E.R.

Psalm 119

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E.R. debuted in 1994.  Each week, episodes were filled with exciting, heart wrenching and dramatic events based in a Chicago hospital emergency room.  The show often portrayed incredible measures taken as residents applied their medical school backgrounds to treat and save patients.   
Well, there are times we all find other things that we might put first in our day to day lives.  We may need some “healing” or “revival” in our own relationship with God.  Eleven times in Psalm 119 it mentions some sort of revival.  Terms like preserve, restore, spare, give, are mentioned throughout this chapter.  In the darkest of hours you may not feel like His Word is enough.  You may not feel like it is relevant to what you are going through or that God is near. You may have filled your time, your actions and your mind with everything but time in His word.  If this feels somewhat familiar to you consider this:  “Feelings follow correct behaviors and not the other way around”.  God’s word is a foundation for us all.  We need to turn to him and be in His word.  Don’t expect a quick fix. Instead, prepare to be transformed by him being more present in our life. So when we stumble, we need to get back up again, be dedicated to reading his word and trust on his strength for a full recovery in our lives.

-Emily Moyer

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God Revealed

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Yesterday we were discussing keeping God at the top of our thankful list – above all the great gifts He has given.  And we said it was easy to let God slip from this spot if we didn’t work at knowing Him more and more.  After all, it’s impossible to be in a thankful relationship with someone I barely know – or rarely think about – or only sporadically spend time with.

And so, daily digging into His Word where He reveals Himself to those who are seeking Him is the best way to deepen our understanding and appreciation of who He is and what He has done for us.  And, as an extra bonus, we also can receive valuable instruction on how to live to please Him when we dive into the 66 love letters He has sent to us.

If someone isn’t used to opening God’s Word to get to know Him better, it might seem a bit daunting.  It is indeed a big book.  A big book written many generations ago.  But still written with YOU in mind.  And written to show you who your Heavenly Father is and how to have a relationship with Him.

Let’s pull up our Psalm for the week and see what we can find out about God in these verses.

Psalm 100

A psalm. For giving grateful praise.

Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
    come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
    It is he who made us, and we are his;
    we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
    and his courts with praise;
    give thanks to him and praise his name.
For the Lord is good and his love endures forever;
    his faithfulness continues through all generations.

So, what do we learn about God…
verse 3 – The Lord is God.   He wants to be known.  He created us.  We belong to Him.  He watches over us.
verse 4 – He has gates and courts – like royalty.
verse 5 – God is good.  He is loving and His love lasts.  He is faithful – forever.
That’s a lot to learn about God in just 5 short verses!  Whether we are reading a short psalm of 5 verses or the historical account of the Israelites escaping Egypt, God is revealing himself in His Word.  And He wants to meet you there.
-Marcia Railton

Bible Study Crash Course: Part 2 – Psalm 1

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This week, we’ve been focusing on the importance of God’s word for our lives. Yesterday, we focused on the nitty gritty aspects of Bible Study. Today, we’re going to look at the bigger picture as we wrap up the week!

So, when we think about Bible Study, we should have four phrases in the back of our minds:

Read it

Meditate on it

Memorize it

Live it

Yesterday, we talked about our daily quiet time that normally involves reading the scripture. It’s important to remember that we can study the Bible in different ways! Last year, we looked at the Big Picture of the Bible. We read through it quickly and tried to see how each part of the Bible related to God’s epic plan. We can also study the Bible by studying specific books of the Bible, which we will do beginning this Sunday as we study the book of Proverbs. Another type of study that we can do is a topical study, where we look at specific topics like love or marriage and study what the Bible says about it whenever that topic comes up. Each of these ways of studying the Bible really helps us to have a complete picture of what we’re studying, and so we should try to do them at some point in our study of the Bible.

Once we read the Bible, we should meditate on it. If we look at verse 1-3 of Psalm 1, our key passage for today, we see that the man who meditates on the law of the LORD day and night is blessed! What is the law of the LORD? The Bible! But, what does meditating mean? Generally, it means to “think deeply or carefully about something” or to “consider.” It can be tempting to treat our daily reading of God’s word as a chore that we have to check off our to-do lists. We skim through a chapter or two a day and then close our Bibles without ever thinking about it again. The danger in this is that we never let God’s word sink into our hearts! That’s why it’s so important to meditate on it, to think carefully and deeply about what the Bible says. Yesterday, I mentioned that you could journal after reading to help you think. This is a great option! Prayer also helps us to do this. If you’re artsy, Bible Journaling Art can be a great way to meditate on scripture as you make artwork that relates to what you’ve read.

Another aspect of Bible study that’s important and can help us to meditate on the scripture is memorization. Growing up, I never really saw the value in memorizing scripture. My family is Christian so we had about 15 Bibles to choose from if I really wanted to look up a verse. On top of this, my brothers and I got a laptop to share when I was about 7 or 8 years old. By the time I really cared to look up verses, I always had Google or Bible Gateway at my fingertips. This is even truer now when I constantly carry around my phone. All this being said, even when I know that I have the capability of looking up scripture to help me work through a situation or strengthen my faith, I, unfortunately, don’t choose to do this first thing. A worrier by nature, I immediately start analyzing my situation from my viewpoint, and if it’s a problem that stresses me out too much, I’ll enlist the help up my friends to sort it out. If I don’t have scripture ready at the forefront of my mind that I’ve thought about and hidden in my heart (Ps. 119:11), I’m afraid I won’t turn to it until I’ve already done something that I probably shouldn’t have.

For instance, if I am worried about a situation that’s making me anxious and keeping me up at night, I can (1) journal about it, maybe cry about it, and maybe even call a friend if I’m real upset. OR I can remember Philippians 4:6, which says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” That’s a pretty profound truth that totally changes the way that I think about how to handle the problems that I face!

Memorization is important. It can help you in situations like this. (Because we both know that even if you have a smartphone AND a Bible sitting at your bedside table if scripture isn’t the first thing on your mind, you’ll probably be picking option one in the scenario above.) And, it can help you as you defend your faith (1 Peter 3:15). Look at Jesus’ temptation in the desert in Matthew 4 if you need some more evidence for the importance and benefits of memorizing scripture. This year, you’ll have some great verses picked out for you to help you memorize Scripture each week with these devotions!

Lastly, we should remember our fundamental purpose for why we study the Bible. We want it to change our hearts. We want to know and live for God. If you do the first three phrases consistently in your life, this, in addition to the power of the Holy Spirit, will really begin to make a big change in your life. And, if we check ourselves with this purpose each day, it will be harder to fall into the trap of viewing the reading of God’s word as a stale chore to be tackled each day.

Let’s dedicate ourselves to reading, meditating on, memorizing, and living out the truths we find in God’s word!

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/)