Trust and Obey….

Devotional on Exodus 5:1-6:13 by Bruce Hanson

Well, now.  Moses has heard God’s voice and listened to God’s instructions.  He sets out to accomplish what God has told him to do.  He goes to Pharaoh, with Aaron, and tells him that the Lord, the God of Israel, says to “let my people go”.  He was not prepared for the response.  Not only did Pharaoh harden his heart with stubbornness and refuse to let the people go he issued orders that their work be made more difficult.  Now Moses is faced with rejection of his God by Pharaoh and the anger of his own people.  Moses goes to God and complains about the outcome (Pharaoh really got mean and God didn’t do anything).  In Chapter 6, God repeats his promise of freedom and tells Moses and Aaron to get back to work.

There is a lot in this section. Hearing, listening, understanding, obedience, fear and questioning.  How do we meditate on this?  First of all, I can relate to Moses initial insecurity.  His excuse was that he was slow of speech and tongue.  At a very young age I was told “you can’t do that”.  I was asthmatic from the age of 18 months.  The words were said in love and with much caring but affected many of my decisions, or indecisions during my lifetime. As I said, there are many lessons from the scripture for this weekend.  I have focused in on the ideas of insecurity and being obedient to God’s word.  Even in his insecurity and the roadblocks placed in front of him, Moses followed through with doing what God told him to do.

It is my prayer that I can follow through with God’s instructions to me asking Him to remove my insecurity.  “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way”.  What do you see in God’s word this week?

Exodus 6:1-13

Scripture for Sunday, April 18, Oppression and God’s Plan 

In Exodus 5 & 6:1-13 we pick up the narrative of Moses and God’s now oppressed people in Egypt. Moses, being born a Hebrew but raised as an Egyptian (Exodus 1-2), has fled into the Midian wilderness for forty years. There he finds a wife, family, a shepherding job, God and a call to return to lead the Israelites out of Egypt (Exodus 3-4).  
Moses is warned by God that the release of His people will not come easily. Moses returns to Egypt, telling Pharaoh to let God’s people go and they are oppressed all the more. Yet, God’s mighty hand will be seen in the face of Pharaoh’s stubborn resistance. 

1) Who did Moses go to in the face of frustration? Who do you go to in the face of frustration?

2) What was God’s message for the struggling Israelite people (Exodus 6:6-8)? How did they respond? Who is God asking you to encourage today, even though there may be push back or deaf ears? 

3) How are you holding on to God in your own current struggle? Could God be bigger than the struggle?

Weighty Words of Encouragement

By Deneen Hanson

The last words spoken are often the ones most remembered. They have greater weight, just as ‘sending’ and ‘parting’ words can have greater weight and more intentionality.  As I filter through old personal letters and cards, many from loved ones no longer alive, I am surprised by the weight their words hold. I want to ‘do them proud’ and live up to their encouraging words.

In 2 Timothy, the apostle Paul is writing his final letter and getting in his last word to young Timothy. Paul is nearing death in a Roman jail and wants to encourage Timothy in his ministry.

Neil Postman’s popular quote comes to mind, “children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see.” Paul sees Timothy as his spiritual child (1 Timothy 1:2) and is passing the ministerial baton on for him to carry and then to do the same.

As a receiver of this spiritual legacy in having heard and accepted the word of salvation they broadcasted, I have the same honor and responsibility to share God’s Word and encourage others to do the same. The word ‘preach’ in v. 2 includes any form of communication of God’s Word, from pulpit to coffee shop conversation.

Paul knows that time is short, not just for him, but for the nearing day when people will no longer listen to  the pure teaching of God’s Word (vs. 3 & 4). Even though this comes to pass, Paul cries out from the pages of 2 Timothy, to “go out strong!”

The martyr Stephen went out strong and used his last words well (Acts 7), using his last breath to tell the story of God with a final word of grace and forgiveness. How are you encouraged to use your words and the Word of God with greater intentionality? How will you choose to go out strong, no matter what life sends at you?

2 Timothy 4:1-8

Scripture for Sunday, April 11th  The Church and Sending People 

In 2 Timothy 4:1-8, Timothy receives his commissioning from Paul, following a lengthy description of who to stay away from and what to hold on to for equipping and encouragement, God Word (2 Timothy 3).

1) What are the actions/tasks that Paul charges Timothy to take? How is God charging you to do some of these yourself? (Clue: there are at least 6)

2) What tools do you use to discern sound teaching? (2 Timothy 4:3)

3) Paul passes the ministerial baton here to the next generation, how are you encouraging and equipping the next generation?

The Resurrection

by Ashely Smith

     What does the resurrection mean to me?  My great Uncle passed away this weekend.  He was the last of two strong, Christian men who led their families so well that their grandchildren are teaching their great-grandchildren about Jesus.  The other man was my grandpa, Pastor Jack Smith.  He always led worship when he was the pastor and I can still remember how he would sing out the Resurrection Sunday hymns.  How the whole church would match his enthusiasm and shake the air with the chorus, “Up from the grave He arose, With a mighty triumph o’er His foes, He arose a victor from the dark domain, And He lives forever with His saints to reign, He arose, He arose, Hallelujah Christ arose.”   I cried when I heard about my great Uncle’s death, partly because I will miss him, but mostly because I could picture the two brothers reunited and worshipping their Savior face-to-face, and how I long for that day! 

     How many of us who have been believers for a long time forget just what the resurrection means?  In John 21, when Peter realizes that it’s Jesus standing on the shore he flings himself into the lake and swims to meet Him because a boat just won’t get him there fast enough.  We laugh and shake our heads at Peter’s impulsivity, but the Holy Spirit took that impulsivity and used it to lead more than 3,000 people to be baptized 50 days later on the Pentecost.  How much more effective we would be in showing people the love of God and the joy that He gives us if we were impulsive enough to fling ourselves headlong into following Him.  Let us not forget or become complacent in our knowledge of what Jesus’ resurrection means!  “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  “O death, where is your victory?  O death, where is your sting?” 

Preparing for Easter

This Sunday’s Sermon is on the Resurrection see John 20-21.
The events around the Resurrection involved a lot of coming and going: running back and forth to an empty tomb for instance (John 20:1-18). Commotion would be a mild word for it. There was certainly a lot of emotion. Then Jesus offers the disciples His peace and His Holy Spirit (John 20:19-23). He addresses their doubts (John 20:24-29). He meets them where they were at, emotionally and physically. Later, He even meets them in the dailiness of fishing (John 21).

1) Today, in your daily commotion, how could you stop to hear the risen Christ personally extend to you His peace and His Holy Spirit?

2) How could Jesus meet you at your point of doubt? Have you asked Him to do so, with an earnest heart?

3) Who is it that your life touches, that could be encouraged by hearing the story of how the living Christ touched your life?


Hebrews 3:12–19   Weekly devotion for 3/28  by Mick Scott

Joe Mauer was the very first draft pick in the 2001 Major League Baseball draft. Drafted just 5 spots behind him at #6 was another young player, both with dreams of a Major League career. They both had all the ‘tools’ to be big league players; they could field, hit and run. Joe was drafted right out of high school and was a sponge in his first couple years of minor league ball listening to everything his coaches told him and trusting that they knew what was best for his budding career. While the other young man was a star on a champion college team who hit the minor leagues already knowing more than the coaches and thus not trusting or obeying the counsel they had for him. Joe Mauer went on to have a Hall of Fame type career with the Minnesota Twins; the other guy… well he never made it to the Major Leagues. Both had plenty of raw talent but only one trusted and obeyed the wisdom of his coaches and thus received the blessing that trust provided. (I)

Heb. 3:12 See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. 14 We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. 15 As has just been said:

“Today, if you hear his voice,

do not harden your hearts

as you did in the rebellion.” (II)

16 Who were they who heard and rebelled? Were they not all those Moses led out of Egypt? 17 And with whom was he angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies perished in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did God swear that they would never enter his rest if not to those who disobeyed? 19 So we see that they were not able to enter, because of their unbelief.                            

In the first couple chapters of Hebrews the author has been working to show that Jesus is supreme over Angels and Moses. Now, he strives to impress upon his readers that if Jesus is so uniquely supreme, then complete trust and obedience should be given to him. If they don’t give him obedient trust, if they harden their hearts, there will be consequences to their actions.

The writer of Hebrews quotes Psalms 95:7, which appeals to those who read it that if they hear God’s voice “to not harden their hearts” as they did in the rebellion. This is in reference to Numbers 20:1-13 which is the recounting of an incident in the pilgrimage of Israel in the desert. They were thirsty and rebelled against Moses, crying out that they wished they had never left Egypt and giving up their trust in God. God told Moses to speak to the rock and water would come flowing out but in anger Moses struck the rock instead of speaking to it and water did flow out but for his lack of obedience God declared that Moses would never enter the promised land. For their lack of trust the people of Israel never entered either and wandered for 40 years. What the writer of Hebrews is pointing at is that the disobedience and lack of trust of Israel kept them from the blessings God had for them to enjoy.

The writer to the Hebrews says to his people, “Beware you don’t show the same disobedience and distrust of God that your forefathers showed, and that you don’t for that reason lose the blessings you might have had, just as they lost theirs.” In effect he says, “While there is yet time, while you can still speak of ‘today’ give God your trust and obedience.” For the individual, “today” means “while life lasts” and the writer to the Hebrews is saying, “While you have the chance, give God the obedience you ought to give. Give it to him before your day closes.” There are certain great warnings here.

(1) God makes men an offer. Just as he offered the Israelites the blessings of the Promised Land, he offers to all believers the blessings of a life which is far beyond the life that they can live without him.

(2) But to obtain the blessings of God two things are necessary. (a) Trust is necessary. We must believe that what God says is true. We must be willing to stake our lives on his promises. (b) Obedience is necessary. It is just as if a doctor were to say to us: “I can cure you if you obey my instructions.” In any way you look at life, success depends on obedience to the word of the expert: God.

(3) To the offer of God there is a limit. That limit is the duration of life. We never know when that limit will be reached. We speak about “tomorrow” but for us tomorrow may never come. All we have is today. Barclay has said: “We should live each day as if it were a lifetime. God’s offer must be accepted today; the trust and the obedience must be given today, or it may be too late -for we cannot be sure that there will be a tomorrow for us.” (III)

“When we walk with the Lord

In the Light of His word

What a glory He sheds on our way

While we do His good will

He abides with us still

And with all who will trust and obey

Trust and Obey

 For there is no other way

 To be happy in Jesus

 But to trust and obey.” (IV)

I: Wikipidea 2001 Major League Draft

II: Ps 95:7-8

III: Wm Barclay Study Bible

IV: “Trust and Obey” 1887; John Henry Sammis

Hebrews 3:12-19

Scripture text for March 28th

In this week’s scripture we are encouraged again, to listen to God and to turn toward Him and not away. We are given an example not to follow: the rebellious rabble that Moses led out of Egypt.

1. How are you actively listening for God’s direction, in order to go His way: prayer, meditation on scripture, or seeking godly fellowship and counsel?

2. From v. 14, what God honoring conviction did you once hold fast to that you have let slip or even have let go of, given the cultural atmosphere or company you keep?

3. Confession is often neglected, what disobedience/sin would you ask God to help you turn from today, in order to go God’s way and enter His rest?

Who is your Hero?

Hebrews 3:1-11 Scripture verses for March 21st Sermon

Who is your hero? Who has blazed the trail for you? Who has been your role model? Who do you look up to?

Hebrews was written to the holy ones, the followers of Jesus of the  1st century. The Hebrews/Israelites held tight to their rich oral and recorded history and Moses “was their man.” He was their hero! He recorded Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy (the Pentateuch/the Law) and was a pivotal part of much of it.

He blazed the trail through the Red Sea and through the Wilderness. He was their role model and the one they looked up to. He was the one on whom their eyes and thoughts were fixed. Our passage does not ask them to think less of Moses but to place Jesus, “worthy of greater honor” above Moses.

Moses, the Law, and the tabernacle were all put in place to point to Jesus. Jesus alone is our interceding, eternal High Priest, not Moses. Moses was never the High Priest.

Sports heroes are often put into effigy, seldom their coaches or mentors or the one who invented the sport. Kirby Puckett stands in bronze at Target Field, not Rick Stelmaszek, who oversaw the bullpen, spring training, sharpened skills, and tutored players for 32 years.

Moses was the upfront man, but Jesus was God become man, God behind the man. Moses was there because and for Jesus, to serve His purposes and point toward His coming.

Moses is to be looked up to and Jesus, even more. They faithfully blazed a brilliant trail for us to follow with courage and hope. As we boast, we can boast in nothing and no one, but Jesus! He is our Savior and eternal Rest! How will you boast of Him today?

Hebrews 3:1-11

Scripture passage for Sunday, March 21st

In Hebrews so far, we’ve heard that Jesus is superior to the angels and now we learn that Jesus is greater than Moses.  Just as a building cannot exist without a builder, Moses would be nothing without Jesus. Moses and the Law pointed to Jesus and Jesus fulfilled it perfectly. He is the centerpiece of our faith!

1. Hebrews 3:1 is a command to obey, “fix your thoughts on Jesus”! How can you make this a reality this coming week: Set a consistent time to meet with Jesus? Memorize and meditate on a verse or two? Post pertinent scripture in places where you are tempted? 

2. Because Jesus suffered and was tempted (Hebrews 2:18,) He can help you be holy and faithful as well. What area of your home life, work life, or thought life would you like Jesus to help you with today? 

3. Reflecting on Hebrews 3:7-11, how have you hardened your heart and maybe rebelled? How does that leave you feeling compared with the idea of entering into God’s Rest? Peek into Hebrews 4 to get a preview of what God wants for our Sabbath Rest.