[Note: The pictures for each day seen below may look familiar. I’m re-using them because I’ve had trouble uploading new ones. Hopefully, I can fix this problem, but for now, these will do nicely.]
Week 23 – Day 155 – The Exodus – RESISTANCE
“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.” Acts 7:51
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” James 4:7
A third lesson from the Book of Exodus is a lesson about resistance. The verses above illustrate that we can resist God or we can resist the devil – which will it be? In the story of the exodus, we see both kinds of resistance.
If we can resist either God or the devil, there must be different ways resistance comes into place. Sometimes we resist the wrong person. These verses also instruct us that the opposite of resisting is submission. We can submit to God and in so doing resist the devil. Or, we can submit to Satan and end up resisting God.
These kinds of resistance and submission are seen in play often in Exodus.
- Pharoah, ruler of Egypt, resisted God on at least twelve occasions. When Moses asked him to let the people of Israel go out into the wilderness and worship God, Pharoah resisted. In response to each of the ten plagues, Pharoah resisted. With a few, he said he would let the people go, only to change his mind and resist again. Following the plagues, Pharoah’s anger led him to chase after Moses and the people, even as they crossed the Red Sea. Why did Pharoah resist God? The Bible says he didn’t know the Lord (Exod. 5:2), he followed the deceptions of the magicians and hardened his heart (7:22-24; 9:7), he exalted himself above God’s people (9:17), and he made an insincere confession (9:27, 34). In the end, his anger led him to destruction in the waters of the Red Sea. We resist God when we allow ignorance of God, deception of false spokespersons, pride and self-centredness, insincerity, and anger run our decision-making.
- Moses, himself, resisted God on several occasions. He resisted the call of God on his life (at the burning bush, Exod. 3:10-11). He said no one would listen to him (Exod. 4:1), that he was not eloquent enough (4:10) and asked God to send someone else (4:13). When Pharoah made the Hebrew slaves gather their own straw for the bricks, Moses complained to God, “Why did you ever send me?” – things were just getting worse and, “You have not delivered your people at all.” (5:23). And more such resistance of God came from Moses as they travelled along towards Canaan. Why did Moses act in this way? The text says he was afraid of the enemy, he feared rejection by the people, he was blind to God’s gifts (the miracles of the plagues, the help available from Aaron, etc.). He wanted immediate success. Fear and lack of faith are what drives resistance.
- The Hebrew people, whom God was about to deliver from 400 years of slavery, also resisted God. The two Israelites who had seen Moses kill an Egyptian guard, a soldier who had been beating a Hebrew – rejected Moses’ as their ruler (Exod. 2:14). Large numbers of the people complained they were going to die from lack of food and water in the desert (Exod. 16, 17). Many built an alter to a golden calf, resisting the one true God (Exodus 32). They had forgotten the God who had miraculously freed them and now they panicked when faced with a need for which they saw no answer. Forgetting God’s wondrous provisions of the past and looking only at manmade solutions, leads to resistance towards God.
So, here are several reasons we fail to submit to God: – allowing ignorance of God to prevail, being deceived by false prophets, harbouring pride, self-centredness, insincerity, and anger to run our decision-making – fear, lack of faith (i.e., unbelief) – forgetting God’s provisions of the past, looking for only manmade ways out of a problem
Treating God in this way is shocking. It is not surprising, then, that God dealt severely with Pharoah’s resistance – bringing sorrow and destruction on the nation through the plagues and the defeat at the Red Sea. Yet God is also gracious and does wonders even in our times of unbelief, as seen in His blessings on Moses and the people. To Moses, God revealed who He (God) is, gave Moses special enablements, and promised to be with him. To the Hebrew people, God sent food in the form of manna and quails. He gave them water from a rock. When they engaged in false worship, God at first relented on His initial plan to destroy them and make a new nation out of Moses, then afflicted them with a plague. But He also gave them new Tablets with the commandments written on them. Thus, God blessed and equipped His spokesman, Moses, and punished the people but also spared them and provided food and water for them, along with the message of the 10 Commandments.
Finally, here’s a short note on the opposite: resisting evil – which is, in other words, submitting to God.
- The Hebrew midwives resisted the order of Pharoah to kill any Hebrew male babies born. Why did they resist the king? Because they feared God more than they feared the Pharoah. The result: God protected them and gave the Hebrews families in spite of Pharoah’s order. The Jewish people multiplied. (Exodus 1:15-22)
- The parents of Moses and Moses’ sister, Miriam (who showed lots of courage), resisted the order to kill their son/brother and, instead, devised a plan to save him. The plan worked and Moses was rescued by Pharoah’s daughter and after infancy was raised in the palace. Moses’ parents were given the baby to care for in early childhood – plus they were paid to do so! (Exodus 2:1-10) Why did they resist the order? Because they saw the potential in the child and had faith in God to spare the child (Exod. 2:1; Hebrews 11:23).
- Moses, himself, resisted Pharoah by siding with his own people when he defended a Jew who was being beaten by a guard. He then left Egypt, “refusing to be called the son of Pharoah’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (Hebrews 11:24). [
“[Moses] considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the reassures of Egypt, for he was looking for the reward. By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and sprinkled the blood, so that the Destroyer of the firstborn might not touch them.” (Hebrews 11:26-28)
So, here, with those who submitted to God and resisted evil, the reasons given are that they feared God rather than Pharoah, saw potential in Moses, trusted in God to protect him, chose to be identified with God and His people, had an eternal focus, and exhibited faith.
- Read Exodus 34:1-9.
- Do you sense God’s call on your life? What is it He wants you to do? Are you ready to trust Him for whatever tools and supplies, inwardly or from without, that you will need to obey and follow Him?
- How has God provided for your local church – in terms of personnel, funds, equipment, etc.? Are there stories people can tell you of God’s provision in past days? How can you trust that same God in your day, for your church’s current needs?
- In your own life or that of others, when you or they have trusted God, can you see that God was there, in the midst of your situations, protecting and leading?
Day 156 – The Exodus – MIRACLES
“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14-15
The Oxford Dictionary defines a miracle as follows: “A surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency. Recorded from Middle English, the word comes via Old French from Latin miraculum ‘object of wonder’, from mirari ‘to wonder’, from mirus ‘wonderful’.” https://www.oxfordreference.com/view/10.1093/oi/authority.20110803100200612
The Book of Exodus is full of miracles – events full of wonder, but not all are wonderful to all people – wondrous events, though not all of them welcome.
I categorize the miracles of the exodus into five types or groupings: (1) God speaks to Moses and the people, for example, to Moses through a burning bush and more directly on several other occasions, and to the Israelites as a whole at Mount Sinai via thunder, lightning, clouds, and trumpet blasts.
(2) The plagues upon Egypt and, later, others upon rebellious Israelites
(3) The crossings of the Red Sea and the Jordon River
(4) The provisions of food and water
(5) Guidance by fire and cloud
For this devotional, let’s focus on the ten plagues inflicted upon the Egyptians. These plagues included the turning of the Nile River into blood, the invasion of frogs, the turning of dust into gnats, the invasion of flies, the death of Egyptian livestock, boils, hail, locusts, darkness, and, finally, the death of the firstborn. What an overwhelming onslaught for the people to endure! In 2021, my country, Canada, experienced many “plagues” of natural and human-influenced disasters – extreme heat, wild fires, floods, covid-19, discovery of graves of indigenous children at former residence schools, huge government debt acquired in response to covid-19, negative impact of the pandemic on education and family life, etc., etc. These events help us understand the multitudinous impact of the 10 plagues, and the subsequent leaving of the Hebrew slaves from Egypt.
What explanation do we have for these plagues? In the case of the exodus, some reasons are given for God’s intervention. God used the 10 plagues to help the Egyptians see who the true God is – “By this you will know that I am the LORD” (Exod.7:17; also see 9:14)). God also distinguished between the Israelites and the Egyptians. And He distinguished between the Egyptian gods and Himself.
How were these plagues different from what the magicians of Egypt could do? The Egyptian magicians were able to copy the first two plagues, the turning of the water of the Nile into blood, and the swarming of the Nile by hoards of frogs (Exodus 7-8). Egyptians thought of the Nile River as a god, the giver of life-giving water for drinking, growing food, and bathing. God, through Moses and Aaron took away the functionality of the River, overcoming the false god of Egypt. The magicians copied, at least to some extent, the miracles of the blood in the river and of the frogs. They may have received some satanic power for this, or they may have used illusion, as an entertainer in our day uses. But they could not undo the change of blood back to water, or multitude of frogs to a natural and manageable number.
How are we to interpret subsequent plagues of history? There have been horrible epidemics throughout history:
- Massive deaths in China 5000 years ago, wiping out entire villages and regional populations; around 450 BC, 100,000 people were wiped out in and around Athens, Greece; Roman Empire plagues/epidemics in AD 165-180 and AD 250-271 (>5 million deaths) in the Byzantine Empire, AD 541-542 (1/2 of world’s population wiped out); the Black Death, 1346-1353 (1/2 of Europe’s population died); in Mexico and Central America, 1545-1548 (death of 15 million); American plagues of illnesses during the 16th century, brought over from European explorers and settlers (90% of indigenous people died); Great Plague of London, 1665-1666 (100,000 people died), followed by the Great Fire of London. That’s a lot of people, and takes us up to only the 17th c. Since then: plagues in France, Russia, Philadelphia, various flu epidemics, polio, AIDS, HIN1, Ebola, and more. (See https://www.livescience.com/worst-epidemics-and-pandemics-in-history.html .)
Some of these can be explained by poor health regimes in various societies, the transfer of disease from one culture to another, the lack of understanding of how infections and dangerous bacteria work, a lack of treatments available, inequitable availability of medical care, poor health care, and the like. We might call these “natural disasters” which have been spread by careless or misinformed human behaviour.
Overall, however, we do not have the advantage of specific explanations for extra-biblical events of this type. We do have a general explanations: (a) Consequences – Some disastrous events are simply the consequences of explainable failures. A dike built many years earlier gradually erodes or concrete fails. A flood results and a village or section of a city experiences flooding. A fault occurs in the mechanics of an airplane or a car. A fire is ignited in a dryer or an explosion in a natural gas pipeline. Jesus addressed this in Luke 13:1-5 when He answered some who thought a catastrophe was punishment for some sin. “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you…” Similarly, some events are caused by abuse of the environment – e.g., release of too much carbon in the air may lead to global warming and its unusual weather patterns. Society learns by these terrible consequences and designs better systems or prepares better how to forecast potentially harmful events and to deal with them quickly and effectively the next time (we call this ‘disaster preparedness’).
(b) Judgment – II Chronicles 7:14-15 says, “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” Here, God explains that He may cause drought or insect invasions as punishment for a nation’s sinful ways. Then, when there is repentance, He will heal the land.
(c) Miracles – As the verse above says, God sometimes steps in and heals the damaged environment. In Numbers 21:4-9 we read that many of the people of the exodus sinned against God and against Moses. When fiery serpents invaded the camp and many people died, survivors acknowledged their sin. So, God healed those who looked at a bronze serpent Moses placed on a pole. This is not the normal way we deal with poisonous snake bites. In this case, it was a miraculous intervention that showed the healing grace of God in response to genuine repentance. History has shown that, in some cases, large populations turn their thoughts away from selfish ways to God when faced with a disaster that threatens lives. Church attendance increases for a time. Priorities are re-evaluated. Gifts are sent to charities that rush to help survivors. We think of and show concern for others less fortunate than ourselves.
Whenever there is some intervention in history, unexplainable by science, we may hear the word “miracle” used – just as the Oxford definition defines the word. The miracles in Exodus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy are explained as God’s actions that are meant to show us our sins and to show us His powers and character. Miracles by nature call for a response of belief. It is no wonder that the rest of the Bible frequently refers back to the miraculous delivery of the Hebrew people from bondage in Egypt. The amazing events of deliverance are meant to point us to God in our own day and in our own lives.
- Read Exodus 7-12.
- Do you sometimes turn your thoughts to God and His place in your life when unusual events (either positive or negative) come into your life?
- Are you willing to take responsibility for your contribution to unwanted events that could have been avoided?
- Do you know of individuals who have enjoyed a miraculous (unexplained or wondrous) recovery from an illness?
DAY 157 – The Exodus – REVELATION
“And God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am the Lord your God…’” Exodus 20:1
Moses had a great desire to know God. “Please show me your glory.” (Exod. 33:18) By the time we reach Exodus 34, several things had happened that could show Moses a lot about God – the burning bush incident, the miracles that led to Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, the Red Sea’s parting, the thunder and lightning at Mount Sinai, the cloud and the fire that stayed with them along the way ,the giving of the first set of the10 Commandments and their destruction, the provision of manna and water in the desert, the dialog between Moses and God regarding the sins of the people and God’s forgiveness and preservation of them, and more. In chapter 33, God leads Moses to begin the next part of the journey, and in verses 7-12 we read about the sweet times of fellowship between God and Moses in the tent: “Thus, the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.”(Exod. 33:11). Then, in chapter 34 the second set of tablets is given by Moses to God to be inscribed, and God sums up much of who He is in verses 6-7, as follows:
6 The LORD passed before him and proclaimed, “The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, 7 keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
These words are the ones God used to reveal Himself:
merciful – gracious – slow to anger – steadfast love (for thousands of generations)– faithful – forgiving – by no means clearing the guilty (those who do not repent – but consequences follow (for only for a few generations)
That says a lot, but all throughout the period of the exodus, God is revealing who He is, and in many ways, and in much detail. The exodus was a time of revelation.
In the Ten Commandments, for example, we learn that God is holy, that He demands exclusive worship, that He is loving, that He desires the best for His children, that He respects life, marriage, personal property, and reputations, and that He values trust between neighbours. Further laws about altars, slavery, restitution, social justice in a variety of applications, sabbath keeping, and more are given in chapters 20-23. These reveal God as caring about how people are treated by one another and as protective against the evils and dangers of false worship. The design of the Tabernacle Moses was to build again speaks to the holiness of God and His way of salvation from sin (chapters 25-30). Then, there is the exhibition of the glory that is God’s (40:34-38) – filling the tabernacle, a final revelation at the end of the Book of Exodus.
In Exodus we learn that God warrants exclusive devotion. We need to agree with God (a covenant was required, 19:5). God is holy, so approaching Him is no light thing (19:10-25). God is revealed as holy, the only God, pure, loving, and sufficient. In addition to the direct messages and instructions God gave through Moses, this revelation of God came through worship, deliverance, protection, power, and grace shown the people.
- Read Exodus 20.
- Also review the “Short Thoughts” devotions for Weeks 5-6, Days 32-41. There is one for each of the Ten Commandments.
- Imagine beginning that 40 year trek from Egypt to Canaan. Each new experience is an opportunity to become better acquainted with God. In your own walk, what have you learned (or been reminded of) recently about God?
Day 158 – The Exodus: Response
22 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,24 The LORD bless you and keep you;25 the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;26 the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.27 e“So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.” Numbers 6:22-27
20 Then the LORD said, “I have pardoned, according to your word. 21 But truly, as I live, and as all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the LORD, 22 none of the men who have seen my glory and my signs that I did in Egypt and in the wilderness,and yet have put me to the test these ten times and have not obeyed my voice,23 shall see the land that I swore to give to their fathers. And none of those who_despised me shall see it. Numbers 14:20-23
God blessed the nation of Israel, delivering them from Egypt, giving them the Law, showing His majesty and pardoning their sins. He directed Moses to have Aaron and his sons to share the blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26 (see above). But, as time passed and the journey to the Promised Land continued, very often the people set aside their confidence in God and rebelled, resulting in discipline and even the final ban from entering the land (as shown in Numbers 14:20-23 above).
The Numbers passage mentions “ten times” that the people put God to the test. These times of testing God are found in both Exodus and Numbers. Consider four examples from Numbers – examples of the negative way many of the people responded to God’s goodness:
- Complaints: Numbers 11:1, “And the people complained in the hearing of the Lord about their misfortunes…” What were their misfortunes? The chapter goes on to tell of their complaints about food – they had only manna – they wanted meat and melons. Moses is heavy with the burden of leadership (11:11, 13), one of them being this complaining about food directed at him (11:2). God judges them with a breakout of fire (11:1,3), and later they get quail but also a plague (11:31—34). In chapter 20 the complaint is about the lack of water in the desert.
- Fear and disbelief: Numbers 14:3, “Why is the Lord bringing us into this land to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt.” This is their response to the report of the spies who went throughout Canaan and found abundance of food and cities ready to occupy, but were afraid of the inhabitants and now wanted a new leader to replace Moses and take them back to Egypt. God threatened to eliminate the people and build a new nation from Moses. Moses intercedes and God accepts that intercession and pardons the people for now, but says none of them twenty years and older will enter and possess the Promised Land (14:28-35).
- Rebellion: Numbers 16:3, “They assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said to them, ‘You have gone too far… Why do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?’” This was a rebellion led by Korah, a Levite, and his allies, including 250 chiefs of the nation. Moses separated the rest of the people from the rebels and God opened up the ground which led to the deaths of these rebels. Further persistent rebellion by nearly 15,000 led to judgment via a plague.
- False worship: Numbers 25:1-2. “While Israel lived in Shittim, the people began to whore with the daughters of Moab. These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate and bowed down to their gods.” This was a response that rejected the one true God who had done so much for them and had revealed Himself in his power and glory. As Paul writes in Romans 1:25, “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator…” This was the case even though “what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them” (Romans 1:19). This response of unbelief resulted in the execution of the leaders as well as a plague. Individual zeal for the Lord was shown by the priest Phineas, Aaron’s son, which ended the plague.
There are other cases where people’s response to God was negative and destructive. Thankfully, there are also cases where individuals responded with faith and obedience to God. Moses, Aaron, Phineas, Joshua, Caleb, a group of priests, and others are identified in Numbers and elsewhere (like Hebrews 11) are some such people. In the story of the exodus and journey to the Promised Land, there are lessons to be learned. For example:
- The human heart is often resistant to God and His goodness
- There are consequences to sin.
- This resistance leads to discipline from God that is severe.
- God also gave the people water, meat, pardon – in spite of their negative responses to Him.
- God acknowledged the faithful – e.g., Phineas was promised a perpetual priesthood for his family.
- Read Romans 1:18 – 2:11.
- Look into your own life. Have you ever complained to God? chosen to not believe God? said ‘No’ to God (which is rebellion)? chosen to follow false systems, rejecting God’s standards?
- Have there been times when you have stood up for what God says is right, against forceful opposition? (Moses had to do so, as did Caleb and Joshua and Phineas.)
DAY 159 – The Exodus – LESSONS FOR ALL TIME
Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. I Corinthians 10:11 ESV
We have been considering lessons we can learn from the account of the exodus of Israelites from Egypt. We’ve learned about leadership, fulfilling promises, the relationship and meaning of the Passover and the Lord’s Supper, resistance to God, miracles, God’s self-revelation, and the response (mostly negative) to God’s revelation and work for people.
In I Corinthians 10:1 the Apostle writes about the people of Moses’ time and the exodus from Egypt and subsequent wilderness experience of the nation of Israel. He concludes by saying that the things recorded were written down “for our instruction”. He says there are lessons to be learned about idolatry, immorality, testing God, grumbling, and facing temptation. “God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.” (I Cor. 10:13)
So, what are some of the ways to beat temptation? Here’s what Paul says to do (from I Corinthians 10:14-33):
- Flee from idolatry.
- Live in Christ.
- Do all for the glory of God
- Don’t seek your own advantage but that of others, that they may be saved.
Additionally, throughout the scriptures there are other particularly lessons stated:
Joshua 24:2-15 – In light of all the way God led the people of Israel, in light of all God did for them, “fear the Lord and serve Him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods of your fathers beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord…choose this day whom you will serve.”
I Samuel 4:8 – In a battle with the Philistines during Samuel’s time, the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the camp and the Philistines became frightened, saying that this Ark represented the God who fought for Israel and defeated the Egyptians. “Woe to us and who can deliver us,” they cried. So, God’s presence frightens the enemy – putting in them fear.
Psalm 77:11-20 – The Psalmist recounts the strength of God in delivering Israel from Egypt. He does so as an answer to his concerns about the troubles he was facing in his own day (Ps. 77:1-10) He could not sleep and worried about the possibility of God forsaking His own. But God’s deliverance of the nation in the exodus reassured him that God would never forsake him.
Micah 6:4 – Here, God speaks to the nation in the 8th century B.C. reminding them that they are in a covenant relationship and that He, God, has kept His part of the agreement, as in the time of Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. God has been faithful; the hearers should also walk humbly before Him.
Psalm 105 and 135 – These psalms are psalms of praise. We are urged to give thanks to Him and make known His deeds. In Psalm 105:26- 45 the psalmist writes of God’s many interventions on behalf of the Hebrews whom He delivered from slavery in Egypt. He did so “that they might keep His statutes and observe His laws. Praise the Lord.” (105:44) In Psalm 135:8-12, the psalmist reminds us of God’s work in the exodus. In light of all He did then, we are to bless and praise the Lord.
In these passages the events of the exodus provide lessons for all time, lessons about choosing God over all that is false, how God places fear in the hearts of His enemies, about reassurance of God’s presence in our own day, about walking with God in humble relationship, and about praise and gratitude towards God.
To learn these and other lessons about how we should live today, God repeats the story of the exodus throughout the Bible.
- Read I Corinthians 10:14-33.
- Do you read the historical sections of the Bible just as interesting history or as active teaching for how we should live our own lives today?
4. What lesson from the exodus most speaks to you today?
Day 160 – LIVING FOR TODAY
“15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16
Perhaps it is common for people to want to hold onto the past or to daydream of the future. No that either of those things is necessarily a problem. Indeed, the Bible often tells us to “remember” some lesson God has already taught us, and to hope in God for the future. But, to do either of these things obsessively may take our eyes off of the priorities for today
In this devotional I would like to share with you six scriptural helps for making the best use of right now – today.
- Do something that contributes to a lifetime goal.
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Colossians 3:1
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33
Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:13-14
“Seek the things that are above, where Christ is” “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus Christ.”
These verses speak of a long-term and lifetime goal. This goal should be kept in mind today – it should guide the choices we make today. It is a goal and also a mindset. “Research shows that mindsets play a significant role in determining life’s outcomes.” (Dr. Jacob Towery, Standford University, https://news.stanford.edu/report/2021/09/15/mindsets-clearing-lens-life/) Having a mind set on Christ will positively affect your decisions now.
- Look after the needs of this day.
“If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busy bodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work_quietly and to earn their own living.” II Thessalonians 3:10-12
God teaches us to pray, “Give us our daily bread.” (Matt. 6:11). In the wilderness, He gave the Israelites daily manna which they were to gather six days a week. In Matthew 6:31-32, Jesus reminds us that God knows we need food, drink, and clothes and tells us not to be anxious for these things. “Sufficient for the day is its own trouble (Matt. 6:34). In other words, it is a day-to day walk with God, reliant upon Him to provide today. For the most part, He supplies through our work, so we are to attend to that. This can be expanded to say that we check our calendar and see what today’s requirements are – a shift to work, a bill to pay, an appointment to keep, a reservation to make, some exercise to do, and so on. At most of our houses, we have personal hygiene to attend to, breakfast to make, pets to feed, sweeping or vacuuming, a bus to catch, etc. And, of course, there is a time for reading the Bible and prayer. Look after what needs your attention today.
- Make good and godly choices.
19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse.Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac and Jacob. Deuteronomy 30:19-20
Do you have decisions to make today? Choose life. Obey God. Stay near Him. Choose the way of blessing.
8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me – practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Philippians 4:8-11
Let these qualities guide your choices in thoughts, words, and actions today.
- Practice good time management.
“15 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” Ephesians 5:15-16
Each of us has 24 hours in the day. If you are going to interpret scripture as Jesus did, you will need to spend some time in the Word. If you are going to stand up for the Lord today, you will need to pray regularly like Daniel. If you are going to work and still have time for people, you will need to practice diligence like Paul did. If you are going to be ready for tiring challenges, you will need to go away for some rest and recreation as Jesus took the disciples apart.
- Expect the unexpected.
18 “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. 19 Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19
Here, God speaks of an unexpected good thing.
8 Be soberminded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. I Peter 5:8
This verse warns us to be alert for unexpected bad things.
Are we ready for the opportunity God places in front of us today? How about the temptation that appears without warning?
“The Lord is at hand; 6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:5b-6
Today, this hour, this minute, this second – “the Lord is at hand” – ready to help – therefore, pray “in everything” you have to face, with a thankful heart.
- Read Philippians 3:8-11.
- Review your day so far (or yesterday) and ask yourself if you practiced the six principles above.