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Julie Ferwerda Christian Blog and Commentary

OYB February 1

  • Julie Ferwerda
    Are you ready for change in 2009? Grab a One Year Bible (NLT), commit to reading it daily, and join Julie Ferwerda on an extraordinary adventure that will transform your life as you experience its relevance in a fresh, understandable way. In addition to 20+ years in Bible teaching ministry, Julie is a professional speaker and writer. Her works have appeared in publications such as Focus on the Family, Discipleship Journal, Christianity Today, Marriage Partnership, Brio, and Revolve Biblezines & Devotional Bible (for teens). She's also the author of "The Perfect Fit: Piecing Together True Love," and also the upcoming book, "One Million Arrows for God: Raising Your Children to Change the World." Learn more at www.JulieFerwerda.com.
  • 2009 Jan 31
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Today’s One Year Bible Reading:

Exodus

13:17-18 When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them on…the shortest way from Egypt to the Promised Land. God said, "If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt." So God led them along a route through the wilderness toward the Red Sea… I remember the first time I read this and how it struck me. God does not take us the easier, shorter route towards freedom, because our character would not be strong enough to handle future attacks. He must take us the longer, more difficult route to refine us in the “wilderness” (testing) and across the Red Sea (unbelief). So let’s remember our actors in the play (adding to it). Remember to keep these in mind as you read so you can apply to your life story:

Pharaoh = Satan

Pharaoh’s forces = Demons

Moses = Jesus

Israelites = Believers

Egypt = Bondage to sin and death

Promised Land = Freedom from sin, Eternal Life

Passover = Death of Jesus on the Cross

Wilderness = Testing

Red Sea = Our Unbelief

The Red Sea, or what I believe signified unbelief, is our first and greatest obstacle on the road to freedom. I love the NLT version of John 16:9. If you read it in context, it is saying the same thing of other versions, only in a more powerful way: “The world's sin is unbelief in me.” Unbelief is the greatest obstacle we face in our journey to intimacy and trust in God, and this is why He must make us confront it head on if we are ever to get to freedom. I also find it interesting that on another level, God provided a way through Israel’s unbelief, and will again for them in the future.

14:3 Then Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are confused. They are trapped in the wilderness!’ God led Israel to a place where they were trapped on all sides—mountains on three sides, Red Sea on the fourth. To learn more about the topography and some more exciting evidence for this trip, including what appears to be fossilized chariot wheels on the bottom of the Red Sea, watch this YouTube video (to see only the journey with Moses start at 12 minutes).  In my experience, the only way to learn to believe God is for Him to orchestrate impossible circumstances where He is our only hope.

14:5 Note that Satan is not happy about letting you get away from your slavery to him! He pursues you with the best he’s got. Fortunately, his best is still no match for the least our Heavenly Father’s got!

14:12 We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’” This is the exact lie we hear every time we try to leave a habit sin or addiction! This is exactly why we go back to it. The fear of living without it and facing the long journey ahead seems greater than the ease of turning back to it to solve our own problems. At least it was the known thing. It is the fear of the unknown and the inability to take care of our longings the only way we’ve always known that keeps us so locked up to sin. This process that we do to ourselves is called, “nostalgia.” That is, remembering things in a more glorified manner than they really were in such a way that you are tempted to go back instead of forward. When you are looking back to your old ways of habit sins, and the relief you had temporarily from them, you forget about the ruin, emptiness, self-loathing, and shame you felt in the middle of it.

14:17 God made a way for the Israelites “through” their unbelief, whereas Pharaoh’s men were destroyed/consumed by it. In the same way that God threw the Egyptians into the sea, He will one day throw Satan and his demons into the pit of destruction.

Matthew

From yesterday’s connections, note today that it is the four-day period before Passover, when the lambs are being inspected at the Temple for imperfections by the priests. And what do we find but another Lamb at the Temple being inspected by the Pharisees and leading priests!

21:33-46 I love the beautiful crafting that Jesus uses in His storytelling!

22:43 Another reference to the Gentiles being included in salvation.

Questions for reflection:

•    Have you ever felt walled in by your circumstances, where God was your only hope? Did it teach you to trust Him more the next time, or were you like me, a slow learner?

•    Do you struggle with unbelief? Did you know that all unbelief is really the belief of a lie? Whenever you uncover an area in your life that you doubt God’s goodness or sovereignty, try to pinpoint the lie you believe about God and address it, with help if necessary.