40 Days of Prayer Devotionals – Day 1

Devotional Day 1

Day 1 – The Heart of Moses (Deuteronomy 9)

Deuteronomy 9 puts Moses’ heart front and center. Moses recounts Israel’s history of unfaithfulness despite God’s faithfulness to His covenant promises. Starting with the Golden Calf and continuing with their failure to take the Promised Land, Moses confronts Israel with their idolatry, unfaithfulness, and lack of fear of and trust in God.

The Golden Calf

If you remember, the Lord redeemed Israel from the hand of the Egyptians in the Exodus. A clear indication that He is an all-powerful God worthy to be worshipped. Instead of recognizing God’s power and worshipping the One True God, Israel fashioned a Golden Calf and bowed down to it.

The Failure to Take the Promised Land

If confronting them with their idolatry was not enough, Moses also reminds Israel of their failure to trust and fear God. God had promised them and their forefathers – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – a land of their own possession. At the site of it’s inhabitants, Israel shrunk back. Instead of trusting God to provide military victory, they feared the people.

Forty Days of Prayer

After each failure, Moses prostrated himself 40 days before the Lord for the people. Why intercede for a rebellious people, asking the Lord to preserve them?

Moses did so because he loved and cared for them. He desired they experience the Lord’s blessings. As well as he was zealous for God’s glory. For those reasons, Moses twice spent forty days and nights in prayer for the nation of Israel.

The Challenge

Shouldn’t we care for and love those in our nation? Shouldn’t that love drive us to our knees praying the Lord would change their hearts? We think so. For that reason, we want to challenge you to intercede for your nation, your state, your city, your community, your neighbors, your church family and your immediate family. Won’t you join us as we first ask God to change our hearts to be more like Moses’ and then by interceding in prayer for those around us from April 1st – May 10th?


If you would like more information about 40 Days of Prayer, including how you can download a PDF copy of the information and link with us on social media, visit our website: sycamoredecatur.com/40DaysofPrayer

40 Days of Prayer Campaign

40 Days of Prayer Graphic

How is your prayer life? Do you pray for the lost? Do you pray for your city? Do you prayer for your government? Do you pray for those in your own church?

40 Days of Prayer Campaign

Recently, a member of our congregation came to me with a burden to pray like Moses did for the nation of Israel in Deuteronomy 9. Out of that conversation birthed 40 Days of Prayer. Here is the heart of the campaign:

40 Days of Prayer is an event inspired by the longsuffering and abundant mercy of a holy God and modeled after the dedicated period of fasting and effective, intercessory prayer of Moses. Moses led and lived among a rebellious people destined to perish under God’s wrath. Sound familiar? Like Moses, we desire to seek and apply God’s wisdom as the world hopelessly applies man’s wisdom to address cultural, social, economic, political and spiritual matters.  We invite you to partner with us in a focused and fervent 40 days of prayer.

7 Daily Devotions to Prepare the Heart

In order to prepare our hearts to pray for 40 Days, we wrote 7 daily devotionals. We are encouraging those who desire to pray alongside of us for the next 40 days to read through these devotionals and fast one day during the week. In an effort to help you prepare your heart to pray for 40 days, I will be posting those devotionals on my blog for the next 7 days.

If you would like more information about 40 Days of Prayer, including how you can download a PDF copy of the information and how you can link with us on social media, visit our website: sycamoredecatur.com/40DaysofPrayer

Pray, Love, and Serve: Moses’ Example

Pray Love Serve Cross

How do you react when those in your church, family, circle of friends, or community act contrary to God’s Word? Do you throw up your hands and give up? Do you brow beat them? Or do you lovingly correct, pray for, and serve them?

Last night at Bible Study, we briefly discussed Deuteronomy 9. It is Moses’ reminder to the people why God is giving them the Promised Land. He wants to make it clear it is not because of their righteousness. Rather it is because the Lord wishes to drive the wickedness out of the land and honor His promise to their fathers – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (4-6). To show the stubbornness of the people, Moses recounts the story of the Golden Calf and their failure to take the land.

The Golden Calf

After spending forty days and nights on the mountain with God receiving the Ten Commandments, Moses comes down to find the people worshipping an idol – a Golden Calf. The same people who just witnessed the great power of God in the Exodus. The same people the Lord just redeemed as His own possession. The same people who watched Moses ascend to the top of the mountain to commune with God. In just forty short days and nights, they forgot the Lord and turned to worship an idol.

The Failure to Take the Land

The second story Moses recounts is their failure to trust the Lord to give them the land. If you remember, they sent spies into the land. After gathering the requested items, they returned with a daunting report. Those in the land are giants and too numerous for us to overtake. Again, they forgot the power of their God, even as He was providing for them in the wilderness and telling them He would give them the land.

Moses’ Example

Talk about being frustrated. I am sure Moses was livid, in a righteous way of course. His actions though are surprising and act as an example for us. Yes, Moses corrected the people, but he also interceded for them and continued to serve them.

Why would he do a thing like that? Why intercede for them asking the Lord to preserve them when they were blatantly rebellious?

He did so because he loved and cared for them. Even though they were rebellious, he desired they experience the blessings of the Lord, worship the Lord, and glorify the Lord. For those reasons, Moses twice spent forty days and nights prostrate before the Lord in prayer, continually corrected and served them.

The Challenge

Do you love those in your church, family, circle of friends, or community enough to seek their welfare? Do you desire to reach out to them with the gospel? Do you desire to pray the Lord would not destroy them, but change their hearts and make them His? Do you serve them in a way that shows the love of Jesus? I know those are tough questions, but they are crucial questions.

If we find we do not love those around us in a way that causes us to reach out to them with the gospel, pray for them, and serve them, we need to get on our knees and ask that God would change our hearts.

Moses did not manufacture his love for the people. God changed his heart as he communed with Him. Likewise, as we commune with God through prayer and Bible study, He will change our heart.

So then, if you are having trouble loving, praying for, and serving those in your community, open His Word and seek His face in prayer, asking that He would change your heart.

Question for Reflection

  1. How could you motivate those in your church to reach out to, serve, and pray for those in your community?



What Does the Exodus Reveal About God’s Mission?

The Exodus Event serves as a model of holistic redemption. The event itself is a type, pointing forward to the redemption Jesus brings to all those who believe in Him as their Lord and Savior. Not only is it a type, but it also tells us the scope of God’s mission.

What is the Scope of God’s Mission?

When we look at the Exodus event, we see a four-fold scope in God’s mission:

(1) Political

In Exodus 1:1-22, we learn Israel were refugees in the land of the Egyptians because of the great famine. They originally were protected and lived by themselves in the land of Goshen, but after Joseph died they faced political oppression by the Egyptian’s. They were afflicted with heavy burdens because they were too many of them and they were too mighty for the Egyptians to handle. For fear that the Israelites might overthrow them, or band with another nation in war against them, they enslaved them. They made them work with brick and mortar, building store cities for them, as well as they were forced to serve in the fields, tending to the Egyptian’s crops.

(2) Economic

In Exodus 1:11-14, we also see that they were not allowed to care for their own well-being. Through forced labor, they had to care for the Egyptians by building them store cities and working their fields. This would have left no time for them to care for their own flocks and to work their own land. The prosperity they once knew was gone because of economic oppression.

(3) Social

In Exodus 1:8-22, we learn Israel was oppressed by Egypt because they were Hebrews. More than forced labor was dealt out to them, Pharaoh ordered that their midwives kill all male sons that were born to the Hebrew women. So then, the Hebrews were not only treated as slaves, but a state-wide genocide was ordered against their male sons simple because of who they were.

(4) Spiritual

Not only was the oppression Israel faced political, economic, and social, but it was also spiritual. They were kept by Pharaoh from journeying into the wilderness to worship their God (Ex. 4:22-23; 5:1-9).

God Heard their Cry

God heard the groanings of the Egyptians and He remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Ex. 2:23-25). He then raised up Moses and paired him with Aaron to go and confront Pharaoh (Ex. 3-4). Moses and Aaron’s initial request was denied by Pharaoh, so God sent plagues on the land of Egypt with the final one resulting in the Israelites release in the Exodus event (Ex. 5-12).

Through the Exodus Event, God delivered Israel from political, economic, social, and spiritual bondage. They were given their own land, God made them to be His people, and He defeated their enemy by drowning them in the Red Sea (Ex. 6:6-8; 14:26-31). While God did deliver Israel from this four-fold bondage and gave them these blessings, He did more than that. He delivered them from sin. Not so much their own sin, but the sin of Pharaoh, who was their oppressor [1].

So we see the scope of God’s missions involves deliverance from political, economic, social, and spiritual bondage, as well as deliverance from sin.

Connecting it to Jesus

The Exodus event becomes a motif, a recurring event that has significance in a story. It is used over and over throughout the prophets as they look forward to a final exodus (Eze. 20:32-38; 37:15-28; Jer. 16:14-15; Isa. 35:8-10) [2]. One that is led by Jesus, known as the New Exodus.

The New Exodus occurred during Jesus’ death on the cross, where He defeated Satan and his kingdom releasing those who believe in Him as their Lord and Savior from the bondage and slavery that oppresses human life and well-being and opposes God.

All those who believe in Jesus, form a new community, which is freed from the bondage of sin and the rule of Satan over their lives. One day, when Jesus returns, this new community will also be ultimately freed from all political, economic, social, and spiritual oppression, completing the New Exodus event. At this time, God’s glory will dominate (Isa. 40:5, 9-11; 60:1-22), Jesus will reign in justice and righteousness (Isa. 11:1-9), and everything will be restored back to its originally intended way of life as sin, which is the reason for all forms of oppression, is ultimately removed from the world (Isa. 65:17-25).


As we look at the Exodus Event, we see that it serves as a type pointing to the New Exodus that is led by Jesus Christ. It also serves to tell us the scope of God’s mission, which includes release from all political, economic, social, and spiritual bondage, as well as a release from the bondage of sin and the rule of Satan over our lives, so that we can worship God.

Questions for Reflection:

  1. If God’s mission involves the ultimate removal of all political, economic, social, and spiritual bondage, should we, as God’s people, who have taken up God’s mission, also work for these things?
  2. If we are to take up God’s mission, how might you propose we work for political, economic, social, and spiritual freedom?
  3. Have you witnessed others helped, or been helped yourself, by Christians to be released from political, economic, social, or spiritual bondage? If so, how did they accomplish this task?


  • [1] Christopher Wright, The Mission of God, 278.
  • [2] Zephaniah, Zechariah, as well as Matthew, Mark, and Luke recognize the New Exodus as a motif and use it in their writings.
  • Post adapted from Christopher Wright, The Mission of God’s People, 100-107.


The Story of the Bible

In his book According to Plan, Graeme Goldsworthy provides an Outline of Biblical History at the beginning of each chapter in part three. I want to share his synopsis with you in hopes it will help you tie the entire biblical story together.

Genesis 1-2

In the beginning God created everything that exists. He made Adam and Eve and placed them in the garden of Eden. God spoke to them and gave them certain tasks in the world. For food he allowed them the fruit of all the trees in the garden except one. He warned them that they would die if they ate the fruit of that one tree.

Genesis 3

The snake persuaded Eve to disobey God and to eat the forbidden fruit. She gave some to Adam and he ate also. Then God spoke to them in judgment, and sent them out of the garden into a world that came under the same judgment.

Genesis 4-11

Outside Eden, Cain and Abel were born to Adam and Eve. Cain murdered Abel and Eve bore another son, Seth. Eventually the human race became so wicked that God determined to destroy every living thing with a flood. Noah and his family were saved by building a great boat at God’s command. The human race began again with Noah and his three sons with their families. Sometime after the flood a still unified human race attempted a godless act to assert its power in the building of a high tower. God thwarted these plans by scattering the people and confusing their language.

Genesis 12-50

Sometime in the early second millennium B.C. God called Abraham out of Mesopotamia to Canaan. He promised to give this land to Abraham’s descendants and to bless them as his people. Abraham went, and many years later he had a son, Isaac. Isaac in turn had two son, Esau and Jacob. The promises of God were established with Jacob and his descendants. He had twelve sons, and in time they all went to live in Egypt because of famine in Canaan.

Exodus 1-15

In time the descendants of Jacob living in Egypt multiplied to become a very large number of people. The Egyptians no longer regarded them with friendliness and made them slaves. God appointed Moses to be the one who would lead Israel out of Egypt to the Promised Land of Canaan. When the moment came for Moses to demand the freedom of his people the Pharaoh refused to let them go. Through Moses God worked ten miracle-plagues which brought hardship, destruction and death to the Egyptians. Finally Pharaoh let Israel go, but then pursued them and trapped them at the Red Sea (or Sea of Reeds). Then God opened the way in the sea for Israel to cross on dry land, but closed the water over the Egyptian army, destroying it.

Exodus 16-40, Leviticus

After their release from Egypt, Moses led the Israelites to Mount Sinai. God then gave them his law which they were commanded to keep. At one point Moses held a covenant renewal ceremony in which the covenant arrangement was sealed in blood. However, while Moses was away on the mountain, the people persuaded Aaron to fashion a golden calf. Thus they showed their inclination to forsake the covenant and to engage in idolatry. God also commanded the building of the tabernacle and gave all the rules of sacrificial worship by which Israel might approach him.

Numbers, Deuteronomy

After giving the law to the Israelites at Sinai, God directed them to go in and take possession of the Promised land. Fearing the inhabitants of Canaan, they refused to do so, thus showing their lack of confidence in the promises of God. The whole adult generation that had come out of Egypt, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb, was condemned to wander and die in the desert. Israel was forbidden to dispossess its kinsfolk, the nations of Edom, Moab and Ammon, but was given victory over other nations that opposed it. Finally, forty years after leaving Egypt, Israel arrived in the Moabite territory on the east side of the Jordan. Here Moses prepared the people for their possession of Canaan, and commissioned Joshua as their new leader.

Joshua, Judges, Ruth

Under Joshua’s leadership the Israelites crossed the Jordan and began the task of driving out the inhabitants of Canaan. After the conquest the land was divided between the tribes, each being allotted its own region. Only the tribe of Levi was without an inheritance of land because of its special priestly relationship to God. There remained pockets of Canaanites in the land and, from time to time, these threatened Israel’s hold on their new possession. From the one-man leaderships of Moses and Joshua the nation moved into a period of relative instability during which judges exercised some measure of control over the affairs of the people.

1 and 2 Samuel, 1 Kings 1-10, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 2-9

Samuel became judge and prophet in all Israel at a time when the Philistines threatened the freedom of the nation. An earlier movement for kingship was revived and the demand put to a reluctant Samuel. The first king, Saul, had a promising start to his reign but eventually showed himself unsuitable as the ruler of the covenant people. While Saul still reigned, David was anointed to succeed him. Because of Saul’s jealousy, David became an outcast. However, when Saul died in battle, David returned and became king (about 1000 B.C.). Due to his successes Israel became a powerful and stable nation. He established a central sanctuary at Jerusalem and created a professional bureaucracy and a permanent army. David’s son, Solomon, succeeded him (about 961 B.C.) and the prosperity of Israel continued. The building of the temple at Jerusalem was one of Solomon’s more notable achievements.

1 Kings 11-22, 2 Kings

Solomon allowed political considerations and personal ambitions to sour his relationship with God, and this in turn had a bad effect on the life of Israel. Solomon’s son began an oppressive rule that led to the rebellion of the northern tribes and the division of the kingdom. Although there were some political and religious high points, both kingdoms went into decline. A new breed of prophets warned against the direction of national life, but matters went from bad to worse. In 722 B.C., the southern kingdom of Judah was devastated by the Babylonians. Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed, and a large part of the population was deported to Babylon.

Keep Reading

Shouldn’t we be training leaders?

Friday night I had the opportunity to help out at Southwestern Seminaries annual Youth Ministry Lab (YML 2011). I was highly encouraged by the turn out of youth who have answered God’s call of leadership on their lives. Over 400 youth showed up on Friday night to kick the weekend off. They started with a time of praise and worship with the Ross King Band, and preaching from Tony Merida. They then participated in a lion’s den session, where they could ask Southwestern Faculty any question they wanted, followed up by leadership training. Watching these students desire to learn and serve Christ was encouraging. Not only was it encouraging to see these youth’s love for the Lord, but it further cemented for me the importance of training the next generation of leaders.

Leaders must be training leaders. We should be discipling others who are answering God’s call on their life for ministry. However, all to often churches fail in this area. They do not spend the time equipping men for leadership.

“The result is devastating to both our personal ministry and the future of the church.”

Personal Ministry

It is devastating to our personal ministry because we are not enlisting other leaders to help us in the task of shepherding the flock. Not having enough leaders to spread ministry responsibilities results in burn out. One man cannot be expected to shepherd a large group of people over a prolonged period of time without help.

The Example of Moses

Moses is a prime example. His father-in-law, Jethro, realized that Moses was going to kill himself if he tried to shepherd all of Israel without any help, which is the reason he counseled Moses to appoint capable men over smaller groups of Israelites (Exod. 18).

Likewise, our ministries will not flourish, and we will not survive, if we are not equipping others to minister alongside us.

The Future of the Church

Not only did Moses appoint other elders to look after Israel, but he also trained Joshua to take his place upon his death (Joshua 1:7). Pastors today need to follow Moses’ example by training others to take their place when their time of ministry ends. If they do not, then the result will be devastating for the future of the church.

The Example of Joshua

Take for instance, the story of Joshua. He was trained throughout Moses’ ministry and was prepared to take over when Moses died. However, Joshua failed to follow Moses’ example and teach the people the necessity of training their youth. After his death and the death of the elders, a generation arose that did not know the Lord, nor the work the Lord had done in Israel (Joshua 2:10). The result was devastating for the nation of Israel. They fell into idolatry, and everyone did what was right in their own eyes (Joshua 2:11-15).

Likewise, the result will be devastating for the future of our church if we are not preparing leaders to take our place when our ministry comes to an end. Without capable leadership to take over, disunity and power struggles will ensue.

The Solution

The solution is simple. We must be committed to training our future leaders. It was obvious tonight that the youth pastor’s who took the time and money to bring their youth to YML are committed to training future leaders. Their dedication to this task was highly encouraging to me, and it should be encouraging to you.

The Charge

My charge to you is to invest in your people. Find a future leader in your church, spend time with them, teach them Scripture, and train them to lead the people. Both your personal ministry and the future of your church will be all the better for it.