Readings

God speaks to us through Scripture. When we are lost, we know that we can look to His Word for guidance. We invite you to join us in daily reading as we go through the Bible together and learn as a family.

Isaac was a man whose life demonstrated the blessing of God. He was undoubtedly a tithing believer and a successful farmer, as were his father Abraham and son Jacob. Genesis 26:12 tells us, “That year Isaac’s crops were tremendous! He harvested a hundred times more grain than he planted, for the Lord blessed him.” While others were perishing in the famine, Isaac sowed in the land and reaped a hundredfold return.

It was Isaac’s attitude, however, that brought the blessing of God. When he had dug a “gushing spring” (Genesis 26:19), the shepherds of Gerar came and stole it from him. Instead of quarreling, he moved on and “dug another well” (v. 21). When that new well was stolen, “he dug another well” (v. 22). Finally his well was not stolen, and the Lord said to him, “Do not be afraid, for I am with you and will bless you” (v. 24).

Attitudes of bitterness, anger, resentment, and strife will keep you from financial blessing. Dig another well, keep your heart right, and God will pour out even more blessings than before!

Poor Jacob thought his trickery of his father had gone unnoticed. He forgot that God was watching everything and everybody—including him! Someone said, “You may get by, but you won’t get away!” Little did Jacob know that God would discipline him by preparing someone even trickier than he to enter his life. “My child, don’t ignore it when the Lord disciplines you, and don’t be discouraged when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves. . . .”(Proverbs 3:11-12).

For seven long years Jacob served Laban for his daughter Rachel. Then, on the wedding night, Laban tricked him into marrying Leah. It is interesting that Jacob deceived his father in a tent, and later he himself was deceived in a tent! God will discipline you with the exact process you used on someone else. God loved Jacob and knew that until he met a superior deceiver, he would be tricking, deceiving, and supplanting for the rest of his life. 

Do not despise the Lord’s work in your life. He loves you, and His discipline will yield “a quiet harvest of right living” (Hebrews 12:11).

One word from God can completely revolutionize your life. Jacob received one such word in Genesis 31:10-12, when God instructed him concerning the “streaked, speckled, and spotted” sheep. With that one word, Jacob developed a specific process of breeding the sheep that gradually converted the entire flock to his ownership!

God sees the dilemma you are in, whether it’s with an oppressive employer, a difficult marriage partner, or some other strained relationship. He can give you one word of wisdom that will completely change your situation. We call this word revelation. Through dreams and visions, the Holy Spirit communicates to your mind something that is in the mind of God. In Jacob’s case, it made no sense to put peeled rods in front of sheep, but he did it anyway. His obedience to that word from God brought him much success and wealth (Genesis 30:43).

Such is the miracle of God’s Word. It may seem ridiculous to the natural mind, but God’s Word works. You must wait upon Him to receive that Word, and then keep it before your eyes daily, just as Jacob placed the rods before his sheep.

Jesus taught us that serving God might prove costly in family relationships. Jacob learned that painful lesson when his close family became the immediate source of his greatest problems. His father-in-law Laban cheated him, tricked him, abused him, and even chased him when he left (Genesis 31:23). In another instance, Jacob’s brother Esau appeared to be angry to the point of revenge when he came to meet Jacob with his four hundred men. The outcome in both these situations? God intervened on Jacob’s behalf! Laban was rebuked in a dream: “Be careful about what you say to Jacob!” Esau received Jacob back with tears and kisses (Genesis 33:4).

Jesus told His disciples to decide whether they loved Him or their relatives more. Because the time may come when a relative departs from the Lord’s way, we, too, must choose to follow the “narrow way.” This doesn’t mean that we intentionally ostracize our relatives, only that we are fully prepared to be rejected or misunderstood by them.

God helped Jacob with both Laban and Esau. If you are having a family conflict, He will help you through it as well!

When Jacob wrestled with the angel at Peniel, the angel tried to overpower him. He knew that unless he could break Jacob’s stubborn and deceptive will, Jacob would never attain greatness in God.

Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you,” an obvious statement of learning the “rest” of submission. You will not go very far with God until you allow Him to subdue your drive, energies, ambitions, and passions. When He wins that battle over you, the “rest” of God will follow.

Later in Jacob’s struggle, he held on to the angel of the Lord, forcefully pressing in for a blessing from the One who had subdued him. Jesus told His disciples that “the Kingdom of Heaven has been forcefully advancing, and violent people attack it” (Matthew 11:12).

God wants you to rest in your flesh and be forceful in your spirit! That balance changed Jacob from a trickster to a prince with God.

The lessons of purity and holiness are simple: tell the truth, speak no gossip, honor the righteous, keep your word, be generous with others, and accept no bribes. These simple commandments address the way we relate to our fellow man. Yet who among us has not broken these simple guidelines and does not need to repent?

God is so merciful, even with the likes of us. Despite all Jacob’s transgressions, when he relinquished his foreign gods, the Lord met him and was merciful to him (Genesis 35:2, 9). Jesus told the Pharisees, “I want you to be merciful; I don’t want your sacrifices” (Matthew 12:7). He reminded them of the value of one human being. Because Jesus is compassionate, He “will not crush those who are weak, or quench the smallest hope, until he brings full justice with his final victory” (v. 20).

Like Jacob, we all “fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23), and God patiently works with us to restore us into His presence. If sin has knocked you off God’s holy hill, get up, repent, and climb it again. You will find a merciful Lord at the top, greeting you with open arms!

How quick we are to judge something or someone with a standard we cannot live up to ourselves. When Judah discovered his daughter-in-law’s prostitution, his first reaction was “Bring her out and burn her!” (Genesis 38:24). The problem he failed to realize was that he was the one who had hired her as a prostitute!

When Nathan told David a story about a poor man who had only one sheep that was stolen by a man who had many sheep, David was enraged. “As surely as the Lord lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die!” (2 Samuel 12:5). Verse 7 says, “Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are that man!’ ”

The Pharisees wrongly judged Jesus Christ when they said He cast out devils by the devil. Jesus asked them, “And if I am empowered by the prince of demons, what about your own followers? They cast out demons, too, so they will judge you for what you have said” (Matthew 12:27).

Jesus taught His disciples that they would be judged by the same standard with which they judged others (Matthew 7:2). It’s hard to remove a splinter from someone else’s eye when there is a log in your own!

Everyone goes through a process of proving and testing. Jesus taught that the seed falls on various types of ground, each type representing the human heart (Matthew 13). Each of us will be tested to see how well we battle the areas of unbelief, discouragement, and distraction.

The birds mentioned in Matthew 13:4 are the demonic thieves who lie to us about the promises of God, tricking us into unbelief. The rocky soil (vv. 20-21) represents the onslaught of discouraging problems and persecutions that come our way. The thorny ground (v. 22) refers to the continual distractions of riches, pleasure, and worldly things.

Joseph passed each test in his thirteen years of Egyptian captivity. Throughout those years, he never allowed himself to doubt or to become negative about God’s promise that he would one day be a ruler. He also never grew discouraged, though his way grew more difficult. Finally, he never compromised with sin, even when Potiphar’s wife offered him everything in exchange for his purity.

Decide today to reject unbelief, to fight discouragement, and to refuse the distractions of the world. As you pass God’s tests in each of these areas, He will take you from the pit to the prison to the palace!

From a tiny seed comes a mighty tree that provides shade and refuge for the animals of the world. In the same way, the Kingdom of God spreads from small and insignificant beginnings.

Joseph is an example of such a seed. From one solitary life, the Holy Spirit provided a huge and fruitful tree that brought life to the world. Under Joseph’s direction during the seven years of plenty, “the granaries were filled to overflowing” (Genesis 41:49). During the time of famine, people came from many lands for the provision Joseph had stored (Genesis 41:56-57).

God desires to bless you, like He did Joseph, with an abundance to be put into a storehouse for others. Such abundance represents your overflow finances, seed that God will place in your hands to bless the world. Be faithful, prepare a storehouse bank account for missions, and ask God for seed. He will turn your “mustard seed” into a mighty tree for the nations!

The deer is an interesting animal with incredible characteristics regarding balance. When suddenly knocked from a high, rocky crag, the deer always lands on its feet and scampers right back up to the place from which it fell.

David said in verse 16 of Psalm 18, “He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters.” Time and time again, David’s kingdom was attacked by Saul, Goliath, and countless armies of enemies. Each time, however, he managed to land securely and to climb right back up to prominence. Why? Because instead of leading David on a treacherous, narrow path, God widened the path beneath his feet “to keep them from slipping” (v. 36).

Being spiritual does not make you immune from attack, but the Lord will prepare you for any battle (Psalm 18:34). When the enemy comes against you, you can “crush an army” and “scale any wall” (v. 29). Don’t lie down and wallow in self-pity when attacked, but stand up like the deer and scamper back up to the top!

Joseph instructed his brothers to let their father know that he could totally disregard his own possessions and move to Egypt. It was ridiculous to worry about some old, beat-up tents and provisions when Joseph was ruler of Egypt. Huge cartloads of provision and clothing followed the brothers as they returned to Israel. There was no more need for stinginess or financial worry.  Their brother Joseph was providing for all their needs from the wealth of Egypt.

So often we cling to our few, tiny resources when in reality the wealth of heaven belongs to us. One little boy was willing to give up his five pieces of bread and two fish to the Master. His obedience was not a sacrifice, for the Lord not only gave him back his lunch, but He also provided twelve baskets of leftovers to take home (Matthew 14:20)! Those small objects given in obedience were the key that unlocked the wheat fields and oceans of Israel.

Provision is normal when you realize that you have a “relative” who occupies a very important position in the universe. Your brother Jesus—not Pharaoh—sits at the right hand of God! How much more should you be confident about giving up your meager belongings on earth?

Fierce, fiery, and faithful, the sun never wavers from its course, which is set by the Word of God. Neither does it waver because of weather conditions. The only time the sun ever stopped was when Joshua commanded it to obey the Word of the Lord (Joshua 10:12-13)!

The spiritual “sky” is full of spiritual “suns.” They are champions and never waver while running their courses. The woman of Tyre and Sidon was such a champion. She refused to be put off or denied the deliverance of her daughter (Matthew 15:21-28). Her face was set like a flint, like a champion runner in the race of his life.

Joseph, too, was such a champion. His faithful resolution to God’s Word and promise resulted not only in his personal salvation and the feeding of the world but also in his family’s salvation and deliverance.

“The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day” (Proverbs 4:18). Shine on, brothers and sisters! You are champions, and you will finish your courses with joy!

Israel’s blessings started with the word may. As Jacob laid his hands upon the heads of Ephraim and Manasseh, he uttered the word and invoked a blessing with it three times.

The psalmist blessed Israel with equal force: “May the Lord respond to your cry. May the God of Israel keep you safe. . . . May he send you help. . . . May he remember all your gifts. . . . May he grant your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans. May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory. . . . May the Lord answer all your prayers” (Psalm 20:1-5).

The word may could be translated “allow.” In other words, allow God to do what He wants to do for you. You must settle in your mind forever that God wants to bless you. Any doubt will always result in questioning His desire to answer your prayers or to increase, deliver, and help you.

God’s Word has the same power to bless you, as did Jacob’s words for his grandsons. “Pay attention, my child, to what I say. Listen carefully. Don’t lose sight of my words. Let them penetrate deep within your heart, for they bring life and radiant health to anyone who discovers their meaning” (Proverbs 4:20-22).

May the Lord bless you today!

How marvelously God turns everything around for His glory and purposes! Through all his years of suffering and difficulty, Joseph refused to become bitter. His brothers—the means through which his suffering had come—could have been prime targets for Joseph’s blame. But Joseph didn’t play the blame game. What a class act! Joseph’s wisdom gave him the perspective to see God’s work, not the devil’s, in and through his life.

Paul reminds us in Romans 8:28 that “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” God even turned around Pharaoh’s terrible actions of destroying babies so that Moses could be brought to Pharaoh’s daughter!

There is nothing Satan does that will not turn around on him. God will not be defeated or outwitted. Trust Him, refuse to become bitter, and watch Him turn your situation around for good!

Would you have faith to fish for your tax money? Jesus received a word from God that somewhere down in the depths of the Sea of Galilee was a most unusual fish. This unique and special fish, different from all the others, was going to be a source of unusual blessing.

Our faith is often limited by expecting natural sources of blessing rather than believing for supernatural blessing. Faith, however, was a normal way of life for Jesus. He never flinched when telling His disciples that if they had faith “as small as a mustard seed,” [they] “could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move” (Matthew 17:20). He didn’t hesitate to rebuke His disciples when their faith failed to deliver a young boy suffering from seizures.

Having faith does not mean that we will not use natural means to pay our bills or to be delivered. However, our faith must be based upon the knowledge that God is the One working behind the scenes of our lives, preparing provision before we need it.

If you need a miracle, look around every corner . . . and be sure you look in every fish’s mouth!

Moses and Aaron formed a divine partnership before Pharaoh. By himself, Moses felt weak and incapable. That’s why the Lord sent him a prayer partner in Aaron. For the next four decades, these two men walked together doing great exploits for God.

“How could one person chase a thousand of them, and two people put ten thousand to flight . . . unless the Lord had given them up?” (Deuteronomy 32:30). Two people who are partners are five times more powerful than two individuals acting alone! Moses and Aaron did not realize how much they would need each other until after their first round with Pharaoh. Not only did Pharaoh reject them, but also their own people rejected them.

Solomon said, “Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).

It is a scientific fact that geese flying in a flock honk to encourage each other. Moses needed a “honker” in Aaron, and you, too, need others to support you. Find your two or three “honkers,” and take on the “Pharaoh” in your life!

Moses and Aaron stood with great confidence before Pharaoh and declared the Lordship of God. Then, with only a rod, Moses systematically dismantled Egypt. He took the offensive, not the defensive, and began demonstrating to Pharaoh who “I am the Lord” (Exodus 6:2) truly was. The rod and staff of God comforted Moses as he stood and watched God transform his staff into a snake and turn the Nile into blood.

Without armies and guns, diplomacy and politics, or cleverness and reason, Moses prevailed by maintaining a relaxed anointing. As your enemies rant and rave, they do not understand how you can sit so relaxed at the table of the Lord. While they are delivering their tirade in the power of the flesh, you sit in the power of the anointing. You must learn that as you “walk through the dark valley of death” (Psalm 23:4), there is truly nothing to fear.

Relax and lie down in green pastures. God will fight “Pharaoh” while you feed at the table of the Lord.

In quick succession, the gods of Egypt were challenged and defeated. Starting with the Nile (the Egyptians’ primary deity), then following with the sun and the cattle, all Egypt’s false gods were symbolically destroyed. The point of these ten plagues was to reveal that the “earth belongs to the Lord” (Exodus 9:29). God will share His glory with neither empires nor individuals. The hardening of Pharaoh’s heart caused him to provide a setting by which God could gain a name for Himself.

David also came to the realization that “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1). He continued the thought, saying, “Who is the King of glory? The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, invincible in battle” (v. 8).

The earth is a battleground where God displays His victory over Satan. Satan may be “the god of this evil world” (2 Corinthians 4:4), but the earth belongs to God. So claim nations as your inheritance, and challenge every god that lays claim to what God has created!

Without contradiction, we can say that Christ came to earth to die. From the beginning of His ministry, Jesus instructed His disciples to take up their cross and follow Him. He told them that unless they ate His flesh and drank His blood, they had no life in them.

Moses’ revelation of the blood is described in Exodus 12:13: “The blood you have smeared on your doorposts will serve as a sign. When I see the blood, I will pass over you. This plague of death will not touch you when I strike the land of Egypt.” The blood of an innocent, meek lamb would substitute for an entire household. Although the firstborn of Israel deserved death just as much as did Pharaoh’s firstborn, the blood of the lamb ransomed (paid for, bought back) their lives.

Like that lamb, Christ was a gentle, humble servant who never sought the glory and exaltation for which the disciples were constantly striving. In humility, never forget Christianity’s focus: we deserve to die, but Christ, the spotless Lamb, died in our place—the “just for the unjust” (1 Peter 3:18 KJV). Rejoice today in the power of the blood of Jesus who ransomed you from death!

Oh, how great was the redemption that God accomplished for Israel on that night of deliverance! First, they were delivered from death. In like manner, we, too, have been delivered from eternal death—spared from hell and from being cut off from God forever.

Next, they were redeemed from sickness. Psalm 105:37 says that “there were no sick or feeble people among them,” even after many years of hard labor! In the same way, Christ paid for our healing, for we “have been healed by his wounds” (1 Peter 2:24).

Then the Israelites were redeemed from poverty. Overnight they went from being paupers to being prosperous when they “asked the Egyptians for clothing and articles of silver and gold” (Exodus 12:35). The Lord gave them favor and the Egyptians granted their request, providing them with all they needed in order to live in the wilderness and to build a glorious tabernacle for the Lord.

We can claim a full inheritance of provision for any need we have to advance the glory of God. Our redemption was not paid for with the blood of bulls and goats, but with the precious blood of Christ!

Two options are available in God’s kingdom program: Get with the program, or get run over by the program! The Lord is long-suffering, patient, and kind, but the end result of a willful rebellion against Him is destruction.

The contrast between Pharaoh and Moses is an exact picture of Jesus’ parable in Matthew 21:44. Pharaoh was a powerful, proud, and self-centered leader whose iron will is well documented in biblical history, but Moses was a broken man. Moses was the meekest man on earth—one who had been tamed by his many years of humble service with sheep. He had tried to deliver Israel by himself, yet failed. Failure brought brokenness, and brokenness brought meekness.

Pharaoh, on the other hand, refused to be broken before God. He repeatedly hardened his heart and was eventually led into the waters of the Red Sea. There he was crushed by the falling stone of God’s justice. Break or be broken was the choice, and Pharaoh unwisely chose the latter. As the bodies of dead soldiers washed upon the sand, the message was clear: “The Lord will reign forever and ever!” (Exodus 15:18).

We know from the biblical account of Israel’s exodus from Egypt that Moses grew weary of the Israelites’ constant grumbling. Though they experienced many miracles on their wilderness journey, distasteful experiences and feelings of being robbed or cheated had left them bitter.

Esau, too, developed a “root of bitterness” (Hebrews 12:15-17 KJV) because he felt Jacob had stolen his birthright. Naomi, Ruth’s mother-in-law, changed her name to Mara (or bitter) because she lost her husband and two sons through death (Ruth 1:20).

Bitterness can happen to anyone who has been hurt. Reflections of the past can pour back into our minds, spilling poison into the waters of our relationships. But God can turn bitterness into blessing. That’s just what He did when he showed Moses a tree that made the bitter waters sweet.

The cross of Jesus can be thrown into any bitter pool and its waters made sweet. In their darkest hour, Paul and Silas chose to praise God in the Philippian prison (Acts 16:25), and God made their bitter waters sweet.

Only the cross of Christ will keep you free from the root of bitterness as well as the fruit of bitterness: disease. Let the cross sweeten your waters today. Be healed, emotionally and physically, from the waters of Marah.

The church in the wilderness modeled the biblical pattern of oversight. Leaders of tens, fifties, hundreds, and thousands were selected to care for the basic needs of the people and to settle their disputes. As a result, Moses had to review only the most difficult cases and policies. His primary job was to commune with God and to teach the Word.

The apostles discovered this principle in the selection of deacons, which freed them to use their time “in prayer and preaching and teaching the word” (Acts 6:4). The early church not only met daily in the temple but also gathered “in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity (Acts 2:46). Apostles, deacons, and church members all helped carry the load of the growing congregation.

Burned-out pastors and leaders are a testimony to the huge toll of counseling, visiting, and arbitrating required in the church today. In actuality, the pastor is not called to do all ministry, but he is “to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church” (Ephesians 4:12). Pastors, bring them in, build them up, release their gifts, and send them out. In this way, you will be able to endure as Moses did.

There is the law, and then there is the spirit of the law. In Matthew 23:23, Jesus addressed this issue when He gave His only New Testament statement on tithing. He rebuked the Pharisees for being meticulous in tithing a tenth of each little tiny seed they owned while neglecting the more important parts of the law: justice, mercy, and faith. He did not tell them to abandon their faithful tithing, but He encouraged them to expand their thinking to include the needs of others.

Tithing is biblical. Jesus is the High Priest who receives your tithes (Hebrews 7:8), and tithing will release a supernatural blessing in your life so great that you will not be able to contain it (Malachi 3:10). Above the mere obedience to the duty of the law, however, is the spirit of the law.

As New Testament Christians, we should move beyond the obligation of tithing to showing mercy through the giving of offerings above the tithe to support the needy worldwide. The tithe sustains the local church, and offerings advance world outreach. Start with the tithe, out of duty and obedience. End with the offering, out of love, compassion, and the spirit of the law.

As the people of Israel stood next to Mount Sinai and received the commandments of God, the thunder, loud blast of the horn, lightning, and smoke all caused the people to say, “Don’t let God speak directly to us. If he does, we will die!” (Exodus 20:19).

The voice of the Lord is an awesome power, similar to lightning piercing through your entire being. The sound and power of His voice reinforced the fear of God that the Israelites were to show in their dealings with one another. They were not to steal from, oppress, or be unjust to one another in any way. God said, “If you do and they cry out to me, then I will surely help them. My anger will blaze forth against you, and I will kill you with the sword” (Exodus 22:23-24). Anyone who can steal casually from others or from God has never heard the voice of the Lord.

Jesus told His disciples, “For as the lightning lights up the entire sky, so it will be when the Son of Man comes” (Matthew 24:27). Get ready for the greatest manifestation of the voice of the Lord: the return of Christ!

The three feasts of Israel describe how God views human history. The annual calendar for Israel began with the shedding of a lamb’s blood in the Passover (the Feast of Unleavened Bread). Likewise, our salvation began with the shedding of Christ’s blood on the cross.

Next came the Feast of Harvest (Pentecost). The Church in the New Testament also was birthed in a mighty harvest on the day of Pentecost.

The last feast was the Feast of Final Harvest (Tabernacles) held at the end of the year. What a picture that celebration presents of the end of time! A final, culminating harvest will occur, just as at the Feast of Final Harvest when the Israelites gathered in their crops from the field.

Christ told His disciples to watch and be ready for the final harvest and His return. Like a thief in the night, He will return to gather the harvest of those who have been faithful during His absence (Matthew 24). His sudden appearance to rescue His Church will leave one in the field and one at the mill while their partners suddenly disappear. Let’s be ready for the moment of His glorious return. Behold, “His return is very near, right at the door” (v. 33).

The burning flames of the lampstand represent the “seven spirits of God” mentioned in Revelation 4:5 that burn continually and eternally before the throne of God. Because the flame of worship is never to cease, an unending supply of oil is necessary.

Jesus spoke of seven wise and seven foolish virgins. The primary difference between the two groups was that the wise took extra oil for their lamps, while the foolish did not (Matthew 25:3-4). In this parable, the wise virgins were those whose lives were prepared and ready for the heavenly Bridegroom. They were like the servants who were found using their talents wisely when the Master returned (v. 19).

The point of these examples is readiness. First is the readiness of a life constantly filled with the Holy Spirit—a life burning brightly day and night in worship. Second is a life that is attentive to the Bride-groom’s call, denying the foolish lusts that drain the oil. Finally is a life that is spiritually productive, developing talents to the fullest potential.

Keep your lamps full, trimmed, and burning. The Bridegroom will come when you least expect Him, and there will be no time to find the oil you need.

In the Old Testament, the high priest was anointed by the pouring of oil upon his head. In Aaron’s case, it was an amount so profuse that it ran down onto his beard and the collar of his robe (Psalm 133:2). In Matthew 26:7, the woman who anointed Jesus’ head was doing something more significant than she realized. Her act of love was symbolic of Jesus’ role as our great High Priest, an office beautifully understood by examining the garments worn by the priest in Exodus 28.

The most conspicuous garment of the priest was the breastplate. On it were twelve precious jewels, each engraved with one of the names of the twelve tribes of Israel. Also significant were the two onyx stones on the high priest’s shoulders, each engraved with six names. It is interesting to note that the jewels and stones were located on the heart and shoulders of the priest, indicating the two places of intercession.

Jesus, our great High Priest, bears our names and needs before the Father continually. We are always on His heart! He carries our needs on His shoulders, making it unnecessary for us to carry them. Instead of worrying about our needs, let us rejoice that He is our anointed High Priest. “He lives forever to plead with God on [our] behalf” (Hebrews 7:25).

There is something about a sacrifice of love that God calls a “pleasing aroma” (Exodus 29:18 NIV). The pure and spotless ram that burned in its entirety on the altar was an acceptable sacrifice that brought God pleasure. In the same way, the world was filled with the stench of sin until the sweet smell of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice was offered to God.

In Gethsemane, Jesus totally submitted His will to the Father (Matthew 26:39) out of devotion to God and love for the world. Christ, the perfect Lamb, climbed onto the altar of God to be sacrificed of His own free will. This perfect offering pleased God eternally.

Now we can please Him by walking in love and serving the needs of others instead of thinking only of ourselves (Ephesians 5:2). Paul called the Philippians’ financial missionary offerings “a sweet-smelling sacrifice that is acceptable to God and pleases him” (Philippians 4:18). Each financial gift given out of personal sacrifice pleases Him immensely. Furthermore, when we sacrifice our right to be bitter and unforgiving in order to choose love, our action permeates God’s throne room as a sweet aroma. Let’s fill heaven with that aroma . . . and the world with the knowledge of Jesus!

Bezalel had no idea how to build a tabernacle. None had ever been built before! However, God “filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, intelligence, and skill in all kinds of crafts” (Exodus 31:3). God has so much wisdom and creativity that He made not just a tabernacle but also a universe! He “established the heavens” and “marked off the earth’s foundations” (Proverbs 8:27, 29).

The person referred to by the writer of Proverbs was called the “architect at his side” (v. 30). What a joy it is to work alongside God! He is the Creator, and He is able to impart His creativity and wisdom as you work for Him. The key to attaining that creativity is the Holy Spirit.

Bezalel’s ideas did not come from his brain, but from his spirit. In 1 Corinthians 2:10, we read how the “Spirit searches out everything and shows us even God’s deep secrets.” He wants to reveal those secrets to you. So claim His creativity today in your work, your finances, and your ministry. Then build according to the blueprint He shows you!

How easily our human nature shows through in times of trial! On Mount Sinai, Israel was poised for its greatest hour but failed the test when it came. As Moses was on the mountain receiving the Law, the Israelites waited for his return.  That was all they had to do: wait. The waiting got the best of them, however, and before the time was up, they had made a golden calf and called it their god.

Peter, also, at his most important moment in life, succumbed to the flesh. With Christ being interrogated in a building nearby, Peter denied that he had ever known the Lord. Oh, how weak is the human flesh!

How do you conduct yourself when your leaders are out of sight? Can God trust you to be true to Him even when you wonder where He is in your life? If you seem to be in a “holding pattern,” remain faithful. The time when you think the Lord has deserted you is often the very time when God is actually testing your true character. He is observing you now, so hold steady. The Lord will return when you least expect it!