Scripture reading for May 5th: Ezra 4-6
When God’s people set out to rebuild His temple in Jerusalem, there was opposition from those who felt threatened. Our enemy, Satan, doesn’t like spiritual progress and restoration of true worship. The rebuilding of God’s temple is all about true worship. True worship must be accomplished in Spirit and Truth. (John 4:24) God’s people must come freely by faith and humbly by God’s prescribe way. The Temple under the old covenant was God’s prescribed place of worship.
The builders faced opposition. (Ezra 4:1-5) These enemies came first to offer help in building. This was a subversive attempt to undermine the work by hindering it. Zerubbabel saw through their plot and refused their help. These enemies then tried to discourage and intimidate the workers. They accused them falsely to King Cyrus and his successor, King Darius. (Ezra 4:11-16)
God raised up prophets to help the priests and the people. Haggai and Zechariah spoke to the people and gave them vision and encouragement to complete the work and stand against opposition. Zerubbabel and Jeshua continued their faithfulness to the plan of God to rebuild. Good leadership confronted the enemies of God’s people and continued to work!
God watched over the work, and through the governor, Tattenai, a letter was sent to King Darius. The Jews requested a search of the records and a ruling by King Darius. The order from King Cyrus was found and in response King Darius commanded Tattenai and the other officials to stay away from the work and allow it to proceed. Funds from the royal treasury were also to be supplied to finish the project! (Ezra 6:6-10)
The King even added a penalty to any who would hinder the work of rebuilding God’s temple. “Furthermore, I decree that if anyone changes this edict, a beam is to be pulled from his house and he is to be lifted up and impaled on it. And for this crime his house is to be made a pile of rubble.” (Ezra 6:11) This is amazing that a foreign king would so strongly support God’s work! Yet the hearts of kings are in the hands of the Lord and He turns them as He wills! (Proverbs 21:1) God’s people will always face opposition, yet God’s hand will guide them through each situation!
Scripture reading for January 25th: Exodus 16-18
You would think that God’s people would not grumble against Him! The Israelites had seen the miracles of the plagues in Egypt and been protected from their effects. They had been miraculously delivered from the death angel by the blood of the Passover lamb. They had seen the Lord lead them with a cloud of glory by day and fire by night. They experienced deliverance through the Red Sea and saw how Pharaoh and his army were drowned. They had been given loads of silver and gold before they left Egypt and saw God bring manna to feed them in the desert. Their clothes and shoes did not wear out and not one of them was sick or disabled! What they experienced of God’s presence and miraculous power would make most of us stand in awe!
Yet, after being fed with manna and traveling on to Rephidim, they found no water to drink. They first quarreled with Moses. (Exodus 17: 1-3) God’s leadership always takes flack when things don’t go as the people think it should. The people easily turn on leaders, but God looks at this differently. They are actually turning on Him! (Exodus 16:8) Moses asked them why they were putting the Lord to the test by quarreling with Him. They responded by blaming Moses for bringing them out into the desert to die of thirst! It is amazing how short-sighted and forgetful people can become. Miracles don’t instantly transform people into faith giants!
To help Mose through this situation, God gave him specific instructions. He told Moses to walk on ahead of the people and take some of the elders of Israel with him. He was to go to the rock at Horeb and God would stand before him there. Moses was to strike the rock and God would supply water for the people to drink! (Exodus 17:5-6) When Moses obeyed, water gushed out to satisfy the 2-3 million people, and their flocks and herds, as well!
The New Testament gives insight into this event. Paul taught that the spiritual rock that the Israelites drank from was Christ. (1st Corinthians 10:1-6) He was smitten for us to give us “Living Water”. He has walked ahead of us and taken God’s rod of judgment on sin! Drink today from the smitten Rock! The living water is flowing freely for all to drink!
Scripture Reading for March3: Joshua 1-5
Walking with God is not for wimps! God leads His people in paths of righteousness and truth. He is a mighty warrior and a conqueror! His reputation for war is known far and wide! He never loses or backs down, but often employs some very unconventional battle strategy (Joshua 6:2-5) and uses only those willing to follow His leadership. Today we begin our walk through the book of Joshua. God’s people finally get to go in and possess the land promised to them for so many years. We listen in as God finishes his preparation of Joshua, their new leader.
“Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:6-9
Possessing your inheritance requires strength and courage, especially if you are in leadership! It requires strength because there is walking involved and the ground you cover includes mountains and valleys. There are obstacles and tough climbs. You must have strength of mind to keep your thoughts focused on God’s promises. You must possess strength of character and soul to keep from falling for the temptations of the enemy and the flesh that would trip you up. God will lead you and go with you, (Matthew 28:20) but you must have the strength of body, mind, and soul to keep up the pace and walk with Him.
Courage is another attribute of a leader blessed by God. Courage is the ability to face tough situations with confidence. Courage is not the absence of fear but the ability to face fear with truth and keep moving toward the goal. The confidence is not to be in your own strength, mind or ability, but comes from a relationship with God. When we know God, we come to trust and rely on His leadership and strength to get us through each obstacle. Joshua was told not to let God’s Law and Word depart from his mouth or mind. He was guaranteed prosperity and success as he meditated on the Word and was careful to obey. Faith is produced by this process and it pleases God! (Romans 10:17) (Hebrews 11:6)
Today, receive this reading from Joshua as a personal call from the Lord to walk in renewed strength and courage. Jesus Christ is our “Joshua” and has blazed a trail of perfect obedience to God’s Word. His leadership in our lives today will give us both the strength and courage to face the obstacles in our path! “Be strong and very courageous!”
Scripture reading for January 24: Exodus 16-18
For some reason, I’ve been in leadership positions all my life! I’ve always felt inadequate and usually haven’t sought a leadership position; others always seemed to volunteer me. As I’ve worked leading in various secular and church positions, I’ve become acutely aware of my inability to please everyone. Moses soon learned this same truth! There are as many opinions as there are people under you and Moses had over a million “followers”!
In the passages of the last few days, God’s redeemed people were delivered from Egypt by a mighty act of power by the Lord, and then from Pharaoh’s pursuing army! Led by Miriam, Moses’ sister, they danced in joy and sang a song of deliverance! Redeemed people sometimes expect everything to be handed to them and that their lives will be some kind of fairy tale where they live happily ever after. This picture is soon in need of readjustment as troubles bring us to acknowledge our lack of faith.
A few days after the victory celebration, the Israelites faced hunger and began to grumble. They blamed Moses for his poor leadership and for bringing them out into the desert to die. (Exodus 16:3) God met their need! A little farther into the walk, they ran out of water and began to grumble again, quarreling with Moses. Their hearts were angry and hard and they blamed their leader, actually blaming God! (Exodus 16:8) Each time, God came to Moses’ rescue!
Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, came for a visit to bring back Moses’ wife and two sons. Jethro was thrilled to hear the stories of God’s deliverance through his son-in-law. He observed Moses sitting in judgment with all the people coming to him with their complaints. His advice to Moses was to raise up some helpers to share the load of leadership. Moses should just handle the ‘hard’ cases and let the others do the rest! What a life-saver for this leader!
Lessons for today are plain. First, pray and obey before you complain! When you grumble about your leader, you are grumbling about God! Listen to your leadership and support them by prayer and encouragement! Don’t test or blame God; He is never at fault! (He makes no mistakes) If you are a leader, raise up those who can help you with the work. Sharing the load makes sense and enables others with giftings to share in the blessing and be a part of the solution! Leadership is a joy when you take these tips and your followers do, too! The main one to please in all of this is God. May His face be smiling on your leadership!
“ For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.”