30 October 2014

29 October 2014

Phographic proof that Damon exists

Because Damon is deprived in the photo department and because I needed a good picture of him for a special event this weekend, he and I had a few photo shoots over the past week. He's usually a very smiley and happy baby, but he was a little stubborn with his smiles for me. Still, I managed to get a few good pictures, so I had to share them with you...ya know, to reassure you that he is still living here! I hope I can get in a better routine of taking his picture more often because I need more photo memories of this cute face!


28 October 2014

BSF 2014-2015: Exodus 15:22-18:27

Just three days after crossing the Red Sea, we now see the Israelites complaining about bitter water. They trusted God to help them cross the Red Sea and defeat Pharaoh. But now they grumble and complain. God tells Moses to put a piece of wood in the water. Moses obeys. Then God uses the wood to make the water sweet.

Then in another 27 days (30 days after the Passover), the whole Israelite community grumbles again. They are hungry and thirsty. They wish they had died in Egypt!

God again provides for them, this time through manna. He instructs them to gather one omar (two quarts) per person, per day and a double portion on the sixth day. If the people keep any leftovers, they are spoiled and become maggots.

God promises to provide for the people every day. God provides daily bread to us today through His Word, the Bible. We must feed on the Word of God every day.

The grumbling and complaining are not over. (This is a pattern that the people will repeat several times during our study this year!) This time they complain about not having water. Once again, Moses intercedes for the people, and God answers Moses’ prayer. God instructs Moses to strike a rock with his staff. Water comes out of the rock for all of the people. The rock is a picture of Jesus, and the water is a picture of the Holy Spirit.

The Israelites don’t recognize their sin of putting God to the test, and they don’t repent. But God continues to show His goodness on their lives. Our lack of repentance doesn’t change God’s character, but it changes how God looks at us. We must repent to make our relationship right with God.

Next, the Amalekites attack the Israelites. Joshua leads the Israelites on the battlefield, and Moses leads them on the battle hill. God brings victory when Moses raises his hands during the battle. God uses both Joshua and Moses to win the battle. Both of them have equal jobs, and they depend on each other. This story shows that prayer and action go hand-in-hand.

At the end of this week’s lesson, we see God using Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, to give godly advice to Moses. Jethro hears how God is delivering the Israelites. So Jethro visits Moses and praises God for His deliverance of the Israelites.

Jethro sees Moses settling disputes among the people. Jethro tells Moses that he is working too hard and will wear himself out. Jethro gives advice to Moses and challenges him to confirm this advice with God. If someone gives me advice, I must check it against God’s Word and prayer.

Jethro tells Moses to seek help and delegate his authority. He suggests that Moses find capable men who fear God, are trustworthy and hate dishonest gain. These men will sit as judges for the people. But Moses can judge the biggest disputes.

God uses Jethro to mentor and encourage Moses. Jethro helps Moses focus on his main purpose, which is representing the people before God.

Things to Think About

  • When God tests me, He reveals what is in my heart. When is the last time God tested me? How did I respond?
  • When is the last time I tested God?
  • Moses prayed to God for help and then immediately obeyed when God gave him instructions. Do I question God or immediately obey Him?
  • How often do I move immediately from praising to grumbling?
  • Complaining shows a lack of trust in God. Complaining can lead to sin. When I catch myself complaining, choose to stop and pray.
  • God is with us on the battlefield, whether we’re fighting or praying for those who are fighting.
  • When God calls us to do something, we must give it our best prayers, energy and time.
  • We can do good, better and best activities. What “good” or “better” thing do I need to stop doing so I can be fully devoted to the “best?”

27 October 2014

25 October 2014

Trying a new sport

After getting a taste of soccer, gymnastics and ballet, Avery tried a new sport this week -- basketball. Well, it's not exactly new, but it's new to her in that she's playing it "competitively"...as competitively as 6-year-olds can play! Once again, we signed her up to participate at our church. We love how our church combines learning sports with learning about God and good sportsmanship.

Here's the outfit Daddy and Avery selected together -- Nike headband, Pacers T-shirt and wristband and IU pants. She definitely looked like she belonged on the court. As I said on Instagram, no matter how she plays, at least she looks good!

Look at this -- Avery's team has six boys plus her. If she was boy crazy, she would love this situation!

See how all of the boys' balls are bouncing every which way? Now look at Avery. Calm, cool and collected...thanks to the pointers Daddy has been giving her!

This picture is a little deceiving. Avery was able to shoot the ball high, but it never got close enough to go in the net.

For Chris, making the basket isn't as important as using the correct shooting motion. She is really good with the mechanics, so we know eventually she'll get stronger and the ball will get in the basket.

Besides dribbling, the team also worked on bounce passes. These are two techniques that Daddy coached her on before the first practice.

She loved taking turns shooting the ball with her teammates. And she didn't care that she never made a basket. It's a good thing she isn't easily discouraged!

I loved watching her try something new. But the most challenging part was sitting next to Chris. Under his breath, he gave the coach some pointers. I think it was difficult for Chris to sit on the bench! At one point, the coach asked for an assistant, and the mom of one player stepped in to help. Chris wasn't pleased with how this mom instructed Avery to shoot the ball, so next time he might have to volunteer to help the coach!

Chris and I were pleasantly surprised at how well Avery played. We may have found the sport she likes the best! But I hope she enjoys being the point guard, because that's just about the only position she will be able to play!

24 October 2014

23 October 2014

21 October 2014

BSF 2014-2015: Exodus 11:1-15:21

This week’s lesson is one of my favorites during this year’s study. Today we will see God deliver His people from the plague of the firstborn and from Pharaoh and his army.

Chapter 11 is a flashback. It fits in earlier when God revealed the other plagues to Moses. We see Moses obey God again as he boldly approaches Pharaoh for the last time. Moses shares God’s message to Pharaoh: God promises one final plague on the Egyptians, the plague of the firstborn. Every firstborn Egyptian, even their livestock, will be killed. Pharaoh again refused to listen to God’s message through Moses.

In chapter 12, God gives instructions for the Passover to the Israelites. This is how He will save them from the plague of the firstborn.

God instructs each Israelite family to select a male, 1-year-old lamb without defect. They should care for the lamb for four days. On the fourth day, they should slaughter the lamb, then use a hyssop branch to spread the lamb’s blood on the door frames of the family’s home. This is the sign that Israelites dwell in the house, and the angel of death will pass over the house.

Then God tells the Israelites to roast the lamb’s meat and eat all of it. They also should eat bitter herbs (representing the bitter slavery they endured) and unleavened bread (representing the speed with which they must leave Egypt and also sin and hindrances, which they should leave behind in Egypt). They should eat the meal rapidly, with eagerness and with anticipation for how God will deliver them from the plague. They should eat the meal with their outer clothing and sandals on, ready to leave when God calls them. God also instruct the Israelites to plunder the Egyptians of their silver, gold and clothing.

The Passover lamb is a beautiful picture of Jesus Christ, our sacrificial Lamb. We must believe that he died for us, and then we must have faith that He will save us and “apply” His blood to our sins, just like the Passover lamb. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, God sees Jesus’ blood over our sins and “passes over” us, giving us eternal life.

When Moses shares God’s instructions with the Israelites, they bow down and worship, even before anything happened! They trusted that God would do what He said.

Some foreigners left Egypt with the Israelites (slaves from other nations, Egyptians who chose to believe in God, etc.). God instructs the Israelites that no foreigners may eat the Passover meal because it wouldn’t mean anything to them. But if foreigners choose to be identified with God’s people and are circumcised, then they may participate in the Passover Feast.

The Israelites obeyed all of God’s instructions, and God fulfills all of His promises. He sends the angel of death throughout Egypt and kills all of the firstborn, including Pharaoh’s son. But the Israelites are saved.

Then God calls the Israelites to leave Egypt. He leads them with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. God’s visible presence was with the Israelites.

But God does not take them the shortest distance to the Promised Land. They appear to wander. Then God directs Moses to circle back around to move the people between a mountain and the Red Sea. Pharaoh thinks the Israelites are confused. So he follows them with his army, hoping to attack them and bring them back to Egypt.

When the Israelites see Pharaoh and his army approaching, they cry out to God. Then they turn to Moses and complain. (We will see a lot more complaining throughout this study!) The Israelites think it would have been better if they had remained in Egypt.

Moses tells them, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still (Exodus 14:13-14).”

God instructs Moses to raise his staff to divide the waters of the Red Sea so the people can cross on dry ground. Then God destroys Pharaoh and his army when he allows the waters of the Red Sea to swallow up the army. This miracle causes the Israelites to put their trust in God and in Moses as His servant. And in response to God’s power, protection and provision, the Israelites break into song and praise God.

Things to Think About

  • After receiving the Passover instructions, the Israelites worshiped God even before God fulfilled His promise. How often do I praise God before I see Him work?
  • “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still (Exodus 14:13-14).”
  • If God has called me to something, even if it’s a battle, He will fight for me.
  • When is the last time I broke out into song as a praise to God?

16 October 2014

14 October 2014

BSF 2014-2015: Exodus 6:28-10:29

Until now, God has been preparing Moses to meet Pharaoh, to trust in God alone and to walk in faith. God once again commands Moses to speak the same message. Pharaoh still has a hard heart, but now God intensifies His judgment, especially on Egypt’s gods.

Again, Moses is discouraged and asks God why He is sending Moses to talk to Pharaoh again. God reassures Moses that His plan hasn’t changed. He has chosen Moses to lead His people out of Egypt.

Moses and Aaron obey what God commands them to do. They approach Pharaoh. To prove that God sent them, Aaron throws down his staff, and it becomes a snake. But Pharaoh’s magicians replicate this miracle. Then Aaron’s staff swallows up the magicians’ staffs. This shows Pharaoh that God is more powerful than the Egyptians’ gods.

After seeing this sign from God, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, and he doesn’t listen to God’s command through Moses and Aaron to let the Israelites leave Egypt. So God determines that He will send 10 plagues to demonstrate His power and authority. We’ll discuss the first nine plagues now. Next week’s lesson will cover the final one.

Through the plagues, God shows both the Egyptians and the Israelites that He is the one true God. There is none like Him. He also demonstrates His wrath. Here are the first nine plagues:

1. All water in Egypt turns to blood and all fish die
2. Frogs fill the land
3. Gnats
4. Flies (with this plague and the following ones, the Israelites are not affected)
5. Livestock in the fields die
6. Boils on people and animals
7. Hail (some people begin to heed the warnings)
8. Locusts devour remaining plants (Pharaoh’s officials beg him to let the Israelites go)
9. Darkness for three days

After some of the plagues, Pharaoh recognizes and confesses his sin. Sometimes he even offers to let the Israelites leave but it’s never on God’s terms...only on Pharaoh’s terms. Pharaoh continues to harden his heart and refuses to let the Israelites leave Egypt.

Pharaoh tried to get Moses to compromise. He wanted the Israelites to worship in Egypt, he didn’t want them to go as far as God commanded them, he wanted them to take only the men and he told them the Israelites cannot take their flocks. But Moses stood firm and refused to compromise. He was bold, courageous and powerful in speech and action.

Through all of this, Pharaoh has a hard heart. A hard heart refuses to accept God’s Word and to submit to God’s will even with clear evidence that God is at work. A hard heart is a result of stubbornness. Stubbornness toward God is rebellion against Him. God pursued Pharaoh and gave evidence that He is the true God. But Pharaoh rejected Him. Then God allowed Pharaoh to go his own way and harden his heart.

Next week we’ll see that after the final, terrible, tenth plague, Pharaoh finally relents and releases the Israelites.

Things to Think About

  • There is one true God, and He will prevail over evil.
  • God gave Pharaoh some verbal warnings before sending His judgment. How is God trying to warn me or get my attention?
  • All authority and power are in God’s hands.
  • We cannot negotiate with God.
  • Which evidence is God showing you to prove that He is the one true God? What are you doing with that evidence?

10 October 2014

09 October 2014

07 October 2014

BSF 2014-2015: Exodus 5:1-6:27

Now we see Moses taking his first step of obedience to God – he goes to ask Pharaoh to release the Israelites from slavery.

Together Moses and Aaron make a request of Pharaoh on the behalf of God. Pharaoh said he didn’t know who God was. Pharaoh and his people believed he himself was a god.

Moses and Aaron make a reasonable request of Pharaoh. They ask him to let the Israelites leave for a few days so they can go worship God in the wilderness. (Moses is not lying to Pharaoh. If Pharaoh would have let the people leave, God more than likely would have encouraged the Israelites during their trip and they would have returned to Egypt.) Pharaoh doesn’t see this as a reasonable request. He sends the Israelites back to work.

The Israelites feel hopeless. So the Israelite overseers approach Pharaoh, asking him to end the oppression. But Pharaoh instead calls the Israelites lazy and takes away the Israelites’ supply of straw (an essential ingredient to making bricks). But he also demands they meet the same quota. The Israelites continue to suffer greatly under Pharaoh’s oppression.

Why did the Israelites go to Pharaoh instead of God? What did they expect him to do? Moses and the Israelites forget that God promised to rescue them. Instead, they focus on their doubt and unbelief.

In his doubt, Moses returns to the Lord (5:22). Moses is frustrated because he obeyed God but Pharaoh did not listen. So Moses honestly seeks the Lord. God responds with compassion and grace. He once again promises to do what He said He would do. And He reminds Moses that He is God.

God refreshes Moses, so he in turn goes to encourage the Israelites. But they do not listen because they are so discouraged and oppressed. They look at their problem instead of God. Then God tells Moses to go to Pharaoh again.

This lesson ends with the genealogy of the tribe of Levi. This genealogy is important because the Levite family will lead the Israelites in worshiping God.

Things to Think About

  • To whom do I turn when I’m looking for relief? People or God?
  • How do I respond when my obedience brings more oppression instead of relief? Do I give in to discouragement instead of trusting and obeying God?
  • Sometimes hardship comes from obeying God.
  • During hardship, focus on God’s character and His promises. Remember that God’s timing is not mine. Anticipate the great things He will do! Honor God in my present situation and wait for Him to unfold His plan. This really spoke to me as I am waiting for God to do something special in my life!
  • The Lord listens to us even when our perspective is wrong and our faith is weak. Both of these describe my heart right now.
  • Will I take my honest requests to God and look for His responses as I spend time with Him in prayer and Bible study? How often am I reading the Bible long enough to hear from God?
  • Our big problems are the perfect opportunities for God to answer in big ways. Moses took his big problems to God, and God answered in big ways, as we’ll see in the coming weeks.

02 October 2014