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

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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/)

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/)

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/)

Stop Dwelling on the Past

Isaiah 43-44

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Saturday, February 18

In Isaiah 43:16, Isaiah remembers that God is the one who parted the Red Sea and led Moses and the Israelites into it followed by the Egyptians. Right after he remembers this powerful act of God, God says “Forget the former things! Stop dwelling on the past (43:18)!” If we always look to the past, we’ll miss the things that God is doing right now. Sometimes we get so caught up thinking about all the good places we used to be that we don’t realize the good that is happening right in front of us. We look back to when we were younger, fitter, smarter or anything else we can imagine. All that does is blind us! No matter where we are right now, whether north, south, or the ends of the earth, God is trying to take us home (43:6). Don’t let the treasures of your past keep you from seeing the path that God is trying to take you down. Open your eyes and see. Open your ears and listen. Follow the cloud and the fire in your life.

– Nathaniel Johnson

(Photo credit: http://dustoffthebible.com/Blog-archive/tag/isaiah-43/)

My Helper

Isaiah 41-42

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Friday, February 17

 

God gave us all eyes to see and ears to hear. If we are using our eyes and not seeing, and using are ears without hearing, how can we be a proper messenger of God (Isaiah 42:19)? Maybe you’ve read the whole Bible before. So what? If you saw it, but paid no attention and your ears were open, yet you heard nothing, then what good is that? The first step is reading the message, but the most important part is actually understanding it. In order for you to be a light to the world (Matthew 5:14), you need to understand the message that you’re meant to bring to people.

 

If you used to be on fire with the Holy Spirit, but now you’re feeling like you’re running on empty, you aren’t alone. But just because your wick is smoldering (42:3), don’t let it burn out! These winter months can be tough to stay positive but we aren’t called to be a light to the world for just three months out of the year. God is our helper and he will take you by the hand as you grow into a better servant (41:13). Get in touch with your brothers and sisters in Christ, reignite your flame, and bring forth justice to the world!

-Nathaniel Johnson

(Photo credit: http://www.verseoftheday.com/en/02262013/)