Exodus 9-12 (NLT)

Discover His heart: Our merciful God offers us many opportunities to turn our hearts towards Him.

I’ve known some stubborn people in my life, but none the likes of Pharaoh. After the snake-swallowing event with Moses, I’m reasonably sure that I would have given in and let God’s people go! Bloody water, frogs, gnats, flies, dead livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness – obviously Pharaoh wanted to keep his cheap labor.

For a long time, I didn’t understand the scripture that said God hardened Pharaoh’s heart because this would definitely put Pharaoh at a disadvantage even if he had wanted to let God’s people go. However, I have come to understand that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened by God’s actions. I know many individuals who experience trouble in their lives because of their sins; and in blaming God for it, their hearts are hardened towards Him and His people. Jesus came to soften their stony hearts and bring healing and deliverance.

@ Exodus 12
The instructions the Lord gave to Moses regarding the Passover dinner preparations and the blood on the doorposts were detailed and non-negotiable. God was about to deliver from bondage all those who followed His instructions to the letter, and through their obedience, the sons of Israel were spared. “Pharaoh and all his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night, and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died.”(30) With the death of his nation’s firstborn sons and the wailing of his people, stubborn Pharaoh finally acquiesced – Israel was free to leave.

The story of the Passover dinner paints an interesting picture. “These are your instructions for eating this meal: Be fully dressed, wear your sandals, and carry your walking stick in your hand. Eat the meal with urgency, for this is the Lord’s Passover.” (12:11) Dressed for dinner! How appropriate! With the wailing of the mourning Egyptians in earshot, the Israelites were told to dress for dinner and eat quickly as if ready to leave at any moment. And they did.

I view the church today in somewhat the same position. We are dressed for dinner with our lamps full, with His blood on our heart’s door and waiting for the coming of the bridegroom. We are expecting to leave at any moment! But within earshot, if we really listen, we hear the wailing. We hear the wailing of the lost souls of our world expressed in so many different ways, needing deliverance too.

The blood on the doorpost was only for the Israelites, but it was replaced at Calvary by the blood of the perfect lamb, the perfect sacrifice, and this blood is for everyone! How can we ignore their wailing, their cries for help? Better we roll up the sleeves of our dinner dress, seek out the lost and bring them to the table. Maître d’? Table for….all!

Moving Forward: With a soft heart this day, I listen for the wail, the cry of the lost, and invite them to come and dine with me.

Tomorrow @ I Samuel 26-31

Genesis 24-27 (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  His Word encourages us to live a righteous life to avoid the many consequences of sin

Tucked in between Christmas and Easter on the holiday calendar is Valentine’s Day, a day spent enjoying and celebrating those we love.  More sugary chocolate treats will be given as gifts and consumed than any other day of the year outside of Halloween.  As the saying goes, “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we diet!”

Sugar!  Who doesn’t like sugar!  Even now I look across the room to my kitchen and spy my glass sugar canister with the sun hitting it just right and each sweet grain sparkling in its rays.  I’ve known a few individuals in my life who care little about sweets and can pass up a sugary dessert without batting an eye.  I’m not sure what planet they’re from, but I’m certain it’s a miserable place.  While sugar seems rather benign in nature, it does hold an addictive property to where our appetites require more and more in order to be satisfied.  In addition to obvious weight gain over time, we now have learned that when sugar consumption is left unchecked, serious health issues can arise.  But then, as we discover today in our reading, uncontrolled appetites can lead to all sorts of problems in our lives.

@ Genesis 25
“One day when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau arrived home from the wilderness exhausted and hungry. Esau said to Jacob, ‘I’m starved! Give me some of that red stew!’…‘All right,’ Jacob replied, ‘but trade me your rights as the firstborn son.’ ‘Look, I’m dying of starvation!’ said Esau. ‘What good is my birthright to me now?’” (29-32)  I sincerely doubt that Esau was truly starving to death, but the excuses we make are quite creative when we yearn to satisfy our appetites.  “Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate the meal, then got up and left. He showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn.”  Those were expensive lentils, to say the least.

Jacob, a heel-gripping deceiver during those early years, made a great deal for himself because of Esau’s uncontrollable appetite.  He would now possess the wealth and power of a first-born son.  Appetites come in a variety of passions, and any appetite that causes us to make a poor trade and sacrifice something of value should certainly be considered out-of-control.  Many have sacrificed their honor and reputation to satisfy their lust for power or have lost the respect of family and friends to satisfy their sexual appetites because they traded their core values for temporary pleasure.

Esau lost his future, his riches and his promise.  Hebrews 12:16-17 reminds us, “Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.”  Fortunately, God forgives our sins, but it is at the very least difficult and often impossible to restore the honor, reputation and respect we once enjoyed when we dishonor them as Esau did.

This disheartening story of Esau is not one of the feel-good uplifting stories of the Bible, but I would imagine that God was intentional with its inclusion.  If we heed its message, it will spare us the pain and loss that comes with making a poor trade in order to satisfy a fleeting moment of power or pleasure.  And in that sense, the story of Esau is priceless. 

Moving Forward:  I love the Lord for showing me the disciplines of His word.  I choose today to protect those things of value, praying never to trade the eternal for the temporary in my life. 

Tomorrow @ Judges 7-11

Exodus 9-12 (NLT)

Discover His heart: Our merciful God offers us many opportunities to turn our hearts towards Him.

I’ve known some stubborn people in my life, but none the likes of Pharaoh. After the snake-swallowing event with Moses, I’m fairly certain that I would have given in and let God’s people go! Bloody water, frogs, gnats, flies, dead livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness – obviously Pharaoh wanted to keep his cheap labor.

For a long time I didn’t understand the scripture that said God hardened Pharaoh’s heart because this would definitely put Pharaoh at a disadvantage even if he had wanted to let God’s people go. However, I have come to understand that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened by God’s actions. I know many individuals who experience trouble in their lives because of their sins; and in blaming God for it, their hearts are hardened towards Him and His people. Jesus came to soften their stony hearts and bring healing and deliverance.

@ Exodus 12
The instructions the Lord gave to Moses regarding the Passover dinner preparations and the blood on the doorposts were detailed and non-negotiable. God was about to deliver from bondage all those who followed His instructions to the letter, and through their obedience, the sons of Israel were spared. “Pharaoh and all his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night, and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died.”(30) With the death of his nation’s firstborn sons and the wailing of his people, stubborn Pharaoh finally acquiesced – Israel was free to leave.

The story of the Passover dinner paints an interesting picture. “These are your instructions for eating this meal: Be fully dressed, wear your sandals, and carry your walking stick in your hand. Eat the meal with urgency, for this is the Lord’s Passover.” (12:11) Dressed for dinner! How appropriate! With the wailing of the mourning Egyptians in earshot, the Israelites were told to dress for dinner and eat quickly as if ready to leave at any moment. And they did.

I view the church today in somewhat the same position. We are dressed for dinner with our lamps full, with His blood on our heart’s door and waiting for the coming of the bridegroom. We are expecting to leave at any moment! But within earshot, if we really listen, we hear the wailing. We hear the wailing of the lost souls of our world expressed in so many different ways, needing deliverance too.

The blood on the doorpost was only for the Israelites, but it was replaced at Calvary by the blood of the perfect lamb, the perfect sacrifice, and this blood is for everyone! How can we ignore their wailing, their cries for help? Better we roll up the sleeves of our dinner dress, seek out the lost and bring them to the table. Maître d’? Table for….all!

Moving Forward: With a soft heart this day, I listen for the wail, the cry of the lost, and invite them to come and dine with me.

Tomorrow @ I Samuel 26-31

Genesis 24-27 (NLT) 

Discover His heart:  His Word encourages us to live a righteous life to avoid the many consequences of sin

Tucked in between Christmas and Easter on the holiday calendar is Valentine’s Day, a day spent enjoying and celebrating those we love.  More sugary chocolate treats will be given as gifts and consumed than any other day of the year outside of Halloween.  As the saying goes, “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we diet!”

Sugar!  Who doesn’t like sugar!  Even now I look across the room to my kitchen and spy my glass sugar canister with the sun hitting it just right and each sweet grain sparkling in its rays.  I’ve known a few individuals in my life who care little about sweets and can pass up a sugary dessert without batting an eye.  I’m not sure what planet they’re from, but I’m certain it’s a miserable place.  While sugar seems rather benign in nature, it does hold an addictive property to where our appetites require more and more in order to be satisfied.  In addition to obvious weight gain over time, we now have learned that when sugar consumption is left unchecked, serious health issues can arise.  But then, as we discover today in our reading, uncontrolled appetites can lead to all sorts of problems in our lives.

@ Genesis 25
“One day when Jacob was cooking some stew, Esau arrived home from the wilderness exhausted and hungry. Esau said to Jacob, ‘I’m starved! Give me some of that red stew!’…‘All right,’ Jacob replied, ‘but trade me your rights as the firstborn son.’ ‘Look, I’m dying of starvation!’ said Esau. ‘What good is my birthright to me now?’” (29-32)  I sincerely doubt that Esau was truly starving to death, but the excuses we make are quite creative when we yearn to satisfy our appetites.  “Then Jacob gave Esau some bread and lentil stew. Esau ate the meal, then got up and left. He showed contempt for his rights as the firstborn.”  Those were expensive lentils, to say the least.

Jacob, a heel-gripping deceiver during those early years, made a great deal for himself because of Esau’s uncontrollable appetite.  He would now possess the wealth and power of a first-born son.  Appetites come in a variety of passions, and any appetite that causes us to make a poor trade and sacrifice something of value should certainly be considered out-of-control.  Many have sacrificed their honor and reputation to satisfy their lust for power or have lost the respect of family and friends to satisfy their sexual appetites because they traded their core values for temporary pleasure.

Esau lost his future, his riches and his promise.  Hebrews 12:16-17 reminds us, “Make sure that no one is immoral or godless like Esau, who traded his birthright as the firstborn son for a single meal. You know that afterward, when he wanted his father’s blessing, he was rejected. It was too late for repentance, even though he begged with bitter tears.”  Fortunately, God forgives our sins, but it is at the very least difficult and often impossible to restore the honor, reputation and respect we once enjoyed when we dishonor them as Esau did.

This disheartening story of Esau is not one of the feel-good uplifting stories of the Bible, but I would imagine that God was intentional with its inclusion.  If we heed its message, it will spare us the pain and loss that comes with making a poor trade in order to satisfy a fleeting moment of power or pleasure.  And in that sense, the story of Esau is priceless. 

Moving Forward:  I love the Lord for showing me the disciplines of His word.  I choose today to protect those things of value, praying never to trade the eternal for the temporary in my life. 

Tomorrow @ Judges 7-11