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Julie Ferwerda Christian Blog and Commentary

OYB January 26

  • 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 26
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Today’s One Year Bible (NLT) Reading

Exodus

2:11 Many years later, when Moses had grown up, he went out to visit his own people. You can take the boy out of the country, but you can't take the country out of the boy. Even though Moses grew up in Pharaoh's court, he somehow knew he was an Israelite and he was still partial to his people. This gives me hope for members of my family who were strong believers at one time and are now living in Pharaoh's court.  

Do we see a common pattern with wells? Wells: the E-Harmony of the B.C.! Need a mate? Just head out to find a well. In either case, you never know what's going to end up in your bucket!

2:11, 17 "...he saw how hard [the Isrealites] were forced to work... So Moses jumped up and rescued the girls from the shepherds." From early on, Moses demonstrates a heart for justice and a desire to rescue people from oppression. I believe our internal make-up and passions lie in the area where God wants to use us. Verse 17 also has a deeper meaning. Plug in our actor. Moses a Christ-type is rescuing the women from the shepherds. In Ezekiel, we see Jesus doing the same thing in 34:10: This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I now consider these shepherds my enemies...I will rescue my flock from their mouths; the sheep will no longer be their prey." He is talking about the leaders of His flock who have allowed the sheep to wander off and get lost.

2:23 But the Israelites continued to groan under their burden of slavery. They cried out for help, and their cry rose up to God. Sometimes you've got to feel the terrible burden of bondage to sin before you realize your need for help. And if you didn't know what the overwhelming weight of sin feels like, you wouldn't appreciate the coming deliverance.

24-25: [God] remembered his covenant promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. His covenant with Abraham was also His covenant with Israel. It is also His covenant with you and He is concerned about you, too.

3:1-10: Do you ever have those times when God does something extraordinary in your ordinary everyday life, and you can't help but take notice? At these times, God arranges contrasting and mysterious moments around you at significant times, when He is getting ready to make a move in your life. Burning bushes can be anything that God uses to get our attention. They can be small things such as a Bible verse or something someone says to us, or large things where we are stopped dead in our tracks by the awe of the moment.

In these times, I believe God is announcing presence, power, and purpose-His presence and power, and a special purpose for us where He's about to begin a specific mission in and through us. I told you about the night in 2,000 when He awakened me and gave me a verse about establishing a home, which led to quite a series of events. Another time I read a magazine article--a magazine article for Pete's sake--and as I got a little closer to check it out, it led me directly on that mission to Haiti that set the course of my future with selling our home and working on behalf of orphans. Another burning bush happened when I had asked God what to do with a book I had written, and I got a random post card in the mail for a Christian Writer's Conference in 2003. That was the beginning of my writing career that has taken so many amazing forms in five years!

I have had very simple bushes, too. So many times, God has given me a scripture or a passage out of a book I'm reading to encourage me just before I need it. I remember on one occasion I was reading in two different books, Journey of Desire, by John Eldredge, and Hearts of Fire, by Voice of the Martyrs. In both books, there were significant stories in the same week that God used to tell me that I was about to have an upcoming loss in my life, and that I needed to let go. Had I not been paying attention, I would have missed out on such a great comfort and strength for the immediate mission at hand.

So you see, when you find a burning bush in your day, don't ignore it (especially if you need medical treatment ☺). Take off your shoes and stay awhile on that holy ground, where you will find your commissioning. I think the reason so many Christians are not living with purpose is because either they're not paying attention to the burning bushes, or they're too afraid to check them out and see where they lead. I'm at the point in my life now where I'm more afraid of missing the miracle of a burning bush and all it entails than I am of getting burned.

7-8: You can be sure I have seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard their cries for deliverance from their harsh slave drivers. Yes, I am aware of their suffering. So I have come to rescue them from the Egyptians and lead them out of Egypt into their own good and spacious land. It is a land flowing with milk and honey... Let's review. God has come to rescue you from the Taskmaster and your enslavement to sin (first to become a believer and child of God, second, to deliver you from habit sins and entanglements of this world). He's reserved the Promised Land for you--a place with spacious borders and wonderful spiritual provisions (applied both spiritually now in getting you free from sin and later physically when you move into His Kingdom). These are His plans for you, are you willing to go on this journey to freedom from your sin?

15: "Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors-the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob-has sent me to you. Early on, we discovered that the Hebrew picture language for Yahweh means, "hand revealed, nail revealed." Awesome, huh? Orthodox Jews do not say the name of Yahweh because they think it is too revered to speak out loud. That is sad since right here, Yahweh Himself tells Moses to use His name. What is also sad is that we have totally depersonalized Yahweh by always calling Him by His title, "God," instead of by His name. It would be like me calling my husband "Mr." whenever I referred to him. It is something to think about. In the Hebrew, the word for "God" is "Elohim" which is a plural word for "rulers, judges, or divine ones." And Yahweh is the literal translation for LORD (all caps). I'm not sure why it was changed from His name--unless somebody didn't want us saying His name!

Matthew

17:9-13 Commentary: The disciples had heard that Elijah must come, according to Malachi 4:5: Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. Jesus reassures the disciples that Elijah will indeed come first. But the first coming of Jesus did not bring the great and dreadful day of the Lord. Instead, the Malachi 4:5 coming of Elijah is probably best identified with the appearance of the two witnesses of Revelation 11:3-13, and the Second Coming of Jesus. Yet, there is also a sense in which Elijah has come already, in the work of John the Baptist, who ministered in Elijah's spirit and power (Luke 1:17).

17:20 Notice the footnote: But this kind of demon won't leave except by prayer and fasting. Compare Mark 9:29. Perhaps if this is true, fasting increases and completes our faith, since the next thought is, "You didn't have enough faith."

Psalm 22

22:1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? This is a prophetic Psalm of the Messiah's words at crucifixion (Mark 15:34). So many Psalms are prophetic of Messiah, and we will do our best to notice them all. I find it amazing that David even spoke the very words of Messiah in some of his prophecies! Note verses 16-18: "They have pierced my hands and feet. I can count all my bones (none of Christ's bones were broken, John 19:33). My enemies stare at me and gloat. They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing (Mark 15:24).

Questions for personal reflection:

  • Think about your life and try to remember a time God put a burning bush in your path.

  • What was it, and how did you respond? Did you pay attention? Ignore? Stop and worship?

  • If you paid attention, what was the mission God placed before you?

  • Have you come to the place where you're more afraid of missing the miracle than getting burned by the bush?