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/)

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Keep Studying

Isaiah 29-31

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Monday, February 13

Isaiah prophesied about The Little Mermaid! Not really. I didn’t think Ariel’s voice was very ghostlike (29:4). Anyway…

We got a nice little reminder today of why it’s so important to do devotions like this and to study the meaning of the Bible rather than just read it. Isaiah 29:11 warns that “this whole vision is nothing but words sealed in a scroll.” Don’t let the Bible be just words sealed in a scroll. Dig deep into the word that God gave to us so that “the deaf will hear the words of the scroll (29:11).”

It can be easy to think that the passages we’ve been reading have been distinctly separated by chapter numbers and they don’t really connect, but yesterday we talked about the role that rules play in our lives. Again today, we see another warning of letting rules be our moving force (28:13). This verse is another that you would do well to keep close to your heart. Don’t let your worship be just the words you sing. Don’t let your worship just be the words you say. Have you ever been in church singing a song and thought to yourself, “Do I really mean this?” If you haven’t, you probably should. Just because it’s coming out of your mouth, doesn’t mean it’s coming out of your heart.

-Nathaniel Johnson

(photo credit by Bob Smerecki – https://www.flickr.com/photos/snapnpiks0304/9729996902)

Why So Many Rules? (Exodus 21-23)

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In these three chapters we get a long list of dos and don’ts. There are so many specific situations mentioned in these chapters about how to pay back someone for a stolen ox or what to do if you beat a slave etc. What surprised me most about this section is the intense punishment for a lot of these rules! Did you know that if you strike one of your parents you should be put to death according to the Exodus law?!? That is crazy to me, thankfully though I can’t remember ever hitting my parents so I’m all clear on this rule.

Another topic mentioned a lot in these chapters is the, ‘no other gods’ theme. It is twice mentioned that there is only one God; I love how the entire Old Testament reinforces this idea of one God. This makes me think of Exodus 34:14 which says that God is a “jealous God”. Most people think that God being jealous is a bad thing but it is actually beautiful. This means that God values us and our praise so much that He only wants it for Himself. YHWH created us to worship Him and no one else but Him. In case you’re new to the whole Bible thing YHWH is the name of God. It brings me such joy to know that there is an all powerful God out that there that cares about me enough to be jealous for me and my praise. He could literally have anything He wanted but God gave us the choice and He fights for our praise.

This section reminds me of my appreciation for the new covenant, the one that we are all under as Christians. Reading all of these rules made me exhausted and I could hardly bear the idea of having to follow them all of the time. I was thinking of how glad I am that Jesus came to fulfill the law so that we are no longer made to keep any of these specific rules. However this doesn’t mean that we can do whatever we want now; if anything Jesus raised the bar for Christians. Instead of the whole eye for an eye concept, we are to turn the other cheek. Instead of repaying an enemy for what we stole, we must love and pray for our enemies. Jesus on one hand has set us free from exact law keeping, but he has put on us a greater burden of true love. I encourage you to thank God for the sacrifice of giving His son for us and to thank Jesus for being willing to die for you and move you under the new covenant.

If I had to summarize these three chapters into one sentence it would be this. Long story short God had a lot of rules to follow and back then breaking one of them meant serious business. Until tomorrow and thank you for taking the time to read this!

 

— Josiah Cain