A Prayer of Moses

“And now, I beseech thee, let the power of my LORD be great, according as thou hast spoken” (v. 17).

Moses and Aaron had been voted out; Israel was ready to stone them! When God threatened to wipe out these grumblers, Moses stood in the gap. In his prayer, Moses used God’s own promises of protection and provision to implore Him to cancel the death sentence. Other nations had observed God’s provision for this great throng and to wipe them off the map would destroy the nations’ respect for God.

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” (James 5:16b). We should never underestimate the power of a single prayer. As pilgrims on this planet, we have a Christian duty to pray for those who have spiritual or physical needs. This begins with our families and extends to the far reaches of the world. Prayer is an investment that pays extraordinary dividends for eternity. Heaven will reveal the miracles wrought through prayer!

We are the seed-sowers, and God delivers the harvest. The prayers of Moses are scattered throughout the Books of Exodus and Numbers. Sometimes the “people cried to Moses,” and at other times he discerned the spiritual void in his people. Thank God for forgiveness and that His mercies are new every morning. We don’t want our children to reap the remunerations of our sins. Stand in the gap for your family and generations to follow! May God keep us faithful in prayer and shower His blessings of mercy to a thousand generations. (Beverly K. Tatum)

Be Thou my Guardian and my Guide; And hear me when I call; Let not my slippery footsteps slide, And hold me lest I fall. — Isaac Williams

Lord, help us to be faithful to our generation and leave behind road signs pointing to the heavenly path!

Getting Ahead of God

“Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement” (v. 5).

The fact that Sarah laughed (Gen. 18:10-12) when she heard that God was going to give her a son in her old age is not of importance. Didn’t Abraham also laugh earlier upon receiving this message? (Gen. 17:17). What is of importance is that she adorned herself with trust in God, “obeyed Abraham,” and followed her husband’s journey of faith.

Catherine was a tender, compassionate woman. She also was a woman of deep faith and great conviction. She was a quiet, reserved woman. This she overcame, however, in her desire to serve Christ. She accompanied her husband William to tent revivals as he preached throughout England. Later she became his strong supporter as together they founded the Salvation Army in their desire to reach the poor in England with the gospel. William Booth was blessed to have a godly wife who was adorned by the hidden man of the heart, an ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, and an astounding depth of trust in God. (L. Gayle Woods)

Any man is blessed to have a godly wife who is adorned by the hidden man of the heart, an ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, and an astounding depth of trust in God.

Sign of the Covenant

“This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised” (v. 10).

I still remember the look of panic when as a young boy, I asked my Sunday school teacher what circumcision meant and why Abraham had to be circumcised! She stumbled around for a minute, and then finally said that some things weren’t discussed in Sunday school!

Humor aside, it is important to understand why circumcision was a sign between God and man. Throughout Scripture, there are multiple times that God gave a sign of His covenant to His people. And in this passage, God appoints that covenant sign to confirm, to strengthen, and to establish Abraham’s faith. Just as God changed Abraham’s name to reiterate the promises that He had made to him, now God is going to give him a sign. It is a permanent physical sign so that everywhere Abraham went, he couldn’t get away from the sign that God gave him that He would be faithful to keep His promises. Thomas Chisholm got it right when he penned the words of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” (Robert W. Booth)

“Great is Thy faithfulness,” O God my Father, There is no shadow of turning with Thee; Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.

As you go through today, remember that God keeps His promises!

Children Are Special to God

Read Matthew 18:1-6
“Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea” (v. 6).
Growing up in the sixties in a godly Christian home enabled me to come under the influence of godly parents, great Christian reading, life lessons in prayer and thanksgiving. Although there were no Christian schools and our public school teachers were not all Christians, they always honored Judeo-Christian values in the classroom. I’ll never forget the time when one of the students brought a tape to school with the recording of Bill Cosby’s “Noah and the Ark.” The teacher allowed him to begin playing it during our Christmas party, and almost immediately had him turn it off because she said it was distasteful and disrespectful of the Bible.
Today, many children grow up with no Christian training at home and no Christian teaching at school. God’s absence creates a vacuum in their hearts and minds. Truth loses its meaning; love loses its motivation, and learning loses its moorings. How can they learn wisdom and understanding, since “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Prov. 9:10).
It remains our duty and delight as Christian parents and grandparents to train and teach our offspring through the third generation (Deut. 4:9). Beyond that, our influence will wane, and our memories will fade from their hearts and minds. (Stephen N. Hickman)
Where there is no Christian teaching, truth loses its meaning; love loses its motivation, and learning loses its moorings.

Riches are Fleeting

Read Jeremiah 17:9-11
“As the partridge sitteth on eggs, and hatcheth them not; so he that getteth riches, and not by right, shall leave them in the midst of his days, and at his end shall be a fool” 
(v. 11).
All it takes is a hurricane to prove the fact that wealth is not lasting. Multi-million dollar homes on the beach front are gone in a swath of churning water. Billions of dollars worth of investment in businesses, golf courses, automobiles, and infrastructure can be swept away in minutes.
Or take the catastrophe of a financial collapse or the sudden calamity of an investment scam. In a flurry of numbers, the amount dwindles, and the account holder is faced with the reality that little or nothing is left. And riches can be fleeting, not only because they can be lost in a natural disaster or deceitful scheme, but also if they are gained at the expense of someone else.
The partridge, a common sight in ancient times, was often accused of hatching chicks which were not her own. The prophet makes reference to this in his admonition to us that we take heed to our use of riches. Wealth improperly gained is not an asset.
We must not be like a creature only out for gain, no matter the process. We must recognize that riches are temporal and look after the bit that God assigns to us. Only then can we rest in the security from above. (Valerie A. Quesenberry)
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
— Dallas Forgaill
Riches, like eggs, are fragile and must be handled with integrity.

The Value of God’s Word

Read 2 Timothy 3:14-17
“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (v. 15).
Have you ever learned a skill you were not too interested in following? I recently helped a general contractor install a large recreational vehicle park. I learned to operate some heavy equipment, install plumbing, and do earth moving work. At the close of the project, I mentioned to the fellows who had taught me, “Hope I never need these skills again.”
There are areas of life though that we need! Not every believer is wise regarding finances, or relationships. Every Christian, who knows the Word of God, is wise regarding his eternal hope. Paul is encouraging Timothy to understand that the Scriptures give clear and strong teaching regarding salvation by faith in Christ. (G. Clair Sams)
I know not why God’s wondrous grace
To me He hath made known,
Nor why, unworthy, Christ in love
Redeemed me for His own.
But “I know Whom I have believed,
And am persuaded that He is able
To keep that which I’ve committed
Unto Him against that day.”
— Daniel W. Whittle
What is the most important study of your life? Do you long to study God’s Word?

Quickened by the Spirit

Read Romans 8:9-11
 “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you” (v. 11).
Have you met believers who routinely say something like “Sometimes I am not in the Spirit but in the flesh”? That has always puzzled me. I don’t understand how, in light of today’s scripture, a believer can be “in the Spirit” one moment and “not in the Spirit” another moment.
When Christ comes into our lives, the Spirit of God makes that same body alive to righteousness. The “quickening” makes us aware and sensitive to sin. It empowers and enables a believer to live the life of righteousness. Sin no longer controls our lives when the Holy Spirit is dwelling within us. Just as only God can bring about physical life in a woman’s womb, only God the Holy Spirit can give our earthly bodies the power to live a life of righteousness. (LeeAnn Davison)
Holy Spirit, all divine,
Dwell within this heart of mine;
Cast down every idol throne,
Reign supreme, and reign alone.
— Author Unknown

Earnestness in Prayer

Read Exodus 2:23-25

“And it came to pass in process of time, that the king of Egypt died: and the children of Israel sighed by reason of the bondage, and they cried, and their cry came up unto God by reason of the bondage” (v. 23).

How does a person assess “earnestness in prayer”? Some prayer meetings might give the impression that earnestness is equated with volume. The louder the prayer, the more earnest it is. Earnestness might also be evaluated by persistence. In that case, a no-quit attitude would be evidence of earnestness.

It is unlikely that the Israelites in our text came together for times of group prayer. And it is equally unlikely that they prayed at the top of their voices. The authorities would likely have frowned on either scenario. But what is clear is that their cries got the attention of God and that as a result the deliverance process was begun.

Earnestness could be defined as a heartfelt conviction that God is the only answer to our dilemma. Probably how it is expressed is as different as the people praying. But God knows when a seeker is completely given to crying out to God for an answer. And history has shown that when God gets that message, He acts! (Gordon Snider)

Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees,
And looks to that alone;

Laughs at impossibilities,

And cries, “It shall be done!” — Charles Wesley

Earnest prayer knows no impossibilities.

This devotional is the Monday, February 19 , 2018 entry of Opening the Word.

Mission: To Protect a People

Read Esther 4:6–14

“For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (v. 14).

During World War II the ten Boom family felt it necessary to hide Jews from Nazi soldiers. The family prepared a room in their home to keep these individuals hidden. This family was willing to risk their lives to save a people, the Jews. It is estimated that they saved 800 persons. In so doing, some of the ten Boom family died in prison, and others lived on to tell of God’s great love during those troublesome times.

Esther, in our Scripture for today, was a noble and courageous lady who valiantly stood in the gap, defending her people, the Jews, and triumphed in her mission to protect the nation of Israel from Haman’s devious scheme.

What produces such lion-hearted boldness in a person? My friend, it is love; God’s love! There are millions of unborn babies murdered; what are we doing about it? There are souls headed for eternity; are we willing to stand up and share the salvation message with them? It is our mission! (Sharonda Baker)

Who is on the Lord’s side? Who will serve the King?
Who will be His helpers other lives to bring?
Who will leave the world’s side? Who will face the foe?

Are we willing to stand alone and fill in the gap for truth and righteousness?

This devotional is the Tuesday, February 13, 2018 entry of Opening the Word.

The Sacrifice of the Servant

Read Isaiah 53:4–9

“Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted” (v. 4).

The servant must focus on his mission. Jesus identified His mission as “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). He was passionately consumed with that mission. John the Baptist summed it up when he said, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29), but here Isaiah spells out what that involved. The Servant of the Lord was “stricken, smitten of God, afflicted,” He was “wounded for our transgressions, bruised for our iniquities,” chastised for our peace, seeking our healing with His stripes. The mission, not the sacrifice, occupied Him!

However, it is the sacrifice that grabs our attention when verse 6 of this passage says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Yet the cost of the sacrifice did not thwart His mission of love! As Lord and Servant-Savior, He willingly sacrificed to the utmost to accomplish His mission for you and me! (Rodney Stearns)

He left His Father’s throne above,

So free, so infinite His grace!

Emptied Himself of all but love,

And bled for Adam’s helpless race;

’Tis mercy all immense and free.

For, O my God, it found out me!

— Charles Wesley

He suffered to save; new life He gave!

This devotional is the Tuesday, February 6, 2018 entry of Opening the Word.