February 1

Exodus 4:22-23 (NIV) 22Then say to Pharaoh, 'This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, 23and I told you, "Let my son go, so he may worship me." But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.'"

Egypt is a picture of the world. Pharaoh is like the prince of this world, Satan. Those who are called of God are born into the world and are under its dominion. But when the LORD calls them out, the prince of this world will not readily let them go. He desires their servitude. He wants their worship and abhors the thought of them worshipping the LORD. His answer is always, "I will not let my slaves go."

The LORD calls those He will deliver His firstborn. He claims them as His own children. The firstborn have rights and privileges as heirs of their father. The Father calls us out of the world to worship Him. We have been serving Pharaoh, but we are to serve him no more. Now we are to come out from the world (2 Corinthians 6:17) and worship God.

The very strange thing is that some consider the constant grind of that master, sin, to be a thing of pleasure. The quota of bricks is always increased and we have to gather the straw on our own, but we still prefer Egypt (the world). We are so driven that we find no time to worship the LORD. The subtle Serpent has deceived us into thinking slavery is a good thing. He points to the things that fill our senses, the leeks and garlic, and says the servitude is worth it. It is death (Romans 6:23). The quota will be increased until the taskmasters work us to death.

Jesus is the Great Deliverer. He has come to free you from slavery to the world, so that you can worship Him.

Consider: Have you come out and begun to worship, or do you find yourself so driven that you have no time to worship?

February 1

Matthew 5:10-12 (NIV) 10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11"Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

In Jesus' teaching about the upside down world of the Kingdom of heaven, He shares where true fulfillment and joy are found. He is helping His disciples think like He does. His thoughts are so unlike the world. The men in the world that the disciples respected were those who sought the praise of men for their way of life. They lived for the respect and honor that men gave them.

Jesus taught that real blessing came when people persecuted you because of your righteous living. The kingdom of heaven belongs to those who walk in righteousness when the world hates them for it. Don't shrink back and get quiet when you see the world's hostility toward your godly attitude, speak out! We are here to make a difference. In the previous chapter, Satan said he was the one that possessed the kingdoms of this world. Therefore, when you walk in righteousness the world will hate you, not honor you.

When that happens you can rejoice and be glad. Your difference is so noticeable that it has drawn attention. You have joined the ranks of the godly men and women that have gone before you. The world persecuted them too. The ones that really stand out get killed. God blesses the ones that endure the wrath of the world with heavenly reward. They are living for heaven, not this world. What about you? It may depend on how Christian your culture is, but even in a Christian culture you will suffer loss for living a righteous life that puts the pleasure of God above that of pleasing men. You might not be physically injured, but you will face ridicule and rejection for standing for the things of God instead of giving in to the whims of man.

Remember: Be strong, people of God. We are supposed to be a contrast to the world. Live to please the Father, not men. As long as He is pleased, you can rejoice and be glad.