Category Archives: Devotional Studies Through the Bible

A Review on Devotions From Genesis

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A review on my book Devotions From Genesis, It’s Not Just Ancient History 

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Review of “Devotions From Genesis” by Nicole Love Halbrooks Vaughn

reviewed by Marilynn Dawson

at Songdove’s Musings

 

Nicole asked if I’d review her devotional, “Devotions From Genesis” back in January 2013.  I was looking for devotional avenues at the time and agreed, choosing to do it Monday to Friday every week.  At 50 chapters in Genesis, I thought at first I’d be done by mid-March, but discovered that Nicole had other plans. 

 

Nicole draws parallels from the characters in Genesis to God’s desire to interact with mankind throughout the Bible and how we might apply that to ourselves today.  She divides Genesis into three parts:  Discovering God’s character through the fall of man, learning obedience to God and the consequences of disobedience, and the final section, learning about the parallels between Joseph and Christ.

 

This is a fresh look at the Book of Beginnings.  I very much enjoyed all the Scripture she used throughout the study.  Not once did she take any Scripture reference out of context, which is a big thing for me.  Her use of Scripture even in her closing prayer of each session is sure to help the reader who might not be familiar with the thoughts she expresses to God.

 

This study is not a workbook.  There are no places to answer questions or to write things down.  To that end, the devotional reader will want to keep their journal nearby to jot down thoughts, Scriptures, and answers to questions that the text might raise for them.  Many find it a healthy practice to keep a prayer journal or a study journal nearby anyway, so going through this particular study will continue that habit.

 

This study is also not a historical expose’ of the times in which the events occurred.  Nicole’s primary focus is on the spiritual applications of the events and people in Genesis moreso than matching up those events to verifiable records.  That would require a much more indepth look at the book of Genesis and has been covered by other authors.  As a devotional, there isn’t room for this kind of discussion.

 

So if the reader is interested in how the lessons found in Genesis apply to their lives today, this is the devotional to pick up.  Read each chapter in Genesis before you carry on in the text.  This gives a great background for the day’s session.  If you are not pressed for time, taking time to open your Bible to each of the remaining Scripture references for that day will help to internalize that day’s thoughts as well.  Then, if you are like me, you will be tempted to write out your own commentary on what God is teaching you as you travel with Nicole through the pages of Genesis.  It was all I could do at times not to begin writing my own commentary of what God was teaching me.  But to keep from potentially overshadowing Nicole’s efforts for the purposes of this review, I refrained except for a couple times.

 

Great read, great devotional, nothing out of context, even the prayers have Scripture in them. . . I give this devotional a five out of five.

 

Marilynn is the author of a series entitled Becoming the Bride of Christ: a Personal Journey. She lives with her two teenagers in Kelowna BC Canada.

You can also follow Marilynne at her Facebook page

 

To experience Devotions From Genesis, It’s Not Just Ancient History for yourself go here to get a paperback or ebook edition! Purchase on Amazon and leave a review.
Devotions From Exodus Part One, Learning to Live in Freedom is also now available for pre-order here: Pre-Order Devotions From Exodus.
The official release date is October 1, 2013
Devotions from Exodus Cover

Would You Please

My second devotional is currently in the editing process. Devotions From Exodus will be available some time in the spring/summer. In the meantime I would love help in gathering reviews on Devotions From Genesis.

Here is the Google books link that will take you to Devotions From Genesis, It’s Not Just Ancient History online. I will send a printed copy of the book to the first ten people who contact me with their written review on Amazon or any other book retailer and/or own personal blog.

Help me spread and share the Word of God!

Just post the link to your review in the comments of this post or on Proven Path Ministries and I will contact you for your mailing address 🙂

Please know that you have no clue how hard posting this and making this request is for me… but I do so because I know my heart is not to promote me, but to preach Christ and Him crucified. Please know that I give away more books than I have ever sold and freely share my complete PDF version at no cost.

If you are interested in using my book as a free gift in your ministry please let me know and I will send you the PDF version at no cost.

My heart truly is to help people learn how to dig into the depths of the Word of God and to see how every word is relevant today. I want people to see the unchanging beauty of our God and the timeless treasure of His Word. Will you help me?

Here are a few of my editor’s comments concerning Devotions From Exodus Learning to Live (or Walk) in Freedom (I haven’t decided yet which one I like best, feel free to share your preference in subtitle with me now :-))

“The most important thing that you have accomplished in your work is that you are able to share to your readers your thorough research on the Old Testament of the Bible, particularly on the life of the pharaoh, Moses, and the people of Israel. You do this by discussing the birth of Moses and how a Hebrew child freed the Lord’s children in Israel and relating this in our modern-day living. The Bible passages that you cited, as well as the personal experiences that you shared, strengthen your argument. The prayers that you provide after each topic discussed also guide your readers on what to be thankful for and what to ask from the Lord.

The typical readers of your book are Christian men and women in their late teens and up. Church leaders could also benefit from reading your book as this would guide them in their sermons. The thorough discussions on what happened during the time of Moses would also give them points that need to be emphasized in their discussions with the flock”

~ Tyler Worsham

Would you please help me?

Expect Expectations

Behold, I am going to send an angel before you…
Exodus 23:20

 

We are here, still at the base of the mountain. The Lord has declared His commands and the people cried out to Moses to be their mediator between them and God because they feared Him. Now Moses has stepped closer to the thick cloud of God’s presence that covers the mountain and He listens as God declares the ordinances that the people are to live by as they represent their God in the land He is giving them. God is making sure the people understand what is expected of them before they even enter the promised land.

God expects righteousness, holiness, justice, and obedience from those who carry His name. He has made what He declares to be good and right very clear and we have seen that God has been with the children of Israel every step of the way. He lets them know here at the base of the mountain that He will continue to go before them and be with them. God expects a lot from His children, but He has never expected them to meet His expectations all on their own.

 

Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared. Be on your guard before him and obey his voice, do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since my name is in him. But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries.
Exodus 23:20-22

 

Yes, God would send an angel with them to go before them and He would already have the place prepared for them… but they would have to listen and obey his voice, truly obey. They would have to do all that God said. This was what was expected of the people of God then… and it is what is expected of the people of God still.

However, in and through the shed blood, death, and resurrection of Christ, we have more than an angel that goes before us. Today, on this side of the cross, we have the indwelling of the Spirit of God, Himself. This is why the writer of the book of Hebrews declares,

 

For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

Hebrews 2:2-3

 

At the base of that mountain God commanded that the word spoken through the angel was to be obeyed and those who rebelled would not go unpunished… how dare we think that any less be expected of us who stand not at the base of Mt Sinai, but at the base of a hill called Calvary. We stand not at the bottom of a mountain that is covered in thick darkness, but we stand at the base of Golgotha that is covered with the shed blood of the Light of the world.

Israel stood at the base of a mountain that a loud voice cried out “Do not touch!“, but we stand at the base of a hill and the still small voice cries “Come!” Come, to the cross. Come to Mount Zion and be saved. Come and receive grace and find mercy in your time of need.

However, when you have come, pay close attention to what you hear, and unite it with faith, and obey it in faith (Hebrews 4:1-13). Our God did not play games with the children of Israel and the shed blood of innocent lambs and goats; and He certainly will not play games with the church and the shed blood of His innocent Son, the Lamb of God.

For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?
Hebrews 10:26-29

 

Oh friend, let us not be found guilty of insulting the Spirit of grace. Let us be diligent to enter the place that has been prepared for us (John 14:3, Hebrews 4:11, Revelation 22:14-17). The place prepared is for those who obey, truly obey (John 14:23). The abode is only for those who abide (John 15:4-10).

Be on your guard, obey him and his voice, do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him (Exodus 23:21). This was spoken of an angel to the children of Israel. This was spoken of the one who simply carried the name of God with him. This was spoken of a created being that merely carried the authority given him by his Creator.

Precious one, with this in mind, what rises up within your spirit when you read,

 

And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war. His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself. He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.
Revelation 19:11-13

 

As we continue our journey through the pages of the Old Testament Scriptures we will see that God was very serious about the children of Israel’s obedience to this one who went before them, and to these ordinances He had given them.

We, if indeed the church, are the very body of Christ. The One who the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form has promised to abide in us (Colossians 2:9). The Holy Spirit of God, our Comforter, our Helper, our Convictor, the Spirit of Christ, indwells us. The Law of God is written on our hearts… and yet many of those professing this to be true declare themselves powerless to obey Him. When they do so, they insult the Spirit of grace.

Let us stop making excuses, justifying our disobedience with lies straight from the pit of hell, and let us simply obey, truly obey. Having counted the cost. Knowing full well what our God expects from us; and knowing full well that He never expected us to meet His expectations alone.

 

Oh Father,

You deserve nothing less than one hundred percent obedience from me. I have not an excuse good enough… and every excuse I offer up to You is an insult to the Spirit of grace and the blood of Your Son. He did not die this death for me to live in defeat. Forgive me Father for the lies I have believed, for the cost I have refused to count, and for the times I have taken lightly the amazing gift of strength and might and knowledge and hope that is mine in Christ. I am qualified in Christ, how dare I attempt to disqualify myself simply because I refuse to try to live in obedience. I desire to be presented complete in Christ. I desire to enter that place that You have prepared for me and I desire to live in such a way that You are able to use this vessel to bring others into Your kingdom.

My Jesus it is in Your name I pray,
Amen

Keep Following

 

Three times a year

you shall celebrate a feast to Me.
Exodus 23:14

 

I remember the first time that I studied these feasts. I wonder how many modern believers understand the blessing they have of reading the Old Testament through the lens of the New Testament? I linger through the pages of the Torah, history, poems, and prophets. I linger, and I search, for what they have to show me about my Christ.

The Word of God is an amazing thing. The words of the Book simply and plainly lay out clear instructions to us and then those who are faithful to follow those clear instructions will be led by God into the very arms of His Son. Once in the arms of His Son the veil is removed and the wisdom and knowledge of our God that is allowed us in and through Him gives us insight into the Scriptures that literally floods our soul with life.

As we read through the common sense precepts and statutes that God commanded His people to observe we find tucked in Exodus 23 the three feasts that are in fact a picture of the coming Christ and the redemption of the world. We will look at these feast in greater detail in Exodus 34 and then again in Leviticus 23.

These feasts would bring the heads of the households of all Israel together three times a year. Three times a year they were commanded to come to the place of the ark of the covenant.

The first feast would be the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Every year the people would be called to come together and remember the Passover. They would come and they would remember their deliverance by the hand of their mighty God. They would remember that it was the blood of the Lamb that spared them from the wrath of the death angel.

Then they would come again for the Feast of the Harvest. The feast that would celebrate their fruit of the fields and finally the Feast of Ingathering at the end of the year. Three times a year the people of God would come together, remember their deliverance, and give God thanks for His faithfulness.

These feast have more to them, but I don’t want to jump ahead. I want you to continue with me until we get to Exodus 34 and Leviticus 23 and as we look at these feasts again in the light of the revealed Christ… it’s absolutely breathtaking.

Trust me. Just keep following Him. Follow what you know and He will reveal more of Himself to you as you go.

Come with me and see for yourself.

 

Oh Father,

How very good You are. You have never left Your people in the dark about your purpose and your plan. You have always given us all the light we need to keep following You. You reveal Your truth to us as we need it. You show us the next step as we in faith take the first. You lead us into Your embrace one step at a time, precept upon precept, and Scripture upon Scripture. I will keep following the Way. I will keep following You. Thank you for never leaving me in the dark. The Light is always there if I will just get me out the way so I can see it.

My Jesus it is in Your name I pray,
Amen

 

Mass Destruction

You shall not follow the masses in doing evil, nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after a multitude in order to pervert justice; nor shall you be partial to a poor man in his dispute.

Exodus 23:2-3

I read this verse this morning and my mind couldn’t help but go to our current day… the health care plan, the occupy movement, the gay marriage, the political movements as a whole…

Have we in America not watched our politicians, the supposed leaders of our country do this exact thing that God so clearly says is wrong in His Word?

Have we not in our American churches not done this very same thing… choosing to make concessions, compromises, in order to meet the cry of the masses. So we would get the masses in our doors…

Christ never bowed down to the masses… He never followed the masses… nor should  we  who claim to follow Him. Jesus stepped into the boat and separated from the masses. Yes, He went to the masses but then He stepped back and said come and follow Me. He didn’t chase after the crowd or attempt to appease them… He simply spoke truth and who followed was who followed.

It didn’t matter to Jesus if you were rich or poor, righteous or wicked, loved or hated, right or wrong, religious or heathen, sick or healthy, holy or worldly… He didn’t change who He was and He didn’t adjust His words to fit who ever was listening at the time. He always spoke with love. He always spoke with purpose. He always spoke with authority. He always spoke with compassion. He always spoke with kindness. He always spoke with self-control. His life nor the masses ever counteracted or had the ability to change His words.

In our day today we have churches and government submitting to evil, we have laws being passed to pervert justice in order to appease the masses… we use the “poor man” as an excuse to form laws and regulations that are flat out wrong.

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court? Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?

James 2:1-7

We all cheer this verse. “Woo-hoo that’s right rich man you are no better than me!” However where is the one who is willing to say “Just because you are a poor man does not make you right in your dispute nor give excuse to the perversion of justice.”

The fact that the poor are poor does not give anyone the right to steal from the rich man. What a man has earned he has earned. What is right is right… for the rich and the poor. Justice is justice… that is if we all have an even absolute truth that we will stand on.

Our nation was founded on Biblical truth and Biblical justice. The lines and law were clearly defined. The Bible was taught in the schools. The children of our nation learned to read through the pages of the Scriptures… and our nation was great. It was a nation of honor. It was a nation of principle. It was a nation of hope. It was a nation of strength, dignity, and integrity. It was a nation that was not perfect… but still always gave the individual the vision that they could make the nation better by putting their stamp on the pages of it’s history.

How sad it is to hear that the majority of the leaders of our country cannot even pin point a Biblical reference to support any of their stances. The news anchor, the journalist, the columnist spew the views and condemn those who hold to morality and they have not even taken the time to reference why these people hold to their stance so strongly.

The only good thing about the course our nation is beginning to take is the fact that the blurred lines of those who follow Christ and those who claim to follow Him, but really don’t, are beginning to become less blurred.

Those who obey Him, love Him. It’s as plain and simple as that.

You will either join the masses or you will step out and follow Him… you can talk all you want… profess all you want… but your life shows who you are following. If you can unashamedly mock His cross and His grace, ignoring the conforming to His Word… how can you claim to love Him?

Believe me, I understand growing in the LORD, I am growing as well… but growing requires… well growth. Standing with Christ requires taking a stand… taking up your own cross.

If our nation continues on this downward spiral away from who she was created to be will you be one who goes down with the masses or will you be one who steps in the boat with Christ and weather’s the storms to get to the other side with Him… and that being in every area of your life: business, political, and personal?

Oh Father,

Let me not be deceived or washed away in the masses. Let me always keep my eyes on Christ. The lies of Satan and this world are always directed to appeal to our flesh. We as people are too easily swayed when masses begin to cry out. Those who walk in accordance to darkness know this and they use it to their advantage. I often wonder how many that cried “Hosanna!” also cried “Crucify!” as my Savior stood beaten before them? How many just simply went with the crowd? Oh Father, strengthen me that I might always stand with You, even if it means I stand alone. Teach me how to teach others to do the same. Let them see it lived out in my words and my actions. My Jesus I remember now Your words to Peter when he asked you about the purpose and direction of someone else, You simply turned to him and said, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” (John 21:22). I am not to focus on others. I am not to focus on the crowds. I am to focus only on You and follow only You.

My Jesus, it is in Your name I pray,

Amen

A Breach of Trust

For every breach of trust,

whether it is for ox, for donkey, for sheep, for clothing,

or for any lost thing about which one says, “This is it,”

the case of both parties shall come before the judges;

he whom the judges condemn

shall pay double to his neighbor.

Exodus 22:9

It has always amazed me when people say that they cannot understand the Bible.

Yes, there are things that it contains that are a mystery… many of those things will remain a mystery until the day our Creator chooses to reveal them to us in His glorious light and perfect time. However we should not claim to be unable to understand the entire book simply because there are parts we fon’t understand.

We should never reject the entire Book simply because we have a few unsolved mysteries.

How insane would it be to dismiss and discredit the entire police force because they have files of unsolved mysteries? It would be crazy to do so. What about doctors? Do you we dismiss and discredit the entire medical field because there are times that the cause of a person’s symptoms remains a mystery?

No the police force and the medical field both place the mystery in the “I don’t understand… yet” file and focus on what they do understand and then they keep coming back to the mystery and digging, looking for new insight, and hoping for new answers.

Our pursuit of the Book, of the Word of God, should be just the same.

As we read let us hold on to the things that we see clearly and when we come to a mystery, file it in the “I don’t understand… yet” drawer and move forward.

As you keep going forward in His Word… God will teach you things that just might help you solve some of those unsolved mysteries in that file. If you will just keep seeking Him and His truth, He will reveal Himself to you. One day He will reveal and unravel all His mysteries… until then hold on to what you do understand and enjoy the search into the things that remain a mystery.

As we read through these next few chapters in the book of Exodus I hope you are able to see how clear the Word of God is as He breaks down His expectations for His people. Take notice of how He takes into account our sinful nature as He delivers His precepts. God is not shocked by the sin of His people. He just asks us to do with it what He says to do with it.

As I began reading through Exodus 22, I got to verse 9, and I stopped when I read, “For every breach of trust…”

Trust is huge with our God.

We live in a day when trust is lacking. We don’t trust our President. We don’t trust our company. We don’t trust our family. We don’t trust our friends. We don’t trust the church. We don’t trust our spouse. We don’t trust men. We don’t trust women. We don’t trust God.

There has been a huge breach of trust in our day. From today start paying attention to how many times you say or think, “I don’t trust them”.

In the early days of the nation of Israel the people lost trust. Eli had not done a very good job leading his own sons, much less all the sons of Israel. So God raised up Samuel. Then Samuel in his duty and calling as priest and judge of the children of Israel also neglected to lead his own sons in righteousness. We do not know the behind the scene details of the how’s and why’s, we just know that the people of Israel did not trust them to lead the nation after Samuel.

This was a pivotal moment in the life of Israel. Take special note of the Lord’s assessment of their decision. “They have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them [1 Samuel 8:7].”

In effect, the Lord said, “You are determined to go down this path—one that will certainly cause you sorrow—and I will not stop you. You have rejected My way for your own. Therefore, you will lie in the bed you have made.”

~ Swindoll

The children of Israel had forgotten that it was not Samuel or his sons that were leading them… it was God. Deep down it was not that they did not trust Samuel’s sons to lead them… they no longer trusted God to lead them. They decided they wanted to be in control of who ruled them. They wanted a king they could elect and overthrow when they didn’t like him.

The children equated the failures of men with the failure of God. If they couldn’t trust the man then they couldn’t trust God. When in fact they should have been remembering that when they couldn’t trust the man, they could always trust God.

God wants His people to men and women of their word, of The WORD. He wants us to be people that are trustworthy. However, He knows we are but flesh, He knows we will fail, so He gave us these statutes in Exodus 22:7-17. If we fail at keeping a trust, when we make restitution for this it shows that person that we are truly sorry for that failure. It also helps to keep us from making a habit of this behavior.

I believe we have such a lack of trust in our current day because we have chosen to not demand restitution when there has been a breach of trust. We give a slap on the wrist, a polite reprimand, a pay-off to keep silent, a hollow threat… or we laugh it off as them being a con-man or a “used car salesman”.

We equate preachers and politicians in this joke and we think it’s funny. It’s not. These are the two positions of power that lead our nation. They are supposed to be sitting over the people directly under the authority of God… by making a joke of these positions of authority we have made a joke of our God and His authority.

Instead of demanding integrity from these positions we have slapped them on the writst when they failed in their character… and now we live in a nation that reaping the consequences. No one trusts no one and only a very few demonstrate actual real trust in our God.

When John penned his gospel account he concluded with, “This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true.” (John 21:24) Can you conclude your own words, your own testimony, with these words, recorded for all eternity to be reviewed by generations to come, and they be found true?

Oh Father,

Help me to be a woman of my word. Forgive me, for my own failures in this area. Forgive me for not demanding trust in others. When I fail and there is a breach of trust because of me, may I be willing to go to this person and offer restitution for my sin. I represent You. I carry Your name. My word should be as Your Word, fully trustworthy. When I fail because of the weakness of this human flesh, may I always in the strength of Your Spirit, make it right.

My Jesus it is in Your name I pray,

Amen  

I Brought You Into This World

He who strikes his father or his mother

shall surely be put to death. 

Exodus 21:15

 

I read this verse in the Scripture and I can’t help but think of Bill Cosby.


 

There was a day when our parents were held in a very high regard. Our parents, our grandparents, and our great grandparents were deeply respected and reverenced. We see here in the Word of God that this was an attitude that God demands of His people. God has not changed. He still demands this of His people.

There are three huge “fruit inspections” that I can’t help but catch notice of when I am evaluating a person’s place in the body of Christ… when I am trying to examine whether or not I can trust their confession and profession of Christ. Those three things are (1) their sexual behavior, (2) their thankfulness, and (3) their attitude and behavior toward their parents and others that are their elders. God is pretty clear about all of these. There is no gray area. Either you choose to obey in your love for Him and others or you still have you on the throne. Today are focus is on our attitude and behavior toward our parents.

When we respect and honor our parents we learn to respect authority and by this we learn to also honor and respect the authority of our Creator God. We have done a huge disservice to the children of our present day as we have let the government, from federal all the way down to county, strip us of our parental authority, our parental rights, and our parental obligations.

We have a generation of parents and grandparents that are scared to death of their children… it was designed by God to be the other way around.

My parents used Bill Cosby’s line. I knew they brought me into this world and I knew they could take me out… and I respected them. I respected them because I also knew that they loved me dearly. I knew they were my authority, my protection, my refuge, my safety, my providers, they were my parents.

We live in a day where we have argued so much about how to discipline that we have forgotten to discipline. 

We live in a day where we do a lot of counting to three… and counting to three and a quarter, and three and a half, and three and three quarters… and little Johnny and little Betty Sue never check up. Then to see little Johnny or little Betty Sue turn around and slap at their parents or kick them…  I honestly have to say that I have caught myself bending down at eye level with a complete stranger’s child and telling them myself that they are never to hit their mommy.

I think the first time my oldest child stuck me was probably before she could even talk. I grabbed her little hand and held it down at her side and looked deep in her eyes and told her very firmly, “NO. You do not hit Mommy.” My husband did the same the first time she tried it with him. We had to do the same thing with our youngest. The simple fact is, rebellion is born in them. Striking out against authority is in their nature. It must be dealt with immediately. Do not think that you can let them striking you go because they are “a baby” and think they will “grow out of it”. Deal with it the first time it happens. Address it firmly, but in love.

Following this verse in Exodus is another quite similar…

He who curses his father or his mother

shall surely be put to death.

Exodus 21:17

Usually this same child that is slapping and kicking at their parents is also cursing them. The slaps and kicks usually come with “I hate you‘s”,  “your mean’s”, “your stupid’s“, “I wish you weren’t my mommy/daddy“, “you never let me do anything’s“, “I wish I had never been born‘s” etc…

You were not to strike your parents and you are not to curse them.

Once again, the child is not going to grow out of this behavior… you the parent have to deal with it. Deal with it the first time it happens, and deal with it every time it happens.

Why?

The wages of sin is death. This behavior will lead to death in your child. You must teach your child to put this flesh fest of rebellion to death so that your child might have life.

We must also lead by example. How do you treat your own parents? Let us also remember that there is no disclosure in this verse that says your parents have to worthy of this honor… yes it makes it easier on you if they are… but their worth is never required for your obedience. We have to always remember that we honor and obey them “in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-2).

We honor our parents because God said so… that is the end of the discussion. Lest we forget that we ourselves may not maintain a view of worthiness before our children eyes as we teach them to obey this command of God to them toward us.

Never forget that your kids are watching you… you will lead them… the question is where and how.

Oh Father, 

I am so very thankful for my parents. I was indeed blessed with parents that not only demanded my respect and obedience, but also lived lives that made it easy to obey them. I pray God, that as we live in these last days, where we see depravity growing more and more, and the fruit of that depravity being made evident in the disobedience of children to their parents (Romans 1:30, 2 Timothy 3:2), that You would keep my eyes open. Let me not be blinded by fleshly emotion as I train up my children in You. Help me to honor you always as I parent them. Guide me Father as I endeavor to raise them up to honor You and walk in Your ways. Keep guard over them. Protect them from the evil one and sanctify them in Your Word (John 17:15-17). Oh Father, I will be obedient to teach them Your Word and to set my own heart toward You, and trust that You in Your sovereignty and unfailing grace will use my mistakes for Your glory (Romans 8:28). 

My Jesus I love You and it is in Your name I pray,

Amen

 

I Will Not Go Free

 

But if the slave plainly says,

‘I love my master, my wife and my children;

I will not go out as a free man,’ 

then his master shall bring him to God,

then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost.

And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl;

and he shall serve him permanently.

Exodus 21:5-6

 

In Exodus 20 God delivered the Ten Commandments to the nation of Israel. Now for the next several chapters God is going to break it down for them. He is going to deal with that “gray area” our flesh likes to find anytime we have a set of rules before us… you know… the “well, what if’s”.

The next few chapters give us some of the ordinances of God. Ordinance in Hebrew is mishpat and it means the act of deciding a case, judgment, process, procedure, litigation, sentence. These are the “if this happens then do this” things that God is laying out for the nation of Israel. They are quite simple and clear… that’s the way our God works. We are generally the one’s that complicate things.

Today we are going to look at the ordinance concerning the Hebrew slaves. You see the Hebrews were never to stay slaves again. Yes, if they fell on hard times, then there might come a time that they needed to sell themselves into slavery, but only for six years. On the seventh year they were to be set free.

There was one exception.

Many times while in his slavery a man would decide he loved his master and the life that he had as his slave. In this case the man would come to his master and choose to serve him out of his freedom instead of being forced to out of his debt. When this would happen, the master would take the man and pierce his ear with an awl. This act would put a hole in the man’s ear that would never close showing that this man had chosen to serve his master of his own free will.

This is a beautiful picture of our Savior.  Our Savior was free in every sense of the word. He had all freedom, all power, all authority yet He chose to come and to serve us out of His freedom.

 

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served,

but to serve,

and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Mark 10:45

Our Savior was pierced by the Master as He willingly laid aside all His rights and glory in order to serve mankind. He offered His life as a ransom to be used by us to meet our deepest needs… redemption, reconciliation, forgiveness, salvation… He was not forced. He did what He did out of His great love for us. He did what He did to set us free… even when we didn’t realize we were enslaved.

Likewise, now in our freedom it is time for us to turn and choose to serve Him in our freedom.

  Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law 

through the body of Christ,

so that you might be joined to another,

to Him who was raised from the dead,

in order that we might bear fruit for God.

Romans 7:4

Yes you were set free from the Law, from sin, from death, from the power of the flesh. It is for freedom that you have been set free in Christ…

But the question is, now in your freedom do you choose to be enslaved again?

But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God,

you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification,

and the outcome, eternal life

Romans 6:22

In your freedom is when the choice is yours… it is here where it begins to count. It really has nothing to do with the being set free… but everything to do with how you choose to walk in that freedom.

While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee.

 As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; 

and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”  

When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” 

And as they were going, they were cleansed. 

Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back,

glorifying God with a loud voice, 

and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him.

And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, 

“Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? 

Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” 

 And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.”

Luke 17:11-19

Oh Father,

I thank You for my freedom. In Christ I am free, free indeed. I pray that in my freedom I will always be obedient to Peter’s charge in 1 Peter 2:16, “Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.” The only way I know to thank You for my freedom is turn around and give my life back to you… willingly… because I love You. My life is Yours. You are my Adonai.

My Jesus, it is in Your name I pray,

Amen

 

 

 

An Altar of Earth

You shall make an altar of earth for Me,

and you shall sacrifice on it your burnt offerings

and your peace offerings, your sheep and your oxen;

in every place where I cause My name to be remembered,

I will come to you and bless you.

Exodus 20:24

 

There is something about this verse of Scripture that makes me read it over and over and over again. In my very much inadequate ability I am going to attempt to share why this verse captivates me so.

The children of Israel had just spent the last 400 years among altars of gold, among temples, among man made images to false deities. Here, after God has given them His commands of what not to do, He gives them a command of what they are to do.

They were to build an altar to Him from the earth.

When I read this my mind goes back to the garden. It’s amazing how often God brings me back to the garden… back to Genesis… back to the beginning.

 

Then God said, “Let the waters below the heavens be gathered into one place,

and let the dry land appear”; and it was so. 

God called the dry land earth, and the gathering of the waters He called seas;

and God saw that it was good.

 Then God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, 

and fruit trees on the earth bearing fruit after their kind with seed in them”;

and it was so. 

The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind,

and trees bearing fruit with seed in them, after their kind;

and God saw that it was good. 

There was evening and there was morning, a third day.

Genesis 1:9-13

The waters were to be gathered to one place and then the earth appeared and out of the earth would come life. Out of the earth would come fruit trees that were meant to bear fruit… after their kind. They were to yield seed and the seed were to grow and bear fruit of their own… after their kind.

The children of Israel had been gathered out of the nations… they passed through the water and they now appeared and God said this is good… now go and be a witness to the rest of the nations and bear fruit after your kind… after Me, your God. Do not bear fruit from the gods of these other nations bear fruit after after Me… I am going to use you to bring forth life as you witness as my priests, as my preachers.

God told the children of Israel that they were to make an altar of earth for Him and there make their sacrifices. Did God mean He just wanted them to pile up a big mound of dirt and sacrifice on it?

I live in Alabama. We have a city near me called Moundsvillle. It is full of ancient mounds built by the early Native Americans as tombs and altars of worship to false gods. I don’t believe this would be what God was calling Israel to do… it would contradict the previous “not to do” commands. God simply was not like these other gods and He would not be treated as though He were.

So there must be more to this altar of earth…

 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground,

and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life;

and man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7

Man was formed from the earth… from the dust of the ground.

Oh precious one, did you see it?

The altar of earth?

The body?

Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says,

   “SACRIFICE AND OFFERING YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, 
BUT A BODY YOU HAVE PREPARED FOR ME; 
IN WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE TAKEN NO PLEASURE. 
“THEN I SAID, ‘BEHOLD, I HAVE COME 
(IN THE SCROLL OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME) 
TO DO YOUR WILL, O GOD.’”

 After saying above,

“SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS AND WHOLE BURNT OFFERINGS

AND sacrifices FOR SIN YOU HAVE NOT DESIRED, NOR HAVE YOU TAKEN PLEASURE in them”

(which are offered according to the Law), 

then He said, “BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL.”

He takes away the first in order to establish the second. 

By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Hebrews 10:5-10

Everything has always pointed to Him, to Christ, to this God-Man with a body of flesh that would be the ultimate sacrifice and the only place where His name would be remembered and when we come to Him, to this One who says “Remember Me“… and we lay our sacrifice on this altar… here we are blessed. Here our God comes to us, to meet with us, when we call on Him the One who would cause the name of God to be remembered forever.

I have to look up the names of the false gods worshiped through out history… I forget them.

However, whether they love Him or hate Him… no one who has ever heard the name of Jesus can forget Him.

His name is always on the tip of their tongue, on the back of their mind, naggingly whispering… who do you say that I am?

He is indeed unforgettable… even if all you have ever heard about Him is just the name. He will cause His name to be remembered.

Now my friend, let me ask you, have you prepared your altar of earth on which to worship your Creator God?

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God,

to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, 

acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 

And do notbe conformed to this world,

but be transformed by the renewing of your mind,

so that you may prove what the will of God is,

that which is good and acceptable and perfect.

Romans 12:1-2

God doesn’t want a big fancy temple. He doesn’t want an altar of gold or silver or an image of brass or bronze. He wants the dust of the earth that He formed to be a man and breathed life into. He wants this broken, dirty, fallen flesh of earth that He created to bear His image.

He wants this altar of earth to go and be used by Him to cause His name to remembered. If you will give Him this altar and lay out this body as a living sacrifice to Him and here worship Him… He will come to you and He will bless you.

The children of Israel were being told here that no matter where they were, no matter where they got scattered… if there was earth, they had a place of worship. They had a place, and all the material they would need, to build an altar to call upon the name of their God.

Oh Father,

I am overcome and overwhelmed with You. This earth belongs to You and this body of earth belongs to You. I offer upon this altar of earth my everything. You offer us the opportunity to worship You wherever we go. No matter our material possession, no matter our geographical location, earth is everywhere… and our body is with us wherever we go. You came to this earth in a body… and then You come and dwell within this body of mine to dwell with Me and make you this body, this flesh formed from the earth, Your temple. Yes, I am overcome and overwhelmed with You. My Jesus, take this altar of earth and use me to cause Your name to be remembered.   

It’s in Your name I pray,

Amen

 

That I Might Not Sin

Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid;
for God has come in order to test you,
and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you,
so that you may not sin.”
Exodus 20:20

 

God has just delivered the last of His Ten Commandments before the children of Israel. We read in Exodus 20:18 that all people saw and perceived the thunder and lightning and the sound of the trumpet through which God spoke. They saw and were afraid and stood at a distance.

I love thunderstorms. I love them because of verses like these in the Scriptures. So many times we read of God being in the midst of the storm. We read how thunder and lightning surround His throne.

Out from the throne come flashes of lightning and sounds and peals of thunder. 

And there were seven lamps of fire burning before the throne,

which are the seven Spirits of God;

Revelation 4:5

 

So when thunder and lightning are surrounding me I worship my God and I give Him praise because in the midst of the storm I know He is near.

Sin entered the entire world, the whole earth is in rebellion to Him… why wouldn’t the earth quake in fear and the atmosphere rage in rebellion when it’s Holy Creator has entered its presence.

It’s opposites in the mix, sin and holiness, like cold and hot air create a tornado or hurricane, when sin and holiness combine an unforgettable event is about to happen.

This powerful presence of God before the children of Israel was to be a reminder to them of God’s authority. It was to be a reminder of the day they heard these commands. The reminder was for those days when life seemed ordinary. Those days when God’s blessings upon His people turn into a curse because life gets so easy that they actually begin to think they have what they have because of themselves, not because of their God.

This thunderous trumpet sounding of God was to help remind the children of Israel that their God was a holy God. That their God was a God of His word. That their God was not wood or stone, but alive and active. This display was to command their attention and was to stamp their memory so that they would share it with their children, with their grandchildren, and their great grandchildren, for generations still to come.

This was to test them, so that the fear of God would remain with them, so that they may not sin.

We live in a day where many have forgotten the fear of God. Many in the church, have chosen to ignore to teach about the God of wrath and have chosen to only pull the attributes of God out of Scripture that make people feel good. You know the ones that don’t scare them or make them nervous or make them question His goodness.

God is not afraid of our questions… when Christ came He tried to get people to ask them.

It was the fear of the wrath of my earthly father that kept me in check just as much as it was the love I had for him, and the love that I knew he had for me, that kept me from wanting to disappoint him. I knew both sides of my father. My father used to say that God gave him two hands for a reason, he loved me with one and disciplined me with the other. However the truth is that he loved me with both at the same time.

MY SON, DO NOT REGARD LIGHTLY THE DISCIPLINE OF THE LORD, 
NOR FAINT WHEN YOU ARE REPROVED BY HIM; 
 FOR THOSE WHOM THE LORD LOVES HE DISCIPLINES, 
AND HE SCOURGES EVERY SON WHOM HE RECEIVES.

Hebrews 12:5-6

 

Our Heavenly Father loves us with an everlasting love and because He does He wants us to live. Therefore, since the wages of sin is death… He reminds of His wrath and of His power and of His disciplining hand so that the fear of Him would remain with us so that we may not sin… because sin leads to death.

Remembering the sound of His voice as a thunderous trumpet would hopefully make the children of Israel think twice before they indulged in some fleshly foolishness. Likewise, remembering the wrath of God that was poured out on Christ on behalf of our sin should make us think twice before we indulge in fleshly foolishness of our own.

Oh Father,

Let me never forget that You are Jehovah-makkeh, the LORD that Smiteth. You love me, I in no way can deny that. You demonstrated how very much You loved me when Christ died on the cross for my sins (Romans 5:8). May I never be guilty of mistaking Your kindness for weakness or Your grace for ignorance. May I live each day working out my salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) so that I might not sin against You.

My Jesus, it’s in Your name I pray,
Amen