Today’s devotion comes from Exodus 16:16-18.

“This is what the LORD has commanded, ‘Gather of it every man as much as he should eat;  you shall take an omer apiece according to the number of persons each of you has in his tent.’”  The sons of Israel did so, and some gathered much and some little.  When they measured it with an omer, he who had gathered much had no excess, and he who had gathered little had no lack;  every man gathered as much as he should eat.”  Exodus 16:16-18.

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The teaching of how to gather manna in today’s Scripture was used later in Scripture to teach how to give.  If you gathered much and have an abundance, then use it to become a supply for the needs of others.  If you gathered little, be thankful that you either at least have enough to supply your own needs or that someone else with an abundance will help supply your need.   

“For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality—  at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality;  as it is written, “HE WHO gathered MUCH DID NOT HAVE TOO MUCH, AND HE WHO gathered LITTLE HAD NO LACK.”  2 Corinthians 8:13-15.

And, there is more help from God!

In the very next verse, we are taught that God puts such a spirit of earnestness in us to give as we should.

“But thanks be to God who puts the same earnestness on your behalf in the heart of Titus.”  2 Corinthians 8:16.  

In the next chapter, we are further taught that God also puts a spirit of cheerfulness in us to give as we should.

“Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”  2 Corinthians 9:7.

“for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.”  Philippians 2:13.

In summary, God gives us all the grace that we need to give as we should give.

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;”  2 Corinthians 9:8.  

Today’s devotion comes from Exodus 16:13-15.

“So it came about at evening that the quails came up and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp.  When the layer of dew evaporated, behold, on the surface of the wilderness there was a fine flake-like thing, fine as the frost on the ground.  When the sons of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?”  For they did not know what it was.  And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which the LORD has given you to eat.”  Exodus 16:13-15. 

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“So they said to Him, “What then do You do for a sign, so that we may see, and believe You?  What work do You perform?  Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness;  as it is written, ‘HE GAVE THEM BREAD OUT OF HEAVEN TO EAT.’”  Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread out of heaven, but it is My Father who gives you the true bread out of heaven.  For the bread of God is that which comes down out of heaven, and gives life to the world.”  John 6:30-33.

“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life;  he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.  But I said to you that you have seen Me, and yet do not believe.  All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.”  John 6:35-37.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life.  I am the bread of life.  Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died.  This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die.  I am the living bread that came down out of heaven;  if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever;  and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”  John 6:47-51.

“Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?”  So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves.  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.  For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink.  He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.  As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.  This is the bread which came down out of heaven;  not as the fathers ate and died;  he who eats this bread will live forever.”  John 6:47-58.

“Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?”  But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, “Does this cause you to stumble?  What then if you see the Son of Man ascending to where He was before?  It is the Spirit who gives life;  the flesh profits nothing;  the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.  But there are some of you who do not believe.”  For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.  And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” John 6:60-65. 

Article 8.  For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation:  that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him by the Father; that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death; should purge them from all sin, both original and actual, whether committed before or after believing; and having faithfully preserved them even to the end, should at last bring them free from every spot and blemish to the enjoyment of glory in his own presence forever.  Canons of Dordt in the section titled SECOND HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby. 

“As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore.  So Jesus said to the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?”  Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have words of eternal life.”  John 6:66-68. 

Today’s devotion comes from Exodus 16:8-12.

“Moses said, “This will happen when the LORD gives you meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning;  for the LORD hears your grumblings which you grumble against Him.  And what are we?  Your grumblings are not against us but against the LORD.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, ‘Come near before the LORD, for He has heard your grumblings.’”  It came about as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the sons of Israel, that they looked toward the wilderness, and behold, the glory of the LORD appeared in the cloud.  And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “I have heard the grumblings of the sons of Israel;  speak to them, saying, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall be filled with bread;  and you shall know that I am the LORD your God.’”  Exodus 16:8-12.

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Today’s Scripture’s last sentence leads us to meditate on faith.  How do we know that the LORD is our God?

The Reformed confessions clearly and consistently answer that question.  Faith is a gift of God.

Consider the following from the Canons of Dordt in the section titled THIRD AND FOURTH HEADS OF DOCTRINE Of the Corruption of Man, His Conversion to God, and the Manner Thereof.  

Article 14.  Faith is therefore to be considered as the gift of God, not on account of its being offered by God to man, to be accepted or rejected at his pleasure;  but because it is in reality conferred, breathed, and infused into him;  or even because God bestows the power or ability to believe, and then expects that man should by the exercise of his own free will, consent to the terms of that salvation, and actually believe in Christ;  but because he who works in man both to will and to do, and indeed all things in all, produces both the will to believe, and the act of believing also.

Consider the following from the Heidelberg Catechism.

“Q. 21.  What is true faith?

A.  True faith is not only a certain knowledge, whereby I hold for truth all that God has revealed to us in His Word, but also an assured confidence, which the Holy Ghost works by the gospel in my heart;  that not only to others, but to me also, remission of sin, everlasting righteousness, and salvation are freely given by God, merely of grace, only for the sake of Christ’s merits.  Heidelberg Catechism.

Consider the following from the Belgic Confession.

Article 22:  Of Faith in Jesus Christ.

We believe that, to attain the true knowledge of this great mystery, the Holy Ghost kindleth in our hearts an upright faith, which embraces Jesus Christ, with all his merits, appropriates him, and seeks nothing more besides him.  For it must needs follow, either that all things, which are requisite to our salvation, are not in Jesus Christ, or if all things are in him, that then those who possess Jesus Christ through faith, have complete salvation in him.  …  And faith is an instrument that keeps us in communion with him in all his benefits, which, when become ours, are more than sufficient to acquit us of our sins.

Consider the following from the Canons of Dordt in the section titled SECOND HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Death of Christ, and the Redemption of Men Thereby. 

Article 8.  For this was the sovereign counsel, and most gracious will and purpose of God the Father, that the quickening and saving efficacy of the most precious death of his Son should extend to all the elect, for bestowing upon them alone the gift of justifying faith, thereby to bring them infallibly to salvation:  that is, it was the will of God, that Christ by the blood of the cross, whereby he confirmed the new covenant, should effectually redeem out of every people, tribe, nation, and language, all those, and those only, who were from eternity chosen to salvation, and given to him by the Father;  that he should confer upon them faith, which together with all the other saving gifts of the Holy Spirit, he purchased for them by his death;  …

Consider the following Scriptures.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,”  Ephesians 1:3. 

“Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:  Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord;  seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”  2 Peter 1:1-3. 

“For who regards you as superior?  What do you have that you did not receive?  And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”  1 Corinthians 4:7.

“But there are some of you who do not believe.”  For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him.  And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.”  John 6:64-65.

“Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.”  Matthew 13:11. 

“A woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple fabrics, a worshiper of God, was listening;  and the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul.”  Acts 16:14. 

“He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.”  Matthew 16:15-17.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith;  and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:10. 

If our faith is an act of our wisdom and our free-will, then as weak and sinful people whose will is often fleeting, our faith will fail.  When we get hungry or thirsty or have other trials like Israel did in the wilderness, we will grumble and doubt that the LORD is our God, and our faith will fail.   

But, if our faith is a gift of God, the Almighty LORD Who is all powerful and perfect and able and willing to preserve us His elect a/k/a His chosen people, then that gift of God will not fail.  

Consider the following from the Canons of Dordt in the section titled FIFTH HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of the Perseverance of the Saints. 

Article 8.  Thus, it is not in consequence of their own merits, or strength, but of God’s free mercy, that they do not totally fall from faith and grace, nor continue and perish finally in their backslidings;  which, with respect to themselves, is not only possible, but would undoubtedly happen;  but with respect to God, it is utterly impossible, since his counsel cannot be changed, nor his promise fail, neither can the call according to his purpose be revoked, nor the merit, intercession and preservation of Christ be rendered ineffectual, nor the sealing of the Holy Spirit be frustrated or obliterated.

Article 9.  Of this preservation of the elect to salvation, and of their perseverance in the faith, true believers for themselves may and ought to obtain assurance according to the measure of their faith, whereby they arrive at the certain persuasion, that they ever will continue true and living members of the church;  and that they experience forgiveness of sins, and will at last inherit eternal life.

The faith which is a gift of God is able to endure whatever we experience.  

“For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,”  Philippians 1:29.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  James 1:2-4.

“Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand;  and we exult in hope of the glory of God.  And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;  and perseverance, proven character;  and proven character, hope;  and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”  Romans 5:1-5.

“In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;  and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”  1 Peter 1:6-9.

Today’s devotion comes from Exodus 17:1-7.

“Then they set out from Elim, and all the congregation of the sons of Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after their departure from the land of Egypt.  The whole congregation of the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness.  The sons of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the LORD’S hand in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat, when we ate bread to the full;  for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you; and the people shall go out and gather a day’s portion every day, that I may test them, whether or not they will walk in My instruction.  On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather daily.”  So Moses and Aaron said to all the sons of Israel, “At evening you will know that the LORD has brought you out of the land of Egypt;  and in the morning you will see the glory of the LORD, for He hears your grumblings against the LORD;  and what are we, that you grumble against us?”  Exodus 17:1-7.

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“19 Then they spoke against God;
They said, “Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?
20 “Behold, He struck the rock so that waters gushed out,
And streams were overflowing;
Can He give bread also?
Will He provide meat for His people?”

21 Therefore the LORD heard and was full of wrath;
And a fire was kindled against Jacob
And anger also mounted against Israel,
22 Because they did not believe in God
And did not trust in His salvation.
23 Yet He commanded the clouds above
And opened the doors of heaven;
24 He rained down manna upon them to eat
And gave them food from heaven.” Psalm 78:19-24.

People may also grumble against us. Or, our children may grumble against us. But, we still do good to them.

“3 Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble.
4 Say to those with anxious heart,
“Take courage, fear not.
Behold, your God will come with vengeance;
The recompense of God will come,
But He will save you.” Isaiah 35:3-4.

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;  and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another;  and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”  Hebrews 10:23-25.

“14 ‘Return, O faithless sons,’ declares the LORD;
‘For I am a master to you,
And I will take you one from a city and two from a family,
And I will bring you to Zion.’

15 “Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding.” Jeremiah 3:14-15.

“Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.”  1 Peter 2:1-3.

Today’s devotion comes from Exodus 15:22-27.

“Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea, and they went out into the wilderness of Shur;  and they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.  When they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter;  therefore it was named Marah.  So the people grumbled at Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?”  Then he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree;  and he threw it into the waters, and the waters became sweet.

There He made for them a statute and regulation, and there He tested them.  And He said, “If you will give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD your God, and do what is right in His sight, and give ear to His commandments, and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have put on the Egyptians;  for I, the LORD, am your healer.”

Then they came to Elim where there were twelve springs of water and seventy date palms, and they camped there beside the waters.”  Exodus 15:22-27.

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In our travels through life, like Israel, we will be tested, we will need to give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD and do what is right in His sight, and we will need to rest.

But, there is hope!

Regarding being tested, the testing of our faith produces endurance.

“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  James 1:2-4.

Regarding the need to give earnest heed to the voice of the LORD and do what is right in His sight, God puts His Spirit within us and causes us to be careful and walk in His statutes. 

“Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you;  and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.”  Ezekiel 36:26.  

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control;  against such things there is no law.”  Galatians 5:22-23. 

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”  Galatians 5:15.

“I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.”  Ezekiel 36:27.

Regarding the need to rest, God leads us by quiet waters and makes us lie down to rest in green pastures.  God restores our soul and gives us peace.    

“The LORD is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul; …” Psalm 23:1-3.

“And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”  Philippians 4:7.

Today’s devotion comes from Exodus 15:19-21.

“For the horses of Pharaoh with his chariots and his horsemen went into the sea, and the LORD brought back the waters of the sea on them, but the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea.

Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing. Miriam answered them,

Sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted;
The horse and his rider He has hurled into the sea.” Exodus 15:19-21.

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O magnify the LORD with me,
And let us exalt His name together.
” Psalm 34:1.

“9 “Remember the former things long past,
For I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is no one like Me,
10 Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;
11 Calling a bird of prey from the east,
The man of My purpose from a far country.
Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass.
I have planned it, surely I will do it.” Isaiah 46:9-11.

Which doctrine best exalts God?

Other doctrine which teach that God loves everybody, Christ died for everybody, but salvation is ultimately obtained only by those who do sufficient works or at least have sufficient wisdom and alleged free-will to choose Christ?

Or, Reformed Doctrine which teaches that salvation is a work of God alone, by grace alone?

Reformed Doctrine teaches that all the points of salvation are a work of God from beginning to end:  from the beginning of God’s “Unconditional Election” through Christ’s “Limited Atonement” through the Holy Spirit’s “Irresistible Grace” to the end of God’s “Preservation of the Saints”, the “U”, “L”, “I”, and “P” of “TULIP”, the Five Points of Calvinism, the Reformed Doctrine of Salvation.  This true doctrine of salvation is more fully taught in the Reformed Confession called Canons of Dordt.

“O LORD, You are my God;
I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name;
For You have worked wonders,
Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.
” Isaiah 25:1.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”  Ephesians 1:3-6. 

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  For by grace you have been saved through faith;  and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;  not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  Ephesians 2:4-8.

“But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;  for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD;  you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.”  1 Peter 2:9-10.

Today’s devotion comes from Exodus 15:11-18.

11 “Who is like You among the gods, O LORD?
Who is like You, majestic in holiness,
Awesome in praises, working wonders?
12 “You stretched out Your right hand,
The earth swallowed them.
13 “In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed;
In Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation.

14 “The peoples have heard, they tremble;
Anguish has gripped the inhabitants of Philistia.
15 “Then the chiefs of Edom were dismayed;
The leaders of Moab, trembling grips them;
All the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away.
16 “Terror and dread fall upon them;
By the greatness of Your arm they are motionless as stone;
Until Your people pass over, O LORD,

Until the people pass over whom You have purchased.
17 “You will bring them and plant them in the mountain of Your inheritance,
The place, O LORD, which You have made for Your dwelling,
The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.
18 “The LORD shall reign forever and ever.” Exodus 15:11-18.

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In today’s Scripture, we see a sharp contrast between Israel (as today’s Scripture calls them: “Your people”, “whom You have redeemed”, “whom You have purchased”) and everyone else:  such as the Egyptians, the inhabitants of Philistia, the chiefs of Edom, and the leaders of Moab.  

Compare what Israel received from God (In Your lovingkindness You have led the people whom You have redeemed;  In Your strength You have guided them to Your holy habitation.”  Verse 13) with what everyone else received (“Terror and dread fall upon them;  By the greatness of Your arm they are motionless as stone;  Until Your people pass over, O LORD, …”  Verse 16).

According to what is seen throughout Scripture, Reformed Doctrine teaches that there is a sharp contrast between God’s elect and everyone else.  God does not love everyone, and Christ did not die for everyone;  but rather, God only loves His elect and Christ only died for God’s elect.  In the briefest nutshell, God’s elect gets Christ and everything else that is good for them.

Consider the following from the Canons of Dordt in the section titled FIRST HEAD OF DOCTRINE Of Divine Predestination which states “election is the fountain of every saving good”.

Article 9.  This election was not founded upon foreseen faith, and the obedience of faith, holiness, or any other good quality of disposition in man, as the pre-requisite, cause or condition on which it depended;  but men are chosen to faith and to the obedience of faith, holiness, etc., therefore election is the fountain of every saving good;  from which proceed faith, holiness, and the other gifts of salvation, and finally eternal life itself, as its fruits and effects, according to that of the apostle:  “He hath chosen us (not because we were) but that we should be holy, and without blame, before him in love,”  Ephesians 1:4.

“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God. But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption,”  1 Corinthians 1:26-30. 

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.  In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.”  Ephesians 1:3-6. 

Today’s devotion comes from Exodus 15:3-10.

“3 “The LORD is a warrior;
The LORD is His name.
4 “Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea;
And the choicest of his officers are drowned in the Red Sea.
5 “The deeps cover them;
They went down into the depths like a stone.
6 “Your right hand, O LORD, is majestic in power,
Your right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy.
7 “And in the greatness of Your excellence You overthrow those who rise up against You;
You send forth Your burning anger, and it consumes them as chaff.
8 “At the blast of Your nostrils the waters were piled up,
The flowing waters stood up like a heap;
The deeps were congealed in the heart of the sea.
9 “The enemy said, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake, I will divide the spoil;
My desire shall be gratified against them;
I will draw out my sword, my hand will destroy them.’
10 “You blew with Your wind, the sea covered them;
They sank like lead in the mighty waters.” Exodus 15:3-10.

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Last Sunday, a popular art image of a smiling Jesus surrounded by children filled a huge screen in our worship service and stayed there during the blessing of the children.

My heart sank at that proud display by a conservative Presbyterian church that subscribes to the Heidelberg Catechism and which should know better than violate the second commandment.  

Q. 96.  What doth God require in the second commandment?

A.  That we in no wise represent God by images, nor worship Him in any other way than He has commanded in His Word.

Q. 97.  Are images then not at all to be made?

A.  God neither can nor may be represented by any means.  But as to creatures, though they may be represented, yet God forbids to make or have any resemblance of them either in order to worship them or to serve God by them.

Q. 98.  But may not images be tolerated in the churches as books to the laity?

A.  No;  for we must not pretend to be wiser than God, who will have His people taught, not by dumb images, but by the lively preaching of His Word.  Heidelberg Catechism.

Some of you may think what is the harm?  Scripture does state:  “Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray;  and the disciples rebuked them.  But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me;  for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”  After laying His hands on them, He departed from there.”  Matthew 19:13-15.

Then, preach it!  Shows these words on the screen!  But, do not show an art image of Jesus and violate the second commandment and lead the congregation to even partially rely on art images rather than solely rely on God’s word alone to form their beliefs about God!

Also, consider today’s Scripture.  So to speak, as Israel was faced with Egypt chasing Israel intent on destroying their babies, their children, and everyone else, what did Israel need?  This art image of Jesus stuck in their minds or today’s Scripture?  As Ukrainian Christians face the Russian invaders what do they need?  An art image or God’s word?

Americans may not be faced with literal war now, but we are faced with spiritual war.  What do we need?  An art image or God’s word?

We should not need to explain possible reasons for the second commandment, but consider that if such images are allowed, our tendency is to be lazy and rely on them rather than diligently studying God’s word and relying on Scripture alone to form our beliefs of God.  

Or worse, we may leave the God of Scripture and worship an idol, the image of a god that is cute and that we prefer and can manipulate to our desires.   

But, there is hope!  

“All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;  so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  2 Timothy 3:16-17.

“The LORD your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.” Zephaniah 3:17.

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse, and He who sat on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and wages war.  His eyes are a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems; and He has a name written on Him which no one knows except Himself.  He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.  And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses.  From His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty.  And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”  Revelation 19:11-16.

Posted by: Bill Hornbeck | August 9, 2022

“I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted”

Today’s devotion comes from Exodus 15:1-2.

“Then Moses and the sons of Israel sang this song to the LORD, and said,

I will sing to the LORD, for He is highly exalted;
The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea.
2 “The LORD is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;
This is my God, and I will praise Him;
My father’s God, and I will extol Him.” Exodus 15:1-2.

——————————-

Today’s Scripture gives us a good example of a song that has lyrics that exalt God.  These lyrics exalt what God has done:  “The horse and its rider He has hurled into the sea.”  These lyrics exalt Who God is to the singer:  “The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation”.  You can tell how much spiritual passion, gratitude, and praise to God that Moses and the sons of Israel were able to show through this song.   

But, consider how often the songs in a worship service are chosen for different reasons than exalting God. The songs may exalt ourselves with lyrics like “I will follow Him” or “I will surrender” or “Here I am.  Send me.”  Or, the songs may exalt the voice of the lead singer or the ability of a praise band member to play a certain musical instrument, drowning out the voices of the congregation who either don’t know the song or who don’t have microphones. Or, the songs may exalt the praise band member or popular artist who wrote the song.    

But, there is hope!

The Book of Psalms provides a treasure chest of lyrics for songs that exalt God. The Psalter Hymnal has been used by Reformed Churches for so long.

“O sing to the LORD a new song,
For He has done wonderful things,
His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him.” Psalm 98:1.

“6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;
Sing praises to our King, sing praises.
7 For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with a skillful psalm.
8 God reigns over the nations,
God sits on His holy throne.” Psalm 47:6-8.

“Sing to the LORD a new song;
Sing to the LORD, all the earth.
2 Sing to the LORD, bless His name;
Proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day.
3 Tell of His glory among the nations,
His wonderful deeds among all the peoples.” Psalm 96:1-3.

“It is good to give thanks to the LORD
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
2 To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning
And Your faithfulness by night,
3 With the ten-stringed lute and with the harp,
With resounding music upon the lyre.
4 For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done,
I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.” Psalm 92:1-4.

Today’s devotion comes from Exodus 14:26-31.

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots and their horsemen.”  So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak, while the Egyptians were fleeing right into it;  then the LORD overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea.  The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even Pharaoh’s entire army that had gone into the sea after them;  not even one of them remained.  But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.

Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.  When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses.”  Exodus 14:26-31.

—————-     

“7 A thousand may fall at your side
And ten thousand at your right hand,
But it shall not approach you.
8 You will only look on with your eyes
And see the recompense of the wicked.
9 For you have made the LORD, my refuge,
Even the Most High, your dwelling place.
10 No evil will befall you,
Nor will any plague come near your tent.” Psalm 91:7-10.

“10 So He saved them from the hand of the one who hated them,
And redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.
11 The waters covered their adversaries;
Not one of them was left.
12 Then they believed His words;
They sang His praise.” Psalm 106:10-12.

“4 For You, O LORD, have made me glad by what You have done,
I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.

5 How great are Your works, O LORD!
Your thoughts are very deep.
6 A senseless man has no knowledge,
Nor does a stupid man understand this:
7 That when the wicked sprouted up like grass
And all who did iniquity flourished,
It was only that they might be destroyed forevermore.
8 But You, O LORD, are on high forever.
9 For, behold, Your enemies, O LORD,
For, behold, Your enemies will perish;
All who do iniquity will be scattered.” Psalm 91:4-9.

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