Holding Nothing Back

Genesis 22-24

Genesis 22 12b NIV

One of the sayings that I sort of cling to in my life is, “You get out of life what you put into it.” I find this can be helpful in those moments where Netflix or a nap can be much more appealing than doing homework, reading a book, folding laundry or any of the other responsibilities we have in this life. Even though some of those things listed like folding laundry or reading a book I can really enjoy and get a sense of accomplishment from doing those things. In a way doing things like taking naps or watching Netflix are just easier and don’t require any brain activity from me. For instance there can be a temptation to just read devotions and not actually read the Bible on your own. This is because reading a devotion, which is an already processed thought is easier than having to read and process the Bible on your own.

Now, is reading devotions great?  Absolutely.  Devotions are great because you can see what God worked on in another person’s heart and that is pretty cool to be a part of. I love writing these devotions and hope they add to your spiritual growth and help you understand God better.

You may be wondering why I wrote two paragraphs about putting an effort into life and what I really think is the principle at work here is sacrifice, and that is what Genesis 22 is really about.

In Genesis 22.1-14 is a story about sacrifice and commitment to God and I don’t think it is necessarily in the way that we think. Right now, you should go read Genesis 22.1-14. My next paragraph will wait for as long as they maintain the rights to the domain name. Haha

I’m glad you are back. What Abraham was about to do here is crazy. He was willing to offer his son, that he had waited 25 years for and had at 99 years, because God told him to. Abraham could have so easily rationalized disobedience away by saying “There is no way that I am going to harm a child.” But Abraham decided to obey God despite all reservations that he had. One of my favorite verses as a teenager and even now is Matthew 6.21 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Abraham didn’t treasure his child more than he treasured God and IT SHOWED in a big way. He held nothing back from God.

You may be getting a mixed message at this point. I’m not telling you to give all your stuff away or to sacrifice your brother or sister as a burnt offering. That would not bless God. What I am telling you is that if you live your life holding nothing back from God, you will reap the reward from that. The same principle applies to how much work and effort you put into your spiritual growth.

If you want God to really change your life cut Netflix out of your life for a month and instead spend that time with your head in a Bible and see what God does in your heart and how he changes you.

If you really want to serve others and see God do something through you then commit yourself to that and go do it. Make it your center point! Go help others in whatever way you can. Look for ways to serve others and give your life away to them.

The reason that Abraham is the father of our faith is because he held nothing back. After this story Abraham received a promise from God that his offspring would be as the stars in heaven and sands on the seashore and that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through him. Abraham got out of life what he put in. Abraham was used by God through this promise because Abraham was completely devoted to God.

I know there is a better life. When our lives are completely focused on God, something changes. I want to say this to you and hope you take it to heart. I know what being sold out to God is like and it is uncomfortable and can be really hard but the reward is life altering, it’s God glorifying and it’s kingdom strengthening. Our sacrifices don’t go unnoticed by God and they will come to fruition and it isn’t always how we expect it.

Do not take this as me telling you that you can make God do things but rather God honors the sacrifices that we make in our lives for him. He in turn wants to bless us and help us. Do not do any of things that I mentioned unless you really want to do them. God doesn’t want just sacrifices. He wants our hearts behind the sacrifices that we make and, honestly, that is the key to love. When your heart and actions combine into one that is true love.

Daniel Wall

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+22-24&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s passage will be Genesis 25 & 26 on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Stuck

Genesis 19-21

Genesis 19 16

Have you ever gotten your car stuck before? Growing up, my brothers and I often went over to our grandparents’ farm. In high school, I started helping out with keeping up around the place. I would load up in the old beat up farm truck and head to the places that need to be looked after, which sometimes took me down into the swampy parts of the property. Some days, I could maneuver just fine through the trees and brush, but on others, I would begin to sink. If the truck got into a place where the tires couldn’t get traction, then they would start to spin, sinking the truck even deeper into the muck.

 

Lot has got himself stuck in a similar situation. In Genesis 13, Lot chose the edenic land close to the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, while Abram moved further away from him. Abraham, through his prayers and his concern for his nephew Lot, convinced God to relent in destroying the city in chapter 18. But, even so, we see the depth of the evil of the city in chapter 19, where the angels could not even find 10 righteous people. Because of this, the destruction God had planned was set to occur. God was going to destroy the city with burning sulfur (Gen. 19:23-26), an epic and troubling display of God’s wrath.

 

In the midst of these verses, filled with despicable actions and God’s judgment of them, we also see the tender portrayal of God’s forgiveness and compassion. While getting ready to destroy the city, the angels, who God had sent, grabbed Lot’s hand and pulled him out of the city. This was done “because of the Lord’s compassion for him” (Gen. 19:16). Lot was stuck in his ways, stuck in the lifestyle of sin created by the place he was living in. He was stuck in the filth and mud. God however loved Lot too much to leave him in this place. He grabbed Lot and brought him out of his former life.

 

So often, we are like Lot. We thought we chose the best path for ourselves when we survey the options in front of us. Sometimes though, what looks best to us may lead us too close to the lifestyle of sin. We get into that swampy place and spin our tires – stuck even if we wanted to get out. It’s in these moments that God reaches in and pulls us out. It may be painful, but it is so so worth it to leave behind those sinful places and follow God out of what is destined to be destroyed.

 

Do you feel like you are stuck in sin? Pray for God’s salvation today.

 

-Cayce Fletcher
Read or listen to today’s Bible reading here – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+19-21&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Genesis 22-24 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

To Trust God

Genesis 16-18

Genesis 17 1 NIV

In chapter 12, we met Abram and the covenant story of the Bible began. God expands on that covenant in chapter 15 when he promises that Abram, who was childless, would have a son who would be the father of nations. Genesis 15:6 says, “Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”

 

Many of us wonder how we can be righteous, and some of us may feel like, to be righteous, we need to live a perfect, sinless life. However, we can learn from the life and attitude of Abram that righteous living is not only about right actions. Righteous living also centers around our belief. What does it mean to believe in God? Many assume that this belief is just to acknowledge that God exists. However, James says that even the demons know that God exists and shudder (James 2:19). Belief that produces righteousness is not simply that. Instead, belief is trusting in God and letting that trust influence our actions. Through belief, we do end up living a righteous life, but that is because we know that God’s plan for our life is trustworthy- it is the best way to live.

 

To trust God is not a one time choice that we make. It takes a lifetime to learn how to truly trust God, and many times it seems like we are taking one step forward and two steps back on our trust journey. Abram certainly experienced this. In chapter 15, he believed in God’s promises and trusted him. But, in chapter 16, he tries to build a family in a way that was not God’s plan through his servant, Hagar. Then, in chapter 17, he shows his commitment to the covenant through circumcision. Our lives will often mirror this. When we feel like God is delaying in his promises, we may stop trusting him and try to fulfill those promises ourselves, falling prey to the lie the serpent spoke in Genesis 3 when he said, “Did God really say…?” We have to remember that God’s timing is the perfect timing and be assured of his faithfulness.

 

Where do you need to trust God today? What steps do you need to take in faith to show that trust?

~ Cayce Fletcher
To read or listen to today’s Bible passage check out https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=genesis+16-18&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Genesis 19-21 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

The Covenant Story Begins

Genesis 12-15

Genesis 12 1 CSB

Genesis 1-11 details the heartbreaking story of a perfect world and people, created lovingly by God, turning away from him to pursue the desires of their heart. The consequences for this sin is great, but like the rainbow after the flood symbolizes, the redemption God provides is also great. In Genesis 3, God promises a future savior who will fight for and redeem mankind. In today’s reading, we see the plan set in place since the beginning start to take shape.

 

In Genesis 12, God tells Abram, a man from Ur (in Mesopotamia), “Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation, I will bless you. I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (vv. 1-3).

 

These verses are so important, because in them, we see the storyline of the redemption begin. God chose Abram, the man from whom the Jewish people would be descended, and made a covenant or promise with him. If Abram followed God’s plan, then he knew that he would be blessed by God. This covenant was built on and changed over the course of scripture, but ultimately, it is still being fulfilled even now through Christ’s death on the cross. Abram began the chain reaction that led to Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. Because Abram listened to God, we are blessed through him.

 

Abram is a prime example of a faith filled life. He didn’t know anymore of God’s plan than just to go and leave everything that he knew. Despite this, he eagerly followed God. This pattern of obedience continues throughout the rest of his life. When presented with God’s new covenant, the promise of salvation in Christ, do we faithfully trust that he will keep his promises? Do we faithfully obey when we hear his call?

 

As we read through the Bible this year, keep an eye out for the word covenant. God continues to refer to both this first promise and the promises he made after this as he faithfully pursues his covenant people.
Cayce Fletcher
You can read or listen to today’s passage at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+12-15&version=CSB
Tomorrow’s passage will be Genesis 16-18 as we follow the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

To Know God

Job 40-42

Job 42 3 NIV

The last chapters of Job leave us with a terrifying and convicting picture. God continues to describe his wonders through his creations. We may have a pretty tame view of God based on a Santa Claus version of him that is popular in churches today. However, when we think about the fact that God, who made every great and mighty thing in the world from alligators to great white sharks to tornadoes and hurricanes, also controls them. He is greater and mightier than anything that exists.

 

When God tells these things to Job, Job recognizes how small and insignificant he is – just like we do when we stand on a mountain top or look at the vastness of the ocean. Job, before this moment, knew a lot about God. He knew the right theology and lived righteously. At the heart of the matter though, he didn’t truly know the depth of who God was, and because of that, he tried to put God in a box. He tried to put limits on God based on his own limited human understanding.

 

If you’ve grown up hearing about God, whether the things you heard were true or not, you may have a mistaken understanding of who God is. It’s like the game of telephone, where one person starts off a chain of spoken words. We all can remember some of the hilarious phrases that are morphed out of simple sentences when we don’t get the original saying from the source. When we try to base our understanding of God on what we’ve heard by word of mouth, we may have some pretty wacky understandings of God. When we come face to face with Him through the scriptures, we begin to see with clarity the awe and majesty of God.

 

That’s our hope for the new year. By the end of the year, we should say, like Job, “I had heard rumors about You, but now my eyes have seen You” (Job 42:5). Let’s commit to this goal together to desire to know God instead of just learning more about God this year.
~Cayce Fletcher
Meet God face to face in His Word.  You can read or listen to God here https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+40-42&version=CSB
We have finished the book of Job – tomorrow we return to the book of Genesis (chapters 12-15) in our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Letting God be God

 Job 38-39

Job 38 33 35a CSB

The end of Job takes a dramatic turn as one more speaker steps in to answer Job’s question of why bad things happen to good people. For the previous 35 or so chapters, Job and his friends have tried to sort out this question based on their own understanding. In chapter 38, the only one whose opinion matters steps in to set the record straight. God speaks and asks of Job and his friends, “Who is this who obscures My counsel with ignorant words? Get ready to answer Me like a man; when I question you, you will inform Me” (Job 38:2-3). God then begins to ask Job a series of questions about the earth and its creation. The question God begins with is “Where were you when I established the earth? Who fixed its dimensions? What supports its foundations?” (Job 38:4-6). To all of these questions, Job could only meekly respond, ‘God, you did. Only you could know.’

 

Too often in life, we can feel like we know what’s best for our lives. We have things all planned out, from where we are going to get lunch the next day to where we will go to college or get a job. When our plans don’t match up with our realities, we can begin to question God’s goodness. Because our lives don’t match up with the ‘good’ plans that we have created, we may think that God is not good. These chapters in Job reorient us to the deep truth that we need to cling to when faced with these discrepancies between our plans and life’s reality: We are not God. Job’s questions and those of his friends all centered around their actions and their righteousness. When God steps in, he redirects them to the real truth about their lives, the scriptures, and the universe as a whole. It all exists for the glory of God. In addition to this, all of creation was made by God. He knows the purpose behind what exists and what occurs. He is using all of these things to bring him glory.

 

So, when we begin to question God and ask why his plans don’t match our own, we can rest in the fact that God is God. He is sovereign and has a plan for our lives. Sometimes that plan can be painful, but ultimately, that is helping us to become mature and complete in our Christian walk (James 1). When we allow God to be God, it’s easier for us to fulfill our main purpose in life: living our lives to glorify him.
Cayce Fletcher
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+38-39&version=CSB
Tomorrow’s reading will be the final chapters of Job – 40-42.  And then we will jump back into where we left off in the book of Genesis as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.  Let’s SeekGrowLove together!

Pursuit of a Righteous Life

Job 35-37

Job 35 3 CSB

Today, we read as Elihu continues to reason out why bad things happen to good people. In chapter 35, we read about a dangerous attitude: being righteous for the sake of what we can gain from God or others. The second that our circumstances turn negative, we can easily fall into the trap that Elihu explains in verses 2-9. In these verses, he says, “Do you think it is just when you say, ‘I am righteous before God?’ For you ask, “What does it profit you, and what benefit comes to me, if I do not sin?”

 

Even though we may not admit it, we may begin to think the same questions as Elihu and Job when we face difficult circumstances. Sometimes we think that we follow God for the benefits that we gain in this life. We feel that if we do the right things (we do not lie, cheat, steal, etc.) that we should have a good life with a good family, nice house, and steady paycheck. It is true that following the wisdom that we find in Proverbs and other books can lead to better life outcomes than following the path of the wicked. This being said, we were never promised an easy life full of worldly comforts. In fact, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:19 that he should be pitied more than all other men if it’s only for this life that he is hoping for. Jesus said in John 16:33 that we will have suffering in this world. In Luke 6:20-23, Jesus even says that we are blessed when we mourn and face persecution and difficult times. When we choose to follow Jesus and pursue a righteous life, we are choosing a more difficult path.

 

When we think in terms of what we can gain in this life, it may seem like there is not much benefit in pursuing a righteous life. So why should we decide to live a righteous life and not sin? Elihu attempts to answer how our sin affects God and others in verses 6-9. He says, “Your wickedness affects a person like yourself, and your righteousness another human being. People cry out because of severe oppression; they shout for help because of the arm of the mighty.” When we sin, we not only are grieving God, but also we are hurting those around us. Yes, we may not always have an easy life, but ultimately, we are living a better life when we choose to live by the commands that God gives us.

 

If you are facing difficult circumstances, you may feel like giving up on God. It may seem like he is silent. You may feel like the sacrifices you’ve made for your faith are not resulting in the good things that you want from God. But, don’t give up on pursuing a righteous life! Your actions will lead to a better life for you and those around you and will guide more people to the kingdom.

Cayce Fletcher

You can read or listen to today’s passage here – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+35-37&version=CSB

Tomorrow’s passage will be Job 38-39 as we follow the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan