Knowing Scripture

Matthew 4

Matt 4 4

It always impresses me when someone can quote scripture that is appropriate to the situation at hand, especially when they can quote it word for word, and know the reference.  Being impressed isn’t really because of their knowledge, but because if they can quote exactly what is in scripture, and tell me where to look it up and get more information means that I can know the truth from the Bible.

In Matthew 4, Jesus has spent 40 days and 40 nights fasting.  I think that would make it very difficult to remember anything clearly.  However, when tempted, Jesus is able to quote the necessary scripture to answer the temptations brought to him by the tempter.  When tempted with food, Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 8:3, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”  For each of the other temptations, Jesus again quotes Old Testament scripture that answers the temptation directly.  Because of these answers, the devil leaves Jesus.

How awesome is the power of scripture.  We can rebuff temptation with scripture in the same way Jesus did.  However, it requires us to know scripture, to memorize it.

I often find myself being able to paraphrase things, and maybe being able to get somewhere close to where it is found.  If given time, I can find it.  While this is helpful, it often falls short of what I need.  When I am having a difficult time, or trying to help someone, it is frustrating not being able to find the verses needed to help with the problem.

I encourage you to learn and memorize scripture.  Jesus is our example, and he knew the scriptures.  We should all follow that example.

-Andrew Hamilton

 

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God Revealed

psalm 100 5

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

What to Do with Doubt

Mark 9:14-32 (Monday)

Mark 9 24

None of Scripture was intended to be read.  Although that may seem strange to us today, the ability to read was incredibly rare.  For today, it’d be like having a doctorate.  There are a number of professor’s out there, but you don’t run into them every day.  Reading just wasn’t something most people needed to be able to do to get through their day.  The agricultural and craftsman lifestyles didn’t need to keep many notes themselves.  As a result, the writings, when they were used, were usually read aloud in a collective setting – and this is key.  Because Scripture is meant to be heard – not read!  All those with EARS, let them HEAR.

Because of this, there weren’t any of the nifty little headings that we find in our Bibles today.  It was just one long story without breaks or chapters.  So, the nice breaks that we often get around stories didn’t exist except for the past few hundred years.  For today’s reading, both of these things are really important.

These two vignettes in Mark 9:14-32 (the healing of the child and the misunderstanding of the disciples) come back to back and would have been heard that way by Mark’s original audience.  So, what I’d like you to do is try it.  Take just a second to read these verses out loud. If you’re somewhere public, just try whispering if you want.  But read it out loud and see what sticks out to you.  I’ll wait here and I’ll do it too…

[waiting]

So, how was it?  Awkward? Weird?  Probably a little.  But when I did it something new really stood out to me about this passage.  In the first story, a man comes to Jesus asking for healing for his son. Jesus responds ‘oh you faithless people…how much longer do I have to put up with you.  Bring me the boy.’  The father, distraught over Jesus’ seemingly kinda cruel response, cries out – ‘I want to believe! Please help my unbelief!’  He wants to save his son and will do whatever it takes to save him.

The next story is between Jesus and his disciples.  He’s teaching them about what’s going to happen to him when he reaches Jerusalem.  But they don’t get it.  They don’t have belief/faith, just like the dad in the previous story.  However, instead of putting aside their pride and asking for Jesus to help their unbelief (lack of understanding), they stay silent.

Here, in these few verses, a man from “this faithless generation” reaches out, pleads, and finds Jesus meeting him in his unbelief while the ones who are part of Jesus’ own inner-circle remain unmoved in their faithlessness.  And this at a time when Jesus’s time with them was literally drawing short.

The problem with this is never unbelief.  The problem is how we respond to it.  We won’t have all the answers.  We will doubt and question.  Jesus doesn’t lament our struggle – it is one that he himself walked through (for he shared in all things but without sin).  Embrace the places where you are unsure.  Lean into the spots where the struggle is the most real and you are shaken like the son in the story.  Push forward and call out for a help, a grace that will fill us in our uncertainty and bring healing.

-Graysen Pack

The Storms of Life

Mark 4

Mark 4 41b

As I write this, masses are evacuating Florida in the anticipation of Hurricane Irma. By the time you read this, I hope that the storm has passed and that the loss will be minimal. I pray for the recovery teams who will be in the areas doing their best to help families begin to put lives back together.

 

In Mark 4 we read about another storm. One that scared the disciples beyond anything that they had ever experienced before. This huge squall was both a test and a teachable moment. Jesus was testing the men’s faith and trust in the Son of God. Jesus also used this time to teach the men the extent of His great power. If these men had any doubts before about who Jesus was and what He was able to do, His calming the winds and the waves certainly would have clarified any misconceptions, don’t you think?

 

I think that we all have to experience a storm or two in our relationship with Jesus in order to find out what our faith is made of. I can think of several of you who I personally know and the storms that Jesus has lead you through and how it has reinforced your faith. I too have been tossed about in a violent storm and the only thing I knew to do was to call out to Jesus. I’ve had my share of nights where the only thing that brought my mind enough peace was to sleep with an open Bible on my bed and my hand literally resting on God’s promises. I’ve had days when anxiety was so great within me that the only thing that could keep the negative thinking at bay was to read Scripture out loud for hours on end.

 

If you are not currently experiencing a storm, then now is the time to make sure that you are in the Word daily and living out your faith while the waters are calm. 2 Timothy 1:14 says, “Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you – guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

 

If you are living through a storm right now, hang on tight. Hebrews 4:14 encourages us with this: “Therefore, since we have a great High Priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith that we profess.”

 

I many not know the details of your personal storm, but I do know the One who is powerful enough to keep our boats from overturning. And He certainly will bring you through to the other side. Believe. Trust. Love. Obey.

 

-Bethany Ligon

 

Converse with the Almighty

bible

Saturday’s Weekly Recap with Graysen Pack

This week we’ve walked through another six chapters of Proverbs and found words that, although written thousands of years ago, still speak to the persistent struggles of human existence.  Answers to guide us seek the wealth that God promises, to join God’s work as he defends the orphaned and poor, to earnestly engage in honest community, to be aware of the emotional strife of ourselves and others, and to use our words to build a church of sincerity.

 

It can be easy to forget that even when we read the oldest parts of the Bible, the words are still alive and active.  And we don’t really read Scripture, but instead engage in a conversation with it.  It isn’t a professor lecturing at us from the front of a large classroom.  Instead, it is a dialogue that speaks to who, where, and when we are.  The words of God are both alive in the history of Israel and the church as well as our lives today.

 

As you continue to read through the Word of God this year, remember that you are entering a conversation that will speak to your life and the life of the world today.

2500 Years Later

Sunday Intro by Graysen Pack

God's Word RemainsLiving & Active

As we continue our readings in Proverbs (Chapters 22-26 this week), we are going to be leaving a collection of sayings by Solomon that contrast the wise and the foolish.  We’ll then move into a new section of Proverbs, the sayings of the Wise.  These proverbs, unlike previous ones, aren’t written down by Solomon directly but put down to paper by the servants of King Hezekiah years later.


This reveals one of the defining characteristics of Wisdom literature as it’s found in Scripture: it is a product of the dynamic tension that ancient people faced in their day to day lives.  These are sayings that were passed down for generations from the time of Solomon to the days of Hezekiah and then put to paper.  Unlike some portions of the Hebrew Bible, the Wisdom literature found in Psalms, Proverbs, Song of Solomon, Job, and Ecclesiastes are intrinsically shaped by the ways that the Jews of ancient Israel were trying to understand the role of faith in their daily actions.

 

This is what makes these scriptures deep, meaningful, and particularly relevant to the struggles we still face today.  So, as we explore the Proverbs this week, I encourage you to not see them as a detached set of sayings from a time long gone, but as markers laid out by individuals of faith who found themselves in older variations of the exact same challenges we encounter in our own lives some 2500 years later.

Choose Life!

two paths

This year at Fuel, we have talked about honor. We know now that we should honor God first with our lives and honor other areas of our lives like our parents, the Bible, Christ, relationships, others, and our internal and external selves. As we move into the upcoming year at Fuel, our Grow Devotions will look a little different. We want to keep growing in our understanding of who God is and in our relationship with him. To do this, we have to make it a daily task to get into God’s word. And, we shouldn’t only get into it! We have to write it on our hearts. We have to make it something that is our reflex reaction to turn to in hard situations. Each week, we are going to begin the week with a video, audio clip, or blog introduction of our devotional writer for the next week. Then, we will dive into our scripture reading which we will read daily throughout the week, followed by a recap on Saturday about some of the highlights of the previous week. We encourage you to memorize the weekly scriptures and write them on your heart so that you can have them be the truths that you go to for encouragement and wisdom, instead of turning to the lies of the world.

View the video clip above to learn about our memory verse this week and what we will be talking about this week!

Our Memory Verse:

I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set befoore you life and eath, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, love the LORD your God, obey Him, and remain faithful to Him. For He is your life, and He will prolong your life in the land the LORD swore to give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.                                            ~ Deuteronomy 30:19-20