BIBLE READINGExodus 17:8-16

Believers face daily battles. Ministry leaders help them learn to rely on God for victory.

Our conflict today is not “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

Moses had learned from previous experience that God fought in the Israelites’ behalf. He trusted in God rather than battle plans or superior fighting capability.

As a leader, your dependence on God is essential to fulfilling God’s purpose. Your example also reminds those you lead that success comes from God and, not only leaders, but everyone must continually depend on Him.

Moses’ upraised staff may have signaled the Israelite army to attack, or might have represented an oath of destruction against Amalek. But most interpreters understand this action to represent reliance on God through prayer in behalf of the people as they fought. It represented his trust in God and reminded the Israelite warriors to do the same while in the midst of battle.

Those in leadership can grow weary, as Moses did, of the labor of continual reliance on God. That sounds strange, but prayer is hard work. It does not happen naturally. Fighting our natural bent toward self-reliance is exhausting. Committing the time to pray and refraining from other activity requires self-discipline.

Just like Moses had Aaron and Hur to help him, people in our lives can challenge, encourage, and assist us to depend on God. These may be pastoral team members, deacons, prayer partners, or friends.

Moses’ uplifted staff became Israel’s rallying standard – “The Lord is my banner.” Confidence in God swelled their hearts and compelled them forward into battle.

Moses’ action lifted their gaze from man to God, from opposition to sure victory. Through their confidence in God they won the day.

As a leader, be careful about cultivating others’ reliance on you. Model dependence on God and encourage them to rally around Him.

Father, help me remember that each day I enter spiritual battle and lead others in war. We cannot do this in our own strength. You are our victory.

I pray for those in my spiritual care. They go to war today. Remind them that you are their source of strength, wisdom, and victory. Help them rely wholly on you.

Give them victory over the world, the flesh, and the devil. At the end of the day, may they know success came from you and thank you for it.

You are our banner. We rally to you!


READING Exodus 17:1-7


Leaders sometimes receive sharp criticism from the people they serve. Exodus 17:2 says, “The people quarreled with Moses.” “Quarreled” denotes strong opposition and verbal attacks. It is even defined as “verbal combat” (Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, p 845).

Verbal assaults on leaders often arise out of people’s needs or perceived needs. The need may be legitimate, like water in this case, or the complaints may be driven by selfish desire.

There is certainly a time to express concern to leaders. But the manner in which people do it is important. In this case, it is evident the Israelites were not trusting God. They blamed Moses for leading them to a barren place rather than believing that the God who delivered them from the Egyptians by parting the Red Sea could also provide them with water to drink.

Moses responded by turning to God. People’s harsh demands push leaders to rely on God for help. The word “cried” in verse 4 means to call out for help in great distress. Spiritual leaders do this often!

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary observes, “One of Moses’ most characteristic and praiseworthy traits was that he took his difficulties to the Lord (Exodus 15:25; 32:30; 33:12-16; Numbers 11:2; 12:13; 14:13-19.)”

His request here included an element of self-preservation. “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me” (v 4). Now I would be concerned for my safety too. *But we do have to be careful of being overly concerned with how people’s verbal attacks affect us. It’s easy for leaders to take it personally when they feel the sting of people’s displeasure. It helps to realize people don’t necessarily feel personal animosity toward us. We are the objects of their intensity, but ultimately they need to develop trust in God and graciousness when communicating with others.

Father, I tend to take people’s complaints and objections personally. Please help me keep in mind that they may have a good point to make. If they’re communicating in a sinful way or if their words arise from a selfish heart, help them to grow.

Then there are those who are just harsh. You know who they are. Help me respond as graciously as possible. Give me wisdom to address sin when needed. Vindicate my leadership if you wish. Ultimately I entrust myself, my ministry, and these people to you.

*My interview with Scott Owen includes helpful insights on responding to criticism.


READ Exodus 15:1-18

This is Moses’ and the Israelites’ song of praise after God performed the spectacular work of delivering them from the Egyptians by opening the Red Sea.

God did a spectacular work yesterday. If you are a preacher of the Word, He enabled you to declare eternal, soul-saving, life-transforming truth. He brought the dead to life, made holy the profane, caused the simple to be wise, changed darkness into light.

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Just as God miraculously opened the Red Sea for the Israelites to escape from the Egyptian army, He worked spectacularly through His Word as you ministered it.

He accomplished His purpose, displayed His power, performed His work, and built up the church and caused it to grow.

Regardless of how you feel about yesterday, if you even merely read Scripture to people, God was doing a great work. If you explained it, applied it, and exhorted people to heed it, then you provided the means for supernatural work in individual lives.

So look back and, like Moses, praise God for His glorious character (Exodus 15:6-7), His matchless power (11), and His steadfast love (13).

You have enabled me to do hard, even impossible things that are your will. You strengthened me to share your wonderful Word.

I lift my praise to you for your glorious character, matchless power, and steadfast love. I praise you for the spectacular ways you have delivered me and guided my life. Thank you for using me in the lives of others who will praise you as well.

You reign, forever and ever. Amen.