Celebrating Salvation

Then Moses said to the people, “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery, because the LORD brought you out of it with a mighty hand. Eat nothing containing yeast.” — Exodus 13:3

Today is Day 1 of the eight-day Passover celebration. The Torah reading for today is from Exodus 12:21–51 and Numbers 28:16–25, and the Haftorah is from Joshua 3:5–7; 5:2–6:1; 6:27. Because the first two days during Passover are non-working days, these devotions were prepared in advance for you.

Passover is a joyous holiday. We celebrate the fact that God hears our prayers and intervenes in history in order to bring salvation. However, as we take a good look at the Passover story, the details reveal that salvation comes in many different guises.

In Exodus 13:3 we are commanded: “Commemorate this day, the day you came out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery . . . Eat nothing containing yeast.” We are given two distinct directives. One is to commemorate the day that God took Israel out of Egypt and the other is to refrain from eating anything with yeast. What is the connection between the observance of Passover and the dietary restrictions?

Let’s go back to Exodus 12. Late at night during the final plague, Pharaoh approached Moses and said: “Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites!” (v.31). Pharaoh sent the Israelites packing so fast that the people didn’t have time to finish baking their bread: “So the people took their dough before the yeast was added . . .” (v.34). By refraining from foods with yeast on Passover, we remember not just that God redeemed Israel, but also how Israel was saved.

The Sages teach that on the eve of the Exodus, many of the Israelites were hesitant to leave Egypt. Pharaoh had to literally kick them out without giving them any time to think, plan, or retreat, in order to get them marching toward their freedom.

This reminds me of the following story: There was once a wealthy man who was known for throwing elaborate parties. At one such party, the man announced that he had placed alligators and sharks into one of his pools. Anyone who would swim from one end of the pool to the other would be granted any request. Suddenly, there was a splash and the guests watched in shock and admiration as a man swam deftly and quickly, narrowly escaping the deadly waters. When he emerged from the pool, the wealthy man commended him and asked what his wish was: “What I’d like most is to know the name of the man who pushed me in the water!”

Sometimes we are pushed into dangerous waters that we would never dare enter. Sometimes that’s what it takes to get us to do the things we never knew we were capable of achieving. On Passover, we remember not only that Israel was saved, but also that salvation can come from the most unlikely places. Often the things we thought were working against us are what will lead to victory. So this Passover, trust God and His plan. That push we thought might bring us down can be the push we need to soar!

Celebrating Salvation

Promises Kept

“Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.” Joshua 21:45

I am about to let you in on a deep, life-changing, earth-shattering theological truth. Are you ready for this?

God keeps His promises!

I mean, He really keeps His promises. Even if you can’t see it today, or even if it doesn’t happen in your lifetime, He doesn’t forget and He doesn’t change His mind. If He has made a promise, He’s good with it!

I was reading in the book of Joshua recently when I came to these verses at the end of Joshua 21:41-44. Keep in mind, this is after many stories of the people of Israel rebelling and murmuring against Moses, and 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Israel had, essentially, tried to put their covenant with God in the dumper by their idolatrous, heretical, apostate ways. Even after God gave them the land of Canaan, they went back to idols. So it’s after they seemingly did all they could to mess it up that we read these astounding words at the end of Joshua’s life:

So the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to give their forefathers, and they took possession of it and settled there. The Lord gave them rest on every side, just as he had sworn to their forefathers. Not one of their enemies withstood them; the Lord handed all their enemies over to them. Not one of all the Lord’s good promises to the house of Israel failed; every one was fulfilled.

Do you realize that the promises Joshua is referring to dated back hundreds of years? All the way back, in fact, to the early chapters of the book of Genesis where God chooses Abraham, promising Him numerous descendants, a national heritage, and land for each subsequent generation. Abraham acted on these promises, trusting the Lord, but the author of Hebrews 11:13 tells it like it is: Abraham and his wife, Sarah, “were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised.” They had one son, Isaac, but that hardly seemed like an auspicious start to a promised nation populated by their descendants—to say nothing of the fact that they never inherited the land.

But the story didn’t end there. From Joshua’s vantage point on his side of history, he had the privilege of seeing that God in His perfect time had kept His promises! God hadn’t forgotten. He hadn’t lost the list of the things He promised to give to Abraham. And so Joshua, standing in the land promised to Abraham, surrounded by the descendants of Abraham, marveled and praised God. No promises were left unfulfilled. Not one of them had failed.

We are so programmed today to be instantly gratified. From instant credit to ATM machines to high-speed Internet and fast-food restaurants, we are wired to getting everything we need and want now. And if we don’t get it now, our blood pressure starts to rise! But God’s timelines are wiser and better than our little antsy, often shortsighted expectations.

So hang in there! If He said it, claim it and cling to it. You can stay the course because the one thing you can count on is God’s faithfulness—regardless! We have the rock-solid witness of history and of Scripture that none of His promises will fail. I love the words Paul wrote to Timothy when he affirmed that though we are often faithless, God will be faithful to us because He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13).

YOUR JOURNEY…

What promises of God are you counting on? Have you seen any of them carried out in your life? How?
How does an obsession with the here and now derail your faithfulness to God and His promises?
Need to be encouraged by some of the promises of God? Read John 14:1-31 and write down a few of the promises Jesus made as He encouraged His disciples.
Make a list of His life-changing promises. If you need a head start, read Proverbs 3:5-6; Romans 8:28; Philippians 4:19; and Hebrews 13:5-6.

Promises Kept

on solid ground

In the film High Fidelity, a character named Rob Gordon lamented his history of passivity. “I guess it made more sense to commit to nothing, keep my options open” he said. “And that’s suicide by tiny, tiny increments.”

It’s a prevalent human temptation to hold off on firmly attaching ourselves to any opinion or belief. It’s a good thing to pursue humility and to be always open to correction, but it’s a foolish and debilitating practice to neglect committing ourselves to truths that will guide us.

Elijah confronted Israel for their uncertain, vacillating posture. Israel’s King Ahab had led the people into idolatry and their abandonment of God along with their position as His people. As a result, God zipped up the rainclouds and dried out the land. There hadn’t been rain for 3 years, and Elijah decided it was time for a showdown. “Summon all Israel to join me at Mount Carmel,” Elijah told Ahab, “along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who are supported by Jezebel” (1 Kings 18:19).

When Baal’s prophets and the people of Israel were standing on Mount Carmel, Elijah confronted them with the question: “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions?” (1 Kings 18:21). The word for “opinions” carries the image of a set of crutches. So a literal reading of his question could be, “How long will you go limping around on crutches?” Whenever we refuse to commit ourselves to truths we believe, we go lame. We don’t stand for anything. We’re never solid.

Elijah concluded his challenge, not with an appeal for blind faith but rather for a commitment to the truth: “If the LORD is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” (1 Kings 18:21).

http://www.ourdailyjourney.org/2014/04/02/on-solid-ground/

Gideon

Judges 6:1, 11-22

God chooses a brave man

The Israelites had forgotten all that God had done for them: how He had brought them out of slavery in Egypt.

Life had settled down, and the people now lived comfortably and peacefully in the land God had promised them. They no longer depended on God and they even started worshiping the gods of the heathen people living in the land! The Lord did not want them to become like the other nations. He wanted His chosen people to be separate and devoted to Him. So God allowed the people of Midian to rule over the Israelites.

One day, the angel of the Lord came to Gideon while he was secretly threshing wheat (Gideon was afraid the Midianites would find him). The angel said to him, “The Lord is with you, brave and mighty man. Go with your great strength and rescue Israel from the Midianites!”

Does God only choose special people to do important tasks?

Don’t you hate it when teams are being chosen from a whole bunch of kids, and the leaders start choosing the strongest, fastest or cleverest kids? The last few stand around and wait, hoping that they will be the next to be chosen; and the longer they wait, the more embarrassing it becomes.

Isn’t it great to know that God doesn’t choose us that way? God looks at our hearts! Even Gideon couldn’t believe that the Lord actually wanted to use him, and he asked the Lord, “How can I rescue Israel? My family is the weakest in the tribe and I am the least important in my family.”

Then the Lord replied, “You can do it because I will help you!”

God is looking for those who will be brave for Him!

Verse for today

The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7b

http://www.truthforkids.com/march-31/

Keeping Pride in Check

Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy. — 2 Kings 5:1

The Torah portion for this week is Tazria, which means “to conceive,” from Leviticus 12:1–13:59, and the Haftorah is from 2 Kings 4:42–5:19.

This week’s Haftorah is the story of a proud man who was humbled. As it says in Proverbs 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”

The story takes place just after Israel had suffered defeat at the hands of Aram. Ahab, the king of Israel, had been killed by an Aramean archer, Naaman, who scored a direct shot at Ahab’s heart. This success quickly catapulted Naaman to fame, and he became chief of the Aramean army. However, his victory was soon overshadowed by an acute personal problem. Naaman was afflicted with tzara’at, the very same defiling skin disease discussed in this week’s Torah reading.

The Sages explain that the root cause of tzara’at is arrogance. Haughtiness often manifests itself in gossip, frequently cited as the sin that led to tzara’at. However, at the core, the spiritual malady is pride. In Naaman’s case, his success in killing the king of Israel led him to arrogance. He considered himself the greatest warrior in the world. But it was God who directed Naaman’s arrow into Ahab’s heart. The Haftorah we read at this time relates how God cured Naaman both of his pride and his skin disease.

This first step in breaking Naaman’s pride was afflicting him with tzara’at. Not many things are as humbling as being afflicted with an uncomfortable, ugly disease. Next, the solution to Naaman’s problem came from his slave – a young Israelite girl – who suggested that Naaman go to Israel to be cured, essentially forcing the great general to turn to his enemy for help.

Then, upon seeking out the Israelite prophet, Elisha, he was seen only by Elisha’s servant who advised Naaman to dip in the Jordan River seven times for a cure. At first, Naaman was angered by what he considered stupid advice. However, he eventually complied, dipped himself in the Jordan, and was indeed cured – not just of the skin disease, but also of his pride.

I once heard the following advice for putting pride in its place — take pleasure in our achievements instead of being prideful. If I gave you a check for a lot of money and you deposited it into the bank, would you be proud of yourself? Of course not! You had not earned it yourself, but you also would be foolish not to deposit it!

Similarly, God has gifted us all with talents and abilities. He has guided us toward our achievements. These are the things that we can take pleasure in without falling into the trap of arrogance when we recognize that everything has been given to us by God. It’s not us, but God who is deserving of glory. All we can ever do is “cash the check” He has given us and be grateful for His blessings.

Keeping Pride in Check

Joshua

Joshua 7:1-7, 20-21

Sin in the camp

The city of Jericho lay in ruins! Joshua had told the people of Israel not to take anything from the city: they were not to keep a single thing for themselves. However, one man disobeyed the Lord’s instruction. He secretly took a beautiful coat, some silver and a bar of gold, and buried them in his tent.

Joshua did not know that Achan had taken the treasures and hidden them. He sent some soldiers to the nearby city of Ai to attack it. Yet even though it was only a small city, the Israelite army was defeated and chased back. The Israelites lost their courage and were afraid.

When Joshua prayed and asked the Lord why He had let them be defeated, God told him that Israel had sinned.

Why were others punished when only one person disobeyed?

Has your whole class ever been punished for making a noise, and you weren’t even talking? It seems so unfair that everyone has to suffer just because one or two break the rules and don’t care about others.

God had given the Israelites a strict order not to take anything from the city. To Achan, it seemed such a waste to leave the gold and silver behind, and besides, if he didn’t take it, someone else was bound to take it. Yet his disobedience cost him his life and the lives of many Israelites who were killed in battle. It is unfair that the innocent suffer because of others; but remember, the devil who encourages disobedience never plays fair.

Because God is absolutely holy, He cannot just overlook sin as though it doesn’t matter. He also cannot bless His people in a powerful way when there is unforgiven sin in their lives; and where God’s power cannot work, there is defeat!

Verse for today

Search me, O God, and know my heart… See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24

http://www.truthforkids.com/march-25/

EVIDENCE MOUNTS FOR BIBLICAL PROPHECIES-‘It’s hard not to look at all the pieces and jump to a conclusion’

Pastor Mark Biltz of El Shaddai Ministries, whose coming “Blood Moons” book and documentary describes what he views as a sign in the heavens, will be on the podium for the Prophecy in the News conference in Orlando March 28-30.

Dozens of other top Christian speakers also will be there.

Bob Ulrich, a spokesman for the ministry organizing the event, says Biltz’s work about the “Blood Moons” has “brought everything to the forefront.”

“Things have us looking for a false peace [in the Middle East]. They have us looking for a major, major conflict in the Middle East, maybe between Israel and their neighbors,” he told WND.

“We’re looking at this strong leader in Russia, a weak leader in America, a once-in-a-lifetime leader in Israel, the situation in Iran,” he continued. “It’s hard not to look at all the pieces and jump to a conclusion we’re very close … to seeing war.”

Ulrich said he’s watching the Middle East “very, very carefully, and closely.”

“We now see the vise that is being set up for Israel, which is surrounded by enemies,” he said. “The world is turning against them. And one friend, the U.S., no longer [is by their side].”

Signup for the conference is available online, and live-streaming will be available for those who can’t attend.

Sign up for that service, which includes unlimited access to the speeches for 30 days after the conference, now!

The “Blood Moons” phenomenon is a series of four eclipses that will occur this year on two Jewish holy days and again next year on the same Jewish holy days.

The last time the same sequence happened was in 1967 and 1968, when Israel recaptured Jerusalem in the Six-Day War. Before that, it was in the 1940s, when Israel was born.

It didn’t happen in the 1800s, not in the 1700s. Not even in the 1600s.

It did occur in the 1400s, in 1493 and 1494, when the Jews were expelled from Spain.

“Four total lunar eclipses happening the next two years herald possible war in the Middle East as well as global economic collapse,” Biltz told WND.

He says historically, this sequence of solar eclipses has been a sign, foretelling important events such as the destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem.

“Two happened right in a row at the time of destruction of the temple in 70 A.D. and on feast days,” he said.

Pastor John Hagee agrees that something is looming.

He was invited by Fox News to discuss the significance of four eclipses that will take place in 2015 on the Jewish Passovers, April 4 and April 15, and the Feasts of Tabernacles, Sept. 28 and Oct. 8.

In his new book, “Four Blood Moons: Something is About to Change,” he confirms that significant events relating to the Jewish nation have happened each time the eclipses line up.

“This is something that just is beyond coincidental,” Hagee told Fox News.

In the Old Testament, the prophet Joel states: “The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.” (Joel 2:31)

In the New Testament, Jesus is quoted as saying: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light. … And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.” (Matthew 24:29-30)

Acts 2 states: “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes.”

Watch Biltz explain his findings:

Also speaking is Cahn, whose “Harbinger” and accompanying documentary “Isaiah 9:10 Judgment” show how the same judgments of God recorded in the Old Testament appear to be happening in America today.

Other speakers include Chuck Missler, Bill Salus, L.A. Marzulli and William Koenig.

The signup for streaming includes 30 days of access post-conference and a discount on a set of DVDs that will follow, Prophecy in the News said.

WND reported last year when another Prophecy in the News Summit in Colorado Springs was sold out.
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2014/03/evidence-mounts-for-biblical-prophecies/#jxbvSZm6hVUcZkRp.99