In His Word – with the Poets

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This week we are looking into the importance of God’s Word as well as some of the goodies we are rewarded with when we open the book.  First, we had an overview of the 5 books of Law.  Yesterday we considered the 12 books of History, so today we are up to the 5 books of Poetry.

When I was a school kid eating up my history classes, I was yawning during my poetry course.  And, I still haven’t matured enough to really enjoy a ‘good book of poetry’ whatever that means.  However, I truly love opening up my Bible to these inspired books of poetry.  So many times when I reach for my Bible – it is to the books of Poetry that I go, and I am not disappointed.

Often when reading the books of law and history you get the facts of the events.  And from there you can piece together the likely thoughts or emotions of the characters and what their relationship with God was like at the time.  But, in many of the books of poetry you get the poet’s raw emotion: disappointment, anger, depression, elation, thankfulness, etc… And, through it all – God is there.  Along with the poet’s emotion, you get to read of his personal testimony of God’s faithfulness.  Psalm 13 is one short example – it starts out with quite a bit of pain and anguish and questions for God – but it ends with a beautiful statement of God’s unfailing love and goodness.

I really appreciated Andrew Cheatwood’s devotions two weeks ago when he wrote candidly about his struggle with spiritual depression and the help he found in the Psalms.  I applaud his wisdom in looking to God’s Word.

Here’s a brief overview of the 5 books of Poetry

JOB – Suffering, But Still Trusting

Satan attacks Job.  He loses everything except his trust in God – and that is enough.  He prospers again, even more than before.

PSALMS – Jewish Songbook

Songs, prayers and praises to God in poetry.  The longest book of the Bible, mostly written by David.  Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible – all about the greatness of the Word of God

PROVERBS – Wisdom!

Wise King Solomon shares his wisdom on many matters: work, money, temptation, discipline, etc…These 31 chapters can be read one chapter a day every month and you will find yourself a wiser person.

ECCLESIASTES – Search for the Meaning of Life

Solomon found pleasures, riches, and fame don’t satisfy.  Instead, revere God, follow Him and let God be God

SONG OF SOLOMON – Love Songs

Poems by Solomon celebrating the beauty of married love, also called Song of Songs

 

Which is your favorite book of Poetry?  Go ahead – read some God-inspired poetry today!

Marcia Railton

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In His Word – HIS-STORY

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History was always one of my favorite subjects in school.  So many stories, so many time periods, so many real characters who have lived through so many unique situations, and some who even grew through their experiences.  The things we can learn through a great history book are amazing.  And, just as amazing – the fact that through it ALL – there has been ONE God of this universe.  In every event everywhere and at every time – He has been there – and will be there.

 

And yet, there has been one special place, one special people that God has taken a very special interest in – and that is the land and people of Israel.  It is this history that was preserved for us and makes up the second division of the Old Testament – the 12 books of History – the history of God’s chosen people as a nation.

 

So much can still be learned today about God and mankind by reading these historical accounts.  Go ahead – pick a book and get a glimpse into His Story.

 

12 BOOKS OF OLD TESTAMENT HISTORY 

 

JOSHUA – The Lord Gives Victory in Canaan

Joshua leads Israel into the Promised Land – Rahab is saved, walls of Jericho, sun stands still

JUDGES – Israel Led by Judges

Cycles of sin and rebellion – enemies surround – Israel calls out to God – God sends a judge to save – people repent and serve God, until….cycle repeats.  Some of the judges were Samson, Gideon, Deborah, and Ehud.

RUTH – Faithful Daughter-in-Law – and Faithful God

Ruth, a Moabite, is loyal to Naomi her Jewish mother-in-law and God takes care of them

I & II SAMUEL – Samuel Anoints Israel’s 1st & 2nd King

Hannah’s son Samuel raised by the priest Eli – He anoints Saul, then David as kings – we also meet Goliath, Jonathan, Bathsheba and Nathan

I & II KINGS – Israel Splits and is Captured

King Solomon, kingdom divides (Northern Israel, Southern Judah), many bad kings (like Ahab),  some good kings (like Josiah), and God’s prophets (like Elijah)

I & II CHRONICLES – Judah’s Kings – Repeated

Retelling of Judah’s history – Adam to King David to Jerusalem’s destruction to King Cyrus permitting Jews to return to rebuild Jerusalem

EZRA – Exiles Rebuild Temple

Returning Jews rebuild Jerusalem’s temple and Ezra teaches them how to seek God

NEHEMIAH – Rebuilding City Walls

Nehemiah leads the Jews as they rebuild the walls of Jerusalem through much opposition

ESTHER – Jewish Girl Becomes Queen and Saves Jews

Brave, beautiful Esther, Cousin Mordecai, King Xerxes, evil Haman, 3 days of prayer and fasting, Jews are saved, new national holiday

 

 

Read some HIS-STORY today – the best is in God’s Word!

Marcia Railton

In His Word – the 1st 5

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Can you imagine giving an algebra book to a preschooler and expecting the child to start solving intricate problems on their own?  I think some searching and new Christians (and even some old ones) may feel a bit like that preschooler when they think about reading the Bible.  They have heard and might even believe it can be helpful to their Christian walk.  But, it still seems like such a large, overwhelming book – they would prefer the pastor just tells them what they need to know.  The good news is that our little preschooler can learn to count, and then add, subtract, multiply, divide, replace numbers with variables and before you know it – they have grown in their math skills and are solving algebraic equations.  And, even better news, it doesn’t need to take 10 plus years to get better acquainted with God’s Word and benefit from the countless opportunities to grow in our knowledge, faith and relationship with our Heavenly Father through his words.  We can each continue growing today, no matter where we are in our current understanding of His Word, we can and ought to be dedicated to knowing God more and more as he reveals himself in His Word – daily.

 

A basic understanding of how the Bible is organized can help greatly in knowing the big picture of God’s story – which is profitable in also seeing how it applies to our daily lives as well since it is the same God at work.  The 66 books are divided into the Old Testament (39 books covering creation through Israel’s history up to 400 years before the birth of Jesus) and the New Testament (27 books detailing the life, death & resurrection of Jesus, the acts of the early church, letters to the various churches and church leaders, and finally, a vision of the end times and coming kingdom).  Each testament can be further subdivided into helpful divisions.  For example:
THE OLD TESTAMENT

Law (5 books)

History (12 books)

Poetry (12 books)

Major Prophets (5 books)

Minor Prophets (12 books)

 

Today we will give a quick overview of the 5 books of the Law

The Books of the Law were mostly written by Moses and for many years they were the only sacred scriptures of God’s word for his people.  These 5 books cover a great deal of the early years of the Jewish and Christian faith and it is here that God first reveals himself to his creation.  While the setting includes many ancient cultures – beginning about 6,000 years ago – which can seem rather foreign at first, it doesn’t take long before we recognize many human characteristics we still see in ourselves and our neighbors today: selfishness, greed, pride, envy, as well as faithfulness, dedication, patience, and compassion.  And, we also see GOD – the creative, all-powerful, jealous, wise, holy God of all the ages.  Too often the Old Testament is sadly regarded as too old to be useful.  However, Jesus knew much of the Old Testament, and in the Gospels he quoted from or referenced passages from all 5 of the books of Law.  They were important to Jesus.  These Scriptures helped him fight temptation, teach about God and live a holy life.  If the Son of God found them so useful – it seems well worth my time to look into them further.

These are some of the exciting things you can look forward to reading and learning from in the Books of the Law . . .

 

Genesis – A Book of Beginnings!

Starting with Creation, Adam and Eve and the Fall (first sin), Noah and the Flood, and the Tower of Babel.  Then, enters Abraham who would be the father of a great nation, and so begins the patriarchal family and the following generations, each with their own story to tell: Isaac, Jacob/Esau, and Joseph.  This book covers the beginning of the universe, life, mankind, marriage, family, sacrifice, sin, death, redemption and more.  This book of 50 chapters spans more years than the rest of the 65 books of the Bible put together – and in it we get our first predictions of the promised Messiah – Jesus.  God’s story begins.

Exodus – The Exit Out of Egypt!

Hebrews enslaved in Egypt.  Baby Moses saved in a basket – grows up in Pharoah’s house – leaves Egypt  – burning bush – back to Egypt to free his countrymen – 10 plagues – the first Passover – crossing the Red Sea – manna – the Ten Commandments (chapter 20) – other laws – golden calf – preparing the tabernacle

Leviticus – Holiness

Now that God’s people were called out to be a rescued people for him – with their own tabernacle where they were to worship him – they needed direction.  This book includes the rules for worship of a holy God and for the Levites – the tribe of priests who would serve in the tabernacle.

Numbers – Counting in the Desert

12 tribes of Israel counted, 12 spies sent into the Promised Land (10 were bad and 2 were good), faithless Israel listens to the majority and wanders in the wilderness 40 years

Deuteronomy – Repeating the Law

Moses reminds the Israelites of their history and God’s laws as they prepare to enter the Promised Land – Moses dies.

 

And – God is there – in it all!  Through the ups and the downs.  Just as He is with you, today – and yesterday and tomorrow.  If you are looking for one chapter to read today to sum up the books of the law – Deuteronomy 32 is a good choice – or Deuteronomy 30 – or 28 – or Exodus 20.  Maybe you can listen to a few chapters on your way to work, or during your bike ride.   God put good stuff in there just for you – thousands of years ago.  Thanks, God!

 

May I Find You There, God,

Marcia Railton

In His Word

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GOD’s Story is the best story.  GOD’s words are the best words.  If I want to live my life to please Him, I must be grounded in His Word, for that is where I find Him, where I learn about Him, and where I begin to grow my relationship with Him.  The world is full of false gods and it becomes so easy to be led astray by what the glittery, selfish world offers instead of taking ahold of the solid promises and expectations God lays out in His Word.  I believe Satan is pretty happy to see people who enjoy calling themselves Christians who spend very little time in God’s Word.

Can you imagine a person who loves Marvel – wears Marvel, spouts Marvel trivia, plays Marvel games, etc …… but has never seen any Marvel movies – not even a trailer.   It seems ridiculous, doesn’t it!   So too, is the Christ follower who doesn’t look to the book that Christ followed – ridiculous – and even dangerous – for himself and for those who would follow that poor example.

If we know God’s Word is important… what gets in the way?  Time, of course, is the number one answer.  But, not a very valid one.  We all find time to do what we really want to do – including perhaps a few movies or TV shows every week to unwind, some “brain games” (ie-device time) to keep us mentally sharp, some physical activity to keep our shape (or lose our current shape), but how do we remember to do the daily upkeep for our most important spiritual life?

I think sometimes our problem is that is just seems so overwhelming to open the big book.  Where do I start?  What if I don’t understand it?  It is such a big book!  This week we are going to do an overview of the importance of God’s Word – as well as providing an outline for how the book is laid out.  Where do I find the stories of Jesus?  Of Moses and David?  What makes the book of James different from Esther?   Where in the world is the book of Habakkuk – and why is it there?

Today – read as much of Psalm 119 as you can (go ahead, I challenge you – read the whole chapter).  Be looking for what good comes from God’s Word (and his laws, statutes, promises, commandments, which are all found in the gift of God – the Bible).

 

God bless you as you seek Him in His Word!
Marcia Railton

Children of God – Forgive

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Happy Friday! I am ready for the weekend, how about you? It has been a long week for me, mostly all good things, just incredibly busy and each of my daycare kids have been extremely busy too, making for some difficult days. This week had more meltdowns than usual, and some new behavior issues popping up, but in that I was seeing something that amazed me every single day. The forgiveness that many children have, and are willing to freely give to those around them. In my classroom, when a child does something that bothers, or harms another child, they must apologize. We do not force the child who was wronged to forgive them, we say that they can acknowledge the apology by saying thank you, and they can talk about how the two of them may move forward from the outburst. More often than not though, the children will say, “It’s okay, I forgive you.” Then they will offer a hug, and continue playing, as if nothing ever happened.


This is an act that always makes me wonder why it becomes harder for us to let go of grudges when we get older, or why it is so much harder for us to move on from something that someone has done to us, even if they have sincerely offered up their apology. These children will hit, or take a toy, or scream at their friend, and then apologies happen, and forgiveness comes to them easily and naturally.  Their forgiveness seems to be endless, then they quickly move on from the issue. When did we lose this focus? When did many of us decide that holding grudges is something better than letting go? I think many of us should take a step back and think about how it would feel for us to let something go, and give forgiveness and pray for those that harm us. The world around us might be a little different if we shifted our mentalities.


Some verses today about forgiving:


Matthew 18:21-22 “Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.’”


Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”


Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”


1 Peter 3:9 “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”


All of these verses talk about needing to be able to forgive those, because God has forgiven us. We can again look to children to see what their example is. There are definitely times when children will hold grudges against those that have wronged them, however it is often that children are extremely quick to forgive their friends, neighbors, teachers, siblings, parents, etc. Jesus tells us to be more like the little children, and this week we have been covering the different aspects of allowing our faith to become more child-like and the different components that entails. Listening, trusting, seeking comfort, loving, learning, and today is forgiving like a child.


Today I challenge you to forgive someone who wrongs you; let go of the hurt that they may have intentionally or unintentionally inflicted upon you. Remember that we are all sinners and God forgives us for our sins against him, over and over, and so we should forgive those around us. Try to be more like the children, and move on quickly from a dispute that is not constructive to either party involved, and seek first God and a relationship with him and his son Jesus.


A song for today is “Forgiveness” by Matthew West. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h1Lu5udXEZI


~Jana Swanson

Matthew West – Forgiveness (Lyrics)

Children of God – LOVE

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Today we are going to talk about loving like a child. Throughout the Bible we, as Christians, are called to love. Love your neighbor as yourself, love your friends, family, pray for your enemies, love the Lord your God with all your mind, all your heart and all your strength. If you grew up in the church you were probably taught that God IS love, and we learn to love from him, but did you ever stop to think about how children love us? Again, we can really take a page out of their book to see how we can better love others, and how we can better love our one True God. I am absolutely not saying children are perfect at loving, I mean, how many times have you seen a three year old hit their friend for no reason? I see it many times a day, and it surprises me how quickly they own up to it as well.


In my class I have one little girl who has formed an attachment to me; her face lights up when I walk into the room and she never wants to leave my side. If I leave before she gets picked up, she cries because she does not want me to leave. Through her, I have seen how to love other people, even better. This girl is so excited every morning to show me something new, or to tell me something that she did with her parents the night before. Think about it, when was the last time you were excited to tell God about what was going on in your life. You can justify it, to yourself; “Oh God already knows what is going on in my life, he’s always there anyway.” But here’s the thing, God may already know what is going on in your life, but he wants to build a relationship with you, one that is a two way street, one where you tell him about your good days and your hard days. A relationship where you can share the things you are excited about and ask for guidance in the times where you are the most unsure. God calls us to love and build connections and relationships; a lot of children are pretty good at this.


Somehow children are good at picking up on the emotions of those around them. They tend to notice when someone is sad, or angry, or when they are happy and having a good day.  If you pay attention, many children will reach out and try to help you in the ways that they know how. They will offer to share their favorite food, or their favorite toy, or they will climb into your lap and ask you to read them a story in the cutest voice they can possibly muster. Do you share this kind of unconditional love to the people around you? Your friends, neighbors, acquaintances and even the people you don’t particularly get along with? If not, this may be an area to work on, I know it is something that I am striving to be better at.


Here are some verses talking more about love.

1 John 4:9-12 “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world, that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.”


Mark 12:30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”


Proverbs 17:17 “A friend loves at all times.”


Romans 12:9-10 “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”


Jesus tells us to have faith like a child, let the children go to him. Are not all children of God? Having faith like a child is one of the ways we can truly find our faith. There are so many components to this act of having faith. There is listening, trusting, seeking comfort, wanting to learn, and today loving. I challenge you today to observe how any children in your life express their love for you, or their peers, or adults, or anyone they interact with. If you do not have children in your life, try to think about how you can love people more, and really work toward that unconditional love that we are called to as Jesus’ followers. Thank you for reading today, and here is a song to go along with today’s devotion.


“Hold Us Together” Matt Maher

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gd4dFXMuy-8


~Jana Swanson


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