Thank You, Lord, that You are merciful, just, loving and steady in a changing world. You are my safe harbor in life’s storms.
Read Exodus 23:1-19
 “Do not spread false reports. Do not help a guilty person by being a malicious witness.  “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd,  and do not show favoritism to a poor person in a lawsuit.  “If you come across your enemy’s ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to return it.  If you see the donkey of someone who hates you fallen down under its load, do not leave it there; be sure you help them with it.  “Do not deny justice to your poor people in their lawsuits.  Have nothing to do with a false charge and do not put an innocent or honest person to death, for I will not acquit the guilty.  “Do not accept a bribe, for a bribe blinds those who see and twists the words of the innocent.  “Do not oppress a foreigner; you yourselves know how it feels to be foreigners, because you were foreigners in Egypt.  “For six years you are to sow your fields and harvest the crops,  but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it, and the wild animals may eat what is left. Do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove.  “Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest, and so that the slave born in your household and the foreigner living among you may be refreshed.  “Be careful to do everything I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.  “Three times a year you are to celebrate a festival to me.  “Celebrate the Festival of Unleavened Bread; for seven days eat bread made without yeast, as I commanded you. Do this at the appointed time in the month of Aviv, for in that month you came out of Egypt. “No one is to appear before me empty-handed.  “Celebrate the Festival of Harvest with the firstfruits of the crops you sow in your field. “Celebrate the Festival of Ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in your crops from the field.  “Three times a year all the men are to appear before the Sovereign LORD.  “Do not offer the blood of a sacrifice to me along with anything containing yeast. “The fat of my festival offerings must not be kept until morning.  “Bring the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the LORD your God. “Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat does God say about following the wrong people?
Here are yet more challenges about applying God’s covenant principles. They encompass issues of equality and fairness, leisure time, and finding ways to celebrate God’s sovereign deeds in national life. It has often been said that God is on the side of the poor. That’s true, and he is also on the side of the innocent and honest (6,7). We are called to show high standards of behavior both in relationships with others and ourselves (12). If these are principles for today, what does that look like for you this week? What about “fair trade” shopping if you can only afford basic essentials? As churches set up food banks to meet the plight of the poor in our local communities, what might generosity in the seventh year look like (11)? The Israelites embedded what they were learning about God and his promises by continually retelling the stories of God at work in their community (14-19). We retell our stories of God at Christmas, Easter and Harvest. These are the stories that form why we believe what we believe. But what will be possible as we get even better at telling the story of God at work now?
Think about how you can tell others about what you’ve learned, even the hard way, about following the wrong crowd.
Father, teach me to pray honestly, to ask truthfully, and to honor You fully today. Help me to be Your good servant.
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