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THAT’S NOT FAIR!

 Exodus 11:10 “Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh; yet the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go out of his land.”

HARDENED

Probably one of the most asked questions about the story of the plagues is “Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart?”  You have to understand that Pharaoh had already hardened his own heart.  In fact, in at least two of the plagues it says he did.

But long before this happened, he had hardened his heart against the Hebrew slaves.  This may have been the same Pharaoh (or at least the son) who had ordered the male babies to be killed.  This is the same Pharaoh who kept them as slaves.  His heart was hard.  God could have wiped Egypt off the face of  the earth to free His people.  Pharaoh actually was shown mercy.

TEACHING MOMENT

I bet your children think your discipline is too hard sometimes, right?  When you have to hand down consequences children can complain and whine.  Sometimes, when you discipline they get mad, but did you cause them to get mad.  No, you did what you had to do.  They chose to get mad, even though they deserved the discipline.

The next time this happens, read them this verse.  Explain that Pharaoh acted just like they are acting.  Now you are not going to send 10 plagues on them (lol), but you have to follow through on discipline.  You are trying to direct them to obey, not only you, but God.

Is your heart hard?  I read recently that the sign of a mature man is one who has moved from thin skin and hard heart to thick skin and soft heart. How about you?

Father, soften my heart.  Show me how to hear from You.  Give me the desire to follow You wherever You lead.

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GOD DID IT

 Exodus 8:24a “Then the Lord did so.”

JUST LIKE HE SAID

It never ceases to amaze me how we pray for God’s Will to be done, and then when God answers, according to His Will, we don’t like the answer we got.  God ALWAYS answers prayers.  Sometimes it’s yes, sometimes it’s no and sometimes it’s wait.  But He always answers.

God had instructed Moses and Aaron in the order of the plagues.  I just love this first part of Exodus 8:24. It just says “Then the Lord did so.”  Period.  End of discussion. Done!  When God decides to do something, it’s done.  God warned Pharaoh time and time again.  He had ample opportunity to yield, but pride and arrogance always gets in the way of hearing God.

TEACHING MOMENT

It is so important that we teach our children to pray according to God’s Will.  Now that is not the easiest task.  How do you know God’s Will?  How do you help them understand God’s Will for their life?

The easiest way I have found is to seek what will give Him the most glory.  Pray that and then see what He does.  If we are willing to accept WHATEVER He does in answering our prayer, we have discovered God’s Will.  Just teach your children that God will never do anything which goes against His Word or His character.  Never!

What are you praying for right now?  Are you in need of being released from bondage, like the Hebrews?  Seek the Lord.  Ask Him what He is teaching you right now.  Ask Him to show you the way out.  Surrender to Him and allow Him to lead you to freedom.

Redeemer and Lord, You are the one who frees me from my everyday chains.  Help me surrender my will to Yours.  Help me lead my children to do the same.

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IGNORANCE IS NO EXCUSE

 Exodus 5:2 “But Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go.’”

LET MY PEOPLE GO

 Have you run into people with this same attitude?  “I don’t believe in God, so I don’t have to abide by His laws.”  Unbelief does not negate His existence.  Nor does it do away with the need to abide.  Pharaoh found that out the hard way, remember?  10 plagues ending with the death of the first born!  Pretty tough way to learn, huh?

Even after going through all that, Pharaoh still hardened his heart and came after the people Moses was leading out of Egypt.  Some people just don’t learn.  But before you are so harsh, think about how hard headed you are sometimes.

TEACHING MOMENT

Children can be hard headed, too.  Guess who they learn that from?  Yep, you!  We model bad behavior so often that we don’t even recognize it.  The next time Elrod or Gertrude bow up at you, stop and think, “Did I give them this example?”  You may be surprised at what you discover.

Teaching our children to abide by the Lord’s commands shouldn’t be all that difficult if we are living by them ourselves.  As we model obedience, they will learn to obey.  As we bow to His direction, they will learn to follow Him in their choices.  Teach them by leading them, not preaching to them.

Are you obeying today?  Are you abiding in Him?  Don’t be a Pharaoh with the hard heart who thinks he knows best.  Be the one who obeys without questioning because you know if the Lord gives you a command, it is always for your good.

O Lord, show me the ways I am not obedient to you.  Show me the right way to live.  Show me the truths to teach my children and others.

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LIFE

Exodus 1:17 “But the midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt had commanded them, but let the boys live.”

PRECIOUS LIFE

Every year at our church we celebrate Sanctity of Human Life day.  It’s usually the third Sunday of January.  Having worked with ministries who assist mothers with unplanned pregnancies, this is near and dear to my heart.  That’s why this verse today stuck out to me.

Pharaoh had basically ordered the midwives to abort the male children through what we call today, partial birth abortion.  But they refused.  They feared God more than Pharaoh.  They knew they were held to a higher law.  Understand something clearly.  They knew they could have died for their decision, but they stood firm anyway.

TEACHING MOMENT

Parents must teach their children that when man’s law clashes with God’s law, God’s law wins every time.  We are fortunate here in America that we haven’t been faced with that very often.  But I fear the day is coming when we may.  Your child may already be facing some decisions at school that come close to that.  Be ready to support them and defend them.

But you know, little Susie and Johnny are already facing those pressures to conform to a worldly standard by peers.  Hold them to the Word.  Encourage them to stand strong.  Read them this verse.  Look at the result.  Moses was saved and eventually was used by God to lead the people out of Egypt.  Stand strong!

What are you compromising right now?  When you attend that office party or company social event, are you tempted to let your standards down a little. Don’t! Don’t let the world dictate your standards.  Only the Lord can do that.  Hold true to the Word and let it guide you.

Lord, You are the Law Giver.  I know that.  But You are also the Grace Giver.  When I fail You by compromising or giving in, please forgive me.  Give me the courage to be bold in my witness and lead my children to stand tall and firm.

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GESUNDHEIT

 Genesis 49:28 “All these are the twelve tribes of Israel, and this is what their father said to them when he blessed them. He blessed them, every one with the blessing appropriate to him.”

HEALTHY HOOD

Have you ever heard the expression “gesundheit” after someone sneezes?  Maybe you have even said it without realizing what it means.  You know that can be dangerous (that’s a whole other story, lol).  Well, “gesundheit” actually is German for “healthy (gesund) hood (heit)”.  So, you when you hear that you are actually hearing “healthy hood” or “I wish you good health.”

We commonly say in America “bless you.”  That’s is exactly what Jacob did here in chapter 49 of Genesis.  He brought in all his sons, plus Ephraim and Manasseh, whom he had claimed as his, and blessed them.  This was important in their culture.  The father’s blessing on his child was highly desired.  It should be today also.

TEACHING MOMENT

Now this verse today is more about our actions as a parent than teaching our child.  Of course, everything we DO teaches, right?  Fathers, I want to encourage you to bless your child every day.  Find some way to praise them and bless them.  Pray over them, not just for them.  Let them hear you praying God’s blessings on them. And don’t just do it for your sons.  Your daughters need to hear this, too.  They need blessing.

And Moms, you can do the same.  If you are a single mom, find a godly man who can pray over your children with you.  Children need that blessing of a father figure.  This is not to diminish your role.  There is just something a child craves from a father that can only be filled by a godly man.

So, let me ask you today to be that person, men.  Bless your child.  Bless a child.  Step in to help a single mom when you can.  Now you can only do this with the blessing of your wife and with her full knowledge.  Your integrity and reputation is important in this process.  But be that blessing to a child who needs it.

Heavenly Father, You have blessed me beyond my highest expectations.  You have delivered me.  Give me the vision to bless those around me, especially my children.

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FAMILIAR VOICE

 Genesis 46:1-2 “1 So Israel set out with all that he had, and came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. 2 God spoke to Israel in visions of the night and said, ‘Jacob, Jacob.’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’” 

 YES, LORD

 As far as we know from Scripture, it had been a while since the Lord had spoken to Jacob (Israel) in a dream or any other way.  Do you remember Jacob’s dream at Bethel when he fled from Esau?  God had promised to make him a great nation and to bring him back home.  Well, here’s the same voice speaking to him again.  This time the Lord says, “Go to Egypt.”

I can’t help but wonder why there was this gap in time of God speaking to Jacob.  Did Jacob get comfortable back in Canaan?  Did he get distracted with his family and flocks?  Did his grief over Rachel and Joseph drown out the voice of God?  We don’t know.  But when God spoke to him again, he recognized His voice.  Sweet!

TEACHING MOMENT

If you ever go out of town for work, do you call home and speak to your children?  Of course, you do.  Who wouldn’t do that?  I bet the second they hear your voice they know it’s you, right?  Today we have FaceTime and Skype so they can see your face too, but they know your voice.  Why?  Because you talk to them when you are home.

We need to teach our children to recognize the voice of the Lord.  We need to talk to them about listening to His call on their life.  When they feel that draw of the Spirit toward God, they need to be able to recognize it is the Lord.  That’s only possible if they know what He sounds like.  What is that?  Love!  Truth!  Obedience!  Just!  Holy!

Do you struggle hearing God?  Many of us do.  But most of the time it is because we are too busy listening to other things.  We get bombarded by life’s pressures and don’t hear what He is trying to tell us.  He will NOT force us to listen, but He is always calling.

O Lord, I know Your voice.  It always points me towards truth.  It always agrees with the Word.  Help me help others recognize and respond to Your call on their lives, especially my children.

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WHAT ABOUT ME?

 Genesis 43:23b “Then he brought Simeon out to them.”

 HEY, OVER HERE!

 How would you like to have been Simeon?  He was left behind in jail after the first trip to get grain.  Instead of a quick return, the brothers weren’t allowed to return with Benjamin, as requested by Joseph.  When all the grain they had brought back was gone, only then did Jacob allow them to return.

How long were they gone?  We don’t know.  We do know that each trip took at least 10 days or more. That means if they had returned immediately it would have taken 20 days.  But since the stayed until the grain was gone, it may have been months before they returned.  All that time, Simeon was in jail.  And then when they do come back, all it says is “Then he brought Simeon out to them.”  There is no mention of hugs and tears and “We missed you brother.”

TEACHING MOMENT

There will come a time when your children will feel they are invisible to their friends or someone they really like.  They may feel abandoned by someone.  What a perfect verse to share with them.  Even though Simeon may have felt abandoned, God was working out His plan.  In the end, he was restored to his family.  In the end, if little Elrod will trust the Lord, he will see God’s plan.

That doesn’t necessarily ease the pain and hurt at the time.  I know that.  But we have to show our children that God always has a plan.  He is never caught off guard.  He is always prepared.  He is never surprised.  But they must allow Him to do His will in their lives.  When they learn to accept that, life is so much easier.

How about you?  Are you struggling with some “injustices” in your life?  Do you feel you have been mistreated?  Ask the Lord to show you His purpose in all of this.  He will, in His time.  He will reveal why He has allowed you to go through the things you are facing.  Trust Him.

God, I don’t like some of the things I am having to go through right now.  I don’t care for the discomfort, but I am going to trust You.  I believe You know exactly what is happening and why.  Show me in Your time.

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USED

 Genesis 40:23 “Yet the chief cupbearer did not remember Joseph, but forgot him.”

AND FORGOTTEN

 Have you ever been used by someone to get what they want?  That feels bad enough, but what if they also forgot about you?  That’s what happened to Joseph.  He had correctly interpreted the cupbearer’s dream, but as soon as he was free from prison and back in his lofty position with Pharaoh, he forgot all about Joseph.  He had even seen the baker’s dream come true and still he didn’t mention Joseph.

I am sure, since Joseph was running the prison, he heard about all that was going on in Pharaoh’s palace.  Every big dinner would require the cupbearer to be there.  I bet Joseph thought he would surely tell Pharaoh about him today.  But days, weeks, months and even years went by before his name was mentioned.

TEACHING MOMENT

What is the lesson in all of this?  Simple – do what is right regardless of the outcome.  Joseph did what was right.  He had the gift, through God, to interpret dreams.  He used it to help others.  Our children need to learn to do the same.  If someone has a need which they can meet, they should do it without any thought of payback.

Think of all the Lord has done for us.  He doesn’t expect any payback except our love.  Children need to be directed in this by their parents.  They need to see us doing the same.  Our outward expressions of love to Christ and our efforts to come alongside a brother or sister in need speak volumes to them as they develop their own faith walk.

Won’t you do that today?  Help your children discover a way in which they can be of service to another.  Teach them to give in a way that expects no return.  And then celebrate the joy that comes from being obedient to the Lord.

Lord, show me whom You would have me bless by an act of service today.  Let me be the example for my children.  Teach me to be unselfish and undemanding of others.

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DECEIT BEGATS DECEIT

 Genesis 38:15 “When Judah saw her, he thought she was a harlot, for she had covered her face.” 

THE END RESULT

 The 38th chapter of Genesis is an interesting read (for adults).  When you read it, you can scratch your head and say, “Why would the Lord put this in Scripture?”  But we know that every word is inspired by the Holy Spirit and has a message for us.  So, what is the message of this chapter?  It is a story filled with deceit, lies and sin.

 Judah’s original lie against Tamar (promising her his youngest son) gave Tamar a “reason” to deceive Judah.  Judah’s decision to visit a harlot (sin) led to shame and humiliation for both him and Tamar.  What a “made for tv movie”!  But do you know who one of the sons became?  Perez, who was the twin brother of Zerah, is in the direct line of King David and thus, also in the lineage of Jesus.  He was NO mistake.

 TEACHING MOMENT

 Let me say upfront, this is a hard story to tell your children.  You might want to hold this one for when they are older.  They may have questions you don’t want to answer right now.  Lol.  But it’s in the Word, so be prepared.  For me, it is clear.  God does not make any mistakes.  The mistakes WE make can be turned around and made into blessings.

Perez played a key role in the tribe of Judah.  As I said earlier, he was a descendant in the Messianic lineage.  You can’t get more important than that.  All children are a blessing, whether they are planned or not.  God can use each child to be a blessing for others.

Tell your kids that.  Tell them they are a blessing.  Tell them God has a special plan for them.  Tell them…  Well, you get the picture.  Remind your children over and over again that God does NOT make junk.  They have a purpose for being here.

Creator of all life, thank you for creating me in Your image.  Show me how to show others their purpose in life.  Help me point my children to Your plan for them.

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DREAMER

 Genesis 37:5, 9a “Then Joseph had a dream, and when he told it to his brothers, they hated him even more. 9 Now he had still another dream, and related it to his brothers,”

DREAMS DO COME TRUE

Joseph was a dreamer.  But where did those dreams come from?  I believe God was preparing him for his future before he even knew it.  We have the luxury of seeing the whole story in God’s Word.  Joseph, and his brothers, did not see the big picture.  These dreams were irritating to his brothers and probably confusing to Joseph.  But God spoke through them.

If Joseph and his family could have known what was ahead, they may have listened a little more closely to the dreams.  Instead, they thought only of themselves and how they felt betrayed and belittled.  Hmmm, sounds like us today.  If it’s not about us, we tend to shun it.

TEACHING MOMENT

Do your children ever share their dreams with you?  I mean, every day dreams, not dreams for the future.  I love hearing about kids’ dreams.  Some are funny and others can be scary.  Some kids don’t dream at all.  But the next time your little Johnny shares his dream with you, tell him this story.  Explain how God can speak to us through our dreams.

But it is so important to make sure they understand that even our dreams must agree with Scripture.  If God is speaking through a dream, He will not contradict a Biblical truth.  He will only reinforce it.  If that is true, then watch and see how He reveals Himself.  It can get very interesting sometimes.

Do you have dreams?  Does God speak to you through your dreams?  He may just use His Holy Spirit to speak His message clearly and distinctly.  But…you have to be listening.  You have to be open to Him.  Allow Him to speak.

Father, I know You can speak in whatever way you want.  You can speak through my night dreams or my day dreams.  Open my eyes and ears to see and hear Your message.

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