Monday, October 31, 2011

I Just Can't Resist...

Here are my angels, ready for Halloween. I'm pretty sure they have no idea what is going on, but they both are very happy. I think it's because they can't stop laughing at the other twin...little do they know what they look like themselves...

The bottom picture is Norah in a duckie outfit that my mom sent Mary a few months ago - it's still pretty big. We're hoping it will work next year, but if not, they may be running around this spring in their duckie costumes...

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Moses vs Jesus

"For the Law was given through Moses;
grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ."
John 1:17

It's hard for us to step into the shoes of the children of Israel as they left Egypt. God had revealed Himself in such a supernatural, mighty way - the piece de resistance being the parting of the Red Sea through which the nation safely passed and which engulfed and destroyed their enemies. Following His cloud by day and His fire by night, they knew they were in the will of God as long as they followed Him.

Arriving at the foot of Mt. Sinai, now with great anticipation God is going to instruct them on how to live. Just like He did with Adam and Eve, God would now be man's teacher again.

But something was different. The joy and peace that Adam and Eve experienced in the presence of God was replace with fear and trepidation. The thunder and lightning that dwelled on the top of the mountain was not inviting. It was more of a reminder of the plagues they had just watched Egypt experience.

And yet, God had saved them. Miraculously. So what did He have in store for them?

When the Law was given to them by God through Moses, the people were eager and willing to comply. They had seen His power and they wanted to be His people. But the 613 laws set before them were not as easy as they thought it would be. Even the initial ten, though seemingly fair and simple, became difficult to live by.

In a very short time, the children of Israel replaced their feelings of fear and their desire to please with self-centered complaining and mourning over the life of slavery they had just left behind in Egypt. Yes, that's what I said - the life of slavery was desired above the life God had offered them.

But they were still slaves. Slaves to sin. That's why the Law was shunned by the people. At least in Egypt they simply had to work and there would be food for their family. Now, as the children of God, to please this Master, every word, every action, every thought and every step had to be carefully planned because He was holy and He wanted them to be holy as well.

It was just simply too much for them to bear.

Some tried hard to keep His Law but most gave up quickly. What they didn't understand was that within God's Law, within their sacrificial system, within their festivals and within the very walls of their Holy Place was the provision for their dilemma. For the next 1500 years the people wrestled with God and His Law, but then the Light of the World arrived and He was a game changer.

For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

Do you ever wonder why you are not thriving in your walk with the Lord? Perhaps you are powered by the Law, which only produces frustration and sorrow. A life empowered by Jesus Christ is one that proves to be joyful and peaceful and profitable - understanding the truth of our sin and the grace offered to us at the cross is where we need to start every day.

Tuesday we will take a closer look at the Law, the Tabernacle and the sacrificial system. It's a more academic study by nature, but guess who's in the center of it all...

I can't wait for you to see Jesus...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Psalm 139:3

"You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
and are intimately acquainted with all my ways."
Psalm 139:3

Look at this path. It has to be some sort of tropical walkway. See the bamboo trees? It's definitely not Michigan. So if this is some tropical getaway, this would be a great path to be on, wouldn't it?

Actually, this would be a dangerous path for me because I'm a faller. In other words, I trip easily.

But God not only knows my path, He scrutinizes it. He's intimately acquainted with all my ways. In other words, He's highly invested.

Why? Because He causes all things to work together for my good as He conforms me into the image of His Son. With a promise like that, He has to be invested. How else would He, the One who began a good work in me, be faithful to complete it? He needs to know where I've been, where I am and where I'm going.

He even needs to know where I'm sleeping.

That's kind of strange, isn't it? Well, not really, because sometimes where a person is sleeping is an indicator of what's going on in their heart. Are they sleeping in their own bed? Or on the couch? Or at a retreat? Or in a tropical resort? Or in a Motel Six? With their own spouse? With someone else's spouse?

You can see where I'm going. He knows everything because He's highly invested. For the one who feels lost and alone, this is a beautiful promise of God's presence. For the one who feels tired and sad, this is a warm blanket to snuggle in. For the one who feels insignificant and insecure, this is the reality of a royal birth certificate. And for the one who loves their sin, this is a cold glass of water in the face.

But it's reality.

He's highly invested and He knows every detail.

Committing Psalm 139 to memory is quite a challenge, gals. But don't give up - it will give you a lot to chew on during the week...keep up the good work!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Stephen's Summary of our Study So Far...

The first martyr of the church was Stephen. As I was reading this account today in Acts 7, I was struck by how much we've learned in study in just seven weeks and how much of Stephen's discourse to the religious leaders would be now familiar to you. So below is the sermon that ended with his death. He is comparing the hard hearts of the Israelites against the prophets with the current religious leaders' hard hearts towards the gospel. I know it's long, but it will be very familiar to you and I am hoping it will be an encouragement as we continue our study on the big picture of the Bible:

And he said, “Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, and said to him, ‘LEAVE YOUR COUNTRY AND YOUR RELATIVES, AND COME INTO THE LAND THAT I WILL SHOW YOU.’ Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran.

From there, after his father died, God had him move to this country in which you are now living. But He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that HE WOULD GIVE IT TO HIM AS A POSSESSION, AND TO HIS DESCENDANTS AFTER HIM.


And He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abraham became the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.

“The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt. Yet God was with him, and rescued him from all his afflictions, and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he made him governor over Egypt and all his household.

“Now a famine came over all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction with it, and our fathers could find no food. But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers there the first time. On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family was disclosed to Pharaoh. Then Joseph sent word and invited Jacob his father and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five persons in all.

And Jacob went down to Egypt and there he and our fathers died. From there they were removed to Shechem and laid in the tomb which Abraham had purchased for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.

“But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt, until THERE AROSE ANOTHER KING OVER EGYPT WHO KNEW NOTHING ABOUT JOSEPH. It was he who took shrewd advantage of our race and mistreated our fathers so that they would expose their infants and they would not survive.

It was at this time that Moses was born; and he was lovely in the sight of God, and he was nurtured three months in his father’s home. And after he had been set outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and nurtured him as her own son. Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds.

But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand.

On the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?’ But the one who was injuring his neighbor pushed him away, saying, ‘WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND JUDGE OVER US? YOU DO NOT MEAN TO KILL ME AS YOU KILLED THE EGYPTIAN YESTERDAY, DO YOU?’

At this remark, MOSES FLED AND BECAME AN ALIEN IN THE LAND OF MIDIAN, where he became the father of two sons.


“This Moses whom they disowned, saying, ‘WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND A JUDGE?’ is the one whom God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush. This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years.

This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN.’ This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you. Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt, SAYING TO AARON, ‘MAKE FOR US GODS WHO WILL GO BEFORE US; FOR THIS MOSES WHO LED US OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT—WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM.’

At that time they made a calf and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. But God turned away and delivered them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, ‘IT WAS NOT TO ME THAT YOU OFFERED VICTIMS AND SACRIFICES FORTY YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS, WAS IT, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL? YOU ALSO TOOK ALONG THE TABERNACLE OF MOLOCH AND THE STAR OF THE GOD ROMPHA, THE IMAGES WHICH YOU MADE TO WORSHIP. I ALSO WILL REMOVE YOU BEYOND BABYLON.’

“Our fathers had the tabernacle of testimony in the wilderness, just as He who spoke to Moses directed him to make it according to the pattern which he had seen. And having received it in their turn, our fathers brought it in with Joshua upon dispossessing the nations whom God drove out before our fathers, until the time of David. David found favor in God’s sight, and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob. But it was Solomon who built a house for Him. However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says:


“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did. Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.”

Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”

But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse. When they had driven him out of the city they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.

They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!”

Having said this, he fell asleep.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Notes for Lesson Seven

Lesson 7 – Moses and the Passover

Exodus 5-12

I. Introduction to Moses – 1525 B.C.

· Exodus 1:4-8 – over __400_____ years have passed and the king is worried about the number of Israelites

· v. 9-22 – Pharaoh seeks to kill the boys but the midwives disobey and are blessed – why? The _____Abrahamic Covenant___!

· Moses is hidden by his sister and mother, and found by Pharaoh’s __daughter____

· As an adult, Moses has to flee because he killed an Egyptian soldier

· Moses’ wife – Zipporah – lives in the wilderness for __40__ years

· Moses’ Egyptian brother is now king – God sends him with a message – “Let my people go!”

II. The 10 plagues - Exodus 5-11

A. Why did God want the Israelites back in Israel?

· Exodus 6:1-8 –

· Genesis 15:13,14

B. The Plagues:

1. Nile water into blood

a. Hapi: god of the Nile

2. Frogs

a. Heket, Hekhet, or Heqt: Egyptian goddess of Fertility,

Water, Renewal; frog-headed

3. Gnats or Lice from dust

a. Geb: Egyptian god of the Earth; also

b. Khepri: Egyptian god of creation, movement of the

Sun, rebirth; beetle-headed

c. Thoth: one time considered god of magic,

failed along with magicians (or priests) to duplicate

conjuring of gnats or lice.

4. Flies (gadflies)

a. Khepri: Egyptian god of resurrection, creation,

movement of the Sun, rebirth; beetle-headed

5. Cattle/livestock disease

a. Hathor: goddess of love and protection; possibly

absorbed Bat, the cow-headed goddess.

b. bull cult gods Apis, Buchis, and Mneuis

c. bulls sometimes considered embodiment of Ptah and Ra

6. Boils

a. Isis: goddess of medicine and peace

b. Im-Hotep: real person turned deity, patron of wisdom and medicine

c. Sekhmet: lion-headed deity of plagues, believed to

bring about or prevent epidemics or pestilence

7. Thunder/hail

a. Nut: Sky goddess

b. Shu: god of air; associated with calm or cooling

c. Tefnut: goddess of water/moisture; linked to sun and moon

d. Seth: associated primarily with chaos

but also thunder, the desert, and infertility.

8. Locusts

a. Senehem: possibly locust-headed, god of protection

from ravages of pests

9. Darkness

a. Ra or Amon-Ra: god of the sun

b. Horus: sky god; sun was his right eye, moon his left.

10. Death of the firstborn

a. Pharaoh himself

b. Min: god of reproduction

c. Ra: god who was believed to create all things

d. Anubis: god of the dead and embalming;

Ex 11:7 refers to no dogs barking,

possibly referring to jackal(or dog)-headed

Anubis having no power over Israelites during this plague

· The first nine plagues did not touch the Israelites – Exodus 8:21,22; 9:4; 9:25,26

· The tenth plague required a response from the people

III. The Passover – Exodus 12

A. The Instructions:

1. v. 3-5 Take a ___lamb____ – no substitute was allowed, an unblemished, male, yearling

2. v. 6 – Bring it into your ____home____ on the tenth day and on the fourteenth day, you are to kill it at twilight

3. v. 7 – Take some of the ___blood___ and put it on the two door posts and the lintel (cross bar) of your doorway on the outside of your house

4. v. 8-10 – ___Eat___ the lamb – gave specific directions on how to prepare – eat with unleavened bread (no time to rise) and bitter herbs (remembering their hard life in Egypt)

5. v. 11 – Be prepared to __leave__ quickly

B. The Picture:

1. Take a lamb – the___spotlessness___ of the living lamb did not save them. Jesus’ death brought them life - Hebrews 9:22, I John 1:7

2. Put blood on the doorposts – killing the lamb was not _____enough_______for salvation. The blood had to be applied to the doorpost of the house – the blood of Christ cannot save you unless it is applied

3. Eat the lamb – After salvation through the blood, ___nourishment________ comes from feeding

4. Be dressed and ready to travel – live a life that is prepared to be united with the Father, to be taken ____home____

5. The elements of the Passover Meal:

· Lamb – sacrifice – innocent for the guilty – eaten not raw or unbaked, but as a suffering lamb who passed through the fire. No bone could be broken

· Bitter herbs – bitter cup of God’s wrath that Jesus tasted for us

· Egg – new life in Christ

· Salt water – sorrowful tears from hard work in Egypt

· Unleavened bread – Matzoh – made in a hurry – leaven represents sin, so this bread is a call to leave the past and enter a sinless life

· Charoset – apple, raisin, cinnamon – represents the mortar for the bricks – hard work but a sweetness in the end because God saves

· Celery – the wealthy of Egypt ate celery

6. Ending – Exodus 12:37-51

· God gives specific instructions for this feast – it is to be a _____remembrance____ of God’s deliverance from oppression for generations to come

· It is only for the children of Israel to observe – no foreigners

· We observe the communion table now as a remembrance of God’s deliverance from sin – only believers are to observe

IV. Heading into the wilderness – Exodus 13-19

· Pharaoh finally lets the people leave and the Egyptians load the Israelites with material wealth – Exodus 12:33-36

· God led them as a ___cloud______ by day and a pillar of ____fire____ by night

· The parting of the Red Sea

· Time of complaining – God provides manna – means “what is it?” – and water from a rock – Exodus 16,17

· Manna was only supposed to be enough for each day – why?

· The Law is given at the foot of Mount Sinai

V. On to Kadesh – Numbers 11-20

· After about a year at Mount Sinai, Israel is ready to move to the Promised land

· More complaining – Numbers 11:8-10, 18-23, 31-33

· The story of the 12 spies – Numbers 13

· Their report:

1. The land is ___full____ of milk and honey

2. They brought back fruit to prove its ____fertility____

3. The people are ___strong_____ and many

4. __Giants _____ live in the land

· The people’s response – weeping and grumbling

· The Lord’s anger burned – Numbers 14:10-22

· Finally He had enough:

o at the Red Sea – Exodus 14:11-12

o at Marah – Exodus 15:23,24

o in the wilderness of Sin – Ex. 16:2

o in connection with manna – Ex. 16:20

o and manna again – Ex. 16:27

o at Rephidim – Ex. 17:1-3

o at Horeb – Ex. 32:7

o at Taberah – Numbers 11:1

o the complaint of the rabble – Num. 11:14

o at Kadesh-Barnea – Num. 14

· God puts an end to the problem by: (Numbers 14:28-38)

1. Not allowing the adults to ___enter____ the land but telling them they would die in the wilderness

2. Allowing the faithful spies to _____survive____and live in the land

3. Allowing the ______children____ to enter the land

4. Sentencing the people to __40_____ years of wandering, one for each day the spies were in the land

5. Killing the unfaithful ___spies____ with a plague

VI. The Serpents in the Wilderness – Numbers 21:4-9

· In this story, you see God dealing with the rebellion in a unique way

· God sends fiery __serpents____ into the camp

· An act of ___faith_____ would save them

· John 3:1-16 – interesting discourse between Jesus an Nicodemus includes this story


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Joseph's Self-Worth

You can't love others until you learn to love yourself.

Is this a true statement? Do you believe it?

It's a message that is shouted loud and clear every time we turn on the television, look at a magazine, read a billboard, watch a movie or listen to music. If the twenty-first century had a theme to it, it would be ME FIRST.

We no longer put other gods before God, we simply place ourselves before God. I mean, come on, how can we love Him if we don't first love ourselves?

If the story of Joseph was being written today, the ending would look like this:

Jacob, after living in Egypt with his family and rock star son, Joseph, for 17 years, finally dies, and his sons begin to shake in their boots. As long as their father was alive, Joseph would show them mercy, but with daddy out of the way, now Joseph could avenge their sin and get even for the miserable life he had led.

When Joseph heard of their fears, he called them to come before him. Sitting on his throne, still acting as second in command in Egypt, he looked down on them and said, "Don't be afraid for your lives, my brothers. Can't you see? I'm doing fine. I've been in counseling. I've worked through my issues and truth be known, I'm going to be alright. I've really learned to love myself because I was the only person I had with me throughout the hard times. But I dug deep and now, because I am a survivor, I can have a relationship with you because I'm just that kind of guy."

The end.

Thankfully Joseph didn't have modern psychology to help him process his past.

All he had was God and that's all he needed.

Joseph didn't find his self worth in his father's love, his success in managing Potiphar's household, his good looks, his ability to run a prison or interpret dreams, and he certainly never relied on his own strength to save the known world from great famine. He found his value in God. He chose not to wallow in self-pity but trusted in a sovereign God who would be faithful to His promises. He even trusted that God would judge his brothers and he didn't have to - listen to what he really said when they came to him:

"Do not be afraid, for am I in God's place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones."

Joseph didn't have to judge his brothers. God would do that. All he had to do was keep his eyes on the Lord and find his value within the arms of the Almighty.

In a culture which puts self first, as believers we are called to a higher standard. We know God. We know His promises. Our lives have been bought with Jesus' blood. We no longer find our value in our own comfort or pleasure, but in His Son.

If you think you've got it rough, be sure to read Joseph's story this week and perhaps you will gain a new perspective on the call to walk by faith. (Genesis 37-50)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Be Faithful in the Little Things

"By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac..."
Hebrews 11:17

There was a progression of growth in Abraham's faith that led him to Mount Moriah and enabled him to bind his son and lay him on the altar. The sacrifice of his son wasn't the first command of God. The first was, "Go forth from your a land I will show you."

In other words, Abraham's first call from God was, "Follow Me."

Interesting, huh?

Why did Abraham pack up and wander to a strange land? Why did the fishermen leave their nets and spend the next three years serving, listening, feeding, and following a carpenter's son? The calls were the same and so were the responses.

Being a follower of Jesus starts with obedience to a call, then the growth begins. It starts small and for the Bob Wiley in all of us, we begin to take baby steps behind our Father. Life offers trials and tribulations and we continue to follow the One who sits on the throne of our heart. Sometimes they are small and other times they are massive, but every step is one step stronger as we grow in our faith. We may slip back a step or two here or there, but God is overseeing our growth process and as I Corinthians 10:13 tells us, we are not tempted beyond what we are able - God always provides a way of escape so that we can endure.

Baby steps.


By the time God required Abraham to give up his son, his faith was strong enough to endure the call. He had learned to be faithful in the little things so that when the major test came, he didn't have to weigh his options. He didn't argue or complain. He simply took another step of faith, keeping his eyes on the promises of God - that's all he needed.

Unfortunately, today believers struggle with the little things. We don't faithfully walk day by day, keeping our eyes on Jesus and growing in our knowledge and confidence of Him. So when the bigger issues arise, we falter. What is happening to our growth process? Can we look back to last year and see maturity in our lives? Or is our growth stunted?

I promise the big trials are coming. Today determine to actively and aggressively grow in your relationship with Jesus through careful study of His word. Let His word permeate your mind and your heart and give you the confidence of the reality of its truths. As James MacDonald once said, you cannot have success in the crisis until you have success in the process. Don't expect to suddenly develop strong spiritual disciplines in the midst of the crisis - develop them now.

Be faithful in the little things so that when the big things come, you naturally walk by faith.