Final Instructions

2nd Thessalonians 3

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This letter starts out asking for prayer that the word of the Lord spread rapidly and be honored. My favorite verse of this chapter is verse 3: “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” You may go through trials, but God is always with you. In the end He will prevail; we will be with him and other believers for eternity.

The 2nd part of this chapter tells us that we need to be busy…Not busybodies.  It tells us not to be idle and to stay away from those who are. We are to never tire of doing what is right. I know that is difficult at times.  Sometimes we don’t want to wait the 20 seconds to hold the door open; we are in a hurry to do something else or we just don’t want to help.  This set of verses tell us to live according to the teachings and continue our hard work.

It has been a pleasure writing the devotionals this week. Thank you Marcia for all the work you put into this every day! I would like to close the same way Paul does in verse 16 and 18: “16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you. 18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”

-Jeani Ransom

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Steadfast and Faithful

Acts 25

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The trial continues in Acts Chapter 25. Festus, a new governor, has come to power and Paul is under trial again. What a political sham! Everyone knows that Paul hasn’t really done anything to deserve punishment, but the influential Jews will not give up. Paul knows that if his fate is to be determined in Jerusalem he will not survive. He has to appeal to Caesar at this point.

Surprisingly, Festus has a real handle on the situation. He sees that Paul hasn’t done anything wrong. He just disagrees with the Jews on the resurrection and about Jesus. So he hands the case off to King Agrippa. It’s a total mess of a case. Some important people will be miffed if Paul gets let go. A leader’s popularity may be at stake here. Is Paul’s life really worth that? Finally, Paul must think the trial will end soon. There has to be a decision made at some point!

I picture a pitiful-looking fella appealing to the powers that be with kind words and loving eyes. He has just spent years in prison and the accusers really have no evidence against him. There is no case. Paul remains steadfast and faithful even though things don’t look so good for him. Could we do the same?

-Melissa New

Well Done

Matthew 25

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The Parable of the Bag of Gold:

His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your master’s happiness” (Matthew 25:23).

The Parable of the Bag of Gold, in Matthew 25, tells the story of a master who left on a journey and entrusted his wealth to three servants. The first servant received five bags of gold, the second servant received two bags of gold, and the third servant received one bag of gold. The first two men went off and put their money to work, making the most of it. The third servant, however, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money.

The master returned later on and was pleased to find out that the first servant had accumulated five times the amount of money that was entrusted to them! Additionally, the second servant accumulated two times the amount of money that was entrusted to them!

When the third servant revealed to their master that they had nothing but the original bag of gold, the master was outraged. He called the servant wicked and lazy for burying the gold in the ground, for they practically wasted it.

 

“For whoever has will be given more, and they will have abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them” (Matthew 25:29).

 

This parable reflects the way that God has entrusted us with different gifts, talents, abilities, and responsibilities. As my friend Mackenzie once told me “if you prove you are faithful and diligent with what God has given you, He’s going to entrust you with more and more.” How are you using that which God has entrusted you?

 

-Kayla Tullis

 

GOOD!

Psalm 100

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I chose to write about Psalm 100 because of how much we can learn from it despite its shortness. This is a great chapter to read, and it only takes a minute of your whole day. The first thing I would like to point out is that in verse four it says, “Bless his name.” This verse is talking about God and how we should give thanks to him and bless his name. Now if you’re like me you might be thinking, why should we bless God’s name? Well, God blessing us and us blessing God are not the same thing at all. God does not profit from us blessing him. It’s not like he gets stronger or better anytime someone blesses him. On the other hand, when God blesses us, we benefit from it. In this verse, it is talking more about how we should praise him.

 

Throughout the whole Psalm, it talks about how we should praise God. As a church, I believe we should be more joyful, and excited. This Psalm is a great example of how we should praise God. It tells us we should serve God with gladness, shout joyfully, enter his gates with thanksgiving, and give thanks to God.

 

Usually when we think of ‘good’ we use it to mean something between ok and great. But in this passage, it is saying that he is righteous and about how great God is. This reminds me of the popular song below:

 

God is good, all the time

And all the time, God is good.

 

This Psalm is a great one to meditate on. Here are some points from Psalm 100 that you can meditate on.

God made us

We are the sheep in his pasture

The Lord himself is God

His lovingkindness is everlasting

The Lord is good

His faithfulness continues to all generations

Throughout the whole book of Psalms, it says, “His lovingkindness is everlasting”. In fact, it says it 34 times. Of those 34 times, 26 of them are all in Psalm 136. It even says it in every single verse.

Even in this short Psalm we can take so much from it.

-Makayla Railton

God Has Us

Isaiah 43

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Sticking with TV themes, MacGyver was a sitcom from the 1980’s that was filled with intense and often times ridiculous storylines.  MacGyver worked for a research company and often got into unreal and challenging situations, often including action, fire, and explosives. Time after time, he nearly escaped death by using strange and rare objects to escape danger just in the knick of time.  Conversations after each week’s episode would often include endless  jokes as to how MacGyver could narrowly escape getting blown from a yacht filled with massive explosives while speeding directly towards a huge rock.  Surprisingly, week after week, he successfully escaped and had great ratings in the process.  

 

You could say MacGyver and the girls from “Facts of Life” have a common theme.  Maybe it is a cheesy theme from the 80’s sitcoms that we can consider in our day to day lives.  Things may feel like they are falling apart.   Our relationships with others may have bumps along the way. We may feel overwhelmed and like we are heading towards that massive rock with things exploding all around us. If this hits close to home to you, repeat over and over the thoughts in verse 2 of Isaiah 43:  “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you:  and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned:  The flames will not set you ablaze.”  We may feel like things aren’t going the way we have planned, but in our reading today let’s keep in mind: God has us.  He has our lives in his hands.  He is so faithful.  He will be there through it all- we have nothing to fear. We have the best ending ahead of us if we continue to stay focused and true to his will for us.

-Emily Moyer

Unveiling the Past, Present and Future…And Then Repent!

Monday, July 17

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Revelation 1-3

The final book of the Bible is known as the Book of Revelation.  It is also known as the Apocalypse.  Apocalypse mean “unveiling”.  It has the idea of that which was hidden has now been unveiled or brought out into the open to be seen.  There are other passages in the Bible that contain apocalyptic material (parts of the book of Daniel and Ezekiel are two) but this is the only book of the Bible that is fully apocalyptic.
Revelation can be a little confusing (ok, a lot confusing).  A big part of this confusion comes from the challenge of pinning down the proper timeline.  It contains material that was past, present and future to the writer, John, who wrote toward the end of the first century.  The angel who gave this revelation to John said: “Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later.”(Rev. 1:19).  There are different “schools of interpretation” that see Revelation as mostly focusing on John’s time period (end of first century in the Roman empire), others see it as being fulfilled progressively over the past 2000 years of the Church, and others see it as still to be fulfilled in the future.  This is compounded by the use of symbol and imagery that fill the visions of Revelation.  A lot of time can be spent trying to discuss and debate these issues, but for our purposes I’d like to focus on basic principles found in Revelation that can be of value to our lives as followers of Jesus today.
In chapters 1-3 a focus is on letters written to seven Churches throughout Asia.  John is writing to them as a pastor who at the time was living in isolation on an island in the Mediterranean sea.  He can’t be physically present with his churches, but he is with them in spirit and wants to encourage and instruct them, to help them stay strong during a time when many believers were suffering persecution by the Roman empire.  Imagine what it would be like to try to encourage Christians today living in places like Pakistan, or Egypt, or Sudan or Syria, where Christians were being killed because of their allegiance of Jesus Christ rather than to Mohammed.  What kinds of encouragement would Christians whose family members, friends and fellow believers were dying for their faith need to help them not lose faith?
In the Roman Empire during John’s time of writing it was required by law for citizens to declare allegiance to Caesar by publicly declaring Caesar to be Lord.  Jewish people were largely exempt from making such declarations (but not always).  Often Christians came under the umbrella of the Jewish exemption, but now always.  Thousands of Christians died as a result of religious persecution during the early Roman empire.  John writes to offer encouragement to keep faithful to their commitment to God and to Jesus Christ in the midst of such persecution.  The challenges we face today may not be the same type that first century Christians faced, yet we still have challenges, struggles and temptations.
Chapters 2 and 3 of Revelation contain words of exhortation and correction to the various Churches to which John is writing.  Each Church had many good things happening for which they were praised, but several also had not so good things going on for which they needed to be corrected.  One of the common themes of each letter to each Church was a call to repentance.  To repent means to turn around or change direction.  To the Church at Ephesus, John said that you have “lost your first love.”  They were just going through the motions of their faith, without the passion.  Perhaps you can relate to that.  Anyone who has been a Christian for a while has to be aware the danger of “just going through the motions” and losing their passion for God.  John is trying to get them fired up again.  John says: “repent” and do the things you did at first.  Most Christians, start out enthusiastic… they read the Bible a lot, they pray a lot, they tell their friends about God and their faith a lot, and they consciously seek to get closer to God and do things to please God.  But over time, they lose the passion, lose the drive… become complacent.  John says- get back to the love and passion you first had for Jesus.
Maybe this is you.  If it is… let it be a wake up call.  If this isn’t you, then keep reading through Revelation 2 and 3.  Look at what is said to each of the seven churches.  Is there anything that rings a bell?  Is there anything there that applies to you?  I’m guessing there is.  Read it… and then repent.
-Jeff Fletcher

Just What I Needed

Hebrews 5-7

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Sunday, July 9

Every so often, I open my Bible and turn to a random book and start reading. I know that whatever page that I turn to that there is a lesson that I specifically need to learn. Interestingly enough, I found that the devotionals that I chose to write on about a year ago were the books of the Bible I needed to read now.

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I wish I could say that I grew up in the Church of God- Abrahamic Faith, attended Sunday School, and went to church every single Sunday. A lot of my friends have grown up in the church, gone to state camp, Family Camp, Southeast Camp, and on retreats throughout their entire life. Growing up, I felt like I wasn’t spiritually fed and was still like an infant in my faith. Hebrews 5 explains that many people should be teachers of scripture yet they are still learning the basics rather than expanding their knowledge of what God wants to teach them.
I decided to attend FUEL for the first time about ten years ago to learn more about the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith and just what it meant to be a Christian. I wasn’t disappointed. Hebrews 6:13-15 states: “When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, ‘I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.’ And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” I love our church because I know that we are a part of this promise.
Hebrews 7 talked about how Melchizedek (who is known as a priest forever) and Abraham (the father of the chosen people) were two men who were faithful to God and followed Him because they had confidence that God would fulfill His promises. None of this would have happened without an oath. “Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant” (Hebrews 7:22). Jesus is known as the high priest who is able to mediate between us and God since he sacrificed himself giving the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the people. Hebrews 7:28 states: “For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.” I don’t know about you, but I am extremely thankful that Jesus saved us from our sins.
It is important to understand that God wants us to obediently devote time in our every day lives to offer up prayers, work hard for His glory, and wait patiently for His promises. So take some time today and pray that God will provide confidence in you and that He will teach you something new.
-Cynthia Fyfe
 
(Photo Credit: http://www.alittleperspective.com/hebrews-7-our-better-hope/)