Overview of Exodus

Overview of Exodus

Exodus has shown us so much about God's heart for His people. As we've learned more about the Israelites and their journey, we've seen example after example of the Lord's faithfulness, provision, justice, mercy, peace and guidance. This book acts as a reminder to us that we serve a God who is never failing. He is passionate about his people and He's willing to lead us through all the hard places in order to bring us back to Him.

As Christians in the 21st century, it's all too easy for us to disregard the Old Testament. There's a lot of heavy, sometimes strange stuff in there and it can be a daunting task to really try to understand what the Lord is trying to communicate to us through those books. Let's let this journey through the book of Exodus act as a reminder that Old Testament is still a place in which we can discover truths about the Lord, His goodness, and His heart for us.

Continue to pray through what we've learned from Exodus and ask the Lord to give you even more grace and wisdom in areas of your life where you may feel lost or alone. Let this book serve as a reminder to you that no matter your circumstances, He is a father who is faithful to His children.

 

Author | Madelyn Livingston

Exodus 34

Exodus 34

By the time of chapter 34, God has already given the people of Israel a covenant, and they've already broken it. The covenant promised that if they kept the commandments of the covenant, they will reap the benefits of the covenant. That was the deal, simple enough. But instead they fell in love with what they could produce rather than what God was wanting to produce, by building a golden calf and worshipping that instead.

This passage is about God's mercy. The fact that we find Moses up on the mountain a second time, discussing the issue with God, when God really should have followed through with the original deal of the covenant and revoked the inheritance, is proof of that mercy.

And what's more, while Moses is up on the mountain God gives Moses this description of Himself in verse 6 as "a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness..."

Moses leaves the mountain with a covenant for the second time. When he comes down, his face is so radiant from being in God's presence that he has to wear a veil around the Israelites because it freaked them out too much.
God gave the Israelites a promise, they messed it up, and what comes after that? God's mercy. God's provision. God's steadfast love. God's holy presence.

We don't have to be afraid of feeling far from God and then coming back to a God that's going to half-receive us, or half-forgive us, or only give us half of what He promised before. He doesn't just give up the people He loves, He works through it with us, loving us the whole time.
Next time you feel far from God or feel like you messed up, remember His nature. Remember Psalm 34:5, "Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed." Remember that God's response isn't shaming you, it's loving you and over and over again and guiding you to the complete fullness of life that He wants for you. God is not about to let our sins and our mistakes get in the way of His promises to us.

Prayer

God, thank you that you are merciful and that You're never going to give up on me. When I turn away from You, remind me of who You are and that You're never going to give half of Your promises to me.

 

Author | Kelley Losinger

Exodus 33

Exodus 33

In this passage, the story is being told of Moses and the time he was instructed by God to lead the people from Egypt to the promised land. When God speaks to Moses, he begins to reprimand the Israelites and He tells Moses to let them know that they are a group of hard-headed people. The Israelites choose to strip themselves of their jewelry before they continue their journey toward the land of milk and honey. Moses then speaks of the tent that he used to meet God in and speak with Him, as the other people stood at attention outside of their tents.

Moses speaks of one specific time in the tent when he came to God and asked him why He tells him that he is so special and asks him to lead His people yet he won't let him in on his plans. Moses believes that if he knew the big picture of God's plans, he would understand why he is so special to God and he would continue to be special. God replies that his presence will lead the way on this journey and Moses replies with the fact that if God is for some reason not leading this, he wants it to end immediately. He questions how he and the people can know for sure that God is with them, and to this God replies that one must simply trust and know that His presence will pass right in front of them, for no one can both see Him and live.

This directly applies to how we live life with God now that Jesus' time on Earth has come and gone. We must live with a blind faith. We have to rely on our FAITH that He is there and that he hears each and every one of our prayers. Similarly, we may find ourselves called by the Lord to take on things that seem way out of our reach or like something that we would never be able to accomplish. It is in these times that we must remember that only God can see the bigger picture. He is the one who has everything planned out and knows exactly what will happen and how we will handle situations.

When times are tough and we feel as though we may be way out of our league with what God has called us to do, we must remember that He would never call us to something that He wasn't absolutely sure we were capable of handling. We may not be capable by our own power, but through Him we can do anything He calls us to. It is also important for us to remember that we serve an almighty, powerful, and extremely wise God who knows what the absolute best for us is. Though we may think we could be more useful if we knew every part of His plan and exactly how we were supposed to execute it, He calls us to simply trust in Him, for He knows much more than we ever could. He calls us to have faith that He has everything under control.

Prayer

Dear Lord,
We thank you for this day and for all that you carry us through each and every day. We come to you today with all of our stresses and all of our worries and all of our doubts and ask that you just immediately take those off of our shoulders. We pray that today you give us a humble heart and remind us that you are an all-knowing, mighty and powerful God who knows everything we are going to do before we do it. I pray that you will give us peace in knowing that you only call us to what we are capable of through you, and if we fully rely on you, you can and will carry us through anything. I pray that you give us the strength to be able to defend your name, though we may never see your face, and that we may defend it with all of our hearts, for there is nothing that could be more powerful and more deserving of our lives. Thank you again, Lord. And we ask this all in Jesus' name, Amen.

 

Author | Haley Hall

Jonathan & David | Christlike Friendship

Jonathan & David | Christlike Friendship

As we continue this series on community at Wesley, there are two characters in the Bible we can look to for a good example of what God intends friendship to be like.

The two are David and Jonathan—God’s appointed King of Israel and the son of the former king of Israel, Saul. The story of their friendship is mostly contained within 1 Samuel 18 to 20.   

The very first line in 1 Samuel 18, where the two are introduced together, shows us just how deep and loyal friendships should be. The Bible [ESV] literally says that the soul of Jonathan was “knit” to the soul of David, and “Jonathan loved [David] as himself.”

Knit, according to dictionary.com, means “to join closely and firmly, as members or parts.” Biblical friendship should contain a deep emotional connection, a level of vulnerability that goes beyond casual talk. It goes straight to knowing the other person’s heart and letting your heart be known by the other person.

There are a few characteristics to how Jonathan loves David well as a friend that I want to highlight here.

1.     Jonathan sacrifices for his friend.

Four verses into their friendship, Jonathan takes his robe and puts it on David’s back. He gives his own armor to David, including his sword, bow and belt. In friendships, we are called to sacrifice. We sacrifice time when we don’t feel like giving it. We hold our tongues and listen when we’d rather talk. Friendship requires sacrifice.  

2.     Jonathan stands with David in the good and the bad.

David, who took down Goliath, was anointed by God in battle. Jonathan’s dad, Saul, was very jealous of this and the attention David received because of his success.

A few different times through 1 Samuel 18 to 20, Saul plots to kill David. Because Saul was Jonathan’s dad, you would think Jonathan would defer to him, for fear or otherwise. But he doesn’t. He knows what Saul wanted to do was wrong, so he stood up for his friend, reminding his dad that David had done nothing to deserve punishment by death.

We are called to stand up and fight for our friends, even when it’s difficult. We can pray for them. We can offer encouragement and advice or lend them an ear.     

3.     Jonathan rejoices and weeps with David.      

When David was anointed as the next king—meaning Jonathan would no longer be next in line to be king—it could have been really easy for him to be jealous of David. Instead, he loved David well.

We are called to be truly happy for friends when good things happen for them. We celebrate them well even when it’s something we might really want for ourselves.

In the same way, we are called to mourn with friends when there is something or someone they have lost. Jonathan literally sits and weeps with David when he finds out that he will have to flee from Saul. We should be just as present in our friends’ lives in the bad times as the good.

Jonathan’s love for David is characterized by sacrifice, steadfastness and a deep understanding of who David was and what he was going through.

This love between Jonathan and David is but a glimpse of what Christ’s love is like for each one of us.

God made the ultimate sacrifice for us when he died on the cross. He made that sacrifice so he could have intimate relationship with us. God loves us when things are going well, and He also loves us when we make mistakes. He loves us whether we feel lovable or not. And God hears our cries. He won’t leave you where you are if it’s not good.

He is our ultimate friend and so much more.      

 

Author | Lindsey Conway

Exodus 23-24

Exodus 23-24

In chapter 23, Moses explains the laws of justice and mercy, sets Sabbath laws and explains how God sent an angle to bring them to the place in which he has prepared.. We finish things off in chapter 24 by the confirmation of this covenantThere are a lot of meat and potatoes in these two chapters, so let's get to it. We start off in Exodus 23 with the laws of justice and mercy. These laws are just as important today as they were back then. If were deny justice to anyone then we are no better than those who committed the crime. We are also told that we must be impartial to who receives it. Often, we associate the twisting of justice in favor of the rich, but here we are told that we must also not influence it in favor of the poor as well. We cannot give into the demands of what the public wants. Just because the opinions of a crowd may all be one way does make it the right way. In shifting from justice to mercy we are instructed to help our enemies when they are struggling. That is something that is really hard to grasp because I think deep down we want to see those that hate us struggle. It’s a tough pill to swallow helping those that we know won't help us but that’s what Jesus would still do. As the saying goes, you catch more flies with honey.

The last part of this short section stuck out to me because we have seen this take place in the United States over the last few years with the large flow of refugees coming in. Verse 9 "Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt'. Yikes. Every time I start to feel any negative emotion towards foreigners I have to put myself in their position and ask 'how would I feel right now if this were me'? The answer to that would be scared and confused. I do not want anyone to feel that way when they are around me and anyone who claims to be a Christian should be the same way.

The Israelite's were told to pay attention to an angle sent by God and listen to what he says and not to rebel against him. They were brought into a land where other gods and idols were worshiped. Today we are also around those who worship false idols and it is very tempting to give in to those things of the world. We cannot conform to these standards and idols that are not of God. God's word should dictate how we live.

"28I will send the hornet ahead of you to drive the Hivites, Canaanites and Hittites out of your way. 29But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals too numerous for you". The Israelite's have to constantly be in obedience to God in order for the things he has promised to happen. If it were all just given to them in one go then what would they have learned or earned? Like the Philadelphia '76ers, you gotta trust the process.

All of chapter 24 is the ratification ceremony of this covenant God had created with the Israelite's. This was done by the sacrificing of an animal because God deemed sin worthy of death. Instead of the Israelite's killing one another, God allowed animal substitutes for the sinner. This was changed though with the death of Jesus. It is hard to describe how it makes me feel when I think about what Jesus did for me on that cross. Seeing what had to be done back then in order to be forgiven of sin really does make one appreciate what was done by Jesus and becoming that perfect sacrifice.

Everyday we are presented with opportunities to show mercy and seeing justice be fulfilled.They might not be these big grandiose moments but that should not take away from what needs to be done. Be kind to your neighbor and even the ones who hate you. The biggest step we can take from here though is to not take for granted what was done by Jesus for us and dive deeper into our relationship with God.

 

Author | Sam Carroll

Exodus 19-20

Exodus 19-20

Imagine. You’ve been wandering in the desert for three months. You fled a life of slavery but freedom has been a confusing journey. Your leader seems a little shaky but this is your only option.

This is the situation the Israelites find themselves in right before they receive the 10 commandments.

They were a distressed people looking for answers. And God responds.

With Mount Sinai as His medium and Moses as His messenger, God responds.

As a preface to the most popular set of rules in the Western world, God tells Moses,

“You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5).
Then He declares,

“Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people (Exodus 19:10).

A reminder, a promise & a command.
Remember what I saved you from, I promise this is where I am taking you, now follow me.

After the people prepare themselves God shows up in Exodus 20 with power and glory and delivers the 10 commandments with flare.
The Christian life is full of Exodus 20 moments. Moments when God descends like a dense cloud and life looks different from that moment on.

But the Christian life is also full of Exodus 19 moments - when life is a confusing wilderness and all you have are distant memories of former deliverance.

God’s faithfulness is the same in both situations. He is there to remind, promise and command next steps.
Remember God’s faithfulness in your wilderness. He is ready to remind you what He has saved you from, promise you more than you can imagine and tell you where to go next. Even if it’s a small step, take it. He will show up again, and again.

Prayer

Lord give me faith that you are with me in the wilderness. Remind me of where I was was, where I am going and what I can do now. Show me your faithfulness good times and bad. Thank you for your faithfulness. You never fail. Amen.

 

Author | Claire Jordan
 

Exodus 18

Exodus 18

In this passage, Moses emphasizes the good that can come from taking advice from those wiser than us, relying on the support of our community, and ultimately placing our biggest burdens on the Lord. Moses spends all of his time each day judging and settling disputes for people, leaving no time for anything else. His father-in-law advises him to do a few things, the first of which is to bring these disputes to God and let Him make his will known. The second is to delegate most of these judgements to honest and trustworthy men to relieve the burden on Moses. Moses listens to him and does just that.

When we try to do everything ourselves or believe that we can handle difficult tasks without assistance, we're not doing any good for ourselves. We'll run into stress, exhaustion, and a lack of both physical and mental rest if we're not accepting help from others or asking the Lord for His help with what we're struggling through. Asking for or accepting help can be a scary thing, but it is usually the best thing we can do.

If something in our lives is burdensome, whether it is tangible or not, we can look to the different relationships in our lives. First, we can ask the Lord to take on any struggles in our lives and ask for his help and guidance. We can also lean on our community and open up to a few close friends to seek their advice and support. It is not only good to talk to friends, but also to seek the wisdom of someone older who has maybe dealt with similar situations, no matter how big or small. When we lean on those who love us, including the Lord, big transformation can happen - it's just a matter of taking those initial steps to ask for and follow advice.

 

Author | Caitlin Cooper

Exodus 16-17

Exodus 16-17

The Israelites left Egypt about a month and a half ago. They are traveling from Elim to the wilderness of Sin. As they travel they complain to Moses and Aaron and wonder why they couldn't have died in comfort of food back in Egypt instead of starving out in the wilderness. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, I am about to rain bread from heaven for you, and the people shall go out and gather a day's portion every day.” And this is exactly what God did.

In Exodus 17 as the Israelites are traveling they complain again saying there is no water to drink. They ask Moses again why he brought them out there to suffer. God then tells Moses “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And that is exactly what God did.


This passage says a lot about God’s faithful and trusting in what God’s provision, but it also says a lot about the power of reflection and testimony. There are so many times when we “complain” about our circumstances. Whether its a bad grade on a test, family problems, or because you actually don’t have money to buy food for yourself, we get discouraged about the things that we don't have. We look at our situation and define our lives based on a worldly perspective. The thing is that God doesn't look at our lives with a worldly perspective. He sees the things that we think we are lacking and sees an opportunity for us to not only trust Him, but also for Him to provide in ways that are better than we can even dream of.

So this is where remembering and reflecting comes in to play. In order to trust God for the future we have to look to the past. In the passage the Israelites were clearly not remembering what God had done in the past for them, because they were complaining for water just a chapter God had provided all the food they needed. We have to remember the ways that He has shown up in His fullness for us in the past. We have to ask God what the truth of the situation is and believe in His consistency. When we remember and reflect on what God has done for us so we can walk more confidently into the future knowing the truth that God provides. He knows us so well that He knows exactly what we need.

Pray that the Holy Spirit would remind you of the things God has done for you, and for real faith to believe in His goodness. Ask that He would make you completely reliant on Him for provision, because God has a life that is literally better for us than anything we could dream of!

 

Author | Kourtney Axelberg

Testimony Blog | Alyssa Kumle

In this video, Alyssa describes how God brought restoration to her relationship with her older sister.

Exodus 14

Exodus 14

This is a story that many of us have heard if we grew up in the church. The Israelites, being led by Moses, are leaving Egypt. The Lord tells Moses to make the Israelites to turn back so as the confuse the Pharaoh. The Pharaoh then sends his army to pursue the Israelites. In this pursuit, the Israelites cross the Red Sea with walls of water on either side of them, while the Egyptian army is swept away and killed in the sea.One of the most obvious points about this passage is God's incredible power partnered with his heart to fight for His people.

We need to actively try to wrap our minds around the idea that the God of the universe who is capable of literally anything is fighting for us. Too often when things don't go exactly as we think that they should we begin to question God's motives. In reality He knows what is ultimately best for us because He literally knows everything, while we know so little. He also isn't opposed to giving Himself some much deserved glory along the way. Situations like this usually lead to insight that that will affect the way we look at God, the people around us, or ourselves for the rest of our lives.

There are two main characters that we can relate to within this story and they are the Israelites and Moses. In different times of our lives we can relate to one or the other. Moses throughout the story can be seen listening intently to the Lord’s voice and being obedient to His commands. However this is made difficult because of the resistance and questioning by the Israelites. Moses overcomes their resistance and stays faithful and obedient to the Lord. In 1 Corinthians 1:18, Paul describes the gospel as foolishness to those who don’t know it. Often times the Lord is going to lead you into things that people are going to question and push back against.

The key to overcoming this is relying so much on the Lord that He leads all of your steps and brushing off the resistance from others because ultimately they do not know what is best for you and the Kingdom. The next character that I think many of us relate to more often is the Israelites. The Israelites are full of doubt the entire time. It is only until the end, when God sweeps away Pharaoh's army, when their trust in the Lord and Moses is restored. Naturally as humans we want physical evidence of things. This is a good thing most of the time, but it should not be the way the we use to measure God’s trustworthiness.

The way that God works is rarely going to make sense to us in the moment, but we need to have faith that He is all knowing and all powerful and so freaking good. Until we truly believe this and live in this, we will continue to be like the Israelites placing physical signs on a pedestal in our faith with the Lord.

 

Author | Madeline Current

Exodus 6:28-29; 7:1-6

Exodus 6:28-29; 7:1-6

In the end of Exodus 6, God instructs Moses to tell Pharaoh everything He was about to tell him. Moses argued with the Lord, with his first response asking God why Pharaoh would ever listen to him. This is important because this shows the fear Moses had in trusting the Lord. He doubted his ability to ever hold any influence or authority with Pharaoh because all he could focus on was what he lacked. Fast forward to Exodus 7, and God tells Moses that he is going to make him seem like God to Pharaoh, and his brother Aaron would be his prophet.

Despite how much Moses doubted himself and his ability to do what God asked of him, God still used Moses. God told Moses exactly what He would do in order for him to be powerful and listened to by Pharaoh. No matter our doubts or how powerless we feel, God can still use us. As children of God, we are fully equipped because we walk with the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us. God was not intimidated or worried by the first response Moses had, rather He responded with exactly how he would use Moses so that he would not have to worry about Pharaoh listening to him. Moses and Aaron did just as God had commanded them. God just asks us to listen to His voice and be obedient the best we know how. He is not worried about us getting it wrong. Rather, He calls us to step into and walk in the authority He has given us because we are His children.

What does it look like for you to be obedient to what God is telling you? Ask God what is keeping you from walking in the authority He has said you walk in because you are His child. Identify any areas of your life you feel like you are lacking, and ask God what He has to say about them. God wants to use you in powerful ways to advance His kingdom, no matter how little or powerless you feel. He just asks us to be willing.

 

Author | Jamie Cherf

Exodus 6:1-12

Exodus 6:1-12

In this passage, God establishes a promise with Moses that He will bring the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt. In this moment, God reminds Moses of who He revealed Himself to be to Abraham, Issac and Jacob, which is God Almighty, or the Hebrew name El Shaddai. It is by God's power, because He is almighty, that He will bring the Israelites out of Egypt. At the end of the passage in verse 12, Moses says "why would Pharaoh listen to me, since I speak with faltering lips?" Because God is with him, even with his weakness, Moses will be able to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. The power of God is most beautifully displayed through our weakness. And Moses' weakness reminds us who really brings the Israelites out of Egypt.

This same God who brought the Israelites out of Egypt, who parted the Red Sea, will do the same and even greater things for us. He wants to part the Red Sea in your life, whatever that may be. Many of us have experienced and know God to be a protector or a provider, but not as many have experienced God as Almighty. We tend to try to solve problems in our own strength. But God hears your groaning and wants to help you. He is sitting there in the situation with you, waiting for you to take them to Him.

If there is a sin you struggle with, bring it to God and let him give you the power to overcome it. If you have trouble letting go of anger or bitterness, bring it to God and let Him help you forgive someone. Bring shame and condemnation to God and let Him set you free. Anything you have trouble dealing with in your life, bring it to God and let him begin a process in you that leads to freedom and ultimately to you taking back whatever your "promised land" looks like.

 

Author | Lindsey Conway

Agape Love

Agape Love

In November, we are going to start a series about community called “#squadgoals.” The hope is that we would learn the best ways to love the people in our lives through this series. However, before we can learn to love others well, it is important to understand how God first loved us. 1 John 4:19 says “We love because he first loved us”, meaning that love is something we can mimic because we are made in the image of God.

The Four Loves

Love, by definition, is an intense feeling of deep affection towards someone else. In the Bible, there are four types of love. The first is eros, romantic love; second is storge, love between parents & children, brothers & sisters, and blood relatives; and the third is philia, an emotional and compassionate love between close friends.

The fourth and final love is called agape. You might have heard of this one before, because it is the love that God has towards people. Agape is an unconditional, sacrificial, and selfless love that can only come from God.

In our broken humanity, agape is impossible. Despite this, Jesus still calls us his bride and His beloved church. That can be celebrated regardless of where we are in our journeys.

A great example of Agape love can be found in the Gospel of John. One day Jesus went up to the Mount of Olives, and then returned to a temple, finding a woman who was going to be stoned for adultery. However, Jesus did something completely different. Take a look:

“And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them,"Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her,"Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said,"Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more" (John 8:7-11 ESV).

Like what??? Who does that? In any of our Earthly standards, it doesn’t make sense. Even in the context of the Bible, the “right” thing to do would have been to stone the woman. But Jesus, in his infinite wisdom, said “Neither do I condemn you”. In order to fulfill the law, he had to be unconditionally compassionate. There’s no way around it.

What Agape Looks Like for Us

Now, having faith and taking steps of courage to believe in the agape of Christ is a whole other ball game. Or, more like half of it.

To start, you have to read your Bible. Read, read, read Scripture. Also, it is really helpful for me to pray before I begin to read because it’s through prayer that the Holy Spirit moves to bring his words to life and personal application. For me, it has taken years to even see the beginning fruits of Jesus’ love in my life, so it takes time! But it is so worth the process.

Next, there is no formula! Rest, relax, and have fun! For some, growing in agape might happen overnight, while for others, it could take months and years to see 25% breakthrough. But that’s okay! Seeing victory and freedom in your journey is what matters. Let sin die in your life, and through that dead sin and Christ’s living word, seeds planted in you throughout your life will grow into a beautiful oak tree.

Lastly, have courage to love everyone from a stranger at Wesley, to your best, best, best friend you have known since birth, to even your rival on your soccer team from high school. Serve them to the best of your ability and always know your limits in serving. Having a servant’s heart and a compassionate one at that will never cease to show agape for Christ’s bride, the church body.

Closing

In “The Lion King”, there was a scene when Simba talks to the ghost of Mufasa in heaven, and Mufasa’s voice is full of compassion and authority, and reminds him of his true identity. Not the one his people gave him of an outcast and a liar. Instead, Mufasa tells Simba that he is a king, and he is loved by his father: Simba is a bold, courageous lion, and he eventually becomes what he was destined to be through agape. For us, the same is true. The Holy Spirit lives in us, and putting our faith in him gives us strength and helps us become the son or daughter God created us to be. Jesus didn’t have to come to earth to die for us, but he chose to! That means he desires relationship with us more than we know so he could bridge the gap we made, and be a family through Christ. Nothing more beautiful than that, right?

 

Author | Brad Schiebel

Exodus 5

Exodus 5

When Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and demanded that he let the Israelites go as God instructed, Pharaoh's heart was immediately hardened and he refused because he did not know God. Not only that, but He also became so angry at this notion that he ordered the Egyptian slave drivers to stop gathering straw for the Israelite slaves to make bricks. He demanded that their brick quota remain constant, and that they should be beaten "if" they fell short. Since they now had to gather their own straw from all over Egypt, completing their work was nearly impossible.

Essentially, the Israelites were being beaten every day no matter how hard they worked. They became furious with Moses and Aaron for trying to appeal to Pharaoh in the first place. They believed their lives would have been better if Pharaoh was never challenged. Even Moses pleads to the Lord in verse 23 and asks why He would bring him and the rest of His people to such misery. He cries to the Lord saying “Why, Lord, have you brought trouble on your people? Ever since I went to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on them, and you have not rescued your people at all."

You see, when God told Moses and Aaron to go before Pharaoh and demand the release of the Israelites, they probably assumed that the Almighty God would make it happen with no hindrance. They never expected opposition. So, when trouble came, they all wished they could have remained in the familiar bondage they had been before because it was easier then. They were ready to accept defeat instead of continuing to believe in God and remember His promise.

How many times have we done this? How often do we ask God for freedom and deliverance from different types of bondage in our lives, and then back down when it’s more work than we anticipated? Isn’t it tempting sometimes to pretend like we can stay comfortable in darkness because fighting for abundance seems too hard? 

It’s important to clarify that God promises us freedom and victory over all things, but He never promises us that it will be easy. Our inheritance as His children is the authority to be free from darkness in this world, but we only get to receive it when we fully surrender what we think the process should look like. More often than not, when Satan sees that you are on the path to freedom, he will come at you harder than ever before. He will use every piece of ammo he has to try and keep you from your Promised Land. In these times, you have to remember that God is bigger than your present circumstances. Nothing threatens a promise made by God

Sometimes rescue is immediate, but a lot of times it is a process. It is always worth the fight. It is always worth believing in. It is always worth waiting for. Rescue is always coming.

 

Author | Meredith Ashburn

Exodus 4:1-17

Exodus 4:1-17

In this passage, we see the conversation between Moses and God right after God called Moses to set his people free from Egypt. Moses disputes this calling three times, first by saying that nobody will believe he is sent by God. He then uses the excuse that he isn't qualified, as he is not eloquent and he is slow of speech. His final dispute is simply a plea for God to use anybody else but him. God, of course, has an answer to each of these.

First, God tells Moses that he will give him signs that show God's power; God's power over creatures (the staff and the snake), his power over man (the leprous hand), and his power over nature (the water becoming blood). God then tells Moses that He himself will be Moses's mouth and teach him what to say. And in response to Moses's final plea, God gives Moses his brother as an instrument to speak to Pharaoh.

Moses lived thousands of years ago, and I think we make the same excuses that he did in our own lives today. We, as followers of Jesus, are called to share the gospel and make disciples. Often, we fall short of that calling from God, and we give God the same disputes that Moses did.

It is very easy for us to say, "They won't believe what I tell them about God. They already have their own opinion, their own thoughts, and there's no way they would believe in my God." And God gives us the same answer he gave Moses. He has given us his own Spirit, living within us, that has the power to do the same things that Jesus did. He has given us every spiritual blessing, and immense authority to show his power in the world. We can pray, we can heal, we can prophecy, we can teach. All of those are expressions of God's power, not our own. God is saying to us today, "If they don't believe your words about me, then I will show them my power through you."

We also make the same excuse that Moses makes about his speech. When we feel God call us to talk to someone specific about the gospel, it is easy for us to say, "What if I mess up the gospel? I'm not good at explaining things. I'm not a good teacher. I'm not a very outgoing person when I talk. I don't have a voice that people want to listen to." God gives us the same answer he gave Moses: He is our mouth! He is our tongue! He will guide us and teach us what to say. We speak out of his power, not our own ability. And sometimes, when we're not convinced of those first two answers, we just ask God to use someone else. Someone more qualified. Someone more bold. Anyone but me. And God gives us the same answer he gave Moses. Especially here at Wesley, he has surrounded us with other people to help us in what he has called us to do. Often, when we don't believe we are qualified to do the work that God wants us to, God will place people in our life that will stand by us, help us, encourage us, and push us towards God.

Go share the gospel. Every excuse that we can make to not share the good news of Jesus Christ is rivaled by an all powerful God who gives us everything we need to do what he says. Be encouraged and trust the fact that God does not call the qualified, he qualifies the called.

Prayer

God, Thank you for how good you are to us. Thank you for your grace. Would you give us the trust and confidence that you will teach us how to share the gospel? Would you give us faith, and would that faith lead to us sharing the good news with every student on this campus? We acknowledge that we can't do anything without you, so would you come and help us? We love you. Amen.

Author | Hunter MacInnis

Exodus 3

Exodus 3

Chapter 3 of Exodus is full of epic Bible moments! For some brief context, the Israelites are currently enslaved in Egypt, and Moses (an Israelite raised by a princess of Egypt) has grown up and seen the harsh conditions of his people. He takes it up with the Pharaoh, and it goes poorly, so Moses flees to Midian to live with relatives. Years pass, and Moses is a shepherd tending his sheep near Mount Sinai. He sees a bush catch fire, but it is not being burned up, and then He hears the voice of the Lord call his name. This tells us three things about God right off the bat-- that he can perform miracles, He knows us by name, and He desires to speak to us.

Moses responds, and he is first instructed to "take of [his] sandals, for [he] is standing on Holy Ground." Here, God is calling Moses to reverence of who God is and recognition of what He is doing. God then says that He has seen His people's oppression and heard their cries, and He has come to rescue his people from slavery and lead them a Promised Land, "a land flowing with milk and honey." Again, God reveals aspects of His character to us. Though He is the God of the universe, He not only hears His people but he also chooses to respond. He acts. But He doesn't simply stop at the act of removing people from bondage. He frees them, and he takes it one step further: He brings them into abundance.

Anything would have been better than living in slavery for the Israelites, but God tells them their Promised Land isn't just fine-- it is a land full of excess, "flowing with milk and honey." God then surprises Moses in the midst of His grand promise-- that Moses is going to be a part of the plan. He will be the one to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. And Moses gives a very normal response: "But who am I to do this?" Again, God reveals who He is. Literally. He doesn't just say that Moses will be fine and that he's got everything He needs to do this on his own, but God responds that He will be with Moses throughout all of it.

The thing God is calling Moses to isn't something that can be done on his own. Instead, Moses must rely on God to be with him the whole time. Here God reveals His name to Moses (for the first time recorded in the Bible): "Yahweh." Translated to "Jehovah" and "I Am." He identifies Himself as THE LORD of the Universe and of us.

All of these different characteristics that God reveals about Himself to Moses through the burning bush, the promised exodus of His people, and His name are so important to us. Because God is steadfast and faithful, His character doesn't change. He is the same God now that He was to Moses and the Israelites. He performed miracles then, and He performs them now. He knew His people's names and He spoke to them, and He calls us by name and speaks to us here today. He heard the people's cries, and He hears our prayers and petitions. He wants to act, to intervene, to take us from bondage, to freedom, to abundance. He isn't satisfied until we are set free. He moves in our lives, and He also calls us to move. He is powerful enough to do it all on His own, but He is kind enough to let us join in His plans because He simply wants to be with us. And because His power is perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), it's okay if we ask, "Who am I to do what you're calling me to?" He isn't afraid of our doubts or insecurities or fears. Because Yahweh is with us the whole time, when God calls us to something, we can say yes--not because of our strength or abilities, but because of His.

God is calling us to take Him at His word and believe He is who He says He is. As you read this passage, ask yourself which aspects of God are easy to believe, and which aren't. Ask God to reveal to you the parts of His character that you have trouble believing. Next, spend some time praying about the things God is calling you to. He calls us to things every day-- the big things and the small things. Surrender those over to Him, and begin looking for "I AM" in them. In the places you may be insufficient, where is God's sufficiency coming through? Begin to believe that He is the one that makes you capable.

Prayer

God, we thank you for who you are, and that we don't have to worry about that changing. Thank you for your faithfulness, for refusing to settle for leaving us in bondage, but that freedom and abundance are promises we can hold you to. God, we ask you for miracles. To hear your voice. To feel your presence, and bow in reverence on the Holy Ground you have given us. Give us faith to believe in who you say your are, and courage to step into our callings in the midst of our doubts and fears. Amen.

 

Author | Erin Gilleland

Exodus 1-2

Exodus 1-2

One thing that is consistent throughout the breadth of scriptures, both Old and New Testament, is that the people of God will often find themselves at odds with the culture and society around them. In chapter one, Pharaoh sees the physical advancement of God's people and the Egyptians then react in a way that is typical of many people groups throughout history; subjugate them before they become too powerful to control. The Hebrews become enslaved to Egypt and Pharaoh orders the midwives to put their sons to death to prevent any sort of army from being formed.

That plan might have worked out for Pharaoh but it says in that passage that the midwives feared God and delivered the boys anyway, telling Pharaoh, "the Israelite women are too strong and give birth before the midwives come." This sheds a really interesting insight on what it means to "fear the Lord." The Hebrew word for "fear" that's used in the Old Testament usually refers to having awe and reference to God. It doesn't intimidate God's people in this instance but rather empowers them to act in defiance of the ruling powers over them. Even under the rule of Pharaoh, the Israelite women understood their God was more powerful and remembered the things He had promised.

When Pharaoh orders the murder of the Israelite boys, we still see this strength in the mother of Moses, and when the infant is discovered by the daughter of Pharaoh the child is protected by the favor of God and becomes family to the enemies of Israel. As Moses grows up in the house of Pharaoh, the Israelites continue to suffer, but God hears their suffering and remembers their covenant.

Following Jesus always has a cost. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German pastor who spoke out against Nazism during the 30's and 40's, wrote a really good book about it. When God makes promises to us, he does not guarantee the road ahead won't be tough, but the destination is always for our good.

The trap we as believers fall into though, is that we get defensive against the world and retreat to our places of comfort. God's heart for us, and the world, is much bigger than that. Just as God called the Israelites to the Promised Land through Egypt, God calls us to be his light in the midst of the world. He calls us to be his disciples not just in our churches and homes but in our workplaces and classrooms.

There are people in our lives who don't know the promises of God, and while society often tells us to keep faith private, God has called us all to minister to our friends and family. Anyone who's ever awkwardly talked about Jesus to an unbelieving friend or family member will attest to the pushback you might get, but when we express to others the love of God his favor is already shown to us.

 

Author | Justin Patton

2 Corinthians 13:1-10

2 Corinthians 13:1-10

In this passage, Paul is writing to the Corinthians before he plans on visiting them again. Like the chapter before this, Paul is discussing the idea of power and authority with the Corinthians. He lays out some logistics with his audience for determining whether or not people are acting out of a place of faith, but also reminds them of the power of Christ and the role that plays in their lives.

Paul's reminder of Christ's strength here is incredibly important. He reminds the Corinthians that though Christ was crucified "in weakness" because of his humanness, he lives in power because of God. In the same way, we are weak in our humanity, but strong in the spirit. Paul also emphasizes the importance of faith and good intentions amongst the Corinthians. He wants them to live out of a place of strength and holiness in the Spirit.

From this passage, we should really mediate on the strength of the Lord and how he works in our lives. We should remember that he is powerful among us and that he longs for us to operate out of a place of pure faith and love for those around us.

Prayer

Lord, we thank you so much for the mighty ways that you move among us. Thank you for providing us with your strength even in the midst of our weakness. We just ask that you help us to have hearts that desire to serve you and those around us in a way that is glorifying to you. And as we serve, let our motivations come from a place of love and grace. Help us to be living testaments to your strength. We love you. Amen.

 

Author | Madelyn Livingston