March 19, Tuesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Are we There Yet?”

Exodus 13:17-18 (NIV)

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led the people around by the desert road toward the Red Sea. The Israelites went up out of Egypt ready for battle.

Parents have often heard their children ask the question from the backseat of the car, “Are we there yet?” I wonder how many times the children of the Israelites asked their parents this same question. What should have been a relatively short journey from Egypt to Canaan turned out to be a very long journey for the Israelites.

At the outset of the journey though, the Israelites finally got to enjoy the freedom after 430 years of servitude in Egypt. With the 10th and final plague, Pharaoh had been defeated after losing his firstborn; in anger, therefore, he releases the Israelites.

Now, Moses was given the task of leading God’s people from Egypt to Canaan. For mapping purposes, point A was the land of Goshen in Egypt where the Israelites had been slaves; point B was the land that flowed with milk and honey and was promised to the Israelites. With so much at stake and only a desert separating point A and point B, I’m sure Moses looked for the shortest and the quickest path to Canaan. That path was the clearly marked trade route that ran NE along the seacoast of the Mediterranean Sea. It must have been about 250 miles or so, and traveling slowly with a massive number of people, Moses may have estimated about two weeks of travel time. He had no idea that the journey would actually take 40 years!

Perhaps God’s warning should have given Moses some expectations that this was going to be a longer journey than he had planned. God warns Moses, “If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” Afterwards, God leads the Israelites South, in the opposite direction.

We can see that sometimes, in our faith journey, God will deliberately take us on a much longer and, at times, puzzling paths. We must learn to be patient and trust in the Lord. Behind every movement, God understands that if we were to take the shortest, most efficient path, it’s very likely that we will face obstacles along the way and never make it to our destination. It’s difficult for us to follow; however, following the cloud by day and fire by night is the best path that God has in store for us.

So what path are you on right now?  To where is the Lord taking you?

Prayer: Lord, help me to trust in Your wisdom as You lead me towards maturity. Help me to also trust in what You are doing in our church. I admit that I have been impatient and making efforts to project my own will. Forgive me and help me to trust in Your perfect ways. In Your name, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 11


Lunch Break Study

Read Matt 16:21-23: From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life. 22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!” 23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Questions to Consider

  1. Why does Jesus’ explanation of his upcoming suffering disturb Peter and the disciples?
  2. What does Jesus’ rebuke of Peter reveal about the contrast between man’s will versus God’s will?
  3. What sort of dialogue have you had lately with the Lord? What are you hearing from Him?

Notes:

  1. The disciples expected to march on Jerusalem, pick up supporters on the way, fight an unexpected battle (and win), take over the Temple, and install Jesus as king. They assumed that’s how ‘the son of man’ will be exalted in his kingdom! Suffering was out of the picture.
  2. Peter did not have in his mind the concerns of God. His concern was for himself and his personal and national agendas.
  3. Personal response.

Evening Reflection

Are you still waiting on any particular promise of God to be fulfilled in your own life? Are you growing impatient still waiting on the Lord? Express to Him that you trust in His timing as well as His path of fulfilling His promise to you.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Prov. 3:5-6).

March 18, Monday

The AMI QT Devotionals from March 18-24 are provided by Pastor Peter Yoon of Kairos Christian Church in San Diego.  Peter is a graduate of U.C. Riverside and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.). He and his wife Jessica have three very active children: Nathan, Abigail, and Jason.  

 

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“The Mighty Hand of God”

Exodus 13:3-10 (NIV)

Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the Lord brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast. 4 Today, in the month of Aviv, you are leaving. 5 When the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites and Jebusites—the land he swore to your ancestors to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey—you are to observe this ceremony in this month: 6 For seven days eat bread made without yeast and on the seventh day hold a festival to the Lord. 7 Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders. 8 On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ 9 This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that this law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand. 10 You must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year.

I was born in Korea and immigrated to the U.S. when I was 8 years old.  Because I was so young then, I only have a few vague memories of my childhood years there. One of them resurfaced some years ago, during my visit to Korea, when I decided to eat something I hadn’t eaten since I left my motherland: “Beondegi” (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beondegi).

As an adult, the thought of eating boiled silkworm disgusted me; however, upon coming across a street vendor selling this “delicacy,” I just had to relive my childhood days. As my mouth chomped on my first scoop of boiled silkworm, so many childhood memories rushed back into my mind. I enjoyed reminiscing, but a scoop was all I could handle that day.

Food has a natural way of bringing back memories, doesn’t it?  Perhaps, that’s why the Lord used food to help the Israelites remember. Here, Moses is giving instructions on how the Israelites were to celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread. For seven days, they would eat bread without yeast, and on the 7th day they would hold a festival before the Lord. This celebration was not only to be observed by the people listening to Moses, but eventually it would be passed along to their children as well. Through this festival, as they ate unleavened bread, the Israelites would remember—they would remember how the Lord delivered their nation from slavery with “His mighty hand” (vs 3, 10). It was this “mighty hand” that delivered a nation of helpless slaves into becoming free people and eventually a blessed nation. At least once a year, the Israelites would eat and remember once again the incredible might of God’s hand.

By now, you may have realized that our own faith journey is also made of many ordinary days: no supernatural healings; no audible voice of God; no miraculous provisions falling from heaven. We are simply trekking along a slow and gradual progression of incremental sanctification that’s difficult to even quantify. In these seasons, it is easy for us to forget the “mighty hand” of our Lord. But our forgetfulness does not define God’s might and power.

Perhaps the next time communion is served at your church, you may want to pause and remember the might of God’s hand that delivered you from your own sinfulness and meaninglessness, thereby giving you a new life and purpose for the present age as well as in the age to come.

Prayer: Lord, thank You that Your Spirit is always with me and always at work within me. Help me to remember Your might even in my ordinary moments of my own faith. In Your name, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 10


Lunch Break Study

Read Luke 8:22-25: One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. 23 As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. 24 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. 25 “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”

Questions to Consider

  1. How does Luke accentuate the difference between Jesus and the disciples?
  2. What do you learn from Jesus’ ability to rebuke the wind and the raging waters?

Notes

  1. Luke tells his readers that Jesus actually falls asleep and remains sleeping until he was awakened by the frightened disciples.
  2. The “rebuke” does not mean that the wind and the sea are represented as demonic forces, but rather that Jesus is able to command even the forces of nature. God is described in the Old Testament as “rebuking” the sea, a demonstration of His sovereign control over all of nature. (Strauss, Mark. Luke: Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary)

Evening Reflection

Open up to Psalm 68:28 and pray these words from your own words to the Lord:  Summon your power, God; show us your strength, our God, as you have done before.

March 17, Sunday

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

“Don’t Live Without the Word”

2 Kings 23:3, 24-26 (NASB)

The king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD, and to keep His commandments and His testimonies and His statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to carry out the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people entered into the covenant. 24Moreover, Josiah removed the mediums and the spiritists and the teraphim and the idols and all the abominations that were seen in the land of Judah and in Jerusalem, that he might confirm the words of the law which were written in the book that Hilkiah the priest found in the house of the LORD. 25Before him there was no king like him who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him.

Some of us who follow a reading plan to  read the Bible in one year, have had times when we had absolutely no idea what we had just read; nonetheless, we were  content to mark off another 5 chapters from the reading chart. But King Josiah wasn’t like that. Upon discovering the Book of God’s Law that had been lost for a long time, he devoted himself to purify the land of Judah of its idolatry so that Judah’s ways would conform to what was written in God’s book. He read God’s Word to the people of Judah and led them to renew their commitment to walk in the way of the Lord. The majority of this chapter (vv. 4-20) records how Josiah removed idolatrous priests from the house of the LORD, removed altars that previous kings of Judah had built, burned vessels that were for Baal and Asherah worship, and more. Josiah truly turned to the Lord with all his heart, all his soul, and certainly, with all his might.

Though Josiah knew that God was going to “remove Judah and cast off Jerusalem” (23:27) because the generations of his forefathers had forsaken God, the Book of the Law (God’s Word) led Josiah to lead the nation back to God in his lifetime. He let God’s Word, which Judah had neglected for many years, define his course of action and his leadership. Though the outcome for Judah was sealed, Josiah was instrumental in preserving covenant faithfulness for Judah in his lifetime. In this way, Josiah was successful and Scripture records, “there was no king like him…nor did any like him arise after him” (23:25). Though he had no control over Judah’s future, he glorified God by faithfully keeping a covenant relationship with God.

The Word of God provides power for endurance and faithfulness. Nothing can nourish our souls and strengthen us to do the work of the Lord than the very words of God. If reading or listening to the Word of God is lacking in your daily spiritual life, ask the Lord today to renew your thirst and devotion for His Word. Don’t live with the Word.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, I desire for your commands and your Words to be near and dear to me. As your Word is able to equip me to do every good work, help me to spend time in your Word daily. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 8

March 16, Saturday

Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend

John 2:1-12

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; 2 and both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. 3 When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” 4 And Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” 5 His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” 6 Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing twenty or thirty gallons each. 7 Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. 8 And He said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the headwaiter.” So they took it to him. 9 When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter called the bridegroom, 10 and said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” 11 This beginning of His signs Jesus did in Cana of Galilee, and manifested His glory, and His disciples believed in Him.

In your small group, would you say you are vulnerable about your struggles? It takes great courage to be vulnerable. We may not be vulnerable for fear of feeling shame.

At the wedding in Cana, the shortage of wine was not simply a beverage issue; it was a shame issue. In the honor and shame culture of Jesus’ day, lack of wine at a wedding banquet exposed the married couple and their families to public shame.

By turning water into wine, Jesus saved the married couple from public shame. He allowed them to receive honor from the host and their guests. Though His hour had not yet come (2:4), He provided an unbelievable gift for this married couple. For Jesus to save one married couple from social shame was a small thing compared to what He would provide when His hour did come.

In light of “the hour” that was coming, Jesus knew He came to wipe away the shame of humanity. When His hour did come, He went to the cross, took our shame upon Himself, and suffered crucifixion, a shameful death. As the Word who had became flesh, He didn’t come to attain honor. Rather, Jesus came to bear our shame so we could have the honor of being children of God – fully approved and forgiven by God.

The issue is, we as believers often remain bound in shame, fearing disapproval and rejection. We fear that if we are fully seen for our sins and weaknesses, we will no longer be worthy of love and acceptance from God, or from people. We miss out on the freedom that Christ purchased for us, and often cut ourselves off from community. The beauty of genuine fellowship is the sense of belonging. Everyone matters! Fellowship is a safe place where we can share honestly and heal from shame and brokenness as we surround one another with prayer and encouragement.

Ask the Lord to help you commit to belonging to your small group and to also minister to your brothers and sisters as they openly share their lives with you.  

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, thank You that I share the honor of being your beloved child with my brothers and sisters. Thank You for reminding me that I can’t grow spiritually on my own. Help me to humbly and courageously share my life with the community You have given me. Thank You that You have also called me to minister to my brothers and sisters. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 6-7

March 15, Friday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“The Delay Before the Fulfillment”

Exodus 12:37-42

37 The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Sukkoth. There were about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children. 38 Many other people went up with them, and also large droves of livestock, both flocks and herds. 39 With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves. 40 Now the length of time the Israelite people lived in Egypt was 430 years. 41 At the end of the 430 years, to the very day, all the Lord’s divisions left Egypt. 42 Because the Lord kept vigil that night to bring them out of Egypt, on this night all the Israelites are to keep vigil to honor the Lord for the generations to come.

Genesis 15:12-14

12 As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. 13 Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. 14 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions.

In my freshman orientation class, my professor shared that the key to thriving in our college years would be based on our ability to accept delayed gratification. Thought it didn’t feel like an absolutely foreign or new concept, it was the first time someone guided me to pause and search how I would cope with delayed gratification if I were to face it in a new environment and life stage. Finding steadiness in delayed gratification is not only applicable for thriving in school, but can also apply to our life-long journey of faith. For Abraham and his descendents, the delays in receiving God’s promise served to develop their faith in God and increased their praises towards God.

Several generations before Israel’s exodus, God assured Israel’s forefather, Abraham, in the Genesis passage that He would indeed fulfill His promise of making Him a great nation and give him the  land He has chosen for His people. God gave Abraham insight that the hardship his descendants would face for many years will end in His fulfilled promise. The reality of delayed fulfillment was very evident in Abraham’s life, as well as in the life of his descendants. The 430 years of being in Egypt probably felt like an unending delay, but in hindsight, it was only a delay before the fulfillment. Abraham himself didn’t live to see the promised land or the great people his descendants had become, but God’s promise indeed was fulfilled and his descendants did come out of the foreign land with great possessions.  

In the process of fulfilling His good plans, God sets in place seasons of delay to produce in us greater faith, hope and character (Rom. 5:3-5). In fact, the delays and setbacks along the way are part of His promised blessings, so that we would be attuned to trust in Him and to declare His praises when the blessings come. If you are facing a season of waiting for an answered prayer, let David’s words in Psalm 27 encourage you this morning, “Wait for the Lord, be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord” (Ps. 27:14).

Prayer: Dear Father, I acknowledge your faithfulness and your goodness. I praise you because you are God who begins a good work in me and completes it. You not only bless me with Your provisions, but you also reveal to me Your character and faithfulness in seasons of waiting. God, I cherish even the  hardships that are leading me to draw closer to You today. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 5


Lunch Break Study

Read Romans 4:18-25. Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

Questions to Consider

  1. What is Paul referring to in this Romans passage?
  2. What can we learn about God’s promise through this passage?
  3. How are those who are in Christ also “Abraham’s offspring”?

Notes

  1. Paul is referring to the dialogue between God and Abraham in Genesis 15:1-6. With his own reasoning, Abraham inquired God if He was going to fulfill his promise of an heir through Abraham’s servant, Eliezer, since God didn’t give a son yet. However, God reassured him that He would indeed give him a son who is his own flesh and blood even though Sarah was barren and they were old in age.
  2. In Abraham’s case, God’s promise required him to surrender hope in his own ability, and to hope in God alone. “Against all hope” refers to Abraham and Sarah’s barrenness and old age, or any aspect of their circumstance that makes God’s promise seem impossible. Against all hope in their abilities, Abraham turned to hope in God.
  3. For those who are in Christ, we are also Abraham’s offspring because the righteousness of God is given to us in the same way as it was given to Abraham. Righteousness was credited to him based on his belief in God’s power to fulfill His promise. In the same way, we are credited with righteousness when we believe that God has the power to save us through Christ’s death and resurrection.

Evening Reflection

Genesis 15:1 “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”

In waiting for God’s promise of offspring and land, God assured Abraham (formerly, Abram) that He himself is Abraham’s shield and very great reward. Beyond the greatness of what he would inherit, God comforted Abraham that He is ultimately His reward and protection. How does God being “your shield, your very great reward” speak to you tonight?

March 14, Thursday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“A Meal that Nourishes Faith”

Exodus 12:23-27

For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you. 24 And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. 25 When you enter the land which the Lord will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. 26 And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.’” And the people bowed low and worshiped.

The Lent season has already started, and we are about five weeks away from Easter Sunday. This is a great time in the year to consider ways to prepare our hearts to remember the last week of Jesus’ earthly ministry before His death and the victory He won for us through the resurrection. Before we consider how we will make room in our schedules to recount the victory Jesus won for us, let’s look at how the Lord in the Old Testament taught the Israelites to remember His works through the Passover meal.

After they had prepared the Passover lamb for their deliverance and before the deliverance actually took place, God instituted the Passover meal as an ordinance that Israel should keep every year as a remembrance of God’s salvation. It would also serve to teach the future generations about God’s salvation for His covenant people. The key spiritual principle to draw out in this passage is from the phrase, “When you enter the land which the Lord will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite.” What is already apparent is that God will give Israel His promise. Israel can look forward to enjoying God’s promise and blessing, but obedience to God’s law, which in this case is the law to observe the Passover, will enable them to continuously live in God’s promise. For them to remain in the promised land for the long haul, they must hold fast to God’s rule and what He requires of them. Where there is grace, there is also a response of obedience required.

God requires His people to commit to observing the Passover, and “re-enacting” the night of their deliverance, because it will lead them to worship God and remember that He is the source of their salvation and the fountain of life. Observing this ordinance regularly will protect them from the temptation to trust in other gods, as they will see other powerful, successful nations worship their gods and be enticed to draw security from their gods instead of from God of Israel. Obeying the Passover ordinance will ascribe to God the worship that is worthy of Him, but the benefit is for the Israelites, for it will keep them steady and faithful to trust in God in their future battles.

How will you make room in your schedule in these next several weeks to remember the victory Jesus won for you? What are new blessings or promises that God is leading you to possess this year? In preparing for these new seasons, what habits do you want to build to regularly recount God’s goodness and making thanksgiving a regular part of your worship to Him?

Prayer: Dear Father, thank You that You are the God of my salvation! Thank You that You place spiritual habits in my life because they lead me back to you and remind me of how You have led me from the beginning until now. Preserve me from my own forgetfulness and tendency to wander. As You lead me to walk into Your plans and promises, teach me to obey what You command so that I can continuously remain in You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 4


Lunch Break Study

Read Joshua 1:3-7: Every place on which the sole of your foot treads, I have given it to you, just as I spoke to Moses. 4 From the wilderness and this Lebanon, even as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and as far as the Great Sea toward the setting of the sun will be your territory. 5 No man will be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I have been with Moses, I will be with you; I will not fail you or forsake you. 6 Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go.

Questions to Consider

  1. When and where is God saying these words to Joshua?
  2. What is God promising to Joshua?
  3. What is the most important task for Joshua?

Notes

  1. God is speaking to Joshua after Moses died and when the right time came for Joshua, as the appointed one, to lead the Israelites to possess the promised Land. The Israelites are on one side of the Jordan River and are preparing to cross over to the land.
  2. God is promising that the land which He has promised to give to the children of Abraham indeed belongs to them, even before they go in to physically possess the land. He not only promises the land but His presence and protection as well.
  3. Besides conquering the land, the most important task for Joshua is to keep God’s word close to him and to obey all that he has been taught through the Law. By holding onto God’s word, he will not only be able to conquer the land, but will also be able to continuously possess God’s promise and live in God’s promise.

Evening Reflection

Hebrews 13:15-16 Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

What key events and breakthroughs in your life could you give thanks for today? In what way would it breed hope for you regarding the future?

March 13, Wednesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“With Your Loins Girded”

Exodus 12:11-13

Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the Lord’s Passover. For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.

Romans 10:8-10

But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

When I was serving in East Asia, one precious moment that I will always cherish was witnessing several natives praying the sinner’s prayer or hearing them process why they want to get baptized. As they declared their faith in their own words, I got to witness new believers “cross from death to life” (Jn. 5:24). After this initial confession of faith, it would take several more steps for these baby Christians—with virtually no knowledge of Scripture—to truly comprehend that the free gift of salvation is available to them by faith, and not by performance, good works, or background. Once the Holy Spirit guides them to this truth, they cheerfully receive the good news by firmly believing in their hearts and sincerely confessing with their mouth.

In today’s passage, God instructs the Israelites to prepare to eat the Passover Lamb and to put some of the lamb’s blood on the doorpost of their home so that they will be passed over during the plague of the firstborn. This is to prepare for the impending judgment upon Egypt and for Israel’s deliverance from slavery. The emphasis in this passage is the manner in which God instructs the Israelites to eat the Passover lamb—“with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand.”

In ancient times, both men and women regularly wore tunics, and “girding up their loins” meant to hoist up the fabric above their knees so they could have mobility to run or do the labor. Along with putting on sandals and holding their staff, these actions represent readiness to receive the Lord’s deliverance and is an act of faith, declaring their trust in Him that He will indeed bring them out of the bondage of slavery and that the blood of the Lamb is a sign of the Lord’s Passover.  In the Old Testament, this was the way God prepared His people to receive their deliverance from Egypt.

When it comes to our salvation in Christ, the New Testament teaches us to receive salvation by using our mouth and believing in our heart the works of Jesus. Though we are not in the same situation as the Israelites, we can find insight in the Exodus passage for our own faith because the manner in which they ate the Passover lamb should be the posture in our heart by which we receive not only the grace of salvation, but also the daily grace we need for living out our faith.

So, in what ways do you think the Lord is leading you to act “with your loins girded” to show your readiness and faith in His works?  Give it a prayerful thought.

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank You for Your great salvation! As You have led me to receive Your salvation by faith and confession, help me to continue to receive Your daily grace with faith and empower me not to rely on my own strength. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Acts 3


Lunch Break Study

Read Deuteronomy 9:3-7: I Know therefore today that it is the Lord your God who is crossing over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and He will subdue them before you, so that you may drive them out and destroy them quickly, just as the Lord has spoken to you. “Do not say in your heart when the Lord your God has driven them out before you, ‘Because of my righteousness the Lord has brought me in to possess this land,’ but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is dispossessing them before you. It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. “Know, then, it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people. Remember, do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness; from the day that you left the land of Egypt until you arrived at this place, you have been rebellious against the Lord.

Questions to Consider

  1. When and where is Moses saying these words to the Israelites?
  2. What is Moses’ main message?
  3. What does Moses want the Israelites to remember?

Notes

  1. Moses is speaking to the Israelites in the land of Moab, across from the Jordan River. He is preparing them to go into Canaan to possess the land that God has promised to give them.
  2. Moses is warning the Israelites not to mislead themselves to think that they are receiving the Promised Land based on their own doing or righteous works. They are going to possess the land because God Himself “is crossing over before you” (vs. 3) and He is using Israel as His holy nation to execute judgment on these nations. The Israelites of recipients of God’s promise and grace.
  3. He wants the Israelites to remember that they have actually been rebellious and acted in disbelief towards God between the time they left Egypt up until now. Later in chapter 9, Moses explains that the Lord remained merciful and slow to anger because he prayed on their behalf; that is, Moses, pleaded with the Lord to remember His promise to Israel’s forefathers and asked God to display His ability to fulfill His promises (9:28-29).

Evening Reflection

The Passover meal in Exodus signifies the exodus from Egypt and was not the exodus itself. It served as a way to remember and think of the Lord’s salvation. Today, we remember the Lord’s salvation through taking communion as a community of believers. How do you prepare your heart as you partake in communion each time?