Wednesday, 30 September 2015

How long will you refuse?

And Moses said, Eat that to day; for to day is a sabbath unto the LORD: to day ye shall not find it in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the sabbath, in it there shall be none. And it came to pass, that there went out some of the people on the seventh day for to gather, and they found none. And the LORD said unto Moses, How long refuse ye to keep my commandments and my laws?  - Exodus 16.25-28

The instructions were simple. God would give the people enough manna for their families for six days, but they were only to take enough to feed their family. On the sixth day God would give double which they were to collect and save for the Sabbath day because He would not send manna on that day.

How easy can it be?

And yet they couldn’t do it. Some tried to get too much and the food rotted. Some didn’t gather double on Friday and had nothing on the Sabbath. All they had to do was trust God enough to obey Him. But apparently even that was too hard.

What a bunch of dummies, huh? They didn’t even know enough to trust God and obey him. They really thought they knew best. Of course, they knew better than God.

Sounds kind of silly doesn’t it? We would never act that way.

But wait a second. Don’t we do that all the time? Don’t we see what God says in His word, hear the truth preached in church, or are encouraged by a friend about what we need to do, and then just don’t do it?

How long are we going to keep going on doing what we want and ignoring what God wants us to do? How long are we going to refuse His way? 

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Bread of heaven

And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat. - Exodus 16.15

After living here for a few years, and being in the middle of the Rugby World Cup, I am kind of embarrassed to say what the first thing I think about when I hear these words. It is a hymn, but the reason is a little strange.

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

It is a beautiful hymn, but all I can hear is 80,000 Welsh rugby fans singing it at the top of their lungs. You nned to hear it - it is powerful even from a rugby crowd.

But we have have the origin of ‘bread of heaven.’ Bread of heaven is so much more that just a rugby song. It is a theme that runs all through God’s word. Here in the wilderness God provided manna, the bread of heaven, for forty years without fail. But this really comes home when we see that Jesus used manna to picture Himself.

Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Just as God provided physical bread from heaven in the desert today Jesus is our spiritual bread of heaven in our spiritual wasteland.

There is a big difference though. God has a few rules for the manna. You couldn’t collect it on Saturday. You could only take what you actually needed. Jesus as the Bread of Life never runs out and He is available in overflowing abundance.

Bread of heaven, bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more.

Monday, 28 September 2015

When am I going to get it?

And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah, for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the LORD; and the LORD shewed him a tree, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet: there he made for them a statute and an ordinance, and there he proved them, And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee. And they came to Elim, where were twelve wells of water, and threescore and ten palm trees: and they encamped there by the waters. – Exodus 15.23-27

It didn’t take long for the people to forget what God had done. They had barely finished the great victory songs when, at the first sign of trouble, they started to complain again. It is a pattern which goes on over and over and over again.

Despite watching God do such a great work the Israelites first response the bitter waters at Marah was to complain. When the visible blessings were gone so was the faith and so was the praise and so were the songs and so was the worship. Instead there was disappointment and bitterness and complaining. And why? Because God was not blessing the way they thought He should.

I don’t know about you, but I find myself here more often than I like. Being back in the hospital all of a sudden is doing that to me. I am tempted to forget the blessings I see all the time and focus on the hassle and disruption to my daily life.

I find it easy to criticise the Israelites, but can excuse it when it comes to me doing the same. I have a good excuse, this is, after all, me!

True praise is never affected by circumstances or situations or settings. True praise is based on character. It is based on the character of God as true and loving and caring and in control, and that He is immortal, invisible, God only wise.

And it is based on my character in trusting Him based on who He is and not on what I see.

The things that were written ‘aforetime’ are written for our learning. May I learn from the example of the Israelites.

Sunday, 27 September 2015

My God will reign

The LORD shall reign for ever and ever. – Exodus 15.18

I wish I could do more than just a copy and paster. But when I read about how my King reigns I can’t help but think about the great old preacher S.M.A. Lockeridge. I heard him preach before he died and he read his version of a great reading or poem that has  a couple of authors. Nothing I could say could compare to his words. So lets just than Dr Lockeridge for our devotional though today. The version here may not exactly match the video (if I can get it to post) but folks say he never didn't exactly the same anyway.

The Bible says my King is the King of the Jews. He’s the King of Israel. He’s the King of Righteousness. He’s the King of the Ages. He’s the King of Heaven. He’s the King of Glory. He’s the King of kings, and He’s the Lord of lords. That’s my King.

I wonder, do you know Him?

My King is a sovereign King. No means of measure can define His limitless love. He’s enduringly strong. He’s entirely sincere. He’s eternally steadfast. He’s immortally graceful. He’s imperially powerful. He’s impartially merciful.

Do you know Him?

He’s the greatest phenomenon that has ever crossed the horizon of this world. He’s God’s Son. He’s the sinner’s Saviour. He’s the centrepiece of civilisation. He’s unparalleled. He’s unprecedented. He is the loftiest idea in literature. He’s the highest personality in philosophy. He’s the fundamental doctrine of true theology. He’s the only one qualified to be an all sufficient Saviour.

I wonder if you know Him today?

He supplies strength for the weak. He’s available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathises and He saves. He strengthens and sustains. He guards and He guides. He heals the sick. He cleansed the lepers. He forgives sinners. He discharges debtors. He delivers the captive. He defends the feeble. He blesses the young. He serves the unfortunate. He regards the aged. He rewards the diligent. And He beautifies the meek.

I wonder if you know Him?

He’s the key to knowledge. He’s the wellspring of wisdom. He’s the doorway of deliverance. He’s the pathway of peace. He’s the roadway of righteousness. He’s the highway of holiness. He’s the gateway of glory.

Do you know Him? Well…

His life is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His Word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. And His yoke is easy. And His burden is light.

I wish I could describe Him to you. Yes…

He’s indescribable! He’s incomprehensible. He’s invincible. He’s irresistible. You can’t get Him out of your mind. You can’t get Him off of your hand. You can’t outlive Him, and you can’t live without Him. Well, the Pharisees couldn’t stand Him, but they found out they couldn’t stop Him. Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him. Herod couldn’t kill Him. Death couldn’t handle Him, and the grave couldn’t hold Him.

I wish I could tell you


Saturday, 26 September 2015

In Your mercy

Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.  – Exodus 15.13

Mercy. What a wonderful word. And how wonderful to have a God of mercy who acts in His mercy.

Can we even imagine what we would be like if God only acted in his justice and righteousness. It would be right and just and perfect if He wiped us all out because of our sin. That is what we all deserve.

But then comes mercy. It is by the mercy of God that we are not consumed by His wrath.

Israel was also the recipient of God’s mercy. God led them out of their captivity  in His mercy. He redeemed them from their captivity.

And isn’t that a great picture of what God does for us? We were in captivity to our sin. We were slaves to it. Sin owned us. It had us between a rock and hard place.

But God’s mercy stepped in and led us out of our captivity to sin. He redeemed us from our sin nature.

In your mercy you lead us. Thank you Lord.

Friday, 25 September 2015

Who is like You?

Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders? – Exodus 15.11

Indeed, who is like the Lord? Who is like Him in character and in action? Who is like Him in holiness and fearful in praised and who is like Him in doing great wonders?

And h the question is still here for us thousands of years later. Is there anyone like our God?

Of course this is mostly a rhetorical question. Everyone who knows God knows that there is no one like Him. No one can claim to be glorious in holiness. We are called to be holy, but our holiness will never be compared to His.

No one else inspires awe in our praises. With anyone but our God there is no one who does not deserve some criticism.

Of course no one compares to the wonders that He has already done, that He does today, and that He will do for all eternity. Man doesn’t even come close. The longer we go the more man accomplishes and man is doing some wonderful things in his technology. Who would have thought even a few years ago that we would make the advancements we have made?

There is none like God. There is none like Him in His holiness and His glory and His marvellous works. And there is none like Him in His love and mercy. Michael Smith words it well in his simple little chorus.

There is none like You.
No one else can touch my heart like You do,
I can search for all eternity Lord
And find, there is none like You.

Your mercy flows like a river so wide,
And healing comes from Your hand.
Suffering children are safe in Your arms,

There is none like You.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

I will exalt Him. Really?

The LORD is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father's God, and I will exalt him.  – Exodus 15.2

This is a beautiful song of praise to celebrate the victory God had given them. I think the same song is repeated in the Psalms and it is well worth it. It would be song that should constantly be in our hearts, not only on days of victory and success, but also on those days when things don’t go well. In fact, these words are probably more needed when we are having it tough. They are easy to sing in the happy times.

The Lord is my strength
The Lord in my song
The Lord is my salvation
I will prepare a place for Him
I will exalt Him

I think we can all remember times when our hearts were full of this kind of joy. We had just seen God do something great and we were bursting with joy and excitement and gratitude. All of these things are true and God is honoured whenever we express them.

What I find too often in my own life though is that I only have this kind of joy when the times are good. I have a hard time saying these things when things are not going well. Nothing really changes. He still is my strength and my song and my salvation – but it the ‘I will exalt Him’ that doesn’t work as well when things go badly.

I think the reason, as much as I hate to admit it, it that I walk by sight and not by faith. If I really trusted God the way I should my doubt would not stop exalting Him, not just in word, after defeats as well as after victories. 

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

They saw and believed

Thus the LORD saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians; and Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the sea shore. And Israel saw that great work which the LORD did upon the Egyptians: and the people feared the LORD, and believed the LORD, and his servant Moses. - Exodus 14.30-31

This was a great day of victory for Israel. They were free. They were on their own. They had escaped the impossible. Their enemy was defeated. God had literally parted the waters of the Red Sea and walked though on dry land.

So Israel saw the great work God did
The people feared the Lord
And finally they believed the Lord

This was just the first of many, many wonders that God would do for Israel. Over and over again for the next forty years God was going to show His power and when He did the people would fear God and believe Him.

I’m not sure, but I think we see the beginning of a problem though. They feared God and believed when they saw Him work.

As we follow Israel through the wilderness though we are going to see a different story though when they don’t see God work.

It is easy to get frustrated with Israel because of their lack of faith whenever they face a new hardship because they don’t trust until they see God work.

But are we any better? What does it take to get us to ‘fear God and believe?’

I know for me too often I have to see before I believe. If I can’t see the answer I have a hard time believing. That’s okay – Jesus said the same to Thomas - ‘because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.’

But the real blessing comes when I don’t have to see it to believe it. True, real, earnest belief and faith doesn’t require sight because that kind of faith in conditional.

Remember what Hebrews says? ‘Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.’

I came across a verse in my Bible reading this morning that really drove this home. Jesus is talking in Luke 12 about trusting God and not worrying no matter what we might see. He says simply ‘And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind.’

It is too easy for me to doubt if I don’t see – Lord help my unbelief and remove my doubt just because I can’t see.  

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

God fought for Israel

And the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea upon the dry ground: and the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand, and on their left. And the Egyptians pursued, and went in after them to the midst of the sea, even all Pharaoh's horses, his chariots, and his horsemen. And it came to pass, that in the morning watch the Lord looked unto the host of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and of the cloud, and troubled the host of the Egyptians, And took off their chariot wheels, that they drave them heavily: so that the Egyptians said, Let us flee from the face of Israel; for the Lord fighteth for them against the Egyptians. - - Exodus 14.22-25

There is no way a nation of slaves on the run could possibly, in any way, defeat one of the most powerful armies on the face of the earth. God’s people have always been outmanned, outgunned, and outnumbered.

How then has the church survived for more than 2000 years?

We have to go back way before the church. We have to go back to the nation of Israel – God’s people. God fought for His people. In the Old Testament God often did this by defeating nations who were a threat. Today, though, God fights our spiritual battles for us.

Imagine what would have happened if a few Israelites had taken things into their own hands and come up with a battle plan. Imagine they had launched their plans against Pharaoh’s army. I can’t even imagine what might have happened. I can’t imagine the terrible defeat. Chances are Israel would have been wiped out.

But God fought for them and they obeyed.

I am learning about how badly things can go for me when I try to sort things out according to my own plans. How often have I stepped in when I didn’t like the way God was dealing with things and really messed it up?

It never works out best when we face our battles in our own strength and wisdom. God always knows best – even when we don’t understand His plans.

Monday, 21 September 2015

God gave light

And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness to them, but it gave light by night to these: so that the one came not near the other all the night. – Exodus 14.20

Light vs darkness is one of the great themes of scripture. Darkness is always a little bit scary. It is hard to know where to go or what to do when you can’t see anything. The biggest fear of the darkness is what might be out there. You can’t see what dangers might be there.

Here at the Red Sea God made a clear delineation between light and darkness. The pillar that signified His presence gave only clouds and darkness to the Egyptians, but to the camp of Israel God gave light. It was just like it was in the plague of darkness – God’s people walked in the light and the rest of the Egyptians stumbled in darkness.

We can take it a step farther. That is where the world is today. Our whole world is lost in the darkness of sin. It stumbles and falls and things just get worse and worse. As believers we strive to walk in light and are amazed at the stuff going on. Why should we be so surprise? We have the light and they refuse it.

But God sent His Light, Jesus, into the world. But the world refuses Him because the world loves their darkness more than they love light. They can hide in their darkness; God’s light reveals their sin and forces them to deal with it.

And we are not immune. That is why even Christians have to be told to ‘walk in the light.’

We have the light. We don’t have to stumble in darkness. Why then do we choose the darkness so often? 

Sunday, 20 September 2015

God's protection

And the angel of God, which went before the camp of Israel, removed and went behind them; and the pillar of the cloud went from before their face, and stood behind them: - Exodus 14.19

Once the people started moving forward God showed his protection clearly. When Moses lifted his rod and the waters of the Red Sea parted made sure they were surrounded my His presence. He held back the waters on the right and left. The angel of the Lord went out before them. And the great pillar of His presence moved behind them to protect them from the enemy.

This reminds of David’s words of comfort about God’s guidance in Psalm 139 – ‘Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.’

When we go forward trusting in God we too can be assured that we are surrounded by His presence and protection. He goes before us and He has our back. Though we are often surprised and caught off guard it will never happen to God. All we have to do is trust, obey, and keep moving forward.

I like how Ron Hamilton put this in a hymn shortly after he lost an eye to cancer. It expresses God’s presence and protection in a personal and meaningful way.

When shadows fall and the night covers all
There are things that my eyes cannot see.
I never fear, for the Saviour is near.
My LORD abides with me!

How can I fear? Jesus is near!
He ever watches over me!
Worries all cease; He gives me peace.
How can I fear with Jesus?

When I’m alone and I face the unknown
And I fear what the future may be,
I can depend on the strength of my Friend!
He walks along with me.

How can I fear? Jesus is near!
He ever watches over me!
Worries all cease; He gives me peace.
How can I fear with Jesus?

Jesus is King! He controls everything!
He is with me each night and each day.
I trust my soul to the Saviour’s control;
He drives all fear away!

How can I fear? Jesus is near!
He ever watches over me!
Worries all cease; He gives me peace.
How can I fear with Jesus?

Lyrics:  Ron Hamilton, 1982

Saturday, 19 September 2015

Between a rock and a hard place

So the Egyptians pursued them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook them camping by the sea beside Pi Hahiroth, before Baal Zephon. And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the LORD. Then they said to Moses, "Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that 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." And Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. The LORD will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace." And the LORD said to Moses, "Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. – Exodus 14.9-15

They were stuck. Truly stuck. As the people of Israel left Egypt Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his army out to bring them back.

The people were camped at the Red Sea. If we have our locations right they were camped between two mountain ranges. And the army was coming up behind them. There was no place to go. There was no way out. It looked like they were doomed. What could they do?

Of course, they did what we all do when there is no answer – they panicked. They started to complain to Moses ‘why did you bring us out here? We would have been better to be slaves in Egypt than to die here in the desert.’

So them Moses went to God. ‘What are we going to do?’

And God, as He does, answered.

Don’t be afraid
Stand still
See the salvation of the Lord

I think we all come to times in our lives when we are stuck between a rock and a hard place. We don’t know what we are going to do. We don’t see any answers. We can’t see the solution. I think about things in my own life that leave me just as befuddled as the Hebrews were. We need to learn the lessons of the Red Sea – don’t be afraid because fear is not of God, stand still instead of rushing forward in our own wisdom, and finally, watch God do a perfect work because His way is always best. 

Friday, 18 September 2015

He took not away His pillar

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of a cloud, to lead them the way; and by night in a pillar of fire, to give them light; to go by day and night: He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people. – Exodus 13.21-22

When God led Israel out of Egypt He knew what would need some type of physical manifestation of His presence. He wanted them to be sure of His leadership and His guidance so He gave them a pillar of cloud to lead them by day and a pillar of fire to lead them by night.

God’s leadership was real and visible and it gave great comfort. They knew God was there and that He was with them. They were not headed out on their own.

And the greatest comfort is that God did not take away the pillar. The sign was a reminder that God was leading their great exodus from Egypt.

God never leaves His people alone. He never leaves them leaderless. He was with them – as He is with.

This passage reminds me of the verse Jesus says ‘I will never leave you or forsake you’ or the passage where He says ‘lo, I am with you always.’

So today we often face the unknown. We don’t know the future. We have no idea what it going to happen tomorrow. Even if we think we have it all sorted out no one knows what a day may bring forth.

But just like God with Israel He is not going to withdraw the pillar of His presence from. We is here and He will always be here no matter what comes our way. Thank God for that great comfort. The future can be a scary thought – but the pillar of God’s strength will lead us through. 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

The favour of God

Now the children of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, and they had asked from the Egyptians articles of silver, articles of gold, and clothing. And the Lord had given the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they granted them what they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians. – Exodus 12.35-36

This is one of those seemingly strange situations where God works in what seems to us like an unusual way.

As they we leaving Egypt the people were going to need resources to finance their way. They had nothing.

So they did what seems to be preposterous – they asked the Egyptians for silver and gold and clothing.

Why should the Egyptians give them anything? This made no sense in man’s eyes. Why would these Egyptians give away their hard earned riches to a bunch of slaves?

A lot of what we are asked to do doesn’t seem to make much sense at times. We can ask ourselves ‘how is that going to help?’ or we can just plan say ‘that will never work.’

But when we do that we do not count on the ‘favour of God.’ With God’s favour on us we can do anything. When it looks like can’t do anything it is because we are depending on our own skills and wisdom and power and not on the favour of God in our lives.

It doesn’t make any human sense that we as Christians are ever going to triumph is a world of sin and wickedness. We should have been crushed out of existence a long time ago – but for the favour of God. 

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

When I see the blood

'For I will pass through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt. – Exodus 12.12-13

The last plague is the most tragic. God had given the Egyptians many chances to avoid His judgement. God wanted His people free and would free them, but the Egyptians just would not let them go despite God’s repeated warnings and signs of His power. All Pharaoh had to do was just let God’s people go free, but Pharaoh thought he was god and that he was more powerful than the Lord.

So God sent one last terrible judgement. All the first-born males in the land would die. God had shown His grace in His continued warnings but it was ignored. Now He had to show His righteous judgement.

But even now God is not done showing His grace. There was a way to avoid the judgement. If the people of a home would sacrifice a lamb and smear its blood on the doorposts they could avoid the judgement. ‘When I see the blood I will pass over you.’

The shedding of blood is required for the forgiving of sins. Sin is ugly and exacts a terrible price. There is only one thing today that will cover our sins. There is only one thing today what will allow judgement to pass over us.

God today still says ‘when I see the blood I will pass over you.’ It is not your good works or your religion or your spirituality, but only the blood of Christ. It is a price we cannot pay – but praise God Jesus paid it for us. 

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Just this once

Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste; and he said, I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you. Now therefore forgive, I pray thee, my sin only this once, and intreat the Lord your God, that he may take away from me this death only. And he went out from Pharaoh, and intreated the Lord. And the Lord turned a mighty strong west wind, which took away the locusts, and cast them into the Red sea; there remained not one locust in all the coasts of Egypt. But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go. – Exodus 10.16-20

Pharaoh, it seems, had had enough. He seemed convinced. God was stronger than he and there was nothing he  could do about it.

‘I have sinned against your God and against you. Forgive my sin, only this once, and take away the penalty.’

Pharaoh wanted out of his dilemma, but he did not really want to change. He just wanted out of the immediate trouble. Forgive me – but just this once.

That sounds awful and we think ‘of course Pharaoh would say something like that. He was an enemy of God and His people.’

But I think there is a warning here for us. We took take our sin and our repentance lightly. We would never say ‘only this once’ but ‘only this once repentance’ is more common that we would like to admit.

We sin, we realise it, we ask God to forgive us – and then we go right back to the sin the next time temptation appears.

True repentance means I say the same thing about my sin that God says about. It means there is a real heart change. It is not just to get through the crisis. It is not a temporary fix. It is not an escape clause for a problem. True repentance is not a ‘just this once’ kind of attitude. True repentance is a Psalm 51 spirit – ‘Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest.’

What is our repentance like?  

Monday, 14 September 2015

I will redeem you

I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name LORD I was not known to them. I have also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, in which they were strangers. And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel whom the Egyptians keep in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. Therefore say to the children of Israel: 'I am the LORD; I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, I will rescue you from their bondage, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you into the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and I will give it to you as a heritage: I am the LORD.' " – Exodus 6.3-8

When Moses met the Lord in the burning bush he was not meeting God for the first time. God has encountered man since the very beginning. He encountered Adam and Eve. He had dealt with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. To all of them though he had appeared as ‘God Almighty’ (El Shaddai). That particular name emphasised God in His power and strength. He showed Himself as the One who could be counted on and Who is capable.

But now God is using His name, Lord (Jehovah or Yahweh). God now introduces Himself as the eternal, self-sufficient, holy One.

Not only that, but since God tells Him that as Jehovah He:

Establishes a covenant relationship
Has heard their groaning
Is going to rescue them from their captivity
Is going to keep all He said He will do

But one thing really catches my eye – ‘I will redeem you with an outstretched arm.’

Jehovah is my Redeemer just as He redeemed the Hebrews. As He stretched out His arm to deliver them out of Egypt He would one day stretch out His arms on the cross to redeem me from my sin. 

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Who is this Lord?

Afterward Moses and Aaron went in and told Pharaoh, "Thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'Let My people go, that they may hold a feast to Me in the wilderness.' " And Pharaoh said, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go." – Exodus 5.1-2

Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh with God’s authority – ‘thus says the Lord God of Israel.’ Pharaoh’s response might seem shocking, but when you think about it from his perspective it is hardly a surprise. ‘Who is the Lord that I should obey him?’

That’s not really surprising at all. We know God. We know His word. We have seen Him work. SO to us He is our authority. So we at when He speaks.

But what about the vast majority of the world who don’t know Him? How can we expect them to obey a God they don’t know?

A world who doesn’t know God is going to look and act like a world who doesn’t know God. We can’t get them to conform, and why would they? It seems like the goal for a lot of Christians is to force people to listen to and obey a God who they don’t even know or respect.

That is why our most important task is to introduce our Saviour to those who don’t know Him.

We say ‘God says this.’ The world says ‘we don’t know your God so why should we obey?’ Because of that the world is doomed to destruction. We aren’t going to help by trying to force them to obey God – they need to know Him. 

Saturday, 12 September 2015

The believed...and worshipped

So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped. – Exodus 4.31

So the people believed.

What a powerful statement because this is the first step on man’s part of establishing a relationship between God and man. God does His part. He steps in. He comes to man. He ‘visits in their affliction.’ He does His bit.

Then man must believe.

This is the turning point. This is when God becomes personal. ‘Whoever believes in Him shall not perish…’ ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.’ God does the work. He visits man. And all man has to do is believe.

And when they believed they bowed their heads and worshipped. True worship only comes when we believe.

This really challenged me today. There are times when I am in situations that seem impossible and I don’t see way out that I fret and worry and become anxious and care-ful. Despite all the promises of God I have a hard time believing that God can sort it out. It sounds harsh, but if I don’t worry about things that God has promised to take care of I really don’t believe.

But I still worship. Or want to worship. Or claim to worship.

That brings about a dilemma. How can I worship a God I can’t even believe? If I can’t trust God with my present situation or an uncertain and scary future is my worship going to be genuine and sincere?

Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief so that I can truly worship You.

Friday, 11 September 2015

God's words in our mouths

And the anger of the Lord was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do. – Exodus 4.14-15

God was angry with Moses because of his sorry excuses, but God was still going to use him. God is going to do His work, but He will do it through someone else – sort of.

The way it worked is that God would tell Moses what to say and Moses would tell Aaron and Aaron would speak. The important lesson though is what they were going to say.

‘You will put words in his mouth; and I will be with your mouth, and with his mouth, and I will teach you what to do.’

That is a great promise, and it doesn’t stop with Moses and Aaron. When Jeremiah claimed that he was incapable of speaking God told him that He would put His words in Jeremiah’s mouth. God told Isaiah that He would put His words in Isaiah’s mouth.

And it doesn’t stop there. Jesus told the disciples not to be afraid about how they would deal with persecution, because the Holy Spirit would give us the words to answer.

When we are following God, reading His word, and praying for direction we don’t have to be afraid about what we are going to say when dealing with people. God will give us the right words to speak. As we obey Him He will put His words in our mouths.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

Excuses, excuses

And Moses said unto the Lord, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the Lord said unto him, Who hath made man's mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say. And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand of him whom thou wilt send. – Exodus 4.10-13

We usually think about Moses as a man of great faith and courage, and he was. But when God called him to go back and lead the Hebrews out of Egypt he was afraid. The scriptures tell us that Moses was the meekest of all men, so maybe he really, genuinely felt that he could not do it.

Whether it was real meekness or fear that motivated Moses he did not feel up to the task. ‘I am not eloquent, I am slow of speech.’

Like God didn’t know that? ‘Who made your mouth? Didn’t I do it? Now go, and I will show you what to say.’

Moses’ excuses were not enough. Finally he just said ‘send somebody else God.’

‘Here I am Lord, send Aaron.’

Despite all the assurances, despite meeting God in all His holiness and power, despite God’s promise to tell him what to say, Moses was not willing to go.

God knows us. He made us. He made our ears and our eyes and our mouths. He knows exactly what we can and can’t do even if we don’t know.

Our petty attempts at making excuses just simply don’t work because God already knows. Where God guides He will always provide and He will always enable us to do whatever he wants us to do.

God doesn’t need our excuses. We don’t need our excuses. They do no good. Going forward can be scary, but God made us for the tasks He calls us to.

Let’s just do it, shall we? 

Wednesday, 9 September 2015


And God said unto Moses, I Am that I Am: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you. And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is my name for ever, and this is my memorial unto all generations. Go, and gather the elders of Israel together, and say unto them, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared unto me, saying, I have surely visited you, and seen that which is done to you in Egypt:- Exodus 3.14-16

I cannot even begin to imagine what it must have been like to meet God like this. He must have been terrified. And then he has to think about what it was going to be like and lead the Hebrew people out of Egypt. He had been gone forty years. This shepherd like was working okay. It was quiet. He was getting older. If it were me I would not have been to open to change at this point. I like my comfort zone.

But Moses said ‘Who am I going to tell the people sent me?’ He knew he could not do it on his own authority.

God says ‘my name is I AM that I AM. Tell them I AM has sent you.’

It is hard to describe the full impact of I AM in just a few lines. He is I AM at creation. He is I AM when He spoke to Moses. He is I AM when He saved me. He is I AM today. He is I AM at the very end. Verb tenses are hard to use when we speak of I AM always being I AM. He was/is/will be I AM because He was/is/always there.

God told Moses here that He had always been around. He was the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph. He told Moses that He had seen their trouble in Egypt and was going to deliver them.

And the amazing thing is that the I AM is our I AM today. He was then and is now and will be all at the same time. He is I AM and is not reliant on anyone. He is I AM and is not reliant on times or circumstances. He is my own personal I AM and no matter what I face today He is already my I AM for today. 

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Holy ground

Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. – Exodus 3.1-5

There have been several encounters between God and various men up to this point. They have all been kind of mysterious and passing. But Moses’ encounter is different. Here Moses, and us, really get to meet God and get to know more about Him.

The first thing that Moses learns, even before he really gets to meet God, is a key characteristic.

Moses was walking along when we saw a burning bush. That was nothing unusual in the desert. But what was unusual was the fact that it was on fire without burning up. When he stopped he heard the voice of the Lord call out his name. When he replied ‘here I am’ the voice said ‘don’t come any closer. Take off your shoes. This is holy ground.’

So the very first thing that Moses learns about God is that he dwells in holiness. This holiness of God is a theme which will run from here to the very end of scripture. God is holy and His holiness always separates Him from man. God’s holiness means that man cannot approach Him on his own. God would have to approach man.

And that is what God is doing here. God is the one opening the communication with man and down that wall of separation. God, in His pure and absolute holiness, was approaching man who was most certainly not holy.

We are blessed that though the blood of Christ we have access to a holy God. Because of that we can boldly and with confidence approach our holy God.

But we must never take it for granted. Let us always remember ‘the ground you are on is holy ground’ when we approach our Father God.

Monday, 7 September 2015

God heard them

And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God had respect unto them. – Exodus 2.23-25

After a while the king died and the people were still in bondage. Their slavery was severe and the cried out for relief. And the wonderful thing is that God heard them. God Was not about to forget His people or His promises to them.

There was a problem. God’s people called out to God. God heard them and kept His promises.

That principle was not only for the Hebrew people in Egypt. God does not forget His people. God keeps His promises. He is the God who cannot lie so if He says it He will do it.

That means that all the promises of God that He has made for me will be kept. ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness will all the things will be added to you.’ “God knows what you need.’ ‘My God will supply all your need according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.’ ‘I will never leave you or forsake you.’ ‘Be care-ful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and thanksgiving let your request be made known to God and the peace of God that passes all understanding will keep your hearts and minds.’ ‘The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble, and He knows those who trust Him.

God knows the groanings of our hearts today. He is not going to turn away or forsake us. He won’t forget us.

Can I trust Him to remember His promises to me – or will I choose to doubt His ability or His will to do what He says?

Sunday, 6 September 2015

God in control

And the daughter of Pharaoh came down to wash herself at the river; and her maidens walked along by the river's side; and when she saw the ark among the flags, she sent her maid to fetch it. And when she had opened it, she saw the child: and, behold, the babe wept. And she had compassion on him, and said, This is one of the Hebrews' children. Then said his sister to Pharaoh's daughter, Shall I go and call to thee a nurse of the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for thee? And Pharaoh's daughter said to her, Go. And the maid went and called the child's mother. And Pharaoh's daughter said unto her, Take this child away, and nurse it for me, and I will give thee thy wages. And the woman took the child, and nursed it. And the child grew, and she brought him unto Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son. And she called his name Moses: and she said, Because I drew him out of the water. – Exodus 2.5-10

I love accounts of incidents where God steps in to a situation in clearly miraculous ways. We have loads of these events all throughout history. Things seem impossible, but somehow God steps in and turns things around at just the right moment.

In this case a Hebrew family had a son. They knew the infanticide order and knew they had to protect their son.

In order to try and save his life his mother made a little boat basket. She waterproofed it and set him afloat and trusted God with the result. She sent his big sister out to watch the little boat and see what happened.

Not too far away the princess, Pharaoh’s daughter, went down to the river to bathe along with her retinue. The princess saw a basket stuck in the reeds and sent one of the maids to go and get it. Imagine their amazement when they opened the basket and found a little baby boy. Not only that it was a Hebrew baby boy.

What a dilemma! They knew the law, but these young girls had just found a cute little baby!

The princess made a decision. She would keep the baby and raise him as her own in the palace. Who, after all, is going to argue with her? Miriam, Moses’ big sister offered to go get a Hebrew woman to care for the baby. So God intervened and it ended up that not only was Moses not dead, he was was going to be raised by his own mother in the splendour of Pharaoh’s palace.

Who would have thought that God would do such a work when his mother placed in a reed basket with no idea as to what would happen? In a moment everything changed as God turned despair into hope.

We may be facing our own baby in a basket situations. We may not know what to do. Sometimes we have to do what we think best, let go, and trust God to sort things out. 

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Obeying God

But the midwives feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the men children alive. – Exodus 1.17

There is a lot in the news, especially from America at the moment, about Christians who choose to disobey the law and the consequences of doing so. As time goes by more and more God fearing people are going to be faced with the same dilemma.

What are we going to do?

Here in Exodus the midwives had to face such a decision. The king had ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill all the new-born male Hebrew babies. His goal was to wipe out the Hebrew race. Infanticide was the easy road to genocide. 

But the midwives feared God more than they feared the king. They disobeyed the king and let the boy babies live.

When called on it they said that the Hebrew women were strong and were delivering the boys before they could get there.

These women made a choice that they had no idea how it would turn out. They could have been imprisoned or killed because Pharaoh had absolute power. But they feared God. They knew they had to obey Him. And God blessed them. They were not killed or imprisoned. The did right and it turned out well for them and for the Hebrew people.

There are other times when God’s people must choose to obey God rather than man. As a general rule God’s people are to obey the law and submit to the government. That is clear. We need to be the best citizens we can be.

But when obeying the law would bring us into conflict with obeying God we have no choice. We must obey God, and the consequences are not always going to be positive. God’s people have been jailed or persecuted or killed for disobeying the law in order to obey God.

This is not a light matter. We can’t just do it flippantly. We have to weigh the consequences and realise that if we are going to disobey the law the law may very well punish us for doing it.

We should not be surprised. We can’t expect the laws of world to go along with the word of God. Why should they?

Do right. It may not always ‘go well’ like it did for these midwives – but we can be absolutely assured that God will honour us for doing it. 

Friday, 4 September 2015

The more they afflicted them...

But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel. – Exodus 1.12

Some 400 years had passed since the time of Joseph. The Israelite had lived in Egypt for all that time, and though most of them lived as servants and maybe even slavery they lived pretty well. The relationship between the Israelites and Egyptians was mostly good.

But the day came when a pharaoh took control and he ‘knew not Joseph.’ I think that means that he didn’t know them or their culture and saw the vast numbers of Israelites and was afraid of their numbers. All he could see was a great potential slave revolt and he decided to make things harder on them.

So he added to their work. He withdrew the brick making straw and demanded that they still produce the same amount of bricks. When they couldn’t do it they were punished. Of course, when they were punished they could not get as much done.

But, as the scripture so aptly put it, ‘the more they afflicted them the more they multiplied and grew.’

God’s people thrive under persecution. Persecution separates God’s true people from those who just like the show. The church, the true church becomes stronger and draws closer to God when opposition comes. The visible ‘church’ may seem to suffer – but the true church will move on.

A lot of people are afraid of the growing opposition to God’s people and our faith. I am afraid. But deep down I know we will survive and thrive as we learn to put all our dependence on Him because the very gates of hell will not prevail against us. 

Thursday, 3 September 2015

God meant it for good

And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them. – Genesis 50.19-21

I first learned this verse way back in Bible College. The pastor of the church was going to preach on ‘The Roman 8.28 of the Old Testament’ and he asked us to turn in a paper some sort of prize. I got is wrong, but I still think my answer was best.

Romans 8.28 is ‘And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose’ and in my mind this verse says almost the same.

Joseph’s brothers could not believe their luck. They has done all they had done to Joseph and apparently he was not going to do anything about it. But in the back of their minds was the knowledge that he may have not punished them only because their father was alive.

But now Jacob was dead. Now what would happen? Was it finally time for Joseph to exact revenge?

Joseph put their minds at ease, ‘don’t worry, you guys may have meant this for evil, but God meant it for good. He had a plan to save a lot of people.’

Just as He was then God is in control. When bad happens, whether cause by our own actions, the evil intents of others, or just stuff that happens, God can will work all things together for good.

Wednesday, 2 September 2015


And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him. And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house. And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction. – Genesis 41.50-52

Joseph’s  second son was called Ephraim. Ephraim literally means fruitful. Joseph called him that because ‘God made me fruitful in the land of affliction.

I don’t think anyone really like affliction or troubles or hard times. I have a tendency when things start getting hard to just sort of throw up my hands and say ‘what’s the use.’ When you do everything you can do and to right and live godly and things still are hard you start to wonder.

It is a matter of perspective.   Instead of looking for the difficulty of the difficulty we all need to look for the fruit that God can bring in difficulty. We just want the affliction to be over. Joseph looked back and saw how God gave him fruit in his troubles.

For those going through affliction at the moment don’t look at the misery of affliction. Look to the Ephraim, the fruit that God wants to produce in the affliction.

Tuesday, 1 September 2015


And unto Joseph were born two sons before the years of famine came, which Asenath the daughter of Potipherah priest of On bare unto him. And Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: For God, said he, hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house. And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction. – Genesis 41.50-52

One of the many things I love about God’s word is the fact that it is alive. I can study it and read it over and over again for decades and still find new things that I need but had not noticed before. So it is the the names of Joseph’s sons – Manasseh and Ephraim. I only recently delved into these two names during our men’s Bible study and I was touched and greatly moved.

After all he had been through and he was firmly settled in Egypt he got married and started a family. He named his first son Manasseh. It doesn’t look like a special name in English, but in Hebrew it has a powerful meaning.

Manasseh means ‘to forget.’ Joseph chose that name because, as he put it, God had made him forget all his labours and allowed him to forget what his family had done to him.

Choosing to forget sometimes is the only way to move on. Dwelling on the past ties us down to the past. It would be easy to focus on the hurts and pains and trials of the past and focus on the people who did those things or the circumstances that put us there and then anger and bitterness and such make is powerless and unable to move on.

But God allowed Joseph to forget those things and move forward.

Paul knew the importance of forgetting and moving on for the Christian. Paul wrote about ‘forgetting those things which are behind and pressing on toward the mark of the call of God in Christ.’

We all have things in the past that it is easy to dwell on. Many of these things  could discourage us or remind us of our weaknesses or failures. But we need not dwell there. We can move on. We can rejoice in God given forgetfulness.