March 6

Exodus 9:13-10:29

The Seventh Plague: Hail

13 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself,[a] and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. 17 You are still exalting yourself against my people and will not let them go.18 Behold, about this time tomorrow I will cause very heavy hail to fall, such as never has been in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. 19 Now therefore send, get your livestock and all that you have in the field into safe shelter, for every man and beast that is in the field and is not brought home will die when the hail falls on them.”’” 20 Then whoever feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, 21 but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the Lord left his slaves and his livestock in the field.

22 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, so that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, on man and beast and every plant of the field, in the land of Egypt.” 23 Then Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the Lord sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the Lord rained hail upon the land of Egypt. 24 There was hail and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very heavy hail, such as had never been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. 25 The hail struck down everything that was in the field in all the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And the hail struck down every plant of the field and broke every tree of the field. 26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the people of Israel were, was there no hail.

27 Then Pharaoh sent and called Moses and Aaron and said to them, “This time I have sinned; the Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. 28 Plead with the Lord, for there has been enough of God’s thunder and hail. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.”29 Moses said to him, “As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will stretch out my hands to the Lord. The thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s. 30 But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the Lord God.” 31 (The flax and the barley were struck down, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in bud.32 But the wheat and the emmer[b] were not struck down, for they are late in coming up.) 33 So Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh and stretched out his hands to the Lord, and the thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain no longer poured upon the earth. 34 But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet again and hardened his heart, he and his servants. 35 So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people of Israel go, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses.

The Eighth Plague: Locusts

10 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, 2 and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.”

3 So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me. 4 For if you refuse to let my people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your country, 5 and they shall cover the face of the land, so that no one can see the land. And they shall eat what is left to you after the hail, and they shall eat every tree of yours that grows in the field, 6 and they shall fill your houses and the houses of all your servants and of all the Egyptians, as neither your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen, from the day they came on earth to this day.’” Then he turned and went out from Pharaoh.

7 Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?” 8 So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. And he said to them, “Go, serve the Lord your God. But which ones are to go?” 9 Moses said, “We will go with our young and our old. We will go with our sons and daughters and with our flocks and herds, for we must hold a feast to the Lord.” 10 But he said to them, “The Lord be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go! Look, you have some evil purpose in mind.[c]11 No! Go, the men among you, and serve the Lord, for that is what you are asking.” And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.

12 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, so that they may come upon the land of Egypt and eat every plant in the land, all that the hail has left.” 13 So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord brought an east wind upon the land all that day and all that night. When it was morning, the east wind had brought the locusts. 14 The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled on the whole country of Egypt, such a dense swarm of locusts as had never been before, nor ever will be again. 15 They covered the face of the whole land, so that the land was darkened, and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant of the field, through all the land of Egypt. 16 Then Pharaoh hastily called Moses and Aaron and said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God, and against you. 17 Now therefore, forgive my sin, please, only this once, and plead with the Lord your God only to remove this death from me.” 18 So he went out from Pharaoh and pleaded with the Lord. 19 And the Lord turned the wind into a very strong west wind, which lifted the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea. Not a single locust was left in all the country of Egypt. 20 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go.

The Ninth Plague: Darkness

21 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was pitch darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. 23 They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the people of Israel had light where they lived.24 Then Pharaoh called Moses and said, “Go, serve the Lord; your little ones also may go with you; only let your flocks and your herds remain behind.” 25 But Moses said, “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the Lord our God. 26 Our livestock also must go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we must take of them to serve the Lord our God, and we do not know with what we must serve the Lord until we arrive there.” 27 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go. 28 Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me; take care never to see my face again, for on the day you see my face you shall die.” 29 Moses said, “As you say! I will not see your face again.”

Ezra 1

The Proclamation of Cyrus

1 In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:

2 “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. 3 Whoever is among you of all his people, may his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem. 4 And let each survivor, in whatever place he sojourns, be assisted by the men of his place with silver and gold, with goods and with beasts, besides freewill offerings for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.”

5 Then rose up the heads of the fathers’ houses of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites, everyone whose spirit God had stirred to go up to rebuild the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem. 6 And all who were about them aided them with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, with beasts, and with costly wares, besides all that was freely offered. 7 Cyrus the king also brought out the vessels of the house of the Lord that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his gods. 8 Cyrus king of Persia brought these out in the charge of Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. 9 And this was the number of them: 30 basins of gold, 1,000 basins of silver, 29 censers, 10 30 bowls of gold, 410 bowls of silver, and 1,000 other vessels; 11 all the vessels of gold and of silver were 5,400. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up, when the exiles were brought up from Babylonia to Jerusalem.

Psalm 65

O God of Our Salvation

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David. A Song.

65 Praise is due to you,[a] O God, in Zion, and to you shall vows be performed. 2 O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come. 3 When iniquities prevail against me, you atone for our transgressions. 4 Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!

5 By awesome deeds you answer us with righteousness, O God of our salvation, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas; 6 the one who by his strength established the mountains, being girded with might; 7 who stills the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples, 8 so that those who dwell at the ends of the earth are in awe at your signs. You make the going out of the morning and the evening to shout for joy.

9 You visit the earth and water it;[b] you greatly enrich it; the river of God is full of water; you provide their grain, for so you have prepared it. 10 You water its furrows abundantly, settling its ridges, softening it with showers, and blessing its growth. 11 You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance. 12 The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, 13 the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy.

Romans 3:21-31

The Righteousness of God Through Faith

21 But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

27 Then what becomes of our boasting? It is excluded. By what kind of law? By a law of works? No, but by the law of faith. 28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also,30 since God is one—who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith. 31 Do we then overthrow the law by this faith? By no means! On the contrary, we uphold the law.

Day Five

5/22/15

This week’s devotions – which are admittedly different! – were written by Pastor Jeff Bulthuis. In this sermon series, we’ve been reminded to always “be prepared” to give a reason for the hope that we have. It’s a great blessing to have other Christians who can “spur us on” in sharing the gospel with others. With that in mind, we’re going to engage on a new level with this month’s devotions – we’re asking YOU to provide answers to questions so that we’re all the more prepared and so that we’re spurring each other on in the process!

Sunday's Sermon

We thought about a similar question last week, but we’ll take a different slant on it this week. We thought about how movies can tell stories that have glimpses of the gospel. The same could be said of music – it’s a place where we can hear echoes of the gospel message. We then have the opportunity to connect the stories of songs to the story of the gospel. So here’s today’s question: “Where and how have you heard the gospel message in a well-known song?” (Feel free to be creative – it’s an opportunity for us to share echoes of the gospel with each other!)

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Day Four

5/21/15

This week’s devotions – which are admittedly different! – were written by Pastor Jeff Bulthuis. In this sermon series, we’ve been reminded to always “be prepared” to give a reason for the hope that we have. It’s a great blessing to have other Christians who can “spur us on” in sharing the gospel with others. With that in mind, we’re going to engage on a new level with this month’s devotions – we’re asking YOU to provide answers to questions so that we’re all the more prepared and so that we’re spurring each other on in the process!

Sunday's Sermon

We heard in Sunday’s sermon about how important it is to develop relationships with people before sharing the gospel with them – it’s the ordinary way that we’re able to speak with credibility into people’s lives. But sometimes we spend virtually all of our time with people who are Christians, so we don’t get the chance to develop those relationships.

In order to help each other from being too isolated, please answer this question: “Where and how do you build relationships with people who aren’t yet Christians?”

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Day Three

5/20/15

This week’s devotions – which are admittedly different! – were written by Pastor Jeff Bulthuis. In this sermon series, we’ve been reminded to always “be prepared” to give a reason for the hope that we have. It’s a great blessing to have other Christians who can “spur us on” in sharing the gospel with others. With that in mind, we’re going to engage on a new level with this month’s devotions – we’re asking YOU to provide answers to questions so that we’re all the more prepared and so that we’re spurring each other on in the process!

Sunday's Sermon

We’ve been thinking about the importance of prayer in sharing the gospel with people. Prayer equips you to be prepared to give an answer, it helps prepare the hearts of other people with whom you share the gospel, and it gives you a desire to reach the lost.

Last week, we thought specifically about some people in our lives who we wish would be open to the gospel. On the same day, we prayed for those individuals. To help spur each other on, please answer this question: “How do you keep praying for your list of people? And if you have trouble with it, what are some things you could do to improve on that?”

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Day Two

5/19/15

This week’s devotions – which are admittedly different! – were written by Pastor Jeff Bulthuis. In this sermon series, we’ve been reminded to always “be prepared” to give a reason for the hope that we have. It’s a great blessing to have other Christians who can “spur us on” in sharing the gospel with others. With that in mind, we’re going to engage on a new level with this month’s devotions – we’re asking YOU to provide answers to questions so that we’re all the more prepared and so that we’re spurring each other on in the process!

Sunday's Sermon

In Sunday’s sermon, we heard about the evangelism method of using the imagery of the cross. Jesus’ cross provides a bridge between us and God – and it’s only through Jesus’ work on the cross that our relationship to God can be restored.

We know that sin doesn’t just cause brokenness in our relationship with God – it affects lots of areas of life. If you were talking to someone about ways that sin has damaged the world, how would you answer this question: “Where do you see brokenness from sin in the world around us?”

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Day One

5/18/15

This week’s devotions – which are admittedly different! – were written by Pastor Jeff Bulthuis. In this sermon series, we’ve been reminded to always “be prepared” to give a reason for the hope that we have. It’s a great blessing to have other Christians who can “spur us on” in sharing the gospel with others. With that in mind, we’re going to engage on a new level with this month’s devotions – we’re asking YOU to provide answers to questions so that we’re all the more prepared and so that we’re spurring each other on in the process!

Sunday's Sermon

During Sunday’s sermon, we heard– in John’s gospel and first letter – that Jesus and Christians have a responsibility to “make God visible.” Jesus’ ministry did that and so do our lives!

Using specific examples, how would you respond to this question: “How have you ‘made God visible’ to those around you?”

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