Exodus 21-22 B

I was cringing while reading most of this. Luckily, Bethany gave us a great pep talk last time around. If you felt overwhelmed by all the anticipation of slavery and violence like I did, revisit her words.

You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.” 22:22

Doesn’t that tone read like a protective father warning someone encroaching on their beloved child? It should, because it is.

The church culture I was a part of on the west coast downplayed the anger of God. Some pastors and theologians claim there is no hell or punishment from God. I live in the Bible Belt now, and God’s anger is a card they love to play. Billboards tower down on me from every highway, warning me to attend church or I’ll go to hell.

Wherever you land on that spectrum will shape how you approach Him. I’m learning how to be in a relationship with the Lord out of faithfulness and love and not out of fear or performance. It’s really hard! But verses like the one above remind me that God’s anger is a slow-burning wick and he will be exalted.

He will defend the defenseless. I’m not trying to create shame for us to take on, but trying to produce encouragement. He hears every cry from the vulnerable and will respond. Hallelujah for that. In the meanwhile, how are we advocating for them?

Do the things that anger God anger you as well?

How do you engage with holy anger?

-Carly

Exodus 17-18 B

The workload seems to be catching up to Moses. (I mean, can you even imagine?) Something I noticed in these chapters is the way God provided people for Moses.

When he was weary from holding up his hands, Aaron and Hur held up his arms the rest of the day. (17:12-13)

Later in chapter 18, we read about his father-in-law, Jethro, visiting him in the wilderness. (I have so many questions about this! How did he know precisely where he was? Was there a map? How did he “get word to him” as mentioned in 18:6? I want details on these logistics!)

Jethro and Moses catch up and visit. I can imagine the relief Moses felt being among family and being filled up, his tense shoulders lowering as the evening went on. Being visited by people during an intense season of life is so refreshing. He receives much-needed advice as his mentor encourages him and also counsels him to delegate responsibility.

Who are your people?

Who comes and holds your arms up when your hands grow weak from God’s work?

Who visits you in your wilderness?

Who pulls you aside and says, ‘you’re taking too much on, this isn’t good, let’s figure this out’?

(Shout out to my girl Bethany who regularly hikes out to my wilderness to check on me and problem solve!)

A life alongside God is not meant to be isolating or lonely. He calls us to work for people and with people. We are meant for relationship.

If you have godly relationships, take a minute and thank God for your people. If you need this, ask him for it! He will extend it generously (but probably differently than you imagine). And of course, steward this well in your life. If you are someone’s ‘person’, take it seriously. Check on them, speak up and roll up your sleeves to serve them.

-Carly

Exodus 13-14 B

I can’t imagine how the Israelites felt, watching 600 chariots of their enemies charging towards them in revenge. They immediately panic (who wouldn’t?)

 “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? 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!” 14:11-14

But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

Isn’t that just the best pep talk? “Don’t be afraid, just stand here calmly while God defends you.” Letting the Lord defend you, while meekly standing by, is hard. Like standing, cornered in front of the ocean, while your enemies descend upon you.

Maybe it’s not a person threatening to completely clobber you, but a circumstance. An illness. Debt. A job. An addiction. Grief.

With God, there is always a way out. The Israelites couldn’t have possibly imagined that God would pull the ocean into two bodies of water so they could escape right down the middle, their feet on dry sand. He is a mastermind of rescuing and always has a plan.

Fear not and stand firm. 

 

-Carly

Exodus 9-10 B

Did you see the explanation Beth shared with us about the intention behind the plagues? I was fascinated! It’s such a reminder of how intentional God is.

What questions did these chapters bring up? Here are some of mine:

Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? (This gets addressed in Romans 9, but is still hard to ignore when you’re reading the text.)

Why did God involve Moses? I noticed several times, God would intervene with the weather, like when he shifted the wind to bring the locusts down. It reminded me that God didn’t need Moses to talk to Pharaoh, and it wasn’t Moses’ own power that activated the plagues, just a mere signal. (As the story progresses, we’ll see their relationship grow, and Moses refers to God as a friend. Sometimes it’s good to ask questions, even if you know they get answered later on in the text. The Bible is so multi-faceted, there’s always more to learn.)

How were the magicians able to pull off most of these plagues? Do not underestimate the powers people can call upon. The more we familiarize ourselves with God, the easier it is to decipher when someone’s imitating him.

What thoughts or observations did you have?

 

-Carly

Exodus 5-6 B

Put yourself in the Israelites shoes for a minute. They are getting worked harder and whipped more; punished for something Moses has done! And remember, the last time he was around, he was burying someone he murdered in the sand and then made a run for it. He returns from hiding away and does nothing but stir up more trouble.

We, as readers, know what’s going on behind the curtain. God is orchestrating a massive rescue plan to free them. They’ll never be forced to slap bricks together again! This story will go down in history, their leader will foreshadow the Messiah and give a glimpse of mankind’s future.

But they can’t see the big picture, the mural. They are just a few feet in front of the wall, looking at a mess of paint. Showing up to work and getting whipped harder every day.

Is that you?

Are hardships and burdens piling up on you? You want to trust God, but it’s hard to gain perspective?

Have faith. Even when it feels like there’s no solution within reach and no way out, trust that God is working behind the curtain to bring you relief.

Even if the workload is piling up, or it feels like someone is raining blows down on you harder and harder every day.

We are lucky to have access to read the ending of God’s rescue story. Page after page of Scripture is drenched in evidence that he shows up, he provides and he loves us. But even so, it can be hard when you can’t see the big picture.

Take a deep breath and lean into him.

-Carly

Exodus 1-2 B

I’m so thankful for the inclusion of the women’s stories in today’s chapters.

The midwives. They are brave and saving lives! What a reminder to obey God’s authority over anyone else we find ourselves under. I’ve always found their actions a great example of how godly obedience isn’t always black and white. Are we suppose to lie and sneak around behind authorities? No. But they make a judgment call and are greatly rewarded by the Lord because of their wisdom and reverence. Staying in rhythm with God’s heart will make choices like that one a no-brainer.

Moses’ mom. SLOW. CLAP. I can’t even fathom sending a newborn baby down the river, because that was my best option to preserve his life. Sometimes we have to let someone go to save them. Motherhood is intense and a constant lesson of trusting God while we take care of the lives he’s entrusted us with.

Miriam. I imagine her young here, following the floating basket down the river until it’s pulled from the water. But her quick response that lands Moses’ back home for a few years seems so wise and mature! She is so brave; approaching Pharaoh’s daughter and making bold suggestions. Godliness is sticking your neck out for the vulnerable.

The rest of Exodus is patriarchal and will focus a lot on great, godly men. But for now, on the eve of Mother’s Day, reflect on the godly women in your life and pray over them.

-Carly

Proverbs 31 B

This chapter use to really piss me off. I felt pigeon-holed and crammed into a box I didn’t feel like I fit into. Like we often say around here, Scripture can take a beating. It holds up. You can use it as a punching bag for your hurt and pain inflicted by the church or men or God, etc, and it will still be holy, true and perfect. It’s alive and will work to reconcile you with God; it will smooth over your wounds like a soothing balm.

(I still remember a conversation I had with a friend over ten years ago about this chapter. His words redeemed it greatly for me and allowed me to see it with fresh eyes. Our relationship with the Bible is just that, a relationship. It will grow and change!)

I love what Beth wrote about verses 10-31 and encourage you to revisit it.

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. Yes, speak up for the poor and helpless, and see that they get justice.” 31:8-9

We are commanded to speak up. Don’t feel bogged down by this; not everyone is going to MLK Jr. But be praying about what portion of advocacy you can take on. There are many ways, big and small, to work for justice.

Vote well. Shut down racist or misogynist remarks immediately. Give away more of your money to people who need it, or to the people who are helping those in need. If you are pro-life, speak up for all forms of life who can’t defend themselves, whether they’re in the womb or out.

Take time today to pray about how you can get involved.

 

-Carly

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead