Day One: Willingness

Exodus 35:29, 36:2 (ESV) – All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD… And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the LORD had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7 (NIV) – Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

“To make a holy dwelling for God, the Israelites had to have the right materials. Exodus 35 tells how they gathered what they needed for this huge building project. They all had a contribution to make, and from their example we learn what it means to have a heart for giving – offering what we have and what we do for the glorious work of God.” [Ryken, Philip. Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory, p.1026]

The Israelites were given a chance to build the tabernacle for God’s dwelling, something unprecedented at the time. What an incredible blessing that God is willing to involve us in his kingdom and work. Let’s worship to the song, Build My Life by Housefires. With hearts stirred by God, pray/sow generously and cheerfully for God’s kingdom to come where you are.

– JH

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Day Five: Full of Grace and Truth

John 1:14 – The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

“Full of Grace…

This is really good news. God could have chosen to become flesh as a judge and executioner. And all of us would be found guilty before him and be sentenced to everlasting punishment. But he did not become flesh that way…The Word of God became flesh to be gracious to us… This will not be a wishy-washy, unprincipled, sentimental grace. This will be a righteous, God-exalting, costly grace… It will lead straight to Jesus’ death on the cross. In fact, this is why he became flesh. He had to have flesh in order to die. He had to be human in order to die as a God-man in our place (Hebrews 2:14–15). The Word became flesh so that the death of Jesus Christ would be possible. The cross is where the fullness of grace shone most brightly. It was performed there and purchased there.

…And Truth

And the reason it happened through death is because the Son of God is full of grace and truth. God is gracious to us and true to himself. When Christ died, God was true to himself, because sin was punished. And When Christ died, God was gracious to us, because Christ bore the punishment not us.

‘The Word became flesh’ means for us that the glory of God has been revealed in history as never before, namely, in the fullness of grace and the fullness of truth that shines most brightly in the death of Jesus for sinners.” [“We Beheld His Glory, Full of Grace and Truth.” Desiring God, John Piper]

Jesus Christ is the incarnation of God’s determined love to make us His covenant people. Let’s run this race with our eyes fixed on our Lord Jesus Christ! Spend some time in prayer, meditating on the verse today and giving thanks to God for His saving grace in our lives.

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Day Four: Steadfast Love

Exodus 34:6-7 (ESV) – The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”

Psalm 108:4 (ESV) – For your steadfast love is great above the heavens; your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.

Khesed is more than generic ‘love,’ for which Hebrew has another word (ʾaheb). ‘Steadfast love’ is a better translation, but khesed is even stronger than that. ‘Unrelenting love’ or ‘pursing love’ is closest to its meaning when God is the one loving. Technically the word means ‘tenacious fidelity in a relationship, readiness and resolve to continue to be loyal to those to whom one is bound.’” [Walter Brueggemann, Theology of the Old Testament]. “This is the only adjective that occurs twice in this text (v. 6 and 7). The Lord’s reliable and unrelenting love stands at the center of God’s self-disclosure at Sinai.” [J.K. Bruckner, UTB Commentary.]

It only took about a month for the Israelites to go from “we will do everything the Lord says” (Ex 24:7) to singing praises to a golden calf. The Israelites were not loyal and they were not determined in their commitment to God. God is not like us. When we are faithless, He is faithful and remains loyal to us. He is with us not because we are faultless and perfect but because He is God of steadfast love. God loves us with His unrelenting love. It’s His love that makes this covenant relationship work.

Perhaps even this week, we were not loyal, forgetting our commitments that we made to the Lord. Let’s turn to God, receive His forgiveness and be restored to Him. May His pursuing love chase us down and wash over us this week.

Let’s sing, Pursue Me by Worship Central.

– DP

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Day Three: Slow to Anger

Joel 2:13 (NLT)

Don’t tear your clothing in your grief,
but tear your hearts instead.
Return to the Lord your God,
for he is merciful and compassionate,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
He is eager to relent and not punish.

“God says he is ‘slow to anger,’ which is a vivid way of describing his patience. Some of the older translations call it ‘longsuffering.’ To say that God is ‘slow to ange’ implies there are times when he does get angry, when he responds to sin with holy wrath. But God is ‘slow to anger.’ He is not capricious or volatile. And when he acts against evil, he does it righteously and deliberately, not because he loses his temper. John Mackay explains it well: Slow to anger does not present the LORD as a frustrated deity who eventually loses patience and strikes out against those who have thwarted him. It rather acknowledges that the LORD is reluctant to act against his creation, even when it is in rebellion against him. He waits long to give the sinner opportunity to return in repentance. But he is not forgetful and will not condone sin. At a time of his choosing he will act decisively against it.” [Ryken, Philip Graham. Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory.]

Aren’t we so thankful that God is slow to anger, that He holds back his wrath that we rightfully deserve? He is patient in waiting for His people to repent. We are preserved in His steadfast love for us.

We may have done things that we are not proud of and may be shameful of. Sin, guilt and shame may be keeping us from His presence and fellowshipping with Him. We can return to God because He is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and He is filled with unfailing love for us. May knowing God’s character motivate us to run to him in repentance when we do sin and receive his forgiveness. Let’s be renewed in our relationship with Him.

Spend some time worshipping God to, Your Cross Changes Everything by Matt Redman.

– DP

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Day Two: Forgiving

Exodus 34:7 (KJV) – Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin

Psalm 130: 3-4, 7-8 (NIV)

If you, Lord, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.

Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.

God is “forgiving.” The Hebrew verb used here (nasa) means “to lift or to carry.” This gives us a picture of what God does with our sin. He takes it away, lifting the heavy burden of guilt right off our shoulders. To show how forgiving he is, God lists three things he is willing to forgive: “iniquity and transgression and sin” (34:7). These are three categories of unrighteousness. “Iniquity” (‘awon) means to “turn aside” from what is right and good. “Transgression” (pesha‘) is more defiant. John Mackay defines it as a “willful violation of the terms of the covenant, involving not merely disobeying a rule or regulation, but betraying the relationship one has with the covenant King.”  Anyone who commits this kind of sin is a traitor to God. The last term (“sin”; chatta’h) is the most general. It refers to any kind of moral failure. The point is that God is willing to forgive any and all kinds of sin. Sometimes we feel so weighed down with guilt that we wonder whether there is any way for God to forgive us. We are tempted to feel that what we have done is so evil that we have fallen beyond the reach of his grace. But however we define what we have done, God is willing to forgive our kind of sinner. He forgives wickedness, rebellion, and sin.  [Ryken, Philip G. Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory]

We are alive today because God forgives. Spend a moment offering up thanksgiving and praise to our God who forgives us and redeems us.

– DP

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Day One: What is God like?

Exodus 34:5-7 (NIV) – Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”

Unless God revealed Himself to us, how would we know what He is like? In these verses, God is revealing and describing His own character for the first time to Moses as he is pleading with God for the Israelites after the golden calf episode.

We may have differing views about how God is like and have notions about God that are inaccurate or not complete. Some of us may relate to God as if He is a wrathful judge who is ready to punish at the first sign of wrong doing. Some of us focus more on His grace and forgiveness without taking sin seriously. In these important verses, God describes two significant aspects of his divine nature. YHWH is God of mercy who forgives AND He is a God of justice. After the people of God really mess up, God forgives and preserves the nation of Israel. They are punished but not destroyed. Shockingly, He commits Himself to them by renewing the covenant knowing well that they are stiff-necked and unfaithful people.

Ultimately, the mercy and the justice of God are satisfied in our Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t get the punishment we deserve because Jesus died on the cross for us. It was God’s plan all along for us. Our God is merciful. With this revelation of God, Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped.

Let’s spend some time worshipping God to the song, “Holy Ground” by Passion and be in awe of His glory!

– DP

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Day Five: Jesus, Who Intercedes for Us

Romans 8:33-35 (NIV)

Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?

Acts 7:54-58 (NIV)

When the members of the Sanhedrin heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 

At this they covered their ears and, yelling at the top of their voices, they all rushed at him, dragged him out of the city and began to stone him. Meanwhile, the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.

“But there is One whose life has been given for us, so that our names would not be blotted out, and One who took our punishment away. There is One whose blood has atoned for our sin when we were faithless and idolatrous. There is One who has perfectly stood the test in the desert for forty days and nights in our place, in whom we can place the our total trust. There is One who is interceding for us now at the right hand of the Father, of whom Stephen said in Acts chapter 7, “Look, I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” His name is Jesus, and as we are God’s people being led through the desert of this world, he has commanded us to wait for him to return to us, so that he himself can lead us.” [Adapted from P. Nate’s message at AMC]

In Acts 7, a young man named Saul stood in approval of those who stoned Stephen to death for his faith in Jesus. At that moment, Stephen proclaimed that he saw Jesus at the right hand of the Father. Later, Paul, as a Christian apostle, writes that Jesus presently intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father. As he wrote these words, I wonder if he was thinking about Stephen’s final words? Today, let’s respond in thanksgiving, worship and prayer as we remember the testimony of God’s Word, and let’s also sing, “Exalted Over All” by Elevation Worship.

– NB

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Day Four: At Just the Right Time

Exodus 32:31-34 (NIV)

So Moses went back to the Lord and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”

The Lord replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.”

Romans 5:6-11 (NIV)

You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

“Why didn’t God accept the sacrifice of Israel’s mediator? The answer is not stated in Exodus 32, but we know it from the rest of Scripture. Moses could not die for his people’s sin because he was himself a sinner… As we read through the Bible we keep looking for a Savior, someone to atone for sin… And he [Jesus] is the only man who could make atonement because he alone is without sin… The more we study Moses, the more we learn about Jesus. This is the way the Bible works. The story of salvation keeps getting clearer and clearer.” [Ryken, Philip G. Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory]

The events of Exodus 32 present the first major transgressions of Israel in the desert wanderings that aroused God’s righteous anger. Moses did not know what to do about such great sin, and so he offered the greatest thing he had – his own life! Yet such an offering was not enough, because Moses was himself a sinner. Sinful humanity needed a perfect Savior to redeem them.

As Romans 5:6 says, Jesus died “at just the right time”. Exodus 32 points forward to a Savior who will intercede in a more complete way than Moses, One who will take the punishment we all deserved. And this is how God continues to demonstrate his own love for us in that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. Today, let’s worship our Savior Jesus, as we sing “No Longer I” by Matt Redman.

– NB

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Day Three: Standing in the Breach

Exodus 32:7-14 (NIV)

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, ‘These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.’

“I have seen these people,” the Lord said to Moses, “and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation.”

But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

Psalm 106:19-23 (NIV)

At Horeb they made a calf
    and worshiped an idol cast from metal.
They exchanged their glorious God
    for an image of a bull, which eats grass.
They forgot the God who saved them,
    who had done great things in Egypt,
miracles in the land of Ham
    and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
So he said he would destroy them—
    had not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him
    to keep his wrath from destroying them.

“In telling Moses to step aside, God made it clear that Moses was the only thing standing between Israel and destruction. But Moses accepted this responsibility and became the great intercessor for the people.” [Garrett, Duane A. A Commentary on Exodus]

“When we approach God on the basis of his covenant, we have the ultimate security. God has promised to save everyone who comes to him through faith in Jesus Christ. We have been saved by the blood of the everlasting covenant (Hebrews 13:20) – the blood that Jesus shed on the cross. And God cannot break his covenant. What a wonderful encouragement this is to anyone who has trouble believing that he or she can still be forgiven. God has promised to save us not just now, but forever. Our salvation is not made secure by our own obedience, which is bound to fail, but by the unbreakable promise of God. As the Scripture says, ‘If we are faithless, he remains faithful – for he cannot deny himself’ (2 Timothy 2:13).” [Ryken, Philip G. Exodus: Saved for God’s Glory]

We have the unbelievable privilege and responsibility of intercession “in the breach” in the present already-not-yet age. Like Moses, we base our prayer on God’s promises, which are now guaranteed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. Today, let’s spend time in prayer, obeying 1 Timothy 2:1, which says, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people”.

– NB

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Day Two: The Golden Bull

Exodus 32:2-6 (NIV) – Aaron answered them, “Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron. He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.”

When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, “Tomorrow there will be a festival to the Lord.” So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.

In the distant past, there was a buffet nearby called “The Golden Bull”,  and, indeed, it had a giant golden bull statue on its roof. When we read Exodus 32, we are probably just as shocked by the appearance of the golden calf as the idol of choice for the Israelites. Yet, the worship of any idol – whether physical or of the heart – is equally out-of-place in the life of a child of God. One of the core themes of the Bible is the removal of idols from our lives.

“What is an idol? It is anything more important to you than God, anything that absorbs your heart and imagination more than God, anything you seek to give you what only God can give… A counterfeit god is anything so central and essential to your life that, should you lose it, your life would hardly be worth living. An idol has such a controlling position in your heart that you can spend most of your passion and energy, your emotional and financial resources, on it without a second thought.” [Keller, Timothy. Counterfeit Gods]

To build the golden calf, the Israelites “yanked out” the gold earrings they had taken from Egypt without second thought. Today, may we heed Paul’s warning in 1 Corinthians 10:6, “Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did.” Let’s set our hearts on the Lord alone as we worship to O Come to the Altar performed by Elevation Worship.

– NB

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