Exodus 2:11-15

A false start

When Moses had grown up, he went to see his own people, the Hebrews, who were working very hard. There he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave—one of his own people!  Looking around, Moses saw no one watching so he killed the Egyptian and hid his body in the sand.

The next day he went out to watch the Hebrews again. This time he saw two of his own people fighting. He said to the one, “Why are you beating your fellow Hebrew?”

The man replied, “Who made you ruler over us? Are you going to kill me like you killed that Egyptian yesterday?”

Moses was afraid because he realized that someone else knew what he had done. When Pharaoh heard what Moses had done, he tried to kill him, but Moses ran away and went to live in the land of Midian.

Should we defend someone who is being bullied?

God had planned for Moses to be the leader who would free His people from slavery. The Lord made sure that Moses got the best training and education in Egypt.

One day, Moses decided that he was ready to start leading God’s people, but he messed up because he went about it the wrong way. God had not finished preparing him. Moses still needed to learn to be completely obedient and to wait for God to lead him.

It is always good to protect the weak from being teased and hurt. However, to do what Moses did is not the best way to stop a bully. It is always better to ask God for wisdom first. To help someone who is being bullied, start by staying close to him or her and be a loyal friend!

Verse for today

“Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy” Proverbs 31:9.

God Fixes Things

God Fixes Things

Jacob Meets Esau 

(Genesis 33)

Esau didn't like his brother too much.

And he had good reason. Jacob was always taking his stuff.

Of course, it wasn’t just taking his shirt without asking. And it was worse than borrowing his CDs, or taking the batteries from his CD player – whenever he wanted to – and not bringing them back (well, if he HAD a CD player!). It was worse than taking Esau’s best bow and losing half the arrows (and not even bothering to look for them because they weren’t HIS arrows), and bringing the bow back all bent and busted up and broken.

It was worse than all of that.

Jacob had stolen Esau’s blessing and his birthright.

And Esau hated him for it. He hated his brother so much, that he once even said he was going to kill him.

He hated him for a long time because of it. A LONG time.

So Jacob had to run away from home. And for years and years, it was as if they weren’t brothers at all. It looked like Jacob and Esau would never be brothers that loved and cared for each other again.

That must have broken God’s heart to watch.

But now, after all these years of being apart, Jacob was coming home. And Esau was coming to meet him… with FOUR HUNDRED of his strongest men!

Things didn’t look good for Jacob. This just might be the end of it for him.

But Jacob had changed. He wasn’t the cheater he used to be, and he was truly sorry for the things he had done.

Still, it seemed impossible that Jacob and Esau could ever be friends again.

But, with God all things are possible.

If you remember from the last story, Jacob just spent the whole night wrestling with God.

It was morning now. The sky was a deep blue, and the sun was shining warm and bright when Jacob looked out over the rolling hills. And way off in the distance, he saw a cloud of dust. And just ahead of the cloud of dust, he saw a small speck.

It was his brother Esau, leading his four hundred men right towards Jacob and his family!

“What is Dad doing now?!” Jacob’s kids asked when Jacob started running around and telling them all to get behind him, like he was trying to hide them in with all the sheep and goats. “What kind of trick is he going to play on Esau now?” they joked with each other. But it was no joke. And Jacob was through with tricks.

The army of Esau and his men came closer and closer. Jacob could hear the slapping of the camel hoofs beating against the dry ground.

Jacob ran ahead of his family and bowed to the ground seven times before his brother, begging for forgiveness. He hoped his brother might at least spare his family. He didn’t know what to expect.

Esau jumped off his camel and ran to his brother Jacob. He threw his arms around him with tears in his eyes, and said, “My brother! I have missed you so much!” Jacob could hardly believe what was happening.

“Seeing you is like seeing the face of God!” Jacob finally said with tears in his eyes too. “Can you ever forgive me?”

“Yes, I forgive you!” Esau said. “God has been so good to me. And now he has given my brother back to me!” And he threw his arms around his brother again and gave him another great bear hug.

They were friends again.

God had brought them back together.

How wonderful to have a God who fixes things!

Personal Responsibility

“When the foundations are being destroyed,
  what can the righteous do?”—Psalm 11:3

Maybe you’ve seen the following satirical illustration about personal responsibility. The first frame shows a picture of an obese man eating a burger and fries with the text, “McDonalds made me fat.” In the next frame, the same man is seen chain-smoking cigarettes with the text, “Phillip Morris gave me cancer.” Next, the man is pictured driving his car into a wall while the text explains, “Jack Daniels wrecked my car.” In the last scene, the man appears livid as the text reads: “Now they must pay for all the suffering that they caused!”

It’s much easier to blame others than take responsibility for our own actions. But in the end, we harm ourselves more than those we blame.

The Sages teach that Psalm 11, written by King David, is primarily about Doeg, the chief assistant to King Saul. In particular, this psalm was written in response to a horrible deed committed by Doeg with Saul’s consent. They slaughtered the entire city of Nob, a city of priests. Nob’s crime? Helping David, the king’s sworn enemy. However, to make matters even worse, Doeg and Saul actually blamed David for the city’s plight. It was his fault, they claimed – David forced their hand by placing the people of Nob in that situation when he sought help from them.

This terrible situation is alluded to in the verse: When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?” The “foundations” are the priests who are the bedrock of the nation of Israel. The righteous person is David. Literally translated from the original Hebrew, the verse reads: “What has the righteous done?” In other words – David, the righteous one, was not to blame for this atrocity.

While Doeg and Saul sought to place the responsibility on his shoulders, David was wiser. He asserted:“The Lord examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates . . . On the wicked he will rain fiery coals and burning sulfur” (vv. 5–6).

God knows the truth. God knows who is responsible and who is innocent. Those who shift the blame will ultimately bring damage upon themselves.

While it may be tempting to shirk responsibility, we cannot escape the results of our actions. So while it may seem easier to hide from accountability, in the end it only complicates our lives. It is only when we accept responsibility for our actions that we can rectify our mistakes. The moment we take responsibility for our lives is when we can change almost anything. It’s only in owning up to our failures that we can truly succeed.

Personal Responsibility

The Art of Your Work by Emily P. Freeman

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Several years ago I saw Wicked on Broadway. I knew I would like it as I’ve always enjoyed all things Oz. But sitting in the dark theatre, the lights from the stage falling softly on my lap, my experience went beyond mere enjoyment. One word floated up from my subconscious: worship.

It seemed to fit better in church with crosses and communion than on a New York stage with flying monkeys and a green-faced witch, but that word continued to weave its way through the evening. Whether they knew it or not, these actors brought glory to God in a way I couldn’t fully explain. Beauty surrounded every creative moment unfolding in front of us, and worship swelled up within me in response.

Several years before that New York night, I had a similar experience sitting in a much smaller audience in the youth room of our church during my senior year of high school. We had a young musician visiting that night named Sarah Masen. She was only a few years older than me, but her dark eyes seemed to hold more creative secrets than she ought to have at so young an age.

As she began to strum her guitar and sing, I was thrilled when I realized she intended to share those secrets with us. She didn’t just sing notes, she sang story. And yes, she was talented, but she was also generous. Her willingness to share herself with the room touched something alive deep within me, something that would have remain untouched that night if she had kept her art to herself.

Today a watercolor hangs in our kitchen, a rainbow turtle painted by small hands and offered as a gift. My son didn’t paint to impress, to win, or to compete. He painted as an act of love for me. His expression warms my heart, not because the painting is good but because the boy is mine.

His smallness is not a disadvantage, but is what makes his work meaningful and beautiful in the first place.

We would most likely all agree that the work offered by the actor, the singer, and the kindergarten painter is beautiful work, even art.

But what about the work of the teacher, the father, or the real estate agent? What about the mail carrier, the babysitter, the lawyer, or the cashier? What about the work you do everyday?

Is the work of the artist beautiful and the work of the rest of us just work?

Is art and beauty only reserved for the highly trained, the creatively inclined, the child painter, the hipster, the wealthy, and the refined?

It depends on who you ask.

“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). The verse is so familiar I nearly miss the best part. Five words into scripture and we learn our first lesson about God: creativity comes first. It was not an afterthought or an activity reserved for a weekend hobby.

The first movement of the Trinity is the creative work of art.

When he spoke, the world came out, but it was breath that made us; intimate, personal breath. And then, it gets even better.

“So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27).

God spoke the world and breathed humanity and when he did, he declared that every human was made in His artistic image.

Perhaps art isn’t only for the dancer, the actor, the singer, or the painter after all.

The beauty you have to offer may not be a song or a flower or a dance. And you may not see the beauty in a spreadsheet or the carpool line or the proposal you’ve been working on.

But the true art, the most beautiful kind, is you – worshipful, generous, small you. Just like Sarah Masen’s art touched something deep within me, your work has the capacity to touch something deep within someone else. Not because you offer it perfectly or elegantly, but because you offer it asyou.

Perhaps the most beautiful work you can do today is to begin to accept your creative inheritance from God and learn to become yourself in the presence of others, moving into the world as the person you fully are no matter where you are, who you’re with, or what’s gone wrong.

It’s true you may not be an artist by profession. But you are an artist by design.

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Is it possible for worship to weave itself into the fabric of your day no matter what you’re doing? What is one way you might choose generosity over scarcity in your job today? Rather than fighting your smallness, would you be willing to celebrate it? How might this change your workday?

PRAYER: Father, remind us of the way you move into the world as Creator and the way you breathe your life into us. Jesus, remind us of your sacrifice, how you became nothing so we could be free; how you brought life straight out of death; how you make beauty out of dust. Spirit, remind us of your presence within us so that we are able to move into the world bearing your image rather than trying to maintain our own. May we see ourselves through your eyes so that all of our work may be an act of worship unto you. Amen.

I have learned, in whatever state I am, therewith to be content. Philippians 4:11

These words show us that contentment is not a natural propensity of man. “Ill weeds grow apace.” Covetousness, discontent, and murmuring are as natural to man as thorns are to the soil. We need not sow thistles and brambles; they come up naturally enough, because they are indigenous to earth: and so, we need not teach men to complain; they complain fast enough without any education. But the precious things of the earth must be cultivated. If we would have wheat, we must plough and sow; if we want flowers, there must be the garden, and all the gardener’s care. Now, contentment is one of the flowers of heaven, and if we would have it, it must be cultivated; it will not grow in us by nature; it is the new nature alone that can produce it, and even then we must be specially careful and watchful that we maintain and cultivate the grace which God has sown in us. Paul says, “I have learned . . . to be content;” as much as to say, he did not know how at one time. It cost him some pains to attain to the mystery of that great truth. No doubt he sometimes thought he had learned, and then broke down. And when at last he had attained unto it, and could say, “I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content,” he was an old, grey-headed man, upon the borders of the grave-a poor prisoner shut up in Nero’s dungeon at Rome. We might well be willing to endure Paul’s infirmities, and share the cold dungeon with him, if we too might by any means attain unto his good degree. Do not indulge the notion that you can be contented with learning, or learn without discipline. It is not a power that may be exercised naturally, but a science to be acquired gradually. We know this from experience. Brother, hush that murmur, natural though it be, and continue a diligent pupil in the College of Content.

Can You See Her?

“and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.”Luke 7:38

For most of us, prostitution represents a rather repulsive aspect of the underbelly of society. Given our disdain for such a godless practice, my guess is that few of us have ever thought about the people trapped in the “industry,” let alone the thought of taking the love of Jesus to them. We are far more prone to think of prostitutes with Simon the Pharisee’s sanctimonious aloofness—an aloofness that Jesus never felt.

Simon, the “good” person in town, was repulsed by the prostitute who had gate-crashed his party. The text indicates that he watched with revulsion the outpouring of her love at Jesus’ feet. His buttoned-up, spit-polished religious life had shut her out. Jesus, on the other hand, extended love and forgiveness to her and welcomed her in. What a contrast!

Lisa DePalma is the founder of a ministry to prostitutes on the dark street corners of Chicago. I have been stunned by Lisa’s stories of her work with these shattered lives, and I’ve been gripped by her example of what it means to extend the heart and hands of Jesus to them. Always used and never loved, these prostitutes hear—some of them for the first time—that God has wonderfully loved them through the person of Jesus.

To those of us who have a hard time feeling love and compassion for this kind of woman, Lisa writes these pleading lines.

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

Her face instead of her clothes? Her eyes instead of her body?

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

She has a name instead of a label, a broken heart instead of a hard one

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

The image of God instead of an object of scorn

Her worth to the Savior instead of her worthlessness to the world

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

His heart of forgiveness instead of your heart that judges

His blood that covers instead of your rules that condemn

Can you see her? Will you let God show you?

And when you do see, what then?

What then? That’s a great question! Getting over a self-righteous, condemning attitude toward people who are not like us—and overtly sinful as well—is not an easy thing. Our “goodness” has a way of backfiring on us when we become proud that we are not like them and think of them as hopeless objects of God’s judgment—if indeed we think of them at all. The good guys in Jesus’ day were constantly shocked that He cared about sinners. But as He said, He came to seek and save those who are lost.

Getting over our infatuation with how good we are begins by asking ourselves if we want to be like standoffish Simon or like the compassionate Jesus. I choose Jesus! I’m tired of how I feel when I am self-righteous and proud. I find that following His lead to love the lost is a breath of fresh air in a stodgy and stagnant world of people who are taken with their own goodness.


  • What is your attitude toward “sinners,” in particular the “worst” of them?
  • What is your attitude toward your own sin? If you were to compare yourself to God’s standard of holiness (instead of comparing yourself to others), how would you rate?
  • Are you willing for Jesus to show you those who are hurting and broken? If He does, are you willing to extend His love to them? If not, pray that He will stir the right response in your heart.
  • If you want to know more about what you can do to help those who are taking Jesus’ love to prostitutes and outcasts, go

The Inspiration of Spiritual Initiative

Arise from the dead . . .—Ephesians 5:14

Not all initiative, the willingness to take the first step, is inspired by God. Someone may say to you, “Get up and get going! Take your reluctance by the throat and throw it overboard—just do what needs to be done!” That is what we mean by ordinary human initiative. But when the Spirit of God comes to us and says, in effect, “Get up and get going,” suddenly we find that the initiative is inspired.

We all have many dreams and aspirations when we are young, but sooner or later we realize we have no power to accomplish them. We cannot do the things we long to do, so our tendency is to think of our dreams and aspirations as dead. But God comes and says to us, “Arise from the dead . . . .” When God sends His inspiration, it comes to us with such miraculous power that we are able to “arise from the dead” and do the impossible. The remarkable thing about spiritual initiative is that the life and power comes after we “get up and get going.” God does not give us overcoming life—He gives us life as we overcome. When the inspiration of God comes, and He says, “Arise from the dead . . . ,” we have to get ourselves up; God will not lift us up. Our Lord said to the man with the withered hand, “Stretch out your hand” (Matthew 12:13). As soon as the man did so, his hand was healed. But he had to take the initiative. If we will take the initiative to overcome, we will find that we have the inspiration of God, because He immediately gives us the power of life.