Thursday, October 31, 2013

Nov. 1st Teaching

November 1st
Moses Refusing Egypt, Choosing God's People, by Faith
By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin. (Hebrews 11:24-25)

The natural tendency of humanity is to desire privilege and pleasure. Moses certainly had these two abundantly available to him in Egypt. Yet, he demonstrated the impact that trusting in the Lord can have by refusing Egypt and choosing God's people.
When the daughter of Pharoah discovered baby Moses, she decided to raise him as her child. "Moses was born...and he was brought up in his father's house for three months. But when he was set out, Pharaoh's daughter took him away and brought him up as her own son" (Acts 7:20-21). As an offspring of the palace, Moses had access to the very best of human education, and he became proficient in all that was provided for him. "And Moses was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and deeds" (Acts 7:22). In terms of conventional earthly perspectives, Moses was guaranteed a life of privilege and pleasure.
However, when he reached the age of relative maturity, his heart was drawn in a distinctively different direction. "But when he was forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel" (Acts 7:23). The wording implies that he had been taught of his link with the Israelites as he was growing up in Pharoah's household. Eventually, his heart was stirred by this connection, and he made a life-shaping decision, by faith. "By faith Moses, when he became of age, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter." He decided to renounce his place of privilege in Pharoah's family and to identify himself with God's people. He was aware that this choice was a renunciation of a pleasure-filled life and would inevitably lead to suffering: "choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin."
To commit to the palace would have been pleasurable, but sinful. Furthermore, those sinful pleasures would have been temporary. On the other hand, the blessings of following the leading of the Lord would last forever. Moses' heavenly perspective was much like the Psalmist "For a day in Your courts is better than a thousand [that is, anyplace else]. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness" (Psalm 84:10).
Heavenly Father, help me to discern whenever the offer of human privilege is competing with Your will for my life. Please give me a heart to identify with Your people, even though inconvenience or suffering might result. Strengthen my faith to choose eternal blessings over the passing pleasures of sin, Amen.

Faith's Checkbook 10/31/2013

October 31

Immortal Till Work Done
"I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord." Ps. 118:17
A fair assurance this! It was no doubt based upon a promise, inwardly whispered in the Psalmist's heart, which he seized upon and enjoyed. Is my case like that of David? Am I depressed because the enemy affronts me? Are there multitudes against me, and few on my side? Does unbelief bid me lie down and die in despair -- a defeated, dishonored man? Do my enemies begin to dig my grave?
What then? Shall I yield to the whisper of fear, and give up the battle, and with it give up all hope? Far from it. There is life in me yet: "I shall not die." Vigor will return and remove my weakness: "I shall live." The Lord lives, and I shall live also. My mouth shall again be opened: "I shall declare the works of Jehovah." Yes, and I shall speak of the present trouble as another instance of the wonder-working faithfulness and love of the Lord my God. Those who would gladly measure me for my coffin had better wait a bit; for "the Lord hath chastened me sore, but he hath not given me over unto death." Glory be to His name for ever! I am immortal till my work is done. Till the Lord wills it no vault can close upon me.
—Faith's Checkbook

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Oct. 31st Teaching

October 31st
Moses' Parents Acting Courageously, by Faith
By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king's command. (Hebrews 11:23)

Our present study reveals another strategic illustration of the extensive consequences of walking by faith. Fear is one of the major threats to living as God intends. Faith in God brings the courage that is needed to overcome fear. Moses' parents are outstanding examples of acting courageously, by faith.
Moses' parents ("Amram...Jochebed" — Exodus 6:20) faced a dreadful dilemma. Jochebed had just given birth to Moses. Pharoah, who was fearful of the rapidly growing slave population, had previously ordered the death of all male Jewish newborns. "The king of Egypt spoke to the Hebrew midwives...and he said, 'When you do the duties of a midwife for the Hebrew women, and see them on the birthstools, if it is a son, then you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, then she shall live' " (Exodus 1:15-16). However, the midwives had faith in the Lord and spared the male babies at birth. "The midwives feared God, and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but saved the male children alive" (Exodus 1:17).
Moses' parents had a similar, courageous faith in God. "By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden three months by his parents...and they were not afraid of the king's command." Nevertheless, their baby was still in danger, since Pharoah had also commanded all the Egyptians to destroy any male babies that they might discover. "Pharaoh commanded all his people, saying, 'Every son who is born you shall cast into the river' " (Exodus 1:22). When they could no longer effectively hide Moses, Jochebed put him in a simple ark in a place where he might be rescued. "When she could no longer hide him, she took an ark of bulrushes for him, daubed it with asphalt and pitch, put the child in it, and laid it in the reeds by the river's bank" (Exodus 2:3). God honored the faith of these courageous parents, allowing the Pharoah's daughter to discover Moses' floating basket and to respond with mercy. "And when she had opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the baby wept. So she had compassion on him" (Exodus 2:6).
Moses' parents courageously risked their lives in order to do that which would be pleasing to God. Their action was based upon their faith in God. Whenever necessary, we too can act courageously, if we rely upon our great God. "In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Psalm 56:11).
Dear faithful Lord, when I am intimidated by the threats or pronouncements of others, please remind me of Your faithfulness to the parents of Moses, that I too might have courage to do that which would please You, through Christ, my Lord, Amen

Oct 30th Teaching

October 30th
Joseph Also Viewing the Future, by Faith
By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the departure of the children of Israel, and gave instructions concerning his bones. (Hebrews 11:22)

When Isaac and Jacob pronounced blessings upon their posterity, they exemplified viewing the future, by faith. When Joseph requested that his bones some day be buried in the land of promise, he was also viewing the future, by faith.
Joseph's journey to leadership in Egypt was marked with alternating battles and blessings. His brothers had betrayed him and sold him into slavery. "Midianite traders passed by; so the brothers...sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. And they took Joseph to Egypt" (Genesis 37:28). Soon, Joseph found blessing under the care of Potiphar, an Egyptian captain who purchased him. "And his master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD made all he did to prosper in his hand. So Joseph found favor in his sight, and served him. Then he made him overseer of his house, and all that he had he put in his hand" (Genesis 39:3-4).
Yet, another battle arose. Joseph was imprisoned by the lies of Potiphar's wife, who resented Joseph's refusal of her sensual advances." 'He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice'...Then Joseph's master took him and put him into the prison" (Genesis 39:14, 20). More blessing came as the Lord granted Joseph favor with the prison keeper. "And the keeper of the prison committed to Joseph's hand all the prisoners...because the LORD was with him; and whatever he did, the LORD made it prosper" (Genesis 39:22-23). Another battle ensued, as one of Pharoah's servants forgot Joseph's kindness to him in prison. "The chief butler did not remember Joseph, but forgot him. Then it came to pass, at the end of two full years, that Pharaoh had a dream" (Genesis 40:23-41:1). Two years later, Joseph's interpretation of Pharoah's dream would bring Joseph to his position of authority in Egypt. "You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you" (Genesis 41:40).
Faith in the Lord certainly sustained Joseph and brought him to God's desired place of service and opportunity. Yet, our present verse reveals that Joseph's basic interest was not his own blessing and advancement. Joseph had a heart for the plans and purposes of God. As he viewed the future, he was convinced that the Lord would some day bring His people back to the land of promise. His request to have his bones buried in the land of promise was an expression of his faith in the promises of God. "God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here" (Genesis 50:25).
Lord God of eternity, as I alternate between the battles and blessings of life, help me to view the future by faith. Remind me that Your everlasting purposes can guide and shape my temporal circumstances, in Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Oct. 29th Teaching

October 29th
Isaac and Jacob Viewing the Future, by Faith
By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph. (Hebrews 11:20-21)

Since we have previously considered Abraham's offering of Isaac (again, in the section on God's promises), let's move on to consider Isaac and Jacob. While pronouncing prophetic blessings upon their descendants, these two men became examples of viewing the future, by faith.
The first example given, Isaac, actually occurred in the midst of a deceitful plot by one of his own sons. Isaac wanted to pass on a blessing to his oldest son, Esau. "Now it came to pass, when Isaac was old and his eyes were so dim that he could not see, that he called Esau his older son and said to him...'Make me savory food, such as I love, and bring it to me that I may eat, that my soul may bless you before I die' " (Genesis 27:1, 4). Jacob (the supplanter or "schemer") disguised himself and lied to his father, attempting to steal the blessing. "And Jacob said to his father, 'I am Esau your firstborn...sit and eat of my game, that your soul may bless me'...And he did not recognize he blessed him" (Genesis 27:19, 23). Although Esau later was given a blessing as well, the blessing for Jacob passed on the headship of the family to this younger son. "Be master over your brethren, and let your mother's sons bow down to you" (Genesis 27:29). When informed of the deceit, Isaac let the blessing stand. The Lord indicates this was an act of faith in the purposes of God
The second example given, Jacob, also occurred in an unusual setting. Joseph was bringing his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, to his father for a family blessing. "Now the eyes of Israel were dim with age, so that he could not see. Then Joseph brought them near him, and he kissed them and embraced them" (Genesis 48:10). Joseph brought Ephraim (the younger) toward Jacob's left hand and Manasseh (the firstborn) toward his right hand. However, Jacob crossed his hands, thereby switching the primary blessing. "And Joseph said to his father, 'Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.' But his father refused and said, 'I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he' " (Gen 48:18-19).
These actions may not seem significant to us. Yet, the Lord lists them as notable steps of faith in Him. These blessings reflected and instituted aspects of God's sovereign plans, in spite of inappropriate scheming and established traditions.
O sovereign Lord, I bow in faith to Your perfect plans and purposes. What a comfort to know that Your will cannot be thwarted by inappropriate schemes or established traditions. Teach me to view the future with faith in Your wisdom and Your sovereignty, Amen.