The Lord Who Heals

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Number 19

How many devotions have you ever read about a chapter in Numbers? I know I haven’t read hardly any at all, so I’m excited to be writing one for all of you to enjoy!

What’s the best way to get healthy? Trick question! Don’t get sick in the first place. This might seem obvious to us. We’ve been raised knowing that sickness and disease are caused by tiny germs that we can’t even see. Germs can be transmitted through air, water, food or surfaces. Though it’s common knowledge to us, nobody thought this was possible until about 500 years ago and wasn’t commonly accepted until just over 100 years ago through the work of Louis Pasteur. (If you haven’t heard of Pasteur before, try checking your milk carton for his name.) Now we know that if you want to prevent sickness, all you need to do is wash your hands frequently. Doctors didn’t even start washing their hands until 1847!

Even though the knowledge of germs is very new in world history, Moses, who was living 3000 years before germs were discovered, seemed to know some good ways to prevent disease. In verse 11, we see that touching a dead body makes you unclean. Maybe that law is a little too obvious. Touching a dead body is obviously going to make you unclean. But if you go further down the chapter, he says that even if you are near someone who dies, you are unclean. How could Moses have possibly known that? The answer is simple; God gave Moses knowledge that surpassed the understanding of humans. To us, we can think of how a person who just died might have a disease that we could catch, but the ancient Israelites would have had no idea that diseases can be passed on through the air. Therefore, Moses said that any open container (vs 15) is unclean. Germs could have contaminated the contents of the jar.

I think you all get the point. God gave laws specifically to prevent us from getting sick. And in a way, that is a form of healing. God says in Exodus 15:26, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his sight, obeying his commands and keeping all his decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.” Prevention of disease is a direct consequence of following God’s laws. He created the world and he knows better than any man how to keep us healthy.

To receive the healing of prevention, all we have to do is look to modern hygiene, the same practices that line up with the laws that God gave over 3000 years ago. God is the God of science and nature. He gave us our minds to be able to reason and learn. Because their teachings line up with the Old Testament laws, we should look to the doctors that God gave us for the best health practices. Brush your teeth, wash your hands, shower regularly, don’t touch dead animals, watch your diet, exercise regularly and commit yourself to only one spouse.

-Nathaniel Johnson

 

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What Do the Stars Tell You?

Psalm 19

 

I have always been amazed at God’s creation here on earth.  The beauty.  The creativity.  The grandeur. In fact, I have always wondered a little bit about the the new heaven and new earth that Revelation 21 records will herald the new Kingdom of God.  Could God really create something more majestic than what we have already seen?  Is there a chance that the new heaven and earth will be a little bit of a let-down?  I am after all a tad attached to what we have here and now.

And then, I saw pictures of Jupiter!  They are breathtaking!  NASA’s space probe Juno has been on a carefully routed 5 year trip to reach Jupiter – and in August 2017 Juno sent back to Earth stunning pictures of the planet it is now orbiting.  Here are just two pictures … many more can be found at https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/images/index.html

jupiter swirling south pole            jupiter south pole from Juno

 

 

 

 

 

And all of a sudden, I am again in awe of Him and His creations.  And I know I can trust Him.  I can trust Him to create a spectacular new heaven and earth and I can trust Him today with my life.   There is so much He knows that I do not.  There is so much power that He has that I do not.  He is a great Big God and sometimes I forget how much I need Him because I think for just a few minutes that I have this world figured out.  And then my mind is once again blown away by how many stars there are and the new-found beauty of a planet we are just beginning to really discover.

David says it well in Psalm 19.  “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.  Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.  There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.  Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalm 19:1-4).  God’s masterpiece speaks for Him.  His works of art tell us about the artist.

In the New Testament Paul writes similar words to the believers in Rome.  This city was proud of what they considered their superior culture, amazing architecture and roadways (some of which can still be seen today), and numerous temples to foreign gods (amongst them, Jupiter and Juno).   In many ways it was not too unlike our society today.  Paul writes to the church in Rome: “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20).  His artwork proves the power and majesty of the artist.

And yet, as we well know there are those who prefer to be blind and create their own explanations for the intricate and beautiful creation.  Interestingly, not one but two psalms begin with these words: “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.'” (Psalm 14:1 and 53:1).   You get to decide which camp you will set your tent in, but there will be a day when everyone will acknowledge God (Romans 14:10-12).

This brings us back to the rest of Psalm 19 which you can read or listen to here –  (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+19&version=NIV).

The first six verses of Psalm 19 speaks of God’s magnificent creation and how it points to God.  The next 5 verses give us a little foretaste of Psalm 119 which we talked about yesterday: the superiority and importance of God’s Word and commands.  “By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.” (Psalm 19:11).  And the final three verses emphasize watching my own actions, attitudes, words, and thoughts to see that they are in line with God’s laws and desires for his children – and seeking forgiveness and change when they are not.  I love the final verse of the Psalm as much as the opening verse: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14).

We serve an awesome Creator God who has provided a detailed guidebook for our lives and a brilliant plan for the future  – which will include everyone acknowledging him.  May we always strive to be pleasing in his sight.

Marcia Railton

(Stars photographed by Chris Mattison – thanks for sharing!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knit Together

Psalm 139

Psalm 139 13

Welcome to a new week!  A new week of LIFE!  How exciting!  Sure beats a new week of Death, doesn’t it!  This week you will be hearing from me as well as some of my family members and every day we will be writing about a different psalm.  Today – I am starting with a most beautiful Psalm – 139.  It has so many great verses I won’t have time to touch on.  You really must read it all for yourself – maybe even a couple times today – and at BibleGateway.com you can have it read to you, too.  (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+139&version=NIV)

As a crafter I love to create!  I love selecting materials and colors and textures that I want to work with.  I love planning and then watching my project grow and grow and grow until it becomes what I had once just envisioned in my head (or at least something close to what I had dreamed up).  My grandma taught me how to knit when I was in high school and I am so thankful for the hours I have relaxed while clinking the needles together to make something useful and (sometimes even) beautiful.  And so I love the imagery of Psalm 139:13 “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

As a creator there is nothing like that feeling you get while gazing upon a completed work.  Remembering when it was nothing.  Remembering the process and time it took to create it to be just so.  And then, being able to share it – use it – give it away – enjoy it.  Makes me want to drop my computer and run to my knitting needles!  So too, I believe God gets great pleasure out of creating – knitting new life and continuing to mold and shape it into what He wants it to be.

Unfortunately, there are also so many things that mess with those beautiful creations.  Just like a pair of scissors will quickly destroy the hours of work to create a beautiful sweater, so too, sin wreaks havoc on the beauty of life.  An unkind word, a superior attitude is like a slash with a permanent marker against a beautiful piece of art.  When we view each person as a work of art created by God, we have a greater responsibility for not letting our own (or society’s) sins stain and destroy that creation.

I recently read about one pastor who said he hated Sanctity of Life Sunday.  (https://www.russellmoore.com/2009/01/18/why-i-hate-sanctity-of-human-life-sunday/) . He went on to explain that it wasn’t because he didn’t think it was Biblical, or because he didn’t agree with it – but because we live in a world where it is needed.  He said, “I hate Sanctity of Human Life Sunday because I’m reminded that we have to say things to one another that human beings shouldn’t have to say. Mothers shouldn’t kill their children. Fathers shouldn’t abandon their babies. No human life is worthless, regardless of skin color, age, disability, economic status. The very fact that these things must be proclaimed is a reminder of the horrors of this present darkness.” (Russell Moore).

So true.  So true.

Each day – may we strive to remember the Creator who gives life and work to honor His creations.  May we see each and every person – all races, all ages, all colors, all abilities, with a home, without a home, born, unborn as the special creation of God they are – lovingly knit together with a purpose.  May we put away the scissors and sin that cut down life and leave gaping holes – and even death.  May we find the words and attitudes and actions to value life – not just our own – but others too.

I encourage you to work on memorizing the last verse of Psalm 139 this week.  “See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”  Make it your prayer this week and beyond.

Looking forward to our week together,

Marcia Railton

 

 

Flawed

Read Genesis Chapter 1, Chapter 3:1-13, Romans 3:23-24

Romans 3-23

Let’s go back to the beginning in Genesis Chapter 1 when God began to shape and create the world. It describes God creating light, seasons, plants, animals and of course people. Just take a moment and imagine how the earth must have been. I imagine that I can feel soft green lush grass beneath my feet and can smell the fresh scent of earth and the soft sweet smell of flowers. I imagine I can hear the strange exotic sounds of creatures that have just come to life. I imagine that I feel surrounded by peace that comes from being in the presence of God and the freedom of never knowing sin and its pain. That is the world that Adam and Eve were created in! The world they lived in was literally flawless, a perfect creation of God.

Sadly, this chapter of human history was short lived. In Genesis 3 we read how the serpent tricked Eve and then Eve shared her downfall with Adam. When their eyes were opened, they saw they were naked, they knew they had made a big mistake, and they realized for the first time that they were flawed. My question is, why did God make Adam and Eve? Had he made another man first and made a woman out of his rib would the outcome have changed? I believe the answer is no. God is perfect yet we are not. In fact even Romans 3:23 reminds us that we all have flaws but through the gift of God’s grace (Romans 3:24) we are redeemed.

Although this is a sad story; it can also be encouraging. When God made Adam and Eve He knew that they would fall short but He in His wisdom decided it was still worth it to create them. Adam and Eve still had worth in God’s eyes just as you and I have worth in God’s eyes, no matter our flaws.

God sees past the flaws that we see. God sees our potential.

-Lacey Dunn

The Wisdom of This Age?

1 Corinthians 1-4

1 Corinthians 2-5 Faith In The Powe Of God blue

Sunday, June 18

 

Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to pass away.  (I Corinthians 2:6)

 

Paul has been describing how the message of the cross is God’s wisdom and power (1:18, 24), but it is a wisdom that this world cannot offer. And while Paul asserts that his message is not with “lofty speech” or “wisdom” (2:1), the cross is, in fact, wisdom—wisdom from God. It is a “hidden wisdom” (2:7) that contains an ancient message with the power to save those who believe.

 

Every period of history, there has been a conflict between the popular wisdom of the day and the wisdom of the cross. Paul refers to the popular wisdom of the day as the “wisdom of this age.” It is the wisdom that is espoused by the culture and times where one lives. But the wisdom of the age is contrary to the wisdom of the cross. Everything that the world claims to be wisdom is in fact foolishness compared to the cross, and everything God has revealed through the cross is deemed to be foolishness according to the world.

 

Have you ever wondered why the message of the cross receives such resistance by the world? Paul declares that the wisdom of the cross is radically different than the wisdom of the world because the wisdom of the age is diametrically opposed to the wisdom that is offered through the cross. And not only is the wisdom of the cross contrary to the wisdom of the world, the message and power of the cross cannot be understood by the world. In the eyes of the “natural man,” the wisdom of God is foolishness (2:14). It takes the spirit of God to discern the spiritual truth resident in the message of the cross. By all natural means, the despicable death of a false prophet from Nazareth upon a dishonorable and humiliating cross must surely be devoid of any real wisdom, for there can be nothing of value by following the teachings of some obscure, washed-up rabbi, who was thought to be born illegitimately and who did not follow the customs and traditions of the ancestors as was expected of a Jewish teacher of the Law.

 

This is exactly the appeal that the “wisdom of the age” proposes. It will contradict and distort the meaning of the cross or just out right deny its truth and power. Concerning the denial of the wisdom of the cross and the very existence of a God who sent his son to die upon it, I am reminded of a scene in the autobiographical allegory of C. S. Lewis, Pilgrim’s Regress, when John (Lewis’ main character) is portrayed as being imprisoned by despair that is imposed by a worldview that rejects any notion of a Creator (i.e., Naturalism). As Lewis personifies the antagonism of this worldview, he shows the perversions and absurd deductions of a worldview that tries to make sense of life apart from God and the wisdom he offers.

 

“Then I [John] dreamed that one day there was nothing but milk for them [the prisoners] and the jailer said as he put down the pipkin: ‘Our relations with the cow are not delicate—as you can easily see if you imagine eating any of her other secretions….’

 

John said, ‘Thank heavens! Now at last I know that you are talking nonsense. You are trying to pretend that unlike things are like. You are trying to make us think that milk is the same sort of thing as sweat or dung.’

 

[Jailor]: ‘And pray, what difference is there except by custom?’

 

[John]: ‘Are you a liar or only a fool, that you see no difference between that which Nature casts out as refuse and that which she stores up as food?”

 

Don’t let the wisdom of the age undermine the wisdom of God and the power of the cross. Life will not make sense without the wisdom that is found in the truth revealed by it.

 

My hope is built on nothing less

Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness;

I dare not trust the sweetest frame,

But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;

All other ground is sinking sand.

 

Devotion by Jerry Wierwille

 

 

Calm in the Storm

Mark 4-6

mark 4

Tuesday, May 9

Do you like the power of a storm or are you terrified by that power? Are you one to sit on the porch and watch as a thunderstorm rolls in or run for cover when it is forecasted? I have always been captivated by the incredible power of a storm. I love to feel the temperature change as the front rolls in, you can almost feel the electric in the air as the lightning gets closer and closer. As I watch a storm moving in I can’t help but think of the fact that as powerful as the storm is it cannot come close to the power of our creator. The storm rages in its fury and is uncontrolled as the lightning strikes and the thunder crashes. God is powerful and in control, He put His power to use as He spoke and the universe came into existence.

 

As we read of the storm in Mark 4 we find that this storm raged on and on.  We can almost see the disciples frantically running around the boat trying to secure everything and keep the boat afloat while our Messiah quietly sleeps in the stern. As the disciples rush to wake him and ask how he could be sleeping at a time like this he calmly says to the sea, “Hush, be still.” The wind stops, the waves calm and they go peacefully through the rest of their journey. Sometimes I think we are like the disciples, we get so worked up over what is happening around us that we forget who is living in our hearts. We forget that Jesus has promised that he will never leave us. We forget that God has called us for a purpose. We forget that even if we don’t survive this storm, we have the promise of eternal life in the Kingdom of God. In the storms of life never lose sight of the One who holds you! Never lose sight of the one who can either calm the storm or calm you!

-Bill Dunn

 

(Photo Credit:http://thedailyverses.blogspot.com/2013/09/mark-440-isaiah-4110.html)

 

The Earth Cries Out

Psalms 96-102

psalms_96-1

Wednesday, January 11

The Appalachians are amazing. I grew up in the foothills of the Smokies and the Blue Ridge. On a clear day at the top of the hill you could see gracefully rolling mountains in the distance. If you live near the Rockies or even parts of Alaska, mountains in your imagination peak and may be white tipped year-round. However, in the imagination of a southern boy of the Carolinas, mountains are tree-covered rolling and majestic mountains. These are old and they feel even grander because of their age. I remember a time when I went hiking with some friends in the eastern mountains of North Carolina. We got to the top of the hike, and we could see the road cutting through the valley. The cars were smaller than toys; buildings, houses or stores were miniatures too small for a child and people were indistinguishable. However, the path they cut through the valley was noticeable. This was humanity’s doing.
The mountains, however, were the work of God. For miles, the green mountains, the golden-red sunset, the crisp, clean air, were the blessings and handiwork of a loving and caring God. And the mountains let you know it. The mountains “shout together for joy.” (98:8) The Psalmist knows well that creation praises it’s creator. When the author says “sing to the LORD, all the earth”(96:1) I have tended to read that one small phrase as a command to all the people. But just as importantly, he is telling ALL of creation to sing praises to God. The trees and the forest (96:12) resound with the praises of God, when they are displaying majesty in fall or even in the depth of winter when they are barren. The sunset over the mountain, or the sunrise over the ocean displaying the play of colors that God desires we all see in creation. (Or, on the more western states, the sunset over the coast.) Sometimes the glory God displays in the created world is not beautiful but terrifying. Darkness, like the inky blackness of night; fire burning up his foes; lightning striking the ground with thunder exploding and roaring all around, all these show the greatness of God.
In other places, it seems that creation because of it’s nature and the fact that it is nature, cannot help but show the glory of the God who created it. Jesus says that if those who were praising him (to the glory of the Father) were kept silent, that “the stones would cry out.” (Luke 19:40) But your worship isn’t. You must choose who you will worship. The author of these psalms we read show that God alone is worthy of worship and the created world, worshipped by other people in their world, worships YHWH. May we shout with joy along with the forest, the trees, the mountains, the rivers, the heavens, the depths, and all the earth. “Be glad in Yahweh, you righteous ones, and praise His holy name.” (97:12)
– Jake Ballard
(Photo credit: https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Psalms-96-1_Inspirational_Image/)