Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Hiding Place

Jochebed makes a basket for
Moses - Exodus 2:1-8
(Illustrator of Lillie A. Faris's
'Standard Bible Story Readers,
Book 1-5', 1925-28)

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Leviticus 5-7; Psalm 31

TO CHEW ON: "You shall hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the plots of man; You shall keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues." Psalm 31:20

When I think about God and hiding, I recall Corrie Ten Boom's book, The Hiding Place. In it, not only did the Ten Boom family hide the Jews, but God was a hiding place for them. (Remember the story of how Corrie and Betsy got a Bible past the guards and into prison with them?)

Whether we're in trouble or just need a refuge from the wear and tear of life, the thought of a hiding place in God is mighty attractive. The definition of the word "hide" expands our view of what this can mean.

[hide: To put or keep oneself out of sight, conceal. To keep secret, withhold from knowledge. To block or obstruct the sight of, keep from view. To keep oneself out of sight, remain concealed. To remain concealed as a fugitive.]

With those definitions in mind, let's look at some of the mentions of hiding and God in the Bible.

  • God conceals us:
David is asking God to conceal him from the "plots of man" and the "strife of tongues" in our focus verse today. He prays similarly in Psalm 27:5 for God to hide him in the time of trouble, and in Psalm 64:2 from "secret plots" and "rebellious workers of iniquity."

  • We hide in God:
We are the ones who run to God for hiding. "You are my hiding place," says David in Psalm 32:7; "In You I take shelter" - Psalm 143:9.

  • We're close to God:
When we're hiding this way we stay close to God: "under the shadow of your wings" - Psalm 17:8.

  • He hides and protects:
God becomes to us both a hiding place and a protection (shield). How? Through His word - Psalm 119:114.

  • Hidden lifestyle
Hiding in God is where we can actually live: "He who dwells in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty" - Psalm 91:1. I think of an iceberg and how it is nine tenths under water. That's how I envision this hidden life with God and ask myself, is the one tenth public part part of my life evidence that the nine tenths part is actually living and hidden in God?

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to hide in You in every sense of the word. May Your presence shield me from trials, enemies, tongue strife etc. But mostly, may the part of my life that people see be evidence that I am close to You, hidden in You. Amen.


The Bible Project VIDEO: Atonement (Theme Series)

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Browse in your Father's clothes closet

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Leviticus 1-4 Psalm 30

"You have turned for me my mourning into dancing;
You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness." Psalm 30:11

What are you wearing right now? Chances are it's something comfortable, suitable to the temperature in the room, car, outdoors or wherever you are, and was chosen with various things in mind.

Clothing does so much. It protects and warms us (or is scant enough that we don't get too warm). It preserves our modesty and may hide what we consider physical flaws and shortcomings. We choose our clothes with many things in mind—comfort, style, the activities we're planning to do wearing them, season of the year, color. They give subtle messages about our status and wealth, whether we're neat or sloppy, how we feel about the occasion and the company we're in.

We find many references to clothes in the Bible, both literal and symbolic.

Immediately after Adam and Eve sinned, they felt the need for physical clothes. The patriarchs tore their clothes to demonstrate grief. The clothes of the priests were rich with meaning and symbolism.

The many things that clothes do for and say about us give the clothing metaphors and symbols that run through the Bible added significance.

  • God dresses like a warrior - Isaiah 59:17.
  • His provision in the Old Testament is symbolized by the priests who were "clothed in salvation" - 2 Chronicles 6:41.  (As we read today in Leviticus 1-4 about about the offerings the priests had to make so that sinful people could approach a holy God, we can only imagine how bloody and soiled their priestly clothes must have become--a reminder that salvation is costly.)
  • God exchanges our filthy spiritual clothes for clean ones - Zechariah 3:4.
    • He cleans up prostitute Israel and dresses her in embroidered cloth, sandals of badger skin, fine linen and silk - Ezekiel 16:10.
    • He takes off the pigsty rags of the prodigal and puts on the best robes, rings and sandals of a son - Luke 15:22.
    • He gives those who trust in Him clothes of praise, salvation, righteousness (Isaiah 61:3,10) and in our focus verse, "gladness" - Psalm 30:11.
  • His children are dressed like king's kids.
    • The royal daughter wears clothing "woven with gold" - Psalm 45:13. 
    • The training of our parents is jewelry—"a graceful ornament on your head, and chains about your neck" - Proverbs 1:9.  
    • Wisdom is our head-ornament and crown - Proverbs 4:9.
  • God gives us a whole wardrobe for life on His side.
    • There is armor for fighting - Ephesians 6:13-17.
    • There is the unencumbered spandex of the Christian race - Hebrews 12:1.
    • And especially for women, there are the clothes of good works, godliness (1 Timothy 2:10), and a quiet and gentle spirit (1 Peter 3:4).
  • To meet Him someday, he provides a wedding garment (Matthew 22:11) of "fine linen, clean and bright" (Revelation 19:8).

I ask myself, and you, what spiritual clothes are we wearing? Have we chosen to claim all God's promises and let Him take off our sackcloth of worry, fear, care, and life-distraction? Have we browsed through His rich clothes closet for all that's available to us?

Dear Father, thank You for all that these spiritual clothes signify of salvation, protection, purity, plenty, preparedness, identity as Your children, and more. Help me, by faith, to put on clothes from Your closet today. Amen. 


The Bible Project VIDEO: Leviticus (Read Scripture Series)

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 29, 2018

What is "the voice of the LORD" to you?

 "The erection of the Tabernacle and the Sacred vessels"
as in Exodus 40:17-19; from the 1728 Figures de la Bible*

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Exodus 35-40; Psalm 29

TO CHEW ON: "The voice of the LORD is powerful;
The voice of the LORD is full of majesty." Psalm 29:4

The phrase "The voice of the LORD" repeats seven times in this psalm. In this way David draws our attention to God's (Yahweh's) presence, especially in nature where God's voice is over the waters (recalling the scene of creation), breaks and splinters cedars, divides the flames, shakes the wilderness, and causes the deer to give birth. It truly is a powerful, majestic voice.

The Bible speaks of God's voice in other settings as well. God's voice:

  • Filled Adam and Eve with terror after they had sinned - Genesis 3:8.
  • Gave Moses instructions for the building of the tabernacle, including who he was to enlist to make these things (Exodus 25-31). Though these Exodus passages don’t describe the sound of God’s voice, the content of His instructions is full of technical detail, precise measurement, the knowledge of how to make things, and how to make them beautiful. (with our reading today describing how all these instructions were carried out.) 
  • Spoke "still" and "small" to weary Elijah - 1 Kings 19:12.
  • Came to the aid of His people - Isaiah 66:6.
  • Gave Ezekiel glimmerings of His glory and majesty - Ezekiel 43:2.
  • Vanquished a powerful king - Daniel 4:31.
  • Witnessed that Jesus was God the Son - Matthew 17:5; 2 Peter 1:17.

The "voice of God," as David uses it here, is actually a literary device called synecdoche: "A figure of speech in which a part of something indicates the whole" - Poetry Dictionary p. 312. It is similar to metonymy which uses an object associated with something to indicate the whole (e.g. we talk of "crown" when we mean "royalty.").

And so, it is not really God's voice per se that we're talking about but God Himself as we envision and experience Him in various ways.

I ask myself, if I wrote a psalm or poem using synecdoche, what part of God would I choose? His voice, or maybe His hands, or heart, or thoughts, or feet?

If I used His voice, what kind of 'voice of the Lord' poem or paragraph would I write? What about you? In other words, how do we view and how have we experienced God?

Has our view of Him been affected by how our society sees and portrays Him--distant and disinterested? Limited by the evil around us? A prudish potentate who doesn't want us to have any fun? A soft grandfatherly figure who, in the end, will welcome us all into heaven because we've done the best we could?

Or does our view of Him reflect how the Bible portrays Him? Are we open to see and know Him in new biblically based ways?

PRAYER: Dear God, I think my concept of who You are has been affected by my culture and its portrayal of You.  Help me to experience You as the holy, righteous, powerful, majestic, creative, glorious etc. etc. deity of the Bible. Amen.  


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Photo attribution: By illustrators of the 1728 Figures de la Bible, Gerard Hoet (1648–1733) and others, published by P. de Hondt in The Hague in 1728 -, Public Domain,

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Unpopular restraint

Celebration around the Golden Calf - Artist unknown
Celebration around the Golden Calf - Artist unknown
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Exodus 32-34; Psalm 28

TO CHEW ON: "…Moses saw that the people were unrestrained (for Aaron had not restrained them…)." Exodus 32:25

If a royal commission had been struck to get to the bottom of how the golden calf incident could happen, a conclusion like Exodus 32:25 may well have been in the report.

[Restraint means to hold back from acting, proceeding or advancing; to keep in check, repress; to deprive of freedom or liberty; to restrict or limit - Funk and Wagnalls Dictionary.]

People-pleasing, want-to-be-liked Aaron would have found that hard to do. He wasn't the only one. The priest Eli didn't restrain his sons and this brought a sobering judgment on his family and eventually the whole nation (1 Samuel 3:13; 4:15-22). King David was another indulgent parent with at least one of his sons—Adonijah: "And his father had not rebuked him at any time by saying, 'Why have you done so?' " (1 Kings 1:6). Adonijah ended up trying to become king behind his father's back.

In our time, when the trend in parenting (and leadership in general) is to give more freedom than less, a parent or leader who disciplines and enforces restraint needs to be resolute to go against the grain. But the Bible supports parents and leaders in this.
  • Discipline is really a manifestation of love - Proverbs 3:12; 13:24.
  • Lack of early discipline leads toward destruction - Proverbs 19:18.
  • Discipliners (fathers, parents) also need to be disciplined in the way they train their children- Ephesians 6:4.
  • Paul tells Timothy that the ideal leader acts "… in humility, correcting those who are in opposition" - 2 Timothy 2:25.

Restraint—self-restraint, parental and leadership enforcement of restraint—may not be fashionable with our society but it is something God values and rewards. Let's take up our courage to buck the trend as we practice restraint in our own lives and teach it to those for whom we're responsible.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me first to restrain myself in thoughts, speech and actions. Amen. 


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Spirit-filled for arts and crafts

"Bezalel" by James Tissot
TODAY’S SPECIAL: Exodus 30-31, Psalm  27

TO CHEW ON: "And I have filled him (Bezalel) with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge and in all manner of workmanship." Exodus 31:3

This passage contains one of the earliest scriptural references to a person being filled with the Spirit of God. The exciting thing is that it’s for work in the arts and crafts.

We tend to look at the gifted artist or craftsperson as someone with a natural gift or talent not needing outside help. No doubt there was some native talent in Bezalel and Oholiab, the men God told Moses to put in charge of constructing the tabernacle and its accessories. But here we find that in addition to any inherent talent they possessed, God imparted to them extraordinary abilities in three areas:

1. Wisdom: Have you read the instructions for building the tabernacle and furnishings? One would certainly need wisdom to know how to interpret and carry them out.

2. Understanding: I am always amazed by reno and fix-it shows on HGTV. Craftsmen like Mike Holmes understand how to solve complicated structural problems from the inside out. The Holy Spirit gave these men that kind of understanding.

3. Workmanship: God imparted Bezalel and Oholiab the skill to actually do the work – to carve the almond blossoms and pomegranates, to cast the rings and the cherubim, to fit the pieces together and overlay them with gold.

 "The Tailor" by James Tissot

I find myself readily asking for the Holy Spirit’s infilling when it comes to “spiritual” things. But doesn’t this passage indicate we can also ask for His infilling when our assignment is to design the centerpieces for the church potluck or the church’s float in the community parade? I know these jobs aren’t as exalted as building the Tabernacle but they are part of our worship, and thus worthy of our best and more than we in ourselves have the natural ability to accomplish.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for this example of Your filling people for work in the arts and crafts. Help me to rely on Your Spirit’s filling for all I do. Amen.


MORE:  In 2012 I published the book Destiny's Hands. In it, I imagine and fictionalize Bezalel's life before he got the call to oversee the building of the tabernacle.It's available for purchase.

Friday, January 26, 2018


TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 28-29; Psalm 26

TO CHEW ON: Vindicate me O Lord,
For I have walked in my integrity ...
But as for me, I will walk in my integrity ..." Psalm 26:1,11

In this psalm David twice uses the word integrity—a word we don't run across often in the Bible. He uses it to describe his own life and lifetyle.

[Integrity means (according to my Funk and Wagnalls)
1. Uprightness of character, honesty, probity (virtue or integrity tested and confirmed; strict honesty).
2. The condition or quality of being unimpaired or sound.
3. The state of being complete or undivided.]

The first definition (uprightness of character, honesty, probity) is most likely the meaning we would think of when we describe someone's life. However, I would suggest that a life lived that way leads to a life and reputation that would embody the other aspects of integrity as well (i.e. a life unimpaired, sound, complete, and undivided).

David gives us some clues in this psalm about how he conducted his life so it would have integrity. Perhaps we can pick up some pointers from him about how we too can live that way.

1. David lived with the consciousness that God sees everything. 
David, it seems, had dealt with secret and public matters in his life to the extent that he was confident in inviting God's scrutiny (Psalm 26:1-3). This is surely the attitude of someone with no skeletons in his closet.

Have we cultivated such a clear conscience before God and people?

2. David was intentional about the company he kept.
He avoided spending time with hypocrites, evildoers, the wicked, and people who worshiped idols (Psalm 26:4-5). He was not naive about his own susceptibility to corruption and didn't want to end up with the corrupters (Psalm 26:9-10).

Though Jesus' great assignment gives us a reason to spend time with non-believers, and He Himself was a loving example of this, I believe we need to be as intentional about the company we keep as David was. The company we keep also includes the movies and TV we watch, the books, magazines, and online content we read.

3. He voiced his praise and thanksgiving.
David's guilt-free living ("I will wash my hands in innocence"  - Psalm 26:6) expressed itself in praise and thanksgiving to God (Psalm 26:7). 

What we express in words and song, even if at first half-hearted, is bolstered even as we speak and sing the words.

4. David loved to spend time in God's house and with fellow believers.
The fact that David loved God's presence is another witness to his integrity. He would not have been able to bask in God's glory (Psalm 26:8) if his life had been full of known sin. The "congregation" gave him a safe place to identify with like-minded people and encourage them with his presence and the aroma of his relationship with God (Psalm 26:12).

Our desire to attend church (whether that's going to a building or just being with fellow believers wherever) and spend time with other Christians can be both an evidence of our integrity and a way to reinforce it (with mutual encouragement and example).

Can we say with David, "I have walked in integrity .... I will walk in my integrity"? If not, let's make the integrity of our lives a matter of attention today.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for David and his articulate transparency that helps me find ways to examine my own life. I pray with him, "Search me, O God .... Try me .... see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting" (Psalm 139:23-24). Amen.

Psalm to pray: Psalm 26

MORE: More about integrity

"Keeping your word is the essence of integrity," says Michael Hyatt (former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing) in the blog post "Keeping Your Word." He goes on, "As Stephen Covey points out, 'honesty is making your words conform to reality. Integrity is making reality conform to your words.' It is essential to leadership. Without it, you cannot be an effective leader."

Read all of "Keeping Your Word" to discover the organic link between integrity and leadership.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Fear and friendship

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Exodus 25-27 and Psalm 26

TO CHEW ON: "Who is the man who fears the Lord? Him will he instruct in the way he should choose.... The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he will teach him in the way he chooses." PSALM 25:12,14 ESV

It's interesting that this psalm promises God's guidance and friendship to those who fear Him.

The word fear (yare') here doesn't only mean to be afraid in its usual English sense. It also means to "Stand in awe of, be awed, reverence, honour and respect." The Amplified translation includes those shades of meaning: "Who is the man who reverently fears and worships the Lord? ....The secret [of the sweet satisfying companionship] of the Lord have they who fear (revere and worship) Him and He will show them His covenant and reveal to them its [deep inner] meaning."

The words worship and revere imply that our relationship with God is not one of equals. It is similar in some ways to the relationship of subjects to a monarch. Even a king's son or daughter must treat him with special deference observing protocol, at least in public.

When we fear God we become good candidates for His instruction and guidance. It means we will pay attention to what pleases Him. We will accept His correction and discipline. We will obey Him when He tells us what to do and how to do it.

The wonderful thing is God is not some cold distant sovereign ordering us around, but a God who, in response to our fear (respect, reverence, worship), extends (amazing thought) "sweet, satisfying companionship" i.e. "friendship."

PRAYER: Dear God, when I think about You and all Your power, authority, wisdom, creativity, and compassion, the only appropriate response is fear.  I am amazed and incredibly grateful that in response to my fear, You offer friendship. Amen.

PSALM TO PRAY: Psalm 25 

MORE: "The Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom"
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom" (Prov. 1:7). Happy the soul that has been awed by a view of God's majesty, that has had a vision of God's awful greatness, His ineffable holiness, His perfect righteousness, His irresistible power, His sovereign grace. Does someone say, "But it is only the unsaved, those outside of Christ, who need to fear God"? Then the sufficient answer is that the saved, those who are in Christ, are admonished to work out their own salvation with "fear and trembling" - by A. W. Pink. Read all of "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom."
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scriptures marked ESV are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. ESV® Text Edition: 2011. The ESV® text has been reproduced in cooperation with and by permission of Good News Publishers. Unauthorized reproduction of this publication is prohibited. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked AMPLIFIED are taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." (

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Promises never claimed

Israel at Mt. Sinai - artist unknown
Israel at Mt. Sinai - Artist unknown
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Exodus 23:20-35

"'And I will send My fear before you, I will cause confusion among all the people to whom you come and will make all your enemies turn their backs to you.'" Exodus 23:27.

In exchange for obedience and a thoroughness in destroying idol worship in Canaan, God made a covenant with Israel at the foot of Sinai to:
  • Lead them with His Angel (the cloud by day, pillar of fire by night) to the land He had promised them (Exodus 23:23).
  • Bless their food and water (Exodus 23:25).
  • Take sickness away (Exodus 23:25).
  • Keep them from miscarrying (Exodus 23:26).
  • Cause the people in the land to which they were going to be filled with fear and confusion (Exodus 23:27).
  • Drive the inhabitants out before them, though slowly and in manageable amounts (Exodus 23:29,30).

What an exciting future of possibilities God painted for them. And they eagerly signed on:
"So Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the judgments. And all the people answered with one voice and said, 'All the words which the Lord has said we will do'" - Exodus 24:3.

How sad to read then, perhaps a year or so later, the reaction of these same people to the report of the spies Moses had sent out to view Canaan before they began to enter it. The first ones who failed the faith test were ten of the spies themselves. They reported back what they tasted, heard, and saw but without taking into account any part of God's earlier promise. After talking about the land's agricultural wealth the conclusion of ten of the spies was:
"'Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong, the cities fortified and very large …'" - Number 13:28.

When Caleb, one of the two spies who saw things differently, said, "'Let us go up at once and take possession for we are well able to overcome it,'" the others argued him down with negativity, fear and doubt: "'The land … is a land that devours its inhabitants. … and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight'" - Numbers 13: 30-33.

But men, what did God tell you? Just the opposite—that these people are full of fear and confusion over you, not confidence. They are conquerable. Didn't you hear? Didn't you believe?

What a tragic consequence these Israelites were about to suffer. Because of their unbelief, they were doomed to spend forty more years wandering in the wilderness.

Let's remember this tragic example of unbelief next time we're tempted to face a life challenge with fear and negativity. In their places, let's review God's promises and put our faith in Him—not ourselves and what we see.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to have a long memory for Your promises and the wisdom to apply them to the challenges of my life. Amen. 


The Bible Project VIDEO: Exodus 19-40 (Torah Series)

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

You shall not covet

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Exodus19-21

TO CHEW ON: "You shall not covet your neighbour's house; you shall not covet your neighbour's wife, or his male servant, or his female servant or his ox or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbour's." Exodus 20:17 ESV

A modern version of this verse might read: You shall not covet your neighbor's magazine cover house, her granite counter tops, or her chef-quality stainless steel kitchen. You shall not covet your neighbor's wife, his home theater system, his SUV, or anything else that is your neighbor's.

Think what serious trouble the advertising industry would be in if everyone suddenly started obeying this. For isn't stimulating the desire to possess what we don't have behind most advertising whether in print, online, or TV? 

On the surface the sin of coveting may seem insignificant when compared to the other sins on this list We are tempted to ask, is covetousness—a sin so endemic to our culture we hardly notice it in ourselves or others—really as serious as murder, or stealing, or adultery? It's not even an action, just an attitude.

Yes, it is only an attitude, but what an attitude!
  • It whispers to us that what we have is not enough or good enough and plants a seed of dissatisfaction with God and His provision in our lives.
  • It can be a gateway sin—the first step down the road to committing a more "serious" sin, such as stealing or adultery.
  • Covetousness was the active ingredient in Satan's temptation of Eve (Genesis 3:1-6) and continues to appear first on the ingredient list of temptation through the centuries (James 1:13-15).
What is the best way to overcome covetousness? Perhaps it's not a head-on offensive at all but the oblique defense of distraction and replacement. Today let's  distract our covetous tendencies with an attitude of thankfulness, and replace the list of things we want with the things we have. Instead of covetousness, let's nurture contentment,

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for highlighting the dangerous attitude of covetousness. Help me to detect it and then defeat it with gratitude and contentment. Amen.


The Bible Project VIDEO: Exodus 19-40 (Read Scripture Series)

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Food from God's kitchen

Gathering Manna - Artist unknown
Gathering Manna - Artist unknown

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Exodus 16-18

TO CHEW ON: "So when they measured it by omers, he who gathered much had nothing left over and he who gathered little had no lack." Exodus 16:18

Manna was the daily food for the Israelites that came straight from God's kitchen. It was first delivered one morning a-month-and-a-half after they left Egypt and continued for 40 years until they were on the doorstep of Canaan (Exodus 16:1, 35).

In today's reading we're given some lovely details about this food:
- It was on the ground every morning (except for the Sabbath day).
- It was small, round, as fine as frost (Exodus 16:14).
- It tasted like coriander and honey (Exodus 16:31).
- It melted in the heat (Exodus 16:21).
- It could be prepared in various ways. Our passage mentions baking and boiling (Exodus 16:23).
- It was called "manna" (literally "what?" Exodus 16:31) , referred to as "bread (Exodus 16:15, 22, 29), and compared to "wafers (Exodus 16:31).
- There was always enough for everyone.
- It normally spoiled overnight, smelled bad, and bred worms if saved (Exodus 16:20).
- But the manna gathered on the sixth day for use on the Sabbath kept just fine (Exodus 16:23-24).
- Even more strange, the omer of manna collected as a memorial lasted for years (Exodus 16:33-34).
- Moses and God took obedience to the details of its gathering and use on the Sabbath very seriously (Exodus 16:19-20; 28-29).

Manna is often viewed by scholars and Bible teachers as a symbol of the way God provides for us. My Bible's study notes refer to it this way:
"The food supply comes morning by morning in God's time, according to God's plan. The supply cannot be stored up for future use, except for the Sabbath. It is to be used only as God has specified (vs. 20) a miraculous demonstration of His provision to meet the needs of His people" J. C. Tollett,  New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 98.

It's a great metaphor for God's  provision in so many ways.
  • Like manna, God's provision for us so often comes at the time we need it. (Jesus prayed: "… give us this day our daily bread" - Matthew 6:11).
  • His provision is also often just enough for our need. I've heard many stories of people getting money in the mail or as a gift in the precise amount needed.
  • But it is also under His command. Like the manna didn't keep the rules of spoilage on the sixth day, God can override the laws of time and space when He wants to, stretching oil and meal (1 Kings 17:8-16), multiplying loaves and fishes (John 6:5-13), adapting the manna He sends to our specific need.
  • How we handle God's provision for us may also be a test—as we've seen several times this month. Just to review Moses' explanation of this to the Israelites: "And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not" - Deuteronomy 8:2.

- But perhaps the most beautiful comparison of manna as provision comes as we reflect on Jesus and how He is spiritual manna (bread) to us.
  •  He is the bread of life (John 6:35,48). He enacted  this when He broke bread with the disciples, telling them:
"Take, eat this is My body" - Mark 14:22.  
He explained what this meant: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world”  John 6:48-51.
  • There's even a memorial component. As the manna was kept in remembrance, we too remember and celebrate Jesus, the bread of life, every time we take part in the Lord's Supper (1 Corinthians 11:24).

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for Your manna provision for me, materially and spiritually. Amen.

This Psalm is prophetic of Jesus' death, a reminder of all that His death mentioned above entailed. This psalm contains this verse, that reminds us that the food He gives in this way is available to all:

 "The poor shall eat and be satisfied; 
Those who seek Him will praise the LORD - Psalm 22:26.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Stand still, be quiet

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Exodus13-15

TO CHEW ON: "The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace (literally: be quiet)." Exodus 14:14

God had led the Israelites into a corner. With the sea in front of them and Pharaoh in pursuit they had three options: surrender to Pharaoh, fight, or trust God.

It's not surprising that the people hurled fear-laced sarcasm and bitter we-told-you-so blame at Moses: "Because there were no graves in Egypt have you taken us to die in the wilderness? Is this not the word we told you in Egypt saying, 'Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness'" - Exodus 14:11-12.

But neither the Israelites nor the Egyptians had bargained on the intervention of a wonder-working God. Moses' reassuring "Do not be afraid, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord" was backed up with a string of miracles.

First God moved that GPS cloud (see this devo) between them and the enemy. It blocked the Egyptians' sight of Israel while it lit the Israeli side. Then God told Moses to stretch his rod over the sea. This brought up a strong wind and pushed back the waters, creating a path on which the people walked over to the other shore. After the Israelites were across and the Egyptians tried to follow, God caused catastrophe amongst them. Their chariot wheels loosened and when they tried to turn around, the water rushed back and they drowned.

Though our problems and challenges differ from the ones the Israelites faced, I wonder how many times we wouldn't do well to respond to them in the way God instructed Israel: "Do not be afraid. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today .... The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace (be quiet)."

Sometimes God needs our grubby fingers off of our circumstances (circumstances that He has engineered - Exodus 14:1-4) so He can accomplish stuff in our lives and the lives of our opponents that will never happen if we try to fix the problem, stir up action, or keep something from happening.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to have the faith that trusts in You to act on my behalf. School me in the discipline of inaction, patience, waiting for Your solution to my dilemma. Amen. 


MORE: A mother's meddling fingers

The above is the story of a time when I had the chance to test out the truth of Exodus 14:14.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

One particular day

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Exodus 10-12

TO CHEW ON: "And it came to pass at the end of the four hundred and thirty years—on that very same day—it came to pass that all the armies of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt." Exodus 12:41

Here was the fulfillment of what God had told Moses would happen (Exodus 3:8,10; 6:6; 7:4). It's comforting to read words like "… at the end of the four hundred and thirty years—on that very same day—it came to pass." Israel's days of slavery in Egypt had a definite ending, a point in time when they were finished.

The Bible speaks of human activities in time as within God's knowledge and control. A phrase that is sometimes used to describe this is "the fullness of time." That's the title of one of the chains of verses in my Thompson Chain Bible. "The fullness of time" is defined as "God's appointed time when everything is ready" - NKJV Thompson Chain Bible, p. 1771.
Some fullness-of-time verses:

  • There was a definite moment in time when Joshua and the Israelites had followed all God's instructions to conquer Jericho "…and it happened" (Joshua 6:16, 20).
  • John the Baptist preached "The time is fulfilled" (Mark 1:15) just before Jesus arrived on the scene.
  • Paul explained Jesus' life on this earth in those terms: "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His son…" Galatians 4:4.
  • He also speaks of Jesus' return still to come "… which He will manifest in His own time" - 1 Timothy 6:15.

God doesn't have a fulness of time for only the big theological events of history, but also for our lives. David talks about this in Psalm 139:
"You comprehend my path and my lying down
And are acquainted with all my ways
You have hedged me behind and before
And laid Your hand on me

And in Your book they all are written.
The days fashioned for me,

When as yet there were none of them" - Psalm 139: 5, 15, 16 (emphasis added).

We can trust God with His "fullness of time" for us. Whatever trial we're in of sickness, difficult circumstances, money troubles, family issues, He knows and will help us through them until we come to the very day our trial will pass.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Your knowledge of my times, and how You have brought me through hard stuff in the past. Help me to trust You to bring me through the things I face today. Amen.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Articulate creation

Fives in starfish, fruit core, flowers
 Creation's Fives 
(Photos & collage by V. Nesdoly)

TODAY'S SPECIAL:  Exodus 7-9 and Psalm 19

The heavens declare the glory of God;
And the firmament shows His handiwork." - Psalm 19:1

In this beautiful psalm, David points out two ways God reveals Himself—through NATURE (Psalm 19:1-6) and through HIS WORD (Psalm 19:7-14). Today let's focus on the NATURE message.

Here are some things Bible writers say we can learn about God through creation:

He is a wise and powerful provider
  • Job, speaking of God's wisdom and power in nature, challenges his listeners to learn about God from the beasts, the earth, and the sea creatures - Job 12:7-10.
  • Later in Job, Elihu praises God in a similar way, illustrating his point with a description of the water cycle - Job 36:24-33.
  • Jesus too points out this aspect of creation when He instructs, " 'Consider the lilies…' " drawing our attention to their care-less and beautiful existence -  Luke 12:27.

He is a judge
  • Psalm 50:6
  • Psalm 97:6.
One can easily see how people could get a judgment message from a sky that crackles with lightning, rattles with thunder, and drops hail and snow.

God is big. We are tiny
  • Isaiah describes God: "He sits above the circle of the earth"… while we are the "grasshoppers" on it - Isaiah 40:21,22.

In creation we have enough evidence to believe that there is a God and to know some things about Him.
  • Paul and Barnabas waste no time turning the attention of the crowd at Lystra—who want to crown them gods after Paul heals a man—to the God of creation whose witness, Paul says, is the rain and fruitful seasons - Acts 14:15-17.
  • Paul speaks clearly about creation's evidence of God in Romans 1:20: "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse."
I love how Paul says we can deduce things about God by what is "seen" and "the things that are made." Isn't it true! Our study of natural things—creatures, plants, elements, atoms, our own bodies—shows how wisely and creaatively God has designed them all. Design elements, that repeat across created things (like the five-pointed star shape in fish, flowers, and the core of fruits), show creation's unity—the signature of the same creator.

Man's observation of creation leaves him with no excuse before God

  • Paul, in answering his own question in Romans 10:14 ("How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard?") says they actually have heard: "But I say, have they not heard? Yes indeed." Then he quotes Scripture:  " 'Their sound has gone out to all the earth and their words to the end of the world' " - Romans 10:18. Who is Paul quoting here? Psalm 19:4 (part of our today's reading) that speaks of the fact of God's existence going  "... to the ends of the world." 

Let's look for God and enjoy Him in creation today!

PRAYER: Dear God, I am amazed at Your wisdom, creativity, care, and majesty evidenced in creation. Thank You, however, that you didn't leave us with only that, but also gave us Your Word and Yourself in Jesus. Amen. 


The Bible Project VIDEO: Heaven and Earth (Theme Series)

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Zipporah spirit

Moses, Zipporah and her sisters
by James Tissot

Moses, Zipporah and her sisters by James Tissot

TO CHEW ON: "Then Zipporah took a sharp stone and cut off the foreskin of her son and cast it at Moses' feet, and said, 'Surely you are a husband of blood to me!'" Exodus 4:25

In a curious little side story we read of Moses, his wife Zipporah, and their two sons Gershom and Eliezer on their way to Egypt. But something serious happened to Moses along the way. He was at death's door, having apparently roused God's wrath. Zipporah remedied the situation by circumcising their son.

Male circumcision was the sign of God's covenant. We don't know why Moses omitted doing this when Eliezer was a baby (it was to be done at eight days old - Genesis 17:10-12). Herbert Lockyer, author of  All the Women of the Bible* suggests: "Zipporah as a woman of Midian, did not share the spiritual values of her notable husband who found himself acting against the sacred tradition of Israel. … To keep the peace, Moses compromised with his unbelieving wife and withheld circumcision, the sign of God's covenant, from Eliezer."

However, Zipporah was not gracious about this, as she exclaimed (in abhorrence, anger?) "You are a husband of blood!" It would seem at that point relations between them were so strained, Zipporah and the boys turned around and went home to dad (Jethro) while Moses traveled on alone.

Zipporah appears only one more time in the Bible when she, her sons, and father meet Moses during the Israelites' wanderings (Exodus 18:2-5). After that "She disappears without comment from the history of the Jewish people in which her husband figured so prominently. … Neither as the wife of her husband nor as the mother of her children did she leave behind her a legacy of spiritual riches" - Ibid.

I take this as a cautionary tale. We too can become infected with the Zipporah spirit that would resist spiritual expression, growth, and obedience in our husbands. Rather than doing that, let's support and encourage them in their biblical role as the head of the home (Ephesians 5:23).

PRAYER: Dear God, help me to uphold Your pattern in marriage and in supporting and encouraging my husband in spiritual things. Amen.


The Bible Project VIDEO: Exodus 1-18 (Torah Series)

All the Women of the Bible  by Herbert Lockyer, Zondervan, 1988, one of the Related Resources available for this passage on

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Excuses, excuses

Graphic: gerait /

TO CHEW ON: "But Moses said to God, 'Who am I that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?'" Exodus 3:11

In the Bible we meet many people who are not that different from us.

Today we read a discussion between God and Moses where God gives Moses the job to lead Israel out of Egypt but Moses counters God with excuses at every turn:

Moses: I'm nobody.
God: I will be with you - Exodus 3:11,12.

Moses: The people won't believe that You really sent me.
God: I'll give you supernatural signs - Exodus 4:1-9.

: I'm not a good speaker.
God: I'll be with your tongue - Exodus 4:10-12.

Moses wasn't the only Bible character to make excuses.
When God called Gideon to lead the people in opposing raiding Midianites:
Gideon: My family is small and insignificant.
God: Because I sent you, I will be with you - Judges 6:13-16.

When God called Jeremiah to be His prophet:
Jeremiah: I'm too young.
God: Don't say that; you shall go and you shall speak - Jeremiah 1:6,7.

When God sent Ananias to meet with Saul / Paul:
Ananias:  This job is too dangerous.
God: I know what I'm doing. My plan is way bigger than what you see - Acts 9:13-16.

The sobering thing is that God doesn't put up with excuses forever.
When Moses persisted in arguing with God, God appeared to lose patience and promised to send him a human helper, brother Aaron, who turned out to be a mixed blessing (Exodus 4:14).

As for people in Jesus' parables who had only excuses for the Master, most of them came to a bad end.

When the master returned and asked for an accounting of what his servants had done with what He had given them:
One-talent servant: I didn't do anything because I was afraid of you.
Master: You're lazy. You could have at least done something. Away with him! - Matthew 25:26-30

In the parable of those standing before the Son of Man as judge:
Those on the judge's left: You didn't come to us hungry, naked, sick or in prison.
Son of Man: I was there, as the hungry, naked, sick and imprisoned person you ignored. Away with you! - Matthew 25:41-46.

In the story of the Great Supper invitation, the master of the feast received these RSVPs:
Guest 1: I can't come; I'm too busy with my property.
Guest 2: I can't come; I'm too busy with my work.
Guest 3:
I can't come; I'm too busy with my family.
Master of the feast: Their invitations are cancelled.  Invite someone else - Luke 14:16-24.

You and I do well to ask ourselves, what is God asking us to do, and how are we responding? Let's take stock of our lives in this department and stop making excuses and get busy at what He's asking us to do, while we still have the opportunity.

PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to trust You for help instead of making excuses.


The Bible Project VIDEO: Exodus 1-18 (Read Scripture Series)

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Finishing well

TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 48-50

TO CHEW ON: "'But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.'" Genesis 50:20

Joseph's brothers' reaction to him after their father's death reminds me of Jesus' wisdom when He said, "'For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you'" - Matthew 7:2 (NIV). The fact that these brothers feared Joseph would look for retribution after their father died speaks more about the condition of their own hearts and minds than Joseph's. They were obviously not accustomed to dealing with someone as guileless as he was.

Joseph for his part, though grieved, stuck with the conviction that he had expressed when he first revealed his identity to them (compare Genesis 45:7-8 and Genesis 50:20). He never did take revenge on those brothers. Unlike so many Bible characters, Joseph not only started and middled well, but he also ended well.

A sidebar article in my Bible sums up Joseph's life and suggests applications we can make for ours:

"The life of Joseph powerfully displays God's sovereign ability to bring to pass His destiny for an obedient individual. In his youth, Joseph received a vision of God's plan for his life. Shortly thereafter, it appeared that not only had the vision died, but that his life would be wasted away in slavery and prison. Nevertheless, Joseph remained faithful to God. That which had been meant for evil, God used to prepare and position His servant to realize the fulfillment of His vision for Joseph's life.

  • Ponder God's vision (Genesis 37:5-11). Do not share it prematurely but ask for His timing.
  • Expect God's favour in the sight of others (Genesis 39:4,21). God is able to make a way even when it seems impossible.
  • Remain faithful to God in all you do (Genesis 39:9). Do not compromise, especially when the vision is slow in coming.
  • Believe that God is sufficient (Genesis 41:14-57). He has given you the gifts you need to realize His purpose through you.
  • Trust in God's sovereign providence (Genesis 45:7; 50:20). He causes all thing to work for your good as you remain faithful to His calling and purpose for you."
by  Leslyn Musch, "Truth-In-Action through Genesis," New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 74 (emphasis added).

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for the story of Joseph. Help me to trust Your sovereignty in my life in a similar way. Amen.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked NIV are taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Sometimes the way leads down

Israel on the move - by James Tissot
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 46-47

TO CHEW ON: "'I will go down with you into Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again....'" - Genesis 46:4

It was moving time for Jacob. At last he had received the word that Joseph was alive and had in fact invited him and the clan to move to Egypt where food was plentiful. This was a momentous occasion. It meant uprooting many families. It meant arduous travel, and Jacob was old. It meant exposing his family to the idolatrous culture of Egypt.

When he got to Beersheba, where Abraham had called on God (Genesis 21:33) as had Isaac (Genesis 26:25), Jacob "offered sacrifices to God" - Genesis 46:1. Matthew Henry comments:

"He had an eye to God as the God of his father Isaac, that is, a God in covenant with him. He offered sacrifices:
1] By way of thanksgiving for the late blessed change of the face of his family, for the good news he had received concurring Joseph and for the hopes of seeing him.
2] By way of petition for the presence of God with him in his intended journey.
3] By way of consultation. The heathen consulted their oracles by sacrifice. Jacob would not go till he had asked God's leave" - Matthew Henry - Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, p. 65.

God replied in a vision giving Jacob all the assurance he needed: "Fear not. I will make of you a great nation."

Note the directional words in what God said next: "I will go down with you into Egypt, and I will also surely bring you up again." As well as Egypt seeming geographically down from Canaan, might their use signal to us God's awareness of one of Jacob's niggling concerns?

For by leaving Canaan for Egypt, Jacob was forsaking the land God had promised his family. He had, after all, made the trip back home from his father-in-law Laban's to inhabit it. Perhaps he was questioning, Will I slip out from under the shadow of God's protection by again leaving the land of promise? And would he ever get it back? In that nomadic culture, it wouldn't take long for the land to be inhabited by someone else. Leaving Canaan probably felt to Jacob like he was taking a step down, not up.

But down is sometimes how God directs. Matthew Henry again:

"Whatever low or darksome valley we are called into at any time, we may be confident, if God go down with us into it, that he will surely bring us up again. If he go with us down to death, he will surely bring us up again to glory" - Matthew Henry, p. 65.

The safest place to be is wherever God directs — even if it feels like down to us.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for being with me in the downs as well as the ups. Thank You for Your promise of being with me always (Psalm 139:7,8). Amen. 


MORE: Valley of Humiliation

"Then he began to go forward; but Discretion, Piety, Charity, and Prudence would accompany him down to the foot of the hill. So they went on together, reiterating their former discourses, till they came to go down the hill.

Then said Christian, 'As it was difficult coming up, so, so far as I can see, it is dangerous going down.'

'Yes,' said Prudence, 'so it is; for it is a hard matter for a man to go down into the valley of Humiliation, as thou art now, and to catch no slip by the way.'

'Therefore,' said they, 'we are come out to accompany thee down the hill.'

So he began to go down, but very warily; yet he caught a slip or two.'

- John Bunyan, Pilgrim's Progress, "The Fourth Stage — the Valley of Humiliation" - Kindle Location 1091.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Through what lens do you view life?

Joseph reveals himself to his brothers

Joseph meets Benjamin (Artist unknown)
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 43-45

TO CHEW ON: "'And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now, it was not you who sent me here, but God...'" Genesis 45:7-8

Relationships within families have the potential to dredge up deep emotion. We get an insight into Joseph's at least three times in the story of how he is reunited with his family as we watch him weep.

The first time was just after his brothers came to Egypt seeking food. He recognized them but they didn't recognize him (Genesis 42:8). The first time he met them he spoke roughly to them, imprisoned them for three days and, before sending them on their way, demanded they return with their younger brother. Then he overheard this conversation amongst them (spoken in their native tongue—not the language of the Egyptians - Genesis 42:23):
"Then they said to one another, 'We are truly guilty concerning our brother, for we saw the anguish of his soul when he pleaded with us, and we would not hear; therefore this distress has come upon us.'
And Reuben answered them, saying, 'Did I not speak to you, saying, ‘Do not sin against the boy’; and you would not listen? Therefore behold, his blood is now required of us.'” - Genesis 42:21-22.

He realized they hadn't forgotten about him. In fact their treatment of him haunted them and they were feeling guilty. His reaction: "And he turned himself away from them and wept."

Again in today's reading, just before he told his brothers who he was, he "...wept aloud and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard it" (Genesis 45:2). He wept again when he met his full brother Benjamin (Genesis 45:14).

But I don't believe these were primarily tears of hurt and pain. For in the years between when his brothers sold him and this time of reuniting, he had worked through the bitterness, self pity, blame etc. Because now instead of scolding his brothers, he put the responsibility of what had happened to him on God: "'So now it was not you who sent me here, but God'" Genesis 45:8.

Oh to have a similarly God-centered view of life that cancels out blaming others and instead interprets all circumstances through the lens of God's sovereignty as Joseph does: "And God sent me before you to preserve a posterity for you in the earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance" - Genesis 45:7.

As a commentary on this verse in my Bible expresses it:

"Trust in God's sovereign providence. He causes all things to work for your good as you remain faithful to His calling and purpose for you" - R. Russell Bixler,  notes on Genesis, New Spirit-Filled Life Bible, p. 74.

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Your sovereign working in my life. Please help me to view the circumstances of my life (even the difficult, bitter ones) through the glasses of Your providential love. Amen. 


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading! This year we are using The Bible Project "Timeless Reading Plan" to read through the Bible in 2018. If you'd like to read along in your own Bible, you can download a pdf of the reading plan HERE.

Saturday, January 13, 2018


Image: Pixabay
TODAY'S SPECIAL: Genesis 41, 42

TO CHEW ON: "Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: 'For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father's house.'" Genesis 41:51 

Overnight Joseph's fortunes turned around completely. He went from wearing prison rags to fine linen and pure gold. He went from being a prisoner to a powerful vizier, and from responsibility for a few in prison to administering the entire land. He went from having the reputation of a would-be rapist and liar to someone who was wise and trustworthy. In the days, weeks, and years that followed, He went from being alone to having a family.

But the thirteen or so unpleasant years in Egypt left their scars. They are seen in the names he gives his sons. He calls the first Manasseh which literally means "Making Forgetful." It signifies how he can now put behind him not only his time in Pharaoh's prison but his painful family memories: "For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father's house" - Genesis 41:51.

He names his second son Ephraim which means "Fruitfulness": "For God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction" - Genesis 41:52.

It all looks so good for you, Joseph. But beware. For inevitably God will cycle around what you haven't yet dealt with. Is there still infection festering under those scars? How will you react when God ushers those brothers back into your life? Will you be bitter and vengeful, or forgiving?

For this is what God often does — re-introduces the old unfinished business to test our growth, show us our own real selves and where we're spiritually immature, and point out to us where we still have some growing to do.

PRAYER: Dear God, I too have scars left from experiences in childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Help me to deal with old issues so there is no residue of bitterness or unforgiveness in my life. Amen.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Surrounded by Favour

Image: Pixabay
TODAY’S SPECIAL: Genesis 38-40

“So Joseph found favour in his (Potiphar’s) sight and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put under his authority.”  Genesis 39:4.

“But the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy and He gave him favour in the sight of the keeper of the prison.” Genesis 39:21

One of the notable things of Joseph’s life was the favour that was upon it. This favour was evident despite his circumstances. We read he found favour with his Egyptian boss, Potiphar, then later with the prison keeper, and eventually with Pharaoh himself. What is this “favour” that surrounded his life?

The English word “favour” (noun) has many definition nuances. Quoting the first three definitions from,  favour is:
1] something done out of good will rather than from justice of remuneration.
2] friendly or well-disposed regard.
3] the state of being approved or held in regard

The Hebrew word translated “favour” is chen, also translated grace, elegance, and acceptance.

A look at some other places the Bible speaks of “favour” helps us understand its dynamics. We see that:
  • God’s favour can be seen on someone’s life as early as childhood. That was the case with Samuel (1 Samuel 2:26) and Jesus (Luke 2:52).
  • Favour can be part of one’s inheritance. God favoured Israel because of His covenant with their patriarchs (2 Kings 13:23).
  • David praises God for His presence, which brings favour (Psalm 21:6).
  • The writer of Proverbs connects favour with mercy and truth (Proverbs 3:3,4), finding wisdom (Proverbs 8:35), goodness (Proverbs 12:2), and living in ways that please God (Proverbs 16:7).

I like Barbara Billett’s description of the potency of God’s favour:
“The favour of God will open doors that men say are impossible to open. It will change regulations and give you preferential treatment to get you where God wants you to go (Esther 2:17; 5:8; 8:5). … Favour will … cause you to be noticed and cause people to be drawn to you like a magnet” - Barbara Billett, Praying With Fire, p. 88.

God’s favour is something we long for. Let’s pray for favour for us and our children. Let’s pay attention to the principles of Godly living connected with receiving it. But let’s also desire it for the right reasons—not for personal gain or promotion but so that we will be in positions of usefulness for God’s kingdom and glory.

PRAYER: Dear Father, thank You for Your favour on my life and the life of my family, seen in many ways. I pray that it will increase so that I will realize the purpose and destiny for which You have placed me here on earth. Amen.


Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Thanks for reading! This year we are using The Bible Project "Timeless Reading Plan" to read through the Bible in 2018. If you'd like to read along in your own Bible, you can download a pdf of the reading plan HERE.

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