, it’s important for you to listen and respond. Joshua did and God used him mightily. He wants to do the same with you.

Exodus 40

In Exodus 40 we see God’s instruction to Moses on exactly how to erect the tabernacle, followed by a reiteration of these instructions while all steps are carried out. Looking back at the last several chapters, it seems that Exodus is full of instructions, specifically regarding the tabernacle. Why? What is the significance? At the end of the book we see: the tabernacle was the way for God to dwell with His people wherever they went. Look at this:

34 Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 35 And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 36 Throughout all their journeys, whenever the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the people of Israel would set out. 37 But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not set out till the day that it was taken up. 38 For the cloud of the Lord was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel throughout all their journeys.

Exodus 40:34-38

When we read through this text, we see that the the people of Israel not only did as they were told; they followed God’s guidance exactly when they were supposed to as well. Because of their response to the Lord, He was with them, as the text says “throughout all their journeys.”

God continues to dwell with His people. If you know salvation through Jesus Christ, He lives within you. Are you maintaining His dwelling place in the way that He has called you to do so? My prayer is that we continue to follow the Lord’s plan for the how and where and when; may He also be in our sight throughout all our journeys.

Exodus 34

And He said, “Behold, I am making a covenant. Before all your people I will do marvels, such as have not been created in all the earth or in any nation. And all the people among whom you are shall see the work of the Lord, for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.”

Exodus 34:10

Imagine the thoughts that must have been racing through Moses’ mind as he sat in awe and wonder while God proclaimed His intentions to renew His covenant with His people. God had just reminded Moses of His great attributes of abounding love, faithfulness, and justice. He had reminded Moses of His mercy and grace which led Moses to bow in worship as he acknowledged the stubbornness and sins of the people. Moses knew that the people of Israel were strong willed and prone to failure, but he still sought favor with the Lord as their mediator. If I were Moses, I don’t know that I’d be as apt to pursue favor for the people who continually caused me so much grief. However, Moses strove to live for the glory of God knowing that God’s covenant and blessing would set them apart as it showcased His greatness.

Instead of pushing the people away and washing His hands of their messes, God desired to form a covenant with them. This blessing wasn’t meant as a reward for the people or something for them to take personal pride in. This covenant and the things God would do through His people was meant to glorify His name. He had things in store that were greater than Moses could ever have imagined in that moment on the mountain. These things would unfold throughout the years to come as part of God’s plan. Yes, the people had moments of doubt where they wondered if God would actually hold true to his promises and covenant, but they needn’t worry, because God is faithful.

Just as God was faithful in His covenant with the Israelites, He is faithful in the new covenant through Jesus. Just as the old covenant was to bring glory to God’s name so is the new covenant that we share in as believers. We can take no pride in our salvation and most of the time are just as obnoxious as the Israelites in our complaints and questioning of God’s plan. However, God is merciful, loving, and just in the provision He made for our sinful hearts. May we have eyes to see the great and glorious things that He is doing all around us. May we strive to live for His glory. I pray that we are reminded of God’s faithfulness and that we live in peace knowing that we are made in the image of God with the purpose of serving and glorifying His name.

Exodus 32-33

Have you ever built something up so much in your mind that there was just no way for the reality to rise to the level of your expectations? Maybe you went to a restaurant for dinner, and the food was simply amazing. So, you told your family and your friends how great it was, and you looked forward to taking them with you so that you could share your experience with them. You talked it up for weeks and finally returned to the restaurant, only to find that both you and your friends were disappointed. The food was good. It was ok. An otherwise good meal just wasn’t quite what you remembered or what they expected.

Our expectations have a lot to do with whether we are satisfied in a given situation. When our expectations far outpace reality, it is a recipe for disappointment. On the other hand, when the reality exceeds expectations, we’re overflowing with excitement. When Moses said to God, “Please show me your glory,” the Lord pointed Moses both to His grace and to His glory, which was ultimately too much for Moses to behold. The reality is that God’s grace and glory are always more than we can comprehend. He always exceeds expectations.

Ephesians 3:20 says that God “is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” The missionary Willliam Carey once said, “Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God.” We have a God whose ability always exceeds our expectations. As you pray, what are you asking God to do? What are you expecting Him to do? To put it another way, if God instantly answered every prayer you’ve been praying, how would the world change? How would your life change? How would the lives of others be transformed? Let’s remember that we pray to the One who is able to do far more than we can ask or imagine. And then, let’s pray and live accordingly.

Exodus 25-26

I love a good plan. I love the details. I love the logistical challenges and puzzles that must be solved. When I am excited about something, I can pour huge amounts of time and energy into developing a plan to make it happen. For me, the detail of the plan usually corresponds to the priority of what I’m planning. The more important something is to me and the more passionate I am about it, then the more detailed the plan will be.

What we have seen clearly from creation on is God’s persistent desire to dwell with His people. It is a high priority, and the level of detail in His instructions for the tabernacle reflect that. God describes a tabernacle that would point to His holy presence in the midst of His people. The plan reflects the priority, and if that is true, then we can be encouraged as we read every intricate detail of God’s plan to dwell with the people He loves. We can also be encouraged because we know how far God’s plan to dwell with His people would go. The Son of God would become flesh and dwell among us so that He could rescue us from sin to dwell with Him for all of eternity. So, as you read Exodus 25-26, give thanks for the detail of God’s plans and for His presence in your life.

Exodus 20:1-21

Most people do not like rules. Well, at least rules that they have to follow. We might like imposing rules on others, but we typically rebel against rules that we have to follow. It starts when we are very young and continues as we get older. When one is young they don’t like the rule that you have to eat all your vegetables in order to get dessert. In the teen years, the dreaded curfew comes along. As adults, who likes a speed limit? No matter what the rule we seem to want to disobey. But here is something we all really know, rules are for our protection. We want the child to eat vegetables because vegetables are filled with the vitamins and minerals that a child needs to help them grow and develop properly. Curfews are meant to keep teens from being out when most of the bad stuff happens. Speed limits are meant to prevent wrecks, including the injuries that can come with them. Rules truly are meant for good.

In Exodus 20, we find the most famous set of rules–The Ten Commandments. I have every reason to believe that God first knows that they are for our good. If you obey them, there is much trouble that you can avoid. However, the Ten Commandments really have a greater purpose. They are meant to show us God’s grace. In verse 20, Moses shares a great truth with the people when they find themselves trembling in the presence of God who has just given the Ten Commandments. Look at what he said. Moses said to the people, “Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.” We often think of the Ten Commandments as setting us up for failure. We often view them as things for God to punish us for. However, that is not the case at all. They are meant to help us not sin. In truth, all these things were problems before God gave the list. He brought them to our attention because people can have the tendency to not see the dangers. People easily covet and don’t see how quickly and easily coveting turns into wanting something so badly that they will cheat to get it. Or people find it easy to tell a lie and do not see that it can destroy lives. God gave us the Ten Commandments for our good. He was protecting us from ourselves. The Ten Commandments are instruments of grace.

Let me encourage you today to be thankful that God cares enough to give you directions that protect you from the danger ahead, instead of complaining about what God has asked you to do. Take time to thank God for His grace.

Exodus 14

2020 has played out like the plot points of a thriller-suspense novel with jaw-dropping twists popping out from every which way. 

First, it’s wildfires in Australia. The death of Kobe Bryant–a basketball legend. Then a global health pandemic that also shook the economy and held us captive in our homes. And then racial, political & civil unrest, earthquakes, hurricanes…and, well, let’s pray that’s all.

It’s like this year keeps getting worse. 

Personally, our family has experienced a lot of death, and throw loss into a year like 2020 and it can be a real dumpster fire. I’m reminded of a situation in Exodus 14 that plays out eerily similar to our current life circumstance.

Moses is leading the Israelites out of Egypt after four hundred years of slavery. But it wasn’t an easy or joyous journey. Prior to Exodus 14 we see Pharoah increasing the Jewish people’s workload after Moses demands Israelites to be freed. Not cool. Then we see God pelting Egypt with plagues in order to force the Pharaoh to set the Israelites free. The Jewish people experienced most of the plagues. Not cool at all. And now in Exodus 14 the Israelites are being hunted down by Pharaoh and his army. They are faced with either drowning in the sea too wide and deep to cross, or being slaughtered. Things couldn’t get worse. 

We get that. We may feel like things can’t get worse right now.

But here’s the thing–God shows up in moments like these. When problems are too big to solve–God can. 

What if God puts an Exodus 14 sized problem in our life on purpose? What if God put 2020 in our lives on purpose? 

He did. But why? 

Three things that I want to call out:

1: Check out Exodus 14:31. God says: 

“Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.”

God will put “problems” in our life so that we can see his power and learn to follow him, and to trust him. 

2: Check out Exodus 14:18: God says:

“And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gotten glory over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”

God will put problems in our life so that others can see His glory. 

3: Remember Romans 8:28 from a few weeks ago. 

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

God will put problems in our life in order to work them out for the good–of those that love him and are called according to his purpose. 

Nobody ever said the faith road would be easy. You must first love God before you are able to have eyes that see Him working ALL things for His glory. 

So whether it’s Exodus 14 or the year 2020, it’s all for the Glory of God.

Blessings. 

Exodus 12

I find historical studies fascinating and beautiful to explore. Examining the way events of the past have unfolded and how those events subsequently shaped the present reality is something that brings me joy. Whether it’s looking back on my own personal history, the history of the church, or the history of our nation, there are always lessons to be gleaned. This passage of Scripture is one of those texts that showcase God’s power and sovereignty. It paints a beautiful picture of God’s redemptive plan for a people plagued with a sin problem that they are powerless to solve. It speaks toward a spotless Lamb who is provided as the ultimate sacrifice. Though there were many pages of history that seemed at the time to be contradictory to God’s plan, His plan has remained unbroken.

God called the Israelites who were brought out of Egypt to observe the Passover Feast with the generations to come as they remembered how God provided them with protection from the tenth plague and rescued them from slavery. Though God’s people showed a penchant for straying from His ways and faced difficulty over the course of their history, they were to continue remembering and celebrating what God had done. God was faithful to His people even when they weren’t faithful in following His guidance. God was faithful even when events were unfolding in ways that showed the sinful nature of His people. God had a plan for His people so long ago and His plan remains today.

We may not be living in a hostile country as slaves to the government or required to make a hasty escape across the wilderness. We may not be called to live through plagues or find sacrificial lambs. However, we do live in a world broken by sin and in need of redemption. Thankfully God’s plan is intact. He has graciously provided Jesus as the sacrificial lamb to pay the penalty for our sin. If we have chosen to follow Him, He has redeemed us and adopted us into His family. He has blessed us and called us His own, that we may go out and make disciples and glorify His name. Let’s look back on the pages of history not with calloused hearts, but with eyes that see God’s handiwork. Let’s look around and rejoice in the redemption that we see. And finally, let’s look ahead. Look ahead and know that God’s plan is still unbroken, Jesus will be returning, and we are called to proclaim His greatness.

Exodus 7-11

[5] The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.

Exodus 7:5

When LeBron James joined the Miami Heat in 2010, he made a bold prediction–He wasn’t there to win a championship or two or three…or even seven. By joining forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, he was putting the rest of the NBA on notice that he intended not just to win but to do so in historic fashion. Looking back ten years later, the Heat were certainly able to achieve greatness in the coming years…just not quite at the level LeBron predicted. By the time he left the Heat in 2014, they had won just two world championships. That is a remarkable accomplishment, but it was still a long way from the seven or more championships he predicted before the team had played its first game together.

Before the Lord sent the first of ten plagues upon Egypt, He made a bold declaration–the Egyptians would know that He is the Lord. Yet, every time Moses would relay the Lord’s call for Pharaoh to let the people go and every time a plague would come, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. The same pattern played out nine times…but then, things changed.

We might be prone to hyperbole at times, but when God said the Egyptians would know that He is the Lord when He brought the people out, that’s exactly what He meant. It would be as the Lord said, and it will be as the Lord has said, “…at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11). Not one, not two, not three, not four…every tongue will one day confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Let us pray today that the hearts of those around us will be softened to receive the truth that Jesus Christ is Lord.