Daily Devotional Week 15 Day 1 OT (chronological) Sunday (Exodus 20)

Note: This is an unusually long devotional,
but I believe that it’s worth the extra detail.
dmc2015

Daily Devotional

Week 15 Day 1

OT (chronological)

Sunday (Exodus 20)

The Decalogue, The Altar

The elderly teacher began their teaching time by reviewing the 10 Commandments and how they were still relevant, in principle, it not entirely literally – based on the teaching of Jesus the Christ. The first day proved to be a long session.

One

20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”

The Lord God declared His superiority. He pre-existed all else and caused it to be, He is sovereign.

Two

20:4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above or that is on the earth beneath or that is in the water below. 20:5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children to the third and fourth generations of those who reject me, 20:6 and showing covenant faithfulness to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

The Lord God declared monotheism and then He left no room whatsoever for multiple Gods. He also included a curse for disobedience and His conditional-promise; “… showing covenant faithfulness to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

Three

20:7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold guiltless anyone who takes his name in vain.

The Lord God required respect, His name was holy because He is holy. In this case the failure to obey included a curse.

Four

20:8 “Remember the Sabbath day to set it apart as holy. 20:9 For six days you may labor and do all your work, 20:10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; on it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, or your male servant, or your female servant, or your cattle, or the resident foreigner who is in your gates. 20:11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth and the sea and all that is in them, and he rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

The Lord God had previously “given” the Sabbath to His people, He knew that in their busyness they would lose sight of the priority of their relationship with Him, forget their history with Him, and drift into the ways of non-Israelites around them. He removed their obligation to work; which did not mean they could do nothing at all on the Sabbath. He would later define this all in greater detail. He also explained that they were to model His pattern in Creation.

[Note: Jesus fulfilled the Law and reinterpreted
the Law as it applied to those saved by grace through surrender to
His Lordship. The Sabbath, as with all other things, was now
subject
to His reinterpretation – in practical application “Man was not
made for the Sabbath but the Sabbath was made for man.” Mark
2:26-28. Jesus is Lord of the Sabath and I am His subject. God’s
words specified six days of work then one day set-aside. In those
times that was naturally their traditional last day of six
working,
In modern times there are typically only five days of work, in
some
cases only four. The principle of setting aside one day per week
is
the only critical element of the teaching.]

Five

20:12 “Honor your father and your mother, that you may live a long time in the land the Lord your God is giving to you.

He included a curse and a promise; a long life in the promised land, or the corollary.

Six

20:13 “You shall not murder.

The Lord God put a fine-edge on this command as it required a measure of heart-intent; He did not say (as some have mistranslated) “You shall not kill”, He very intentionally said “You shall not murder”. All murder is killing but all killing is not murder.

Murder is a selfish action, killing has multiple motivations. Murder begins with a heart of rebellion, murder degrades what God says is ‘in His image’ – humankind – and murder is committed for selfish personal gain.

Killing was not only done by God, it was done at the behest of God, to make of all killing a act of sin one makes God the author of sin – which is blasphemy. Killing may be accidental, in self-defense, in defense of another, may result from an act of carelessness, or it may be in war.

Seven

20:14 “You shall not commit adultery.

The Lord God set a literal standard, one that precluded a specific (and presumably physical) relational act, that of sexual contact with one not one’s spouse, if one were married, (or contact with a married person if one were single).

Jesus would later expand the definition to include a heart of lust toward one not ones spouse, if one were married, or toward a married person if one were single. While God’s legal standard was challenging for the undisciplined person the grace-centered heart-based requirement of Jesus called for a transformative-surrender to the Holy Spirit, for without that no man or woman could remain free of sin.

The known-presumption was that all sexual contact involved God-ordained male-female marriage, there was no provision in any recorded Biblical text for two non-married people having sexual contact, nor for same-gender relationships.

Eight

20:15 “You shall not steal.

The essence of the Lord God’s law against stealing permeated all of the others. To have another God before Him would be to steal His rightful place. To worship idols would be to steal His rightful place. To dishonor ones parents is to steal from them their due-respect. To murder steals life from another (and their dependents and loved-ones) for selfish gain. To commit adultery steals affections not rightfully yours (whether stealing them from the disrespected spouse or taking them from another single person without the protective context of marriage). To give false testimony steals justice from another.

Nine

20:16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

Just as adultery, disrespect, murder, and stealing would destroy the Israelite family, God knew that lying about one-another would do so as well.

Ten

20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife [spouse], nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Covetousness was also a wrong heart condition. God knew that if His people focused on what others possessed, be it their house, spouse, servants, beasts of burden, or anything else it would become an obsession which would drive them to compete with and to deceive and/or abuse power to take away from others.

The practical detail in God’s teaching was always profound – for example – the Altar was not to be elevated such that steps would be necessary to approach it. The reason given was decency – people wore robes rather than pants, therefore their undergarments could be seen as they walked up and down. One notes the harsh penalty for Noah’s son who gazed upon, and ridiculed him, when he was exposed while in a drunken sleep. The Altar must also be made from the earth or from stones not altered by human tools – this presumably was to prevent any sense of ownership of the Altar – other than by God.

Dear Lord, Teach me to seek after the most-righteous application of Your teaching rather than constantly seeking ways to interpret it to rationalize moral laziness and active sin. Amen. dmc2015

Daily Devotional Week 14 Day 7 OT (chronological) Saturday (Exodus 19)

Daily Devotional

Week 14 Day 7

OT (chronological)

Saturday (Exodus 19)

Israel at Sinai

The refugees had traveled for many weeks and then they came upon an abandoned mining town, once very active but as the minerals became scarce so did the money – eventually everyone fled to the city.

It had been many years but the structures were still intact, there was a spring-fed pond from which they could draw water, and if they could find a way to refill it – the water tower could gravity-feed the homes. They gave thanks to the Lord for a place to rest.

Once they had settled-in Mikal and Saree called for a gathering at the town meeting house on Sunday. It was was a huge building – constructed for the town’s business meetings, and it had also served as the town theater – it could hold nearly 1,000 people – more if some sat in the aisles, some on the deep and wide window sills, and if some stood along the sides and back – and they did.

A couple of the teens had found and repaired an old small diesel generator to provide some electrical power (using bio-fuel they made) and some others managed to get the sound system working – so that everyone could hear.

After Mikal and Saree led them in prayer and read from the Word they explained that a toxic residue from past mining had been found in the soil and water – so the people could not stay there for long. They could filter water for drinking and cooking but growing things safely was not practical – for now it was “God’s Oasis” and they would use it to learn His Word and to rest.

The elderly teacher, who had advised them along the way, would teach them using daily stories – since there was little else to do – the people agreed to gather daily at the meeting house.

Even Jesus retreated from the busyness of life now and then to commune with His Father and with those whom He had chosen to mentor most personally. The Bible teaches us to set aside a day, and a time on every other day, to also retreat – with Him.

Dear Lord, Please rescue me from the devil’s scheme to use busyness to keep me from You, and from fellowship with those who also seek to draw nearer to You. Lead me to faithful facilitators in the study of Your Word, to others who have chosen to invest in You, and protect us from false teachers and excuses to neglect Your discipleship of our hearts and minds. Amen. dmc2015

Daily Devotional Week 14 Day 6 OT (chronological) Friday (Exodus 18:17-27)

Daily Devotional

Week 14 Day 6

OT (chronological)

Friday (Exodus 18:17-27)

The Advice of Jethro – Part 2

The elderly man then said to Mikal and Saree “100 people are really hard for one or two people to manage well, 1,000 means crisis management all the time.” They agreed with his assessment.

He continued “I have counseled and taught many of these people and I know there to be a number of competent, humble, and trustworthy leaders among them.” Mikal and Saree had visited a teaching series of his in the past and just remembered that. They also remembered his reputation among those people. They both exclaimed “Now we remember you!”

He bowed his head humbly for a moment then asked if they would hear his advice – they said “We are grateful to have you with us and we would be blessed. Please continue.”

He recommended that they consider Jethro’s advice to Moses, dividing oversight among ten or twelve leaders, while they attended to big picture matters and major events. They agreed and did so.

The concept of mentoring the next generation of leaders, within a community, is a very Biblical one. We far too often overlook leaders in our midst in favor of less-known leaders from elsewhere – this discourages young people from investing in their skills or in the community, and diminishes their sense of value to the development and improvement of the community.

Dear Lord, You raised up the apostles, then delegated critical responsibilities to them. The apostle Paul, Barnabas, John, and others followed His model. As is appropriate to my maturity in-Christ please send me a mentor and teach me how to be a mentor to others. Amen. dmc2015

Daily Devotional Week 14 Day 5 OT (chronological) Thursday (Exodus 18:1-16)

Daily Devotional

Week 14 Day 5

OT (chronological)

Thursday (Exodus 18:1-16)

The Advice of Jethro – Part 1

Mikal and Saree were getting exhausted racing back and forth among the various groups, trying to keep the peace, trying to encourage, and trying to remind them that God was with them.

An elderly man, who had been riding on one of the wagons, hopped off as they were walking by and asked if he could walk with them for a little while – they handed him a water bottle and agreed.

He explained that he had been an early convert among the people and had led many to Christ, discipled many, buried some, married others, and had generally tried to be a useful servant to the Lord.

He complimented them on their efforts and leadership skills and shared with them how he had been praying in earnest from everyone, but especially for them.

They were grateful and encouraged by his words.

Sometimes there are quiet people around us who see when we are doing right and who pray for God’s protection and provision – specifically for us. We don’t always know they are there, but when we learn about them we should be humbled and encouraged.

Dear Lord, Thank You for sending prayer warriors and encouragers, I cannot serve You well without the prayers of others. Please show me someone for whom You want me to pray, and to whom You want me to speak words of encouragement. Amen. dmc2015

Daily Devotional Week 14 Day 4 OT (chronological) Wednesday (Exodus 17:8-16)

Daily Devotional

Week 14 Day 4

OT (chronological)

Wednesday (Exodus 17:8-16)

Victory over the Amalekites

As the days became weeks the group of over 1,000 began to stretch out, healthy and youngest ahead, followed by the mule-drawn wagons with the elderly, ill, and babies, then the slower walking people.

The physical separation meant that those most-vulnerable, to wild animals or roaming bandits, were the furthest from those capable of defending them.

Then one day the group furthest back decided to wander off the path and sit by some bushes to rest. The others continued on without noticing – then the sitting group was suddenly attacked by hordes of stinging insects that rose from nests in the ground.

Their screams and shouts caught the attention of the nearest and they called out to those ahead – eventually word got to the front group who raced back to see what was the matter – meanwhile the others prayed for safety and wisdom.

When the rescuers arrived they broke-off some of the bushes, yelled to those in the swarm to cover their faces, then began sweeping the dry sand into the air – driving-off the insects. When the insects retreated the rescuers raced in and pulled some of the people to safety – then the insects would return. They continued this cycle for a while but between initially running back, and then the rescue-effort, they became weary.

Mikal and Saree led the people in earnest prayer and suddenly gusts of wind came from nowhere, driving-off the insects, and the rest of the victims were rescued. Everyone praised God for His intervention.

Sometimes even the best answers, powered by humankind alone, are not sufficient. It is always best to invite God to lead the way as we act from the wisdom He has given us – when He chooses He will intervene – but most of the time He allows things to unfold naturally.

Dear Lord, We broke Your perfect creation, and every day our sins break it a little more. While we wish we lived in the Garden of Eden, we do not, and even there poor choices resulted in bad consequences. Make of me a useful instrument as I look forward to Your return and to a new heaven and earth. Amen. dmc2015

Daily Devotional Week 14 Day 3 OT (chronological) Tuesday (Exodus 17:1-7)

Daily Devotional

Week 14 Day 3

OT (chronological)

Tuesday (Exodus 17:1-7)

Water at Massa and Meribah

Further along in their travels the people began to complain about the inability to bathe themselves.

Mikal and Saree prayed and the Lord sent them a young man with an idea. He showed them how the people could use tarps to gather and then collect moisture during the night. He also showed them how to use packing materials provided with the food and supply drops to capture and filter water they used to wash dishes.

The result was sufficient clean gathered and recycled water for the people to bathe. The young man, together with Mikal and Saree, were careful to give God the credit for the solution.

It is often true that we become so overwhelmed by a challenge we fail to see the solution, or to recognize someone with the solution, nearby. Pausing to ask God for patience, vision, and wisdom can solve many problems.

Dear Lord, There is no genuine need in my life for which You have not provided – may Your Holy Spirit open my eyes so that I will see Your priorities and Your provision through Your eyes. Amen. dmc2015

Daily Devotional Week 14 Day 2 OT (chronological) Monday (Exodus 16)

Daily Devotional

Week 14 Day 2

OT (chronological)

Monday (Exodus 16)

The Provision of Manna

A group of Christian refugees escaped a war-torn country where they had been a repressed minority. Most were cultural ‘social-christians’, born into certain beliefs and practices but lacking a personal relationship with Jesus, and few among those – who had a true faith – had been well-discipled.

After traveling many days their food supplies began to run out – first the mothers started to worry for their young children, then others worried for the elderly, then the grumbling began about poor planning and how at least they could have fed themselves back home.

The leaders, Mikal and Saree, were troubled – the harsh evils of the oppression that caused them to flee had been far worse than an empty stomach – they prayed to the Lord, wondering how the people could so soon forget, and they asked for patience, provision, and wisdom.

The Lord caused a misplaced report about the group’s movements to be discovered by a worker in the intelligence service of a Christian-friendly nation. She requested an update to the satellite imagery. After calculating their numbers, the length of their travel, and the stark wasteland they had traversed – it was clear to her that they could be in trouble.

She contacted a Christian organization, which provided food for the poor, and a cooperative effort was launched to quickly air-drop some supplies. Because it was disputed territory they decided to make a secret drop at night and in the morning the people discovered several huge containers of food and other supplies just outside their camp.

Instructions as to how they might make contact for other needs was provided, as well as an emergency-beaconing system and a 2-way radio. At one point someone grabbed the radio and called for more supplies, this caused some confusion and irritation as such communications were to only be made at set times, but Mikal and Saree explained the circumstances and secured the radio.

There are times and places where things may become impossibly unbearable and we decide to move on. It may be a church where we have no voice to cause change to Biblically-wrong doctrine, a neighborhood that has become dangerous, an environment that has become polluted, a region where armed conflict has broken out, or a relationship that has become unbearably toxic. When the Lord says to go, we must go, and trust Him to provide.

Dear Lord, Change can be scary, and the greater the change the scarier it can be. When I am certain that I am walking the path You have set before me please give me the strength to stay the course and to trust You to provide my real needs. Amen. dmc2015

Daily Devotional Week 14 Day 1 OT (chronological) Sunday (Exodus 15:22-27)

Daily Devotional

Week 14 Day 1

OT (chronological)

Sunday (Exodus 15:22-27)

The Bitter Water

Just as the new leaders were about to propose a process for recovery from the mismanagement of the prior leaders they received an economic report. All of the boycotts and lost business, due to the discriminatory and repressive policies of the past, had the nation on the bring of economic collapse – and it was far worse than they had anticipated.

They contacted Macon and Bethlee and asked them to contact faith leaders for prayer and to ask if they had any contacts outside of the country who might do something to help.

In addition to prayer chains Macon and Bethlee contacted missions organizations who contacted their larger sponsors who then contacted leaders in other nations and in large corporations.

The corporations and other nations wanted to reward the positive changes and not allow sanctions intended for the prior leaders to handicap the new – so many of the canceled cooperative projects were restored, airlines returned service, and conferences and tourism multiplied.

One of the amazing sources of new business was from people in other countries wanting to study how they had freed themselves from the corrupt leaders, Christians who wanted to come to encourage and worship with the rapidly growing fellowships there, and others who were fascinated by the culture of the mountain people.

While there would be many challenges ahead – these changes were enough to stabilize the economy and to provide a path into the future.

Many times we feel overwhelmed by troubles, we may forget to pray, and may be too proud to ask for help. God does not want to be our quick-fix for everything but He loves to bless the obedient. The Bible teaches “You have not because you ask not” – we are to bring all things to Him and trust His answer. (Matthew 7:7, James 4:2)

Dear Lord, Sometimes I think that I can be clever enough to solve my own problems, sometimes I hope for a magical solution (perhaps someone will ride to the rescue), and sometimes I give up without even trying. Please help me to remember to always start with You. Amen. dmc2015

Daily Devotional Week 13 Day 7 OT (chronological) Saturday (Exodus 15:1-21)

Daily Devotional

Week 13 Day 7

OT (chronological)

Saturday (Exodus 15:1-21)

The Song of Triumph

Popular music groups wrote, recorded, and performed new songs memorializing various people and events in the restoration of freedom and justice in their nation – Christian-friendly musicians acknowledged God’s role.

Within the Believer’s community praise and prayers of thanksgiving were celebrated.

When major events happen in the life of a fellowship, a community, a state, or a nation it is often memorialized in many different ways. We also memorialize events in our families and in our individual lives. When the memorials are healthy they can preserve history and values, when unhealthy they may cause depression and fear.

Dear Lord, Please help me to sort out the things that You want me remember and the ones You want me to forget. Help me to remember in such a way that it has the power to focus me on what You have done – so that my faith and trust in You grows. Amen. dmc2015

Daily Devotional Week 13 Day 6 OT (chronological) Friday (Exodus 14:19-31)

Daily Devotional

Week 13 Day 6

OT (chronological)

Friday (Exodus 14:19-31)

The Victory at the Red Sea – Part 2,

The rally and fervent prayers had the desired effect.

A federal judge placed a hold on all of the false-charges filed against the incoming leaders and ordered the attorneys and the former leaders into her court on Monday morning.

The incoming attorney general sent an emergency memo throughout the federal bureaucracy informing anyone who initiated or forwarded false-charges would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law – there would be no leniency.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, the new leadership continued the process of displacing all of the corrupt cronies of the former leaders – replacing them with the best people they could recruit.

Major media had read the writing on the wall, and despite their prior favoritism toward the corrupt regime, they refused to publicize any of the false charges or slanderous stories – they only reported on the rally.

On Monday morning the federal judge reviewed the false charges then held all of the attorneys responsible in contempt of court, she temporarily suspended their licenses to practice, and she recommended that their licenses be permanently revoked.

She and the attorney general authorized and assembled a grand jury to bring charges against a long list of regime officials – several months later the outcome was a series of trials and convictions – finally breaking any hold of fear the older leaders had over the people.

The process leading to justice and final liberation may take some time, as the Israelites discovered through the series of plagues followed by the miracle at the Red Sea, and as the people in our story discovered through the election and following purge and convictions. We need to trust God to see things through.

Dear Lord, We can be very impatient, we imagine that we see all of the variables, and we want things done our way and in our time. Please slow me down, teach me patience and trust, and remind me that You are Lord and I am not. Amen. dmc2015

Daily Devotional Week 13 Day 5 OT (chronological) Thursday (Exodus 14:1-18)

Daily Devotional

Week 13 Day 5

OT (chronological)

Thursday (Exodus 14:1-18)

The Victory at the Red Sea – Part 1

As the new leaders were just settling in, and the hearings began on the many charges against the prior leaders – the old leaders became frightened.

In their fear they instructed their lawyers to file false charges against the new leaders; accusing them of campaign fraud and financial irregularities during their campaigns, they instructed corrupt allies still embedded in the bureaucracies (and fearful of just-prosecution themselves) to leak false stories about the new leaders, and they otherwise sought to undermine the new leaders before they could begin reforms.

Some of the new leadership, and many across the country, became fearful – conditioned to expect the corrupt former regime to always win every battle in the end – this despite the elections, which they had just won in a landslide.

A rally was quickly scheduled for the capital and ten’s of thousands traveled from the villages and the mountains to stand with the new leaders. Macon and Bethlee spoke to the crowd, as did others, and they encouraged them to pray, to call and write the new leaders with encouragement, and to point out to everyone the evil intentions of the old leaders.

Just as the Lord God instructed Moses to tell the people to keep moving, despite the charging Egyptian chariots behind and the Red Sea ahead, and to trust the battle to the Lord God – so also the people called-out to their new leaders to press-ahead, despite slander and threats.

Dear Lord, There will be many times in my life when I am made afraid of failure by false words and threats from the enemies of truth – and I will wonder what to do. Give me wisdom to discern, allies to encourage, and strength to stand – indeed to press-ahead. Amen. dmc2015

Daily Devotional Week 13 Day 4 OT (chronological) Wednesday (Exodus 13:17-22)

Daily Devotional

Week 13 Day 4

OT (chronological)

Wednesday (Exodus 13:17-22)

The Leading of God

As the mountain people faced their first year as free and equal citizens they were, for the most part, cautious and uncertain whom to trust – and some among them were bent upon revenge.

They knew that Macon and Bethlee were trusted friends and allies but beyond them most others in national politics were unknown, other than their past enemies, and they worried that the new leaders could become as bad as the old.

Among the mountain people were the Believers who understood what God had done in the midst of the transition, they were confident, and they continually encouraged the others to seize the moment – but to be wise.

Macon and Bethlee sought the Lord’s counsel and then encouraged the mountain people to take a middle ground, to not rush toward revenge or to make extreme demands of the political process, but rather to watch a little and wait a little – firmly but gently lobbying – and seeing how things settled out.

Their concern was that if the mountain people were too aggressive in demanding extreme revenge they might empower those pressing for a far-too-light prosecution of corruption and repression. Their second concern was if they pressed the newly elected leaders too hard they might antagonize and overwhelm them – leading to their potential allies avoiding them. It was a time for a delicate balance.

Macon and Bethlee did their best to keep the Believers, among the mountain people, fully-engaged with the political activists – as God’s messengers of peace and of patient-justice.

When we feel wronged, especially when it has affected family members, and the wrong has persisted for a while – we may over-react when we finally break free and have access to power. It’s always important that we have accountability. The Bible teaches that it’s fine to be “righteously angry” but that it’s not acceptable for us to “sin in our anger”. (Eph. 4:26-27)

Dear Lord, There is so much wrong in this fallen world. People cheat and lie, they hurt one another, they bear false witness, steal, kill, and destroy – I am righteously angry – as are You (You perfectly so, me less perfectly). Help me to be meek (power under Your control) and patient – so that justice may be tempered by grace – and the process not tainted by haste. Amen. dmc2015

Daily Devotional Week 13 Day 3 OT (chronological) Tuesday (Exodus 12:43 – 13:16)

Daily Devotional

Week 13 Day 3

OT (chronological)

Tuesday (Exodus 12:43 – 13:16)

Participation in the Passover, The Law of the Firstborn

As groups gathered in church buildings, homes, parks, restaurants, and other gathering or meeting places to celebrate and pray – others began to ask questions and a great awakening began.

The flood of new Believers presented a challenge for discipleship – missions organizations around the world sent helpers.

Hats and t-shirts, banners and bumper stickers flourished with remembrances of the various dates along the way to restored freedom and justice – many bearing acknowledgment of God’s role.

Within the Believer’s community there began an annual event designed such that they would not soon forget their need to remain fully informed and fully engaged in the affairs of governance.

Within the mountain communities the same annual event was recognized, in their case somewhat different among Believers versus among those who clung to the old belief systems.

When major events happen in our lives, be they good or bad, we often memorialize them in different ways. Sometimes our memorials are healthy, and sometimes they are not. Sometimes memorial-type remembrances can become empty rituals, and sometimes they can be powerful sources of accountability.

Dear Lord, Please help me to sort out the things that You want me remember and the ones You want me to forget. Help me to remember in such a way that it has the power to focus me on what You have done – so that my faith and trust in You grows. Amen. dmc2015

Daily Devotional Week 13 Day 2 OT (chronological) Monday (Exodus 12:29 – 12:42)

Daily Devotional

Week 13 Day 2

OT (chronological)

Monday (Exodus 12:29 – 12:42)

The Deliverance from Egypt

During the campaign many former donors to the regime saw the changes coming and began making contributions to the challengers, they invited them to visit their businesses – they made sure there was lots of media coverage – and they made donations to the favorite charities of the challengers.

As the election results began to sink in across the nation, and the new government leaders prepared to take office, the deposed leaders tried to curry favor – knowing that they were at-risk of prosecution.

They invited the new leaders to visit their future offices, offered food and transportation while they were there, and provided briefings on calendar items to face them during their first few weeks.

They encouraged everyone in their regime to do the same, to be very careful what they said, and to provide detailed reports back to them.

People in the media, who had been sympathetic to the old regime, also made an effort to sound positive about the changes – they were careful how they questioned the new leaders and were unusually respectful during and after interviews.

Behind the scenes those leaving office were talking to lawyers, avoiding the media, and thinking about what records they should destroy – ones which might implicate them for crimes. It was a complicated time.

Meanwhile, many of the new leaders gathered to pray, thanking the Lord for the opportunity to restore freedom and justice to their nation.

Macon and Bethlee gathered for celebration and prayer with various groups of Christians and also with the mountain people – those gatherings were to become annual events for years to come.

The Bible teaches us that when we lead morals-based ethical lives we never have to worry about just prosecution for righteous conduct. These who practice situational ethics, constantly making excuses for questionable actions for selfish gain, are always looking over their shoulders – they are prisoners to their sin.

Dear Lord, I’d rather be poor and unknown (to the world) than rich and famous (yet known to You as a scoundrel). Please make me a humble and righteous servant of Yours. Amen. dmc2015

Daily Devotional Week 13 Day 1 OT (chronological) Sunday (Exodus 12:1-28)

Daily Devotional

Week 13 Day 1

OT (chronological)

Sunday (Exodus 12:1-28)

The Institution of the Passover

Because God was moving Macon and Bethlee shared the following Biblical instructions with Believers prior to the national elections:

1. Pray that your personal righteousness become your most important pursuit – get your hearts right.

2. Pray against a spirit of revenge but rather grace-shaped justice – ““Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord” (Rom.12:19).

3. Pray for humble leaders who obey God – and be a humble leader wherever you have authority.

4. Pray for leaders whose lives are focused on others rather than self – and model that in your life.

5. Pray for the Holy Spirit’s discernment to see past clever deceptions – “Test the spirits” (1John4:1).

6. Pray that fellow Believers will be good citizens; informed and participating – Be good citizen-witnesses for Christ, free or not, rich or poor. (Eph. 6:5-9).

7. Pray that your choices are in obedience to God’s direction – Wisdom comes from God. (Prov. 3)

They reminded Believers that political elections are both the choice of leadership for a temporary government in a temporary world and a part of God’s working-out of His great plan.

They reminded Believers that elected political leadership represent the foolishness, or the wisdom, of those who have chosen to participate in the voting process.

They reminded Believers that those in power are allowed to be there, by God, for a variety of reasons; as a warning, as a blessing, or as a punishment.

They reminded Believers to pray not for leaders whom the people deserve (in God’s eyes) but rather for those who will lead according to His will.

Some people live where leadership is controlled by whoever is most powerful, others live where the citizens are allowed to participate in choosing, in either case prayer for God’s mercy applies.

Where we exercise leadership, as parents or peers, bosses or teachers – we would be wise to apply the same Biblical principles to ourselves as we want applied to our political leadership.

Dear Lord, Help me to look inside before I look outward – if You are not first in my life, how can I demand that others place You first in their lives? Amen. dmc2015

Daily Devotional Week 12 Day 7 OT (chronological) Saturday (Exodus 11)

Daily Devotional

Week 12 Day 7

OT (chronological)

Saturday (Exodus 11)

The Tenth Blow: Death

Before Macon and Bethlee left they announced to the leaders that the elections would sweep them from power, they would be prosecuted (together with all of their co-conspirators), and imprisoned for life (others for shorter terms). Their ill-gotten personal wealth, including their lavish homes and properties, would be confiscated to compensate the citizens whom they had cheated and harmed.

Macon and Bethlee were upset, even righteously angry, as the final bad news was hard justice and would destroy families and lives – but the leaders had made it necessary – and they had spoken the words of their own demise.

The couple had become famous throughout the nation, though such was not their desire, and most of the people wanted to see justice done and compensation made.

When we demand justice for bad behavior in business, criminal activity, or government corruption we need to be prepared to witness the collateral damage. Often there are innocents, children and others, who will also suffer when a parent is punished.

When we commit offenses we must be prepared to accept the consequences, for ourselves, and for those close to us. The wiser course is to always seek God’s wisdom before we act, but should we wander, we must confess, repent, seek and receive forgiveness, then be reconciled and restored.

Dear Lord, The Pharaoh (and the “leaders” in our story) demonstrated poor judgment in their arrogance and stubbornness, and the consequences were devastating. May Your Holy Spirit find me teachable so that you may mature me toward humility and increasing righteousness in my life. Amen. dmc2015

Daily Devotional Week 12 Day 6 OT (chronological) Friday (Exodus 10)

Daily Devotional

Week 12 Day 6

OT (chronological)

Friday (Exodus 10)

The Eighth Blow: Locusts, The Ninth Blow: Darkness

The first seven events had greatly undermined the confidence and trust of the people in the leaders, it had cost many their jobs, and had resulted in the leaders losing absolute control of the government.

The Lord instructed Macon and Bethlee to return to the leaders and to warn them of the next piece of bad news. The advisers to the leaders, looking at the harm already done, pleaded with them to restore freedom and justice to the Christians and to the mountain people.

The leaders demanded that Macon and Bethlee accept partial changes, rather than full. They replied that God’s emissaries on their behalf and could accept the partial offer – because freedom and justice were not negotiable. The leaders angrily sent them away.

God caused a rare ice storm to sweep the country. The superstitious non-Christian supporters of the leaders accused them of causing a curse to fall upon them – the leaders then became nervous.

Once again the leaders promised reforms, but once the ice had melted, they broke their word.

Macon and Bethlee prayed and asked God for something to break-through the stubbornness of the leaders. A solar flare surged into the power grid, causing a nationwide power outage – for days only the mountain people and those in Christian neighborhoods had power.

The leaders summoned Macon and Bethlee and again tried to negotiate partial reforms. They again rejected the offer. The leaders told them to go away – because the next time they saw them it would mean prison for life. Macon and Bethlee said “So be it” – and left.

Sometimes stubbornness, in the service of the Lord (as with Macon and Bethlee) is good, and always when in opposition to the Lord – it is bad.

Dear Lord, Help me to be stubborn-for-the-right and teachable when I am in the wrong. Show me where I can be Your voice, standing against evil, so firm in my conviction that You are plainly seen. Amen. dmc2015

Daily Devotional Week 12 Day 5 OT (chronological) Thursday (Exodus 9)

I apologize that this is so late – I do not know
why it was not posted last night. dmc2015

Daily Devotional

Week 12 Day 5

OT (chronological)

Thursday (Exodus 9)

The Fifth Blow: Disease, The Sixth Blow: Boils, The Seventh Blow: Hail,

Since the leaders continued to refuse to reverse their actions against Christians and the mountain people Macon and Bethlee returned to confront them again – with the fifth round of bad news.

The Lord instructed them to tell the leaders that they had lost the support of national celebrities and the media – but the leaders scoffed. The next day hundreds of entertainment and sports celebrities gathered at one of the mountain villages, together with print, radio, and television media, to condemn the leaders for their mistreatment of the mountain people. The leaders tried to create the appearance of equal voices in support of their position, using some law enforcement and military personnel to claim “national security” – but polls showed that the public was turning against them.

The Lord instructed them to tell the leaders that the election results for the national legislature, due to be counted in a few days, would go strongly against them – resulting in political stalemate. The leaders scoffed, certain that money and corruption would prevent any such change, but when the results were counted the margins were so large they could not steal enough votes to change the result – they had lost control of the national legislature.

The Lord instructed Macon and Bethlee to warn Christians, the mountain people, and those who had stood with them to disconnect from the Internet as a destructive virus had entered the government-controlled Internet system. The leaders and their associates scoffed as they believed that the government security system could block anything – what they didn’t know is that a fired Internet engineer (sympathetic to the mountain people) had embedded the virus before leaving.

Everyone connected lost the use of their computers for days or weeks, and all of their data – because the only way to restore the computers was to destructively erase the hard disk drives. The leaders pleaded with Macon and Bethlee to do something, promising to act in good faith – they sent a message via the news to the engineer to release something to undo his code – and he did, but the leaders then broke their word and changed nothing.

Resistance to God is futile. Just as Pharaoh suffered wave after wave of plagues – finally saying the words that he had “sinned” – then returning to his stubborn rebellion, so also did the leaders in our story. They imagined they could hold out long enough to win – but they were about to learn different.

Dear Lord, I know that I cling to things I need to let go of, even though they hurt me and others. I know that clinging to such things will eventually result in real harm. Tough my heart with the wisdom to repent and the strength to keep my word to You. Amen. dmc2015

Daily Devotional Week 12 Day 4 OT (chronological) Wednesday (Exodus 8)

Daily Devotional

Week 12 Day 4

OT (chronological)

Wednesday (Exodus 8)

The Second Blow: Frogs, The Third Blow: Gnats, The Fourth Blow: Flies

Since the leaders ignored the negative consequences of their actions Macon and Bethlee returned to confront them again – with the second round of bad news.

This time an international faith-friendly education organization sent word for them to inform the leaders that due to their anti-Christian policies and their mistreatment of the mountain people they had canceled plans to provide all of the schools with computers – and had transferred that project to a neighboring country.

The leaders were initially troubled but were able to get a commitment from a large corporation to donate their used computers to the capital-area schools – so they made a big announcement about that and ignored the loss to the rest of the schools in the country.

Macon and Bethlee returned with the third round of bad news – the expansion of the capital airport would not longer be subsidized by the three airlines that had previously made plans to begin service there. In their press release the airlines said the change was because they didn’t want to be associated with a regime that abused a minority group – the mountain people.

The leaders were frustrated but then tried to distract the people with the announcement of expanded train service for commuters.

Macon and Bethlee returned with the fourth round of bad news – two existing airlines announced plans to reduce flights and that was tied to the announcement that several major conferences had been moved to another country – also due to the abuses toward the mountain people.

The leaders summoned Macon and Bethlee and offered to reinstate to the mountain people the benefits they had cut, and to roll-back the anti-Christian restrictions, but a friend inside warned the couple that it was merely a ruse – and the leaders would later make excuse to change their minds.

Motivating change is generally a process rather than an event. Success requires patience, persistence, and the wisdom to not be deterred or distracted along the way.

Dear Lord, Every nation on earth, indeed everything that humankind has made – is imperfect (due to the Fall). Partnering with You for change is a covenant – You always keep Your Word – please strengthen us so that we will keep ours. Amen. dmc2015

Daily Devotional Week 12 Day 3 OT (chronological) Tuesday (Exodus 7)

Daily Devotional

Week 12 Day 3

OT (chronological)

Tuesday (Exodus 7)

Moses returns to Pharaoh, The First Blow: Water to Blood

Macon and Bethlee returned to the capital city and again met with the government leaders. They tried to explain to them that their actions were counter-productive, that harming the mountain people would turn them against them, and also Christians and caring people across the nation.

The leaders again refused to listen, told them that they had no power, and that they should just go home and mind their own business.

Macon and Bethlee returned to their hotel room, informed their contacts in the capital, and sent word to Believers among the mountain people and across the nation to pray – word went out also to international networks of Believers.

In the morning they confronted the leaders at a media event promoting a new industrial park – and they informed them that the two large corporations who had promised to build it had withdrawn their support due to the anti-Christian policies and the abuse of the mountain people.

The leaders announced that another group was going to build a casino on the same site, far smaller in scope, but enough for them to pretend that everything was good – and to continue to refuse reforms.

Businesses sympathetic to the government leaders struggled to find a way to survive after the cancellation of the industrial park – but the leaders didn’t seem to care.

A week later Macon and Bethlee prepared to confront the government leaders again – with more bad news – all due to their refusal to do the right thing.

People with power often become isolated from those whom they are supposed to serve, they become obsessed with their day-to-day lives as people of power and special resources, and they forget that they are neither immune to accountability from fellow humans – nor, certainly, from God.

Dear Lord, Help me to choose wisely if I have any influence (a vote, or perhaps more) in the selection of those who are entrusted with power – that they show evidence of placing You first in all things. If I am a person with power, be it as a parent, a teacher, a pastor, a politician, or an influential peer – may I be mindful that You are watching and You are to be honored. Amen. dmc2015