January 29

Exodus 8:1-9:35

I’ve always loved the reason God gives for freedom; we read it repeatedly in this section:

Exodus 8:1 (NKJV) “And the LORD spoke to Moses, ‘Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD: ‘Let My people go, that they may serve Me.’’”

God was about to set His people free – not for the liberty to do whatever they wanted to do, but for the liberty to serve Him.  I believe this to be true for all of us as Christians, we’ve been saved to serve. (see also Galatians 5:13)

The LORD was about to demonstrate to Israel, to Egypt, to the whole wide world, and every individual (including Pharaoh, you, and me) who He is. So we see Him defeating the most powerful nation in the world and all the so-called gods of Egypt – and its not much of a battle. God sends frogs – everywhere , lice – everywhere,  flies – but only in Eygpt, disease and death on the livestock of the Egyptians, boils and sores that break out on the Egyptians, hail – like never before. All of these would be blows to their idols, all this was done in dramatic fashion so that they might truly know who the LORD is. I believe He wanted them to be saved (2 Peter 3:9).

Exodus 8:10 (NKJV) “…that you may know that there is no one like the LORD our God.”

Exodus 8:22 (NKJV) “…in order that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the land.”

Exodus 9:29 (NKJV) “…that you may know that the earth is the LORD’s.”

Some people struggle with the fact that the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart as seen in Exodus 9:12, something also mentioned in Romans 9:18, but as the chart shows below, Pharaoh first hardened his own heart – 5 times! 

Believers and non-believers need to take heed to this lesson. Be open, stay sensitive to the Holy Spirit – respond to His voice.  May we learn from the mistakes of Pharaoh and even from the nation of Israel (later they will harden their hearts against God).

We read that lesson in:

Psalm 95:7–8 (NKJV) “For He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you will hear His voice: 8 “Do not harden your hearts, as in the rebellion, as in the day of trial in the wilderness.”

Today, if you will hear His voice…do not harden your hearts.

Another important lesson we need to beware of is the temptation to compromise. Notice what happens next:

Exodus 8:25 (NKJV) “Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, ‘Go, sacrifice to your God in the land.’”

The enemy will offer us “compromises” like this, go ahead and serve God but do it in my land, he says. Tragically there are many compromising christians serving God “in the land,” (one foot in the world and one foot in the church). Later Pharaoh will offer Moses other compromises (just the men can go) (you can go without the livestock). Moses doesn’t buy it. In Exodus 10:25 he tells Pharaoh that, “…not a hoof will be left behind.”

I love that statement, no compromises…none whatsoever!

Matthew 19:13-30

Whenever I pray for people, I think of how the little children were brought to Jesus, how He laid hands on them and prayed for them. I picture myself bringing people to Jesus like this.

In the culture of that day, children were not esteemed as they should be. Even the Apostles saw them as a nuisance, but Jesus demonstrates their value and even elevates them as examples of faith. May we never look down on, or disrespect the beautiful children!

The young man who approached Jesus knew something was missing in his life, he was a ruler (Luke 18:18), with riches and religion, but those things are never enough, so He comes to Christ and asks Him about eternal life…the most important question of all.

The statement Jesus makes in Matthew 19:17 was not a denial of His deity, He was actually attempting to bring this young man to an awareness of who He was. No one is inherently good, but one, that is God, and yet Jesus called Himself “Good” in Matthew 20:15 and John 10:14. It’s as if Jesus was probing, “Why do you call me good? Do you know who I am? Do you know why and how I’m good? Do you know that I’m God?”

If this rich young ruler had realized Jesus was God, wouldn’t he have chosen to follow Him? Of course! He would have swiftly sold all his possessions that were getting in the way, given it to the poor, and started his new life. But he didn’t; he chose the god of gold, over God Himself. He didn’t follow Jesus because He thought He was only a “Good Teacher.”

In Matthew 19:18-19 Jesus wasn’t teaching that keeping the commandments would save anyone; the commandments are good, but no one can keep them perfectly, they were given in part, to show us our sin and our need for a Savior. But the rich young ruler wasn’t honest…he claimed he kept them all his life.

Something else was getting in the way – his wealth. That happens almost all the time. If you hold a penny close enough to your eye it’ll block the sun.

Warren Wiersbe, “The rich young man was looking for a bargain, the best of both worlds; but he was doomed to failure.”

Jesus teaches us, it’s hard for a rich man to be saved, for the rich man doesn’t seem to need God and he’s distracted with his stuff – he’s possessed by his possessions. Most people believe they would be able to handle wealth, they’re convinced that they’re the exception, but Jesus makes it clear – no – being rich and righteous is extremely difficult!

Matthew 19:24 (NKJV) “And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

This statement astonished the disciples, who considered wealth to be a sign of God’s blessing, which led them to ask the most important question of all time, “Who then can be saved?” (Matthew 19:25)

Simple answer – salvation is only possible with God!

Matthew 19:26 (NKJV) “But Jesus looked at them and said to them, ‘With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.’”

When you have an extra 3 minutes you can check out the video below.

A camel through the eye of a needle?

God can save the poor man, or the rich man, and yes, there are some (although rare), who are wealthy, and godly.

Peter wasn’t ashamed to ask the Lord about this, for in one sense they had done what the rich man was unwilling to do. Jesus reveals to them, and to us, that if we follow the Lord obediently, and sacrificially, we will be rewarded with responsibility and opportunity to serve Him – in this life, and in the one to come.

When Jesus talks about leaving farms and family members (even one’s wife and children) He isn’t speaking about a man abandoning his family, He’s simply saying that if there are no rival thrones in our heart, that if God is first, we will be rewarded. Most of us will not be called away from home for long periods of time as the Apostles were, but there will be exceptions such as the Evangelist Billy Graham. There were times he was away from home for months as God called him to preach the Gospel to the world. By the end of his life Billy Graham had preached the Gospel to 210 million people in 185 countries.

I smile when I consider his reward in heaven.

Psalm 24:1-10

Another one of those epic questions:

Psalm 24:3 (NKJV) “Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place?”

Us? In the Holy place? How is that possible?

As we place our faith in Jesus Christ our life will change, and the proof will be in the pudding. Our belief will affect our behavior.

Not perfect, but proper. We’ll have fellowship with God because we’ll become that person with clean hands. That person with a clean heart. People with no idols in our souls. People who speaks truth with our lips. People who seek God’s face.

Do you believe? Do you behave? This brings assurance to our soul. This brings the King of Glory (mentioned 5 times in this chapter) into our lives. What a glorious life that will be!

Proverbs 6:1-5

Proverbs 6:1-5 (NKJV) “My son, if you become surety for your friend, if you have shaken hands in pledge for a stranger, 2 You are snared by the words of your mouth; you are taken by the words of your mouth. 3 So do this, my son, and deliver yourself; for you have come into the hand of your friend: Go and humble yourself; plead with your friend. 4 Give no sleep to your eyes, nor slumber to your eyelids. 5 Deliver yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, and like a bird from the hand of the fowler.

Here we see the Scriptures tell us that, generally speaking, if you have “cosigned” for a friend or a stranger – you’re trapped, you’re taken…by that agreement. Doesn’t sound good.

We read this in the Proverbs repeatedly!

Proverbs 11:15, “He who is surety for a stranger will suffer, but one who hates being surety is secure.”

Proverbs 17:18, “A man devoid of understanding shakes hands in a pledge, and becomes surety for his friend.”

Proverbs 22:26, “Do not be one of those who shakes hands in a pledge, one of those who is surety for debts.”

So, do this, the wise man says – deliver yourself – get out of it.

Here’s the New Living Translation Proverbs 6:3-5,  “3 follow my advice and save yourself, for you have placed yourself at your friend’s mercy…swallow your pride; go and beg to have your name erased. 4 Don’t put it off; do it now! Don’t rest until you do. 5 Save yourself like a gazelle escaping from a hunter, like a bird fleeing from a net. 

Now, granted, in those days the consequences were way more severe; back then, if that person you cosigned for didn’t pay up you could literally become a slave, a servant to the lender. 

So, it was probably more dangerous then, but still, it’s not usually a good thing to do (one might make an exception with our children – but even then – proceed with an enormous amount of caution. Christian financial advisor Dave Ramsey, says, never!

This is a passionate warning against co-signing for friends or strangers.

If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.

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