David had been pursued through the valley, and God had set a table before him. Surrounded by his enemies, seated at the table God prepared for him, David is at peace.
David, the shepherd king, points us to Jesus. In John 10:14, Jesus refers to himself as the Good Shepherd. One who will lay down his life for his sheep. At the end of Jesus' ministry, we read about another table; a table prepared for His disciples. As Jesus washed his disciples feet, as he lifted the cup of salvation, as He broke bread, He sat in the presence of his enemy. Jesus knew. Yet he still sat at the table. He still washed the feet of Judas. In the presence of his enemies, He was at peace.
As we sit at the table prepared for us, we too have an enemy bent on division and destruction. The good news, friends, is that Jesus not only prepares a table for us, He also gives us the gift of His very presence. In His presence there is protection and peace, even as we are surrounded.
The table is set, friends. All we have to do is pull up a chair. There, every provision is met, and we can commune with our Shepherd Savior.
“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” Psalm 23:5a
Then I’m reminded Jesus kneels at my feet, wiping away every tear. I am overwhelmed with His love. As I allow my heart to settle, I can see Jesus sharing the last meal with his disciples, His students. I see these men that have left all they had and followed him.
I see the remains of the meal still on the table. Jesus takes off his outer clothing, a picture of his humanity, and he wraps a towel of love around his waist.
He kneels and washes the feet of his disciples.
Not feet that were already clean, but feet that had walked with Him for three years.
Feet that had carried the Father’s message.
Feet that had witnessed blind men see again. Dead men live again.
They watched as the Son of God showed them how to love through serving.
He opened their ears to hear the cries of a broken world.
He knelt and began washing the feet of all the disciples. Peter, who would deny him. Thomas would doubt him. Judas who would betray him. Knowing that his time was coming to an end, Jesus took the time to show the heart of true leadership. Even as Jesus spent his last moments with his messengers, he taught them the most valuable lesson of all. When you are kneeling to serve others, your heart beats with the love God has for us, His children.
When I am kneeling to serve, I look up and see Imago Dei, the very image of God, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him” (John 13:15-16).
Jesus spent his time equipping the next generation to carry the Gospel, the Good News of the Father’s great love for us. As I shift my perspective from a life sentence to a life of serving future leaders, I don’t have to hide anymore.
Friend, if you feel trapped today, take a moment, kneel, and look up into the glorious face of God. He is your refuge and strength. He will carry you through.
“‘For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.’” Mark 10:45 (NIV)
Like Rahab, I looked for love in all the wrong places. The weight of my shame held me captive for many years until I met people like me in the story of God’s people. Does your story have pieces you have tried to cut out or run from? God has already gone before you to restore your life.
As the Israelites prepare to enter the land God has promised them, Joshua sends two spies to check out the land on the other side of the Jordan. This is when we meet Rahab, the prostitute. She is the one who saves the spies from certain death by hiding them. In return, she asks them to save her and her family. She says, “For we have heard how the Lord made a dry path for you through the Red Sea when you left Egypt" (Jos. 2:10). She knew who they were; she knew their God was powerful. Crossing the Red Sea wasn't last week's news. It has now been 40 years, yet they still remember. They had heard the stories. God always goes before us.
The spies gave her a scarlet cord to hang from her window. A red rope would signify to the invading army to save her family. Just as the blood of a lamb painted on the Israelites’ doorposts in Egypt was a sign for the Angel of Death to pass over their homes. The scarlet thread, the lamb's blood, runs throughout God's story, foreshadowing the lamb that would be our salvation. As promised, the two spies save Rahab and her family before Jericho is destroyed.
This woman who was looked down upon saved the spies who, in return, saved her. Despite her circumstances, she held tight to the scarlet cord and became part of God's history. Along with Sarah, she made the “Hall of Faith” in Hebrews, and she was one of five women listed in the genealogy of Jesus.
Sitting around a table of perfect women at Bible study wasn’t where I wanted to share my story of shame until I met Rahab. Those pieces of my life shine the light of God’s love, His mercy, His redemption.
Recognizing the past allows us to see God's scarlet cord of redemption throughout our life. Does your story have pieces you have tried to cut out or run from? Cry out to Him and hold onto that scarlet cord that leads to redemption and allow God to weave the broken pieces together.
“The Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you.” Deuteronomy 31:3 (NIV)
Jesus’ birth was a promise delivered. The prophets foretold his coming. The chief priests and teachers of the law knew well where the Messiah would be born. When asked by Herod, they immediately answered, with “In Bethlehem in Judea” (Mt. 2:5).
God chose to step into the middle of a dark world as a baby and become a light for us to follow. Roman rule had become oppressive and even the temple priests were not caring for their people. When the Magi told of a star, a light they were following, the very teachers who knew the promises chose to stay in Jerusalem.
The priests could recite the prophets' words. They knew. Yet, when the light came, when the Creator of everything showed up, they stayed home. They were comfortable in the dark. The priests knew the promise. They quoted the prophet, Micah, “for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel” (Mt. 2:6). They expected a savior that would ride in on a warhorse. They thought peace would come at the end of a sword. However, Jesus’ peace comes through sacrifice, through love.
Like me, they had already defined how God would deliver his promise. They missed the miracle of Jesus because they weren’t able to see past their own expectations. Follow Jesus’ light out of your comfort zone to fully embrace His promises.
God promised me a miracle that day. There wasn’t a magic wand, sigh. I had to keep showing up. Every day for three years. I kept holding on. Even when it was still dark. The promise was still there. The creator of the universe made a promise but I had to show up. I had to move out of the comfortable and into the hard.
Mary and Joseph had to push through their own fears to hold the promise, Immanuel, God with us. The shepherds, these uneducated shepherds, rushed to Bethlehem to see what the angel of the Lord had told them about. The Magi followed a light out of their world to worship a King they did not know.
Friend, I don’t know what fear may be holding you captive. Or, the darkness that surrounds you. I do know he heard my cries and he promised to be with me. Have you been trying to define how God should deliver your miracle? God won’t give you a roadmap but if you step out in faith, He will light your way one step at a time.
Memory Verse: “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:4-5
Reading through Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers the list of laws probably feels restrictive, even archaic. To our 21st-century lives, they may even appear completely unnecessary. Leviticus 19:19 ends by telling us not to wear clothing woven of two kinds of material followed by those rules we should still follow: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord” (Lev. 19:18).
During the 40 years spent traveling from Egypt to Canaan, from slavery to freedom. God was teaching them obedience. Come when I call your name. God’s plan was to teach a new generation what was holy and how to treat the things of God as holy. As God gave Moses specific instructions to set up the tabernacle which carried the presence of God, his sons were watching him. The next generation was learning to be obedient, to follow God.
As we travel with the Israelites through the desert we can see how God continued calling them with tangible signs: “In all the travels of the Israelites, whenever the cloud lifted from above the tabernacle, they would set out; but if the cloud did not lift, they did not set out until the day it lifted” (Exod. 40:36). As God continually moved before them He was calling them out of the darkness of the slavery of Egypt, preparing his people for the Messiah.
The Messiah says the greatest commandment is to “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’” (Matt. 22:39). Jesus didn’t come to abolish the law. He came to fulfill it. God knew we could never keep all 613 laws on our own. When we love God with our mind, soul, and strength, His love will overflow as we learn to love our neighbors.
As Jesus hung on the cross, He opened the door for us to become a temple of the living God. Instead of living in a box, God’s presence lives in us. His presence calls us to obedience. Although obedience looks different for each of us, our love of God and His love of us will spill over into the world around us. What is God calling you to do? Maybe it’s having coffee with a friend or meeting some other moms at the park. You won’t leave Egypt alone. He is with you.
Memory Verse: “Obey me, and I will be your God and you will be my people. Walk in obedience to all I command you, that it may go well with you.” Jeremiah 7:23
Devotionals by Author
All Abby McDonald Alexa Gearhart Angi Morrison Anna Bearden Anne Say Audra Powers Breanna Faith Spearman Brenna Kurz Brittany Marlow Caroline Hultgren Courtney Filippin Dana Schaefer Danielle Biddy Debbie Burns Heather Kenny Jannetta Cox Jessica Parker Jess Ridgeway Joan Lavori Katelyn Wilson Katie Gibson Kelly Orlowski Kerri Barfield Keryn Stokes Kristen Williamson Laura Pendley Lindsay McNeely Lonette Baity Martha Rudolph Nancy Ehlinger Renee Robinson Saretta Wells Tara McGill Taylor Watkins Tierney Nashleanas Wendy Gerdes