The Purpose of Proverbs…

These proverbs were written to impart wisdom…

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” (Proverbs 9:10)

What the book of Psalms is to prayer and devotional life, the book of Proverbs is to everyday life.

Proverbs gives practical suggestions for effective living.

This book is not just a collection of homey sayings; it contains deep spiritual insights drawn from experience.

A proverb is a short, wise, easy-to-learn saying that challenges us to action.

This is a book of common sense based on a biblical worldview. It shows the fruit of a life deeply rooted in a relationship with God.

And conversely, it also shows how right actions keep us connected to God and strengthen our faith in Him.

To read Proverbs is to sit at the feet of a loving Father and glean from His words the treasures of wisdom.

Practical, powerful, and potent! Proverbs truly holds the answers you’ve been looking for.

King Solomon was a friend of God and as recorded in the Bible, one night in a dream, God came to Solomon and asked him,

“What do you want from me?”

The king gave the right response. He said, “I am a child; give me wisdom to do what is right and to lead your people.”

God answered that prayer and gave Solomon a gift of supernatural wisdom from above!

He composed music, wrote poetry, and gave us literature that drips with heaven’s wisdom—the book of Proverbs.

Read the pages of Proverbs: Wisdom from Above as a miner would search for hidden treasure, like one hungry and searching for satisfying food.

You will find it all here!

Within the divinely anointed compilation of Proverbs, there is a deep well of wisdom to reign in life and to succeed in our destinies.

The kingdom of God is brought to the earth as we implement the heavenly wisdom of Proverbs.
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Wednesday, Sept 07
To Know Wisdom Meditations on Proverbs…
by D. Marion Clark

THE LIMIT OF PROVERBS

“The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel.”
— Proverbs 1:1

This first verse is instructive. These proverbs are the results of Solomon’s writings and his collection of ancient sayings.

Consider this description of Solomon in 1 Kings 10:23:

“Thus King Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth in riches and in wisdom. And the whole earth sought the presence of Solomon to hear his wisdom, which God had put into his mind.”

We know this is the result of God answering his prayer for wisdom to govern his people.

Because Solomon asked for wisdom, God granted wisdom and riches and fame.

Solomon became a success, but like many who do achieve it, success becomes its own seductress.

He became famous not only for wisdom but for his lavish lifestyle.

Though he will warn young men in his proverbs of the danger of the forbidden woman, he will fall in love and marry “many foreign women…from the nations concerning which the Lord has said…You shall not enter into marriage with them…”

He built and maintained grand building projects but at the expense of reducing his people to slave-like labor, so that their hardship became the grounds for a rebellion that split the kingdom.

Finally, his foreign wives “turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father” (1 Kings 11:4).

Let our first lesson in Proverbs be that it is not enough to hear wise sayings and to discipline ourselves to follow them, for we do not have the power to change our hearts, much less to remove them from the bondage of sin.

That is the work of the Holy Spirit.

Let us cling to Christ; let us go daily to the mercy throne of God; let us pray for the Spirit to daily strengthen us and sanctify us.

These proverbs give us direction; they reveal the wisdom of the path of life. But no self-effort can suffice to follow that path.

It is Christ who must be our Entrance to the path and our constant Pillar of Cloud and Fire to lead us.

And it is the Spirit who must enable us to walk obediently.

Pray even now that, as you learn wisdom, God’s Spirit will enable you to live what you learn.
____

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My views on the so-called “Prosperity Gospel”…

John speaking:

“After these things I looked, and behold, there was a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here…” (Revelation 4:1)

Having just listened to the conference call that was just posted by a friend and a sister in the Lord on the Watchman on the Wall Fb group, I’d like to make the following comments:

What is the open door that God has placed before us?

After reading Revelation 3:20, where Jesus has been locked out of His own church and we find Him outside knocking asking to come in and have fellowship with her.

Then John says in chapter 4 verses 1-2,

The Throne Room of Heaven
4 “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this.” 2 And immediately I was in the Spirit…”

We actually have access now into the very throne room of God (the Holy of Holies) but this access has ONLY been granted us through the cross and the shed blood of Jesus Christ!

“Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb 4:16)

The author of Hebrews writes to inform readers of the superiority of Jesus and to urge them to follow Him closely.

In Hebrews 4:16 the author explains that we can come boldly to the throne of grace:

Notice we are told, “to approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

So, following Jesus is about confidence, not timidity.

The author explains how: because of Jesus, our High Priest.

Jesus is described as a merciful and faithful high priest in Hebrews 2:17, and He accomplished propitiation for sin (or the satisfaction of God’s wrath because of sin).

In the Mosaic Law, the high priest would intercede on behalf of the people and was at least a symbolic head of the current priestly administration (Numbers 25, 28).

The priest would bring sacrifices to God on behalf of the people of Israel and would do so repeatedly, as the law prescribed.

While ordinarily the high priest would bring the sacrifice, Jesus Himself was the sacrifice.

His personal sacrifice was an incredible act of mercy, and He could be the sacrifice because He had become like those for whom He was giving Himself up (Hebrews 2:17).

It’s because of Jesus the High Priest, that we can come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16).

Elsewhere in the epistle, Jesus is the “High Priest of our confession” (Hebrews 3:1).

Jesus is a trustworthy high priest, as God the Father counted Him faithful (Hebrews 3:2).

If the Father counts Him as faithful, then we can, too.

In the Mosaic Law, that which was sacrificed died, and so new sacrifices were necessary to (temporarily) cover sin.

But Jesus as high priest brought a different kind of sacrifice.

Jesus sacrificed Himself, and He was resurrected and ascended into heaven (Hebrews 4:14)—another evidence that
He is faithful and has the ability to accomplish salvation for ALL who would believe in Him.

Because of Him we can come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16).

He is a high priest who sympathizes with our weakness (He knows our weaknesses because He became like us when He became a man)—He even has been tempted in all things as we have, yet He remained sinless (Hebrews 4:15).

Because Jesus was a man, He could be our substitution—He could stand in our place to pay the price for sin: death.

None of us can finish paying the price because our debt is so great and we have nothing left with which to pay it.

He could pay the price in our place as a man.

Because Jesus was God, He had no sin of His own and He could arise from the grave showing that He conquered sin and death.

His one-time sacrifice was enough (Hebrews 9:26).

Because of Him we can now come boldly to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16)—not on our own merits, bringing our own sacrifice—but on His merit and His sacrifice.

Now that He has made it possible for us to come to God, we come to Him by faith—for “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6).

Because of what Jesus has done for us, we can come boldly and with confidence to the throne of grace—it is no longer a throne of judgment for us; rather, it is where we have received forgiveness in mercy and righteousness in grace.

And you also have to follow certain protocols to enter into God’s presence.

We find these protocols listed in Psalms 100

Psalm 100:4-5
New King James Version

4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise.
Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.

5 For the Lord is good;
His mercy is everlasting,
And His truth endures to all generations.

And in 1st Thessalonians, chapter 5:16-18 we are told:

16 “Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

And it goes on to tell us in verse 19, “…that we need to do this in order that we not quench the Holy Spirit in our life.”

To quench something is like what we do when we pinch the end of a hose, which restricts the flow of water through that hose; and so this is definitely something we never want to do with God.

Here is where it really gets good as we come into God’s presence, which is the Holy of Holies:

Psalm 91:1-12
New King James Version

Safety of Abiding in the Presence of God
1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High
Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress;
My God, in Him I will trust.”

3 Surely He shall deliver you from the snare of the fowler
And from the perilous pestilence.

4 He shall cover you with His feathers,
And under His wings you shall take refuge;

His truth shall be your shield and buckler.

5 You shall not be afraid of the terror by night,
Nor of the arrow that flies by day,

6 Nor of the pestilence that walks in darkness,
Nor of the destruction that lays waste at noonday.

7 A thousand may fall at your side,
And ten thousand at your right hand;
But it shall not come near you.

8 Only with your eyes shall you look,
And see the reward of the wicked.

9 Because you have made the Lord, who is my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place,

10 No evil shall befall you,
Nor shall any plague come near your dwelling;

11 For He shall give His angels charge over you,

To keep you in all your ways.

12 In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.

These are the benefits to every covenant Child of God, who loves the Lord, follows Him by faith; who also keeps God’s Word and obeys it.

The Bible makes it very clear that “We are saved by grace (unmerited favor) through faith, and that not of ourselves it’s a gift of God lest any man should boast. (Eph 2:8-9)

We need to understand however that though this is a gift that comes to us free of charge, it did not come cheap; it came only by way of Jesus’ shed blood on Calvary’s Cross, that He poured out for us.

Based on all that God has done for us, Paul asked the question, what should be our reasonable response?

Romans 12
New King James Version

Living Sacrifices to God
1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

And then Jesus tells us,

Matthew 16:24-26
New King James Version

Take Up the Cross and Follow Him

24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

25 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.

26 For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?

Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?
____

You live for Christ ONLY as you die to yourself; this is what Jesus means by if anyone wants to follow after Me let him pick up his cross (the symbol of his death to self) each and every day.

Paul put it this way (and this should also be our confession every single day):

Galatians 2:20
New King James Version

20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
___

Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mound (Mat 6:33) that God already knows our needs, and that we should first seek the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness (God’s way of doing things) and then all of these other things will be added to us.

When you add all these scriptures together, it becomes apparent that God cannot be our Savior, unless He is also first our Lord!

We need to each heed Jesus’ warning:

Matthew 7:21-23
New King James Version

I Never Knew You
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven.

22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’

23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
___

The Holy Spirit says to us through John’s 3rd Epistle, in verse 2:

“Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.”

God, like any loving father, wants to bless His children; but He doesn’t want to give us stuff that will cause us to forget about Him, and start worshiping the creation rather than the Creator.

The Bible tells us that the grapes have to be crushed before you can get the wine and the kernel of wheat has to die before it can multiply; and so it is with us.

We are at War, and God is not about teaching us how to live in ease and comfort, but rather, according to Romans 8:29 and 30, He is trying to teach us how to be conformed into the image of His Son, of which the Bible even says that Jesus learned obedience through the things He suffered (Heb 5:8).

It is for these reasons that I have some real problems with the so-called “Prosperity Gospel.”

Any message that talks about God wanting to make you rich, give you a new house and a better car and lots of money in the bank, is a complete aberration of what God and His Word teaches us.

In order to really understand the Bible, you have to take into consideration the whole counsel of God’s Word, and you have to rightly divide the Word of Truth.

This should be the first message that every new Christian should be given, that if you thought you had hard times before you committed your life to Christ, then you ain’t seen nothing yet!

God is teaching us how to fight a war and we are told to put on our spiritual armor each and every day!

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

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The Holy Spirit gives us the Power for Holy Living…

The Holy Spirit is our pledge and foretaste of our inheritance, in anticipation of our full redemption–the inheritance which Jesus has purchased to be specially His for the extolling of His glory…

Ephesians 1:13-14

In Ephesians 1:13-14 we are told that as soon as we believed, we were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.

This means that every true believer receives the Spirit of God as a sign that he belongs to God and that he will be kept safe by God until the time he receives his glorified body.

Just as in legal matters a seal indicates ownership and security, so it does in divine affairs.

The indwelling Spirit brands us as God’s property (1 Cor. 6:19, 20), and guarantees our preservation until the day of redemption (Eph. 4:30).

We are to become ONE in Christ:

Jesus and His Father have given us a guarantee of His promise to marry us.

On the Feast of Pentecost (Acts 2), fifty days after Jesus’ resurrection, God sent a “deposit,” the “earnest” of the Holy Spirit—the guarantee of the full payment to come later, when we are changed from flesh to spirit.

There may be more here than some realize.

The Greek word for “earnest” is arrabon.

When taken in the context of our understanding of a glorious wedding coming, it is a word packed with meaning.

Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words comments:

Originally, “earnest-money” deposited by the purchaser and forfeited if the purchase was not completed, [arrabon] was probably a Phoenician word, introduced into Greece.

In general usage it came to denote “a pledge” or “earnest” of any sort; in the NT it is used only of that which is assured by God to believers; it is said of the Holy Spirit as the divine “pledge” of all their future blessedness, . . . particularly of their eternal inheritance.

Then comes this final sentence:

“In modern Greek arrabona is an ‘engagement ring.'”

Of course! It makes so much sense.

When Jesus asks us to drink of His cup—and we do—He follows by giving us a sign of His pledge: a kind of engagement ring, an earnest of His Holy Spirit!

All this happened on the likely anniversary of God’s proposal to Israel, the Day of Pentecost, about the time Boaz and Ruth pledged their troth.
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God’s grace is NEVER a licensed to sin:

In Romans 6 Paul answeres the question, “Does the teaching of the gospel (salvation by faith alone) permit or even encourage sinful living?”

In chapter 7 he faced up to the question, “Does the gospel tell Christians to keep the law in order to lead a holy life?”

Now the question is: How is the Christian enabled to live a holy life?

We notice right away that the personal pronouns that were so prominent in chapter 7 largely disappear in chapter 8, and that the Holy Spirit becomes the dominant Person!

This is an important key to understanding the passage.

Victory is not in ourselves but in the Holy Spirit, who indwells us.
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Romans 8:1-6
New King James Version

Free from Indwelling Sin
1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.

2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.

3 For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin:

He condemned sin in the flesh, 4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

6 For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
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In Romans 8 we read that there are seven helps that we receive from the Holy Spirit:

1. Freedom in service (v. 2);

2. Strength for service (v. 11);

3. Victory over sin (v. 13);

4. Guidance in service (v. 14);

5. The witness of sonship (v. 16);

6. Assistance in service (v. 26);

7. Assistance in prayer (v. 26).
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And in Romans 8:1 we are told:

“There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
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And so in Romans 8:1, we are declared “Not guilty… Let this person go free.”

What would those words mean to you if you were on death row?

In reality, the whole human race is on death row, justly condemned for repeatedly breaking God’s holy law.

Without Jesus we would have no hope at all. But thank God! He has declared us not guilty and has offered us freedom from sin and supernatural power to do His will.

8:2 This life-giving Spirit is the Holy Spirit.

As the third person of the Trinity, He was present at the creation of the world (Genesis 1:2), and He is the POWER behind the rebirth of every Christian.

He gives us the power we need to live the Christian life.

8:3 Jesus gave Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.

In Old Testament times, animal sacrifices were continually offered at the Temple.

The sacrifices showed the Israelites the seriousness of sin: Blood had to be shed before sins could be pardoned (see Leviticus 17:11).

But the blood of animals could not really remove sins (Hebrews 10:4).

The sacrifices could only point to Jesus’ sacrifice, which would pay the penalty for ALL sins.

8:5-6 Paul divides people into two categories: those who are dominated by their sinful nature and those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit.

All of us would be in the first category if Jesus hadn’t offered us a way out.

Once we have said yes to Jesus, we will want to continue following Him because His way brings life and peace.

Daily we must consciously choose to center our lives in God.

Use the Bible to discover God’s guidelines, and then follow them.

In every perplexing situation, ask yourself, What does Jesus want me to do?

When the Holy Spirit points out what God wants you to do, do it eagerly.

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
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Saturday, Sep 3
The Winning Walk
bt Dr Ed Young

TWO LAWS

“For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.”
— Romans 8:2

“We operate by laws in life. When we drop something, the law of gravity sends it to the ground.

However, the law of aerodynamics overcomes the law of gravity allowing flight.

But if a passenger on a plane decided to step outside for a while … well, let’s just say the law of gravity would take over again. The same is true spiritually.

When we are in Christ, the law of the Spirit sets us free from the law of sin and death.

But when we step outside the law of the Spirit and follow our own desires and plans, the law of sin and death takes over again.

So let’s make sure we operate in the law of the Spirit and live in the freedom Christ provides for us through the Cross.”
____

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The importance of women in the New Testament…

The Women Around Jesus…

John 19:25

“Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.”

Jesus went to His death attended by a loyal following of women who had stood by Him throughout His ministry.

Women played a major part in Jesus’ life and work

It was a woman or women who . . .

Nurtured Him as He grew up (Luke 2:51).

Traveled with Him and helped finance His ministry (8:1–3).

Listened to Him teach (10:39).

Were featured in His parables (Matt. 13:33; 24:41).

Shared the good news that He was the Messiah (John 4:28–30).

Offered hospitality to Him and His companions (Mark 1:29–31).

Were treated by Him with respect and compassion (John 4:5–27; 11:32, 33).

Were healed by Him (Matt. 9:20–22; Luke 13:10–17).

Were praised by Him for their faith (Mark 7:24–30).

Were commended by Him for their generosity (12:41–44).

Worshiped Him and prepared His body for burial before His crucifixion (Matt. 26:6–13).

Stood by Him at the cross (Mat 27:55; John 19:25).

Assisted in His burial (Mark 16:1; Luke 23:55–24:1).

First saw Him resurrected (John 20:16).

Went to tell the rest of His followers that He was risen from the dead (John 20:18).
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The Women Who Followed Jesus

Luke 8:1-3

Many Women Minister to Jesus
1 Now it came to pass, afterward, that He went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God. And the twelve were with Him,

2 and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities—Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, 3 and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance.

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The Bible’s frequently overlooked revelation that many women were among Jesus’ followers shakes up conventional ideas about our Lord and His disciples…

Several of these female followers appear by name:

Mary Magdalene (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40; Luke 8:2; 24:10).

Invariably mentioned first, she had been dramatically healed by Jesus and may have been His most prominent female follower.

Joanna the wife of Chuza (8:3; 24:10).

Chuza managed the king’s household, giving Joanna access to Herod’s court.

Susanna (Luke 8:3).

Mary the mother of James and Joses (Matt. 27:56; Mark 15:40; Luke 24:10).

Salome (Mark 15:40).

The mother of James and John (Matt. 27:56).

She is remembered for pressing Jesus to let her sons sit in favored positions in His kingdom (Mat 20:20–24).

____

The Gospels clearly state that “many” other women followed Jesus (Mat 27:55; Mark 15:41; Luke 8:3; 24:1)…

They provided financial support for Jesus and the Twelve, an intriguing detail, given that Jewish women usually had little control over family resources.

Strict codes kept male leaders at a distance from women, so that women rarely traveled with teachers (see “Welcome Women into the Kingdom” at Luke 23:49).

Rabbis were forbidden to speak even to their wives in public.

Jesus apparently thought little of these restrictions, and nothing indicates that He discouraged women from following Him.

They listened to His teaching, accompanied Him in His travels, stood by Him at His crucifixion, testified to His resurrection, and helped spread His message throughout the Roman world.
____

Women and the Growth of Christianity

Philippians 4:3

“And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.”
____

Euodia and Syntyche (Phil. 4:2) were only two of the many women who had a role in spreading the gospel and leading the early church to maturity.

Note the variety and significance of women’s involvement:


Prayed (Acts 1:14)

Received the Spirit (Acts 2:17)

Were converted (Acts 2:41)

Hosted the church in their homes (Acts 2:46, 47; Col. 4:15)

Received help (Acts 6:1, 2)

Were thrown in prison (Acts 8:3)

Helped the needy (Acts 9:39)

Were raised from the dead (Acts 9:40)

Aided Paul and his ministry partners (Acts 16:15)

Were freed from evil spirits (Acts 16:18)

Were often the first converts in a city (Acts 17:34)

Traveled with Paul (Acts 18:18)

Taught others (Acts 18:26)

Carried Paul’s letters (Rom. 16:1)

Excelled in ministry and were described as “among the apostles” (Rom. 16:7)

Worked alongside men to proclaim the gospel (Phil. 4:3)
____

Women have always been an integral part of God’s work.

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What does it mean that “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart?”…

Let’s start by looking at the meaning and purpose of the ten plagues of Egypt

The Ten Plagues of Egypt—also known as the Ten Plagues, the Plagues of Egypt, or the Biblical Plagues—are described in Exodus 7—12.

The plagues were ten disasters sent upon Egypt by God to convince Pharaoh to free the Israelite slaves from the bondage and oppression they had endured in Egypt for 400 years.

When God sent Moses to deliver the children of Israel from bondage in Egypt, He promised to show His wonders as confirmation of Moses’ authority (Exodus 3:20).

This confirmation was to serve at least two purposes:

1. To show the Israelites that the God of their fathers was alive and worthy of their worship (Exodus 6:6–8; 12:25–27) and

2. To show the Egyptians that their gods were nothing (Exodus 7:5; 12:12; Numbers 33:4).

The Israelites had been enslaved in Egypt for about 400 years and in that time had lost faith in the God of their fathers.

They believed He existed and worshiped Him, but they doubted that He could, or would, break the yoke of their bondage.

The Egyptians, like many pagan cultures, worshiped a wide variety of nature-gods and attributed to their powers the natural phenomena they saw in the world around them.

There was a god of the sun, of the river, of childbirth, of crops, etc.

Events like the annual flooding of the Nile, which fertilized their croplands, were evidences of their gods’ powers and good will.

When Moses approached Pharaoh, demanding that he let the people go, Pharaoh responded by saying, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go?

I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go” (Exodus 5:2).

Thus began the challenge to show whose God was more powerful.

The first plague, turning the Nile to blood, was a judgment against Apis, the god of the Nile, Isis, goddess of the Nile, and Khnum, guardian of the Nile.

The Nile was also believed to be the bloodstream of Osiris, who was reborn each year when the river flooded.

The river, which formed the basis of daily life and the national economy, was devastated, as millions of fish died in the river and the water was unusable.

Pharaoh was told, “By this you will know that I am the LORD” (Exodus 7:17).

The second plague, bringing frogs from the Nile, was a judgment against Heqet, the frog-headed goddess of birth.

Frogs were thought to be sacred and not to be killed.

God had the frogs invade every part of the homes of the Egyptians, and when the frogs died, their stinking bodies were heaped up in offensive piles all through the land (Exodus 8:13–14).

The third plague, gnats, was a judgment on Set, the god of the desert.

Unlike the previous plagues, the magicians were unable to duplicate this one and declared to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God” (Exodus 8:19).

The fourth plague, flies, was a judgment on Uatchit, the fly god.

In this plague, God clearly distinguished between the Israelites and the Egyptians, as no swarms of flies bothered the areas where the Israelites lived (Exodus 8:21–24).

The fifth plague, the death of livestock, was a judgment on the goddess Hathor and the god Apis, who were both depicted as cattle.

As with the previous plague, God protected His people from the plague, while the cattle of the Egyptians died.

God was steadily destroying the economy of Egypt, while showing His ability to protect and provide for those who obeyed Him.

Pharaoh even sent investigators (Exodus 9:7) to find out if the Israelites were suffering along with the Egyptians, but the result was a hardening of his heart against the Israelites.

The sixth plague, boils, was a judgment against several gods over health and disease (Sekhmet, Sunu, and Isis).

This time, the Bible says that the magicians “could not stand before Moses because of the boils.” Clearly, these religious leaders were powerless against the God of Israel.

Before God sent the last three plagues, Pharaoh was given a special message from God.

These plagues would be more severe than the others, and they were designed to convince Pharaoh and all the people “that there is none like me in all the earth” (Exodus 9:14).

Pharaoh was even told that he was placed in his position by God, so that God could show His power and declare His name through all the earth (Exodus 9:16).

As an example of His grace, God warned Pharaoh to gather whatever cattle and crops remained from the previous plagues and shelter them from the coming storm.

Some of Pharaoh’s servants heeded the warning (Exodus 9:20), while others did not.

The seventh plague, hail, attacked Nut, the sky goddess; Osiris, the crop fertility god; and Set, the storm god.

This hail was unlike any that had been seen before. It was accompanied by a fire which ran along the ground, and everything left out in the open was devastated by the hail and fire.

Again, the children of Israel were miraculously protected, and no hail damaged anything in their lands.

Before God brought the next plague, He told Moses that the Israelites would be able to tell their children of the things they had seen God do in Egypt and how it showed them God’s power.

The eighth plague, locusts, again focused on Nut, Osiris, and Set.

The later crops, wheat and rye, which had survived the hail, were now devoured by the swarms of locusts. There would be no harvest in Egypt that year.

The ninth plague, darkness, was aimed at the sun god, Re, who was symbolized by Pharaoh himself. For three days, the land of Egypt was smothered with an unearthly darkness, but the homes of the Israelites had light.

The tenth and last plague, the death of the firstborn males, was a judgment on Isis, the protector of children.

In this plague, God was teaching the Israelites a deep spiritual lesson that pointed to Christ.

Unlike the other plagues, which the Israelites survived by virtue of their identity as God’s people, this plague required an act of faith by them.

God commanded each family to take an unblemished male lamb and kill it.

The blood of the lamb was to be smeared on the top and sides of their doorways, and the lamb was to be roasted and eaten that night.

Any family that did not follow God’s instructions would suffer in the last plague.

God described how He would send the destroyer through the land of Egypt, with orders to slay the firstborn male in every household, whether human or animal.

The only protection was the blood of the lamb on the door. When the destroyer saw the blood, he would pass over that house and leave it untouched (Exodus 12:23).

This is where the term Passover comes from.

Passover is a memorial of that night in ancient Egypt when God delivered His people from bondage.

First Corinthians 5:7 teaches that Jesus became our Passover when He died to deliver us from the bondage of sin.

While the Israelites found God’s protection in their homes, every other home in the land of Egypt experienced God’s wrath as their loved ones died.

This grievous event caused Pharaoh to finally release the Israelites.

By the time the Israelites left Egypt, they had a clear picture of God’s power, God’s protection, and God’s plan for them.

For those who were willing to believe, they had convincing evidence that they served the true and living God.

Sadly, many still failed to believe, which led to other trials and lessons by God.

The result for the Egyptians and the other ancient people of the region was a dread of the God of Israel.

Even after the tenth plague, Pharaoh once again hardened his heart and sent his chariots after the Israelites.

When God opened a way through the Red Sea for the Israelites, then drowned all of Pharaoh’s armies there, the power of Egypt was crushed, and the fear of God spread through the surrounding nations (Joshua 2:9–11).

This was the very purpose that God had declared at the beginning.

We can still look back on these events today to confirm our faith in, and our fear of, this true and living God, the Judge of all the earth.

[From “Got Questions” website]
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Read Exodus 9

9:1 In chapter 9, this was the fifth time God sent Moses back to Pharaoh with the demand “Let my people go.”

By this time, Moses may have been tired and discouraged, but he continued to obey.

Do you find yourself facing the same difficult conflict again and again?

Don’t give up when you know what is right to do.

As Moses discovered, persistence is rewarded.

9:12 God gave Pharaoh many opportunities to heed Moses’ warnings.

But finally God seemed to say, “All right, Pharaoh, have it your way,” and Pharaoh’s heart became permanently hardened.

Did God intentionally harden Pharaoh’s heart and overrule his free will?

No, he simply confirmed that Pharaoh freely chose a life of resisting God.

Similarly, after a lifetime of resisting God, you may find it impossible to turn to him.

Don’t wait until “just the right time” before turning to God.

Do it now while you still have the chance. If you continually ignore God’s voice, eventually you will be unable to hear it at all.

What are some ways your pride has kept you from God?

Has it ever ruined you?

Acknowledge your bent toward independence, and ask the Lord to rid you of your self-reliance.

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)
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Tuesday, August 30
Israel Bible Center

Did God Harden Pharaoh’s Heart?…

“But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh; and he did not heed them, just as the Lord had spoken to Moses.”
— Exodus 9:12

PHARAOH’S REFUSAL

When Pharaoh refuses to release God’s people from slavery, most English translations say that “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not listen” to Moses’ demand for freedom.

The Hebrew for “hardened” here is חזק (hazaq) and “heart” is לב (lev).

When readers see that the Lord “hardened Pharaoh’s heart, it sounds like Pharaoh would let the Israelites go, but God stops him by overriding his autonomy.

A Hebrew Difference

However, hazaq literally means to “strengthen,” and along with “heart,” lev can also mean “desire” or “will.”

Thus, an equally valid translation is that “the Lord strengthened Pharaoh’s will.”

Do you see the difference here?

It does not mean that God forced him to do something against his will, but just the opposite:

it was already Pharaoh’s will to keep the Israelites enslaved, so God strengthened the pharaonic will that was already there.

Pharaoh and Free Will

If you’ll forgive a somewhat crude analogy, there’s a well-known story of parents catching their teenager smoking.

Instead of taking the cigarettes away, the parents say, “So you want to smoke cigarettes, do you?

Well now we’re going to make you go through the entire pack!”

The parental logic here is that the teenager would get so sick that he or she would never want another cigarette again!

While I don’t recommend this method for parenting teenagers, it works as an analogy because this is essentially what God does to Pharaoh:

God says, “So you refuse to let my people go? Ok, then I’m going to reinforce your stubborn will and watch you go through an entire pack of plagues.”

The Lord doesn’t take away Pharaoh’s free will when he refuses to let the people go; rather, God reinforces or strengthens that will.
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Repent or perish…

The Importance of Repentance (13:1–9)…

13:1–3 Chapter 12 closed with the failure of the Jewish nation to discern the time in which they lived, and with the Lord’s warning to repent quickly or perish forever.

Chapter 13 continues this general subject, and is largely addressed to Israel as a nation, although the principles apply to individual people.

Two national calamities form the basis of the resulting conversation.

The first was the massacre of some Galileans who had come to Jerusalem to worship.

Pilate, the governor of Judea, had ordered them to be slain while they were offering sacrifices.

Nothing else is known concerning this atrocity.

We assume the victims were Jews who had been living in Galilee.

The Jews in Jerusalem might have been laboring under the delusion that these Galileans must have committed terrible sins, and that their death was an evidence of God’s disfavor.

However, the Lord Jesus corrected this by warning the Jewish people that unless they repented, they would all likewise perish.

13:4, 5 The other tragedy concerned the collapse of a tower in Siloam which caused the death of eighteen persons.

Nothing else is known about this accident except what is recorded here.

Fortunately, it is not necessary to know any further details. The point emphasized by the Lord was that this catastrophe should not be interpreted as a special judgment for gross wickedness.

Rather, it should be seen as a warning to all the nation of Israel that unless they repented, a similar doom would come upon them.

This doom came to pass in A.D. 70 when Titus invaded Jerusalem.
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Max Lucado’s Life Lessons…

Luke 13:1–35

Many Jews believed that good fortune, health, and wealth were signs of God’s approval and that hardships or tragedies were signs of God’s judgment.

When others experience hardship, it is easy to judge them.

Jesus taught that the best response is compassion.

May I get specific for a moment? May I talk about sin?

Dare I remind you and me that our past is laced with outbursts of anger, stained with nights of godless passion, and spotted with undiluted greed?

Suppose your past was made public?

Suppose you were to stand on a stage while a film of every secret and selfish second was projected on the screen behind you?

Would you not crawl beneath the rug? Would you not scream for the heavens to have mercy?

And would you not feel just a fraction . . . just a fraction of what Christ felt on the Cross?

The icy displeasure of a sin-hating God? . . . Christ carried all our sins in His body . . . See Christ on the Cross?

That’s a gossiper hanging there. See Jesus? Embezzler. Liar. Bigot.

See the crucified carpenter? He’s a wife beater. Porn addict and murderer.

See Bethlehem’s boy? Call Him by His other names—Adolf Hitler, Osama bin Laden, and Jeffrey Dahmer.

Hold it, Max. Don’t you lump Christ with those evildoers. Don’t you place His name in the same sentence with theirs!

I didn’t. He did.

Indeed He did more. More than place His name in the same sentence, He placed Himself in their place.

And yours.

With hands nailed open, He invited God, “Treat Me as you would treat them!”

And God did. In an act that broke the heart of the Father, yet honored the holiness of heaven, sinpurging judgment flowed over the sinless Son of the ages.

And heaven gave earth her finest gift. The Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world.
(From Next Door Savior by Max Lucado)

Don’t fool yourself by thinking that sins will be ignored. Confess your sins today, and enjoy the freedom that God wants for you. Jesus paid the price.
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Sunday, August 28
The Berean
Daily Verse and Comment:

Luke 13:1-5
New King James Version

Repent or Perish
1 There were present at that season some who told Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.

2 And Jesus answered and said to them, “Do you suppose that these Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans, because they suffered such things?

3 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.

4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them, do you think that they were worse sinners than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?

5 I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.”
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In Luke 13:1-5, Jesus took advantage of two local tragedies to make the point that, in a major way, all sins and all sinners are equal.

The incident of the collapsed tower was in all likelihood a time-and-chance accident.

However, Jesus alluded to those who died as being sinners, and He implied that those in His audience were also sinners who deserved to die—and would, unless they repented.

What is interesting is a possible reason why Jesus responded as He did to their report of Pilate’s action.

He seems to have detected in their attitude that they thought that those killed by Pilate deserved to die!

The victims were sinners who “got what was coming to them,” implying that they themselves were righteous.

Jesus’ replies that they were just as guilty as those who died!

Someone’s sudden and violent death is not proof that he is particularly more wicked than others.

Jesus’ point is that, while it is not our responsibility to judge the degree of sinfulness of those who die suddenly and violently, it presents us with a golden opportunity to meditate on the state of our character and standing before God.

We may be in just as much danger as those we regard as being very wicked!

We live in a world that is given to extremes of judgment.

One extreme is to call victims of a random tragedy “innocent,” when the Bible shows no such human being exists.

They are only innocent of causing the calamity that brought about the sudden end of their life.

The other extreme is that human nature has a propensity to judge that those killed in such a circumstance were in reality great and wicked sinners who got what they deserved.

This suggests that those making this determination are in good standing with God.

Ours is a topsy-turvy world. We desire with all our being for things to go “right.”

We want good to be rewarded and evil to be punished. But we find in places like Psalms 37 and 73 that evil men often prosper, live in peace in lovely homes, wear fine clothing, are surrounded by their families, receive acclaim and honors within the community, and die at a good old age.

Conversely, the righteous suffer afflictions, are unappreciated, persecuted, demeaned, dishonored, reviled, scattered, and perhaps even cut off in the prime of life!

Some things involving life, judgment, and the out-working of God’s purpose are simply beyond our knowing.

We also have a very difficult time correctly judging the intent of another person’s heart. Thus, God cautions us to be careful.

But He expects us to be able to judge the intent of our own heart correctly.

We should know what is going on inside.

So often, though, even in this we allow ourselves to deny the evil of our own motivations.

We proudly justify ourselves by thinking, “God won’t mind.

It’s just a ‘little’ sin that won’t hurt anybody. And, besides, I need to do this.”

Is there really innocence in this kind of thinking?
— John W. Ritenbaugh
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God is our ever present help in times of trouble…

In times of trouble turn to God’s Word…

We often can gain encouragement and find direction from the Psalms.

The Bible tells us that David was a man after “God’s Own Heart” and yet there were many times in his life when he found himself being tried and crushed in The Crucible of life, with problems on every side and with no seeming way of Escape, yet God was always faithful and always made a way of Escape, even when there didn’t appear to be one!

Only God can save His people, not only from their sins, but He also gives us wisdom and direction through our trials and truthulations – the many testings that we face in life that come to prove the mettle of our faith and make us strong as well.

Romans 5:1-5
J.B. Phillips New Testament

Faith means the certainty of God’s love, now and hereafter

1-2 Since then it is by faith that we are justified, let us grasp the fact that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Through Him we have confidently entered into this new relationship of grace, and here we take our stand, in happy certainty of the glorious things He has for us in the future.

3-5 This doesn’t mean, of course, that we have only a hope of future joys—we can be full of joy here and now even in our trials and troubles.

Taken in the right spirit these very things will give us patient endurance; this in turn will develop a mature character, and a character of this sort produces a steady hope, a hope that will never disappoint us.

Already we have some experience of the love of God flooding through our hearts by the Holy Spirit given to us.”
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It’s only as we learn to face our fears, instead of running from them, that our Faith muscles get stretched, by pressing against the resistance of life, by hanging on to God’s promises and applying His direction, and in the process putting on the mind of Christ (Php 2:5).

Mind you the Bible says even of Jesus that He learned obedience through the things He suffered (Heb 5:8).

When surrounded by troubles, believers should call upon God for deliverance, trusting that He will rescue them out of their distresses.

Psalm 56 is such a song of trust, one in which David prayed to God to save him when he was under attack by enemies.

The historical background is an incident in David’s life when he fled from Saul to Gath, the hometown of Goliath.

In Gath he took up temporary residence among the Philistines (1 Sam. 21:10-15), only to escape to the cave of Adullam when hunted by his foes (1 Sam. 22).

The enemies in this psalm were not the Philistines but Saul and his men who dogged his steps in an attempt to take David’s life.

Understanding this, David’s first reaction was to be fearful (vv. 3-4,11). But through it all, David put his trust in the Lord, who prevailed on his behalf.

According to the psalm’s title, it was to be sung according to a tune commonly known as “A Dove on Distant Oaks.”

It was a bitter pill for David to have to seek refuge from his own countrymen among the Philistines in Gath, but the fierce hostility of King Saul drove him to it—or so he felt.

Psalm 56 describes some of the alternating waves of fear and faith which swept over him at that time.

Read Psalm 56

56:1-13 This was probably written on the same occasion as Psalm 34, when David fled from Saul to Philistine territory. He had to pretend to be insane before Achish when some servants grew suspicious of him (1 Samuel 21:10-15).

56:3-4 David stated, “What can mere mortals do to me?” How much harm can people do to us?

They can inflict pain, suffering, and death. But no person can rob us of our souls or the future beyond this life.

How much harm can we do to ourselves? The worst thing we can do is to reject God and lose a future with Him in eternity.

Jesus said, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul” (Matthew 10:28).

Instead, we should fear God, who controls this life and the next.

56:8 No matter what our sorrows are, God cares! Jesus reminded us further of how much God understands us—he knows even the number of hairs on our heads (Matthew 10:30).

Often we waver between faith and fear. When you feel so discouraged that you are sure no one understands, remember that God knows every problem and sees every tear.

56:9-11 Fear can paralyze us from taking action. It can even cause physical problems.

And what could be more fearful than an enemy pressing in from all sides?

Faced with this situation, David suggested several antidotes for fear:

(1) Remember that God is always by your side,

(2) Trust Him to help you, and

(3) Praise Him for fulfilling His promises in the past.

This will give you confidence that God will continue to fulfill His promises to give you inner peace and ultimate rescue.

When faced with persecution, insecurity, or insurmountable odds, use these methods to overcome your fear.

56:13 In God’s presence we experience life and light. When God gives life to us, we have no need to fear stumbling or death.

God’s light illuminates the journey and helps guide us in our decisions. We have the freedom to remain steady in His presence.
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Max Lucado’s Life Lessons…

Psalms 56:1—57:11

David wrote Psalm 56 when the Philistines captured him in Gath (1 Samuel 21:10–15).

He wrote Psalm 57 while hiding in a cave.

God is trustworthy. He is a rock, a hiding place, a fortress. We have safety and comfort in Him.

Can you relate to David’s story? Has your Saul cut you off from the position you had and the people you love?

In an effort to land on your feet, have you stretched the truth? Distorted the facts? Are you seeking refuge in Gath?

Under normal circumstances you would never go there. But these aren’t normal circumstances, so you loiter in the breeding ground of giants.

The hometown of trouble. Her arms or that bar.

You walk shady streets and frequent questionable places. And, while there, you go crazy.

So the crowd will accept you, so the stress won’t kill you, you go wild.

You wake up in a Dead Sea cave, in the grottoes of Adullam, at the lowest point of your life, feeling as dumb as a roomful of anvils.

You stare out at an arid, harsh, unpeopled future and ask,

“What do I do now?”

I suggest you let David be your teacher. Sure, he goes wacko for a few verses. But in the cave of Adullam, he gathers himself.

The faithful shepherd boy surfaces again.

The giant-killer rediscovers courage.

Yes, he has a price on his head. Yes, he has no place to lay his head, but somehow he keeps his head.

He returns his focus to God and finds refuge.

“Refuge” surfaces as a favorite word of David’s.

Circle its appearances in the Book of Psalms, and you’ll count as many as forty-plus appearances in some versions.

But never did David use the word more poignantly than in Psalm 57.

The introduction to the passage explains its background: “A Michtam of David when he fled from Saul into the cave.”

Envision Jesse’s son in the dimness: on his knees, perhaps on his face, lost in shadows and thought.

He has nowhere to turn.

Go home, he endangers his family; to the tabernacle, he imperils the priests.

Saul will kill him; Gath won’t take him.

He lied in the sanctuary and went crazy with the Philistines, and here he sits.

All alone. But then he remembers: he’s not. He’s not alone.

And from the recesses of the cave a sweet voice floats: “Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me!

For my soul trusts in You; and in the shadow of Your wings I will make my refuge, until these calamities have passed by” (v. 1).
(From Facing Your Giants by Max Lucado)

Christians will be persecuted. In what ways are you persecuted? Who opposes you? When life gets hard, look to your refuge—God.
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Friday, August 26
God Calling
by Two Listeners

ACCEPT TRIALS

In God have I put my trust: I will not be afraid what man can do unto me.
— Psalm 56:11

Trials and troubles may seem to overwhelm you. They cannot do more than work My Will, and that Will you have said is your Will.

Do you not see that you cannot be destroyed?

From now a new Life is opening out before you. Yours to enter into the Kingdom I have prepared for you.

The sunlight of My Presence is on your paths. Trust and go forward unafraid. My Grace is sufficient for all your needs.

Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 1:24-25)
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God commands that we forsake our idols and that we should follow and obey Him…

Aaron’s Sin…

Exodus 32-34 is an interlude between the blueprints of the tabernacle and the actual building process.

Aaron, Moses’ brother, falls into idolatry and orders the making of a golden calf, representative of an old pagan god from Egypt.

This is a flagrant violation of God’s commandments.

When Moses becomes aware of this, he throws the tablets containing the Ten Commandments to the ground and burns the false god.

Now Moses becomes more than the voice of God to the people; he becomes the voice to God on behalf of His followers.

Is God Listening?

Have you ever wondered if God listens to your prayers?

Have you sometimes felt like it’s a waste of time, that the heavens are closed to your petitions?

Consider this: When Franklin Roosevelt was President of the United States, he often endured long receiving lines at the White House.

He complained that no one really paid any attention to what was said.

One day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment.

To each person who came down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.”

The guests responded with phrases like, “Marvelous!” “Keep up the good work.”

“We are proud of you.” “God bless you, sir.”

It was not until the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard.

Bewildered, the ambassador leaned over and whispered, “I’m sure she had it coming.”

I wonder how many times I have looked toward the heavens and wondered, “Lord, do you care?

Are you too busy for me right now?

Why do I sense that I am getting a busy signal right now?”

Despite how you feel or what you might think, please be assured that God is listening.

This is a truth that Moses knew and deeply counted on.

Remember, chapters 25-31 allowed us to view the blueprint of the tabernacle when God presented the plans to Moses.

Later in chapters 35-40, we enjoyed a study of the building process itself.

But now we look at a parenthetical series of chapters (32-34), where some of the saddest moments in Israel’s history are revealed.

In this tragic situation, Moses became more than a leader; he became an intercessor for his people, knowing God would listen.

The Lord shows His erring people the way to His presence by once again giving them his law.

Exodus 32

The Golden Calf (32:1–10)

Impatient at Moses’ delay in returning to them, the people asked Aaron to make an idol for them.

He meekly complied by converting their golden earrings into a golden molded calf, an act that was expressly forbidden (Ex. 20:4).

Then they broke out in revelry, worshiping the idol and eating, drinking, and playing immorally.

They professed to be worshiping the LORD (v. 5), but by means of the calf.

God had blessed His people with gold when they left Egypt (12:35, 36), but the blessing turned into a curse through the sinful hearts of the people.

God informed Moses what was going on at the foot of the mountain (vv. 7, 8) and threatened to destroy this people (vv. 9, 10).

Even though the Israelites had seen the invisible God in action, they still wanted the familiar gods they could see and shape into whatever image they desired.

How much like them we are!

Our great temptation is still to shape God to our liking, to make Him convenient to obey or ignore.

God responds in great anger when His mercy is trampled on.

The gods we create blind us to the love our loving God wants to shower on us.

God cannot work in us when we elevate anyone or anything above Him.

What false gods in your life are preventing the true God from living in you?

There were two popular Egyptian gods, Hapi and Hathor, who were thought of as a bull and a heifer.

The Canaanites who lived in the Promised Land worshiped Baal, thought of as a bull.

Baal was their sacred symbol of power and fertility and was closely connected to immoral sexual practices.

No doubt the Israelites, fresh from Egypt, found it quite natural to make a gold calf to represent the God who had just delivered them from their oppressors.

They may have even thought they were worshiping God himself.

In any case, they were weary of a god without a face. But in doing this, they were ignoring the command God had just given them:

“You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind” (20:4).

Their apparent sincerity was no substitute for obedience or excuse for disobedience.

Aaron gave in to the demands of the people. He did not defend Moses, remain faithful to God, or protect the people and do what was best for them.

He crumbled under pressure.

Even if we do not make idols, we are often guilty of trying to make God in our image, molding Him to fit our expectations, desires, and circumstances.

When we do this, we end up elevating ourselves rather than the God who created us—and self-worship today, just as in the Israelites’ time, leads to all kinds of immorality.

What is your concept, or image, of God?

Is it biblical? Is it adequate?

Do you need to destroy that image in order to worship the immeasurably powerful God who delivered you from bondage to sin?

God was ready to destroy the whole nation because of their sin.

But Moses pleaded for mercy, and God spared them.

This is one of the countless examples in the Bible of God’s mercy.

Although we deserve His anger, He is willing to forgive and restore us to Himself.

We can receive God’s forgiveness from sin by asking Him for it.

Also, like Moses, we can pray that He will forgive others and use us to bring them the message of His mercy.
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Max Lucado’s Life Lessons…

Exodus 31:1—32:35

The people began to fear that Moses would not come down from the mountain, that they had lost their leader, that they would die in the wilderness.

So they asked Aaron to fashion an idol for them.

Fear can lead people to do things they know are wrong, things they know they shouldn’t do.

“I look at this people—oh! what a stubborn, hardheaded people!” (Exodus 32:9 MSG).

God spoke these words to Moses on Mount Sinai.

The disloyalty of the calf-worshiping Hebrews stunned God.

He had given them a mayor’s-seat perch at His Exodus extravaganza.

They saw water transform into blood, high noon change to a midnight sky, the Red Sea turn into a red carpet, and the Egyptian army become fish bait.

God gave manna with the morning dew, quail with the evening sun.

He earned their trust. The former slaves had witnessed a millennium of miracles in a matter of days. And yet, when God called Moses to a summit meeting, the people panicked like henless chicks. “They rallied around Aaron and said, ‘Do something.

Make gods for us who will lead us.

That Moses, the man who got us out of Egypt—who knows what’s happened to him?’” (Exodus 32:1 MSG).

The scurvy of fear infected everyone in the camp. They crafted a metal cow and talked to it.

God, shocked at the calf-praising service, commanded Moses, “Go! Get down there! . . . They’ve turned away from the way I commanded them. . . . Oh! what a stubborn, hard-headed people!” (vv. 7–9 MSG). . . . Our hearts harden in an unhealthy reaction to fear.

Note: the presence of fear in the Hebrews didn’t bother God; their response to it did.

Nothing persuaded the people to trust Him.

Plagues didn’t. Liberation from slavery didn’t.

God shed light on their path and dropped food in their laps, and still they didn’t believe Him.

Nothing penetrated their hearts.

They were flinty. Stiff.

Mount Rushmore is more pliable, an anvil more tender.

The people were as responsive as the gold statue they worshiped.

More than three thousand years removed, we understand God’s frustration.

Turn to a statue for help? How stupid.

Face your fears by facing a cow? Udderly foolish!

We opt for more sophisticated therapies: belly-stretching food binges or budget-busting shopping sprees.

We bow before a whiskey bottle or lose ourselves in an eighty-hour work week.

Progress? Hardly. We still face fears without facing God.
(From 3:16 by Max Lucado)
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Are you dealing with fears in unhealthy, unhelpful, even sinful ways?

God says turn away from that and look to Him.
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Thursday, August 25
The Berean
Daily Verse and Comment

Exodus 32:7-10
New King James Version

7 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go, get down! For your people whom you brought out of the land of Egypt have corrupted themselves.

8 They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them.

They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!’ ”

9 And the Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and indeed it is a stiff-necked people!

10 Now therefore, let Me alone, that My wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them. And I will make of you a great nation.”
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These people were undoubtedly sincere, but God did not care for their sincerity one bit. Why? God saw this as an attempt by these people to control Him through redefining His nature.

When we turn aside from the path, whether we realize it or not, we are beginning to redefine what He is according to our own thinking.

If we think this is not a prevalent sin, Jesus says in Mark 7:7,

“In vain do you worship Me teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.”

He is not saying that these people are insincere, but that they have failed to follow the way of God.

Like these Israelites, they proclaim their religion in the name of God though.

Jesus also says in Luke 6:46,

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not the things that I say?”

That is what they were doing in Exodus 32.

What was their motivation? Does this have an end-time application to the church of God?

The answer is in verse 1:

Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him,

“Come make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

Moses, the charismatic leader, the type of Jesus Christ, delayed his coming!

That is alarming! What motivated Saul to make the sacrifice in I Samuel 13?

Because Samuel’s coming was delayed,

Saul presumptuously took it into his own hands to do something he had not been commanded to do—to make the sacrifice.

The problem was the delay he perceived.

Do we understand why Christ says,

“Do not say in your heart, ‘The Lord delays His coming'”?

He knows from the experiences from the Old Testament that, if we begin to think that Christ is delaying, then we will turn aside to idolatry because we will use it as a justification for adjusting ourselves to the spirit of the times we live in.

This has alarming ramifications.

What did the Israelites do here?

Redefining the nature of God is merely the sin that led to them adjusting their lifestyle, to fall into idolatry.

Will that be a problem for this generation?

Are we going to think that Christ is delaying His coming?

Sincerity is good, but truth is needed with it.

Jesus says in John 4:24 that God is looking for those who will worship Him in spirit and in truth.

We need to examine ourselves to see whether we are making adjustments in our way of life to be in harmony with the spirit of the age.

Do we keep Sabbath just like the world keeps Sunday?

If we do, we have adjusted already.

Are we careful in tithing? Are we concerned God will not come through with prosperity?

If so, we are already beginning to make adjustments. Who is the idol? We are.

We change the image of God by saying, “He won’t mind. He understands.”

He does understand, but He wants us to trust Him. He knows we are under pressure, but He knows we need to learn to do without, to suffer, to wait. Do we believe that?
— John W. Ritenbaugh
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The importance of intercessory prayer…

Until intercessors learn to use their authority they’ll never be redeemed of Satan’s power…

“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much”
(James 5:16b)

Our prayers are making a difference and they will continue to make a difference, as long as we persist and press through.

Luke 11:9 (AMPC)
Jesus speaking: “So I say to you, Ask and keep on asking and it shall be given you; seek and keep on seeking and you shall find; knock and keep on knocking and the door shall be opened to you.”

In other words we are to PUSH which is an acronym for Pray Until Something Happens.

We as intercessors are the advanced air support that goes in first, neutralizing the principalities, powers, and the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in heavenly places. (Eph 6:12); and so our prayers soften the enemy targets ahead of the ground troops, which ultimately includes the missionaries that are now able to go in and spread the Good News of the Gospel on a level playing field.

George Mueller said this about the importance our getting our heads on right in the battle:

“I saw more clearly than ever, that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.

The first thing to be concerned about was not, how I might serve the Lord, how I might glorify the Lord; but how I might get my soul into a happy state, and how my inner man may be nourished.

I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation of it.”

And Paul, in the Bible, gives us the scriptural protocol on how to do this, in order that we may go into the battle of life covered in God’s Shalom-peace.

Philippians 4:4-7
Amplified Bible, Classic Edition

4 Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice!

5 Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit).

The Lord is near [He is coming soon].

6 Do not fret or have any anxiety about ANYTHING, but in EVERY circumstance and in EVERYTHING, by prayer and petition (definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God.

7 And God’s peace [shall be yours, that tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing NOTHING from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends ALL understanding shall garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
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“Keep your spiritual life calm and unruffled. Nothing else matters.

Leave EVERYTHING to Me.

Your main task is to get calm in My presence, to not let one upset feeling remain for even a single moment.

Allowing such a feeling to stay for one second may block years of blessings.

No matter who or what worries you, your task is to stop whatever you are doing until absolute calm comes.

Any interference in your calm is a blockage which prevents you from being an open channel through which My power can flow.”

(From “God Calling,” by Two Listeners)
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Charles Spurgeon said about prayer:

“Prayer moves the arm that moves the world.”
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“God has of his own motion placed himself under the law of prayer, and has obligated himself to answer the prayers of men.

He has ordained prayer as a means whereby he will do things through men as they pray, which he would not otherwise do.

If prayer puts God to work on earth, then, by the same token, prayerlessness rules God out of the world’s affairs, and prevents him from working.

The driving power, the conquering force in God’s cause is God himself.

‘Call on me and I will answer thee and who thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not,’ is God’s challenge to prayer.

Prayer puts God in full force into God’s work.”

[E.M. Bounds “The Weapon of Prayer” Chap. 2]

Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

And come join the Adventure!

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Hillbilly Wisdom…

I love this…

The main lesson of life is don’t over complicate it. Slow down and take the time to smell the roses.

In the midst of the storms circling your life, follow the advice of Psalm 46, with emphasis on verse 10:

“Be still and know that I AM (that I AM) is still God” over every area of your life!

And read also Hebrews 4:11 (AMP)…

“Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest [of God, to know and experience it for ourselves], so that no one will fall by following the same example of disobedience [as those who died in the wilderness]..”

Remember also what Proverbs 15:15 says (in the Amplified Bible):

“All the days of the desponding and afflicted are made evil [by anxious thoughts and forebodings], but he who has a glad heart has a continual feast [regardless of circumstances].”
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𝐎𝐥𝐝 𝐇𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐛𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐖𝐢𝐬𝐝𝐨𝐦:

Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.

Keep skunks, bankers, and politicians at a distance.

Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.

A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.

Words that soak into your ears are whispered, not yelled.

The best sermons are lived, not preached.

If you don’t take the time to do it right, you’ll find the time to do it twice.

Don’t corner something that is meaner than you.

It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.

You cannot unsay a cruel word.

Every path has a few puddles.

When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.

Borrowing trouble from the future doesn’t deplete the supply.

Most of the stuff people worry about ain’t never gonna happen anyway.

Don’t judge folks by their relatives.

Silence is sometimes the best answer.

Don‘t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t botherin’ you none.

Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.

If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.

Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.

The biggest troublemaker you’ll ever have to deal with watches you from the mirror every mornin’.

Always drink upstream from the herd.

Good judgment comes from experience, and most of that comes from bad judgment.

Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.

If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.

Live a good, honorable life. Then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

Most times, it just gets down to common sense.
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Selah (let us pause and calmly think about these things)

Come join the Adventure!

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