Sometimes, when a person makes a major purchase, like buying a new car or a new house they come down with a phenomenon known as “buyer’s remorse.” Buyers remorse happens when you second guess that decision. Yes, you like that new car and all. You could think about how wonderful it would be when you drive it down the highway. But when that first car payment comes due and you see how much of your paycheck goes out every month… and will continue to go out for the next 4 or 5 or 6 years, you can have buyer’s remorse. It can be even worse when you realize that that dream house you’ve always wanted requires 1/4 of your paycheck every month and will for the next 30 years. Yikes! Buyers remorse has to do with regretting that important decision.
After the 10 plagues, the last of which included the death of his firstborn son, Pharaoh was so devastated that he let the Israelite slaves leave. He wanted to be rid of them. Their God had displayed His power and Pharaoh’s hubris was finally knocked down. But like a boxer in a ring who has been knocked senseless by a much stronger opponent, Pharaoh still manages to get back up on his feet and try again. He realizes that he’s suddenly lost a significant part of his workforce. 600,000-able bodied men were gone. Who was going to build Pharaoh’s cities and pyramids and harvest their crops? Pharaoh has buyer’s remorse. He wants to get those slaves back. So he assembles his army, the most powerful army in the world, and sends out the chariots and soldiers to chase down the Israelites traveling by foot.
Meanwhile, God is making his visible presence known to Israel. He’s leading them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. This was important. God’s people were no doubt very disoriented. They were leaving a place that was known and familiar to them. For over 400 years they had been living in Egypt. They were now going to a land which they had never been. They may have heard stories from their parents and grandparents about this land, but chances are that after 400 years, it had all but been forgotten in Israel’s memory. They had no idea where they were going. So they needed some visible assurance that God really was with them. So he made Himself visible. I’m sure that this brought some comfort to the traveling Israelites… until they heard the sound of Pharaoh’s army, with it’s galloping hoofbeats bearing down upon them. As they looked forward to their escape route, there was nothing but the vast sea before them, and behind, the most powerful army in the world.
In despair they cried out to Moses- “why did you bring us out here to die, weren’t there enough graves in Egypt to hold our bodies?” The sarcasm would be funny if the stakes weren’t so high. These people truly were terrified. Yes, they could see that God was leading them- his tangible, visible presence was right there… and yes, God had performed 10 great signs in Egypt. But they were still scared.
It is normal to get scared when scary things are about to happen to you. It would take the nation of Israel a long time before they would begin to really trust God in all things.
I’m a baseball fan. Over the last 8-9 years I’ve watched the Washington Nationals play a lot of baseball. They have been a very good team for years, but unfortunately, too many times that great team fell apart during the playoffs. Every time they were in a do or die situation in the playoffs, they lost that deciding game and were eliminated from the playoffs. This happened over and over again. So when the 2019 playoffs started, and the Nationals played the Milwaukee Brewers in the one game wild-card play off and they were behind by 3 runs, I started thinking “Oh no, not again! We’re gonna lose once again.” But they didn’t! They came back and beat the Brewers. Wow! It was different. After all these years they won a playoff series. But then they played the mighty Dodgers. Once again they go behind 2 games to 1 and were facing an elimination game. They were behind and it was getting late in the game, and then miraculously, they tied it up and went into extra innings, and then Howie Kendrick hit a 10th inning grand slam and the Nationals won another series. They moved on to the next round, where they swept the St. Louis Cardinals in 4 games. By this time I was becoming a believer. So much that when they played the Houston Astros in the World Series and got down three games to two and were facing elimination, I suddenly wasn’t worried any more. I had become a believer. I just knew that they would come back and win… and they did.
So Israel can be excused for fearing Pharaoh’s army and believing that the worst was was about to happen. But once again, God showed up in a powerful way, the seas were parted and Israel went through on dry land, and Pharaoh’s army was drowned in the sea as they gave chase.
How many times does God need to show up before we begin to trust? For me, it only took a few come from behind wins for be to begin believing in the Nationals and placing my confidence in their ability to come back and win. It would take quite a few more wins before Israel would finally come to fully trust God. What will it take for you to fully trust God? Israel’s story is, in many ways our story too. We can read these stories and have our faith strengthened to help us keep trusting God even in the middle of hard times. God is with us and God has the power to display His ultimate victory over the forces of evil.
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=exodus+13-15&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Exodus 16-18 on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan
In chapter 12, we met Abram and the covenant story of the Bible began. God expands on that covenant in chapter 15 when he promises that Abram, who was childless, would have a son who would be the father of nations. Genesis 15:6 says, “Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”
Many of us wonder how we can be righteous, and some of us may feel like, to be righteous, we need to live a perfect, sinless life. However, we can learn from the life and attitude of Abram that righteous living is not only about right actions. Righteous living also centers around our belief. What does it mean to believe in God? Many assume that this belief is just to acknowledge that God exists. However, James says that even the demons know that God exists and shudder (James 2:19). Belief that produces righteousness is not simply that. Instead, belief is trusting in God and letting that trust influence our actions. Through belief, we do end up living a righteous life, but that is because we know that God’s plan for our life is trustworthy- it is the best way to live.
To trust God is not a one time choice that we make. It takes a lifetime to learn how to truly trust God, and many times it seems like we are taking one step forward and two steps back on our trust journey. Abram certainly experienced this. In chapter 15, he believed in God’s promises and trusted him. But, in chapter 16, he tries to build a family in a way that was not God’s plan through his servant, Hagar. Then, in chapter 17, he shows his commitment to the covenant through circumcision. Our lives will often mirror this. When we feel like God is delaying in his promises, we may stop trusting him and try to fulfill those promises ourselves, falling prey to the lie the serpent spoke in Genesis 3 when he said, “Did God really say…?” We have to remember that God’s timing is the perfect timing and be assured of his faithfulness.
Where do you need to trust God today? What steps do you need to take in faith to show that trust?
This section of Job is beginning to wind down. Today we hear the final (and brief) closing arguments from Bildad, the last of Job’s 3 friends to speak. And then Job begins a 6 chapter speech which will be all we will hear from him until the final chapter 42. But, don’t worry there will be a new character introduced soon, as well as a thrilling climax ahead. The best is yet to come.
Today Job is not quite as bitter as we have seen him earlier this week. He has lost a bit of his accusatory sting toward God. I think we are seeing some progress through his stages of grief and he is getting closer and closer to acceptance and after that will come hope. He speaks eloquently of God’s greatness, while also still asking about God’s timeline in dealing with the wicked. He is showing his awe of God and trust in God, even while not understanding all God is and does. It is a great example for us. It is wise to remember that we don’t need to understand God, but we can still trust in Him. I know I sometimes have a difficult time understanding other created beings – some of whom I have spent a lot of time with and study regularly. If I don’t understand people who are “like me” – isn’t it a bit arrogant of myself to think that I ought to be able to understand the Almighty who is on a completely different playing field than even the most wise and competent human. If God and I don’t always see eye to eye – whose eyesight do you imagine needs some adjusting?
Speaking of wisdom, all of chapter 28 details the search for wisdom. It is more valuable, and sometimes harder to find, than the most costly material treasures. Can you think of any places you have searched for wisdom, and been disappointed when it came up lacking? At the end of the chapter we find the answers to the search for wisdom…
20 Where then does wisdom come from?
Where does understanding dwell?…
23 God understands the way to it
and he alone knows where it dwells,
24 for he views the ends of the earth
and sees everything under the heavens.
25 When he established the force of the wind
and measured out the waters,
26 when he made a decree for the rain
and a path for the thunderstorm,
27 then he looked at wisdom and appraised it;
he confirmed it and tested it.
28 And he said to the human race,
“The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom,
and to shun evil is understanding.”
Job 28:20, 23-28 (NIV)
It can sound so simple – but still be so challenging to live out in our daily lives, especially if we are in a season of suffering or loss. If you want wisdom – seek out God and give Him the honor and respect that is due Him, even when you are hurting. And if you want understanding – follow Him, do what is right and flee evil, even when it is hard.
It can help our eyesight immensely when we can say, “I am not God. You are. I will follow You.”
To read or listen to today’s passage check out https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+24-28&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s passage, as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan will be Job 29-31. The best of Job is yet to come. Jump in and read with us!
Whenever I tucked him in, I would tell him I’d see him the next time I worked. He’d tell me, “God willing and the creek don’t rise!” He was about 80 years old, living in the nursing home where I worked. He had a lifetime of wisdom and colloquialisms. I had not heard that phrase before meeting him but immediately appreciated the meaning.
Due to modern transportation infrastructure, rising creeks don’t ruin our plans as often as they used to. However, our lives, no matter how modern, are truly in God’s hands. Proverbs 16: 1, 3, 4, 9 and 33 specifically discuss the plans we make. No matter what we do and what we plan to do, God will ultimately guide these plans or even change them.
Verse 3 is a bit of a struggle for me. I’ve made plans I thought were for God, but they didn’t turn out the way I thought they should. They didn’t succeed, at least not in my mind. But in the very next verse it states that the LORD works out everything for His own ends. Sometimes I clearly see through hindsight how my failed plans served God.
But not every time, I’m still working through that. During a particularly hard time in my life, I defeatedly told my aunt that maybe I’d figure out WHY this all happened when I entered the kingdom. Her response was perfect. “And then it won’t matter.” WOW!!! What a gift! What a promise! Our dashed hopes and failed plans will fall away when we see Christ!!! Nothing else will matter! Reading Revelation 21 makes me tear up with excitement!
In the meantime, God, through the proverbial writers, gives us instructions on the behaviors and plans that destroy (verses 4, 5, 18, 22, 25, 27-30) and the behaviors and plans that build up (verses 6, 8, 10-14, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 32, and 32). Plan to build up others and glorify God!
One of the other reasons I appreciated and remembered “God willing and the creek don’t rise,” is because it reminds me of Dr. Joe Martin. Whenever he speaks of his plans, he adds, “God willing.” This is a sincere example of what trusting God with every area of life looks like.
I truly hope to see all of you at FUEL 2020.
God willing and the creek don’t rise!
Good morning everyone! (Or afternoon, or evening, depending on when you get to this!) Let’s take a look at John 2, a much easier chapter to dig into compared to yesterday’s in my opinion…
Thought #1 – Vs. 1-12: The author here writes about Jesus’ first miracle; turning water into wine at a wedding. We’re all probably relatively familiar with this passage, and most are probably aware that when Jesus answers his mother with “Woman” it does not mean disrespect in Greek like it might in today’s world (and if not, now you know!). There is so much in this little story that we don’t know, such as who was getting married, why Jesus and his mother were attending, what the reactions were of the people who saw Jesus perform his first miracle, etc. Despite reading this multiple times, I did find something new to think about this time through. This time I saw that Mary already had faith in Jesus’ abilities before he had proven anything to her. While we also don’t know much about Mary, we can pick up a few characteristics or insights into her life from the little we read. For example, Mary’s faith has always relied on the idea about not needing to see to believe. She has always had a deep trust in God, and in His power, and isn’t afraid to boldly ask for a miracle, at least according to what we can read in the Bible. She has probably experienced God’s power in the most personal way of any human on earth, and I think it shows. In this story, she doesn’t even really acknowledge Jesus’ response, but simply tells the servants to obey him. What a mom thing to do… give a direction and not listen for any ifs, ands, or buts about it! Mary knew what Jesus could accomplish before even seeing it happen, she had no doubts in God’s power that was within Jesus. We are lucky enough to live in the present day where we have very easy access to a Bible that lays out all the miraculous things done in the past by Jesus. I think we take that for granted! I know in my own life I do not always fully trust in God or in His power to work in my life, yet I have 66 books’ worth of examples of how He has already done amazing things with that power! How can you shape your faith to be a bit more like Mary’s – trusting God’s power to do the work needed even if we can’t see the outcome yet?
Thought #2 – Vs. 13-23: I love this story about Jesus clearing out the Temple. Maybe it’s because I’m a fan of people getting in trouble when I know they are doing wrong… I was definitely that kid in elementary school that ratted out any misbehavior immediately. But beyond that, I think this story also makes for some great analogies and comes up with a lot of good thoughts! In this story we see Jesus experiencing what can be termed a “righteous anger” towards the people who have dirtied the Temple. He wasn’t just freaking out, or getting angry with people for messing up, he was upset that they were tarnishing the Temple of God in such a public way. They knew very well what that Temple was for, and yet they chose to set up shop for a personal gain that did nothing for them in the long-run. So Jesus clears them out in a very active way! Later on we see Jesus compare this Temple to himself (vs. 21) and that got me thinking about how our bodies as temples for God sometimes need a good clearing out. I’m not talking about a juice cleanse or anything like that, but I’m talking about an active removal of the things that aren’t supposed to be there. This can be a wide variety of things… fear, sin, poisonous habits or relationships, you name it. Sometimes we need to experience that same righteous anger in order to be motivated to clear out our life and get back on track with God. Do you see any areas of your life that you feel need to be cleared out so you can be back on track with God? What are you doing, or what can you do, to actively clean yourself out?
I hope our questions for today bring about some quality reflection time! I know they got me thinking!