A Test From The Lord

“A Test From The Lord”
--from January 21st  --

Day 1

Read Exodus 16
Imagine a band that is getting ready to start a song.  The guitar player is hearing one thing in his head and the piano player is hearing a different version of it.  Probably, the song that they are getting ready to play will not be in sync, or another way of saying it is they would not be on the same beat.  So the drummer steps up and clicks the sticks together for one measure to get everyone on beat before they start.  Imagine Exodus 16 like that.  It is the drummer hammering out the temp that the rest of the song is about to be played in.  The rhythms of this story will show up throughout the way God orders the steps of those following Him for a very long time.  If you get off beat or start to play to your own idea, all you have to do is listen for the beat of the drummers sticks in the background to bring you back on point.  
This story is teaching a lesson.  It’s a lesson that is about Sabbath rest, provision, and God’s law.   It tells it with manna and quail, things we won’t get to experience, but the principles are more important than the substances this story talks about.  The manna will be connected to Jesus coming as the bread from Heaven later in the Bible and the law of the Sabbath will show up in the Ten Commandments in a few chapters from here (Exodus 20).  But right now, we are supposed to pay attention to the rhythm that is starting off the beat.  So when you are applying this, rather than going out into the back yard and looking for bread on the ground, ask yourself about the rhythm that you are living to.

The quail came in the evening and the manna came in the morning (see verse 13), so with that in mind, what do you think verses 6-7 mean?

What is the application of the idea that they were to gather manna for six days, but for the 7th day, there would be plenty leftover from the day before?

How do you struggle with that rhythm in life and what can you do about that?

How can this be part of your prayer today?

Day 2

Read Exodus 15:22-27

This story has always been a favorite of mine, because it is so obscure and small next to the power houses it is sandwiched in (the song of Moses in chapter 15 and the quail and manna in chapter 16).  They have not been very far past the Red Sea when the children of Israel run out of water.  As will become the pattern, they grumbled and complained.  Don’t be too harsh, that is what we do when we are uncomfortable or convinced we are not getting what we need.  God knows what they need and it seems silly to read about the Red Sea experience only to see them all fall dead of thirst a few steps later. That would be a pretty pitiful story.  When they complain to God, God tells Moses to throw the log into the nasty, murky, bitter water that they clearly didn’t want to drink.  When they do that, in the wilderness of nothing, the water becomes amazing. The lesson then is taught in verse 25 and 26 in what reads as a stern rebuke.  
That’s a good story and a great lesson that you won’t soon forget if you experience it.  But as they filled their canteens with plenty of water and began to move on, they quickly found themselves at the next stop. Marah, where they just left, was named correctly as the word means “bitterness.”  The next stop reads like a Sandals brochure and probably would come complete with a cruise ship docking port now.  The place was loaded up with 12 springs and 70 palm trees.  The word “wilderness” in this context is meant to drum up more of a desert look than our word does, and this is supposed to be seen in stark contrast to Elim.  It was at the waters of bitterness that God filled them with all they needed and it was with full arms of provisions that they walked into the resort of Elim.  Wouldn’t it have been better to make the resort the first stop, and then give them the promise of Marah?  But that is not how God wrote this story.  

Have you ever experienced this type of blessing from God?

Why do you think God made this happen in the order it did: Marah and then Elim, and not Elim then Marah?

Where is your life in this metaphorical story line?  Are you leaving the Red Sea, standing in Marah wondering where God’s blessings are, or reclining on the beaches of Elim?

How does this inform your prayers for today?

Day 3

Read Exodus 17:1-7

I was excited when the movie “The Hobbit” based off of JRR Tolkien’s book, was coming out.  Then I learned it was going to be 3 movies, not one.  After the Lord of The Rings movies, and then the extended versions of those movies, I thought this might be a bit excessive.  It was.  

This story is starting to feel like that.  After the Red Sea, Marah/Elim, the quail and manna, and now the water from the rock…aren’t we just hearing one story over and over again, with the flavors slightly changed?  Yeah.  We are.  But it must be important if God thought we needed it that many times, that close together, and that similar.  The lesson has been heard.  You could probably tell it yourself.  But when real life hits, that is when we will be struggling to remember that God is the provider and that we are not doing this whole thing by ourselves.  So keep going back.  Keep reading these stories.  Keep having the same thoughts.  The people run out of something and complain to God.  God shows up in so many incredible ways and provides those needs.  That is the story we need to remember. 

Why do you need to hear this today?

Why will you need to hear this in the future?

Why do you think the people always turned to Moses and fought him over these lacks?

Share some ideas of your thoughts on the messaging app with the others reading along in these devotions.

Day 4

Read Psalm 105

This Psalm is a long one of what seems like just a retelling of some of the Old Testament ideas.  And that is exactly what it is.  Look specifically at verses 3-4 now.  

How do you seek the presence of God continually?

How have you experienced rejoicing as your heart has sought God?

How does this become your prayer today?

Day 5

Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-15

Yeah…this is about giving.  It may seem like a strange step to take in this study, but there is a reason we are here.  Paul, when he was writing to the church in Corinth about the people of Macedonia and their need there, he used a quote from our story of the quail and the manna…look at verse 15.

Remember, the ideas of our passage in Exodus 16 were about setting the rhythms of how people of God live.  So this is Paul taking the verse from Exodus 16 and applying it to this idea of giving.  There, the people that gathered too much were to be people that gave the extra to those that needed it.  All of their abundance was for those that were in need.  That same principle is the idea that Paul uses to talk about our giving.  Now we start the dance of thought that comes with how far we are supposed to take this lesson.  Meditate on it for a while.

When you read Exodus 16 and came to that verse, did you take that away from it?

What is the lesson that you need to learn here?

How can you change your level of generosity?

How does this become your prayer today?

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