Friday, August 19, 2011

Exodus 4:17–20

"So Moses went back home to Jethro, his father-in-law. 'Please let me return to my relatives in Egypt,' Moses said. 'I don't even know if they are still alive.'

'Go in peace,' Jethro replied.

Before Moses left Midian, the LORD said to him, 'Return to Egypt, for all those who wanted to kill you have died.'

So Moses took his wife and sons, put them on a donkey, and headed back to the land of Egypt. In his hand he carried the staff of God."

Moses' staff was an ordinary object, something he used every day as he tended his sheep. God took this ordinary thing and turned it into an extraordinary tool that would be instrumental in Moses' fulfilling God's plan for his people. What is your "staff"? What do you do or use every day that God can transform by his power into something extraordinary? It could be your home, an ability, an inheritance, even a vehicle. Ask God to show you your "staff" and how he can use it for his great purposes.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Exodus 4:1–4

"But Moses protested again, 'What if they won't believe me or listen to me? What if they say, "The Lord never appeared to you"?'

Then the LORD asked him, 'What is that in your hand?'

'A shepherd's staff,' Moses replied.

'Throw it down on the ground,' the LORD told him. So Moses threw down the staff, and it turned into a snake! Moses jumped back.

Then the LORD told him, 'Reach out and grab its tail.' So Moses reached out and grabbed it, and it turned back into a shepherd's staff in his hand."

Moses doubted his ability to carry out God's plan. He felt he lacked credibility with the people of Israel, whom he was to rescue. (He was right.) So God gave him his credibility booster. Note that Moses ran away from his staff-turned-snake. But when God called him back, he obeyed: he grabbed the tail of the thing he feared, and God protected him. Has God asked you to do something you're afraid of? Take your fear by the tail in faith that God is with you.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Matthew 17:24–27

"On their arrival in Capernaum, the collectors of the Temple tax came to Peter and asked him, 'Doesn't your teacher pay the Temple tax?'
 'Yes, he does,' Peter replied. Then he went into the house.
 But before he had a chance to speak, Jesus asked him, 'What do you think, Peter? Do kings tax their own people or the people they have conquered?'
 'They tax the people they have conquered,' Peter replied.
 'Well, then,' Jesus said, 'the citizens are free! However, we don't want to offend them, so go down to the lake and throw in a line. Open the mouth of the first fish you catch, and you will find a large silver coin. Take it and pay the tax for both of us.'"
Jesus knows we have to live in this world of nitty-gritty, everyday realities such as paying taxes. He wants Peter to see that if one is part of the Kingdom of God, one is free and owes allegiance primarily to that Kingdom. We still must pay taxes, so God provides for that too. He provides through Peter's obedience and Peter's occupation in the world: fishing. Our earthly needs are provided for as we work at our occupations. As we do the work in obedience and with the perspective that we are primarily citizens of God's Kingdom, we experience true freedom.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Exodus 2:23–25; 3:7–8

"Years passed, and the king of Egypt died. But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God. God heard their groaning, and he remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He looked down on the people of Israel and knew it was time to act. …Then the LORD told him, 'I have certainly seen the oppression of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries of distress because of their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the power of the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own fertile and spacious land.'"
God does hear our groans and cries. We see his heart here: he feels deep concern for the welfare of his people. If you are crying out to God about something, know that he hears your cries! He feels deep concern for your welfare. He will act. We want change instantly, but reality does not work that way. We must trust in God, in his concern for us and his plan to save us in his good time.