Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Golden Calf


Exodus 32 - 34


There is A LOT in this passage. Moses ascends the mountain to spend time with God. The people tire of waiting for Moses and complain to Aaron. Aaron makes them a golden calf to worship. God tells Moses about it and threatens to wipe out the people. Moses intercedes on the peoples’ behalf. Moses descends from the mountain with two stone “tablets of the testimony,” sees the people celebrating in front of the idol, and breaks the tablets. He is angry with the people and punishes them severely - some people are killed. Then Moses asks God to forgive them. God sends a plague on them and calls them “stiff-necked.” Moses intercedes again, and God renews His covenant with His people (and writes upon two more stone tablets after Moses cuts them).


The parts of this passage that particularly resonate with me are the following verses:

Thus the LORD used to speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks to His friend (33:11a)

And the LORD said to Moses, “This very thing that you have spoken I will do, for you have found favor in my sight, and I know you by name.” (33:17)

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know the the skin of his face shone because he had been talking to God. (34:29)

THAT is the kind of relationship I want to have with the Lord God!


The more I seek You,
The more I find You.
The more I find You,
The more I love You.

I want to sit at Your feet,
Drink from the cup in Your hand,
Lean back against You and breathe,
Feel Your heartbeat.

This love is so deep,
It’s more than I can stand.
I melt in Your peace,
It’s overwhelming!

(By Zach Neese)

Monday, May 30, 2011

The Ten Commandments


Exodus 19:1-20:21


Moses is talking with God, and God gives Moses a message to His people. This passage does give us the Ten Commandments, but before God gives His people the commandments, He tells them He has a conditional promise for them.

“You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, you shall be My treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is Mine... (19:4-5).

The people’s response? “All that the LORD has spoken we will do” (19:8). After this response, God tells the people to get ready (be consecrated), because He is coming in a cloud. And He does. The people get a taste of Who He is. Fire. Smoke. Thunder. Flashes of lightening. The sound of a trumpet. Even the mountain trembles.



The people were afraid. God showed them a portion of His power and might, so they would fear Him. God is holy. He also is love. The fact that He has redeemed and loves His children should not diminish our awe or our respect of Him. He is the King of the universe and we are His servants. He is (for the born again) our Heavenly Father and we are His children. He is both Father and King and deserves both our adoration and our awe. He also deserves our love and our obedience. (And as we have talked about in previous studies, love and obedience are intertwined.)


Father, please fill me anew with awe of You!

Reading Schedule - "The Law and the Land"

The Law and the Land

21) The Ten Commandments
Exodus 19:1-20:21

22) The Golden Calf
Exodus 32 - 34

23) Joshua Succeeds Moses
Joshua 1

24) Crossing the Jordan
Joshua 3 - 4

25) The Fall of Jericho
Joshua 5:13 - 6:27

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Crossing the Red Sea


Exodus 13:17-14:31

Especially verse 14 of chapter 14:
The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.


The people were finally free! They were following the pillar (cloud by day, fire by night) and were led straight to a place where their freedom was going to be ripped from them because Pharaoh’s army was coming! There would be no escape, BUT GOD. And God did provide the way of escape so that He would “get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD” (14:4b).

As has often been the case in my own life (and in yours, too, most likely!) the way of escape looked nothing like what Israel might have expected. God made a path through the sea! That is a miraculous way of escape. Before He did so, however, the people started to panic and Moses told them not to be afraid, but to trust God. Moses basically said they wouldn’t have to do anything except “shut up and wait:” “The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent” (14:14).


The enemy was coming against Israel. Israel had done nothing to deserve the attack. Pharaoh had sent them away. Israel was following God’s leading. Still, they were under attack. This happens to us today. Jesus said we would have trouble in this world. His words in the gospels are full of instructions to do things like love our enemies, turn the other cheek, walk an extra mile, and give away the clothes we are wearing.

Today’s attacks don’t tend to be physical (in our culture). They tend to be things like barbed words, gossip, lies, and broken relationships. When these things happen, Exodus 14:14 is a fantastic reminder that I do NOT need to defend myself. God will take care of me. I need only be silent. (The KJV says “keep your peace.”)


Father, forgive me for the times I’ve tried to (or just wanted to!) fight my own battles. Help me to be silent as I wait for Your deliverance. Thank You for Your faithfulness to deliver me!

Passover and Exodus


Exodus 12:1-12:42


The Passover marks the beginning of the calendar - this feast is to be celebrated for a week starting on the 14th day of the first month of the Jewish year. This feast (intended to be a reminder of the Israelites deliverance from Egypt) was decreed by God BEFORE the deliverance had actually occurred! During this time they were to eat roasted lamb and unleavened bread. Unleavened bread because there wouldn’t be time for it to rise, yes, but did you know that leaven is representative of sin? So unleavened bread is also representative of holiness (being set apart). You may have heard of a Seder meal (which is something celebrated today). The Seder celebration is a part of Passover and is an incredibly moving reminder of the Passover AND of the last supper before Jesus’s crucifixion.

The tenth plague, the death of the firstborn, is told about in this section of Scripture. Every firstborn who was not covered by the blood of the lamb (who was not in a house with lamb’s blood painted on the door posts and lintel) was killed. Those who were under the covering of the blood of the lamb were passed over by the angel of death. Immediately after the angel of death had finished in Egypt, Pharaoh sent the Israelites away. Thus they were delivered from their bondage!


The blood of the lamb is a foretelling of Jesus’s death. He became the ultimate sacrifice for sin, and through His death and resurrection we can be redeemed from our bondage to sin, and be given freedom in this life and for eternity. Those of us who are covered by the Blood of the Lamb (Jesus!) have been passed over by the angel of death and have been given life everlasting!

If you do not know Jesus personally and would like to, please email me. I would love to share with you how you, too, can experience eternal life!


Thank You, Jesus, for saving one such as I!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Ten Plagues


Exodus 6:28-11:10


There are 10 plagues inflicted upon Egypt due to Pharaoh’s hardened heart and unwillingness to let God’s people go into the wilderness to worship Him.

  1. Water turned to blood
  2. Frogs
  3. Gnats
  4. Flies
  5. Death of livestock
  6. Boils
  7. Hail
  8. Locusts
  9. Darkness
  10. Death of the firstborn (predicted)
God’s choice to use plagues to bring about His people’s freedom is, well, interesting. I mean, He is God and He could just speak a word and wipe out all of Egypt. Instead, He chooses to send 10 signs (in the form of plagues). At the beginning of this passage He shares what He is going to do and why:

But I will
harden Pharaoh's heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, Pharaoh will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring my hosts, my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment.
The Egyptians shall know
that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.
Exodus 7:3-5

Later in the passage are other times when God shares why He is using the plagues to free His people:

But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. Exodus 9:16

Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD. Exodus 10:1-2

So according to these passages the reasons God chose to send the plagues to free His people include:

  1. That the Egyptians will know that He is God
  2. To show His power
  3. That His Name may be proclaimed in all the earth
  4. That the Israelites may tell the children and grandchildren what God did
  5. So the Israelites will know that He is God

In His great love for us, God has allowed us to see how His plan to rescue a fallen world played out in the course of time. God’s glory and His love are not separate components of His nature. They are inexplicable intertwined.

Like the Israelites, I am responsible to tell future generations about the glory of God, specifically about how He has rescued His people (including me!) from bondage.


Father, help me share Your love with the children you’ve placed in my life. Help me model the love You have for them. And help me explain to them how to find the freedom You so freely offer! Thank You so very much for this privilege! In Jesus’s Name, amen.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Burning Bush


Exodus 3:1-4:17


A burning bush that is on fire, but not consumed is talking and Moses still questions the adequacy of God to provide what Moses will need to do what God is calling Moses to do!


It is often said that hindsight is twenty-twenty. It’s easy to say “how could Moses be so faithless?” But how often have I been guilty of the same thing? “No, God, You’re not really calling me to that, that is beyond my [skills, talents, abilities, comfort level].”

When God calls me, I need to trust Him and do what He is telling me to do; even though I am inadequate, He is not!


Thank You, Father, that You equip us to do what You have called us to do!

“I believe; help Thou mine unbelief!”

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Birth of Moses


Exodus 1 & 2

Specifically 2:25 “God saw the people of Israel -- and God knew.”


God knew!

Think for a moment about all that entails. God knew the persecution His people were under. God knew their deliverer (Moses) had been born. God knew His people were (perhaps finally!) at the end of their own devices and were crying out to Him for deliverance. God knew He had a marvelous, beautiful plan to free His people from their bondage. God knew that His plan was bigger than Moses and the people of Israel, and God knew that the depths of His love would be displayed on the cross. God “heard their groaning” and He “remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (v. 24). He saw and He knew.


God knows! He knows what’s happening in our lives, and He knows how it fits into His plan for our good. He knows! And we can trust Him to “work all things together for good to those who love God....


“With my love and my sadness
I come before You Lord
My heart’s in a thousand pieces
Maybe even more

Yet I trust in this moment
You’re with me somehow
And You’ve always been faithful
So Lord even now

When all that I can sing
Is a broken hallelujah
When my only offering
Is shattered praise

Still a song of adoration
Will rise up from these ruins
And I will worship You and give You thanks

Even when my only praise
Is a broken hallelujah”

Broken Hallelujah (verse 1 and chorus)
by Gina Boe; Ronnie C. Freeman; Tony Wood

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Reading Schedule - "Moses and the Exodus"

Moses and the Exodus

16) Birth of Moses
Exodus 1 & 2

17) The Burning Bush
Exodus 3:1-4:17

18) The Ten Plagues
Exodus 6:28-11:10

19) Passover and Exodus
Exodus 12:1-12:42

20) Crossing the Red Sea
Exodus 13:17-14:31

Joseph Reveals His Identity



Genesis 45 - 46:7


Despite the wounds they inflicted upon him, Joseph forgives his brothers, introduces them to Pharaoh, and invites his father, brothers, and their families to come to Egypt to live.

Healing begins with forgiveness and empowers us to truly love others. Forgiveness also enables us to see God moving. Unforgiveness imprisons us. Forgiveness sets us free.


I am responsible to forgive any who have hurt me. Forgiveness is not forgetting what happened but is, instead, releasing the person from any obligation to “make it up” to you. It is saying “you don’t owe me anything, this is now only between you and God.”

In The Bait of Satan Workbook, John Bevere describes the following steps to forgiveness:
  1. Admit you have been wounded or hurt by the person - don’t deny it and stuff your feelings
  2. Ask God to forgive you for holding onto unforgiveness toward the person who offended you
  3. Out loud choose to forgive the person (by name!) and release him/her, telling God what s/he did
  4. Pray for God’s blessings on every area of the person’s life
  5. When hurt feelings resurface, remind the enemy that you forgave the offense, and bless the person again

Thank You for forgiving me - help me to forgive and to love people the way You love us!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Brothers Return


Genesis 43 - 44


Joseph’s family ate all the grain they had purchased, and they needed to go buy some more. Jacob was hesitant to allow Benjamin (the youngest son) to go, for fear Jacob would never see Benjamin again. But the needs of the whole family were more important, so Jacob (reluctantly) allowed Benjamin to go with his brothers.

When Joseph saw Benjamin he was overwhelmed with emotion. I would imagine there were unresolved hurts from the way his brothers had treated him, and probably even with God for allowing these things to happen. In this moment, meeting his younger brother, Joseph would have been very aware of the years of suffering he went through due to his brothers’ actions so very long ago.

Joseph was wise to take some time to grieve before deciding on a course of action (43:30). Joseph was the second most powerful person in the land. One word from him and he could have had his brothers imprisoned or even killed. Instead, he served them a feast.


Joseph responded to hurt by grieving, then by showing love to those who had hurt him. This is a fabulous example of how we are to respond to our enemies (see what Jesus had to say about this in Matthew 5:38-48 and Luke 6:30-40).

In Romans (12:15-21) we are also told how we are to respond to others:

  • Rejoice with those who rejoice
  • Weep with those who weep
  • Live in harmony with one another
  • Associate with the lowly
  • Repay no one evil for evil
  • Do what is honorable in the sight of all
  • Live peaceably with all (so far as it depends on you)
  • Leave vengeance to God
  • If your enemy is hungry, feed her
  • If your enemy is thirsty, give her something to drink
  • Overcome evil with good

Father, fill me with Your love so that I can love others the way You have told me to!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ten Brothers Go To Egypt

Masking the Deeper Reality


Genesis 42


Appearances can be deceiving! “Masking” is rampant in this chapter. You know, trying to look good even though you really feel terrible? A mask, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary is “a covering for all or part of the face, in particular; ... a disguise or pretense.”

Joseph is a wounded soul, longing for acceptance from his family. Joseph’s brothers are guilty and afraid. Jacob is fearful. And they are hiding these feelings from each other. Joseph hides his emotions from his brothers by turning away (v. 24). Joseph’s brothers think they are hiding their emotions because there is an interpreter between them (v. 23). And Jacob tries to hide from his fear by keeping his youngest son at home (v. 38).


Women are experts at masking. You know what I’m talking about. The response to the question “how are you?” is a smile and a “fine, thank you” even though inside your heart is breaking in a million pieces. We hide behind superficiality, even though healing for the pain we feel inside can be found through (safe) relationships.

As a church (by “church” I am referring to the people who make up the body of Christ, not a particular local congregation) we need to learn how to be a safe place for one another. While our ultimate comfort comes from God, He often uses other people to show us that comfort:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (emphasis mine)


Father, thank You for providing Your comfort to me in times of distress. Forgive me for times when I delay in seeking the comfort You so freely offer, and help me to be a comfort to others. Help us, Your children, learn how to develop safe relationships. Thank You for the privilege of comforting one another! In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Prison and a Promotion


Genesis 39 - 41


Life is not fair!

        ❑ A favored son, sold into slavery.
        ❑ A favored slave, whose master “held nothing back except...his wife,” thrown into prison based on one false accusation.
        ❑ A favored prisoner, promised help in getting released but forgotten for TWO YEARS.

BUT “the LORD was with Joseph and showed him steadfast love and gave him favor ... and whatever he did, the LORD made it succeed.” - Genesis 39:2a1, 23b


Life is NOT fair. Even once we become children of God, life is not fair! So how can we cope when the storms of life are howling around us?
  1. Focus on Jesus (put God at the center of your life)
    • “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” - Matthew 6:33
    • “You will seek Me and find Me, when you seek Me with all your heart.” - Jeremiah 29:13
  2. Trust that God has a plan and that He is in control
    • “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” - Isaiah 55:9
    • “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” - Jeremiah 29:11
  3. See the unfair situation as “spiritual opportunities” to mature
    • “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” - James 1:2-4
    • “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,” - Romans 5:3-4


Thank You, God for the tough times! Thank You for using them to grow me more into Your likeness!

Sold Into Slavery


Genesis 37


Family tension occasionally plagues every family, but in some families the tension is ignored or otherwise allowed to build instead of being addressed and resolved. The authors of the E100 Challenge Sermon Outline cite (from this passage) the following roots of family problems:

  1. Favoritism (v. 3)
    • Not only was Joseph his father’s favorite child, Israel showed that favoritism through his actions (giving Joseph a special robe).
  2. Arrogance (vv. 2-9)
    • Sharing his dreams that his brothers would one day bow down to him told Joseph’s brothers that he saw himself as significantly more important than they were. This would have been insulting enough had Joseph been the first born, but Joseph was the 11th son of his father, so the insult was many times greater. Sharing his dreams with his brothers would have been seen as both conceited and pompous.
  3. Jealousy (vv. 4, 11)
    • The natural, very human reaction to favoritism is jealousy, and Joseph’s arrogance would probably have felt like salt on an open wound, fueling the fires of his brothers’ envy.
  4. Hate (vv. 4, 5, 8)
    • When jealousy is left unchecked, it can very easily develop into full-fledged hatred.
Application:Family tension, whether sibling rivalry (as in today’s passage) or conflict with a spouse, parent, child, or other family member, is rarely the fault of only one person. It’s important to consider my own responsibility in the situation. It is all too easy to fall prey to (i.e. be a slave to) arrogance, jealousy, hatred, anger, bitterness, or other emotions, but I have a responsibility to address them promptly (Ephesians 4:26). Rather then letting myself be enslaved to my emotions, I must honestly and humbly admit to my part in the tension, repent, and prayerfully and in love seek reconciliation and restoration of any damaged relationship (Matthew 5:43-48).


Today, let’s pray the Prayer of Saint Francis:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console;
to be understood, as to understand;
to be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Reading Schedule - "The Story of Joseph"

The Story of Joseph

11) Sold Into Slavery
Genesis 37

12) Prison and a Promotion
Genesis 39 - 41

13) Ten Brothers Go to Egypt
Genesis 42

14) The Brothers Return
Genesis 43 - 44

15) Joseph Reveals His Identity
Genesis 45 - 46:7

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Jacob and Esau Reconcile

Today’s Scripture:

Genesis 32 & 33


So far, we’ve seen the unhealthy dynamics in Jacob’s family. We did NOT read about the earlier account of Jacob tricking Esau out of his birthright. We did read about Jacob’s mother helping Jacob trick his father into blessing Jacob instead of Esau. Esau, understandably, is very angry when he learns about this, so Jacob needed to run for his life.

Between yesterday’s reading and today’s reading, Jacob ends up marrying two sisters (daughters of his uncle, Laban) and between his two wives and two concubines, he has fathered 11 sons. Also, Jacob has left his uncle’s land and is traveling (with his family, flocks and servants) back to his homeland. Jacob learns Esau has heard of his whereabouts and is coming to meet Jacob on his journey, and Jacob is afraid.

In Jacob’s fear, what does he do? First, he divides his family and possessions into two camps, hoping at least one camp will escape from his brother if Esau attacks. Then he prays, reminding God that Jacob is where he is right now because he obeyed God’s instruction for Jacob to return to his country. He is humble in his prayer, and acknowledges that he would not have all that he has had God’s blessing not been on Jacob’s life. Then Jacob asks God for deliverance from his brother, and reminds God of what He promised Jacob (“I will surely do you good, and make your offspring as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered”).

After this prayer, Jacob sends gifts to his brother, and spends a night wrestling with a man, whom Jacob later believes was God Himself. Jacob was persistent in his wrestling, and would not let go of the man until the man agreed to bless Jacob. At that point, the man told Jacob he would no longer be called Jacob (“supplanter”), but would be called Israel (“God prevails”) “for you have striven with God and with men and have prevailed.” Jacob was changed during this encounter, preparing him for reconciliation with his brother.

Jacob then met up with Esau, and made peace with his brother.

Some Lessons For Us:

1) God can use anyone, regardless of family history
2) The antidote to fear is prayer
3) God prevails (He is more powerful than any opposing forces)
4) True reconciliation involves change in action and in the heart

Is there anyone with whom we need to seek reconciliation? We must first ask God to change us and then ask Him to change the situation.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Jacob and Esau Compete

Today’s Scripture:

Genesis 27 & 28

Today, I’m posting an outline provided by the E100 challenge:

Key Thought:
We often encounter God in the broken places of our lives

A permissive father, a controlling mother, an errant older son and a deceptive younger son. It sounds like reality TV. But Isaac’s family is one of the most important in the Bible because God used it to build the nation of Israel. Of course, no family is perfect. God uses broken people from broken families to accomplish His perfect purposes.... And He can use our brokenness to draw us closer to Himself, also.

  1. Brokenness Revealed
    • Sibling Rivalry (27:30-38, 41)
    • Rebecca’s scheme (27:1-17)
    • Jacob’s deceit (27:18-29)
  2. God’s Grace Encountered
    • Jacob meets God in a dream (28:10-14)
    • God’s promise to Jacob (28:15)
  3. God Can Heal Your Brokenness
Bring the broken parts of your life to God for healing.

How has God already healed some of “the broken parts of your life”?

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Isaac's Birth and "Sacrifice"


Genesis 21:1-22:19

(Today’s SOAP is based on Genesis 22:16-18)


Reflecting on God’s covenant with Noah as well as God’s covenant with Abram (now called Abraham), consider what each man brought to the covenant -- acceptance.

Abraham accepted what God said, that his offspring would be numbered like the stars. And Abraham accepted what God said when He instructed Abraham to sacrifice his “only” son, Isaac.

As an aside, it’s important to note that Isaac was Abraham’s “only” son in that Isaac was the only son born to Abraham’s wife, Sarah. Ishmael, who was born to Abraham’s concubine, Hagar, had no inheritance rights. Also, at this point in his life Abraham had sent Ishmael away and had no idea where he was, in effect disowning Ishmael. So Isaac was literally the only son Abraham had.

In Abraham’s acceptance of God’s instruction, he was prepared to follow through and literally sacrifice the vessel (Isaac) intended for the fulfillment of God’s promise (offspring). I wonder if Abraham believed God would raise Isaac from the dead?

Even though he didn’t see how God was going to fulfill the covenant, Abraham believed God and followed up that belief with action.


Just as Noah and Abraham needed to accept the covenant God offers, so must we today accept the covenant He offers - salvation through Jesus.

I can’t make anyone accept Him, but I can tell others about Him. And I can believe Him with my actions like Abraham did, by doing all He commands me to and believing He has the details covered, even when I can’t see how. :)


To the King, Immortal, Invisible, the only Wise God be glory and honor and power forever and ever! Thank You for offering eternal life to us! Strengthen us in Your Spirit to show our belief in You through our actions. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

God's Covenant with Abram


Genesis 15
(Today’s SOAP focuses on verses 1 through 6.)


Abram questioned God.

God didn’t respond to Abram’s questioning with anger or with discipline. God simply told Abram that, not only would Abram have descendants, those descendants would be as many as the stars in the sky.

Abram believed God’s answer, and was considered righteous.

Abram didn’t just believe God existed. Abram believed what God said. Abram trusted God.


It’s okay, even good, to bring my questions to God. I don’t always understand what He is doing. And He won’t always tell me. :) BUT, He is always faithful to keep His word, and believing Him is my job.


God, thank You for always being faithful. Help us to believe You, not just believe in You. May we walk in the righteousness of believing You each day of our lives!

The Call of Abram


Genesis 12


75 year old Abram left his homeland for an unknown place because God told him to. In the instruction to leave, God gave Abram a promise. Abram was childless, yet God told Abram He would “make of [Abram] a great nation.”

Can you imagine the faith required of Abram, to leave his homeland on the promise that he would father a nation? And this promise is referred to in verse 7 “To your offspring I will give this land,” God said.

Abram’s first response to God’s command was obedience. God said to leave his homeland, and Abram did so. Abram’s response to God’s reminder of the promise for offspring was to worship by building an altar. And then Abram continued his journey, in obedience.

God’s plan was to bless Abram and through Abram to bless the world (verse 3).

Interestingly, though, Abram’s faith in God wavered when Abram was in Egypt. Abram feared for his life and took matters into his own hands, instructing his wife in an attempt to protect himself. His wife, Sarai, did as Abram instructed. What was God’s response? He got Abram’s wife back for him. Not because Abram deserved it, but because of God’s grace!


God is faithful, even when we are faithless (see II Timothy 2:13).

Regardless, when God speaks, my job is to obey.

Today’s challenge is to trust and obey!


Thank You, God, for loving me, for being faithful, and for leading me in Your will! Help me to see Your calling and follow You, even when it doesn’t make sense! And thank You for Your loving care. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Reading Schedule - "Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob"

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

6) The Call of Abram
Genesis 12

7) God’s Covenant with Abram
Genesis 15

8) Isaac’s Birth and “Sacrifice”
Genesis 21:1-22:19

9) Jacob and Esau Compete
Genesis 27 & 28

10) Jacob and Esau Reconcile
Genesis 32 & 33

Friday, May 6, 2011

Tower of Babel


Genesis 11:1-9


At one point in earth’s history, everyone spoke the same language.

People migrated from the east and settled on a plain in the land of Shinar.

They worked together and decided they were capable of anything they wanted to do - specifically they wanted to make a name for themselves (pride).

They contrived to build a tower that would reach up to Heaven (trying to bridge the gap between man and God in their own strength).

They wanted to avoid being dispersed over the earth (fear).

God confused their language and dispersed them over the earth. (Their fear came to fruition.)

My conclusion after reviewing these verses? Pride leads us away from God, but when we are humble, He draws us back into fellowship with Him. If the people described in this passage had humbly sought God, He would have closed the gap between them because He loves them so much!


Ask God to reveal any hidden areas of pride in your life (e.g. arrogance, false humility, self-deprecation, fear, distrust, a critical or judgmental heart, or any other area of life where you have been indicating to God or others that you know better than He does) and bring those areas to God in an attitude of repentance, asking Him to forgive you and to draw you into more intimate fellowship with Him. Rest in His love!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

God's Covenant with Noah


Genesis 8:1-9:17


The promise and hope God told Noah about when He commanded Noah to build the ark has come to fruition. God said He would establish His covenant with Noah, and here we see it happen!

But, what is a covenant? In it’s most basic form, a covenant is a binding agreement between two parties. (More information about what a covenant is can be found here, here, or here.) But what can any human bring to the table when making a covenant with God? In the case of God’s covenant with a human, the person is a receiver and not a contributor. The only role the human plays is to accept the covenant. S/he brings nothing else.

In this particular covenant, God promised Noah that, even though a “man’s heart is evil from his youth” (8:21), God will never again strike down every living creature by flood. God gave His sign, a rainbow, as confirmation of His promise.

The rainbow is a symbol of God’s love for man. And this covenant is a foreshadowing of the covenant to come - the new covenant giving us eternal life through Jesus!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Flood


Genesis 6:5 - 7:24


This passage tells us the world was full of evil and wickedness and that God was sorry that He had made man; the ESV uses the phrase “it grieved Him to His heart.” That is an intense sorrow! As a result of the evil in the world, God planned to wipe out His creation, except for Noah. Noah had “found favor in the eyes of the LORD.”

God told Noah to build an ark. Keep in mind this was at a time in history when it had not rained, so the idea that it was going to rain so hard that the entire earth would be flooded and the only way to survive would be to build a boat and live in it would have required a lot of faith! Essentially, God told Noah to get ready, because He was going to do something that Noah had never, ever seen before, and the only way to survive would be to follow God’s instructions. That would be terrifying! Yet Noah was willing to listen and to obey the command of God, even when it didn’t make sense!

Noah did what God commanded. He built the ark. He entered the ark with his family and all the animals that God commanded him to take (two of some kinds, fourteen of other kinds). And then Noah lived in the ark with his wife, sons, daughters-in-law, and scores of animals! It rained — heavily — for forty days and forty nights. And everything that breathed on the earth (any living thing that was not in the ark) died.

The earth was covered with flood waters for one hundred fifty days. Noah and his family lived in the ark with the animals for over six months!


I can only imagine how bad it was to have caused God to be “grieved.” And can you imagine the kinds of things Noah’s family said to him? The kinds of things Noah’s friends and neighbors said to him? Yet he endured, faithfully following the call of God!

I have often wondered what kept Noah so faithful, when circumstances around him did not support what God was saying to him, and this time as I read I saw something I don’t recall having noticed before. I realized the first half of chapter six verse eighteen says, “But I will establish my covenant with you.”

BUT. The word that erases what was said before it. BUT. Even though everything that is on the earth will die, I, God, WILL establish My covenant with you, Noah. With those words, God gave Noah hope for the future.

I imagine, during the dark times, Noah held on to what God said to him. I can picture Noah meditating on God’s words, repeating them to himself over and over, as an ongoing reminder that God had better things in store for Noah. Noah believed God, no matter what the world around him looked like.

Noah gives us an important tool to help us hold on to our faith in a hostile world. Meditate on God’s Word, and keep holding on!


Dear God, thank You for having plans for me and for giving me a future and a hope! And thank You for giving me Your Word to meditate on. Forgive me for the times I have taken it for granted. Help me to continue to walk in the path You have laid out for me! In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Fall


Genesis 3


The serpent planted the idea to question God in the woman’s mind (“did God actually say....”). The woman responded to the serpent’s question about what God had “actually” said by adding to the commandment God gave. (God did not say “neither shall you touch it” in the command given to Adam in chapter 2).

After planting the idea to question God in the woman’s mind, the serpent then challenged God’s command by saying, in effect, “Uh-uh, no way. You won’t die.” He stops just short of saying God lied (although that can certainly be implied), and instead tells her something else will happen (“you will be like God”). The woman, seeing this [wisdom] as quite an attractive option, is also attracted to the look of the tree, and succumbs to the temptation to disobey God. She quickly gets her husband to join her. And at that point in time, everything changed. Everything.

Suddenly, the man and the woman are insecure in their nakedness. They are afraid of God, and try to hide from Him (which is impossible). God, when walking in the garden, asked the man where he was and the man replied honestly (”I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself”).

I find what happened next most interesting. God asked the man a question. And the man deflected responsibility - to the woman. Then God asked the woman a question. And the woman also deflected responsibility - to the serpent. At this point, God cursed the serpent, then the woman, and then the man. Then God made the man and the woman garments of animal skin and sent them from the garden.


In reading this passage, there are several questions that come to mind:

1) Where was the breakdown in communication of God’s command regarding the tree?

Scripture does not tell us how Adam (the man) told Eve (the woman) about God’s command, so we don’t know if he communicated it correctly to her. Regardless of where the breakdown in communication of the command occurred (between Adam and Eve or between Eve and the serpent), there is certainly implied support for the importance of reading and studying God’s commandments for ourselves and not relying on others to spoon-feed it to us. :)

2) Why did God ask the man where he was and why he was hiding?

God knows everything; He already knew the answers to these questions. It seems to me that God wanted the man and the woman to be aware that He knew they had sinned, and that their decision to do so had impacted their relationship with Him. God had not severed the intimacy of the relationship, the actions of the man and the woman had done this.

3) Why did God curse the serpent, the woman, and the man?

God was informing them of the consequences of their actions. He was also letting them know that He had a plan, and that ultimately the serpent (and sin itself) would be defeated and restoration of relationship with God would occur through the redeeming work of Jesus!

4) Why did God make animal skin coverings for the man and the woman?

I think for two reasons. One, because man cannot atone for his sin (Adam’s efforts to cover himself with leaves were futile). And two, because atonement for sin comes through sacrifice.

5) Why did God send the man and the woman from the garden?

Because of His great love for them and for us
. He knew that His beloved creation was now living in a broken and fallen state, and if they had then eaten from the tree of life, they would have to live in that state forever. I think He loved them too much to let them live in such a state forever. He had a plan for their restoration, and by sending them away He was protecting them.

Some questions for personal reflection:
How do you define sin?
What impact has sin had on your relationships (with people, with God)?
What have been other consequences of sin in your life?
How do you handle sin?


Thank You, Father, for giving us the opportunity and the strength to turn from sin and to live fully for You! It is so humbling that in Your holiness You still desire intimate relationship with us! Please show us what areas of our lives are keeping us from experiencing true, life-changing, moment-by-moment intimacy with You each day. For each woman reading this, I pray she would know You more today than yesterday, and more tomorrow than today, and for any one reading this who does not yet know You, I pray You would bring conviction, repentance, and salvation. Thank You for hearing and answering the cries of our hearts! I love You!

Monday, May 2, 2011


Genesis 1 & 2

The Bible is all about God. It is an incredible love story, culminating in the coming of Jesus to earth. In today’s passage we are introduced to Him, and we learn how He made the universe. We see Him implementing the plan and design He had for His world. The first part of the passage (Genesis 1 - 2:3) is a broad overview of His creation. The second part (Genesis 2:4-25) is a more detailed account of the creation of mankind.

In Part 1, God took 6 days to create the universe and the world, and then rested on the 7th day. Some notes of interest:
  • God spoke creation into existence
  • God had an ordered plan for how He would bring about this world He was creating
    • Day 1: Light (day and night)
    • Day 2: The Heavens (sky)
    • Day 3: Land, Seas, and Vegetation (plants and trees)
    • Day 4: Sun, Moon, and Stars
    • Day 5: Water Creatures (e.g. fish) and Birds
    • Day 6: Land Animals and Humans
  • God created man in His image
  • God gave man authority over the earth
  • Upon completion of His creation, God saw that His creation was very good
  • By the seventh day, God’s work had been completed, and He rested
In Part 2, we find a more detailed description of the creation of man. Some notes of interest:
  • God had not sent rain on the earth
  • God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed the breath of life into him - IMAGINE! God’s own breath gave life to the first man!
  • Trees were given for two reasons
    • to be pleasing to our sight
    • to be good for food
  • Creation was very beautiful, with vegetation and rivers as well as precious metals (gold), fragrant perfumes (bdellium) and precious stones (onyx)
  • The man was placed in The Garden of Eden (only a part of creation) to care for it
  • The man was commanded not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil before the woman was created
  • The man named all of the living creatures
  • No helper was found suitable for the man from the living creatures, so woman was made from one of the man’s ribs
  • God’s creation plan included marriage and families (no other people were in existence, yet father and mother are referenced)
God created this world, and us, because of His great love.


What evidence of God’s love do you see in the world around you?

How does creation reflect Who He is?


Father God, thank You for loving us! Thank You for the gift of creation. Thank You for revealing Yourself to us! Help us to treat this world just as You intended for us to from the beginning of time. And help us to know You more each day! In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Reading Schedule - "In the Beginning"

In the Beginning

1) Creation
Genesis 1:1-2:25

2) The Fall
Genesis 3:1-3:24

3) The Flood
Genesis 6:5-7:24

4) God’s Covenant with Noah
Genesis 8:1-9:17

5) Tower of Babel
Genesis 11:1-11:9

New Study Announcement!

Good morning, ladies!

I have been on a season of rest for the past few weeks. There have been some changes for our a family, and we have been intensely focusing on seeking God’s will as we navigate these waters. I don’t know about the rest of you, but change (of any kind!) can be hard for me. :)

I am so excited to share with you that this week God has shown me where we are going to go next with Better Things! We are going to join the E100 challenge! I’m not sure how long it will take us to complete, but we are going to work our way through the 100 recommended Bible readings (50 from each testament) that Scripture Union says give the big picture of the Bible.

For those who like to know the plan (like me!), the reading list can be accessed here on the E100 challenge website.

Recommendations for a method for reading the Bible can be found here and an article called The Seven Habits of Effective Bible Readers can be found here.

We will be starting early this week, and studies will be posted as I complete them. :)

Have a marvelous Lord’s Day!

In His Love,