READ: Exodus 8-9
THINK: Have you ever been in a desperate situation and made a promise to God-a promise that you had every intention of keeping-until the desperation subsided? Then, as quickly as the promise was made, it was also forgotten. Many people make promises to God during times of intense difficulty-even those who refuse to acknowledge Him under any other circumstances. Some even think they can fool God, having no real intention of keeping their word once the trouble has passed. But God knows our hearts, and He is not fooled by misguided intentions. He doesn't want hasty promises; He expects wholehearted obedience. Those who sincerely humble themselves and submit to His plans, He will reward accordingly. But those who refuse to submit and stubbornly cling to their own sinful way, He promises to judge in a way that leaves no doubt that He is the Almighty God.
RESPOND: What was significant about many of the plagues-like those involving the frogs and cattle-in regard to Egypt's beliefs at the time? (See 8:2 and 9:3 note.) Even the Egyptian magicians recognized what fact about God? (See 8:18-19 note.) In what way had God actually shown mercy to Pharaoh, and how is this like the opportunity God gives people to this day? (See 9:15-16 note.) What was the difference between "those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the LORD" (9:20) and those who did not (9:21)? Why did Pharaoh admit his sin and promise to let the Israelites go, but then harden his heart against God and refuse to let the people go after the rain and hail subsided (9:34-35)? How and why do people often look to God and make promises when things are going bad, but then go back on their word when troubles seem to be over? How do you think God looks on this kind of behavior?
PRAY: Worship God for His matchless power. Pray that His ability is evident to others through your life.
ACT: Have you ever made a promise or commitment to God during a tough time, but then forgot it when things got better? If your promise involves something that you know God does not want from you, confess your lack of consideration and thank Him for His patience. If the promise is still legitimate and you are able to fulfill it, do so without delay. Then thank God once again for bringing you through the tough time.
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