The Passover

exodus 12 13

I had touched very briefly yesterday on the plague of the firstborn and the passover ceremony which spared the lives of those who followed God.  Let’s look at that a bit more today.

 

To prepare the Israelites for the passover they were to have each family take a lamb and slaughter it at twilight and take some of the  blood and put it on the doorframes of their houses and then cook and eat the lamb that night with bitter herbs. They were to also take care of the lamp for a week before they slaughtered it.  This would not be an easy thing to do and the meal would not taste good. This was meant to show the pain and sorrow that sin causes and the blood that is required to wash away sin.

 

Slaughtering the lamb in Egypt would also have taken a lot of faith.  Animals were of great value back then, which is why so many of the Egyptians worshiped them, and most likely many of the Israelites did as well.   Animals were of even greater value as well because of all the plagues that had just wiped out the animals in Egypt. Earlier we had seen that they could not do any sacrifices in the land of Egypt because the Egyptians detested it.  Now they are doing just that. In order to do this the Israelites are sacrificing their material wealth, as well as turning their backs on the Egyptian gods. If they were not able to let go of the wealth or culture then they would have faced the judgment.  He goes on to say,

 

Exodus 12:12-14

12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.

 

The plague of the firstborn was to be the final blow to the Egyptian culture/gods, and with it God is also implementing a lasting holy day in their culture by which they will remember what God has done for them for all generations, and the seder passover dinner is practiced around the world to this day.  The problem with the Israelites in Egypt was that they forgot what God had promised them. God was not going to let them forget again so easily.

 

In the Old Testament there were many festivals and holy days and cultural things that God implemented in the Israelites in order to remind them of his work and power in their past.  Even with these they often forgot and wandered away from God. After Jesus we do not live under these laws and we do not have to follow these feasts and rituals, but we still need to make a permanent change in our lives every time that God acts in our lives.  We need to constantly remind ourselves of what God has done for us. The passover ceremony was designed to make people ask why they would do such a thing so that the Israelites could tell people the story of the Exodus. Similarly our stories of how God has changed our lives are our most powerful tool for spreading the Gospel.

-Chris Mattison

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Moses and the Burning Bush

exodus 3 15

After Moses fled Egypt and saved the Midianite women from the jerks at the well he settled down and had children and lived a simple life as a farmer.  Meanwhile the rest of the Israelites were groaning in their captivity in Egypt and their cry rose up to God and he took pity on them (Exodus 2:23-25).  God was then ready to call up Moses out of the wilderness so that he can carry out God’s plan.

 

Exodus 3:10-15

10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’

“This is my name forever,

   the name you shall call me

   from generation to generation.”

 

It is very interesting that Moses had to ask God about his name.  In the eyes of the Israelites God had abandoned them when they were enslaved in Egypt, and they had mostly wandered away from God since then and had taken on the gods of the Egyptians.  It was the mindset of the Israelites that God had forsaken his promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Moses was basically asking if God was wanting to start over in his relationship with the Israelites and form new covenants.  God emphatically states that he is to be known to his people as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, to remind them that those promises still stand, and will stand for eternity. It is helpful to remember God in terms of what he has done for you or your loved ones, which is why God instructs the people to remember him as the God of Abraham so they will remember the stories that have been passed down of God’s faithfulness to their ancestors.

 

We need to be reminded of the fact that God does not change his mind like we do.  God does not forget a promise. Just because things have changed in our lives and we are having doubts doesn’t mean that God is no longer the one who created the foundations of the earth.  If we have sinned, or walked away from God for a time, or had a traumatic event in our lives it doesn’t change the fact that God IS, and that the blood of Jesus can still cover our sins.

-Chris Mattison

Over 3,000!

Picture1rebecca

I like books. But I find that I like the idea of reading a book, more than I actually like reading the book. Some of you can relate. I have books that I started, but just never finished.  I like the possibility of what the book is promising. Maybe it is becoming more organized, getting better grades, learning another language, do it yourself projects, restoring an old car, …there are countless things that we can learn from books.

The greatest book of course is the one that God has given us.  It is the book that we continue to read through our lives. Why? We have been doing some in depth Bible study during our Grow devotions. What is it that this collection of 66 books is promising to the reader?

The Bible makes some incredible promises. Promises that have happened, that are happening and that will happen. And of course, the importance of these promises rests in the fact that they are offered from God.  He is speaking through the scriptures to us. For instance, the promise that we can know who God is. “Come near to God and He will come near to you”. (James 4:8) Or the promise that we can become God’s children. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1) We are also offered the promise of forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Those promises are amazing because we can be forgiven and we can connect with our Creator. We can grow our relationship with Him so close that we can call Him, “our Father”. And just like a loving Father teaches a child the things they need to know, He teaches us through the scriptures.  We can learn how to make decisions and how to live. And He promises us His Holy Spirit. His Spirit enables us to live lives that show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

I recently read that a Bible scholar states that there are over 3,000 promises from God through the scriptures. That is huge, but we know that those promises will be fulfilled because God is the one making them. We can trust God because He will follow through on His promises. So no matter what, lets continue to study this incredible book with a message of love that is filled with promises written from Our Father.

 

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4

 

-Rebecca Dauksas

 

 

Devoured by a Lion

1 Peter 5 8

1 Peter 5

So far this week, we have looked at the physical healing of a blind man and the mental healing of a demon possessed man. Today we’re going to look at emotional healing.

Let’s start by looking at verse 8. It says that the Devil, our enemy, is hunting for someone to devour. How many of you have ever felt like you’ve been devoured? I’m sure none of you have ever been eaten by a lion, but I don’t think that’s what this verse is talking about. This verse is talking about being devoured by the world, by our obligations, by our worries. I know I have felt absolutely overwhelmed by my school work, pressures from my friend groups and parents. If you want to talk about being overwhelmed, just look at Jesus’ life.

In verse 5 it mentions the sufferings of Jesus. We know that Jesus had the burdens of the entire world placed on him. That puts our problems into perspective a little, doesn’t it? While we worry about who we’re going to eat lunch with tomorrow, He was worrying about being betrayed by one of his closest friends. While we worry if we’ll be able to play on our school’s basketball team, He was worrying about being sentenced to death by the world that he was supposed to save.

I don’t draw attention to this to diminish our feelings, but it is important to put things in a proper context and to humble ourselves. In verse 6, it says that we need to humble ourselves so that we can be exalted at the proper time. Sometimes it feels like we are being devoured for so long without receiving any help from our God. We think that no one knows how much we are suffering under the stress of our worries and we doubt that God cares. But God does care, and you are not alone. We need to be firm in our faith that God will heal all of us of our emotional pain (vs 9).

Here’s the beautiful part of this chapter: it feels like we must wait forever to receive emotional healing, but God promises us right here in verse 10 that He will personally restore, establish, strengthen and support us after we have suffered. He will heal us.

Today I’m going to leave you with some additional verses. Just read them and soak in all they promise.

Revelation 21:4

Psalm 147:3

John 14:27

Psalm 34:17-20

Matthew 11:28

Psalm 34:19

 

-Nathaniel Johnson

God’s Timing: God’s Patience: God’s Love

2 Peter

2 Peter 3 9 (1)

I normally like to focus these devotions on verses we sometimes don’t pay too much attention to. 2 Peter sure has a lot of those verses. But today, I want to focus on a verse we have read a dozen thousand times.
The verse is, of course, 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord does not delay His promise, as some understand delay, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish but all to come to repentance.”
The Lord does not delay His promise. The promise of God is that the Kingdom will be restored to Israel and that sin will be eradicated on the earth. God is not slow in bringing that about. He is not delaying it just because he is putting it off. He is not waiting till the last minute by divine fiat alone. Instead, God is patient with US. With each and everyone one of us. He is waiting for us to come to him. He is waiting for us to repent, but he is also waiting for those who are far off. He is waiting for repentance to be found the world over. Why is he so patient, even now, 2000 years after Jesus walked the earth, 2000 years of church history and many hundreds of years of corruption and war and poverty and hate and greed and problems and sin even after the death of Jesus on a cross?
Because God doesn’t want any to perish. He does not want a single person to miss out on the promise of eternal life in the Kingdom, the gift given through Jesus. He doesn’t want any to perish, but he wants them all to come to repentance. Will they? No, this verse doesn’t say all will come to God. He does say that any who come to repentance, any who turn from the ways of sin to do righteousness, will not perish, but will experience true life.
I don’t have much more to add to that. If we remember this verse, lock it away, hide it in our hearts, it reminds us that God is love. That God cares about every person. That every person is a step away from salvation. That the time we have waited for Jesus is the patience of God made evident to a waiting world.
May we remember this verse and come to repentance to have life.
-Jake Ballard

To All You Control Freaks…

Jeremiah 32 – 34

Jeremiah_32-27

Thursday, March 9

“I am the LORD, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?”  -Jeremiah 32:27

How often do you question God’s ability?  Do you ever look at something and think to yourself, “This is hopeless…” or “I can’t do this by myself…”  I frequently fall into this mindset, and I know I’m not the only one.  I’m what some may call a control freak… I frequently try and fix the problem myself rather than simply calling on God!  33:3 says “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”

God promises that when we call to Him, He will answer.  Yet here I am still trying to do things on my own!  Thankfully, I have a good God whose love endures forever (33:11) and who follows through on His promises!

Chapter 34 is all about God following through on what He has said.  Good or bad, God commits to His word and will not change it.  What He says is truth.  We can know that whatever is written in the Bible is true because He inspired it!

Today I challenge you to ask yourself, ‘Am I a control freak?’

Give up the control you are clinging to and remember that you can call on our God.  Nothing is too difficult for Him and when you call to Him, He will answer!

-Sarah Blanchard

(Photo Credit: https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Jeremiah-32-27_Inspirational_Image/)

Awesome God!

Isaiah 54-57

isaiah-55

Wednesday, February 22

Today’s chapters make it pretty clear that our God is an Awesome God! He is all powerful and reigns over the whole universe, yet he loves you and me, and every person individually. That is just amazing to me. These chapters also highlight some of God’s promises again, and how merciful he is. Since I mentioned his promises a couple days ago, I want to talk a little bit about what is asked of us in these chapters. (His promises are still going to be mentioned, because they are pretty amazing.)

Chapter 54 talks specifically about the promises that God has made, and because he is perfect in all of his ways, and is true to those promises, we should know that he will keep them. At the very end of chapter 54 in verse 17 God says, “…This is the heritage of the servants of Yahweh, and their righteousness which is of Me..” All God is asking is that we be his servants, and that we listen to him and follow him and dedicate our lives to him. If we do this, then God will have “mercy on us with everlasting loving kindness” (verse 8 paraphrased). He also says in verse 10 “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed; but my loving kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall my covenant of peace be removed.” God is saying that if we will be his servant, he will FOREVER be merciful to us with everlasting loving kindness. After everything that God has given us, it’s pretty small thing to ask of us.

Chapter 55 goes a little bit deeper into God’s mercy. God reminds us in verse 8 That, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, My ways, says Yahweh. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts. “ God knows that we mess up sometimes, he acknowledges that we can’t think exactly like him and we don’t do things like he would, but we need to trust that his ways are better, because they are. His is merciful and great and loves each of us so much, that he takes care in instructing us to recognize that we are not him and that his ways are different and better than our own.

Chapter 56 – This chapter again talks about how accepting God is. God is telling us that even “Faithful Gentiles” will be accepted. We are Gentiles, because we are not Jews. God says in this chapter that his house of prayer is for ALL peoples. Our faith, and trust in God is not just for us, it is for everyone. God’s love and mercy is not just for us, it is for everyone! (We should share it, because this is an awesome gift!)

Chapter 57 is all about idols again. We should not let idols distract us from our walk with God- and idols are not just little figurines of some mythological creature. Idols are anything that can be a major distraction. This might a “friend” group that you have that maybe isn’t the greatest for you to have influence you. This might be technology-maybe it is distracting you from being in the moment and letting God speak to you. ( I am not saying that all technology is bad, sometimes it can actually be really helpful in connecting with other believers, finding resources, Christian music and the Bible) These are just some examples. I encourage you to examine your own lives and see if there are any idols hiding in the corner that are a distraction. This chapter finishes out with a hope of how to overcome these idols. It says in verse 14 “He will say, Cast up, cast up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people.” God doesn’t want you to stumble and he does want to help you! It might be difficult, but asking God for help might be a life changing step. If this is you in any way and you want to to talk to someone about it, I encourage you to reach out to a parent, or a friend, or a pastor because they will want to help you as well.

Some songs for today:

Always by: Kristian Stanfill https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7ltcijkLKs

Dancing Generation by: Matt Redman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6P2A1VUZYss

Unchanging by: Chris Tomlin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qS2Z4Aa8mNM

Devotion by Jana Swanson
(Photo credit: http://w3ace.com/stardust/scripture/book/Isaiah/37)