Today’s passage tells us how Moses endured arduous times: by faith. Every believer will face trying moments. The key is to remember that tough times are …
Inescapable. “For man is born for trouble, as sparks fly upward” (Job 5:7). Every one of us will experience periods when life is hard. Financial pressure, family trouble, health issues, business difficulties, opposition within the church—the list of potential problems that we could face is endless. It is, therefore, essential that we learn to respond in the way God desires.
Able to destroy or develop us. Have you ever noticed how people respond differently to the same difficult situation? Some grow more focused while others fall apart or are even destroyed by the trial. How we respond depends on our perspective: Are we God-centered or trouble-centered?
Survivable. The key is to learn how to walk in continual awareness of God’s presence. Moses demonstrated this in seeking to free the Israelite people from Egyptian slavery. He had learned to “see” our invisible God walking by his side and to be constantly mindful of His presence. Moses didn’t focus on the Egyptians, Pharaoh’s power, or even the Israelites he was leading. His focus was on God. (more…)
Read: 1 Kings 12:1-15
Bible in a Year: Exodus 36-38; Matthew 23:1-22
Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. —Matthew 20:26
In traditional African societies, leadership succession is a serious decision. After a king’s demise, great care is taken selecting the next ruler. Besides being from a royal family, the successor must be strong, fearless, and sensible. Candidates are questioned to determine if they will serve the people or rule with a heavy hand. The king’s successor needs to be someone who leads but also serves.
In his famed “I have a Dream speech,” Martin Luther King Jr. proclaimed: “We refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt.” At these words, Dr. King painted for a troubled nation powerful images of hope and human equality, and forever rooted the civil rights movement in images of justice and the image of God.
The images presented in the book of Daniel are similarly rooted in images of justice and God. In fact, it is for this reason that the sixth chapter of Daniel was a favorite Scripture passage among civil rights preachers in the early 1960s. The story told in Daniel 6 presents a king who loses sight of his purpose as king and the purpose of the law, creating a system void of justice and a law that only hinders and traps its makers. But against the images of lawlessness and corruption, the story portrays a silent but active Daniel clinging to a higher law, bowing before the King of Kings in the midst of persecution, in the hands of his oppressors, and the shadows of the lions’ den. Living within the hopelessness of exile, sweltering under the heat of injustice, Daniel unflinchingly declares the sovereignty and kindness of God, and with faithfulness and perseverance refuses to believe otherwise. “When our most tireless efforts fail to stop the surging sweep of some monster of oppression, we need to know that there is a God in this universe whose matchless strength is a fit contrast to the sordid weakness of man,” writes King. “When we are staggered by the chilly winds of adversity and battered by the raging storms of disappointment… we need to know that there is Someone who loves us, who really cares, who understands.”(1)
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all” (2 Corinthians 13:14).
Though there is only one God, He exists in three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
God is one, but He exists in three distinct Persons. We call this the Trinity, a contraction of “tri-unity,” meaning “three in one.” The word Trinity doesn’t appear in the Bible, but God’s existence as three Persons in one God is clear from Scripture.
Old Testament evidence of God’s plurality can be found in the very first verse: “In the beginning God . . .” (Gen. 1:1). The Hebrew word used for God is Elohim, which is a plural noun. Isaiah 42:1 speaks of the Messiah: “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.” The Messiah says in Isaiah 48:16, “The Lord God has sent Me, and His Spirit.”
You have been severed from Christ, if you seek to be justified [that is, declared free of the guilt of sin and its penalty, and placed in right standing with God] through the Law; you have fallen from grace [for you have lost your grasp on God’s unmerited favor and blessing]. For we [not relying on the Law but] through the [strength and power of the Holy] Spirit, by faith, are waiting [confidently] for the hope of righteousness [the completion of our salvation]. Galatians 5:4-5, AMP
As a young Christian my sincere zeal grew into an unhealthy drive based on my discipline and motivated by my pride to be morally superior. I knew I was saved by grace through faith, but I attempted to live out my Christianity in my own strength. My heart silently judged others who didn’t meet my standards of behavior. My moralizing fed my ego and pride, while giving lip service to God’s grace. Fear based living starved my soul. My heart hungered for acceptance. Thankfully, I began to learn how to be truly loved by Jesus. Love motivates grace based living.
Paul addressed Jewish Christians who attempted to add circumcision as part of salvation in Jesus. They had fallen from their total dependence on God’s grace for their forgiveness of sin by adding a condition. Grace based living does not depend on doing deeds to fulfill a moral code, but solely on the Spirit’s power. The Holy Spirit grows beautiful holiness in the heart of believers in Jesus Christ. Just as a vine gives a branch life and fruitfulness, so attractive virtues are the outcome of Spirit-filled living. We receive Christ by grace so we might follow Christ with grace!
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.
1 Samuel 18:1-4; 20:1-4
The story of Jonathan and David in the Old Testament is well known. It is the story of two friends who illustrate the principle of Proverbs 18:24: friends who are closer than brothers. David and Jonathan weren’t related, yet they committed their lives and resources to one another—something brothers might not do. The basis for their friendship was the covenant they made with one another. In their day, a covenant was the strongest form of commitment. The parties would do whatever one another needed.
But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be [people] perfectly and fully developed [with no defects], lacking in nothing.—James 1:4
Patience is extremely important for people who want to glorify God and enjoy their lives. If we are impatient, the situations we encounter in life will certainly cause us to react emotionally.
The next time you have to wait on something or someone, instead of just reacting, try reminding yourself, Getting upset will not make this go any faster, so I might as well enjoy the wait. Then perhaps say out loud, “I am developing patience as I wait, so I am thankful in this situation.” If you do that, you will be acting on the Word of God rather than reacting to the unpleasant circumstance.
“The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”
We hope you are enjoying the Girlfriends in God daily devotions. We (Mary, Sharon, and Gwen) would like to introduce you to some of our special friends. From time-to-time, the Friday devotions will be written by one of our friends in ministry. We call them our “Friday Friends.” So grab your Bible and a fresh cup of coffee and drink in the words from our “Friday Friend,” Jennifer Kennedy Dean
Friend To Friend
“As long as the earth remains there will be springtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night” (Genesis 8:22).
On his way to a country church one Sunday morning, a preacher was overtaken by one of his deacons.
“What a bitterly cold morning,” the deacon remarked. “I am sorry the weather is so wintry.”
Smiling, the minister replied, “I was just thanking God for keeping His Word.”
“What do you mean?” the man asked with a puzzled look on his face.
Read: Isaiah 7:1-14
Then the Lord said to Isaiah, Go out, you and your son Shear-Jashub, to meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Launderer’s Field. Say to him, Be careful, keep calm and don’t be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood—because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah. (Isaiah 7:3-4)
We are told the precise spot on which God directed the prophet to stand when he made this announcement to the king. You probably read this thinking that it was nothing more than a casual direction God gave to him. But it is very significant. Isaiah was told to go to the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool on the road to the Launderer’s Field; to stand at that very spot and give this announcement to King Ahaz. What is the meaning of that? There at that spot, and only there, the prophet was to inform King Ahaz that he had nothing to fear from these two armies that were threatening the city of Jerusalem. They were only smoldering stubs and were no real threat at all. The account declares that within sixty-five years this deliverance would happen. All this came true, as predicted.
Read: Genesis 3:1-12
But the Lord God called to the man . . . “Where are you?” (v. 9)
Many years ago, I was a fan of Guideposts, a magazine full of heartwarming, personal stories of relationships with God. One day I decided to try to write for this magazine, so I read back issues and the editor’s guidelines for stories. Finally, I had to face the truth. I didn’t have the personal connection with God that these stories described. My connection with God was purely intellectual.
I was not bothered by that truth until I understood the meaning of collaborating with the Spirit in the process of spiritual transformation—“being conformed into the image of Christ through a relationship of intimacy with God” (emphasis added). After decades of being a Christian, I learned that God is eager to journey through life with me. I understood that because I am created to have intimacy with God, I am also able to have feelings of rapport, affection, trust, and love with others.
What’s the scariest movie you’ve ever seen? Many Boomers will say The Exorcist, a despicable tale of a young girl possessed by a demon and the ensuing battle between the evil spirit and a priest. While the story is fiction, in reality there are dark forces active on Earth, and though a demon cannot possess a child of God, Satan’s minions delight in wreaking havoc through circumstances.
In you our father’s trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.
In the Bible, Jesus encounters a man under demonic control. People described him as running wild in the hills, screaming madly, cutting himself, and breaking any chain they used to bind him. Jesus commanded the evil spirit to leave the man – and soon he was seen clothed and in his right mind. Jesus told the man to go and tell everyone what God had done for him.
“In this manner, therefore, pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.’ “—Matthew 6:9–10
If you want God to say yes to your prayers, then you must pray according to the will of God. Jesus modeled this for us when He taught us to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9–10).
Yet some people teach the opposite. They say that when you pray, you are to tell God what you want and ask for it by faith. You are to speak it into existence and not doubt. I’ve heard one teacher say, “Don’t ever pray, ‘Not my will, but Yours be done.” But those who hold that view are mistaken.
“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33)
Do you know someone you consider to be very wise? Wise people always seem to give good advice about a problem, and they always seem to make good choices. When you take questions to a wise person for advice, you are confident that the person will give you a very good answer.
But no matter how wise a person may be, God is far wiser. The apostle Paul tells us that God’s wisdom and knowledge are so deep, no man could ever even begin to understand them. Sometimes we show that we cannot understand God’s wisdom because we question why He made us a certain way or why He allows certain things to happen in our lives.
Today’s Scripture: Matthew 26:42
“My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.”
In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” A little later, at his arrest, he said to Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (Matthew 26:39, NIV; John 18:11, NIV). The cup was very much on Jesus’ mind that night.
What was in the cup? We generally associate it with his crucifixion. We assume that when he prayed that the cup might be taken away, he was asking to be spared from that horrible and demeaning death on the cross. There’s truth in that assumption, and certainly the cup was connected with the crucifixion. But still—what was in it?
Today’s Scripture: 2 Kings 1-3
I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter hidden things,things from of old–what we have heard and known, what our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done. – Psalm 78:2-4
What do you want to leave behind when your life on earth is over? Let’s look at what Elijah the prophet left behind. In today’s passage, we find him on his last day on earth, visiting the schools of the prophets where young men trained. We see Elijah’s final investment in the life of Elisha. Never underestimate the power of one life invested in another. When I was a twenty-four-year-old student at Northwestern College in Minneapolis, one man taught me most of what I know about the Christian life.
A recent headline in the Washington Post proclaimed “Scientists open the ‘black box’ of schizophrenia with dramatic genetic discovery.”
While the headline may be a little hyped, what actually happened has the potential to be, as the saying goes, a “game changer”—only not in the way the article would have us believe.
As the Post reports, “scientists have pinned down a molecular process in the brain that helps to trigger schizophrenia.” An article published in the prestigious journal Nature describes the discovery of a “genetic pathway [that] probably reveals what goes wrong neurologically in a young person diagnosed with the devastating disorder.”
Now, it’s important to be clear on what schizophrenia is, especially since we use “schizophrenic” to mean being of two minds on a subject. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, or NIMH, “Schizophrenia is a chronic and severe mental disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and behaves. People with schizophrenia may seem like they have lost touch with reality.”
Read Luke 6:1-11
“The Sabbath comes like a caress,” Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, “wiping away fear, sorrow, and somber memories.” But for many in Jesus’ day, the required observance of the seventh day was a burden, not a blessing. In their attempt to preserve the sacred nature of the day, the religious leaders had encumbered worshipers with a load of restrictions.
As Jesus’ disciples walked through grain fields, they began to pick the grain and eat it. This was permissible according to Mosaic Law (see Deut. 23:25). The Pharisees were offended, however, that this happened on the Sabbath. They considered the disciples’ behavior to be a form of work.
Most of us remember Michael Oher as the subject of The Blind Side. The inspirational movie told the story of his childhood poverty, adoption by Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy, and eventual career as an offensive tackle in the NFL. Now Michael Oher is playing in the Super Bowl for the Carolina Panthers, protecting quarterback Cam Newton from Denver’s defense, the best in the NFL.
But only because Newton asked him to. Here’s their remarkable story.
Oher played several years for the Baltimore Ravens, then was signed by his home state Tennessee Titans. His season there was disastrous—he allowed six sacks and twenty-six quarterback hurries in eleven games during a 2–14 season. The Titans later cut him. What he didn’t tell anyone was that he was playing with a torn bicep and an injured toe.
Cam Newton’s brother had played with Oher in Baltimore and thought Michael could help protect the Carolina quarterback. So he notified Newton, who texted Oher to say he needed his help. The Panthers then signed Oher to a two-year contract that was widely criticized. But Oher had an outstanding season for the team that is widely favored to win the NFL championship.
Yesterday we observed how ineffective Moses’ self-reliant actions were. Today we will see what God can do in the life of someone who is fully submitted to Him. If we let Moses’ example teach us about the dangers of self-sufficiency and the advantages of depending on the Lord, we’ll save ourselves a lot of hardship.
When we submit to God’s way, He’ll do amazing things in and through our life. Despite past failures, Moses was still used in accomplishing the divine plan, but only after he became usable—that is, humbled and broken of his self-will. Just consider what God achieved when Moses relinquished control.
- He showed He could do great things through a yielded person.
• He got more done in less time and with fewer resources. There was no insurrection or lengthy war—just a dramatic display of His power.
• He proved the superiority of His way by freeing over two million people without the loss of a single Hebrew life.
• He sent slaves out of bondage with their captors’ riches (Ex. 3:21-22).
• He proved to both the Israelites and the Egyptians that He alone is the God of heaven and earth.
• He received all the glory.
Our past failures never prevent God’s willingness or ability to use us. In fact, our weakness is a great opportunity for the display of His power. In our own strength, we are totally ineffective. But when we submit to the Lord’s authority in our life, we can experience His victory in whatever He calls us to do.
Bible in a Year: Leviticus 18-20