Opening My Eyes and His Book

psalm 119 18

FREE THEME WEEK –

Today I do not have an amazing, earth-shattering verse to tell you about that will change your world.

Rather, I want to tell you that when you faithfully seek God, and His wisdom, truth, and love in His Scriptures, He responds in what may feel like earth-shattering ways that will change your world.

Let me give an example from just a few weeks ago, with a little background information first . . .

I have been working on reading 5 Psalms a day (as suggested by Pastor Jeff Fletcher in the Grow16BibleReading devotion a few months ago – https://grow16biblereading.wordpress.com/2019/06/02/just-two-choices/).  I have always been impressed with Pastor Jeff’s spiritual wisdom and figured if this was one of his techniques for growing, then I wanted to try it, too.  He explained, “Whatever day of the month you are on, read that (numbered Psalm), and then add 30 and keep going up by 30.  That way, in 30 days you will read all 150 psalms. On the first day of the month read Psalm 1, 31, 61,91 and 121, the next day read Psalm 2,32,62,92,122.”   Jeff spreads his Psalms out through the day so that his whole day is immersed in Psalms.  I like that idea, but am currently just working on being faithful with all 5 in the morning, along with the Proverb of the day and the Grow16 devotion chapter.

But, this particular morning I was already into the nitty-gritty of my day – my cute daycare kids had been dropped off in my home daycare, my husband and kids were off to their scheduled activities, and I was . . . clipping coupons and finding the best grocery shopping deals.  If you’ve ever tried it – you know it takes some time.  While I have always been frugal with my finances, my couponing goes in spurts – because of the time it takes.  Currently, I am trying to make a dream trip to Israel a reality so I am in super-saver mode which for me includes getting out the scissors and Sunday ads and digital coupons.    As I was snipping and clipping I was wondering if it was all worth it – should I actually be spending my time doing other (probably, more valuable) things?

WAIT – STOP!   All of a sudden I remembered – what about my morning Bible reading – how did that get missed?  Of course there was more valuable things to be doing than saving $1 on 2 boxes of General Mills cereal!  I put my scissors down and curled up in my favorite Bible reading corner of the couch.  I love having digital versions of God’s Word readily available at my fingertips and able to quickly do online searches to find just what verse or topic I am seeking out.  But, for daily Bible reading I am a huge fan of the comfortable, marked-up, leathery Word of God in my lap.

So, with a bit of guilt for not doing it sooner, I was flipping pages to begin with my Psalms of the day. I can not explain why my eyes FIRST took in one single verse from Proverbs 13 – it wasn’t even the 13th of the month.  Besides, I always start with the Psalms first.  The verse was not highlighted or at the top of the page.  There was nothing that should have pulled my attention to this Proverb.  Nothing – But God.  My eyes read: “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” Proverbs 13:11  WHAT!   I read it again and again -now with tears in my eyes.  I had JUST been questioning if my time couponing was of any value at all – and God sends me “accidentally” to this verse.  God sure got my attention – because He deserves it – so much more often than I willingly give it.   God told me – “Make sure you don’t steal your coupons – but go ahead and save your money little by little – it’s okay if it takes some time.”  Little by Little.

That morning I received God’s reassurance and promise – FIRST – keep FIRST things FIRST.  Come to Him and His Word FIRST – with every little need and worry and question.  And He is Big Enough to provide all we need.  Faithfully seek Him daily.

This was written thousands of years ago – for me at that moment in time.  I wonder how many others through the ages have found THAT specific verse at just the right time for them.  And then, to consider, that is just ONE tiny snippet of the truths stored up for each of us that seeks Him.

That verse – Proverbs 13:11 – probably isn’t THE verse you just needed to hear this morning.  I don’t know what your questions and needs are today.  But God does.  God directed me to the answer I was seeking that morning.  And, he has – and will – do it again and again.  The answer may not always come quite so immediately – but remain faithful – it will come – because He is faithful.

Our God is Big and Mighty and He lives and breathes in His Word.  Open it up and take in God.  He is not a foreign, distant God.  He has the answers and He wants to share them when His children come humbly and faithfully before Him.   He is waiting for me and you to draw near to Him.

Sit down and open up His Book – so He can reveal Himself in marvelous ways.

Marcia Railton

 

Not Worthy of Them

Hebrews 11

Hebrews 11 1

There is that word again.  I liked it before but not so much now.  The word is “confidence”.  We read it before in Hebrews 10:22 where we discovered that we could confidently enter into the very presence of God because of Jesus, where we could get close to God and be His child.  I like the idea of being a child, having child-like faith.  That sounds safe and secure.  That feels comfortable and peaceful.  But now Paul is using that word “confidence” again, but this time it does not sound at all safe or smart.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11: 1

Faith is confidence in what we hope will happen, and assurance about what we can’t even see?  Hoping something will happen and believing it will happen even if we can’t see anything? Really??  Quite frankly, this sounds a little crazy and unnerving.  It sounds a lot like stumbling around in the dark, not seeing where we are going, not knowing where the light switch is, not knowing when the big, bad boogie man is going to jump out at us.

  “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible” Hebrews 11:3

As I keep reading this chapter, things seem to get worse. We are told that the whole universe which we can see with our eyes, was not made out of stuff that we can see.  Quite frankly, that does not make any sense.  How can you make something out of nothing? Who would believe such a thing?

The answer to my question is that Abel did.  Enoch did.  Noah did.  Abraham and Sara did.  Isaac did.  Jacob did.  Joseph did.  Moses did.  The walls of Jericho did.  Rahab did.  Women did, and a whole lot of other people did.

None of these people saw the end result of their faith. “These all died in faith, not having received the promises…” Hebrews 11:13. They simply lived their faith.  They were confident that if they lived their faith, that God would be faithful. “and were persuaded of them (the promises) and embraced them” Hebrews. 11:13. They believed that they were making something out of something even though they could not see it.

This chapter of Hebrews is full of action words.  Abel offered, Enoch pleased, Noah moved, Abraham obeyed, Sara received strength, Jacob worshipped, Joseph gave instructions about his bones, Moses endured, the walls of Jericho fell, Rahab perished not, women received their dead back to life, and others were tortured. They were all confident that they were making something out of something that the world thought was nothing.  That something that the world thought was nothing was God’s promises.

All these people mentioned were giants in the faith.  They all judged God faithful simply because He promised. They endured hardships, were stoned, sawn asunder, tempted, slain with the sword, tormented, afflicted, and wandered in deserts and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.  The world was not worthy of them. (Hebrews 11:37-38).

Now that I have read to the end of this chapter, all of this still does not make any sense to me, but for a different reason.  Even though you and I will probably not experience the hardships that these giants endured, yet we will be right there with them when God fulfills His promise of the Kingdom. That does not make sense.   We are so not worthy of them.

“God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”

Hebrews 11:40

 

-Luke Elwell

Hope and the Faith of Abraham 

Hebrews 6

Hebrews 6 15

In Genesis God appeared to Abraham and made him a promise: “Through your seed shall all peoples of the earth be blessed,” (Genesis 22:17-18).

The immediate seed was Isaac, born of Abraham’s old age; but the ultimate Seed is Jesus. It is through faith in Jesus Christ that this promise is fulfilled, and all the peoples of the earth are blessed through Abraham.

This promise was later confirmed by an oath, God swearing by himself (because there was nothing greater to swear by) that he would fulfill what he had said. The writer is simply pointing out that Abraham had faith and believed God’s promise.

Why did he believe it? It was not because he immediately saw it fulfilled! There were twenty-five long, weary years before Isaac was born, and in the meantime, Abraham and his wife, Sarah, were growing older and had passed the time of life when it was possible to have children. Through multiple opportunities to doubt, Abraham believed that God would do what he said he would do.

We have become too eager for immediate results. I’ve heard people say, “I’ve tried prayer/church but it doesn’t seem to work.” It seems to me that is putting it the wrong way. People who are looking for immediate results tend to drift when it doesn’t happen the way they want. But the one who sees no longer needs to believe. Faith is not found in sight. It is believing in what we cannot see.

Vs. 19 – This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.

We are offered something to put our faith in, too. We have hope in the same blessings that were promised to Abraham. Jesus has gone before us and promised those who put their faith in him will be rewarded with salvation.

Let that hope anchor you through whatever life throws your way. Keep the faith even when things are difficult.

John Wincapaw

The Passover

exodus 12 13

I had touched very briefly yesterday on the plague of the firstborn and the passover ceremony which spared the lives of those who followed God.  Let’s look at that a bit more today.

 

To prepare the Israelites for the passover they were to have each family take a lamb and slaughter it at twilight and take some of the  blood and put it on the doorframes of their houses and then cook and eat the lamb that night with bitter herbs. They were to also take care of the lamp for a week before they slaughtered it.  This would not be an easy thing to do and the meal would not taste good. This was meant to show the pain and sorrow that sin causes and the blood that is required to wash away sin.

 

Slaughtering the lamb in Egypt would also have taken a lot of faith.  Animals were of great value back then, which is why so many of the Egyptians worshiped them, and most likely many of the Israelites did as well.   Animals were of even greater value as well because of all the plagues that had just wiped out the animals in Egypt. Earlier we had seen that they could not do any sacrifices in the land of Egypt because the Egyptians detested it.  Now they are doing just that. In order to do this the Israelites are sacrificing their material wealth, as well as turning their backs on the Egyptian gods. If they were not able to let go of the wealth or culture then they would have faced the judgment.  He goes on to say,

 

Exodus 12:12-14

12 “On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn of both people and animals, and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are, and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

14 “This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord—a lasting ordinance.

 

The plague of the firstborn was to be the final blow to the Egyptian culture/gods, and with it God is also implementing a lasting holy day in their culture by which they will remember what God has done for them for all generations, and the seder passover dinner is practiced around the world to this day.  The problem with the Israelites in Egypt was that they forgot what God had promised them. God was not going to let them forget again so easily.

 

In the Old Testament there were many festivals and holy days and cultural things that God implemented in the Israelites in order to remind them of his work and power in their past.  Even with these they often forgot and wandered away from God. After Jesus we do not live under these laws and we do not have to follow these feasts and rituals, but we still need to make a permanent change in our lives every time that God acts in our lives.  We need to constantly remind ourselves of what God has done for us. The passover ceremony was designed to make people ask why they would do such a thing so that the Israelites could tell people the story of the Exodus. Similarly our stories of how God has changed our lives are our most powerful tool for spreading the Gospel.

-Chris Mattison

Moses and the Burning Bush

exodus 3 15

After Moses fled Egypt and saved the Midianite women from the jerks at the well he settled down and had children and lived a simple life as a farmer.  Meanwhile the rest of the Israelites were groaning in their captivity in Egypt and their cry rose up to God and he took pity on them (Exodus 2:23-25).  God was then ready to call up Moses out of the wilderness so that he can carry out God’s plan.

 

Exodus 3:10-15

10 So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.”

11 But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

12 And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

15 God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’

“This is my name forever,

   the name you shall call me

   from generation to generation.”

 

It is very interesting that Moses had to ask God about his name.  In the eyes of the Israelites God had abandoned them when they were enslaved in Egypt, and they had mostly wandered away from God since then and had taken on the gods of the Egyptians.  It was the mindset of the Israelites that God had forsaken his promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and Moses was basically asking if God was wanting to start over in his relationship with the Israelites and form new covenants.  God emphatically states that he is to be known to his people as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, to remind them that those promises still stand, and will stand for eternity. It is helpful to remember God in terms of what he has done for you or your loved ones, which is why God instructs the people to remember him as the God of Abraham so they will remember the stories that have been passed down of God’s faithfulness to their ancestors.

 

We need to be reminded of the fact that God does not change his mind like we do.  God does not forget a promise. Just because things have changed in our lives and we are having doubts doesn’t mean that God is no longer the one who created the foundations of the earth.  If we have sinned, or walked away from God for a time, or had a traumatic event in our lives it doesn’t change the fact that God IS, and that the blood of Jesus can still cover our sins.

-Chris Mattison

Over 3,000!

Picture1rebecca

I like books. But I find that I like the idea of reading a book, more than I actually like reading the book. Some of you can relate. I have books that I started, but just never finished.  I like the possibility of what the book is promising. Maybe it is becoming more organized, getting better grades, learning another language, do it yourself projects, restoring an old car, …there are countless things that we can learn from books.

The greatest book of course is the one that God has given us.  It is the book that we continue to read through our lives. Why? We have been doing some in depth Bible study during our Grow devotions. What is it that this collection of 66 books is promising to the reader?

The Bible makes some incredible promises. Promises that have happened, that are happening and that will happen. And of course, the importance of these promises rests in the fact that they are offered from God.  He is speaking through the scriptures to us. For instance, the promise that we can know who God is. “Come near to God and He will come near to you”. (James 4:8) Or the promise that we can become God’s children. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” (1 John 3:1) We are also offered the promise of forgiveness. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Those promises are amazing because we can be forgiven and we can connect with our Creator. We can grow our relationship with Him so close that we can call Him, “our Father”. And just like a loving Father teaches a child the things they need to know, He teaches us through the scriptures.  We can learn how to make decisions and how to live. And He promises us His Holy Spirit. His Spirit enables us to live lives that show love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

I recently read that a Bible scholar states that there are over 3,000 promises from God through the scriptures. That is huge, but we know that those promises will be fulfilled because God is the one making them. We can trust God because He will follow through on His promises. So no matter what, lets continue to study this incredible book with a message of love that is filled with promises written from Our Father.

 

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4

 

-Rebecca Dauksas

 

 

Devoured by a Lion

1 Peter 5 8

1 Peter 5

So far this week, we have looked at the physical healing of a blind man and the mental healing of a demon possessed man. Today we’re going to look at emotional healing.

Let’s start by looking at verse 8. It says that the Devil, our enemy, is hunting for someone to devour. How many of you have ever felt like you’ve been devoured? I’m sure none of you have ever been eaten by a lion, but I don’t think that’s what this verse is talking about. This verse is talking about being devoured by the world, by our obligations, by our worries. I know I have felt absolutely overwhelmed by my school work, pressures from my friend groups and parents. If you want to talk about being overwhelmed, just look at Jesus’ life.

In verse 5 it mentions the sufferings of Jesus. We know that Jesus had the burdens of the entire world placed on him. That puts our problems into perspective a little, doesn’t it? While we worry about who we’re going to eat lunch with tomorrow, He was worrying about being betrayed by one of his closest friends. While we worry if we’ll be able to play on our school’s basketball team, He was worrying about being sentenced to death by the world that he was supposed to save.

I don’t draw attention to this to diminish our feelings, but it is important to put things in a proper context and to humble ourselves. In verse 6, it says that we need to humble ourselves so that we can be exalted at the proper time. Sometimes it feels like we are being devoured for so long without receiving any help from our God. We think that no one knows how much we are suffering under the stress of our worries and we doubt that God cares. But God does care, and you are not alone. We need to be firm in our faith that God will heal all of us of our emotional pain (vs 9).

Here’s the beautiful part of this chapter: it feels like we must wait forever to receive emotional healing, but God promises us right here in verse 10 that He will personally restore, establish, strengthen and support us after we have suffered. He will heal us.

Today I’m going to leave you with some additional verses. Just read them and soak in all they promise.

Revelation 21:4

Psalm 147:3

John 14:27

Psalm 34:17-20

Matthew 11:28

Psalm 34:19

 

-Nathaniel Johnson