~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Exodus 8:1-9:35 ~ Matthew 19:13-30
Psalm 24:1-10 ~ Proverbs 6:1-5
Old Testament - Today in Exodus chapters 8 & 9 we read about many of the plagues! I've got to say, for some reason the plague of frogs really resonated with me in today's reading. I'm not sure why - but for some reason I could really envision frogs being everywhere... and how disgusting this would truly be...
An interesting thing I read in a commentary today is that the plagues in some ways were direct attacks on the Egyptian "gods". For example, the Egyptians had a god named Hopi, who was god of the Nile river. Hopi couldn't stop the river from turning to blood. They had a cow-goddess named Hathor, who couldn't stop the livestock from dying. They had a sun-god named Amon-Re who couldn't stop darkness from coming over the land. (in tomorrow's readings). God's plagues were going after these false gods - and showing to Pharaoh and the Egyptians, and the Hebrews too I think, who the one true living God is, was, and forever shall be. Did you ever stop and wonder if there were masks out there that depicted the various plagues of the Exodus? Me neither. But they exist! :)
Chapter 8 verses 18 & 19 stand out: "Pharaoh's magicians tried to do the same thing with their secret arts, but this time they failed. And the gnats covered all the people and animals. "This is the finger of God!" the magicians exclaimed to Pharaoh." The magicians tricks were beginning to fail! They realized that God was creating the plagues with their exclamation, "This is the finger of God!" God's name & fame was becoming known. Have you seen or experienced the finger of God in your life? Below is a super-sized image that will give you an idea of the grossness of the plague of gnats:
Chapter 9 verse 16 is powerful: "But I have let you live for this reason--that you might see my power and that my fame might spread throughout the earth." In the New Testament, Paul quotes this verse in Romans 9:17, which we'll view in context here from Romans 9:14-18 - "What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden." Wow... great stuff in this Roman's verse... it does not depend on our desire or effort, but on God's mercy. Do you believe in God's mercy? Will you relinquish any of your own desire or efforts over to God's mercy? As you probably have seen by now, I'm trying to cover many of the plagues in today's readings with images... so now I give you pharaoh and the flies! :)
Exodus chapter 9 verse 20 is also powerful, as we read about some Egyptians beginning to believe in God: "Some of Pharaoh's officials believed what the LORD said. They immediately brought their livestock and servants in from the fields." How about us today? Do we believe what the Lord says? Like these Egyptians in this instance, do we then also immediately do what the Lord says? In verse 27 Pharaoh finally confesses his sin: "Then Pharaoh urgently sent for Moses and Aaron. "I finally admit my fault," he confessed. "The LORD is right, and my people and I are wrong." Though he doesn't stay repentant for long. How about us - do we confess our sins to God - and then not stay repentant for long? Can we instead confess our sins to God and make a complete U-turn - go completely in the other direction and not look back? Below we have the plague of hail - and I guess that fire is from the lightning strikes.
Bible.org's commentary on the plagues of Exodus titled "The Finger of God" is at this link.
New Testament - Today in Matthew 19 we read some challenging verses about the Rich Young Man. I have read some commentaries say that we don't need to take Jesus' words literally that each of us must sell all of our goods and give to the poor. However, these words in context to this rich young man were indeed to be taken literally by him - and he knew it. He wouldn't do it. Jesus called him to do this, I think, because the young man's "stuff" was an impediment to his relationship with God. Perhaps the young man literally valued his stuff more than God. So - while the commentaries say that we don't have to take Jesus' teaching to this young man literally, I do think we should keep in mind that Jesus may ask of us something along these lines. Jesus may ask us to pack up and become a missionary. Or maybe he'll ask us to leave a high powered, high paying job, to go serve the poor in our town. Or he may ask us to not spend our money on luxury items, but to invest in micro credit loan programs in third world countries. So - while this may seem like Jesus was asking a lot of this rich young man, keep in mind that Jesus asks much of each of us. And really, Jesus simply asks us to follow him. Will you follow Jesus? No matter the cost? No matter what you have to "give up"? Will you follow him? Below is a painting by Heinrich Hoffman from the late 19th century of Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler:
Bible.org's commentary on today's readings in Matthew chapter 19 titled "Wealth and the Kingdom of Heaven" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 24 is a beautiful Psalm! Check out this brief snippet of commentary on this Psalm from bible.org: "The Israelites have returned from a battle with the Canaanites. They are proceeding up to the sanctuary on the holy mount to give praise to Yahweh for the great and mighty victory in battle, carrying with them the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of Yahweh’s presence with them. As they approach the gate, they are met by the Levites who function as gatekeepers. It is their part to ask who may enter the sanctuary of the Lord; and it is the priests’ part to answer with the stipulations from the Law. Whoever meets these qualifications may enter and fellowship with Yahweh... The psalm then concludes with the worshipers calling to the gates to make way for Yahweh to come in to His sanctuary, for why should the King of Glory stoop to go under a doorway? " This quote is from, and there is much more commentary on Psalm 24, at bible.org at this link. (also, any Chris Tomlin fans out there will definitely recognize this Psalm - on his CD "Arriving" I think the 2nd or 3rd to last song is called "King of Glory" based on this Psalm - it's the best song on this overall fantastic CD in my humble opinion! :)
Proverbs - Proverbs chapter 6 verses 1 through 5 were intriguing to me. I guess my first thought was that getting our own selves in debt is bad enough - but then to be a guarantor for our friends debt? Well, these verses certainly warn against doing this. Let us avoid debt!
Worship God: I couldn't find Chris Tomlin singing "King of Glory" on YouTube, per my Psalm reflection above. However, I did find him talking about and playing "Made to Worship." Enjoy!
Have you been made to worship? Click here and Worship!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture this week: "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace." Colossians 3:15 NIV
Comments from You and Questions of the Day: Based on the Proverbs verses today about debt, does anyone have debt-relief resources, websites or books you could share with everyone in the Comments section below? I've heard Financial Peace University is good and I hear there are some other good Christian financial management / debt relief books & seminars out there. I'm personally not that familiar with them - well, I did run sound once at a church for a 4 hour session on one of these seminars once, and it was quite good.... it's amazing how wise it is to get out of debt and to save $. I've often heard that it is wise to give 10% of your income and save 10% of your income with each check that comes in. What's your reaction to this type of formula? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!