The process of promise

Read: Exodus 22-24, Matthew 20:17-34

Many of us, when we pray, would like to see our entire prayer answered right when we pray it. We’re used to instant gratification. Drive-thrus. On demand. Our prayers have become a reflection of that. Like Veruca Salt, we want it and we want it now!

But what happens when we get everything we want when we want it whether we’re ready for it or not? Did you know some studies show that up to 70% of people who unexpectedly come into large sums of money end up broke within five years? Getting rich quick isn’t always the best thing for us.

Exodus 23:29-30

I’m sure Israel would have loved nothing more than to walk out of Egypt and right into the Promised Land. God could have gone ahead and cleaned house, sweeping out the land and preparing it for His people. But He didn’t. He chose not to for a couple of reasons.

  1. Israel wasn’t ready. Here was an entire nation who had been enslaved for four centuries. While their physical captivity had ended, anyone who has been held against their will can tell you that it takes longer for the mind to adapt to freedom. God had a lot of things to teach His people before they were ready to take the land. He needed to renew their minds to His plans and purposes before they could move ahead.
  2. The land was ready. Israel had some learning to do, but the land was move-in ready. It was inhabited. It was already being farmed. Cities had already been built. There was a population that was tending to it, keeping it profitable. Had God scattered those people, the land would have reverted back to its original state. Fields would go fallow and fill with weeds. The cities would begin to crumble and wild animals would once again take over. The Israelites would have had to start from scratch.

Our land, our promise, may be ready for us, but we may not yet be ready for it. There may be lessons we need to learn along the way. We may need to build up endurance and strength. We may need to renew our minds, changing our old way of thinking. We may need to be broken down so that we can be rebuilt. And while all of that is happening, God has made sure that our promise will be ready for us when we are ready for it. The process is just as, if not more, important than the promise.


Read: Exodus 13-15, Matthew 19:1-15

Both in Canada and the United States our mints—the place where physical currency is made—like to commemorate things. Watch television late at night and you’ll probably see a commercial offer for a commemorative coin. These coins serve to honour or celebrate a particular person, place, event, or institution.

Roughrider Loonie

Of all Canadian commemorative coins, this loonie (one dollar coin) celebrating 100 years of the Saskatchewan Roughriders, is my favourite.

Our governments do a good job of helping us to remember certain things. These memories live in our purses, our pockets, our nightstands, our change jars. We need money to make it in our world and, what better way to immortalize something than to put it in the hand of every person in the country?

When something spectacular happened to God’s people, Moses asked Israel to do something similar.

Exodus 13:13

The Israelites were serious about their commemoration. Even today, phylacteries (small, black, cube-shaped leather boxes) are often worn by Orthodox and other conservative Jewish males aged thirteen and older. The purpose of these objects are to remind the Jewish people of God’s deliverance and of their duty to remain faithful to His commands. Thousands of years after the fact, these people are still commemorating their deliverance.

The Israelites celebrated their deliverance every year at the same time with the Feast of Unleavened Bread. As their children grew, they would tell the story of how God brought them out of slavery and into the Promised Land. And then their children would tell their children who would tell their children. You get the picture. Stories of God’s greatness were passed down from generation to generation along with an object and traditions that would be a perpetual reminder.

Most of us have never been enslaved. We’ve never had to be delivered to the extent that Israel required. But God has done something for every one of us. He has delivered us all from something and brought us into His promise. So what do we do to remember that?

Several years ago, my pastor preached a message series called All In. Every person in attendance was given a poker chip with the words All In printed on it. Ask anyone who was in the congregation that day about their chip and most everyone could tell you where theirs is. Mine is in my work belt. I know that my pastor keeps one in his pocket. Our youth leader keeps it in his wallet. Like a commemorative coin, we all have a reminder to give our all when it comes to our relationship with God.

What do you keep to remind yourself of God’s grace and goodness in your life? Whether it be a phylactery, a coin, or a poker chip, it is worth keeping a memento so that you can keep in mind—even in the hard times—God’s faithfulness. Believe it or not, I even have a tissue (unused) tucked in a particular Bible that reminds me that I have the mind of Christ (Jesus in no way relates to a Kleenex, but the illustration worked and the reminder is there).

How can you commemorate the mighty hand of God in your life?

More than enough

Read: Exodus 4-6, Matthew 16

My great-grandfather was a gentle man. He loved his wife and his family. He worked hard to provide for them. He loved God. He stuttered. His speech impediment often prevented him from sharing what God had done in his life. That is, until he died. At the age of 80—when most would say he’d already lived a full life—he had a heart attack and was pronounced dead. But that wasn’t the end. In that moment of death, he had an experience with God that would shape the rest of his life. Yes, the rest of his life. After his death experience, God brought him back to his family to live another 13 years. His mission: share his story. No stutter would stop him from telling anyone who would listen the story of what God had done for him.

Gramps reminded me of Moses—not that he lead a great people out of slavery or that he held out his staff and split a river, but God knew what He was doing when He created both men, speech impediments and all.

Moses said to the Lord, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.

Exodus 4:10 (NIV)

If I were to tell you that you’ve insulted God, you may be insulted by my statement. But if we were to be honest with ourselves, we’ve probably all made that same grave mistake. Moses did it and angered the Lord and all he did was make a truthful statement. God wasn’t impressed with Moses’ excuse of not being eloquent.

Exodus 4:11

Let’s say that you’ve been asked to work out a solution for a particular problem. You work hard and come up with a design that you know is absolutely perfect for the situation at hand. Then someone comes along and tells you that it isn’t good enough.

How do you think God feels when we tell Him that we aren’t enough for what He wants us to do? He made you. He made me. He knows exactly who we are and what we are capable of. Don’t you think He’s already taken into account what we can and cannot do? Do you really think He would ask someone to do something if He didn’t already know that person could do it?

As far as we know, Moses never got over his lack of eloquence. His brother, Aaron, was his mouthpiece. Yet Moses was still able to lead his people out of Egyptian servitude. He led them across the river and right to the border of the Promised Land.

How ignorant we can be in thinking that God left us lacking in any way. Where we are not enough, He is more than enough. Where there are gaps, He fills them.

“Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.”

Exodus 4:12 (NIV)

Let’s go

Now whenever the cloud lifted from the Tabernacle and moved, the people of Israel would set out on their journey, following it. But if the cloud stayed, they would stay until it moved again.

Exodus 40:36-37 (NLT)

How good are you at following directions? Me, I don’t like being told what to do. Even if it’s something I know I can or should do, as soon as someone tells me I have to, I go into shut down mode.

For as much trouble as Israel got into, the one thing they seemed to manage to get the hang of was following God. Literally. While they may have broken down on occasion and complained or worshipped a golden calf, when God moved, they moved. When God stayed, they stayed.

It’s such a simple concept, but one that can be so, so difficult to grasp. Sometimes we get bored and want to move on, but God says we’re not ready yet. Other times, we’re comfortable and want to stay, but God says it’s time to go.

I wonder how much more God would be able to use me if I stopped acting like a spoiled brat, pushing one way or pulling another, and learned to follow His directives a little better?

Daily Bible reading: Exodus 39-40, Matthew 24:1-22

Another reminder

Build altars in the places where I remind you who I am, and I will come and bless you there.

Exodus 20:24b (NLT)

Are you ever reminded of who God is? I hope so. I hope that you are reminded on a daily basis.

Being reminded of something can be a good thing. I keep letters, notes, and cards from people if I found it encouraging upon receiving it. Every once in a while, I’ll go back and read them again. And again. What I found encouraging once, I often find encouraging again.

What would change in your life if you kept reminders for yourself every time God revealed himself to you? It could be one word, a song, a verse. On days when you find yourself down, you could go back to those reminders and be blessed again and again.

Try keeping some reminders and see what blessing can come from it.

Daily Bible reading: Exodus 19-21, Matthew 20:1-16


The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. And the Lord did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people.

Exodus 13:21-22 (NLT)

I’m going to be organised today and pull this one apart point by point. There is so much in these two verses we can learn from:

  1. The Lord went ahead of them. Not beside or behind. Ahead. God was in the lead. Israel followed. God isn’t on a leash to be taken out for a walk when we feel He needs to come out to play. He’s not there for us to drag along as a reluctant participant. He’s there to lead. We’re here to follow.
  2. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. We often make the incorrect assumption that God will only call us to move when conditions are optimal. I wouldn’t call travelling at night the best time to travel—especially not how the Israelites were doing it with young and old, wagons and flocks. Can you imaging trying to move not only a million plus people, but all the animals and goods that went with them? The optimal time to move is when God says so.
  3. If you don’t see a sign, maybe you should stay where you are. Now, this isn’t taken directly from this passage, but it speaks from it nonetheless. If you know that God has led you to a certain place and suddenly the sign disappears, maybe it’s time to stick it out where you are for a while. Don’t immediately rush out looking for the next sign. Perhaps God needs you to grow and learn for a season rather than move on to the next one right away.

Daily Bible reading: Exodus 13-15, Matthew 19:1-15

If there is a God…

Here’s a line we’ve all heard over and over. “If there is a God, why doesn’t He…” Do you know what I’ve learned about the people who ask that question? They’re not really looking for God at all. They’re looking for an easy out and an excuse to continue living as though God doesn’t exist.

But why doesn’t God solve all of the world’s problems? Why doesn’t He step in when atrocities take place? Why doesn’t He stop war? The simple (yet sometimes difficult to swallow) answer is that we don’t give Him the right to. God gave man dominion over the earth and man promptly handed it to the devil. God gave us free will, to fix everything in one go would be to take away our free will and defeat His entire purpose in creating us.

Believe it or not, there is good that can come from all the turmoil around us.

Back when Moses was petitioning Pharaoh to let the Egyptians go, God intentionally hardened the heart of the king so that He would be glorified.

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Return to Pharaoh and again make your demands. I have made him and his officials stubborn so I can continue to display my power by performing miraculous signs among them. You will be able to tell wonderful stories to your children and grandchildren about the marvelous things I am doing among the Egyptians to prove that I am the Lord.”

Exodus 10:1-2 (NLT)

In Egypt, Moses was following God’s instructions as He paved the way for the miraculous.

The harder the hearts of the people, the greater the miracle. For us, right now, our best course of action is united prayer. If we want to see the miracle in the hardened hearts of our nations, we need to give God room to do it. A united Church in and of itself would be a miracle. Imagine what a praying, united Church could do.

Daily Bible reading: Exodus 9-10, Matthew 18:1-20

Another night with the frogs

Your country is plagued with frogs. Frogs everywhere. Frogs in your house, your bed, your fridge. You can’t go anywhere without being harassed by the croaking beasts.

Someone comes up to you and says, “Name the day and time and I’ll rid you of these pests.” You think about it a moment.



I had a frog jump into my bed once. There was no way I was going anywhere near my bed again until that frog was back outside where it belonged. I can’t even sleep if I know there’s a frog outside my window (and there are—often).

But tomorrow is what Pharaoh said to Moses when Moses told him in Exodus 8:9 that he could be rid of the frogs. Pharaoh apparently wanted one more night with the frogs.

This passage reminds me of a message I heard recently. If you’re able to, listen to the message Christine Caine delivered at Elevation’s Code Orange this fall. In the word that she brought to the revival meetings, Christine Caine spoke about an old Nike ad campaign that used the slogan yesterday you said tomorrow.

How often have you told yourself that you’ll start or stop something tomorrow? I’ll start working out tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll eat better. I’ll do better tomorrow. Tomorrow. Tomorrow.

Why tomorrow? Why suffer through one more night with the frogs when your salvation can come today? Today is tomorrow. If you have the opportunity to bring about change right now, don’t wait. If you wait until tomorrow, you’ll say tomorrow again. And again.

Do you want your miracle now or do you want one more night with the frogs?

Daily Bible reading: Exodus 7-8, Matthew 17


As a worship leader, I’m always partial toward scripture that references music. But even if I weren’t a musician, one can’t help but see a correlation between praise and victory.

When they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab, and the Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.

2 Chronicles 20:22 (ESV)

Remember, too, in Joshua (6:20), that it was a shout of praise that took the city of Jericho down.

When God’s people praise, great things happen. When we recognise God for who and what He is and let the world know, He stands up for us. He fights for us.

For the battle is not yours but God’s.

2 Chronicles 20:15b (ESV)

Instead of putting on our battle gear, maybe we, as the chosen children of God, should just stand up and praise God for what He has done and what we know He can do.

The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.

Exodus 14:14 (NKJV)

Daily Bible reading: 2 Chronicles 20-22; John 16:1-15


I’m the kind of person who was raised to go to church every Sunday. That was the rule in our house growing up. “As long as you live under my roof, we go to church every Sunday!” I still live by that rule.

There have been many times that I’ve shown up in church out of a feeling of obligation. Not that it’s a bad thing – I don’t think that church attendance can really be a detriment. There are also times when I’ve shown up at church expecting to see a move of God. Which times to you suppose one would be more affected by the presence of God?

Then the cloud covered the Meeting Tent, and the glory of the Lord filled the Holy Tent.

Exodus 40:34 (NCV)

We often like to think that God will show up no matter what, that He will come and fill the room with the cloud of His glory. But, if you read back in Exodus, the visible presence of God only showed up after Israel had prepared for it. The entire chapter preceding this verse talks about the preparation. God showed up when Israel was ready.

Are you ready?

Daily Bible reading: Exodus 39-40, Matthew 24:1-22