February 3

Exodus 17:8-19:15, Matthew 22:34-23:12, Psalm 27:7-14, Proverbs 6:27-35

Pray: Lord, one of the hardest things to do is sit and wait. Would You give each of us an extra measure of patience and courage to trust You and wait for You to work on our behalf? Your word constantly reminds us that You will show Yourself strong on behalf of those who wait on You. Help us with this today Lord. Amen.

Read: There is a lesser-known story in our reading today about how the Israelites defeat the Amalek. It says that whenever Moses held up his hands, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hands, Amalek prevailed. Moses’ hands got heavy because of gravity so the community got busy and lifted up Moses’ withering hands, because God demands that we trust in Him and His plans to win. It is only when we recognize fully that God and the brothers and sisters in Christ around us who can hold us up are our only source of help that you and I will get victory over our giants.

Edify: Sometimes we can make our faith such a complicated thing. In our New Testament reading this morning we see Jesus simplifying it for us. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s simple, right? But yet, these commands are also some of the most difficult to live into regularly. Just as the cross itself is pointing upward to God and out towards man, may God grant us the strength to love vertically and horizontally every day.

Practice: Sometimes we get so caught up in “doing” that maybe we forget what the Psalmist encourages us to do in our reading today in Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord." Just as Moses had to sit and wait for the Lord to work. Let’s be patient and let Jesus do His thing!

February 2

Exodus 15:19-17:7, Matthew 22:1-33, Psalm 27:1-6, Proverbs 6:20-26 

Pray: Jehovah Jireh, God our provider, may we take great confidence in this wonderful attribute of Your character today. May we never forget how You fed Your people, how You gave them drink in a dry place. How You led them is how You lead us today. Help us Lord to trust in Your perfect provision for everything we need. Amen.

Read: In Exodus we see the people of Israel grumbling again. They are worried about what they will drink and what they will eat. First, the Lord reassures the people with this beautiful promise “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.” The people soon forget this and begin grumbling again for food. The people arrogantly say they wished they would have died in Egypt with full bellies rather than die out in the wilderness with nothing. It is at this point that the Lord rains down bread from heaven. It is important to recognize that this was a gift undeserved from a complaining people.

Edify: In Matthew we see a beautiful parable about a wedding feast. But this feast has an uninvited guest. The only condition for this wedding feast is the proper attire. Jesus makes it clear that we must “Put on” the Lord Jesus Christ. The only way you and I can be certain of our seat at the wedding feast is if we are wearing the righteousness of Christ. Our works are only filthy rags unfit for such a celebration. But if we put on Christ we will be a part of the greatest celebration one day ever known to man!

Practice: The theme for today's reading is summarized with one word, provision. God gives us everything we need from our daily bread to our very salvation. Let’s practice relying on this perfect provision. Jesus tells us specifically not to worry where our food or clothing come from but to trust in Him.

February 1

Exodus 13:17-15:18, Matthew 21:23-46, Psalm 26:1-12, Proverbs 6:16-19

Pray: Lord, may Your steadfast love be before our eyes, help us to walk in Your faithfulness. Let the prayer of our breath be the command of Moses today. “I will fear not, I will stand firm, and I will see the salvation of the Lord.” Amen.

Read: Ok, I know that we are supposed to cut the Jewish people some slack since they were pre-Jesus and everything, but this story is just ridiculous. With their backs against the “red sea wall” and the Egyptians bearing down on them, this is what the Israelites say. “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?” How sarcastic and whiny… Are these not the same Jews that saw God reign down ten insanely powerful, awe inspiring plagues on the Egyptians to ensure their freedom? But we are all susceptible to freaking out when things seem tough and we start complaining. I love Moses’ response “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord.” Let’s repeat that to ourselves the next time we face adversity or looming fear in our lives. Feel free to repeat it as many times as necessary.

Edify: Sometimes my wife asks me to do something for her and I tell her no. But then I wise up and remember that I love her and follow through on what she has asked me to do even though I told her no. She doesn’t mind that so much. What really causes some marital strife is when I tell her I am going to do something and then don’t. Uh oh. Jesus tells us a parable like this today. Prostitutes and tax collectors may not look like followers of Jesus, like you religious leaders, but they are humbling themselves and following me now. You religious leaders have had the truth before you all along and in word, you have said you worship God, but yet you don’t. Ouch. Let’s worship God in both word and deed. Things go better for us that way.

Practice: In our reading from Proverbs today we hear what God hates: Pride, lying, murder, planning sin, running to sin, lying and disunity. Let’s be careful to remember these, especially that lying is listed twice! It is vitally important to know not only what God loves, but to remind ourselves of the things that are detestable to the Lord.

January 31

Exodus 12:14-13:16, Matthew 20:29-21:22, Psalm 25:16-22, Proverbs 6:12-15

Pray: Lord, today may we spend more time in prayer as we are reminded of the importance that You put on it. You were willing to go into the temple and make a scene driving out money changers and merchants to make one beautiful point. This place is for prayer. Lord, may we not short change our worship to You with all the other distractions of life and simply bow to You in prayer. Amen.

Read: Why did the Jewish people have a feast of unleavened bread? It was to remind every firstborn male born in Israel that he was saved and redeemed by God from the death that fell upon the first born of Egypt. The Israelites were instructed to bake cakes of unleavened bread because they were “thrust out” of Egypt. It was a remembrance meal. Can’t you hear a Jewish son asking his father “Why do we eat this gross hard bread dad?” “We are remembering the day God saved us all son…let me tell you the story.” God was intentionally instituting a practice that is still held to this day to remind us of His steadfast love and redemption. Amazing!

Edify: Some of the mothers of the disciples must have been worried about their sons and all the time they were spending with this Jesus fellow. They were worried (as all mothers do) that this may not have been the best use of their time. So they try and sure up on their investment by asking for a place around Jesus’ throne. Jesus ended the conversation by sharing that if they want to be great, they must be servants and that even the Son of man did not come to be served but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many. The only title we should be worried about is the one that proclaims Jesus is King!

Practice: We need to practice unwavering devotion to the Lord. We are so quick to change our minds and opinions on so many different things. Those gathering around to sing Hosanna in the Highest to Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem were some of the same to shout “Crucify Him” only several days later. Let us make our choice, follow Jesus no matter where it may take us or what circumstance may come.

January 30

Exodus 10:1-12:13, Matthew 20:1-28, Psalm 25:1-15, Proverbs 6:6-11

Pray: Father, today I pray we will be thankful for Your sacrifice for us. Lord, You did the impossible when You freed us from our sin slavery. The choice to use Your Son as our spotless lamb sacrifice is a love beyond our comprehension. In light of that, I pray along with David in our Psalm for today “Good and upright is the Lord, and your steadfast love has been from old. You lead the humble in what is right, and teach the humble your way.” Thank you Jesus! Continue to humble us daily that we might daily be free from our own sin, darkness and death. Amen.

Read: Locusts, Darkness, Death… These are the last three plagues that fall upon the Egyptian people. I wonder, were there little pockets of light shining among the Jewish people living in Egypt? What a picture for us as Christians living in the darkness of our days. We can choose to go stumbling along blindly with the Egyptians in the darkness of pride and idolatry or we can choose the light of freedom and deliverance from the slavery of our sin. In this powerful chapter in biblical history and among the Jewish people, we see that the only way to escape slavery and imminent death is through the blood sacrifice of a spotless lamb. Christ, once and for all, became our spotless sacrificial lamb on the cross of Calvary. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice to deliver people from all sorts of bondage. A friend of mine once said, “Death didn't happen to Jesus. Jesus happened to death.”

Edify: Moses asks a convicting question to Pharaoh in 10:3 “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?” What a poignant question for us today. Despite how many “plagues” we face in our life, some of us still refuse to humble ourselves before God and acknowledge that He is in control. The Psalms tell us “many are the plans in a man’s heart but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.” Many of us will go on to the bitter end choosing our way over God’s and the consequences are seen even more decisively in the final two plagues; darkness and death. That is the ultimate question for each and every person, isn’t it? Things haven’t changed much. You can choose darkness and death or light and life…

Practice: Jesus tells us a powerful story in our New Testament reading today. A vineyard owner needed some workers so he hired some at the beginning of the day agreeing to a day’s wage. Then three hours later he hired some more for the same wage, then again three hours later, and again three hours later and then again two hours later. The only problem is that everybody got the same pay, a day’s wage. UNFAIR! In a twelve-hour day some of these good for nothings got a day’s wage for only working one hour! At least that’s what the workers who started at the beginning of the day said. What can we learn from this and put into practice? Don’t look beside you and measure your work for the Lord by others, and don’t worry about when you started on your journey with the Jesus. Just know that we are all working in the same vineyard for the same master and He can do what He chooses with what already belongs to Him.

January 29

Exodus 8:1 – 9:35, Matthew 19:13-30, Psalm 24, Proverbs 6:1-5

PRAY: Lord, thank You for who You are. Your power and might are beyond my comprehension, and yet, You so gently meet me where I am. Thank You for being so wonderful and so merciful toward me. Please open my eyes and help me see a glimpse of Your majesty as I read Your Word today. Thank You, Lord.

READ Scripture: The recurring message God gives Pharaoh through Moses is: “Let my people go, so they can worship me.” God is our Rescuer and He alone deserves our worship. At any point Pharaoh could have chosen to humble himself before the living God and allowed the Hebrews to take their three-day journey into the wilderness to worship Yahweh. Pharaoh had the authority to do that, and no one in Egypt would have been able to rebuke Pharaoh. But of course, Pharaoh closed the door on God. And with each layer of stubbornness, God’s power became more visibly demonstrated.

EDIFY: God said to the ruler of Egypt: “By now I could have lifted my hand and struck you and your people with a plague to wipe you off the face of the earth. But I have spared you for a purpose—to show you my power and to spread my fame throughout the earth” (Exodus 9:15). Do you and I realize how powerful God is? We know maybe a small fraction of His goodness—but not the full measure of His glory and majesty. God desires all people to know Him intimately now as Lord and Savior.

PRACTICE: Jesus says the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like little children. Have you humbled yourself before the Lord? Jesus humbled Himself on your behalf when He was stripped, beaten, and nailed to a cross. Christ does not want anything to keep you from knowing God. Nothing can compare to a personal relationship with Christ. The young man in Matthew 19:16-22 wanted to have eternal life, but not to the point he was willing to let go of his possessions. He could have known the joy of walking with the Savior, and yet he chose instead to close the door on the Lord.     

“Open up, ancient gates! Open up, ancient doors, and let the King of glory enter. Who is the King of glory? The LORD, strong and mighty; the LORD, invincible in battle… He is the King of glory” (Psalm 24:7-8,10b).

January 28

Exodus 5:22 – 7:25, Matthew 18:21 – 19:12, Psalm 23, Proverbs 5:22-23

PRAY: Lord, as I read Your Word today, open my eyes to see You. You want to be known. You have been so good to reveal Yourself to us. Thank You for drawing near to humanity throughout the centuries of time. Thank You for inviting me into Your presence even now.

READ: Chapter five of Exodus closes with Moses and the Hebrews being discouraged. Are you discouraged today? Sometimes it may appear the Lord has forgotten to act on our behalf, but we must wait for God’s timing. Chapter six opens with God telling Moses: “Now you will see what I will do to Pharaoh” (Exodus 6:1). God says, I have not forgotten my covenant promise, and the time has come for action. By the time the LORD rescues Jacob’s descendants, not only do the Hebrew people know it was the hand of the LORD, but all of Egypt knows that God is LORD (see Exodus 6:7, 7:5).

EDIFY: God desires to be known. Sometimes He reveals Himself through miraculous signs and wonders, as we will see with the Exodus. And other times He reveals Himself through our willingness to forgive someone who has offended us. In the New Testament reading, Jesus says our willingness to forgive is a prerequisite for receiving forgiveness from our Father in Heaven.

PRACTICE: Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:21-22) Is there someone you need to forgive again?  If so, spend a few moments asking the Lord to help you let go of the debt. God has forgiven us beyond what we can comprehend. He is so good, He expects no less from us.