Tag Archives: Pray

Who Is On the LORD’S Side? (Exodus 30-32)

Scripture Reading Assignment – Exodus 30-32

Let’s begin today’s devotional commentary with a spiritual truth found in Exodus 30 and then see it identified in practice.

Lesson: That which is holy is never to be treated as common! (30:35-38)

Continuing our study of Exodus, we find Moses on Mount Sinai communing with the LORD who instructs His servant regarding the preparations for daily worship (Exodus 30:1-10), sacrificial offerings (30:11-16), and the anointing oil and spices exclusive for use in the tabernacle and never to be duplicated for any other use (30:17-37).

In Exodus 31 the LORD chose skilled artisans and laborers to construct the furniture and various utensils to be used in the tabernacle (31:1-11). Think about it: Even what some call “blue collar workers”, were chosen and called by the LORD to serve Him!

Moses was to remind Israel to set aside one day, the Sabbath, to rest and worship Him (31:12-17). Finally, the LORD gave him two tablets, tables of stone, on which He inscribed His covenant with Israel (31:18).

Exodus 32 – Rebellion in the Camp

Moses ascended Mount Sinai in Exodus 24 and had been apart from the people for forty days and nights (Exodus 24:18).

In Moses’ absence, the hearts of the people had turned away from the LORD, His commandments, and covenant with Israel.  The people rebelled and turning to the ways of Egypt, demanded Aaron cast a golden calf for them to worship (Exodus 32:1-6).

Angered by the breach of His covenant, the LORD vowed to judge the nation in His wrath (Exodus 32:7-10).  Moses, however, interceded for the people, reminding the LORD of His covenant promises and testimony among the heathen nations (Exodus 32:11-14).

Descending the mount with the tablets of stone inscribed by the LORD, Moses encountered Joshua who feared the noise below was that of war (32:15-17).  The sight of the golden calf, the frenzy and wickedness of idol worship, and the nakedness of the people so incensed Moses “he cast the tables out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount” (32:19).

Confronting his brother Aaron, Moses took up the LORD’s righteous cause and demanded he account for the wickedness of the people. Aaron foolishly defended his failure to face the idolatrous demands of the people and withstand them (32:20-24).  Turning from Aaron, Moses challenged the “sons of Levi,” the priestly tribe, “Who is on the LORD’S side?” (32:26).

Moses charged the faithful, “Put every man his sword by his side…and slay every man his brother…and every man his neighbor…and there fell of the people that day about three thousand men” (32:27-28). Moses then ascended the mount and interceded for Israel (32:30-35).

Permit me to close with an observation: We recognize Aaron’s gross failure as a spiritual leader.  He failed the LORD out of a desire to please and appease the people…and three thousand souls perished.

I wonder how many attend churches whose worship is led by men more concerned with what the people want than they are with what the LORD demands…a Holy People.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Three Keys to Effective Leadership: Objectivity, Wise Counsel and Delegation (Exodus 16-18)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 16-18

The people began to murmur in the Wilderness of Sin, a desert area along the east shore of the Red Sea that we know today as the Arabian Peninsula. Here they accused Moses of leading them into the wilderness to starve (Exodus 16:1-3).  Murmuring hearts and wagging tongues would be Israel’s nature throughout their wilderness years.

The LORD promised He would provide the people sufficient bread each morning for the day. On the sixth day, the day before the Sabbath; He promised bread for two days so the people would have no need of laboring and gathering food on the Sabbath (16:4-5).  The LORD also promised to send the people meat to eat in the evening (16:8, 12).

In spite of the LORD’s provisions and promises of bread and meat, the people hoarded more than their daily bread and it spoiled in their tents (16:19-21).  Only when they gathered two days provisions on the sixth day, sufficient for the Sabbath, did the bread and meat not spoiled (16:25-30).

Continuing their journey through the Wilderness of Sin, Israel came to Rephidim and finding “no water”, the people began murmuring against Moses (Exodus17:1-3).  Moses cried out to the LORD who commanded him to strike a rock with his staff “and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink” (17:4-7).

The nation of slaves soon faced their first enemy in the wilderness when the Amalekites (descendants of Esau, the twin brother of Jacob) came against Israel at Rephidim (17:8-16).  A dramatic scene unfolds as Moses stands on a hill overlooking the battlefield (17:9).  Two men stood with Moses, Aaron and Hur, and they steadied the arms of Moses as he held high in his hands “the rod of God” (17:10-12).  Joshua, Moses’ aid and successor, emerges as the commander who led Israel to her first battlefield victory.

Exodus 18 records Moses’ reunion with his wife, two sons, and father-in-law Jethro (18:1-6).  What an incredible reunion it must have been as Moses rehearsed all the LORD had done in Egypt (18:7-12).

I close today’s devotional with lessons for all, but especially Christian leaders. Jethro, Moses father-in-law, observed him serving as judge in the people’s matters “from the morning unto the evening” (18:13). Jethro asked Moses, “Why sittest thou thyself alone…from morning unto even?” (18:14).  Jethro warned, Moses, you will wear yourself out; this is too much for one man (18:17-18).

Jethro suggested Moses teach the people the “ordinances and laws” (18:19-20) and delegate the responsibility of judging the simple, miniscule matters to others (18:21).  Wisely, Moses judged the “hard causes”, the weightier matters that rose among the tribes (18:22-25).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Faith is the Victory! (Exodus 13-15)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 13-15

The observance of the Passover having been established (12:1-28, 43-51), the people were reminded the difference between the Israelite and Egyptian households was the blood of the lamb Israel applied to the doorposts of their homes. When the LORD saw the blood, He passed over their homes and spared the firstborn. The LORD commanded that the Passover, sacrificing a spotless lamb and eating unleavened bread, would serve as a perpetual memorial, a lasting testimony of when He saved the firstborn of Israel (13:1-3, 6-16).

Four hundred years earlier and believing God’s promise to deliver His people out of bondage, Joseph had requested his bones be taken out of Egypt and buried with his father when the people returned to Canaan (13:17-19).

The LORD comforted the people with a visible testimony of His presence, shadowing Israel with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night (13:20-22).

In spite of the ten plagues he and Egypt had suffered, Pharaoh set his heart to pursue Israel that he might once again enslave the people (14:1-9).  Israel, encamping on the shores of the Red Sea, saw Pharaoh’s army approaching in the distance and the people began murmuring against Moses (14:10-12) who stilled the hearts of the people with the assurance the LORD was with them (14:13-14).

The LORD parted the waters of the Red Sea, allowing Israel to cross over on dry ground (14:15-22), and delayed Pharaoh’s army by setting a cloud of darkness over the Egyptians.  When Israel was safe on the far shore, the LORD lifted the cloud and Pharaoh foolishly pursued Israel into the midst of the waters until the LORD brought them down upon his army (14:23-31).

With Israel securely on the other side of the Red Sea, Moses led the people in a song celebrating the Lord’s salvation and Israel’s deliverance from Pharaoh (15:1-21).

Sadly, reminding us the best of men are sinners at best; a murmuring and discontentment soon arose among the people that began a pattern of sin Israel will follow throughout their sojourn in the wilderness (15:22-27).

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

“Silver-haired” Saints and “Silver-tongued” Youth (Exodus 7-9)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 7-9

Of Pharaoh we read, But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and stubborn and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said” (Exodus 7:13).

The stage is set for ten judgments identified as ten plagues sent by the Lord, the God of Israel, to gradually move the heart of Pharaoh to bow his stubborn will to the will of the LORD (7:14-12:36).

Today’s scripture reading identifies seven of the ten plagues that befell Pharaoh and Egypt in quick succession. The first three of the ten plagues envelopes the whole land of Egypt, affecting even the land of Goshen where the Hebrews lived (7:19-8:19).  Starting with the fourth plague, the LORD “severs” the land of Goshen and spares His people from its sorrows.

Avoiding a long discourse, allow me to simply list the seven plagues that Pharaoh and Egypt suffered, remembering with each the king failed to humble his heart and set the Hebrews free.

1) Nile – water turned to blood; fish die (7:19-25)

2) Frogs and the stench of their dead carcasses (8:1-15)

3) Lice – most likely gnats or other biting insects (8:16-19)

4) Flies – Egypt is said to have biting “dog flies”; Israel is spared. (8:20-32)

5) A pestilence taking the lives of the Egyptian’s livestock (9:1-7)

6) Boils and blisters on man and beast in Egypt (9:8-12)

7) Hail and lightning destroying flax and barley crops in the fields (9:13-35)

Rather than closing today’s text with our focus on the hardened heart of Pharaoh; allow me to invite you to consider the character of Moses and his brother Aaron who stood in the LORD’s place before the king and delivered warnings of the plagues that would follow.  We read concerning Moses and Aaron:

Exodus 7:6-76 And Moses and Aaron did as the LORD commanded them, so did they. 7 And Moses was fourscore years old [80 years old], and Aaron fourscore and three years old [83 years old], when they spake unto Pharaoh.

Eighty years old and serving the LORD!  What an inspiration these men are; not because they were octogenarians (in their eighties), but because they were still doing everything “as the LORD commanded them” (7:6-7)!

Is there a lesson we should take from this?

Absolutely! The sum of a spiritual leader is not his academic credentials, but whether or not he has a heart for the LORD, is skilled in His Word, humble enough for God to use, and bold enough to unapologetically declare the Word of the LORD.

I fear many churches dismiss “silver-haired” saints in favor of “silver-tongued” youth.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

He Cares for You (Exodus 1-3)

Daily reading assignment: Exodus 1-3

A period of change, especially in leadership, is a perilous time. Inexperienced leadership and a lack of appreciation for legacy and history invariably leads to decisions and course changes that are ill advised if not detrimental.

Such is the case in Exodus 1 when we read, Joseph died, and all his brethren, and all that generation…Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph” (Exodus 1:6, 8).

Joseph, a man gifted and blessed by God, providentially rose to become second to Pharaoh in Egypt (Genesis 41:40-43) and the tribes of Israel continued to prosper long after his death (Exodus 1:7-8).

The new Pharaoh did not know Joseph or regard the service he had rendered to Egypt; however, he recognized the population growth of the Israelites in the midst posed a threat to the nation (1:9-10).  Taking extreme measures to limit the growth and influence of the Hebrews, the king commanded a series of heinous steps to limit their population (1:11-22).

Exodus 2 introduces us to a remarkable event: A Hebrew infant adopted by the daughter of Pharaoh (Exodus 2:10). Reminded God is sovereign, infant Moses found favor in the heart of Pharaoh’s daughter and she, having compassion on him, employed Jochebed, the mother of Moses, to be his nurse (2:5-10).

The first 40 years of Moses’ life was that of an Egyptian prince who was favored with the finest education and training in his day (Exodus 2:10; Acts 7:21-22).  In spite of his privileges as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, the heart of Moses was knit with his Hebrew brethren. One day, incensed by an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave, Moses struck and killed the man (2:11-13).

Learning Pharaoh knew his crime (2:14-15), Moses fled Egypt into the wilderness where he spent the next 40 years of his life (2:16-22; Hebrews 11:24-27).  Humbling himself, Moses, the prince of Egypt accepted the humiliation of a hireling shepherd to a Midianite man named Reul (also named Jethro) whose daughter, Zipporah, he married and to whom two sons were born (Gershom – 2:22 and Eliezer– 18:4).

While Moses continued in the wilderness, his Hebrew brethren endured the sorrows and hardships of slavery.  When all hope seemed lost, we read, “And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died” (Exodus 2:23) and “God heard their groaning, and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob” (Exodus 2:24).

I wonder if Moses was content to live the rest of his life in the anonymity and solitude the wilderness afforded him.  I do not know the answer; however, I do know the LORD had not forgotten Moses or His people.  When the time was come, God called to him and Moses answered, “Here am I” (Exodus 3:4).

As the LORD gave Moses His plan for delivering His people out of Egypt, Moses said, “Who am I?”(Exodus 3:11).

Here is an important truth: It was not important who Moses was. What was important is Who was calling him to serve!

“And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you” (Exodus 3:14).

What a wonderful spiritual truth! After forty years of solitude in the wilderness, Moses was content to be a nobody; however, the LORD had a plan and a promise. The man who asked, “Who am I?” would realize his full potential as he put his faith in the LORD who called him!

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

Ever Wonder What God is Up To? Don’t worry; it is for good! (Genesis 48-50)

Devotional reading assignment: Genesis 48-50

Today’s scripture reading brings us to the close of our study of Genesis. Having vowed to fulfill his father’s request to be buried in Canaan, Joseph was soon after summoned to his father’s bedside.

Genesis 48-49 is Israel’s (aka Jacob’s) “Last Will and Testament.”

Rallying for a few moments, Jacob sat up in his bed and rehearsed with Joseph God’s covenant promises (48:3-4). Because he had been a faithful son and servant of the LORD in Egypt, Jacob promised Joseph he would be doubly blessed of the LORD.  Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, would each receive an inheritance in the stead of Reuben and Simeon, his older brothers (48:5-6, 21-22).

Jacob’s final words to his sons and his prophetic insight into the future of their lineages is recorded in Genesis 49. Lest there be any questions of his wishes, Jacob repeated his request to be buried in Canaan with his grandfather Abraham, his father Isaac, mother Rebekah, and his wife Leah (49:29-32).  Genesis 49 closes with the great patriarch’s death, an inevitable appointment for us all (Hebrews 9:27).

A dramatic scene unfolds in Genesis 50 when we read, “And Joseph fell upon his father’s face, and wept upon him, and kissed him” (50:1). 

Following the ways of the Egyptians, Joseph directed the embalmment of his father’s body in a fashion befitting his relation to Joseph, Egypt’s second most powerful ruler (50:2-3).  When the days of mourning were past, Joseph requested permission to carry his father’s body to Canaan to bury him in the ancestral tomb (50:4-7).

The funeral processional out of Egypt was like none ever seen in Canaan (Genesis 50:8-9).  Jacob’s twelve sons, their families (with the exception of small children), and senior leaders of Egypt driving Egyptian chariots and horses, followed Jacob’s body from Egypt to Canaan (50:10-13). With their father buried and famine continuing in the land, Joseph and his brothers returned to Egypt (50:14).

Recalling the evil committed against Joseph when they sold him as a slave, his brothers feared the absence of their father would give Joseph opportunity to exact revenge (50:15-17).  Instead of revenge, we read, “Joseph wept” (50:17b).

Fulfilling the vision the LORD gave him in his youth (Genesis 37:3-11), Joseph’s brothers bowed before him (50:18) as he assured them the wrongs he had suffered were providentially used by God to prepare the way for him to preserve his family (50:19-20).

One of the greatest statements of faith in God’s sovereignty and providence is found in Joseph’s assurance: “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (50:20).

Joseph’s life is a testimony of what it means to suffer wrong and continue to walk in faith and humility.  He did not focus on the grievous evil committed by his brothers, nor give rein to bitter, vengeful thoughts.  Joseph was confident, whatever wrongs he might have suffered, God was faithful and able to bring to pass that which is good!

Friend, are you bitter? Are you nursing hurts and embittered by disappointments?  Are you willing to confess your hurts and let go of your bitterness? Will you trust Him? Trust God knowing He will bring to pass that which is good.

Romans 8:28 – “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith

He Lived Like a Sinner, But He Died a Prince (Genesis 46-47)

Daily reading assignment: Genesis 46-47

Today’s scripture reading follows the amazing news that Joseph is alive and rules in Egypt, second only to Pharaoh (Genesis 45:25-28).  Accepting Pharaoh’s gracious offer to provide refuge from the famine for his family (45:16-19), Joseph instructed his brothers to bring his father and their families to Egypt.

Setting his heart to journey to Egypt and be reunited with Joseph; Israel’s (aka Jacob’s) last stop before entering the Arabian Peninsula, the gateway to Egypt, was Beersheba (Genesis 46:1).  There he worshipped “the God of his father Isaac” and was assured the Lord’s covenant promises would follow his family into Egypt and they would one day be restored to their land (46:2-4).

One hundred and thirty years old, the sinful deceiving ways of his youth are past and the demeanor of the old man reflects the name he now bears, “Israel…Prince with God.” Jacob’s family roster, representing the Twelve Tribes of Israel, is recorded in Genesis 46:8-27.

Twenty-two years has passed since Jacob last embraced Joseph and their emotional reunion is described: “And Joseph made ready his chariot, and went up to meet Israel his father, to Goshen, and presented himself unto him; and he fell on his neck, and wept on his neck a good while” (46:29). Preparing his father and brothers for their audience with Pharaoh, Joseph instructed them on their decorum in the great ruler’s court (46:31-34).

 

Genesis 47 records Pharaoh’s interview with Joseph, his father Israel (aka Jacob), and five of his brothers (47:1-10). 

Remembering Joseph was seventeen years old when his brethren sold him into slavery, God blessed him with his father’s presence another seventeen years after they were reunited in Egypt (47:28).  Knowing the end of his earthly sojourn was at hand, Israel summoned Joseph to his bedside (47:29-31) and humbly expressed one dying wish:

Genesis 47:29b-30 – “29 … If now I have found grace in thy sight, put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh, and deal kindly and truly with me; bury me not, I pray thee, in Egypt: 30  But I will lie with my fathers, and thou shalt carry me out of Egypt, and bury me in their buryingplace…”

Knowing Israel’s (aka Jacob’s) son was the second most powerful ruler in Egypt, he might have requested a stately funeral; instead, his final request reflected where his heart was…in the land the LORD promised would be the perpetual inheritance of his people (Genesis 12:1).

You and I have an appointment with death and we would do well to ponder where our heart and affections lie.  Egypt was the epicenter of pleasure and wealth in Jacob’s day, but the old man remembered he was a sojourner, a foreigner and his citizenship was in another place.  The same is true for every believer; Jesus promised His followers:

John 14:2-32  In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
3  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.

Copyright 2020 – Travis D. Smith