Grumbling and Complaining


Daily Bible Reading – Exodus 14-16; Acts 2

Today’s Key Passage - Exodus 16:1-15

 

Before we get into today’s verse, I would like to take a second for a brief recap of what we have read about in the last few days.  The Israelites spent 430 in Egypt praying for God to take them out of Egypt and back to the land of milk and honey.  God rained down ten different plagues on the Egyptians to convince Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, and while the plagues affected the Egyptians in numerous ways, the Israelites were completely unharmed.  When the last of the ten plagues killed the firstborn of all the Egyptian people, Pharaoh finally agreed to let the Israelites leave Egypt.  God sent a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire to lead the Israelites out of Egypt, and He was actively leading them during their entire journey thus far.  After they had left, Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his army to attack the Israelites to bring them back to Egypt, but God placed the pillar of cloud between the Egyptians and the Israelites so that the Israelites would not be attacked.  Then God parted the Red Sea to allow the Israelites to cross on dry land, but then made the sea come back together to destroy the Egyptian army.  After all of this, the Israelites sang a quick song of praise to God, and then immediately started complaining because they were hungry.  Is it just me, or does that just seem crazy?

It is easy for us to look back, of course, at the Israelites and see how foolish they were to complain about being hungry after God had done so much for them.  Sadly, though, most of us have done the same thing.  Each of us has been blessed by God in innumerable ways, yet how quick are we to complain when things do not go our way or when trouble finds us?  When was the last time you complained about something?  Maybe it was when you got home after picking up dinner and found that they got your order wrong.  Maybe it was when you did not get the job you wanted or did not make the sale you wanted.  Maybe it was something completely different.  The point, though, is that we can spend a lot of time and energy complaining about the things that go wrong, and what does it get us?  Usually our complaints make us feel miserable for a time until we eventually get over it and move on.  What if instead of going through this cycle, each time something goes wrong and we feel like complaining we  stopped and thanked God for all the things He HAS done for us.  When the Israelites complained, Moses and Aaron explained that they were not grumbling against them, they were grumbling against God.  When we complain, we are doing the same thing.  Try to keep this in mind the next time the urge to complain comes up, and remember to praise God for His blessings instead.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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God Leads the Way


Daily Bible Reading – Exodus 12,13; Psalm 21; Acts 1

Today’s Key Passage - Exodus 13:17-22

 

After spending 430 years in Egypt, the Israelites were finally going to the Promised Land.  They had spent years praying for this day and waiting for the time when God would lead them to the land He had promised them.  During their stay in Egypt, they were treated harshly, but the Lord never left them.  We can learn a lot about God from today’s reading and our key passage.  First, we learn about God’s timing.  While 430 years seems like a long time to have to wait for God in human terms, in God’s terms these 430 years are like the blink of an eye.  God’s timing, not ours, determines when He will act.  He always chooses the exact perfect time to put His plans into motion.  While we might sometimes be tempted to “jump the gun” and act impulsively, we must learn to wait for God’s perfect timing before we move forward.

The second thing we learn is that God did not lead the people using the shortest possible route.  He could have taken them on the road through the Philistine country, which was a shorter route to go, but He chose not to because God knew that if they faced opposition on that road they might return back to Egypt.  Instead, He led them down the desert road toward the Red Sea.  When God leads us, He may not always choose the path we would have normally taken ourselves.  God knows the outcome of all future events, so His sense of direction may not always be the same as ours.  When it seems like God is leading us down a much longer path than is available, we need to realize that God has chosen that path for a reason.  We do not have the ability to know what obstacles God is helping us avoid by using His path, and we do not know what we might find along His path that will be very useful to us.  The Israelites did not know it yet, but going the route toward the Red Sea was going to be crucial to their journey out of Egypt.  If they had not taken that route, God would not have been able to use the Red Sea as He ultimately intended.

Finally, we learn that God was actively leading the Israelites, just as He can actively lead us.  With the Israelites, God used pillars of cloud during the day and pillars of fire at night to show them which way to go.  With us, God uses His Scriptures and His Holy Spirit to guide us and direct us in life.  The Israelites could have chosen not to follow God by ignoring the pillars of cloud and fire and simply going their own way, but they would have been foolish to do so.  Likewise, we can each choose not to follow God by ignoring the Bible and the Holy Spirit, but we would also be foolish to do so.  God uses His tools to lead us, and those tools will always be there for us and will never leave us.  We simply have to remember to follow.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Ignoring God’s Message


Daily Bible Reading – Exodus 9-11; Luke 24

Today’s Key Passage - Exodus 11:1-10

 

Several times in Exodus, Moses went to Pharaoh and shared the same message from God – “Let my people go, so that they may worship me”.  Each time, Pharaoh chose to ignore God’s message.  Up to this point, he had already seen nine different plagues come upon his land and his people because of his stubbornness.  Pharaoh had endured the plagues of blood, frogs, gnats, flies, livestock, boils, hail, locusts, and darkness.  Each time, Pharaoh was told in advance by Moses exactly what was about to happen with the plagues, and each time Pharaoh saw that the plague happened exactly as God said it would but he still failed to believe.  It seems almost incomprehensible how Pharaoh could have witnessed all of God’s great power and yet still refused to listen to Moses, but the fact is that Pharaoh had decided even before the plagues started that he was not going to listen to God.  Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, meaning he refused to change or repent regardless of the situation.  He was unable or unwilling to accept that anyone or anything was more powerful than he was, and his stubbornness would eventually cost him dearly.

We are all faced with the opportunities to ignore God’s messages on a daily basis.  When people are presented with all of the evidence in the Bible but still refuse to accept the Good News about Jesus Christ, they are ignoring God’s message.  When others hear the Gospel and want to accept it but are unable to put their full faith and trust in Jesus, they are ignoring God’s message.  When we are convicted of sin and know that we should stop but we continue on, we are ignoring God’s message.  Sometimes people allow their hearts to become so hardened that they are unwilling or unable to change.  This is not something that happens all at once – it is a progression that evolves over time until eventually people are unable to hear God’s voice at all.  Like Pharaoh, people can reach a point where they have turned so far away from God that no amount of evidence can bring them back.  This is one of the reasons that sin is so bad for us.  Even when we consider a sin to be “small” or “inconsequential”, we must realize that these sins can build up and harden our hearts.  We have the benefit of hindsight when looking at Pharaoh’s story.  We know how it ends and we are able to see the consequences of repeatedly ignoring God’s message.  Protect your heart today.  Do not allow it to become hardened by ignoring any of God’s messages to you.  He will continue to speak to us, but it is up to us to stop and listen.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Crumbling Under Pressure


Daily Bible Reading – Exodus 6-8; Luke 23

Today’s Key Passage - Luke 23:13-25

 

Pilate was a politician, and like most politicians, he wanted to stay in office.  Historical documents suggest that Pilate had already been warned by the Roman authorities about disturbances in his region.  Now he found himself in a difficult place.  On one hand, he found no fault in Jesus.  He questioned him repeatedly, and he seemed to believe that Jesus was not guilty of anything.  Apparently Pilate understood that the Jewish leaders simply wanted Jesus killed out of jealousy, and not because he was an actual criminal.  On the other hand, though, he was worried about what might happen if he refused to kill Jesus.  We read in John 19:12 that the Jewish leaders threatened to go to Caesar and file a complaint against Pilate, which could have resulted in him losing his position.  Pilate had to make a decision, but which road should he take?  He could stand up for what he knew was right and risk losing everything, or he could go along with the crowd even though he knew it was wrong and keep his position.  Obviously, we know which direction he took.  After much internal debate, Pilate crumbled under pressure and allowed Jesus to be executed.  How differently might things have been if Pilate had only stood up for what he believed?  No doubt Jesus still would have died (after all, that was God’s plan all along and nothing was going to stop that), but if Pilate had stood firm in his beliefs he would have been remembered much differently than he is today.

Most of us face similar situations in our own lives.  Peer pressure is not just something that happens to teenagers in high school.  It may start as a childhood issue, but peer pressure continues for most people all their lives.  We may face pressures from friends or coworkers who are not believers who want us to go along with what they are doing or to go back to the way we were before we were saved.  Time and time again, we may be faced with people who want us to do things that go against our better judgment and our beliefs.  How will we react in those times?  How will we react when there might be real consequences to standing up for what we know is right?  When the consequences are real and the pressure is on, if we try to go it alone and rely on our own strength to get us through, the chances are we will crumble the way Pilate did.  If, however, we rely on the power of Jesus Christ living inside of us, we can withstand the pressure.  We can stand up for what we know is right.  We can stand firm in our beliefs regardless of the pressures or the consequences.  Pilate had no idea that the decision he was making about Jesus would turn out to be the defining moment of his life, and we will not know which of our decisions might be our own defining moment.  Instead of crumbling under pressure, when we stand firm with the courage of God on our side we can only become stronger.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Feelings of Inadequacy


Daily Bible Reading – Exodus 3-5; Luke 22

Today’s Key Passage - Exodus 4:1-17

 

Even people who do not know much about God or the Bible have likely heard of Moses.  Most people, if questioned, could probably tell you a little bit about him, as he is one of the great heroes of the Bible.  What many people might not know, however, is how much Moses struggled with feelings of inadequacy.  When God first told him His plans for Moses, his reaction was one of shock as he asked God, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” (Exodus 3:11)  In today’s key passage, we see these feelings of inadequacy as Moses struggles with the tasks God has asked him to do.  He is worried that people will not believe that he talked to God.  He is worried that he will not be able to speak well to others.  Basically, Moses does not feel that he is the right man for the job.  As he worries about what the future might hold, he focuses on all of the worst-case scenarios that might happen, and struggles to understand how he will possibly be able to do what God is asking him to do.

Most people, at one time or another will feel inadequate.  There are times when many of us will struggle with what God is calling us to do, and we might feel like we are not worthy or capable to do much to help God build His Kingdom.  I know when I felt called to start this blog, I struggled with these feelings of inadequacy just as Moses did.  I worried that I did not know enough.  I worried that I would not be able to find something to write about or even find the time to write every day.  I even worried that I might accidentally write something that was not “Scripturally sound” and might lead others in the wrong direction.  After all, who am I to write about God and the Bible every day?

What I have learned, though, is that God does not call us to do something without giving us the tools to do it.  God gave Moses the ability to perform miraculous signs to ensure others would believe him.  He gave Moses the words to speak, and even allowed Aaron to help him.  Moses had no reason to fear the future or worry about his own inadequacies because God was with him and was willing and able to help.  Just as He did with Moses, God has provided me with the tools I need to do His work through this blog.  Every day, He has given me topics to write about and the words to use, and every day He has reminded me that I should not have been so concerned about my own feelings of inadequacy.  The fact is that all of us are absolutely inadequate when compared to God.  Fortunately, God works through each of us and gives us the ability to do the work He asks us to do.  He provides us with all the right tools at exactly the right time to make sure we can accomplish His goals.  The next time you are feeling inadequate or wondering, “who am I to do this”, remember that God will help you every step of the way.  He will guide you and lead you down the right paths if you are willing to follow Him.  God can cure your inadequacies and heal your weaknesses.  All He asks is that we are willing to do what He says and trust in Him to help.  Never let the fear of your shortcomings keep you from doing great things for God.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Someone Is Always Watching


Daily Bible Reading – Exodus 1,2; Psalm 88; Luke 21

Today’s Key Passage - Exodus 2:11-15

 

For many years, I have worked as an investigator.  Part of my job has been sitting down and interrogating people who had stolen things from their employers.  In this role, I spend most days talking to people who have made mistakes and done things they should not have done, and one of my goals is always to determine why they did what they did.  Time and time again, during the course of our conversations people eventually tell me the truth of why they had taken the wrong path, and time and time again it comes down to opportunity.  More often than not, people chose to steal or break other laws because they do not think they will be caught.  They believe that no one is watching their actions, and that they can get away with doing the wrong things.  Typically, there are many other things going on in their lives that drive them to the point of theft such as money problems, drug abuse, or peer pressure, but if they thought anyone was watching they never would have taken such drastic actions.

For most people, when the temptation to do wrong arises so does the question of whether or not they will get caught.  Whether it is breaking man’s law or God’s law, we can often feel tempted to go down the wrong path if we believe no one is watching.  In today’s key passage, Moses no doubt knew that killing a man was wrong.  He must have known that God did not condone murder.  Yet, when he looked around and did not see anyone watching him, he proceeded with his actions.  As it turned out, someone was watching him and his evil deed eventually caught up with him.  This is usually the way it works.  The fact is, someone is always watching what we do.  Sometimes that someone is a person.  In some cases, it might be a casual observer that accidentally witnesses our wrong actions.   In other cases, it might be a friend or family member who is simply watching our everyday actions to see how we live as followers of Christ.  Even if no other person is watching us, God is always there watching what we do.  There is no way to hide from Him because, fortunately, He never leaves us.  He lives inside of each of us, and therefore is always there to see us in our triumphs and our failures.  The fact that God is always with us is a comfort to us during the trials and tribulations we all face, and it can be a driving factor in helping us avoid the temptation to sin.  When faced with temptation, even if you think that no other person is watching you, remember that God can see you in that moment.  Remember that one day you will be face to face with Him and will have to account for your actions.  While it is true that we are not saved by our actions (it is God’s grace alone that saves us), when we obey God’s word and resist the temptations to sin, we demonstrate our love for Him.  If we had a camera crew following us 24 hours a day, 7 days a week broadcasting all of our actions to the world, most of us would likely be on our best behavior, so why not act the same way knowing that all of our actions are seen by God?  When faced with temptations, remember that God expects us to obey Him, and remember that someone is always watching.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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God’s Intentions


Daily Bible Reading – Genesis 49,50; Psalm 8; Luke 20

Today’s Key Passage - Genesis 50:15-21

 

During Joseph’s life, many people had evil intentions for him.  When he was very young, his brothers plotted to kill him and later sold him into slavery.  While living as a slave in Egypt, the wife of his master lied about Joseph because he refused to sleep with her and had him put in prison.  While in prison, he interpreted a dream for the chief cupbearer and asked the cupbearer for his help in getting out of prison, but when the chief cupbearer was restored to his position by Pharaoh, he selfishly neglected to do anything to help Joseph.  It seemed that throughout Joseph’s life, people continued to try to harm him, but each step of the way God was with him.  All of these events eventually led Joseph to a position of power later in life, and in this position, Joseph was able to save Egypt as well as his family from a famine that lasted seven years.  Even though many people had evil intentions for Joseph, God’s good intentions for him always won out in the end.

We all may face people in our lives that have evil intentions for us.  Some people might lie about us to try to ruin our reputations.  Others might try to hurt us emotionally by hurling insults at us.  Still others might try to hurt us physically.  Even if there are not evil intentions, we still might face trials in life.  We might lose our jobs, lose a family member or a close friend, or lose our possessions.  Through it all, though, we can rest in the promises of God.  As the children of God, we know that God has a plan for each of us and we know that His plan is good.  God will not allow other people’s evil intentions or bad situations to undermine His plan or His intentions for us.  His good intentions will always overrule anyone else’s intentions.  Out of the worst scenarios, God can and will bring good things and will do whatever He needs to do to keep us moving toward His ultimate goals for us.  Often during the times of trials, it will be difficult or maybe even impossible for us to fathom what possible good might result, but we can be sure that God will find a way.  Just as He used Joseph’s tribulations to place him in the right position at the right time, He will do the same for us.  When you are hurting, trust in the Lord.  When you are worried, trust in the Lord.  When you are devastated, trust in the Lord. In all things, trust in the Lord and cling to Him, and remember His words to us from Jeremiah 29:11-12 – “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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The King Will Return


Daily Bible Reading – Genesis 47,48; Psalm 10; Luke 19

Today’s Key Passage - Luke 19:11-27

 

As Jesus was preparing to enter Jerusalem, He knew that many of His followers were expecting Him to become an earthly King and begin his reign right away.  He knew that many of these followers believed that He would save them from their oppression.  He also knew that in a matter of days many of these people that seemed so willing to follow Him would turn on Him and want Him to be executed.  Though most of the people in the crowd were unable to discern it at the time, the parable in today’s key passage clearly showed that his kingdom would not take on this earthly form immediately.  Jesus, the man of noble birth, would go away for a while to become King (when He went to Heaven).  Before He left, He would call his servants to Him and give them gifts (time, money, and talents) that they should put to use to advance the Kingdom.  Later, Jesus would return in all His glory to reign over His Kingdom.  When He returned, he would ask his servants for an accounting of all of the gifts He had given them.  He would expect that His gifts would be returned to Him with interest as He expected them to be put to good use.  The first servant and the second servant took their gifts, used them properly, and multiplied them for the benefit of the Kingdom.  To these servants Jesus response would be, “well done, my good servant”.  The third servant, though, feared Jesus.  He felt he was a hard man who did not reap what He sowed, so he did not use his gifts for the betterment of the Kingdom.  Instead, he took the gifts he was given and stored them away in a safe place so that he could return the gifts to his King.  Jesus was so unhappy with how this servant used his gifts, that He took everything away from the servant, and all of the other people who did not want Him to be King were put to death.

Jesus message to us has always been a straightforward one.  He has given each of us gifts – be it time, money, talent, or a combination of the three.  Jesus expects us to put these gifts to work.  How are you using His gifts?  Are you using them to advance His Kingdom, or are you squandering them on things of this world or storing them away?  We can be certain of a few things in life.  First, we can be certain that Jesus is the King.  He will rule over everything and everyone.  We can be certain that He will return one day.  We can be certain that the people who have chosen not to follow Him will be thrown into the fire, and we can be certain that He will ask us to account for the gifts He has given us.  What is left in question, however, is what His response will be to each of us individually.  Stop today and think about how He will respond to you on the day of His return, then put His gifts to use, and advance His Kingdom here on Earth.  When we do, we can all wait for the day when He says, “well done, my good servant”.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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People Can Change


Daily Bible Reading – Genesis 44-46; Luke 18

Today’s Key Passage - Genesis 44:1-34

 

A few days ago, we read about Judah when he was a younger man.  Judah led the charge to sell his brother Joseph into slavery because of his jealousy (Genesis 37:27), and then lied to his father Jacob about what had happened (Genesis 37:32).  He later visited a prostitute (Genesis 38:16), but then wanted to have his daughter-in-law killed for being a prostitute (Genesis 38:24).  The picture we saw of Judah in these early years was not a good one.  He was a jealous, deceitful, and selfish man who did not seem to care about how his actions would affect anyone else.  Now, years later, we see a much different person.  While pleading his case to Joseph, he does not try to concoct an elaborate lie but instead tells the absolute truth.  When faced with his brother Benjamin becoming a slave, he was willing to sacrifice himself in order to save Benjamin.  The Judah we read about in chapter 37 and 38 was a changed man.

Some people, prior to conversion, believe they are too bad to come to God.  Some people run from Him because of the shame they feel over the things they have done in the past.  After conversion, some people look at others and think they are too far gone to give their lives to Christ.  When they see a person who has done horrible things, they immediately think the person cannot be saved.  The story of Judah (as well as countless other stories in the Bible) illustrates a very simple point – people can change.  None of us have the ability to change ourselves, but God can bring tremendous changes to people’s lives.  I can honestly say that I am a completely different person then I used to be – I think differently than I used to think and I act differently than I used to act.  Many of you can probably say the same thing.  I know that the change that took place in my life had nothing to do with what I did, but instead it has everything to do with what God did in me.  If you are ever ready to give up hope on yourself or on someone else, remember the story of Judah.  Remember how a broken man was made right by God.  Remember that God has the power to change each of us.  Remember that people can change.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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Being Thankful


Daily Bible Reading – Genesis 42,43; Psalm 5; Luke 17

Today’s Key Passage - Luke 17:11-19

 

Leprosy is a debilitating disease that was greatly feared in Jesus’ day.  Because leprosy was so contagious, lepers were not allowed to live among other people and were not even permitted to approach other people without first announcing their presence.  The ten lepers were respectful and obedient to this law as they called out to Jesus from a distance.  In those days, sometimes a person’s leprosy would go into remission.  When that happened, the former leper had to go to the priests to be declared clean so that he could go back to living a normal life among other people.  When Jesus saw these ten lepers calling out to Him, He immediately told them to go to the priests to be declared clean.  Even before they were healed, all ten lepers did exactly as Jesus told them to do.  They left and went to the priests because they had faith that Jesus would heal them.  They did not need to see themselves healed first before obeying Jesus; they just believed that He would do what He said He would do.  Sure enough, as they walked they were healed.

Obviously, we can tell from Scripture that these ten men were respectful and obedient to the law, and that they all had a great amount of faith in Jesus.  While these are certainly good traits to have, there was a problem.  Of the ten men who were healed by Jesus, only one of them took the time to come back to Jesus and thank Him.  What happened to the other nine men?  Were they not thankful for their healing?  Were they not happy that they could now go back to living with their friends and families after being declared clean?  Most likely, these men were both thankful and happy that they were healed, yet they still did not thank Jesus.  Perhaps they thought they deserved to be healed because of their faith, so they believed no thanks was necessary, or maybe they figured that since Jesus was God He already knew they were thankful and therefore they did not need to actually say thank you to Him.  It is even possible that the men reasoned that they had too much to do now that they were healed that they simply did not think they had time to thank Jesus at that moment but decided they would thank Him later.  Any of these scenarios could explain the actions of the nine men.

How often do we, like the nine lepers, make excuses for not thanking God?  We all receive blessings from Him every single day.  Every breath we take is a blessing from God.  Every day we and our families are fed and safe is a blessing from God.  There are many rationales people use for not stopping to thank God, and some of them are even the same excuses the lepers above might have used.  While God does not demand that we thank Him for these blessings and does not keep score of when we thank Him, the appropriate response from us should be thankfulness.  We should constantly thank and praise Him, not just for the things He has given us, but also for the things He has not given us.  Since God knows so much more about what is good for us then we do, if He has decided not to give us something that we have asked for there must be a really good reason behind it and therefore we should thank Him for protecting us in that way.  If we go into each day with a thankful heart and a thankful spirit, how much better will all of our days be?  Spend some time today thanking God for the numerous blessings He has given you.  Even though He already knows you are thankful in your heart, saying thank you to Him is still the appropriate response.

During your Bible reading today, what “key passages” stood out to you?  Leave a comment below to share what God is showing you about His Word today.

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May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you today.

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