Rejoice!

Isaiah 64-66

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Saturday, February, 25

These 3 chapters follow a similar theme to the rest of the week. We are not perfect, and we all mess up, that is just in our nature, but there is so much hope for us. 64: 4-5 says, “For from of old men have not heard nor perceived by the ear, neither has the eye seen a God besides You, what God has prepared for him who waits for him. 5 You meet him who rejoices and works righteousness, those who remember You in Your ways…” God will meet us who rejoice! He will be with us. That is amazing.

Chapter 65 talks about creating new heavens and a new earth. Not only does this apply to the world, but it applies to us as well- he is making us new, when we ask to be his again. 65:17 says, “For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” God also calls us to rejoice! Verse 18 says, “But be you glad and rejoice forever in that which I create; for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy.”

Again, chapter 66 talks about rejoicing with Jerusalem, that is such a simple command. Rejoice! God says. We can find something to rejoice about in almost any circumstance, because God is our God, who has not forsaken us, and he loves us. I challenge you to Rejoice!  In all things Rejoice!

-Jana Swanson

Some songs for today:

Your Name by: Paul Baloche https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7CFr8w9z38

!0,000 Reasons by: Matt Redman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtwIT8JjddM

Blessed Be Your Name by: Matt Redman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tTpTQ4kBLxA

 

(Photo Credit: https://dwellingintheword.wordpress.com/2013/03/26/1017-isaiah-64/)

Free the Captives

Isaiah 61-63

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Friday, February 24

Again there’s kind of lots that goes on in these three chapters, so I am going to talk about them separately.

Isaiah 61 is talking about God’s grace. Not only does it talk about God’s grace, but it talks about our part in sharing that grace. The author talks about it being his job, or his duty to bind up the broken hearted, and to free the captives, to proclaim of Yahweh’s great grace. Even though this is Isaiah’s call, I feel like that is our job too, as Christians and followers of Christ. We should be binding up the broken hearted, and freeing the captives, we should share all about God’s great love and his grace. This is something God has given to us too!

Isaiah 62 is all about Jerusalem, and its righteousness. Isaiah 62 says that Jerusalem will shine bright, and be a light that shines, and this light is because of its salvation. Jerusalem will no longer be called forsaken, because Yahweh delights in them. My favorite verse in this chapter is verse 12: “They shall call them the holy people. The redeemed of Yahweh: and you shall be called Sought-out, a city not forsaken.” This chapter and especially this verse are applicable to not only Jerusalem, but each of us as well. As far as I know, we are not all perfect, none of us are. I know for sure, that I am absolutely not perfect, yet God seeks us out, we are not forsaken. Just like Jerusalem, we have been given salvation, and that is a light inside of each of us that shines, and we need to share it. We need to be a lamp for others, and show others how God has redeemed us, because he surely has.

Isaiah 63 First this chapter talks about one who walks in with dyed garment and delighting in their own strength. This shows vanity in the one from Edom who relied on their own strength their own wrath and their own vanity to move forward. This is a perfect example of exactly what we should not be. Relying on our own strength will get us nowhere, if we are not following in God’s plan for us. We need to listen and follow God. The latter part of chapter 63 is much more hopeful in my opinion. This part, verses 7 and on, again talk about Yahweh’s great mercy and love for us. In verse 8 it says, “For He said, surely they are My people, the children who will not deal falsely: so He was their saviour.” We are his people, and his children, and this is why he loves us, does not forsake us and has mercy on us.

-Jana Swanson

Some songs for today:

Dwelling in Beulah Land: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AxoCssVyHo

This Little Light of Mine: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKkbIZtqhyQ

Strong God by: Meredith Andrews https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OAXgKPtAiMA

 

(Photo credit: http://www.alittleperspective.com/isaiah-61-and-62/)

Who Do You Do It For?

Isaiah 58-60

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Thursday, February 23

Overall today’s chapters really focus on being genuine as a follower of Christ. This is sometimes really difficult for a lot of people to recognize and to truly understand. If you grew up in a church, or if you have been to church often, or you’re a “New Christian” you might feel like there are rules to follow, whether written or unwritten. Rules like, read your Bible every day, pray before every meal, go to church every single Sunday, go to church camp, talk to all your friends about God all the time, invite a friend to youth group, or Bible study. Some people fast, there are certain rules about when to be baptized, etc. I hope you get the gist, that sometimes it feels like in order to be a “perfect” or even a “good Christian” you have to do these things all the time. All of those things are awesome and great, if you remember to do all those things, I think you are amazing, and you inspire me, because I will be completely honest; I don’t read my Bible every day- I do most days, but sometimes I don’t. I don’t pray before every meal, again, I pray before most meals, but sometimes I am eating while I am walking to class and I forget. Sometimes I miss going to church on Sunday because I slept in, or the snow was really deep (although that would be a pretty poor excuse right now, as there is so snow in February in central Indiana) or I was sick. We are not perfect and these chapters recognize this, but especially in chapter 58. Doing “all the right things” can be important, but not if we are seeking the approval of people. Reading your Bible often is important, and praying often is important, going to church and fellowshipping with other believers is important, but it is not right if we are doing it to “fit in” or to look like a “good christian” to other believers. These chapters call us out- if we choose to fast, it needs to be to focus on our relationship with God, if we choose to read our Bible every single day, it needs to be to deepen our understanding and trust of God. I challenge you today to think about your heart and your attitude. Why are you reading your bible? Is it because you want to please people? Or because you want to please God. -If you do read your Bible every day as you might be if you are following the 2016 FUEL Bible reading plan, I hope you check your “attitude at the door” before you read and really focus on growing closer to God, because that is the point of spending time in his word. Praying is awesome, but again check your heart and do it to talk with our heavenly Father who is amazing and all powerful. Do all good things for God and only for him. Do not do them to gain favor from people, only do them to focus on God and your relationship with him, because we are blessed to be able to have an individual relationship with him. I hope you enjoyed reading today, and I hope you come back tomorrow. Thanks!

-Jana Swanson

Some songs for today:

Beautiful Things by: Gungor https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Is6weMrenls

Come As You Are by: Crowder https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r2zhf2mqEMI

 

(Photo Credit: http://www.alittleperspective.com/isaiah-59-and-60/)

Awesome God!

Isaiah 54-57

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Wednesday, February 22

Today’s chapters make it pretty clear that our God is an Awesome God! He is all powerful and reigns over the whole universe, yet he loves you and me, and every person individually. That is just amazing to me. These chapters also highlight some of God’s promises again, and how merciful he is. Since I mentioned his promises a couple days ago, I want to talk a little bit about what is asked of us in these chapters. (His promises are still going to be mentioned, because they are pretty amazing.)

Chapter 54 talks specifically about the promises that God has made, and because he is perfect in all of his ways, and is true to those promises, we should know that he will keep them. At the very end of chapter 54 in verse 17 God says, “…This is the heritage of the servants of Yahweh, and their righteousness which is of Me..” All God is asking is that we be his servants, and that we listen to him and follow him and dedicate our lives to him. If we do this, then God will have “mercy on us with everlasting loving kindness” (verse 8 paraphrased). He also says in verse 10 “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed; but my loving kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall my covenant of peace be removed.” God is saying that if we will be his servant, he will FOREVER be merciful to us with everlasting loving kindness. After everything that God has given us, it’s pretty small thing to ask of us.

Chapter 55 goes a little bit deeper into God’s mercy. God reminds us in verse 8 That, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, My ways, says Yahweh. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts higher than your thoughts. “ God knows that we mess up sometimes, he acknowledges that we can’t think exactly like him and we don’t do things like he would, but we need to trust that his ways are better, because they are. His is merciful and great and loves each of us so much, that he takes care in instructing us to recognize that we are not him and that his ways are different and better than our own.

Chapter 56 – This chapter again talks about how accepting God is. God is telling us that even “Faithful Gentiles” will be accepted. We are Gentiles, because we are not Jews. God says in this chapter that his house of prayer is for ALL peoples. Our faith, and trust in God is not just for us, it is for everyone. God’s love and mercy is not just for us, it is for everyone! (We should share it, because this is an awesome gift!)

Chapter 57 is all about idols again. We should not let idols distract us from our walk with God- and idols are not just little figurines of some mythological creature. Idols are anything that can be a major distraction. This might a “friend” group that you have that maybe isn’t the greatest for you to have influence you. This might be technology-maybe it is distracting you from being in the moment and letting God speak to you. ( I am not saying that all technology is bad, sometimes it can actually be really helpful in connecting with other believers, finding resources, Christian music and the Bible) These are just some examples. I encourage you to examine your own lives and see if there are any idols hiding in the corner that are a distraction. This chapter finishes out with a hope of how to overcome these idols. It says in verse 14 “He will say, Cast up, cast up, prepare the way, take up the stumbling block out of the way of my people.” God doesn’t want you to stumble and he does want to help you! It might be difficult, but asking God for help might be a life changing step. If this is you in any way and you want to to talk to someone about it, I encourage you to reach out to a parent, or a friend, or a pastor because they will want to help you as well.

Some songs for today:

Always by: Kristian Stanfill https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N7ltcijkLKs

Dancing Generation by: Matt Redman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6P2A1VUZYss

Unchanging by: Chris Tomlin https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qS2Z4Aa8mNM

Devotion by Jana Swanson
(Photo credit: http://w3ace.com/stardust/scripture/book/Isaiah/37)

HOPE

Isaiah 51-53

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Tuesday, February 21

These three chapters go together much better than some of the other chapters, in my opinion, so they are easier to write about all together, instead of chapter by chapter. Again there is SO much hope in these chapters, you just have to know where to find it. Throughout these chapters, God is comforting his people, and reminding them that he is always there for them, that he always knows what is best for them, and that he always comes through on his promises. He reminded them, and is reminding through these words that we can look to our ancestors and the promises that he made to them. He reminds his people of what he did for Abraham and Sarah, by giving them children and promising Abraham many children-we are all known as children of Abraham. How super cool is that promise! God is still fulfilling the promise that he made to Abraham even though Abraham has been gone for many many many years. He later in 51 says that the heavens will vanish and the earth will diminish and the people will die, but there is more in store for us as believers. God’s salvation will last forever and his righteousness will never fail. This is an amazing promise that talks of the promise of the coming kingdom. 52 talks about the history of the people of Jerusalem. He talks about how his people were forced into Egypt as slaves-they were bought with no money, and with no money they will be freed, because God has always known what would happen and had a plan to get them to freedom, God knows our hearts, and he knew that we would all go down a path of destruction, just like Adam and Eve-this is in human nature. This is why God sent his one and only begotten son into the world- that we might live. God knows everything; he knows your heart and mine, and he put a plan in place thousands of years ago for us to be saved. We need to heed all of the warnings in Isaiah, but we also need to rejoice in the good news this book carries as well.

A song for today:

“This Is Love” by Aaron Winner

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQbjSTo3lYc&list=PL0v5rBOVXt3yiPNooFzmz_JxdInamLeIK

-Devotion by Jana Swanson
(photo credit: http://hiswordinpictures.blogspot.com/2011/08/isaiah-516.html)

His Promises!

Isaiah 48-50

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Monday, February 20

Isaiah 48 talks about how patient God is and his plan as well. God had chosen Israel, he had chosen the House of Jacob, and they did not follow what he had asked, they had been called transgressors from the womb. Yet even when they did not listen and they turned away from him, God waited and he refined them through the flame. Isaiah 48:10 “Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have chosen you in the furnace of affliction.” God did this for the house of Jacob, and he is waiting for you too. Later in chapter 48 God talks about how he led his people through the desert- they were not thirsty because he caused water to flow out of the rocks, he split the rock for them. He does this for you and I too! He has plans of prosperity for us, all we have to do is be committed to him, and share his love. How amazing are God’s promises!?

Isaiah 49  This chapter is again talking about how God has promised to care for the house of Jacob, and that he will be their savior. He says in verse 16: “Behold I have engraved you on the palms of My hands; your walls are continually before me.” Verse 22 says, “Thus says the Lord Yahweh, Behold I will lift up My hand to the nations, and set up My banner to the peoples; and they shall bring your sons in their bosom, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.” God is so sure of his promise to Jacob and his house, that he has engraved them on his palms, and they are always before him. This demonstrates the permanence of the promises or covenants that God makes. He is an amazing God, and he will not forget us, he knows you and will remember you, and he is for you, not against you! How cool!

Isaiah 50 is a very short chapter, but it gets right to the point. There are rewards for following God. He has promised us his kingdom. My favorite verse in this chapter is so hopeful and it is important to understand. Isaiah 50:10 “Who is among you who fears Yahweh, who obeys the voice of His servant? He who walks in darkness, and has no light, let him trust in the name of Yahweh and rely on his God.” Even when we feel like we are in darkness, even when we feel hopeless and overwhelmed, God is there and he will always be by our side, and we NEED to rely on him.

-Jana Swanson

Some songs for the day:

“Desert Song” by Hillsong United.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZlgUUeQh0CQ

“Always” by Kristian Stanfill https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r67f4zYNrmU&list=PLijcA4N7GQ20-fSfNyFA1YRgbnqiuUaLN&index=7

“You Never Let Go” by Jeremy Camp

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7Pn4KQqSrrA

(photo credit: http://www.verseoftheday.com/en/09032014/)

No Other

Isaiah 45-47

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Sunday, February 19

So I just want to begin by prefacing a little bit about my goal for this week. As mentioned in the little introduction of myself (found below), I have a major passion for music. I truly feel God’s presence the most when I can be lost in music and praise to him. Some of you may feel this way too which is cool, and if you don’t that is totally fine too. However, every single time I read my Bible, or listen to a pastor speak, different songs ALWAYS come to mind, seriously. So this week as I read and write devotions for you all, I will also include a song or two or three, that came to my mind as I read the passage for the day. Hopefully those songs that I send can speak in some way as well.

Let’s begin! There are a lot of things that go on in these 3 chapters in Isaiah and each have a slightly different theme. Chapter 45 is talking about what God has promised to do for his anointed one, Cyrus, simply because God knows him and has always known him. God tells Cyrus that he will use him to show others all about God, and his power. God says, there is no one else, none like him. God is all powerful and amazing. If I had to pick one small passage out of this whole chapter to be my favorite (of the chapter) it would be Isaiah 45:2-6

“I will go before, and make the rough places smooth. I will break the doors of brass in pieces, and cut apart the bars of iron. I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that you know that it is I, Yahweh, who calls you by your name, even the God of Israel. For Jacob My servant’s sake, and Israel my chosen, I have called you by your name. I have surnamed you, though you have not known me. I am Yahweh, and there is none else. Besides me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not known me; that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none besides me. I am Yahweh and there is no one else.”

Even though these are all things promised to Cyrus, we have the same hope. God knew us before we knew him, he has always known us and has plans for us, and he will do what he can to help us when we seek him and we seek his guidance, because he has already done those things for us. His son already died to save us, to make a way to find a relationship with God, it has already been done, so what are you waiting for? Ask God for his guidance, and trust that he will break the doors of brass in pieces, he will strengthen you so others can know him. Have trust in Yahweh.

Now Isaiah 46 continues with the theme of God being the only God, the only one. There is none beside him. Others like Bel and Nebo bow to idols and they have nothing to show for it. They are weary and stooped and tired, they do not find spiritual renewal in their idols, because that can only come from God. God, Yahweh, loves us and he is the beginning and the end, and in Isaiah 46:13 he promises Israel that he will deliver them soon. “I bring near my righteousness, it shall not be far off, and my salvation shall not wait; and I will place salvation in Zion for Israel, My glory.”

Isaiah 47 takes a much darker tone as the daughter of Babylon is called out for the error of her ways. This chapter is very much a warning to us, as it was to her as well. She had said that she does not fear widowhood or the possibility of losing children because no one sees what she does. She trusts in her wickedness, she is deceived by the manipulation and perversion of her knowledge. This chapter says that since she has trusted in her wickedness desolation and evil will come upon her. It later says in verse 15 “Thus shall the things be to you in which you have laboured: for those who have trafficked with you from your youth shall wander each one to his place; there shall be none to save you.” Even though this chapter is very dark and can seem scary, there is hope that wasn’t mentioned. Yes there are no people who have the power to save us from our sins, but God can! When we accept that Jesus his Son died for our sins, even though he was perfect and blameless, and we commit our lives to God and promise to glorify him in what we do and we work towards that we can be saved from our wickedness, we can be delivered. This chapter is a warning to us, and we should heed it. We are blessed to be given this book with such clear warnings, that can encourage us to seek God’s heart rather than the desires of sins.

Today’s songs are: “YHWH Saves”- by Aaron Winner, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIFUi_qa6k8

“Come Now Is the Time to Worship” by Craig and Dean Phillips https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPWq8eM4lu8


“All the Poor and Powerless” by All Sons and Daughters https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ieOL4X3nk2c

-Jana Swanson
Synopsis of Jana: Hey everyone! My name is Jana Swanson and I am a junior at Ball State University in Muncie IN. A few fun facts about me: My favorite color is green, although purple is a close second, I have been to Midwest Family camp 20 times, I am an avid Jesus lover, blogger, and college student. I have a passion for music- at many camps you may find me helping with worship, or singing with friends, or singing kids to sleep. I also have a passion for helping people. If you have any questions for me at all about anything feel free to email me at jmswanson97@gmail.com Thanks for reading the Bible with us this year, and I pray that my words can comfort you or reach you in some way.
(photo credit: http://www.christianwallpapersfree.com/2016/02/isaiah-45-2-bible-verse-wallpaper.html)