Thought Checker

Psalm 119:1-88

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(We will read the second half of the longest chapter of the Bible on Sunday – but feel free to actually read the whole thing both days – it is full of good stuff!)

What comes to mind when you hear the word purity? Because we currently live in a fallen world where sin is part of our human nature, we are all impure. Think about it… what about your thoughts? What do you think about? Are there any sins that don’t start with a thought? I’m sure we could learn a whole lot about someone if we could read their thoughts, because the thing about our thoughts is that they are essentially hidden from the rest of the world. And this is why it can be so dangerous. What starts to be a single almost innocent thought can then eventually or suddenly develop from good to bad to ugly. So when would be a better time than now to examine our thoughts and heart. God knows our thoughts, we can’t hide anything from Him, remember? Our thoughts do matter. They reveal what is in our heart. 

 

Thankfully, we can find in Psalm 119 how to stay pure. 

 

Psalm 119:9 How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.

 

Psalm 119: 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

 

Because God’s word should be our treasure in life we should hide it in our heart and meditate on it so that we can obey it and therefore stay pure. So let’s see what Philippians 4:8 says. “ And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” This makes staying pure a little harder, not only should they be pure, they should be honorable as well.

 

 I am so glad this verse made it into our Bibles because it has certainly helped me. When I was little I used to have trouble falling asleep from worrying, until my mom wrote out Philippians 4:6-8 and hung it up next to my bed. Suddenly I had a way to check my thoughts. A thought checker. If it doesn’t align with Philippians 4:8 throw it out of your mind. And even more than that, I was able to memorize it and because of that I’ve been able to use it throughout the years. 

 

Starting some habits can be really helpful in controlling your thoughts. But the first step is to really know the scriptures so you know what is right and wrong. Because how else can we know what the Bible says if we don’t take the time to study, meditate, memorize, and know what it says? Also you will need to commit to memorizing scripture so that when the time comes that they are needed you will be able to pull them out of our pocket and meditate on them. 

Here are some great verses to memorize and hide in our hearts.

 

1 Timothy 4:12 “ Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way  you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. 

 

Romans 8:1-2 “And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for your. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Or 2 Corinthians 6:6, Romans 8:6, or 2 Corinthians 10:5, and many many others. 

 

So the next time you feel like your thoughts are controlling you, make it a habit to test your thoughts and make sure they align with Philippians 4:8.  When they don’t, affirm that it is a thought that doesn’t align with God’s word and toss it out. Just like Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan,” when Peter was a stumbling block for him, you might choose to say something in response to it to help combat it. Then, ask God to renew your mind and help you strive to live a life pleasing to Him. Lastly and one of the most important steps, meditate on scripture. Choose a specific verse that is personal and recite it over and over again. 

 

So how can a young person stay pure? By living according to God’s word. By meditating on Scripture and hiding it in your heart so that you don’t sin. 

 

Makayla Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+119%3A1-88&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Kings 3-4, 2 Chronicles 1 and Psalm 72 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Still Time to Parent

1 Kings 1-2 and Psalm 37, 71 & 94

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Today we begin the book of 1st Kings.  We are just about to the end of the kings anointed by Samuel.  Yes, David died at the end of 2nd Samuel…but the author of Kings begins with some more details from the end of David’s life before he spends the first half of the book on the reign of Solomon.  Unfortunately, I am not altogether impressed with this final picture of the man after God’s own heart.

And, it starts with his parenting.  Now, I have never been a ruler of a country, much less, the ruler of a country 3,000 years ago.  So, it is easy for me to pass judgment on a life I have never lived and one that seems so far removed from mine.  But perhaps we can learn a little something from David’s troubles to help us be better parents – as well as improved spiritual parents.

So, at this point David is old (about 70 years old) and the kingdom will be handed down to his son to reign.  Only trouble is – which son?  Earlier Absalom had tried to take over the throne – but that didn’t end too well for him.  David has said that Solomon will be the son to rule.  But, his son Adonijah wants to mix things up and come out on top instead.  So, Adonijah puts together his cheering squad and cabinet – including his dad’s formerly faithful army general and priest – and announces his kingship.

The author of Kings is not nearly so removed from David as I am and does not exactly point the finger at David, but merely hints (with a note in parenthesis) as to a potential weakness found in David’s parenting style.  The writer explains, in parenthesis, “(His father had never interfered with him by asking, ‘Why do you behave as you do?’)”  How many times do we as parents THINK that of our children?  And, perhaps we outright asked that a lot when they were younger, “What are you doing?”  But as they grow up and we lose control, or hand control over bit by bit as they get closer and closer to independence, do we too often not “interfere” and ask the sometimes difficult question.  Obviously the author here believes that if David had started an open and honest dialogue with his son about his behavior earlier on, this sad story of rebellion may have been avoided.

Perhaps you are not a parent, at least not yet.  If you are a young adult what can you learn from David and Adonijah?  Is there a time you desired communication with your parents but didn’t get the direction or reprimand you later thought could be helpful?  You can be the one to start the dialogue if they haven’t. What could have happened in our story had Adonijah come to David to seek his advice?   Or, are you frustrated with “too much” interfering and questioning?  Remember it comes from a deep love for you and desire to see the best for you – and the whole kingdom.

And, then how can this lesson be applied to us as spiritual children and parents today?  Who can you mentor in their Christian walk?  How can you better prepare yourself for a conversation that might one day have to start with, “Why do you behave as you do?”  Sometimes, love interferes.  And, when you are on the receiving end, remember some of those great Proverbs from Solomon that we get to read next week!

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid. – Proverbs 12:1

Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding.  Proverbs 15:32

 

Marcia Railton

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+1-2%2C+Psalm+37%2C+71%2C+94&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Psalm 119:1-88 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

What Never Changes

Psalm 111-118

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In our Bible reading there were too many great psalms to choose what to write about today.  I decided to narrow it down to Psalm 118.  But even within Psalm 118 there are too many great verses to choose what to write about today. I will share a few thoughts…but spend some time in the psalm and see what strikes you most.

We do not know who wrote Psalm 118, nor for what occasion.  Perhaps part of the power of this psalm (and many others)  is that it feels like it could be written for each one of us in any number of situations we find ourselves.  It makes sense.  The psalms are a picture of God and His relationship with man.  God is God – from before history began to an eternal future.  And mankind hasn’t changed that much over time either.  He is still good.  And His love still endures forever.  And, it is still our duty and joy to give thanks to Him.  Some things never change even in a world where everything else is changing faster than we can keep track.

Psalm 118 both begins and ends with this lasting declaration:  “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Psalm 118:1 & 29).  If it sounds familiar, it may be because that verse is also repeated in 4 other psalms.  Sounds like God thinks it would be a good thing to remember!

It can be easier to give thanks for God’s goodness when we are in a happy, contented, easy place.  But the psalmist writes of many struggles, anguish, trials, battles and oppression that have surrounded him.  Verse 6 says, “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid.  What can man do to me?”  Verse 13 says, “I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me.”  If you are ever feeling stuck, it is a great time to pray to see more clearly God’s goodness and love.  Then, give thanks.

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+111-118&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Kings 1-2 and Psalm 37, 71 & 94 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Loyal to God

1 Chronicles 26-29, Psalm 127

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Today we finish off the book of 1st Chronicles as King David is finishing his 40 year reign and is passing over the kingship of the nation of Israel and the plans for building God’s temple to his son Solomon.

I love the example we see of accepting God’s will and passing on the torch.  Even though David had wanted to build the temple himself, he accepted that this was not God’s plan for him, and he fully immersed himself in doing all he could (with God’s spirit to guide him) to see the project succeed for the next generation.  How well do we accept changes from what we had planned and desired “in our heart” (1 Chronicles 28:2)?  Do we devote ourselves to God’s will even when it wasn’t our personal “first-choice”?  Do we do all we can to see others succeed with what we wanted for ourselves?

I also love the picture we have of giving and sacrifice. In a Spirit-led manner, David gave of himself, his time, his talents and his possessions to prepare the work for the tabernacle.  He passed along to Solomon very detailed plans, “of all that the Spirit had put in his mind for the courts of the temple of the LORD” (1 Chronicles 28:12) including specifics such as the division of labor for the priests and the weights of each of the lamp stands and bowls and other items to be used in the temple.

David knew the plans were no good; unless, there was also the means to follow those plans.  It was going to take material goods to do the work of the Lord.  He opened Israel’s storehouses to provide the gold, silver, marble, bronze, fine stones and other materials that would be used to build this “palatial structure,” “not for man but for the LORD God” (1 Chronicles 29:1).  And then he dug deep and gave from his own treasuries and bank account.  And then he asked the people, “Now who is willing to consecrate himself today to the Lord?”  How do you really set yourself apart and show your devotion to God – you give, just as David gave.  And Israel responded just as their king had set the example for them – and they gave willingly.

And they gave with humble, thankful hearts – knowing that everything they had belonged to God.  I really love that part!

David rejoiced and praised God when he saw the people respond with generous, giving hearts.  He prayed to God, “keep this desire in the hearts of your people forever, and keep their hearts loyal to you.  And give my son Solomon the wholehearted devotion to keep your commands, requirements and decrees and to do everything to build the palatial structure for which I have provided.” (1 Chronicles 29:18).

This, too, can be our prayer for our own generation and the ones to follow.  We are now God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16 & 6:19) and we have been given so much.  May we not wish for what isn’t in God’s perfect plan for us, but work wholeheartedly where he wants us to be.  May we be leaders who inspire others to give back to God.  May we and our children and their children be consecrated to Him and show that in our generous giving with humble hearts.  God, please keep our hearts loyal to you.

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Chronicles+26-29%2C+Psalm+127&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Psalm 111-118 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Surrender – to a Great God

Psalm 131, 138- 139 & 143-145

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Throughout these chapters we see surrender, submission, exultation, and countless reasons to put our trust in God. Recognizing God’s glory, David humbly came before God and put his hope and trust in God while praising Him all the way.

 

By learning about who God is, we can then begin to see why He deserves all our attention. God’s attributes are a great place to start. God is omniscient, he knows everything. There is nothing you can hide from Him, ask Adam and Eve. “You discern my going out and my lying down. You are familiar with all my ways.” (Psalm 139:3) God is omnipresent, he is always present. “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7) God is omnipotent, all powerful. And therefore worthy of all our praise and worship. In reading Psalms we can see nothing but how Great our God is. God knows me better than my family does, or even my best friend, He knows all the hairs on our head, and even the number of tears we have cried. He knows where we are and is present at all times. These attributes of God should be such a comfort to us because He is such a loving God whose kindness reaches all. “The LORD will vindicate me; your love, endures forever.” (Psalm 138:8) His love endures forever. The same loving God we see throughout the Bible loves us. God loves us so much that we can be certain He has our best interest in mind. 

 

“When I called, you answered me, you greatly embolden me.’ Psalm 138:3

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18

 

Many times in the Psalms we can see this similar wording over and over again but I think it is important to point out that it starts with you seeking God first, and once you do and call on Him, He will answer. The fact that God cares about me enough to listen to and even answer me shows how Great a God He is. 

 

We are God’s workmanship, servant, and masterpiece. We are His people, and He is our God. Our creator, He knit us together in our mother’s womb, and because of that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. So find your worth in God and trust in Him, who, unlike the world, will give you the truth. 

 

It is so fitting that David ends Psalm 139 with a beautiful surrender to God. David sets the example of opening your life up to God and letting Him lead you in this walk called life. God deserves all our trust, hope, and praise. “May they sing in the ways of the LORD for the glory of the LORD is great.” (Psalm 138:5) Sometimes it can be easy to forget just how much God is deserving of all our praise because in reality he deserves so much more than we could ever give Him. Follow David’s example. Ask God to teach you His will and His ways. Ask Him to search your heart and thoughts. Then surrender to Him and give him all your praise and worship. 

Makayla Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+131%2C+138-+139%2C+143-+145&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Chronicles 26-29 and Psalm 127 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

God Speaks

1 Chronicles 23-25

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I remember the song that came on the radio immediately after receiving the text that a dear woman of God was being placed in hospice care following her 4 year battle with cancer – I Can Only Imagine.  And God spoke to me.  My friend and mentor was getting closer and closer to the dark sleep of death and we would be separated from her for a time.  But at Jesus’ resurrection she will rise and be closer to Jesus than ever before!  I wonder – will she sing and dance or fall silent at his feet?  I Can Only Imagine.

I remember the song that echoed in the rafters as the Family Camp worship band led worship at the close of a Family Camp which had come at a time of great searching and pain for our family when we were unsure of what was next but felt God leading us away from the church that was home – These are the Days of Elijah.  And God spoke to me.  “There is no god like Jehovah”.  Yes, Elijah, Moses, David had trials, too.  They were unsure, they questioned, they experienced pain, and God showed up for them in mighty ways, just as He was revealing himself for us, one day at a time.  “There is no god like Jehovah”!

I remember the song that just last night my daughter started to sing as I read aloud the Bible reading for the day from Psalm 108 – “My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.”  The tune probably wouldn’t sound familiar to you because my 3 kids wrote it out and practiced it over and over with piano, guitar and voice to remember it now, 4 years later, during our devotions.  And God spoke to me – through the words of David and the tune of my children.  God is worthy of praise – through all the years and generations and ages.  Sing to Him and tell the nations!

Music is powerful.  People choose and leave churches based on the worship style.   Many report that during the time of online church they miss most not meeting to sing together with the body of Christ.  It is interesting that the most popular post on this site was one titled after a rousing and uplifting worship song which vividly brings to mind God’s might and protection – The God of Angel Armies.

But what gives music its real power is that GOD speaks through it.

In our reading today we have 3 chapters written for the Jews returning to Jerusalem after many year of living in captivity.  They are reminded of how to be God’s chosen, holy people – and that includes the temple worship spoken of in these chapters – 1 Chronicles 23-25.  We read in 1 Chronicles 23:5 that King David himself provided the instruments for the 4,000 Levites selected to lead the people in musical worship to their God.  Chapter 25 lists the heads of the families selected, “for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals.” (25:1).  Often we think today of prophesying as foretelling the future.  But more generically, and often used in the Scriptures, prophesying is simply speaking for the Lord.  To be God’s mouthpiece.  To say what God wants to be said.

God speaks.   And sometimes that is done with a tune, set to music, with instruments and voices lifted high.   Sing to the Lord – and listen for what He is speaking to you today.

 

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+chronicles+23-25&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be back in the songbook of the Bible: Psalm 131, 138-139 & 143- 145 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.

Which verses would you make into a song to sing today?  

Do you have an interest in writing one devotion for this week?   If so, drop me a line at grow16br@gmail.com and we can discuss.

 

 

In the Healer’s Hands

Psalm 30 

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Living in the time that the world is currently facing, I connected with Psalm 30 in a deeper way than I would have previously. With fear, chaos, and anger running rampant with the COVID-19 outbreak around the globe, an overwhelming hunger and desire for the intervention of God becomes more apparent. When we are captivated by this whirlwind of emotions, the future becomes clouded by a veil of uncertainty. It becomes almost impossible to visualize and focus on anything aside from the noise. Almost like the static that you hear on an old tv when a channel doesn’t work. It begins to consume us. It’s debilitating. 

 

When we allow all of the tragedy that has invaded our world to be at the forefront of our mind, we give up the opportunity to spread the Word of God. We can’t focus on reading our Bibles, praying, or even fellowshipping (via Zoom, of course). All we can focus on is what is right in front of our eyes. The “bigger” picture is completely eliminated from view. 

 

The problem with this is that we are focusing on something that, while horrific, is completely out of our control. And because we are so burdened by it all, we aren’t taking the time to come before the LORD and put all of this in his hands.

 

We are choosing to not depend on the ONLY being who can actually bring healing and peace upon the world. 

 

So, today, I urge you. Read Psalm 30. Make it your prayer. Pray it into existence. We serve a God of healing. We can rejoice and be glad in his goodness and mercy he pours upon us. He will restore the Earth. We can take confidence in that. 

 

Leslie Jones

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+30%2C+2+Samuel+24%2C+1+Chronicles+21-22&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Psalm 108-110 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan