Children of God – Keep Learning

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Sunday I talked about listening like a child, Monday was trusting like a child and Tuesday was seeking comfort like a child. Today I am going to talk about learning like a child. Have you ever witnessed a child learning something new, or watched them captivated by something they have never seen before? When I am working with the toddlers, there is always something that amazes them. They are amazed by the fake ice cream, that can really be scooped, and stays on the ice cream cone. (It’s a feat achieved through the use of magnets.) They are amazed by how well I can braid their hair. They love learning how to read their name, etc. They learn in earnest, they are open to instruction, they are in nearly constant wonderment by the things around us.

 

The passage in Matthew that talks about having faith like a child is this, Matthew 19:13-15 “Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them. Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.”

 

When I picture this passage, I think that the children must have been curious about Jesus, and they wanted to know him. Jesus sees that in these children and he welcomes them. This is a beautiful picture that I think we need to emulate in our own lives, no matter our age, when we are learning more about our God and his son Jesus. These children wanted so much to see Jesus, and they wanted to know, what was going on around them. They were aware, and they were open to what they were going to learn. There was no prejudice, or judgement, or reservations. They wanted to meet Jesus, begin a relationship, etc.

 

I have also spent time teaching children at church camp, and some of the most amazing things is watching how impressed, or surprised the children are with the littlest things. They are amazed that God created butterflies, they are in bewilderment that God created flowers, they are captivated by the stories about Jonah, and Noah, and many other important people in the Bible. Children consume these stories with a deep desire to know more, and develop an understanding, and I think when we grow up we sometimes lose this passion and fire for learning. We think we know it all, or we are scared of how little we know and become overwhelmed by the thought.

 

Now think about your own life, do you have a passion for learning more about God? Do you have a desire to learn as much as you can about almost anything and everything, especially in regards to God, and his plans for us? I know that I do not always feel like I want to learn, I do not always feel like taking the time to study, and practice and learn from people wiser than myself. However, we should always try to find this fire for God’s word, this passion and earnest for learning in general, just like the children in our lives who are learning and wanting to learn about almost everything. They are our example, in having a deep faith. They may not realize it, and you may not either, but children are an example, we should give this example more credit and pay attention on how to apply this idea to our own lives.

 

A song for today is “How Great is Our God” by Chris Tomlin.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBD18rsVJHk

 

~Jana Swanson

 

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Children of God – Be Comforted by the Almighty

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So far this week we have covered listening like a child and trusting like a child. These are two of the components that make up having childlike faith. Today I plan to talk about where we should be looking for our comfort. Children need to be comforted; sometimes they get hurt and they need a hug, or they get scared and they need an embrace to feel safe. Sometimes they do not know what is wrong, they just know that something does not feel right, and they need to be held by someone that they love, or who is important to them. Children also need to have someone that they can talk to in these situations, and feel supported. My daycare kids are the same way; when they are home they run to their parents to address this need, however when in daycare they usually have a primary caregiver, a person that they connect with and need in situations like I mentioned. Guess what, even adults are like these children. Sometimes we rely on people to fulfill this need, even if we know it will not be good for us in the long run. Sometimes we are distracted by people, when we should be leaning on God.

 

Some verses for today: Psalm 118:5-9 “When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord…The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helper. I look in triumph on my enemies. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.

 

Psalm 18:1-2 “I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

 

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you, or forsake you.”

 

God has always promised us that if we call on him, he will be there for us. He will not leave us or forsake us, because he loves us, protects us and takes care of us. Even though this is amazing, it can be really scary to rely on someone that you haven’t seen, or haven’t felt their embrace. However, God is the greatest shelter and the greatest comforter that we could ever hope to have. He will never leave you, he will never abandon you. God is our champion, always encouraging us to live in ways that will glorify him and take care of his people. God will always support us in following the plans that he has for our lives. It is our job to lean into him, and trust that what he says is true, and trust that he will protect us, care for us, and provide us with comfort when we need it.

 

A song for today is “Shout to the Lord” by Hillsong Worship https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_aIauL2xKA

~Jana Swanson

 

Children of God – TRUST

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Today I am going to focus on trusting God. I have talked about this topic before, most likely because this is something that I personally struggle with. That being said, I am going to focus more on trying to have trust like a child, since this week I am focusing on having faith like a child, and each of the components that go along with that. In many different places in the Bible Christians are referred to as children of God, I believe that this is incredibly intentional (as is most things that can be found in the Bible), but even more so with this phrase. God could have said, that we are his people, which he does, but this is not what we are referred to as in every instance in the Bible. We are children of God, he loves us and cares for us, and calls us to have a child-like faith. Matthew 18:3 says, “ Truly, I tell you, unless you change and become like the little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

In my classroom, I have about 8 kids every single day, and they rely on me to make sure that they get breakfast, lunch, and a snack. They rely on me to take them outside, or on a walk. Some of them are working on being potty-trained, so they rely on me to change their diapers. They rely on me to facilitate discussion between them and their friends about whose turn it is with the babydoll in the classroom. There is more than just this “reliance” though. These children simply trust that what I say is true, that what I am telling them is the right thing to do. They trust that the food I am giving to them is good for them and will fuel their bodies. They trust that I am going to braid their hair if they ask, give them hugs if they need them, or pick them up when they fall down. They trust that I am going to be excited about them trying something new, or climbing across the tires on the playground, but they also trust that when they fall and scrape their knee, I am going to comfort them and get them a bandaid. These children trust that I am going to meet their every need while they are at daycare with me. They do not expect that I am going to meet every want, but they do trust that I am going to take care of their every need.

Do we do that in our daily lives as Christians? Do you truly believe that God has your back and is going to provide for your every need? Do you trust that he hears your every want and every prayer? Because God tells us he hears us, and that he will make sure that our every need is met. He doesn’t promise us an easy life without any hiccups, but he does promise to meet our needs. We should be looking to the children in our lives that may rely on us, and trust us to take care of them, and see that example in them. That reliance and trust they have in us, is something that we need to try to emulate in our relationship with God.

Philippians 4:19 “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

2 Peter 1:3 “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence”

Romans 8:32 “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

Matthew 6:28-34 “28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

Today, I am going to challenge you to trust God. Trust him like a child would. Lean on him, rely on him and truly work on believing that what he says and what his word says is true. God comes through for us on our promises, and he makes sure that we have what we absolutely need. It may not always seem like that to us, but Jesus’ words in Matthew, tell us that God even clothes the flowers and the grass, and they do no work. If we believe in him, have faith in him, and trust him (like a child) would he not care for us at least as much as the grass of the field, if not more?

A song that I have for you today actually comes from Aaron Winner. “You Make The Flowers Grow” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yE8xGez3AOY

~Jana Swanson

Listening Like a (Faithful) Child

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This week I am going to talk about what it means to have faith like a child. I am currently an assistant teacher in a YMCA child development center, for a toddler classroom. The children that I work with the most are around the ages of 2 and 3. Throughout my day as an assistant teacher, there are many different elements that go into the teaching and caring for my 2 and 3 year olds. They have to listen, share, trust, sometimes they need comfort and sometimes they cry just because they do not yet have the vocabulary to fully tell me what it is that they need.


Today’s topic is listening like a child, especially when we are listening for God. Some verses about listening are here:

Luke 11:28 “He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’”

James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Proverbs 16:20 “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.”

Matthew 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock.”

Philippians 4:9 “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me -put it into practice and the God of peace will be with you.”


All of these verses are about listening, but many of these verses include the two parts that listening is made up of: hearing and doing. When I am speaking with my toddlers there are some things they need to do; hear what I am saying and do what I ask, even if they do not see or understand the reason. For example, when we walk the hallways in our center, on the way to different activities we ask our toddlers to hold onto the railing. This is an extra measure that keeps them safe, however some of them do not understand how or why it could be dangerous to them if they let go of the railing. God is the same way- there are things he teaches us through his word that will be harmful to us; we may not understand but we should listen to him anyway. There will be times in our own lives when God is going to be telling us something, asking us to hear and do, and we may not always understand the reason behind it.


Daily I am amazed by my toddlers, because most of the time when I ask them to hold their railing, or move their milk cup closer to the center of the table, or to walk in the classroom, they hear me and do what I see, even if I do not give them a reason. This is because I have a relationship with them, and they trust that I am doing what I can to protect them, care for them, teach them, and make sure they are safe. This is one way that faith like a child is important for us to recognize and practice in our own lives. Do you hear what God says to you, and do it without question? If not, maybe we should consider that call to listen, that call to have child-like faith. Today, I challenge you to try to listen for God and do what he asks you, without question and see what happens in your life.


Tomorrow I am going to talk more in-depth about the trust of a child, since that will follow today’s topic nicely. I also saw that Andrew Cheatwood, who wrote for last week included a song that he was impacted by each day, and this is something I have done in the past and have enjoyed, so I would like to continue the trend this week. The song that I have chosen for today is “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_aVFVveJNs


~Jana Swanson

Life Gets Better

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When You Break Down the Barriers

 

For the longest time, I never thought I would see the other side of my depression. Especially when I was in deepest. During that time, my girlfriend of 3 years dumped me, my pastor I’d grown up listening to and adored passed away, I was failing college, and I was in a job that made me so miserable the only way I felt better was writing lyrics about how I felt. It got so bad, I started thinking about how people in my life would feel if I’d never existed, or just faded away. Around that time though, those lyrics I had written finally came to have a purpose because God helped me find a band to join. It may have been a short lived adventure, but I cherish those days as the therapy it was for me. I bled out the unhealthy emotions that had begun to dwell within my heart through those lyrics until it wasn’t helping anymore.

 

In today’s devotional, we will conclude the book of Job. The story of Job is complex, beautiful, and I await to reread this book again to uncover more wisdom hidden within this book. We have reached Job 32, and are now meeting Elihu. I heavily encourage you take the time to read from Chapter 32 to the end, but I will hit the key verses that stuck out to me in understanding this story better. Elihu arrives to rebuke Job for his missteps in his arguments and intentions within the debate between Job and the three men of understanding. Elihu waited up until this point out of respect of age, and because the three friends had become discouraged in debating any further.

Elihu’s first acknowledgement of faultiness in Job’s mourning is shown in Job 33: 8-22.

Job 33: 8-22 NASB: “8 Surely you have spoken in my hearing, And I have heard the sound of your words: 9 ‘I am pure, without transgression; I am innocent and there is no guilt in me. 10 ‘Behold, He invents pretexts against me; He counts me as His enemy. 11 ‘He puts my feet in the stocks; He watches all my paths.’ 12 “Behold, let me tell you, you are not right in this, For God is greater than man. 13 “Why do you complain against Him That He does not give an account of all His doings? 14 “Indeed God speaks once, Or twice, yet no one notices it. 15 “In a dream, a vision of the night, When sound sleep falls on men, While they slumber in their beds, 16 Then He opens the ears of men, And seals their instruction, 17 That He may turn man aside from his conduct, And keep man from pride; 18 He keeps back his soul from the pit, And his life from passing over into Sheol. 19 “Man is also chastened with pain on his bed, And with unceasing complaint in his bones; 20 So that his life loathes bread, And his soul favorite food. 21 “His flesh wastes away from sight, And his bones which were not seen stick out. 22 “Then his soul draws near to the pit, And his life to those who bring death.”

Job may be a faithful follower of God, but he did make accusations that God was not on his side. Elihu points out these flaws on Job’s logic so Job may understand where he has faltered in his discussion. It is a great detail to point out because how often do we get paranoid, and start to wonder whether what God is planning is for our benefit? This is a common problem I ran into in my thought process while depressed.

If you aren’t convinced when reading through here that Elihu cares about Job, I have a couple verses to show his intent was for Job’s benefit. Job 33: 31-33 NASB: “Pay attention, O Job, listen to me; Then if you have anything to say, answer me; Speak for I desire to justify you. If not, listen to me; Keep silent, and I will teach you wisdom.” I didn’t notice his intentions as good to start out because all his other friends we read the speeches of are jaded and convinced Job is wicked. In further delving though, I found Elihu to be a great friend to Job. “Speak for I desire to justify you” is the phrase that opened my eyes once I looked into the Hebrew word justify originates from in this context. The Hebrew word is Tsadaq. In this context, it means “turn to righteousness.” Elihu cares deeply enough about Job to help him turn to righteousness.

 

Elihu next points out that Job’s pride has become a barrier between himself and God. This happens in Job 35. Job’s pride has caused him a lack of understanding towards man, especially ones he deems to be wicked. We see this iterated in Job 24. Elihu gives proof that God doesn’t ignore wrongs, and doesn’t just allow the wicked to roam free. You can find the evidence in Job 36: 5-33. An important detail we can take from this is to not generalize and judge our fellow man. We are to help them understand why we ask repentance of our sins. Sin separates us from YHWH, and YHWH doesn’t want to be separated from His creation.

 

In Job 37, Elihu concludes his speech by bringing the voice of God back into the attention of Job. Then, in Job 38-39, God asks Job if he knows all the grand, minute details that were put into this life. To make His point to Job, God then asks Job a question in Job 40:2 NASB: “‘Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let Him who reproves God answer it.’” Job’s passion and wisdom are clear throughout this book, but along the way, Job began to question God. Asking God a question and questioning God are different beasts. Job 40:4-5 NASB: “Behold, I am insignificant; what can I reply to Thee? I lay my hand on my mouth. Once I have spoken, and I will not answer; Even twice, and I will add no more.” This is how Job responds after YHWH shows Job the error of his ways. God then further speaks of His power, asking Job if he too, can do all these things. Job confesses that he is incapable of doing these things, admitting he didn’t understand the gravity of his proclamations, and repented. God is even merciful enough to extend forgiveness to Bildad, Zophar, and Eliphaz, if they choose to repent of the words they spoke against The Lord.

 

After all of this was completed, God restored Job’s fortunes. Job lived a blessed life with many children, and got to see his grandchildren. Job got through a time of trial and tribulation that I cannot begin to fathom the pain he must have gone through. He did not make it through by his own doing, but God’s doing. Personally, my spiritual depression did not cease until I repented. I may not have started the depression outright, but I set up barriers between myself and God over time. It was through repentance that God helped me tear down those walls, and help me rebuild my life. My challenge for you today is to take some time to look inward, and find what barriers you may have built up between yourself and God. Repent of them, and start to see how your perspective on life begins to be built on love.

My song suggestion for today is “Redeemed” by Big Daddy Weave.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vSyLqbP8Z4I  

 

-Andrew Cheatwood

Perseverance through Tribulation

 

    Today, we return to the book of Job to further talk about depression. Job is being directly attacked by his own friends during a time frame when he is losing his health, his wife told him to curse God and die, his children have all died, and he has lost all his possessions he had. These are all things on their own that could cause depression within someone. Normally, these situations would cause problems internally, and someone who is depressed would tend to keep them to themselves. Job is blessed with wisdom though, and talks to his friends about his troubles. Instead of his friends trying to help him through it, they attack him on the grounds that they believe he clearly is wicked. The perseverance Job shows throughout the whole book is a testament of his faith in God.

That perseverance is one we should strive for on a day to day basis, whether going through trials and tribulation, or through times of blessing. There are times when he speaks of how he has been struck down from his status of respect in the community to one where people cannot bear to even look at him. In those moment, he is crying out to God, asking why it had happened. The moments that catch my eye though are when he is done mourning the trial, he returns to the debate with his friends on justice. In his responses to them, we see just how strong his faith is in YHWH, and the hope Job has stored in Him.   

Job 19: 25-27 NASB: “And as for me, my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; Whom I shall behold myself and not another. My heart faints within me.” The phrase ‘I know my Redeemer lives’ is one many Christians know because of the song Nicole C Mullins released in 2000. It is easy to read the English in this verse, and come to the conclusion that Job is saying Jesus lives, but contextually that doesn’t quite work. This is partly because Job is the oldest book in the Bible. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I noticed no mention of a coming Messiah in the book of Job. That is another reason I found this verse to be confusing for a time because we tend to use Redeemer as a title for Jesus. We use the term redeemer as one who is a deliverer from sin. A more appropriate translation for the Hebrew word “go’el” in this context is vindicator. Vindicator means one who delivers from affliction and wrong which is not due to sin. (I have Spiros Zodhiates to thank for this insight because of a note in my study bible.)

    Job 23: 17 NASB: “But I am not silenced by the darkness, Nor deep gloom which covers me.” This verse comes in the middle of his second to last rebuttal of his friend’s arguments. Before this verse Job speaks of how He longs to see God and beg his case for being upright and faithful. Once he says this, Job says that no one can change God, and that this trial must be part of God’s plan for him. He starts to show his awe, fear, and reverence of God just before this verse. I want to emphasize this verse because Job is stating that though he is confused, he will not be quiet. He will stay faithful, though he has been brought low. This verse shows Job’s character, and how through his faith he perseveres through the troubles in his life.   

    Clinging to our faith in YHWH is essential to pushing through the difficult times this life brings forth to us. God is our Vindicator, and He gave us our redeemer, Jesus, that we may have the opportunity to be forgiven of our sins. May we continue to push forward in this life with these ideas in mind, that we may not falter. Let us retain this knowledge in our hearts, and share it with those around us, that we may be faithful bondservants of YHWH.

 

((I apologize for the late send, and with no photo, our family is camping for the next several days and very limited wifi could cause delays this week.  -Marcia

Thank you for writing, Andrew!   Here’s a little about Andrew….

I’ve been a part of the Hedrick of God since about age 5. I thirsted for the Word, and the depths of knowledge held within it from a young age. Along the way, I was baptized with my dear brother, Zach. One of my first solid memories after baptism is from a year later, my grandpa passed away. I became depressed because I didn’t cry out to God, and God used my depression to help mold me. Through a decade of turmoil, the love of God, and a supportive church family, I’m now ready to put proper effort into the goals I believe I’ve been given.  My intentions are to use my story and the knowledge I obtain from God along the way as a teacher.

 

 

 

Building Faith

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During my first year of college, I was not active in any church or function related to church. Thankfully, after returning home and receiving counseling, I started to return to the church. I was unfortunately working Sundays, but I was able to join the Baptist Collegiate Ministry as a member of the band with my brother. Being exposed to a different denomination, and rediscovering my faith made a drastic change in my life. I started to delve deeper into the Word to determine where I stand in my spirituality. During my studies, I came across Psalm 42, and fell in love with this song.

Psalm 42 NASB: “1 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When shall I come and appear before God? 3 My tears have been my food day and night, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 4 These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God, With the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. 5 Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him For the help of His presence. 6 O my God, my soul is in despair within me; Therefore I remember You from the land of the Jordan And the peaks of Hermon, from Mount Mizar. 7 Deep calls to deep at the sound of Your waterfalls; All Your breakers and Your waves have rolled over me. 8 The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; And His song will be with me in the night, A prayer to the God of my life. 9 I will say to God my rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” 10 As a shattering of my bones, my adversaries revile me, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 11 Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

This Psalm is written by the Sons of Korah. In order to get a better understanding of their lives, read into Numbers 16. Psalm 42: 1-2 has a strong mindset about what our desire should be in life. If we’re thirsting for God, we’re looking to better ourselves and the world around us. Matthew 22:39 and Leviticus 19:18 both remind us to love our neighbors as ourselves. If you are depressed or someone you care about is, remind them, or yourself, how beloved they are by our Heavenly Father. In order to love your neighbor you must first love yourself. Otherwise, the way you treat yourself is the way you shall treat other people. Don’t just accept the love you think you deserve. Accept the unconditional love of YHWH into your heart.

Psalm 42:5 starts out with a monologue that I found myself speaking inwardly when I was depressed. The solution to working through those problems is immediately given afterwards. Someone may never understand why their soul is in despair, but keeping hope and praising God will help keep yourself focused on the One who helps heal those wounds. This is an exercise of faith we should all keep in mind,even though it isn’t simple or easy. Psalm 42:8 NASB: ”The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; And His song will be with me in the night, A prayer to the God of my life.” This verse is such a wonderful reminder that God is present in our lives. As a musician, reading “His song will be with me in the night” is a breathtaking revelation. Music that man writes can be moving and stunning, but to think about the fact “His song will be with me in the night” gives me a sense of serenity. This verse is also a reminder that we should express our awe and adoration to God in our prayers for the many ways He provides for us.

Keeping your nose in Scripture and having a consistent prayer life is vital to nurturing one’s faith. Doing these things helped me tremendously to fight my depression. The challenge I bring forth to you today is to find a prayer partner. Help one another keep your hearts, minds, souls, and strength on your relationships with YHWH.

A song I suggest for today is:

“Your Love is Strong” by Jon Foreman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-g4uwQlXKw

I chose this song because it is a great adaptation of a prayer turned into a song. The words should sound familiar to you.

-Andrew Cheatwood