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Related Resources

Exodus Commentaries, Sermons
Exodus Devotionals- F B Meyer, My Utmost for His Highest, Our Daily Bread offsite, Spurgeon
Exodus Illustrations 1 - Our Daily Bread onsite
Exodus Illustrations 2 - C H Spurgeon, F B Meyer, J H Jowett
Spurgeon Sermons on Exodus Part 1
Spurgeon Sermons on Exodus Part 2
Spurgeon Sermons on Exodus Part 3
Maclaren on Exodus Part 1 - Excellent sermons Exodus 1-18
Maclaren on Exodus Part 2 - Excellent sermons Exodus 20-40


Exodus Illustrations
Our Daily Bread
(Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)


Exodus 3:13-22
Who Is God?

Thirty-five hundred years ago, Moses asked God who He was and got a peculiar answer. God said, "Say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.' . . . This is My name forever" (Exodus 3:14, 15).

I have long wondered why God would call Himself by such a name, but slowly I am learning its significance. A sentence needs only two things to be complete: a subject and a verb. So when God says His name is "I AM," it conveys the concept that He is complete in Himself. He is subject and verb. He is everything we could possibly need.

Jesus put flesh on God's bare-boned answer to Moses' question, "Who are You?" Jesus left heaven to show us what it means to bear His Father's name. He told His disciples, "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6). He also said, "I am the bread of life" (Jn 6:48), "the light of the world" (Jn 8:12), "the good shepherd" (Jn 10:11), and "the resurrection and the life" (Jn 11:25). In Revelation, Jesus declared, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last" (Re 22:13). And He said, "Before Abraham was, I AM" (Jn 8:58).

If you're questioning who God is, take some time to get to know Jesus in the pages of His Word. —Julie Ackerman Link  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

To Moses at the burning bush
God spoke His name—it was "I AM"
And Jesus also took that name—
"I AM," the sacrificial Lamb. —Hess

Jesus is the image of the invisible God. —Colossians 1:15

Exodus 3:6

"And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God (Exodus 3:6).

According to a doctor at Johns Hopkins University, man is constituted "in nerve and tissue and brain cell and soul" to function best on faith. In other words, God made us so that we realize our greatest potential when we are free from the devastating effects of fear. Yet all of us have fears. Those who deny this are being dishonest with themselves. We are afraid of others, ourselves, the future, the past, unemployment, public opinion—the list is endless!

The Bible mentions no less than two dozen words relating to fear. They range in meaning from terror to timidity, and most carry a nega­tive connotation. But one kind of fear—the fear of the Lord—is posi­tive and health-producing. Scripture tells us that it is the "beginning of knowledge" (Pr. 1:7) , that it is "clean" (Ps. 19:9) , that it gives "strong confidence" (Pr 14:26) , and that it is "a fountain of life" (Pr 14:27). But most significantly, we can choose to be controlled by this fear (Pr 1:29).

Moses expressed this kind of fear when God confronted him from a burning bush that was not consumed. Moses "hid his face, for he was afraid to look upon God" (Ex 3:6).

The fear of God is reverent trust. We stand in awe of God, His power, and His holiness. We believe His warnings, His commands, His promises. We hold His character in such high respect that we choose "to hate evil" (Pr 8:13) , knowing that all His commands are for our good. By fearing Him we express our devotion to Him. It is the one fear that overcomes all others. —D. J. DeHaan.  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Only the fear of God can banish the fear of men

Exodus 3:6a

"Slaves, in all things obey ...with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord." (Colossians 3:22)

"Perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).

Jesus commands us to love God (Matt. 22:37) , yet Paul enjoins us to fear Him (Col. 3:22). But if we love God, shouldn't we be free from fear? Doesn't perfect love cast out fear? My own experience can help answer this question. I love the Lord, but I still have some fear when I think of the day I will stand before Him. I'm not afraid He will send me to hell; I know that Jesus paid the price for my sins. Yet the thought of standing in the presence of a holy God awes me. This element of fear helps me to try to please God. The kind of fear that is cast out by love, though, is a cringing dread of eternal punishment. God has delivered me from that.

The Wind in the Willows, a children's allegory by Kenneth Grahame, illustrates the love-fear relationship.

Two animals, Mole and Rat, meet Friend and Helper, who personifies God. Mole shakes as he whispers,

"Rat, are you afraid?"

"Afraid," murmurs Rat, his eyes brimming with unutterable love—

"Afraid! Of him? Oh, never, never! And yet—and yet—oh, Mole, I am afraid!"

Daniel the prophet must have experienced that same feeling. His love for God was great, yet when he met the Lord in a vision he collapsed in fear (Dan 8:15-27) . One glimpse of God's holiness over­whelmed him with a sense of his own sinfulness.

We must love God, but we must also stand in awe of Him. The combination of love and fear is the key to holy living. —Herbert Vander Lugt  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

He who doesn't fear God should fear everything else

Exodus 3:14

"And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM"; and He said, "Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.'" (Exodus 3:14)

"For who in the heavens can be compared to the LORD?" (Psalm 89:6).

Just east of Atlanta is Stone Mountain, the largest outcropping of exposed granite in the world. On the side of the 1700-foot mountain are carvings of Stonewall Jackson, Jefferson Davis, and Robert E. Lee. To demonstrate the immensity of these figures, workmen once set a table and chairs on the scaffolding over Lee's shoulder. Then several people ate lunch on that huge projection of carved granite. Although this monument is enormous, it doesn't appear as impressive from a distance as it does when seen up close. Its greatness overwhelms close observers.

The words of Ethan in Psalm 89 suggest a similar truth about getting to know God. The psalmist's inspired song is filled with praise to the Lord. The writer magnifies His greatness, His mercy, and His faithfulness. The psalmist could say these things because he enjoyed a close personal relationship with God. Such a vision of the Almighty comes only to one who draws near to the Lord and is overwhelmed by His greatness.

The same is true for us. We come to appreciate the greatness of our God more and more as we come into closer fellowship with Him and experience His presence. Ethan could sing of Jehovah, "You have a mighty arm" (Ps 89:13). But that knowledge translates into blessing for those "who know the joyful sound" (Ps 89:15) and walk in the light of the Lord's countenance.

The nearer we come to Him the greater He becomes to us. —P. R. Van Gorder  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

God can take the place of anything, but nothing can take the place of God

John Henry Jowett
MAY The Tenth

“I have surely seen the affliction of My people ...come now, therefore, I will send thee.”
Exodus 3:1,2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.

DOES that seem a weak ending to a powerful beginning? The Lord God looks upon terrible affliction and He sends a weak man to deal with it. Could He not have sent fire from heaven? Could He not have rent the heavens and sent His ministers of calamity and disasters? Why choose a man when the arch-angel Gabriel stands ready at obedience?

This is the way of the Lord. He uses human means to divine ends. He works through man to the emancipation of men. He pours His strength into a worm, and it becomes “an instrument with teeth.” He stiffens a frail reed and it becomes as an iron pillar.

And this mighty God will use thee and me. On every side there are Egypts where affliction abounds, there are homes where ignorance breeds, there are workshops where tyranny reigns, there are lands where oppression is rampant. “Come now, therefore, I will send thee.” Thus saith the Lord, and He who gives the command will also give the equipment. (John Henry Jowett - My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year)


Exodus 4:2
The Little Things

"And the Lord said unto him, What is that in thine hand?" Exodus 4:2

Our Scripture reading for today contains Moses’ response to God’s call at the burning bush. Having just been commissioned to lead the children of Israel out of bondage, he was apprehensive about how the Egyptians, and even his countrymen, would react. But the Lord said to him, “What is that in thine hand?” “A rod,” Moses answered. Then He said to him in Ex 4:17, “And thou shalt take this rod in thine hand, wherewith thou shalt do signs.” Most of us are familiar with the great miracles associated with that rod when Moses obeyed the Lord. It was insignificant in itself, but it became a powerful instrument when committed to the Lord.

Writing on this theme, J. W. Johnson imagined the following conversation between God and some of His faithful servants down through the centuries: “‘What is that in thine hand?’ asked the Lord. ‘A sling,’ said David. ‘It is enough; go up against the giant,’ and the great Goliath fell before the shepherd boy. ‘What is that in thine hand?’ ‘A sword,’ answered Jonathan. ‘It is enough,’ and the brave youth, followed by his armor-bearer, went up against an army, and the Philistines were defeated....’What is that in thine hand?’ ‘A pen,’ said John Bunyan, as he spoke from the arches of Bedford prison. ‘It is enough,’ and he wrote the story Pilgrim’s Progress, which will live while the world endures.”

Don’t sell yourself short, friend! If God has called you to a task, He’ll equip you for it. He merely asks, “What is that in thine hand?” Give it to Him, and you’ll see what He can do with little things. - Richard W. De Haan  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Exodus 4:10-17
The Power Of Our Limits

Moses, on the occasion of his call by God, made excuses. "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue" (Exodus 4:10).

The wording suggests that Moses had a speech impediment—perhaps he stuttered. But the Lord said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the Lord?" (Ex 4:11).

Our impairments, our disabilities, our handicaps are not accidents; they are God-designed. He uses every one of our flaws for His own glory. God's way of dealing with what we call "limitations" is not to remove them but to endow them with strength and use them for good.

In the New Testament, Paul the apostle referred to an unspecified "thorn in the flesh" that he repeatedly asked the Lord to take from him (2Co 12:7, 8). But God said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness" (2Co 12:9).

Paul even learned to "take pleasure" in his troubles. "Most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me," he said (2Co 12:9). "For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2Co 12:10).—David H. Roper  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

All faithful saints who walk with God
Through weakness learn to trust His Word;
They're not immune to pain or tears,
But learn to rise above their fears. —D. De Haan

God's strength is best seen in our weakness

John Henry Jowett
MAY The Tenth

“I have surely seen the affliction of My people ...come now, therefore, I will send thee.”
Exodus 3:1,2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14.

DOES that seem a weak ending to a powerful beginning? The Lord God looks upon terrible affliction and He sends a weak man to deal with it. Could He not have sent fire from heaven? Could He not have rent the heavens and sent His ministers of calamity and disasters? Why choose a man when the arch-angel Gabriel stands ready at obedience?

This is the way of the Lord. He uses human means to divine ends. He works through man to the emancipation of men. He pours His strength into a worm, and it becomes “an instrument with teeth.” He stiffens a frail reed and it becomes as an iron pillar.

And this mighty God will use thee and me. On every side there are Egypts where affliction abounds, there are homes where ignorance breeds, there are workshops where tyranny reigns, there are lands where oppression is rampant. “Come now, therefore, I will send thee.” Thus saith the Lord, and He who gives the command will also give the equipment. (John Henry Jowett - My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year)


Exodus 5:1-14, 22, 23

"Whoever walks wisely will be delivered" (Proverbs 28:26).

The local TV weatherman pointed to his map and said, "Well, friends, I'm afraid that before things get better, they're going to get worse." His forecast could have applied to Israel as God prepared to rescue His people from their slave-camp conditions. The barometer of events was falling rapidly; and the dark, threatening skies would soon turn into a churning, flashing storm of oppression. Earlier the people had talked excitedly about deliverance. Everything looked promising. But some-thing seemed to go wrong. Moses, the designer of the great escape, became Moses, the source of unneeded pain. All of his talk of freedom had only angered the Egyptians, compounding Israel's predicament. As far as Pharaoh was concerned, slaves that had time to dream of freedom had too much time. So he multiplied their production quotas and took away their resources. The situation went from bad to worse. Personally humiliated, Moses bitterly cried out to the Lord for an explanation.

Time, however, showed that the plans of the Lord were not being frustrated. The great "people's express" was getting ready to leave Egypt. All was on schedule. The Lord was deliberately testing His children by allowing their suffering to get worse before it got better.

We can find courage in this. When the world closes in, we know that our condition is not determined by the authorities of this world but by the Lord who is above the world. —M. R De Haan II  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

The darkest hour lies nearest the dawn

Exodus 5:1-14,22-23
The Storm Will Pass

The local TV meteorologist occasionally points to a map and says something like this: "I'm afraid that things are going to get worse before they get better."

Such a forecast could very well have applied to Israel when God sent Moses to free His people from slavery in Egypt. The barometer of events was falling rapidly, and the dark, ominous sky of oppression would soon break forth into a churning, flashing storm of cruelty unleashed by Pharaoh.

Moses had appealed to Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go into the desert to worship God, but the king accused them of loafing on the job (Exodus 5:1,17). So he multiplied their workload, and the situation went from bad to horrible (Ex 5:18). Moses cried out in bitterness to the Lord for an explanation (Ex 5:22, 23). He found it hard to believe that a glorious exodus could be just around the corner.

The plans of the Lord were not being frustrated, however. Before conditions would get better for His children, God tested them by allowing their suffering to increase.

Even when we are obedient to the Lord, the skies of adversity may not always clear immediately. Circumstances may get worse before they improve. But praise God, His grace will sustain us, and the storm will pass.—Mart De Haan  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Have faith in God, the sun will shine,
Though dark your path may be today;
His love has planned your way and mine,
Have faith in God, have faith alway. —Anon.

It's always darkest before the dawn.


Exodus 6:1-9
Hurting And Hearing

When we are experiencing deep sorrow or difficult circumstances, we may feel offended if someone suggests that something good can emerge from our adversity. A well-meaning person who tries to encourage us to trust God's promises may be perceived as insensitive or even unrealistic.

That happened to the children of Israel when God was working for their deliverance from Egypt. As Pharaoh hardened his heart toward the Lord's command to let His people go, he increased the Hebrew slaves' workload by forcing them to gather the straw they needed to make bricks (Exodus 5:10, 11). They became so discouraged, they couldn't accept Moses' assurance that God had heard their cries and promised to take them to a land of their own (Ex 6:9).

There are times when our hurts and fears can close our ears to the hopeful words of God. But the Lord doesn't stop speaking to us when it's hard for us to hear. He continues working on our behalf just as He did in delivering His people from Egypt.

As we experience God's compassion and His loving care, we can begin to hear again even as the hurt continues to heal.—David C. McCasland  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

O yes, He cares—I know He cares!
His heart is touched with my grief;
When the days are weary, the long nights dreary,
I know my Savior cares. —Graeff

Even when we don't sense God's presence, His loving care is all around us.

J H Jowett

Exodus 6:2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8

"I APPEARED unto Abraham.... I will be to you a God.” The covenant made with the father was renewed to the children. The father’s death did not disannul the promise of the Lord. Death has no power in the realms of grace. His moth and his rust can never destroy the ministries of Divine love. Abraham died and was laid to rest, but the river of life flowed on, and the bounties of the Lord never failed. The village well quenches the thirst of many generations: and so is it through the generations with the wells of grace and salvation. The villagers have not to dig a new well when the patriarch dies: “the river of God is full of water.”

And thus I am privileged to share the spiritual resources of Abraham, and the still richer resources of the Apostle Paul. Nothing was given to him that is withheld from me. He is like a great mountaineer, and he has climbed to lofty heights; but I need not be dismayed. All the strength that was given to him, in which he reached those lofty places, is mine also. I may share his elevation and his triumph. “For the promise is unto you and your children, and to all that are afar off.” (John Henry Jowett - My Daily Meditation for the Circling Year)


Exodus 7:8-10

"Now the magicians of Egypt....cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents." (Exodus 7:11,12)

When I was young, I often wondered how the magicians of Egypt could make snakes out of their rods in the presence of Pharaoh like Aaron had done. I knew God had divinely commissioned His ambassadors to perform a miracle, but were those on Satan’s side permitted special demonic power to do the same? Perhaps in reproducing some of the plagues they were, but I don’t think that was true in this case.

Commentators say that serpents engraved on Egyptian monuments have the appearance of an Irish-thorn cane, with the head turned over the body as a handle. From this they conclude that the magicians knew how to paralyze a snake by putting pressure on the back of its neck so that it would become rigid. The sorcerers used these reptiles as walking sticks. The people would stare in amazement when they threw these ‘canes’ on the ground, for with the pressure released, the snakes would begin to crawl away. Then the magicians would seize the serpents and pinch their neck nerves, and they again became paralyzed and stiff.

Prior to the account in Exodus 7, Moses had been told to take his staff, which through God’s power had become a serpent, and hold it not by the neck but “by the tail” to turn it into a rod (Ex. 4:4). Assuming that Aaron did the same thing in Pharaoh’s presence, it would be obvious that his act was a true miracle and not trickery.

The devil’s followers are still using deception, and they counterfeit God’s power to gain attention. Because “many false prophets are gone out into the world” (I John 4:1), beware lest they trick you.  Henry G. Bosch  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

O Let us learn from Thy blest Word
Base error to discern,
And by Thy Spirit’s light and help
From Satan’s snares to turn. -- Bosch

Error often comes dressed in the garment of truth


Exodus 8:20-32
The Buzzing Of The Flies

I was listening to the guys at a fishing resort in Canada. "Worst year for flies we've ever seen!" "Man, you need a shotgun to protect yourself, they're so huge." "No bug spray works this year."

The bite of the black fly creates wounds that swell, get red, and itch like crazy. Get several and life is miserable--even when the fish are biting.

That is nothing compared with what happened when the fourth plague hit Egypt (Ex 8:20, 21, 22, 23, 24). As Moses predicted, the air was thick with swarms of flies. They invaded Pharaoh's palace, filled the houses of the officials, and were found everywhere in Egypt--except in the land of Goshen where the Israelites lived.

By this time Pharaoh should have been listening intently to every word Moses said. But after the flies were gone he hardened his heart (Ex 8:32), and so he set himself and his people up for even more serious judgments from the Lord.

Sometimes the Lord uses drastic measures to get our attention. The "swarms of flies" take different forms--trouble, recurring failure, guilt, the hurt looks of the people we love. Those are the times we especially need to listen to God.

So let's listen carefully to the Lord, while it is still quiet, before the buzzing of the flies begins. —David C. Egner  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Master, speak, and make me ready,
When Thy voice is truly heard,
With obedience glad and steady,
Still to follow every word. --Havergal

Hardening of the heart is more serious than hardening of the arteries.


Exodus 12

As the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did. And it came to pass, on that very same day, that the LORD brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 12:51).

Samuel Bowles, the nineteenth-century American journalist, speaking of slavery, pinpointed the origin of all personal emancipation when he said, "The cause of freedom is the cause of God."

Freedom has its source in the very essence of God, Who is totally free to do whatever He wishes. In contrast, we humans are rarely free to do what we desire, and pursuing our desires leads only to more bondage.

Human bondage has been people's plight since God evicted earth's first couple from Eden. The irony of the story is that Adam and Eve started down slavery street by exercising their free will. Although they were the first to plod the prison path, their sons and daughters followed their footsteps.

The Egyptian bondage stands out because God's chosen nation was held captive by pagan rulers. Their bondage was physical, but the issues were spiritual: They worshiped heathen gods and doubted God's promises. Egyptian and Israelite souls were in chains.

In the Exodus and its Passover prelude, God set Jewish bodies and hearts free. But their freedom was short-lived; Assyrian, Babylonian, and Roman domination followed.

The New Testament Jews expected Jesus to set them free from Roman rule; instead a kangaroo court tried and killed Him. What He taught them in life, He demonstrated in death:  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

A life lost is a life gained and a life found is a life freed.

Exodus 12:21-30

My friends Deb and Bryce were invited by some Jewish friends to attend their seder dinner. This is a celebration held by Jewish families to commemorate the first Passover in Egypt (Exodus 12:24, 25, 26, 27). The entire family becomes involved, including the little children.

Deb and Bryce expected a somber evening, but they discovered a joyous celebration. At the beginning of the meal, a piece of bread was halved. One half was shared by the guests; the other half was hidden by the youngest family member. All the adults searched for it, to the child’s delight. When the bread was not discovered, it was ransomed by the child amid great laughter. Then followed an evening of stories and songs, and the oft-repeated phrase: “L’Chayim! To life!”

Why not a joyous celebration? The Passover marks the deliverance of Israel from slavery and the “destroyer.”

The Passover meal Jesus and His disciples shared the night before His death was a celebration too, but with serious overtones. It signaled the beginning of the events that led to His sacrifice and our redemption from sin and Satan.

From spiritual slavery to spiritual freedom. From death to life. As we celebrate our deliverance, we too can say with joy to one another, “L’Chayim! To life!” —David C. Egner  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

For Further Study
Learn more about our Old Testament heritage.
The Holidays Of God: The Spring Feasts
The Holidays Of God: The Fall Feasts

Deliverance from sin is the greatest of all freedoms

Exodus 12:29-42

You shall have no other gods before Me.- Exodus 20:3

God had seized the attention of Pharaoh and the Egyptians with a series of plagues. Now they were dying to be rid of their Hebrew slaves. But God didn't want the Israelites to leave Egypt empty-handed. After all, they had 400 years of wages due them. So they asked their former masters for articles of silver, gold, and clothing, and they got them. Exodus 12:36 says that the Israelites "plundered the Egyptians."

It wasn't long, however, until God's people fell into idolatry. They used their gold to make a golden calf, which they worshiped while Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the law (Ex 32:1, 2, 3, 4).

This tragic experience highlights the tension that Christians are required to maintain in relation to their possessions. There is much in our society that we may enjoy. But material things can also pose grave dangers when we use them uncritically. Os Guinness says that we are "free to utilize" but "forbidden to idolize." We are "strangers and pilgrims on the earth" (Heb. 11:13), and we must not become so enamored with "the riches of Egypt" that we grow complacent and forget our true calling.

Are we using our material blessings to serve the Lord or have we become slaves to them? -- Haddon W. Robinson  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

I have an old nature that noisily clamors
To satisfy empty desire;
But God in His goodness has sent me a Helper
Who whispers, "Your calling is higher."- Gustafson

Gold can be a helpful servant but a cruel master


Exodus 13:21-22

"And the LORD went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so as to go by day and night. He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day or the pillar of fire by night from before the people" (Exodus 13:21, 22).

In Ruth Ainsworth's retelling of The Pied Piper of Hamelin,

"he put his pipe to his lips . . . and from every door the children ran. Boys and girls, big and little, all followed the piper . . . to live in a land where everything was better and brighter. . . . The fruit would be sweeter, the flowers would be gayer, and even the sparrows would be as bright as peacocks."

Although Israel followed a cloud by day and a fire by night on their journey to a land flowing with milk and honey, their story is no fairy tale; it is an account of real people and a loving God who guided them through four decades of desert wanderings.

The forty-year pilgrimage began when God paved a high and dry freeway through the Red Sea and then closed it up again before His enemies could use it. Israel packed no picnic lunches; God provided first-class dining daily.

But He not only gave His children fine food, He taught them how to live and worship. Unfortunately, they spurned His loving leadership. Rejecting His good guidance, most of them died in the barren land—over one million of them. But...

God is not driving the lead car in a funeral procession; He points the way to life.


Exodus 15:1-18
Celebration Of Praise

You've probably never been to a worship service quite like the one the Israelites held after they reached the safe side of the Red Sea.

The people had just seen God save them from certain, watery death. They had come within an eyelash of being pushed into the sea by the charging forces of Pharaoh's army. Relentlessly, the charioted soldiers had chased them down (Ex. 14:5, 6, 7, 8, 9). In panic, the children of Israel had cried out for help (Ex. 14:10).

The Lord parted the sea, allowing the people to cross (Ex. 14:16,21,22). But when the Egyptians rode onto the seabed, God caused the waters to cascade down on them (Ex. 14:28).

That's when the celebration began! Joyously, the people praised God for His strength and salvation (Ex. 15:2), His power (Ex. 15:6), His greatness (Ex. 15:7), His holiness (Ex. 15:11), His mercy, redemption, and guidance (Ex. 15:13), and His eternal reign over them (Ex. 15:18). They poured out their hearts in worship to the God of their salvation.

Look over the attributes for which the Israelites praised God. Review how His character has touched your life. Find ways to honor Him in worship. The God who parted the sea is the God who makes a way for you. Give Him your celebration of praise! —Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

When we think of the power of God,
Of His wonderful works in His Word,
We can't help but rejoice in His Son,
That the gospel of grace we have heard. --Hess

God's great power deserves our grateful praise.

Exodus 15:19-27
Life After Miracles

On the other side of every miraculous intervention by God on our behalf, there is a road of faith to travel. Whether God's power has touched our health, finances, or family relationships, we must not only praise and thank the Lord but obey Him as well.

After God opened the Red Sea for His people, then released the waters to overwhelm Pharaoh's pursuing army, there was a great celebration of praise to the Lord (Exodus 15:1-21). But then it was time to move on in the journey toward the land of promise. "So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur" (Ex. 15:22). There they traveled for 3 days without finding water, and they began to complain.

In the divine plan, supernatural intervention is not an end in itself, but it is a means of teaching us that we can always trust and obey the leadership of Almighty God. Will we listen to His voice and obey His Word? If He leads us through the sea, will He not also guide us to a well?

The stunning events recorded in Exodus show that it's possible to experience God's power yet remain spiritually unchanged. To keep that from happening to us, let's use the sweet memory of yesterday's miracle to encourage a bigger step of faith today. —David C. McCasland (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Sometimes we see a miracle,
And faith in God revives;
Yet we should see God's gracious hand
At work throughout our lives. —Hess

The God who delivered us yesterday is worthy of our obedience today.

Exodus 15:22-27
From Bitter To Sweet

Joy and sorrow are often close companions. Just as the Israelites went from the thrill of victory at the Red Sea to the bitter waters of Marah just 3 days later (Exodus 15:22, 23), our rejoicing can quickly turn into anguish.

At Marah, the Lord told Moses to throw a tree into the water, which made it "sweet" and drinkable (Ex. 15:25). Another "tree," when "cast into" the bitter circumstances of our lives, can make them sweet. It is the cross of Jesus (1Peter 2:24). Our outlook will be transformed as we contemplate His sacrificial death and His submission to the will of God (Luke 22:42).

Our pain may come from the ill-will of others, or worse, from their neglect. Nevertheless, our Lord has permitted it. We may not understand why, yet it is the will of our Father and Friend, whose wisdom and love are infinite.

When we say yes to God as His Spirit reveals His will to us through His Word, the bitter circumstances of our lives can become sweet. We must not grumble against what the Lord permits. Instead, we must do all that He asks us to do. Jesus said that we are to take up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23).

When we remember Jesus' cross and submit to the Father as He did, bitter experiences can become sweet. —David H. Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Lord, I've not always understood
What plan You have for me;
Yet I will glory in Your cross
And bear mine patiently. —Anon.

God uses our difficulties to make us better—not bitter.

Exodus 15:22-27a
A Tree Of Healing

While waiting in the church parking lot, I switched on the car radio and heard the distinctive voice of Bible teacher J. Vernon McGee. "When the experiences of life are bitter," he asked, "what can make them sweet?" Just then I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw a boy walking with his mother toward the church. He held her arm as they moved slowly, every step an effort because of his cerebral palsy. They had come to worship God.

So, what can sweeten the painful experiences of life? McGee's answer: "Only the cross of Christ." He cited the healing of the bitter waters of Marah in Exodus 15, which he saw as a prophetic picture of Christ's sacrifice for our sin. Moses "cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet" (Ex. 15:25).

The New Testament uses "the tree" as a metaphor to describe the cross on which our Savior died. In 1Peter 2:24, for example, we read that Christ "Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree."

Today, as we embrace all that the cross means, we can find healing of heart and the transforming power of God's love that sweetens the bitterest waters of life. —David C. McCasland (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Christ takes each sin, each pain, each loss,
And by the power of His cross
Transforms our brokenness and shame,
So that we may glorify His name. --DJD

The cross of Christ can sweeten the most bitter experience of life.

Exodus 15:22-27b
Into The Desert

After the Israelites miraculously crossed the Red Sea, they were led into the desert. How strange that God would lead them from a place of revelation and power to a place of disappointment and dire need!

But God wanted to show them that life is a combination of bitter and sweet, triumph and defeat. When the Israelites arrived at Marah, they complained because the water was bitter (Ex. 15:23). After Moses interceded (Ex. 15:25), God reminded them to keep His commandments (Ex. 15:26). Then He brought them to the abundance and refreshment of Elim (Ex. 15:27).

The Lord wanted to teach them that each experience on their journey would reveal their hearts. This test showed they were living by sight and not by faith.

They also learned that God was involved in their daily affairs. He wanted them to know that He not only could part the sea, but He would also supply water for His people. He knew their needs because He planned their way.

If you are being led into a wilderness of disappointment and bitterness right now, trust God, for He knows exactly where you are and what you need. As you obey His commands, He will lead you out of the desert and into a place of spiritual abundance, healing, and refreshment. —Marvin Williams (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

We shrink from this life’s challenges—we plead
For watered pastures never touched by pain;
But God will often let us sense our need
Before He sends His cool, refreshing rain. —Gustafson

The more bitter the desert experience, the sweeter the water of the oasis

Exodus 15:22-27

"He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters." (Psalm 23:2).

A humble Christian, when beset by a tremendous trial, misquoted Scripture but found great comfort in it. He said, "I'm so glad the Bible tells us, It came to pass' and not `It came to stay.— Those particular words do not speak of the temporal nature of difficulties, but in other places the Bible clearly teaches that God will see us through our trials. Life is not all hardship. If it were, discouragement would overwhelm us and we would give up.

In Exodus 15 we read that the children of Israel tasted the bitter waters of Marah. But then God led them to Elim where they enjoyed wells of sweet water and the coolness of sheltering palms. The people knew that both stops were by God's direction. His "glory cloud" hovered over them to point the way. When it moved, the Israelites moved; when it stopped, they stopped. That cloud clearly marked both Marah and Elim.

Whenever God leads us to a campsite at Marah, where we experi­ence bitterness, sorrow, or disappointment, we must keep in mind that we will one day drink the sweet water of Elim's wells and feel the refreshing shade of its palms. God's comfort will surely come—both on earth and in heaven. And when we are enjoying the encouragement of Elim, we should rejoice, knowing that God is strengthening us for the rest of the journey. —P. R. Van Gorder. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

In every desert of calamity, God has an oasis of comfort.

Exodus 15:22-16:5

"Then the whole congregation... murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness" (Exodus 16:2).

Fred Grimm, a Christian probation officer, told of a father who made a scapegoat of his son by blaming him for family conflicts. Although the man and his wife had been fighting for years, the father told his son,

"It's always because of your big mouth that your mother and I fight. If I leave you and your mother, it will be your fault."

The youngster's problems were compounded when the father died suddenly from a stroke and the mother accused her son of having caused his father's death. The boy was devastated.

Blaming others for our problems is not only unjust and cruel, it's displeasing to the Lord. The children of Israel did this in the wilder­ness shortly after their deliverance from the land of Egypt. When food and water were short, they panicked and blamed Moses and Aaron for getting them into their predicament. They made scapegoats of their leaders. Yet God mercifully overlooked their lack of faith and unfair criticism of His servants in those two incidents. Later, though, when the Israelites committed the same sin again, He judged them severely (see Numbers 16:1ff).

Scapegoating can do great damage. Instead of looking for someone else to blame for our problems, we need to analyze our situation, acknowledge our failures, and ask God for forgiveness and help.—H. V. Lugt (
Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved)

We won't get closer to God by passing judgment on others.


Exodus 17:11

Prison guards couldn't understand how Irina Ratushinskaya could be so joyful. She was cold, sick, and hungry in a cruel Soviet prison camp. But Irina says she understands how: People were praying for her.

Irina is convinced that she and other prisoners experienced God's presence like "the sense of delicious warmth in a freezing land" because Christians all around the world were asking God to help them. After she was set free, Irina wrote a poem to express her gratitude to God and fellow believers. She included the words, "My dear ones, thank you all."

In our Scripture lesson we see that the Israelites prevailed over the superior Amalekite army when Moses lifted his staff toward heaven -- a symbol of intercessory prayer. His praying on the hill, possibly unseen by the Israelites, gave them the invisible support they needed.

Sick, suffering, sorrowing people cannot see their fellow believers who are praying for them. But many people have told me they are amazed at the sense of God's presence in their affliction, and they know this to be the result of the prayers of their friends.

May we faithfully intercede for those who are struggling. Let's be a source of invisible support. -- Herbert Vander Lugt (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Support for people who're in need
Comes when we pray and intercede;
God's strength is given to His own
When we go to the Father's throne.--Sper

God's intervention is often the result of our intercession.

Exodus 17:12
A Helping Hand

"... and Aaron and Hur held up his hands ... ." Exodus 17:12

Exodus 17 records a most interesting experience in the life of Moses. As long as his hands, grasping the rod of God, were up-held, Joshua and the Israelites prevailed against the Amalekites. As the battle progressed, however, Moses' hands became so heavy that he could no longer retain his posture. Aaron and Hur then held his hands up for him, and victory was achieved.

Even as Moses needed the assistance of Aaron and Hur, so today those called to spiritual leadership need the undergirding of the people to whom they minister. I am thinking especially of pastors. I don't know of another work so demanding, discourag­ing, and fraught with potential pitfalls. These men need our sup-port and encouragement. By the way, how long has it been since you took your pastor's hand and verbally expressed your gratitude for his ministry? A word properly timed will be, in ef­fect, "holding up his hands," and will help to assure spiritual victory in your church.

A terrible fire was raging, and many attempts were being made to save a child who stood at a top window frantically wav­ing and calling for help. One man, braver than the rest, put forth a last bold endeavor to rescue the boy. Sensing the almost impos­sible odds, and fearing he might fail, someone in the crowd cried, "Cheer him, cheer him!" The people caught the words and shouted loudly. Inspired and encouraged by their support, the man doubled his efforts and rescued the child from the flames.

Do you know any Christian worker who is similarly trying by all means in his power to snatch "brands from the burning," and to save immortal souls? Cheer him, and then see how your kind sympathy helps him to work on with fresh courage and renewed energy.

Why not make this "appreciation week" for your pastor? Encourage him, "cheer him"!
(Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

O "hold up the hands" of the worker for Christ,
Encourage his soul by your prayer;
A handclasp, a smile, or a word of good cheer,
Will help him life's burdens to bear. — G. W.

Wouldn't it be fine if all those who point a critical finger
would hold out a helping hand instead?

EXODUS 17:12
A Paraplegic's Partner

In 1989, paraplegic Mark Wellman climbed the sheer granite face of Yosemite's El Capitan. On the last day of his climb, The Fresno Bee ran a picture of Wellman being carried triumphantly on the shoulders of climbing companion Mike Corbett. The caption read, "Paraplegic and partner prove no wall is too high to climb." What the story did not say is that in helping Wellman scale El Capitan once, Corbett had to make that difficult, demanding ascent three times!

Today's Bible reading focuses on Moses, whose upheld hands brought God's help in a crucial battle. But don't forget Aaron and Hur. They had to climb the same mountain themselves, and their support of Moses' arms took time, strength, and commitment on their part. The principle is this: People who serve the Lord "behind the scenes" often pay a higher price than those who are in the center of public attention. —D. C. Egner. (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

We need each other if we are to do what God wants us to do.


Exodus 18:13-27

"Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out" (Exodus 18:18).

Over the years, social service jobs have drawn concerned young people into careers of helping others. In time, many of them become what some psychologists call "burned-out Samaritans." After listening to so many people's problems and trying to help, they get to the place where they can't take any more. This happens to doctors, ministers, social workers, psychiatrists, and policemen. To save themselves emotionally, they must either quit, stop caring, or readjust.

As Christians, we too are subject to burnout because helping oth­ers is part of our calling. We may feel overwhelmed by the complexity, intensity, and sheer volume of human need. We discover that we can't keep burying ourselves in all the pain without paying the price. We too have to quit, stop caring, or readjust. If we stop trying to help others, we break our fellowship with Christ. If we become unfeeling, we fall far short of His example. But we can readjust by making changes that will ease our burden. Like Moses who heeded the good counsel of his father-in-law Jethro and began delegating responsibility, we must recognize our human limitations and learn to act wisely.

Some believers assume that the more godly we are, the more we will keep pushing until we just "wear out for the Lord." And some devout Christians do just that. But according to the Bible, it's wiser to adjust our service. Then we won't become burned-out Samaritans.—M. R. De Haan II (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

A willing heart must always be kept under the control of a wise head.

Exodus 18:19

No matter how long you've been at this thing called life, it's wise to turn to older people for advice. I know I feel more comfortable about making big decisions if I first talk to my dad and my father-in-law about them. When they confirm my fears or affirm my decisions about something, I feel I'm on solid ground.

Moses was no spring chicken when he got some much-needed advice from his father-in-law Jethro. He observed that Moses was about to suffer burnout if he continued to try to do all the work of judging for the children of Israel by himself. So he told Moses, "The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone" (Ex 18:18). Moses could easily have said, "Look, Dad, I'm in charge here. I know what I'm doing. After all, I've been around for a while, and I've gained a little wisdom too." Instead, he listened carefully and divided the work just as Jethro suggested. As a result, things went more smoothly, and the work got done more efficiently.

In God's design of things, He has provided for each of us a powerful, wise resource in the older people in our lives. Let's never neglect their insight and good advice. We can learn from the wisdom of age. --  J. David Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

The older saints who trust God's Word
Have fought the battles you now fight;
They've trod the paths that you now walk --
Their wisdom teaches truth and right.--JDB

To avoid the mistakes of youth, draw from the wisdom of age.



Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling (Psalm 2:11).

My father was a stickler for showing reverence to God. He became indignant when someone quoted a Bible verse in a humorous vein or referred to God lightly. He insisted that all his children sit up straight when he read the Bible at the table, which he did at every meal. He addressed the Lord in a manner that demonstrated his wonder that we as sinful creatures could communicate with the holy Maker of all things. Thus, he instilled in all eight of his sons a healthy fear of God—an attitude that led to sincere worship and grateful obedience.

The Almighty God wants us to call Him "Father," and He invites us to come boldly into His presence. Yet hundreds of Bible passages in both the Old and the New Testaments make it clear that we must never lose an attitude of reverential awe. Exodus 19 records a unique combination of awesome events that gave the Israelites a proper sense of reverence. God caused a huge fire to rise from the top of the mountain. He produced deafening roars of rolling thunder and blinding flashes of fierce lightning. He made the mountain quake. He generated a trumpet sound that grew louder and louder. And the sound of His voice when He spoke to Moses filled the people with profound respect and reverential fear.

How great and holy is our God. How small and weak are we hu­mans. A continual awareness of this contrast will cause us to "serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling." —Herbert Vander Lugt (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

True worship acknowledges the true worth-ship of God.


Exodus 20:1-17
Murphy's Laws

Murphy's Laws are observations about life that seem to have the weight of experience behind them. You've probably heard this one: "If anything can go wrong, it will." Here's another one: "You can't do just one thing; everything has its consequences."

My own experience seems to confirm many of Murphy's Laws, but it's that second one that I would hang on the wall as a motto. Wrong choices have their consequences. For example, if a man or woman chooses to live for pleasure, that will affect their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (Exodus 20:4, 5). If you walk away from God, you may discover that your children have taken that trip with you. Later, even if you return to Him, they may not.

But there is also good news. Devotion to the Lord has its consequences too. Men and women who live in faith before God can have a strong influence on their children and their children's children. If they live a long life, they can witness the effect their faith has had on several generations. What satisfaction it brings to older people to see their posterity living for Christ!

So Murphy and the Bible agree on this point: "You can't do just one thing; everything has its consequences." —Haddon W. Robinson (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

If you sow seeds of wickedness,
Sin's harvest you will reap;
But scattered seeds of righteousness
Yield blessings you can keep. —Sper

People who follow Christ lead others in the right direction.

Exodus 20:1-6
Is Work Your God?

The ability to work is a wonderful gift, but are we taking it too far? In the past, people left their jobs at the office, but now they come home to e-mail and phone messages.

Dr. Dave Arnott, associate professor of management at Dallas Baptist University, says, "I don't know whether work is taking over family and community, or whether family and community are giving up their place to work. But I know the movement is going on. Everyone's job seems to be who they are." We tend to equate our identity with what we do for a living.

The president of the Families and Work Institute says, "How busy you are has become the red badge of courage. . . . It's become a status symbol," even though people complain about it.

Making a god out of work is not a new problem. In the first commandment, God said, "You shall have no other gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3). That includes our jobs. Through God's gift of work, we can honor Him, care for our families, and help people in need. Work is not to be our main source of fulfillment; that must come from God Himself.

No matter what our occupation, we must keep work in perspective. God and family are more important than dedication to a job. Work is a gift, not a god. —David C. McCasland (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

See Ecclesiastes 2:17-26.
Read How Can I Find Satisfaction In My Work?

Exodus 20:1-7
The Name

It’s not easy to keep up with the shorthand that accompanies today’s fast-paced, youth-oriented electronic communication. In IM-speak (Instant Message talk) or text-message language, “laughing out loud” becomes “lol.” “By the way” is “btw.” And regrettably, some people use “omg” for “Oh, my God!”

This last phrase seems to be on the lips of many who receive startling news. But as Christians, we need to stop before we utter this or any other phrase that flippantly uses God’s name.

In Matthew 6, when Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, the first thing He told them to say was this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name” (v.9). Clearly, God’s name itself is special. It encompasses His nature, His teachings, and His moral authority. To speak the name of God is to call on the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.

In every way possible, we should honor and protect God’s holy name, preserving its use for those occasions when we are speaking of Him or addressing Him in faith.

Let’s be careful never to turn the hallowed name of our awesome and mighty God into just another flippant phrase on our lips or in a text message. —Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

May all I am and do and say
Give glory to my Lord alway;
And may no act of mine cause shame
Nor bring reproach upon His name. —Anon.

God’s name: handle with care.

Exodus 20:3
Who Is On The Throne?

According to English poet Oliver Reynolds, an old man had a family altar where he burned incense to an engraving of Napoleon. When asked why he worshiped the picture as a god, the man replied that he would worship anything.

Imagine venerating a picture of that French general! Imagine burning incense to the portrait of a human being who has no meaningful relationship to his worshipers! That's idolatry at its worst!

We don't think of ourselves as idolaters, of course, but are we in subtle ways disobeying God's commandment: "You shall have no other gods before Me"? (Exodus 20:3). We would never dream of bowing down to the picture of any mortal, however famous or powerful. But who is on the throne of our hearts?

Are we giving a loved one first place in our lives? Is that person number one in our affections? Maybe we're worshiping money. Or perhaps our job is our top priority.

Jesus said, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only you shall serve" (Luke 4:8). Are we worshiping and serving only Him?

Spend some time alone with God to examine your heart. Make sure that you haven't become an idolater. —Vernon C Grounds (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Unless we worship only God
Our lives cannot be truly free;
For we were made for Him alone—
All else is but idolatry. —D. De Haan

An idol is anything that takes the place of God

Exodus 20:1-20
The Gift Of Family

Through her books and lectures, Edith Schaeffer has become much appreciated for her insights into the value of life's ordinary days. When she and her husband Francis were first married, both sets of parents lived nearby. The newlyweds divided each Sunday afternoon and evening between the Schaeffers and the Sevilles.

After a few years, Edith and Francis moved to Switzerland, where they could talk with their parents only once a year in a brief phone conversation.

Looking back half a century later, Edith wrote of being glad for the way they had used those Sunday afternoons. She noted that "proximity of loved ones is not an endless situation." She concluded that a package labeled "time to care for parents and exhibit love" doesn't just arrive someday. We must show love while we can.

The fifth of the Ten Commandments says: "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12). The command to love and respect our parents applies equally to children living at home, newly independent young couples, and empty-nesters.

Seize each moment you have to love and honor your family. The opportunity won't last forever. —David C. McCasland (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Putting It Into Action

Plan a regular time to call a family member.
Help an aged relative with a project or housework.
Write a letter to someone you love but cannot visit.
Time is one of the greatest gifts we can give each other.

Exodus 20:1-17a
Windmills And Fences

It was my special privilege to spend some time on the Clyde Peterson ranch in eastern Wyoming. He raises beef cattle and Rambouillet sheep on a spread that covers thousands of acres.

Clyde told me that the success of a ranch like his, where grass is sparse and high winds blow, depends on two factors: windmills and fences. The fences are essential because they restrict the livestock to certain grazing areas while allowing grass to grow in other sections. And the windmills pump the life-giving water for the animals.

Come to think of it, fences and water are basic to a Christian's spiritual health as well. God's "fences" are the laws and principles of His Word, like God's commandments in Exodus 20 and Matthew 22:37, 38, 39, 40, and the exhortations of Galatians 5:16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21. Our "water" comes from Christ, who gives us an ever-present flow of spiritual refreshment "springing up into everlasting life" (Jn. 4:14).

Without the fences of God's commands or the water Christ provides, we would be as spiritually lifeless as the bleached bones that dot the western prairies. But we have the privilege to graze in His pastures and to drink freely of the Water of Life. --D C Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Like sheep that sometimes wander from the flock
In tangled paths of life to lose their way,
I need my Shepherd's hand and watchful eye
To keep me always, lest I go astray. --Sanders

If the Lord is your Shepherd, you have everything you need.

Exodus 20:1-17b
Long Life

AN old man who lived to be one hundred attributed his longevity to booze, black cigars, beautiful women—and never going to church. "That kind of impious longevity may be the exception, not the rule," says Dr. George W. Comstock of Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health.

In a study of the relation of the social and economic factors to disease, Comstock and his colleagues made an incidental but fas­cinating discovery. Regular churchgoing and the clean living that often goes with it seem to help people avoid "a whole bagful of dire ailments and disasters." Comstock concludes, "Nice guys do seem to finish last."

The Bible also has something to say about how to have a long life. It admonishes children to honor their parents so that they may live long on the earth" (Ephesians 6:2, 3). Harold W. Hoehner, in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, says, "This states a general principle that obedience fosters self-discipline, which in turn brings stability and longevity in one's life."

Of course, there are exceptions. Some very disciplined Chris­tians die young, and some wicked people live long. But the gen­eral principle applies: Living right not only pleases God, it can also add years to your life.—R W De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Exodus 20:3a
Only Room For One

BRITISH statesman W. E. Gladstone (1809–98) visited Christ Church College and spoke optimistically about the betterment of English society during his lifetime. His outlook was so positive that a student challenged him:

"Sir, are there no adverse signs?"

Gladstone reflected,

"Yes, there is one thing that frightens me—the fear that God seems to be dying out of the minds of men."

Obeying the first commandment would prevent this from happening. Yet people attempt to make gods out of such things as money, possessions, pleasure, knowledge, and people, and in so doing forget the true God. But no created thing can ever fill the place in our hearts that God intends for Himself.

A child was asked,

"How many gods are there?"

"Only one," he replied.

"How do you know?"

"Because," he said, "God fills heaven and earth, so there's room for only one."

Why does God command us to love and worship Him alone? Because in Him we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28), and from Him we receive eternal life (Colossians 1:13–18). He has every right to say, "No other gods!" because He alone is the living and true God who created us and redeemed us. —D J De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Lord, just as there is room for only one God in the universe, there is room for only one in my heart. Take away every desire I have that threatens to crowd You out.

Exodus 20:4

"You shall not make for yourself a carved image." -- Exodus 20:4

The Encyclopedia Britannica describes Marcus Terentius Varro (116-27 BC) as "Rome's greatest scholar." He wrote more than 600 books on many subjects. Among his writings is this statement: "They who first introduced images of the gods removed fear and added error."

This profound statement helps us understand why Moses reminded Israel at Sinai, "You saw no form when the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire" (Dt. 4:15). It also underscores the reason behind God's command prohibiting any physical representations of Him.

We cannot love and serve the Lord in an acceptable manner unless we have an accurate understanding of His character. Any physical portrayal, however, whether with pictures, icons, or statues, distorts our perception of His true character and lessens a healthy respect for His awesome holiness and power.

If Rome's greatest secular scholar, guided only by the light of nature and reason, could see the dangers of misrepresenting deity, how much more should we who have special revelation carefully attend to every word God has spoken.

Let's ask the Lord to instill in us a healthy respect of Him and help us grow in our knowledge of His character. -- Dennis J. De Haan  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Immortal, invisible, God only wise,
In light inaccessible hid from our eyes,
Most blessed, most glorious, the Ancient of Days,
Almighty, victorious -- Thy great name we praise. -- Smith

God made us in His image; don't try to make Him in yours

Exodus 20:7
Word Watch

Good grammar matters to me. As a writer and former English teacher, I'm bothered when I hear the wrong word used by people I think should know better. For instance, using "I" instead of "me" or "who" instead of "whom." There's a proper way to use the language, and it makes me cringe when the standard is violated.

There's another kind of incorrect word usage that is far worse. It happens when Christians utter words that fall short of the standard God expects. Whenever we use words that are considered crude, profane, or obscene, we violate God's clear standards.

Anytime we speak any form of God's name irreverently or in a way that doesn't honor Him, we displease Him (Exodus 20:7). If we joke about sinful practices, we are speaking in a way we shouldn't (Ep 5:12). Or if we participate in coarse talk (Ep 5:4), we bring dishonor to the name of Christ.

James said, "Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. . . . These things ought not to be so" (James 3:10). Such speech is hypocritical.

Controlling our tongue is difficult because it is an "unruly evil" (Jas 3:8). For the glory of God, and with respect for His standards, let's watch our words. —Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

A wise old owl sat on an oak;
The more he saw, the less he spoke;
The less he spoke, the more he heard—
Why aren't we like that wise old bird? —Richards

Every time you speak, your mind is on parade

Exodus 20:16
Creeping Deception

IF television commercials are telling the truth, glamorous movie stars and athletes use products that everyone ought to buy. But, as Time magazine reports (and most viewers suspect), many celebrities don't use the products they endorse.

And what about autobiographies? According to the same article, they are not always written by the individuals whose names they bear but by writers who aren't mentioned.

This dishonesty, Time suggests, is a symptom of the deception that is creeping into our society. What will civilized life become as people increasingly ignore God's commands against lying? (Exodus 20:16; Leviticus 19:11; Ephesians 4:25).

Jesus had strong words for those who stood in the way of the truth. He said they were children of their father the Devil (John 8:44), and they were incapable of speaking the truth because they refused to hear it (John 8:43, 44, 45, 46, 47).

God's Word urges us to tell the truth (Proverbs 12:17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22). Only as we obey can we hope to prevent our society from being consumed by suspicion and mistrust.

We are to be truth-tellers like Jesus, of whom Scripture says, "Nor was deceit found in His mouth" (1Peter 2:22). He has the right to expect honesty from us because He has been honest with us.—Vernon C Grounds (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)


Exodus 22:21-27
Have A Heart

People who lack feeling for others are like cold fronts on the weather map in winter—you'd rather see them going than coming. An example is the homeowner who treats the paperboy like the neighborhood pest. He acts as if the youngster were behind the bad news that lands on his porch day after day. I'm not saying that sometimes there isn't cause for frustration. There may be legitimate reasons for dissatisfaction with his service. But being unkind to those who are weaker or in a lower socio-economic position is never right.

God made this very clear to ancient Israel when He told them to treat those of lesser social rank as they themselves would want to be treated. He reminded His chosen people that because they had once been strangers in a foreign land, they should know how it feels to work under those who show no sympathy (Exodus 22:21).

Christians have the same responsibility to the poor and downtrodden as Israel had. We may argue that if we don't look out for ourselves no one else will. But God has told us to love our neighbors. He also reminds us that if we forget what it's like to be on the bottom we are no longer fit to be on top. —Mart De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

If you once bore a heavy load
That drove you to despair,
You'll have a heart for those who bend
Beneath their load of care. —D. De Haan

When Jesus changes your heart, He gives you a heart for others.


Exodus 23:1-9
Doing Justice

In the decades since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., the US national holiday established to commemorate his birth has also become a day to remember the cause in which he gave his life.

During the '50s and '60s, Dr. King led a nonviolent struggle against racial discrimination and issued a plea for the civil rights of African-Americans. His goal was justice and equality based on human dignity, not skin color.

From Old Testament days until now, God has commanded His people to exercise justice in their dealings with others. "You shall not follow a crowd to do evil; nor shall you testify in a dispute so as to turn aside after many to pervert justice" (Exodus 23:2).

"He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" (Micah 6:8).

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for doing their religious duties while neglecting "justice and the love of God" (Luke 11:42).

To treat people with fairness and integrity is part of our responsibility as Christians. Standing publicly for what is right is required of us as well.

May we honor God by living out truth in action in our world today. —David C. McCasland (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Justice is the clarion call for Christians-
We cannot step aside from what God said;
He has told us how to treat our neighbor,
And we must follow in the path He's led. -Hess

God’s standard of justice leaves no room for prejudice

Exodus 23:16
Not A Killjoy

Contrary to what many believe, God is not a killjoy who frowns on His people having fun. The Old Testament Feast of Tabernacles is one evidence of this. The week-long festival came 5 days after the annual Day of Atonement, a day of fasting when Israelites expressed sorrow for their sins (Leviticus 23:26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32).

The tabernacles were booth-like structures reminding Israel of the temporary dwellings they had in the wilderness. Also known as "The Feast of Ingathering" (Exodus 23:16), it pictured God's blessing on their harvest, as well as the final rest and harvest planned for them in the future.

Everyone who was able joined in a week of worship, rejoicing, and celebration (Deuteronomy 16:13,14). Imagine children greeting playmates they hadn't seen for a year, feasts with plenty of food for all, bonfires under the starry sky, families feasting, and the nation celebrating forgiveness and freedom together.

God used the feasts to teach His people the close connection between the spiritual and physical aspects of life. Times of prosperity and blessing were to be marked by rejoicing before the Lord. Though God takes sin seriously, He is also the One who abundantly pardons and provides for every need. He is not a killjoy! —Herbert Vander Lugt (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

God takes delight when we rejoice
In all that He has done;
And when we see the love of Christ
Our joy has just begun. —D. De Haan

God wants to paint your life with joy.

Exodus 23:20-33
Don't Get Stung!

About 25 feet up in the maple tree behind my house hung a gray, cone-shaped object about 10 inches long. I decided to get closer to find out what it was.

Armed with a long fishing pole and standing on top of a barrel, I steered the end of the pole into the opening at the bottom of the object. And then it happened! Like a streak of lightning, down they came, first one, then another! I sprawled on the ground. Soon both eyes were swollen shut and I had large bumps on my forehead. I had been attacked by white-faced hornets. That was the last time I bothered them!

So it is with sin. The way to keep from being stung is to stay far from it.

As Israel prepared to enter the Promised Land, the Lord said He would send "hornets" to drive out their enemies (Exodus 23:28). But God also warned Israel not to turn from Him (Exodus 23:33). As the people soon found out, disobedience would bring down the Lord's stinging judgment on them instead of on their enemies (Ex 32:7, 8, 9, 10).

So don't try to see how close you can get to sin without getting into trouble—rather, see how far you can stay away. Listen to the warnings of God's Word, and don't forget the pain of past mistakes. Learn from them. If you do, you'll avoid being stung again! —M. R. De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Today avoid sin's tempting lures
And evil thoughts subdue,
Or worldly things may take control
And someday master you! —Bosch

When you flee temptation, be sure you don't leave a forwarding address.

Exodus 23:20-33a
Little By Little!

When I was a little girl, my mother gave me her prized "reader" to help me learn, just as it had helped her years earlier. I loved one particular story, never dreaming how much it would affect me years later.

It was about a little boy with a small shovel. He was trying to clear a pathway through deep, new-fallen snow in front of his house. A man paused to observe the child's enormous task. "Little boy," he inquired, "how can someone as small as you expect to finish a task as big as this?" The boy looked up and replied confidently, "Little by little, that's how!" And he continued shoveling.

God awakened in me the seed of that story at a time when I was recovering from a breakdown. I remember how my "adult" self taunted the weak "child" within me: "How can someone as inadequate as you expect to surmount so great a mountain as this?" That little boy's reply became my reply: "Little by little, that's how!" And I did overcome—by depending on God. But it was one small victory after another.

The obstacles facing Israel as they considered claiming the land God had promised them must have seemed insurmountable. But He didn't ask them to do it all at once.

"Little by little" is the strategy for victory.—Joanie Yoder (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

He does not lead me year by year,
Nor even day by day;
But step by step my path unfolds—
My Lord directs my way. —Ryberg

Trust God to move your mountain, but keep on climbing.


Exodus 25-27
House Of Symbols

Our neighbor was startled when two young men walked into her home uninvited. She screamed, and they ran out. Yet no one would accuse her of failing to be hospitable. If you enter someone’s house, you come in on that person’s terms.

We sometimes forget that the same principle applies to our entering into the presence of God. This was made clear in the Old Testament "house of symbols" known as the tabernacle (Exodus 25–27). Its construction and the arrangement of the objects within it teach us that we come into God’s presence only on His conditions.

Consider, for example, the bronze altar of sacrifice (Ex 27:1-8). Bronze in Scripture stands for divine judgment of sin. The slaughtering of sheep and goats on the altar symbolized the results of sin. An unmerciful death for innocent animals pointed forward to a coming substitute, the sinless "Lamb of God." When Jesus died on the cross of Calvary, His sacrifice was more than adequate to atone for the sin of all people (John 1:29). The only way to approach God is on His terms. We must receive the forgiveness He offers to us through Christ.

Have you accepted Jesus, the Lamb of God, as your Savior from sin? —Mart De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Saved by the blood of the Crucified One!
Now ransomed from sin and a new work begun,
Sing praise to the Father and praise to the Son—
Saved by the blood of the Crucified One! —Henderson

Christ will receive you if you will believe Him.

Exodus 25-27a
Inner Beauty

The tabernacle in the wilderness was a tent where the glory of God dwelt. The structure was made of badger skins and was plain on the outside. But inside it was exquisitely beautiful (Exodus 25–27).

We can compare the tabernacle with Jesus’ human form. John said, “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The word dwelt means He “pitched His tent with us,” the same word that ancient Greek versions of the Old Testament used for the tabernacle.

Jesus looked like an ordinary man: He had “no beauty that we should desire Him” (Isaiah 53:2). No one gave Him a second look. Yet John “beheld His glory,” the glory of God Himself. Occasionally, the tent flap was lifted and he caught a glimpse of Jesus’ inner beauty and majesty.

We are tabernacles too, made of skin, made to contain God’s Spirit. Most of us are very plain, not like the made-up actors we see in the movies or the air-brushed models we view in the ads. But God is even now—at this moment—in the process of making us radiantly beautiful within.

We may be very plain and ordinary on the outside—but as we allow God’s Spirit to work within us, the beauty of God’s indwelling presence will shine from our faces.

So, is the world seeing Jesus in you? —David H. Roper (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Let the beauty of Jesus be seen in me,
All His wonderful passion and purity;
O Thou Spirit divine, all my nature refine
Till the beauty of Jesus be seen in me. —Orsborn

A righteous heart is the fountain of beauty.

Exodus 25:10-22

"(God) has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts.-- 2 Corinthians 1:22

There has always been an element of mystery and intrigue surrounding the ark of the covenant. This carefully crafted box was built by the Israelites to be placed in the tabernacle during their wandering years in the wilderness. Inside it were the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments, Aaron's staff that had budded, and a golden jar of manna (Heb. 9:4). Atop the ark, on what was called the mercy seat, were two golden cherubim. The ark was situated inside the Most Holy Place, where once a year the high priest would stand in the very presence of God.

We don't know what eventually happened to the ark and its contents, but it is intriguing to hear various reports claiming that it could still be in existence.

As interesting as those unproven reports are, the real intrigue of the ark is its symbolism of God's presence. The people of Israel could experience God's presence vicariously through the high priest. That must have been a heart pounding encounter! Yet we have it better. When we accept Jesus Christ as Savior, we have the very presence of God in our heart -- through the Holy Spirit (2Cor. 1:21, 22).

Yes, the ark is surrounded by intrigue, but it doesn't compare with God's presence in our lives.-- J. David Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Almighty, matchless, glorious God,
Inhabiting eternity,
I bow to you and give You praise,
In awe that You can live in me.-- Sper

To know God's presence is to know God's power.

Exodus 25:14-15
Showing Respect

In Myanmar (Burma), children are taught to give objects to their parents and elders with both hands. I live in nearby Singapore, and I know that in Asia it isn't polite to use only one hand to give a business card to someone. And it's extremely rude to toss it across the table to the recipient. To show respect, I should use both hands to give my business card to a person.

In 1 Chronicles 13, we see how important it is to show respect to God. David had good intentions when he decided to bring the ark back to Jerusalem. During the process, however, Uzzah touched the ark in an attempt to prevent it from falling off the cart. God struck him dead. David was stunned and upset by God's anger. Why did the Lord respond so severely?

David came to realize that what he wanted to do for God had to be done with respect for Him and His specific instructions. God had commanded that the ark be carried by the sons of Kohath on poles, not on a cart, nor was anyone to touch it (Ex 25:14, 15; Nu 3:30, 31; 4:15).

What David learned is something we too must take to heart. Showing respect for God means learning what He wants us to do and then obeying Him completely. To please the Lord, we must do His work His way. —Albert Lee (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

O help me, Lord, to show respect,
To always honor You;
And may I bring You highest praise
In everything I do. —Sper

We respect God when we obey God.


Exodus 30:7-8
Psalms, Incense, Praise
READ: Psalm 150

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. —Psalm 150:6

The well-known English preacher Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) wrote something that would be good to remember at the start of each day: "Let your thoughts be psalms, your prayers incense, and your breath praise." Let's look at each of these phrases.

Let your thoughts be psalms. The 150 psalms have a variety of themes, including praise, God's character, and expressions of dependence on the Lord. Throughout the day we can turn our thoughts into psalms by meditating on God's holiness, His worthiness of our worship, and how much we need Him.

Let your prayers be incense. In the tabernacle of the Jews, incense was burned continually to offer a sweet savor to the Lord (Exodus 30:7, 8). Our prayers are like incense to God (Psalm 141:2), bringing to His nostrils the pleasing scent of our adoration and need for Him.

Let your breath be praise. The book of Psalms concludes with the words, "Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!" (Psalm 150:6). Talking about God and offering Him words of praise should be as natural to us as breathing.

Keep the Lord in your thoughts, prayers, and speech today. —David C. Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Worship, praise, and adoration
All belong to Jesus' name;
Freely give your heart's devotion,
Constantly His love proclaim. —Anon.

A heart filled with praise brings pleasure to God.


Exodus 31:1-11
A Place Just For You

A bricklayer whose brother was a famous violinist was talking with the head of the construction company where he worked. "It must be great to have a brother who is known around the world," said the executive. He quickly added, "Of course, we must accept the fact that talent isn't equally distributed—even in the same family."

"That's right," replied the bricklayer. "Why, my brother doesn't know the first thing about bricklaying. It's a good thing he can afford to pay others to build a house for him."

This story reminds us that we've each been given unique abilities by God. If our motive is to glorify God and benefit others, we have no reason to be ashamed of what we do for a living. Exodus 31 tells us that God gave certain people special skills to work in gold, in silver, in cutting jewels, and in all kinds of workmanship to help build the tabernacle.

If you are a construction worker, a teacher, a trash hauler, a plumber, a doctor, a carpenter, a writer, a mechanic, a scientist, an assembly-line worker, a secretary, or any other kind of worker whose occupation contributes to the welfare of others, you have a God-honoring job. In His sight it is an opportunity to serve Him in the place He has provided—just for you. —Dennis J. De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Our daily work is used by God
To help us care for daily needs;
And work that's done as to the Lord
Gives witness to our words and deeds. —D. De Haan

No one else can do the work God has for you


Exodus 32:15-29
Blaming God

It's bad enough to blame our parents, peers, or circumstances for our sins, but it's much worse to blame God. I read about a person on a weight-loss program who bought some donuts. When asked why, he implied that it was God's fault, because He had opened up a parking place right in front of the bakery just as he was driving by.

In Exodus 32, we read how the high priest, Aaron, supervised the making of a golden image for worship. This resulted in the death of 3,000 Israelites and brought a terrible plague on the nation. Instead of repenting immediately and taking responsibility as the leader, Aaron first blamed the people, saying they had put such pressure on him that he had no choice. Then he went even further and lied. He said that all he did was throw the gold into the melting pot, and the image of a calf mysteriously appeared (Exodus 32:24).

Moses rejected Aaron's excuse. He confronted his brother with his sin and then prayed for him (Deuteronomy 9:20). We can be sure that the Israelites who acknowledged their guilt were forgiven. But God judged the sin, and many died.

When you do wrong, take the blame. Don't look for scapegoats. Most important, don't blame God. —Herbert Vander Lugt (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

My sin, O Lord, defies Your Word,
It shames Your holy name;
I will not make excuse for wrong—
Christ's blood is all I claim. —D. De Haan

A good test of character: When you do wrong, do you accept the blame?


Exodus 33:1-11
We Just Have To Talk

Lisa and Sheryl have been friends since grade school. Even though their paths have taken them in different directions since those schoolgirl days in New Jersey, they have maintained their close friendship.

Sheryl is married, settled in the Midwest, and the mother of young children. Lisa is single and involved in mission work, most recently in Russia. "Every now and then we just have to talk," says Sheryl. So they pick up the phone to catch up on what's been happening and to share their hearts.

In Exodus 33:11, we read that "the Lord spoke to Moses . . . as a man speaks to his friend." Moses enjoyed something far better than an occasional long-distance talk with the Lord. He had frequent, face-to-face conversations with Him. During those intimate talks, the Lord gave Moses instructions for leading the people of Israel.

Because of what Jesus Christ has done for us, and because the Holy Spirit now lives within all followers of Christ, we too can enjoy a special friendship and closeness with God. He speaks to us through His Word and by His Spirit, and we have the privilege of talking to Him in prayer.

If you are like me, as you go through your day you'll find yourself saying to God, "We just have to talk." —David C. Egner (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

The kindest Friend I've ever had
Is One I cannot see,
Yet One in whom I can confide,
Who loves and blesses me. —Shuler

Prayer is meant to be an intimate conversation with God—our best friend.

Exodus 33:11b
“Good Buddy”

The congregation listened intently as the pastor began to pray: “Dear heavenly Father . . .” Suddenly he was interrupted by a voice saying, “Hey there, good buddy!”

Everyone began to laugh when they realized the voice was coming from the organ. It was picking up the conversation of a truck driver on his CB radio! Not much was accomplished in the service that day, because the congregation continued to chuckle about the voice that made them think God was responding to their pastor and calling him His “good buddy.”

Moses knew what it was like to be a friend of God—a relationship that went beyond buddies. The Lord often talked with Moses “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend” (Exodus 33:11). The patriarch Abraham was also called God’s friend (2Chronicles 20:7).

But can you and I be a friend of God? In our Bible reading for today, Jesus, the supreme example of loving friendship, called His disciples friends (John 15:13,15). He put it simply: “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you” (Jn 15:14).

And what does He command? That we love Him with all our heart and love others as ourselves (Mark 12:30, 31). That’s how we can be God’s friend. —Anne Cetas (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Friendship with Jesus,
Fellowship divine,
Oh, what blessed, sweet communion,
Jesus is a friend of mine. —Ludgate

The dearest friend on earth is but a mere shadow compared to Jesus. —Chambers

Exodus 33:7-17
Knowing God Personally

Most Christians would prefer to see God perform mighty miracles rather than to have fellowship with Him and learn His ways.

Today's text says that God made known His mighty acts to the people of Israel, but to Moses He "made known His ways." Exodus 33 records a great crisis in which Moses humbly prayed, "If I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way" (Ex 33:13). He wanted to know God and His plans for His people more than to see another mighty miracle. No wonder the Lord conversed with him "as a man speaks to his friend" (Ex 33:11).

Commenting on the difference between ways and acts, F. B. Meyer wrote, "Ways, or plans, are only made known to the inner circle of the saints; the ordinary congregation learns only His acts."

A talented friend of mine, Jennifer, learned this difference after spending several years in a wheelchair. One day she tearfully prayed, "Lord, I could have done so much for You, if only I could have been healthy." God's response was inaudible but clear: "Many people work for Me, but very few are willing to be My friend."

If you desire to know God personally more than you long to see His mighty miracles, you'll be satisfied. —Joanie Yoder (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Once it was the blessing, now it is the Lord;
Once it was the feeling, now it is His Word;
Once His gift I wanted, now the Giver own;
Once I sought for healing, now Himself alone. -Simpson

Knowing God is not only seeing His works but also learning His ways.

Exodus 33:12-23

Just a few miles from New Mexico's Carlsbad Caverns is Lechuguilla Cave. Explorers who have descended into its interior describe a wonderland whose beauty is beyond almost anything they have ever seen.

One geologist noted, "Everything is alien. . . . I've been in caves that are so beautiful that you just have to leave. You just can't take it." That's an interesting dilemma for explorers, isn't it? To be surrounded by beauty that is overwhelming to the eyes.

Their experience gives us a clue to the problem we have with understanding a holy God. He is so arrayed in splendor, so pure in His goodness, and so beautiful in His character that our sin-darkened eyes cannot bear to look on Him. We cannot endure His glory.

This was the experience of two people in the Old Testament. When Moses asked to see God's glory, the Almighty had to shield him from seeing His face (Exodus 33:18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23). And when Isaiah caught a glimpse of God's majesty, he cried out, "Woe is me, for I am undone!" (Isaiah 6:5).

Lord, Your awesome splendor, goodness, and beauty reveal the defects in us. Thank You for being so loving and merciful. And thank You for making us holy and acceptable to You through Christ. —Mart De Haan (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Holy, Holy, Holy! Though the darkness hide Thee,
Though the eye of sinful man Thy glory may not see;
Only Thou art holy—there is none beside Thee,
Perfect in power, in love, and purity. —Heber

God's awesome presence is both convicting and comforting

Exodus 33:14
August 10, 2005
Walking Away
READ: Exodus 33:12-23

My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. —Exodus 33:14

After winning a bronze medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens, wrestler Rulon Gardner took off his shoes, placed them in the center of the mat, and walked away in tears. Through that symbolic act, Gardner announced his retirement from the sport which had defined his life for many years.

Times of walking away come to all of us, and they can be emotionally wrenching. A loved one "walks away" in death. A child moves away from home. We leave a job or a community and it feels as if we've left everything behind. But when we know the Lord, we never have to walk into an unknown future alone.

It's worth pausing to reflect on how much the children of Israel walked away from when Moses led them out of Egypt. They left the heavy burden of slavery, but they also left everything stable and predictable they had ever known. Later, when the Lord told Moses, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest" (Exodus 33:14), Moses replied, "If Your Presence does not go with us, do not bring us up from here" (Exodus 33:15).

During our most difficult times, our stability comes from the presence and peace of God. Because He goes with us, we can walk into the future with confidence. —David C. McCasland (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

I never walk alone, Christ walks beside me,
He is the dearest Friend I've ever known;
With such a Friend to comfort and to guide me,
I never, no, I never walk alone. —Ackley
© 1952, The Rodeheaver Company

Every loss leaves a space that only God's presence can fill.


Exodus 34:29
Seeing God's Glory

I've had the privilege of viewing some glorious sights in my life.

I've seen an awe-inspiring nighttime launch of the space shuttle, the majesty of Mount Fuji in Japan, the sparkling beauty of ocean sealife off the coast of the Philippine Islands, the architectural wonders of New York City, and the gleaming midsummer spectacle of a night baseball game in a major league stadium.

But nothing I've ever seen comes close to what some Old Testament people saw. Moses, the people he led, Ezekiel, and others witnessed the most breathtaking sight of all time. They had a glimpse of the glory of God—a visible manifestation of the Lord's invisible being and character.

Moses experienced it on Mount Sinai, and his face shone (Exodus 34:29). The Israelites saw it in the cloud, before God provided them with quail (Ex 16:10). Ezekiel saw God's glory return to the temple, and he fell to the ground (Ezekiel 43:1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

Someday we who have been redeemed by Jesus will experience that inspiring sight. God's glory will shine in the heavenly Jerusalem (Revelation 21:10, 11). And we will see our risen and glorified Savior, the Lord Jesus (1John 3:2).

This hope encourages us as Christians to keep going. For nothing in this world compares to seeing God's glory! —J Dave Branon (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

The glory of God
In the face of His Son
To us who behold Him
Is heaven begun. —Hess

The world's greatest glory is but a spark compared to the radiance of God's glory.

Exodus 34:27-35
Give Me New England!

JONATHAN Edwards (1703-58) was a brilliant theologian whose sermons had an overwhelming impact on those who heard him preach. One sermon in particular, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," moved hundreds to repentance and salvation. That single message helped to spark the revival known as The Great Awakening (1734-44).

Edwards did not have a commanding voice nor an impressive pulpit manner. He used very few gestures, and he read from a manuscript. Yet God's Spirit moved upon his hearers with con­viction and power. John Chapman tells the story of the spiritual preparation involved in Edwards's most famous sermon:

For three days Edwards had not eaten a mouthful of food; for three nights he had not closed his eyes in sleep. Over and over again he was heard to pray, "O Lord, give me New England! Give me New England!" When he arose from his knees and made his way into the pulpit that Sunday, he looked as if he had been gazing straight into the face of God. Even before he began to speak, tremen­dous conviction fell upon his audience.

Spending time in the presence of God is like being exposed to the sun; it leaves us with a radiant glow.—H D Bosch  (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

Lord, may the proof of my relationship with You be evident on my face. I don't want to fake it with a forced smile; I want the genuine thing—Your glory radiating from the inside out.


Exodus 35:30-36:1
Good Workers

During the early years of our marriage, my wife and I attempted to wallpaper our dingy Chicago apartment. We completed the project, but not without a great deal of difficulty. At one point I even had to remove a poorly-hung section of paper and go to the store to buy more. I learned to appreciate someone who could do a job like wallpapering with skill.

I marvel when I see a carpenter make things fit without measuring and remeasuring again and again. I admire the truckdriver who masterfully backs his big rig into a tight space more easily than I do a small trailer on a 16-foot-wide driveway. I take my hat off to the plumber who so easily and good-naturedly installed a water heater in a small, seemingly inaccessible area—especially when I think of all the frustration I experienced when trying to attach a simple water filter.

We read in today's Scripture about the skilled designers and weavers who helped construct the tabernacle. Proverbs 22:29 says that a person who excels in his work "will stand before kings." And Paul wrote, "Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord" (Colossians 3:23).

God is pleased with work done well. He honors good workers, and so should we. —Herbert Vander Lugt (Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.)

O Lord, I ask for strength to do
The task that You've assigned;
Help me to work with diligence,
Lest Your name be maligned. —Fasick

Work done well will receive God's "Well done!"

Our Daily Bread, Copyright RBC Ministries, Grand Rapids, MI. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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Last Updated February 21, 2015