Day 29: Exodus 19-21; Matthew 20:1-16

“Do not fear for God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.” -Exodus 20:20

I truly believe that the reason we are so comfortable taking such liberties in watering down God’s word today is because we have little to no fear of God. We are so awash in grace, that we discount His other attributes. Like that He is a just God and that our actions have consequences. We sing of His mighty power, yet we don’t think twice about the Biblical principles and instructions we have deemed old-fashioned.

Since the beginning of time, God’s purpose for people everywhere has been the same: for people everywhere to know His greatness and sovereignty. We can sing a thousand worship songs about it, but if our hearts don’t quaver in His presence, and our actions are not His, then the fear of God is not in us.

The fear of the Lord

There are a few instances in the Bible when men came into the physical presence of God. Their reactions were universal: to fall on their faces in fear and worship. Humility, awe, fear. It happened to Abraham in Genesis 17:3. To Joshua in Joshua 5:14. To the people of Israel in Leviticus 9:24. To John in Revelations 22:8 when he was in the throne room of the God Almighty. Even Jesus when He prayed before God in his final days on earth (Matthew 26:39).

When we are truly in the presence of God and we feel it down to our bones, the natural reaction is one of fearful awe at how truly powerful and all knowing our God really is. And how small, sinful, and spiritually naked we truly are in comparison.

I wonder if we have made God too small and corporate worship too big. We’re good with the smoke and mirrors of church entertainment, but not so good at sacrificing personal interests, and material comfort.

We say our God lives, but where is the proof in our lives? If you could no longer speak, would your life proclaim how great a God you serve?

Day 23: Exodus 4-6; Matthew 16

We tend to ask God, “why” quite often: why do bad things happen to good people? Why do I have to wait? Why am I still single? Why did I get a bad grade? Why me, God?

In these chapters of Exodus, we read about the beginning of Moses’s ministry – his first encounter with Pharaoh and his initial conversations with God about what he was called to do in Egypt. In these events, a common thread begins to unfold: “that they may believe” (Ex. 4:5). Over and over again, God reiterates that He is the Lord, and if needed, He will do everything in His power to make sure that His children know that. That’s the answer to our why’s: He is the Lord.

Moses was an ordinary man. He felt inadequate to lead or speak to the people; he was a wanted man in Egypt for killing another man; and he had a pretty good life hiding in the desert. But God needed him, and He wasn’t going to take no for an answer. God pursued him relentlessly – in a burning bush, miracles, and the kindest, most encouraging promises:

I AM WHO I AM…Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ -Exodus 3:14

Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, and the blind? Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say. -Exodus 4:11-12

And I will be with your mouth and with [Aaron’s] mouth, and I will teach you what to do. -Exodus 4:15b

I am the Lord. I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name Lord I was not known to them….Therefore say to the children of Israel: I am the Lord. -Exodus 6:2-3; 6a

God is calling you to do something in your life too. It might not be as grand as saving a nation from slavery or helping a people migrate to the promised land. But, in God’s eyes, your calling, no matter how small, is just as important. He needs YOU – not someone more talented, thinner, richer, more well spoken. Because the story He wrote requires your talents, skills, and experiences.

Day 23

Don’t you worry about your weaknesses, a lack of resources, or any other obstacle in your way. Memorize these verses and cling to them as you walk on boldly in obedience. It won’t be easy, but the Lord will give you strength. After all, if I AM has sent you, nothing is impossible.

What do you feel tugging on your heart to do for the Lord today?  

Day 22: Exodus 1-3; Matthew 15:21-39

If you’ve ever doubted that God has a unique plan purpose for every life, I hope that reading the story of Moses changes your mind. From the beginning, you can see the fingerprints of God in the life of this man.

Born into a time of adversity, to a brave woman who was willing to break the law just to keep her son alive. And then Moses “just happened” to have been discovered by the daughter of the reigning monarch. She could have been a flighty young woman with no interest in raising a child, but instead, she decided to adopt him and raise him as her own. Here is another “coincidence” – the woman recruited to nurse and nanny Moses is his own mother. How is that for some extraordinary coincidences? That’s God, y’all.

Reading this story in retrospect makes it quite easy to identify how God was working, even in the midst of sorrow and darkness. In our own lives though, we’re right at the center of it and so it’s really hard to see God’s hand in our lives. Take a step back though and consider how you ended up here today: who your parents are, where you grew up, what trials you and your family overcame, what college you went to and how your major evolved. All these people, events and experiences made you who you are today.

Figuring out what your calling is

But God also planted something even more special in Moses’ life: an innate calling to be moved by the injustices he saw. It was stewing and brewing in his life as he matured into a man. So much so that he jumped the gun on God’s timing and decided to take matters into his own hands when he saw  an Egyptian beating a Hebrew. He couldn’t help it but step into the rescue: it was the way he was programmed to be.

Let this be a lesson to us as well: there is a such thing as stepping into God’s calling on your life too early. Your life is meant to be a series of training leading up to what God has called you to do. After all, you can’t ask a child to drive a car. I know that you might feel that tug to do something with your talents and callings NOW – to start a business, travel the world as a missionary, write your own blog or book, work in your chosen profession, or to become a wife and mother. But, friend, wait on God’s timing. He is preparing you for that thing that fires you up. First though, you need to fully complete your training. Be patient and learn from Moses’ example that waiting on Him is totally worth it (after all, Moses’ second time acting on injustices went so much better than the first!).

What do you feel called to do? Share with us in the comments!

If you’re struggling to figure it out, look back to when you were a child growing up – what attracted your attention? What common thread of skills, characteristics or activities weaves through your life? For example, it could be your innate ability to nurture wounded animals and souls, thriving on creating something, a way with words or numbers, a gift for languages, a love for children, etc…!

Day 19: Genesis 44-45; Matthew 14:1-21

For such a time as this

“But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.” -Genesis 45:5

Anger. Betrayal. Revenge. Depression. Hatred. Pride.

That’s the emotions I imagine I would feel if my siblings sold me into slavery in a foreign country. But, not Joseph (in fact, skip ahead and read what he told his brothers in Genesis 50:19-21!). We’ve been talking about Joseph’s humility, but in my opinion, next to Jesus dying on that cross for me, this is the holy grail of humility: loving someone who rejected, humiliated you and even wanted to kill you.

Because if you look for it, you will see the hand of God everywhere – in your life, in the sunset, and even in the darkest moments of your life. He is always near, molding and adjusting, preparing you for such a time as this.

But it is up to you how you react. You can choose to see the fingerprints of God on your life and praise Him for it. Or you can complain, cast blame, plot revenge or try to make it somehow on your own.

You can submit to Him to be shaped and molded into who He needs you to be. Or you can chart your own course with pride and selfish ambition.

The choice is yours. God isn’t changing and until there is breath in you, He is not giving up on you.

Is there a place in your life where you need to adjust your attitude? This week, I challenge you to write down every instance where you see the hand of God in your life (hint: the fact that you’re alive and breathing right now is pretty awesome in itself, eh?).

Day 17: Genesis 41; Matthew 13:1-32

 

“So Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, ‘It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh an answer of peace.’” – Genesis 41:16

Through a series of twists and turns, betrayals, prison, and slavery, Joseph ended up giving policy advice to the ruler of the Egyptian empire (Gen. 41:37). If you’ve heard his story before, then you’ve probably been reading it pretty passively – you know there is a happy ending. But, I urge you to take a step back and consider how extraordinary this is: a foreign boy sold into slavery is now Pharaoh’s right hand man. That’s God, y’all.

If a reporter came up to Joseph though and asked him what the secret is to his success, Joseph would say: God. He could easily take the credit for his successful interpretation of Pharaoh’s dreams in order to appear confident and competent before the King. I mean, when I present something to my boss, I take the credit, even though I fully know that the reason I am successful is because God is in me and He is the one feeding my mind with wisdom. That’s the difference between Joseph and I – on my performance reviews, it says that Yelena did this and that, but to the King, Joseph was “a man in whom is the Spirit of God” (Gen. 41:38). It was the same for Daniel (Dan. 2:28-30; 47) and Moses. These men all did valiant, big things in the name of God.

A woman who glorifies God in her work

That promise is given to you too: a woman who excels in her work will stand before kings; she will not stand before unknown men (Proverbs 22:29). When I read this though, two questions come to mind: (1) how do I excel? and (2) kings? really?.

First, the excelling thing. I could write a book about this, but the bottom line is this: do everything to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31). Give credit where it’s due (Acts 3:12). Without God, we are nothing. It is because of His great mercy that we are alive today. When our priorities align with God, He blesses the work of our hands (Deut. 28:12; Ps. 90:17). Because when you dedicate something to God, blessings arise.

Second, kings. People notice quality and proficiency. Whether you’re a janitor or a political adviser to the President, when you do good work, it will be noticed – by your peers, superiors and anyone who takes the time to look. Your teachers or bosses may not always comment on it, but trust me, they notice. When it comes time to grades, raises, or promotions, your efforts will be recognized.

Further reading: Proverbs 22:29 and 17:2, Acts 7:10; Daniel 6:3; Acts 3:12

How are you living today? Who are you giving credit to for your successes? If you feel like you’re not excelling, then why not?

Day 16: Unveiling Tamar (Genesis 38-40; Matthew 12:22-50)

The story of Tamar is not one that is usually spoken of or easily understood. She was the daughter-in-law of Judah, Leah and Jacob’s son. While Joseph was in Egypt, his story is interrupted by one that could have easily been on reality television. Judah was the father to three sons: Er, Onan, and Shelah. He allowed his son to marry a non-Israelite woman named Tamar. After Er died, Tamar married Onan as was the custom (called levirate law) so that she could stay in the family and provide an heir. But Onan did not provide Tamar with a child and willfully stopped the process from happening, which angered God. When Judah saw that two of his sons were dead and his youngest was still young, he told Tamar to wait until Shelah was older.

The years passed and Tamar lived in widowhood. Had Judah forgotten her and his promise?

When Tamar heard that Shelah was of age but she had still not been presented to him, she took it upon herself to find Judah. With a veil over her head, she coaxed him into having intercourse and became pregnant with twins. The punishment for adultery could have cost her life but she had Judah’s signet and walking stick as proof of his participation. Judah’s words when he sees his possessions in her hands speak volumes of her character: “She has been more righteous than I” (Genesis 38:26). She gives birth to twin sons, Zerah and Perez, the latter would become the ancestor of the Messiah.

Day 16

Tamar’s story is quite unorthodox but it shows us the amazing grace of God. He takes our broken pieces and still manages to use them. Judah had a hand in his younger brother being sold to the Egyptians and did not honor the command that Isaac his grandfather had instilled to not marry among the Canaanites. Instead God turned that situation around for good and Tamar is mentioned in Jesus’s genealogy. God sees our mistakes, yet He can still use us to fulfill His will when we come back to Him.

Have you often taken situations into your own hands?

Have there been times when you know your plans should have failed but God still allowed you to prosper?

Day 15: Does God Have Favorites? (Genesis 36-37; Matthew 12:1-21)

Day 15

When I was five years old, my sister was born. Even while she was in my mother’s womb, I guessed she would be a girl. Like some first-time-big sisters, her birth didn’t bring me happiness; instead it brought fierce competition for my mother’s attention. I hated sharing my mother and burned with jealousy that my sister could take her thoughts or affections away from me.

Joseph’s older brothers could certainly relate. He was the favored son of Jacob, born from his favored wife, Rachel. Jacob openly loved Joseph, giving him a multicolored tunic while the rest of his sons resented their relationship. The jealousy ate them up so much, they even plotted to kill him but instead sold them to the Ishmaelites.

Have you ever wondered if God has favorites? Jacob’s favoring of Joseph shows the damage it can do, but God isn’t like a human father. When God favors anyone it is because He chooses to and there are times when His favor can bring about suffering. For example, Jesus, God’s only begotten Son in whom He was well pleased, suffered for the sake of humanity so that our relationship with the Father could be restored.

There have been other times in my life, even as a Christian, when my heart has been filled with jealousy because a sister had gifts I didn’t have or seemed more sensitive to God’s Spirit than I was. God had to show me that I had been created by His hands, crafted into the person He wanted me to be. Instead of looking at what others had or what I didn’t have, He showed me that I needed to look to Him as my Father, accepted and redeemed.

God loves each and every one of us. His favor is not because we outdo one another nor does He give more importance to someone else. Instead, He calls us His children; His goodness and mercy follows us wherever we go.

Have you ever found yourself resenting or being jealous of a biological or spiritual sister? What did it teach you about yourself and about God?