The Snail that Dissolves into Slime

New Testament Reading:  1 Corinthians 11
*Psalms Reading:  Psalm 58
Old Testament Reading:  Leviticus 23-24

It is not easy to watch the wicked – those who don’t know God or choose not to follow God – prosper.  Whether it’s wealth or power or fame, it can be very frustrating and disheartening.  It’s easy to think, “That’s not fair!”. 

In Psalm 58 David describes the rulers as wicked, having hands that deal out violence, lying from birth, and having venom.  He follows that by asking God to deal with them….and not very kindly.  Verses 6-9 are David asking God to “break the teeth in their mouths”, “when he aims his arrows, let them be blunted”, “let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime”, and that God would “sweep them away”.   At first, verse 10 seems to speak of enjoying seeing the rulers fall, “The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance;  he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked.”.  But it is not enjoyment, but rather an encouragement to the righteous to see God judge the wicked rulers.  An encouragement in that we can know that, even though they had the power in this life, God will judge them.  He ends this Psalm by encouraging the righteous, “Mankind will say, ‘Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth’”

Don’t pray for bad things to happen to others.  Even those who make really, really bad choices.  Pray, rather, that God gives you the strength to stand firm.  Then you will be able to say, as Paul does in 1 Corinthians 11, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” 

-Todd and Amy Blanchard

Reflection Questions

  1. Paul’s statement is a very confident one.  One I don’t feel comfortable making.  Maybe in some areas, but not overall.  What characteristics do you have that are good for others to imitate?  What areas might you need to more closely imitate Christ? 
  2. It’s easy to want bad things to happen to bad people.   It’s hard to wait for God’s vengeance to “give them what they deserve”.  Is there anyone you need to leave in God’s hands?  To trust in God’s timing and ability to judge rightly?  Pray that God will give you strength to trust He will take care of it.
  3. There were many parts of God’s character in today’s reading.  Which ones were you most drawn to?

No one is all bad, they can always serve as a bad example

*New Testament Reading:  1 Corinthians 10

*Psalms Reading:  Psalm 57

Old Testament Reading:  Leviticus 21-22

Have you ever wondered why some things “made it” into the Bible?  Why do we need to hear about what people did thousands of years ago?  1 Corinthians 10 gives us one reason.  In verses 6 and 11 Paul writes that these things took place as examples for us.  He was referencing the Israelites as they wandered in the desert and telling us not to do the things they did (indulging in sexual immorality, putting God to the test, grumbling, etc.). 

Yesterday we talked about God’s expectations.  Sometimes rather than just giving us a list of do’s and do not’s He gives us examples of others’ choices and how that worked out for them.  We can look in the Bible and find a lot of examples of people who made good choices and bad choices.  We can learn from both of these. 

We can also learn from David’s example in Psalm 57.   Many of the Psalms tell us what the circumstances were when it was written.  This one says it was when David fled from Saul into a cave. 

Verses 1-3 – David cries out to God, believing He will save him

Verse 4 – David tells God some of his problems

Verse 5 – David exalts God

Verse 6 – David tells God more of his problems

Verses 7-11 – David tells God that his heart belongs to Him; he gives thanks and sings praises to God

It seems as if David does believe in God’s ability to protect him, but at the same time sees the big problems that are in his life at that moment.  He reminds himself of God’s faithfulness, but the fears and trials don’t go away.  He finally simply decides to praise God and recognize Him for his greatness, even in the midst of his difficult circumstances. 

-Todd and Amy Blanchard

Reflection Questions

  1. What can you praise God for right now in your life, no matter what your circumstances are? 
  2. Whose example in the Bible do you want to follow?  Whose do you want to avoid?
  3. Are you being a good example of a faithful child of God for others to follow?
  4. What character trait of God did you see in today’s reading?

Be Separated from the Peoples

*Old Testament Reading:  Leviticus 19-20
Psalms Reading:  Psalm 56
*New Testament Reading: 1 Corinthians 9


What is the worst food you’ve ever eaten?  There’s been a few in my life.  Gamey lamb.  Bad goat cheese.  Beets.  Eggplant.  I can easily say I detested those things.  I wanted to spit them out, whether it was from taste or texture.  Detest – that’s a pretty strong word for not liking something.  Other translations for this scripture say abhor, felt disgust, loathe. 

Leviticus 20:23 says, “And you shall not walk in the customs of the nation that I am driving out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I detested them.” (ESV).  Our nation, our world, has a lot of customs (statutes, practices) that God hates.  There are many customs/practices that God detests.  There are the things we consider the “biggies” – abortion, homosexuality, pre- or extra-marital sexual relations – that our nation/culture says are good.  They say that they are right.  God says they are very wrong.   Leviticus 20:26 says, “You shall be holy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.”   God says that if we have chosen Him, He has separated us from the peoples.  He has set us apart.  He expects us to be different.    But, before we get on a soapbox on the “biggies”, consider what other things are practices in our world.  Consider things like gossip, envy, untrustworthy, unmerciful, disobedient to parents, boastful, jealousy, discord, and selfish ambition (Romans 1:29-31, Galations 5:19-21).  These are in the same list as sexual immorality, idolatry, witchcraft, and murder.  The Galatians passage says that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.  Wow!  That is how much God detests worldly behavior. 

So, how do we live like God has set us apart, separated us from the peoples?  We know, living in this world, we will be surrounded by things detestable to God.   Verse 8a of Leviticus 20 gives us an answer for that.  “Keep my statutes and do them”.  Sounds simple, right?  Simple, yes.  Easy, no.  If you read the other passages for today you will find some help.  In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul tells us that we need to exercise self-control and discipline ourselves.  Psalm 56 tells us to trust God.

I often say that people cannot meet your expectations if you don’t let them know what your expectations are.  God has given us His Word, His expectations are there for us to find.  When we accept Jesus as our savior and are baptized, we receive the gift of His Spirit.  His Spirit IS in us.  That’s what we need in order to act like we are separated from the peoples.  But we get to choose.  Every day we have to make choices.  We choose many times a day whether to follow God and His expectations or to follow the world.    Choose to run the race for the prize.  To discipline your body – your thoughts, attitudes, actions.  

-Todd & Amy Blanchard

Reflection Questions

  1. Paul’s description of an athlete in a race creates a picture of commitment.  Running a race takes lots of training.  Disciplining our bodies requires consistent effort.  Reading these devotions daily, and the Scriptures that go with them, is a great tool.  What other things are you doing consistently to be able to finish the race?  Are you surrounding yourself with others who are running the same race?  It’s not a competition, we need to encourage one another.
  2. What worldly attitude or action do you struggle with most?  Note that to struggle is an action; struggling with something means you are actively trying to overcome or change it.  What will it take for you to win the struggle? 
  3. What did God reveal of Himself to you in today’s reading?

Different Temptations

Old Testament Reading: Leviticus 17 & 18
Psalms Reading: Psalm 55
New Testament Reading: 1 Corinthians 8

In the letter of 1 Corinthians, Paul is writing to the church in Corinth.  Corinth is in modern day Greece, so it was at the heart of Greek influence.  This would have meant that the church in Corinth would have been surrounded by people who put their faith and hope in the Greek gods.  The worship of idols was not just an aspect of the Greek culture, it was the heart of Greek culture.  I’m sure many in the church at Corinth would have come from this background of worshipping the Greek gods.  For some, that would not have been a big deal; they could separate themselves from the worship of idols.  For others, it would have been difficult to separate themselves from the worship of idols.  For those who had troubles separating themselves from the worship of idols, they would have had a conflicting conscience eating food that was originally offered as a sacrifice to these idols.  Was it sinful to do so? 

Paul explains that we are not better or worse off if we eat the food originally offered to idols.  At the same time, Paul urges those who aren’t conflicted by eating food originally offered to idols to withhold from eating this food in front of those whose conscience was conflicted.

There are two key takeaways that I would like to mention here:

1) Everybody is susceptible to different temptations.  One path may be safe for someone to travel down; however, that same path may lead to danger for someone else.  For the church at Corinth, some could eat the food offered to idols and stay away from the temptation to commit idolatry while others could not.  One person may be fine having social media and be safe from the temptation to covet, while another person may not be safe from this temptation.  One person may be fine having a drink of alcohol and be safe from the temptation to get drunk, while another person may not be safe from this temptation.  One person may be safe to have digital media on their phone and be safe from the temptation to lust, while another person may not be safe from this temptation.  You catch the drift.

As we alluded to in yesterday’s devotion, you must be acutely aware of what triggers you to commit sin.  It is different for everybody.  Being self-aware of your triggers is key to your recovery from a sinful habit and key to keep you away from a sinful habit.

2) If something is safe for you to indulge in but not for those around you, then don’t take part in it.  Paul urged the Christians at Corinth to not serve as a stumbling block for those around them by eating the food originally offered to idols in front of others who may struggle with this.  Therefore, do we not only need to be aware of what triggers may lead us to sin, it’s imperative that we understand what triggers those around us to sin.  When we act as a stumbling block to those around us, we are sinning ourselves.  In one of my favorite teachings, Jesus explains the severity of causing others to stumble in Matthew 18:6 – check it out.

All in all, be cognizant that God made us all different, and we are all tempted by different things.  Be aware of what tempts you while also being aware of what tempts those around you.

-Kyle McClain

Reflection Questions

  1. What are your temptation triggers? What boundaries can you create to help keep yourself from sin?
  2. How can your actions lead your family members and Christian brothers and sisters who might have different temptations and consciences to sin? What can you do instead to support them and strengthen them in their stand (or flight) against temptation?
  3. What does your Bible reading today tell you about the One who inspired these words? Who is He and what is His desire?

Marital Status

Old Testament Reading: Leviticus 15 & 16
Psalms Reading: Psalm 54
New Testament Reading: 1 Corinthians 7

“Love is a burning thing

And it makes a fiery ring

Bound by wild desire

I fell into a ring of fire”

These are the words of Johnny Cash in his iconic song, Ring of Fire, that hold true for many, as many people have a desire for some form of romantic love that can lead to sexual intimacy.  Our society has a pretty wide range of views on what practices are acceptable or not to fulfill that desire for sexual intimacy.    Paul states that, “It is because of the temptation to sexual immorality that a man should have his own wife, and each woman her own husband,” (1 Corinthians 7:2 ESV).  Marriage is the solution to the desire of sexual intimacy in Paul’s eyes.

Throughout scripture, it is a very constant concept that sexual intimacy is to be experienced between a husband and wife – nothing more, nothing less.  Paul urges married couples not to deprive each other, so that our lack of self-control doesn’t lead to sexual immorality.  I encourage both husbands and wives to fulfill their spouses’ sexual desires to help steer them clear of sexual immorality.  If you need some extra inspiration and motivation, you can read through Song of Solomon.

For those who are not married but burn with passion, I pray that you are able to exhibit self-control.  Remember the words of Paul in the previous chapter as well: “Flee from sexual immorality,” (1 Corinthians 6:18).  Paul does not encourage you to stand firm in the fight against the temptation to sexual immorality.  Rather, Paul encourages you to FLEE!  Be aware of your triggers and run away from them!

For those who are not married and aren’t “bound by wild desire”, I encourage you with the words of Paul: “To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am,” (1 Corinthians 7:8 ESV).  The unmarried person does not need to fret about how to please their spouse.  They can spend all of this attention that many spend on pleasing their spouses, and the unmarried can devote it all to God.  What a blessing!

Whatever camp you find yourself in, whether you are married, single with passion, or single with no passion, I hope you are able to dig nuggets of invaluable information from this chapter about marriage.  When in doubt, you can turn to 1 Corinthians 7 for questions about biblical principles regarding marriage and the absence of marriage.

-Kyle McClain

Reflection Questions

  1. What is your current situation? What can you do now to make the most of your situation? How will you strive to please God in your situation?
  2. Married or unmarried, how can you flee from sexual immorality?
  3. What do we learn about God in our Bible reading today?

Quarreling with the Siblings

Old Testament Reading: Leviticus 13 & 14
Psalms Reading: Psalm 53
New Testament Reading: 1 Corinthians 6

Like most human beings I have encountered, I enjoy being right, and I like others to know when I am right.  Oftentimes, I would be willing to go the distance to ensure that others are aware of the fact that I am right.  This includes both people inside and outside of church.  If I shared a belief in the risen Christ with someone, that would not stop me from getting into a long argument… erm… I mean debate about who the greatest athlete of all time is.  Unfortunately, I am quite sure that I’m not the only one who has been there before.

Evidently, this was an issue with the church in Corinth as well, as they even took it to another level.  Christian brothers and sisters were hiring third parties to determine who was in the wrong and who wasn’t, as they were filing lawsuits against each other.  What sort of image were they giving of the church to outsiders?  This was humiliating for the church to have to hire a third party to settle a dispute between two people who were called to love one another.  Paul brings this issue to light and shames them for doing such a thing.

Although many of us have probably never filed an official lawsuit with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, how often do we quarrel with our brothers and sisters in Christ?  What sort of image are we giving of the church to outsiders when we quarrel with each other?  Often, when it comes to disagreements between two people, it is a matter of preference: Who’s the greatest athlete?  What color carpet is the best?  How loud should the music be?  Don’t let simple preferences like these cause a division among yourselves – there is no need for that.  On the other hand, we are called to judge our Christian brothers and sisters when it comes to an objective right or wrong, as Paul states in chapter 5 of 1 Corinthians.  However, more often than not, I have seen Christians quarreling over preferences rather than an objective right or wrong.  Don’t let that be you.

Therefore, I encourage you to not let a division of opinions get in the way of your relationship with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Don’t let these small differences of opinion snowball into quarreling amongst each other.  When we digress into these small differences of opinions, we lose sight of the big picture.  What is the big picture, you may ask?  Paul highlights this in verse 11, “And such were some of you.  But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God,” (1 Corinthians 6:11 ESV).  We were all sinners, but now we are a new creation.  We have been washed and forgiven of our sin, set apart from the world, and made right in the eyes of God.  

Let our life be a demonstration of the forgiveness, sanctification, and justification that we have received rather than divulging and arguing about our differences of opinion.  When this successfully takes place, we will give a much better picture of what church looks like to outsiders.

-Kyle McClain

Reflection Questions

  1. When has your desire to be right gotten you into trouble – or led you into disagreements that Paul would not approve of? What could you have done instead?
  2. How does 1 Corinthians 6:11 change your outlook on disputes and the “need” to be right?
  3. What do you learn about God in your reading of His Word today?

Never Lost his Trust in God

Old Testament Reading: Leviticus 11 & 12
*Psalms Reading: Psalm 52
New Testament Reading: 1 Corinthians 5

For the Christian it is considered a “no brainer” that our trust is supposed to be found in God. But so often the stresses and worries of the world come against us, and we may forget that we serve a mighty God who cares deeply for us. 

Here in Psalm 52 we are shown a great contrast between David here and his enemy. David wrote this Psalm during the time when he was constantly on the run from Saul, who was chasing him down to kill him, out of jealousy. David lost many years of his life running from Saul but he never lost his trust in God. At this time David had amassed a group of strong men who were ready to fight for him, but Saul, having the armies of Israel behind him, had the greater strength. David had support from people who gave him food and supplies as he ran from place to place, but Saul had all the riches of Israel behind him. But the important thing is that David had God with him, and God had promised him the throne of Israel that Saul currently sat on. 

David was able to stay strong in his faith because he had seen God help him against overwhelming odds again and again, the most notable time was when he took on the nine foot tall giant, Goliath all on his own. There were actually two times during David’s years of running, that we are told about, where David had the chance to rely on his own strength to defeat Saul. Once was when Saul went to relieve himself in a cave, not knowing that David was hiding in the cave. The other time, the Bible says that God caused the entire army that was with Saul to go into a deep sleep and David was able to sneak right up next to Saul. Both times the man who was with David encouraged him to kill Saul and take the throne. But each time David refused, saying that he would not harm the Lord’s anointed. It would have been so easy for David to trust in his own strength in that moment, and no longer have to keep running for his life, but just like when David faced Goliath, David put his trust in God and not in himself. And because David did trust God, he never had to draw his sword against Saul or anyone in his family. In one single battle, Saul and all of his sons were taken out by the Philistines. God provided David the throne without David having to shed blood. David’s faith in what probably seemed like the hopeless situation of being relentlessly chased down by King Saul, paid off in the end. Years later after David had become king, he penned another Psalm, in which he said, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.” I hope and pray each day to have the kind of faith and trust in God like David had, and I hope you do as well.

-Jonny Smith

Reflection Questions

  1. Is there a time you have trusted in God through a tough situation? What was the result?
  2. What do you sometimes put your trust in instead? How does that work? Why?
  3. What has God shown about Himself in your reading today?

A Clean Heart

Old Testament Reading: Leviticus 9 & 10
*Psalms Reading: Psalm 51
New Testament Reading: 1 Corinthians 4

If there is one thing we can all do well, it is sin! We mess up and usually a lot, whether in thought, word, or action. We have all done something in our lives to fall short of God’s desires. David wrote Psalm 51 during a time in his life when he had messed up big time. Most of us probably can recall the story of David and Bathsheba, if not it can be found in 2 Samuel 11-12. At this time, David was completely broken, it was in his brokenness his heart revealed the words found in Psalm 51.

When I read this Psalm, I see three parts to it. The first is in verses 1-9. Here, David acknowledges that he has sinned, and he asks God to forgive him of his sins. The second part is verses 10-12. In these verses, David asks God to be changed from his sinful ways with the statement “create in me a clean heart.” The final section is verses 13-19. David proclaims what he is going to do because he has been forgiven. He says he will teach the ways of God, he will joyfully sing, and he will declare God’s praise. 

I think we can apply all three parts of this Psalm to our lives. When we sin and mess up against God, we need to be like David by confessing our sins, and asking for forgiveness. Right away in verse 1, David asks God to “Be gracious with me, O God, according to your lovingkindness; According to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions.” We then need to take action, recognizing that we need a changed heart and restoration. But it doesn’t stop there, we need to take the forgiveness given to us and live for God. When you are transparent with people they will see your changed life with God and will hopefully want that as well. Just as verse 13 says, “Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will be converted to you.” Follow David’s example, ask for forgiveness, ask to be changed, then show others how you have been changed. 

-Camden Bormes

Reflection Questions

  1. Have you experienced God’s forgiveness and the changing of your heart? If so, did you use the opportunity to declare His praises and show/teach others how you have been forgiven and changed? How?
  2. What does your heart need to be cleansed of today? What sins stand between you and God right now? Pray this Psalm to the Lord. What does it feel like to have your sins blotted out by God? What will your clean, changed heart look like? How will you share with others what God has done for you?
  3. What does God reveal about Himself in Psalm 51 and your reading today? What words would you use to describe Him? What will your response be?

Let’s Get to Work

Old Testament Reading: Leviticus 7 & 8
Psalms Reading: Psalm 50
*New Testament Reading: 1 Corinthians 3

For the Corinthians and Greek culture in general, wisdom and knowledge were extremely important.  This is why Paul spends 1 Corinthians 1 emphasizing that it is through faith in Christ that we are saved, not through the wisdom they have worked towards their whole lives.  Then in 1 Corinthians 2 Paul says that wisdom is important for the Christian, but it is Godly wisdom that is very different from what they have learned, and it cannot be taught, but is given by the holy spirit.  Now in chapter 3 Paul is clearing up any last confusion in case they were not understanding up until now. He very clearly says that they need this Godly wisdom, but do not have it at all. They have been seeking an elevated status in their congregation because of their high learning and deep understandings.  Paul wants to set the record straight, living a Christian life is not about sitting in your plush study and writing treatises and books and musings, and becoming revered for your knowledge. It is about getting your hands dirty. He likens the Christians to farmers and builders who have work to do, and he is a worker right there with them.  This would have been a very shocking thing to the aristocratically minded members of the Corinthian Church who would have read this.

So let me be as clear as Paul was.  If you decide to follow Jesus and serve him, then you will be a servant.  Your life will not be a vacation, but a construction project. It will take work, but in the end you will hopefully do something valuable with your life and “the fire will test the quality of each person’s work.  If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.” 1 Corinthians 3:13-14.  That reward is everlasting life in God’s kingdom, and is worth so much more than a high position in society, or being revered for your earthly wisdom.

Your fellow servant – Chris Mattison

(Posted here first in 2019)

Reflection Questions

  1. What is your favorite verse in today’s reading? Why?
  2. Is your work ready to be tested by fire? What might God be calling you to do as a part of His field or building?
  3. What can you learn about Almighty God in your reading today?

Sin & Guilt

Old Testament Reading: Leviticus 5 & 6
Psalms Reading: Psalm 49
New Testament Reading: 1 Corinthians 2

We all love to read a good book full of rules. This is what makes Leviticus the perfect bedtime story. Just kidding, unless if you actually enjoy reading pages of laws… but the majority of us don’t. It can be easy to skip over a book like Leviticus without gathering any insightful information because of how long, repetitive, and honestly boring it can be. But this begs the question, why did God have Moses write it? And why do we need to read it? At first it may seem like God set all the rules in place to restrict us and make life hard. But, through the law, He offered a way for His people to draw closer to Him. The laws found in Leviticus regarding the different offerings are there for the purpose of revealing WHO God is. God is holy. And in order to be in His presence… we must be holy too.

The book of Exodus closes with Moses not being able to enter the tent of meeting, because “the cloud had settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” Moses was not able to be in the presence of God because there was no system in place that made humans clean. The continual theme throughout Leviticus is that humans are unclean. And unfortunately, there are so many tiny things that can make us unclean and keep us from God. This is why the book of Leviticus is so important to the Israelites. It offered a way for the Israelites to enter into the presence of their God. This is a major development of God’s plan of having a personal relationship with us.

Chapters 4, 5 and 6 describe the occasions when sin offerings and guilt offerings were necessary. The difference between a sin offering and a guilt offering is that a sin offering is when the sin only affects yourself, and a guilt offering is when your sin affects others. Therefore, guilt offerings included a 20% reimbursement to the person who was wronged. God designed it this way so that relationships could be restored between the Israelites. The sin and guilt offerings demonstrated that the life is in the blood. Being able to see the blood being poured of the innocent sacrifice allowed the Israelites to understand the concept of a substitute for their sins.

Not only does Leviticus remind us of the holy attributes of God, but it ultimately shows the drastic differences between us and God by revealing all the sin that separates us. Even though we are no longer bound to the offerings and laws, the theme of Leviticus is just as important for us now as it was for the Israelites. God is holy and therefore we need to be holy in order to be in God’s presence.

-Makayla Railton

Reflection Questions

  1. What makes you unclean? What makes you clean? What do you do with your sin and guilt?
  2. What does it mean to you that God is holy? And that even in His holiness He still wants a relationship with you?
  3. What else can we learn about God and His attributes and His heart in our reading of His word today?
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