A big shout out to Brother John Raines, who is writing the devotional for today and tomorrow to help me in a particularly busy time.
Key Verse: Exodus 33:14
Big Idea: God leads us out where He calls us to go.
I do not know about you, but as I read Exodus 33 as our text for today, I am both remorseful and joyful at what God has stated regarding the children of Israel. In the beginning of this chapter, we can see God’s frustration with Israel and His concern that if He goes amongst the people the He may consume them in the way due to their continued lack of trust and hardheadedness. But after the people show repentance, God says in our key verse, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.” As our family has read through the devotionals about the exodus of Israel, we have often noted how the people so quickly forget about the presence of God (pillar of cloud and fire) and His provision (miraculous manna and water from the rock). However, we cannot be too quick to cast blame.
You see, we too are often guilty of the same sin that Israel was guilty of, complacency, and in some cases absolute apathy. God also provides for us, comforts us, and protects us, but it takes little for us to become blind to God’s presence. The thing is, God still desires to have the same role in our life as He desired for the lives of Israel. The Creator of the universe desires a relationship with us as our leader and provider, and for us simply to follow. The implication in the key verse is that He will lead us where He calls us to go, just as he promised to go before the people into the promised land to drive out the inhabitants before them. All Israel had to do, was, follow God and GO.
Now while we may look at Israel and the exodus from an abstract point of view, the lesson for today’s text is still applicable. Jesus made a similar statement in John 16:7 when he told His followers that even though He may depart physically, He would send the Comforter (Holy Spirit) to minister to them, and us. The role of the Holy Spirit is key in the life of a believer if the believer will simply follow. But we, like Israel, are often too blinded and deafened by our sin (and hardheadedness) to recognize the presence of the Spirit to lead us. Maybe we too need to repent of the sin in our life so that we may fully enjoy the presence of the Holy Spirit, so that God may lead us where He calls us to go, and that we will follow God and GO.
Discussion Idea: What are some reasons we find it difficult to follow where God leads? What are some things (sin) in your life that may be hindering your ability to see and hear God’s leadership in your life?
Prayer focus: Lord, forgive me of the sin (be specific) in my life that hinders me from your presence. Help me to see and hear Your leadership in my life, and to follow where You lead.
Key Verse: Hebrews 12:2
Big Idea: Our faith’s trailblazer and completer is the Son of God.
Many advances are started by one person and finished by another. Much of what we know about planetary motion was discovered by Johannes Kepler, but he built on years of observations by his mentor, Tycho Brahe. Edward Jenner invented vaccines when he discovered that infecting someone with cowpox would keep them from getting smallpox, but Jonas Salk changed the world by applying the principles to polio (and now COVID-19). Even in our families, we often see things unfulfilled and picked up by others. We might read the Hall of Faith in the last chapter and think that Christianity is like that: Moses had some, David added a little more, the prophets added to that, and Jesus finished it off. But today’s verse reminds us that this is not the case: Jesus is the author and the finisher of faith - the beginning and the end.
This is what gives chapter 12’s call to endurance its bite. We have been given the perfect example of where to go and how to get there. Jesus came to the beginning of the path when He was born in Bethlehem and followed it all the way through the cross to return to Heaven again. Christ’s portrait is not a rosy one. It involves pain, rejection, and separation. If we stray from the path set before us, God disciplines us to bring us back in line, but even when we are faithful, it can be grueling.
But we do not do it because it is easy. We should hold fast to our faith, no matter the cost, for at least two reasons. First, the trail has already been blazed by the Son of God. There is no uncertainty about our life because He has already cleared the way. The pits we could not cross and the mountains we could not climb have been tamed by the One who conquered sin and death. Second, the path leads straight into the presence of our Heavenly Father. What better destination? And, although we will not ever make it to Him in this mortal body, we do grow closer to Him and stand more in His light every day. From A to Z, it is all of grace. Jesus has showed us the path, and His presence empowers us to take it.
Discussion Idea: If Jesus were just a perfect human, we could admire the life He lived. How does the fact that He was also God allow us to follow His footsteps?
Prayer Focus: Is there some area in your life that you have given up and decided that some act of obedience is unattainable? Pray for forgiveness and confidence in the fact that Jesus has taken the path before us.