Coming Soon!

louisiana

Pictured above are the Louisiana Representatives at FUEL 2016!

Our writer for the week, Josiah Cain, was able to take advantage of the opportunity to travel to Louisiana to help victims of the flooding there.  Many people, including several of our FUEL and COG friends, are facing the tremendous task of sorting through their destroyed belongings and putting pieces of their lives back together.  Be praying for Louisiana – and Saturday’s Bible reading devotion will be coming soon.

Thank you!

It’s Time to Build …Finally (Exodus 35-37)

By Josiah Cain

holy of holies

After many chapters of instructions it is finally time for the people to craft these objects and put the tabernacle together. Not just any old person built things for God; only the ones filled with His spirit were builders. It says that these people were filled with craftsmanship and intelligence this way they could accurately build all that God commanded them.

I also liked how God provided for his tabernacle by having the people give but only if they wanted to give. God didn’t force people to give like He did with the flat tax rather He only wanted those who really cared to give. So many people were moved that Moses had to command the people to stop bringing stuff because they had more than enough to finish the project.

I always enjoy seeing God interact with His people and how He provides for what needs to be done. If we trust God with everything we won’t be disappointed by Him, I promise.

The Israelites Mess Up Again, Shocker! (Exodus 31-34)

By Josiah Cain

Tissot_The_Golden_Calf

There is a lot to cover in these chapters and a lot of cool and terrible stories take place. Of course, in normal Israelite fashion, we find the people of God disobeying orders. They make a golden calf statue to worship while Moses is away on Mt. Sinai. God tells Moses that the people are messing up and Moses then pleads with God not to destroy them; if it wasn’t for Moses the Israelites would not have made it very far. So Moses goes down to see what is happening and ends up destroying the tablets that God made and the golden calf the people made. Moses then orders the Levites to kill the people who disobeyed God and this is the same event that made the Levites the priestly tribe for the rest of Jewish history. In total 3,000 people ended up dying that day at the hands of the Levites but that wasn’t enough for God; God later in the evening sent a plague to kill some of the Israelites and finally all the punishment was over. The Jews really can’t seem to keep themselves out of trouble.

There are many things that I don’t envy about Moses, like the time he killed that Egyptian, but if there is one thing I am jealous of, it would be the way he talks to God. It says in chapter 33 that God talked to Moses face to face. What? How cool is that! Can you imagine talking to God face to face?!? It is incredible to think that Moses literally heard the voice of God and sat in the same place as God dwelt. I would give anything to commune with God in this way. Reading the way that God and Moses communicate just builds my anticipation for the coming kingdom even more.

Moses actually spent so much time with God that his face started to glow. I can’t imagine what this would have looked like but it was enough to scare some of the Israelites apparently. I wonder if we will have glowing faces when we spend a bunch of time with God? It did stink for Moses though that he had to hand carve the Ten Commandments again. I would still trade 40 days of no eating and stone carving for that much time with God.

Thanks for reading again and please take to heart the lessons that we can learn from the Israelites. If we follow God’s rules then everything works out for us in the end. I also think that we can learn patience from this story. The only reason they made the statue in the first place was because they were worried that Moses wasn’t coming back. We need to wait because God always has things under control.

 

More Instructions?!? (Exodus 28-30)

By Josiah Cain

josiah garments

After yesterday’s reading I didn’t think that it could get any more thorough but it did. In this section God lays out very specific instructions for what Aaron and his sons are supposed to wear, who is to make the clothing, and how they are to make it. There are also instructions on what type of sacrifices the Israelites are to be making; God even gave directions on how to make holy perfume. It all seems a little much but at the same time I really appreciate the lengths that the Israelites went through to honor God and follow His orders.

One thing that stuck out to me in this reading was how the spirit filled those who were supposed to be doing the crafting. It is not very often in the Old Testament that we find the spirit filling people. I think it’s cool how God gave certain people the spirit so they could make clothing. It just makes me realize that everyone’s gifts are important and God may very well be blessing you with a gift that is simple, like making clothing.

I also liked that Aaron and his sons ate from the sacrifices that were made to God.The fact that God provided for His priests through what was His really appeals to me and shows me that YHWH is a God of love. Of course everything is already God’s but the sacrifices almost seem doubly God’s, if that is even possible.

The last thing that I really liked about this section is the flat census tax that everyone payed. No matter how rich or poor you were, you payed the same amount as everybody else. There is something appealing to me about that but I can’t really explain why I like it so much.

Anyway, thanks again for reading my short and humble thoughts on today’s section. God bless and have a great day!

Indiana Jones – Raiders of the Lost Ark

By Josiah Cain

josiah ark

Well if there is one thing you probably noticed about today’s reading, that is, it was repetitive. The amount of instructions were so long because every other sentence was like, do this exact same thing again on the other side. Besides all of the long winded instructions, what else was there? I actually think there is a lot of value hidden in these words.

The first thing I noticed was how specific the instructions got; it was just like yesterday’s reading where the situations that were described got really specific. I think this shows us that God really does have an exact way that He wants us to do things sometimes.

Also what a cool job it would be to build God’s tabernacle and His ark. The ark is such a historically important object that Hollywood even decided to make a movie about it. Also the tabernacle was the first place that God really calls His dwelling place, the first time we see God dwelling amongst His people since the Garden of Eden.

Another thought I had was how everything the ark and tabernacle were built out of was expensive. I think that material doesn’t really change the holiness points of structures but I think it did impact the Israelite’s view of the whole ordeal. The Israelites had to put some skin in the game if they wanted to really build the ark and tabernacle. All of the materials mentioned did not come cheap and easily, especially in the middle of the desert.

All in all, this might not have been the most thrilling section to read but it is still important because God put it there. I hope you did learn something about the tabernacle and the ark. It might have also made you appreciate the fact that God hasn’t asked you to build Him a giant tent in your back yard. Once again thanks for reading!

Why So Many Rules? (Exodus 21-23)

Josiah - rules

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

How God Interacts With His People (Exodus 17-20)

josiah -moses sinai

There are many great stories in these few chapters but they are by far some of my favorite stories in the book of Exodus. Through the stories we get a very good idea of how God chooses to communicate with His people, the Israelites. If you are just hopping into the Bible reading program the main character of this passage is a man named Moses. Moses was a man chosen by God to do great works for the Israelites; Moses was the man who set the Israelites free from Egypt and led them through the desert. The Israelites wandering through the desert is where we pick up the story.

The Israelites had a nasty habit of complaining to God about their so called ‘problems’ and how they are being treated ‘poorly’. Of course, the Israelites had no idea that God always had their back and was always watching over them. The Israelites run into two problems in chapter 17; problem number one, they have no water and problem number two, they are in danger from Amalek. God is not worried by any of this, but because we have little faith sometimes God must intervene for our sake. So God provides water for all of the Israelites through a miracle and does another miracle to protect them from Amalek. The Amalek story in particular always intrigues me. I love how Moses gets support from two of his closest men to help him do his job. Also it’s just cool to see God work through his people to kick some gentile butt.

In chapter 18 we get a good view of how I think the church should be structured. Moses’ dad-in-law, Jethro, comes and sees that Moses is having a hard time coping with all the stress the Israelites put on him. So Jethro gives Moses the advice to put some trusted men in charge of smaller groups of people to handle the small quarrels and disagreements among themselves. This turns out to be great advice and it makes everyone happier. I see God was moving when Jethro came to Moses; that God once again cared for His people even when they didn’t realize that they needed it.

I can’t help but think of how amazing God is when I read chapter 19. The image I get in my head of God covering the mountain with fire and talking through thunder is incredible. What an awesome God we serve! What blows my mind though is how the Israelites didn’t even want to talk to God. They could hear God’s voice, which I think any of us would die to do, and yet they threw it all away. Now it’s not until the end of chapter 20 where we find out that the people don’t want to talk to God. I mean come on how stupid can the Israelites be sometimes? Even though God told them that they would be safe they still felt fear towards Him. This is also the time when God decided to give His people rules to follow that way they could better follow Him. I don’t think the Israelites really understood the greatness of the gifts they were given. Who wouldn’t want God to come down to them in person and tell them exactly how to live there lives. I would love for God to come down and speak to me directly on my life and how I could live better. Anyway, the Israelites said they wanted no part in talking to God, only Moses, so that’s what they got.

We can see God really striving to be with His people in these chapters. He wants so badly for us to have everything we need and be safe so He provides for us. God wants to be with us and speak to us but we, like the Israelites, shy away in fear from God. We get rules from God that He wants us to follow but we always seem to fall short. I can’t help but think that we are like the Israelites; running from God because we are too afraid to speak to Him ourselves, afraid of what He might say. We are always willing to have someone else pray for us or have a pastor talk to God for us but we need to do that ourselves. Let’s not be like the Israelites. Let us walk boldly up the foot of the mountain and talk to God just like He designed us to do. We don’t need a middle man in our lives because we have Jesus. He is our mediator and he does a perfect job for us. It’s through Jesus that we can speak to God. We should not waste this great gift like the Israelites did. We should speak to God and go to Him for everything because He is perfect and longs to provide for us.

— Josiah Cain

Sat, Aug 6: Genesis 43-45

What would your steward say of you and your God?

As I read this portion of Joseph’s story, my attention gravitates towards one of the background characters – Joseph’s steward. He’s mentioned multiple times in Chapter 43, verses 16-25. A steward, similar to a modern day personal assistant, knows their master’s or employer’s business. But not just their professional business, often their personal and private business as well. It seems as though any given month you can see on a tabloid cover that some celebrity’s assistant or child’s nanny has some fresh dirt to smear the reputation with or “reveal the truth” about. But as we read in these verses, Joseph’s steward actually knows God by name and encourages Joseph’s brothers in verse 23 – “Don’t be afraid, Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks…” Joseph’s private and public life were in alignment. There wasn’t any discrepancy. His life was about serving God and those closest to him were able to recognize it.

So what does this mean for you and me? Well, lots. But I want to keep this short, so I’ll just share a quote I found and hope that it inspires you to be authentic and let your light shine before men.

bethany quote

“Live Your Life” image by Rose Sexton on quotesgram.com

 

Many Blessings,

-bethany ligon

Fri, August 5: Genesis 40-42

Those Pivotal Circumstances – and Influencing Others!

bethany chains

Hands in Chains” by George Hoden

 

Yesterday we took a look at how God used Providential Relationships to impact Joseph’s faith and today we’re looking at the Pivotal Circumstances in Joseph’s life. The life of Joseph is one of my personal favorites to read about. Every time, I am struck by his ability to remain positive and faithful even in the most dire of circumstances.

Others may disagree, but I think that one of the most Pivotal Circumstances in his life is when Joseph is in prison at the same time as the cupbearer and baker to interpret their dreams. We read in Genesis 40:6-7 that Joseph took notice that these two prisoners were dejected and he spent just a few minutes of his day listening to them tell him their dreams. Had Joseph just minded his own business, he would have lost on the opportunity to interpret those dreams and later on, interpret Pharaoh’s dreams as well. And had he not been able to tell Pharaoh to prepare for the famine that was to come, Joseph may have lost out on the chance to reunite with his family and oh yeah…save the entire Israelite community’s future.

Whatever your current circumstances are like, whether you are able to enjoy each and every day or your life feels like you’re trying to hold on to a 1600 pound bucking rodeo bull, your life can influence the lives of those around you. Be aware of how you conduct yourself because others are paying attention. If that sounds like some added pressure you aren’t sure how to deal with right now, you can have confidence that God will provide everything you need to not just been sustained, but THRIVE.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” — Romans 8:28

“And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” — 2 Corinthians 9:8

Many Blessings,

-bethany ligon

Thursday, August 4: Genesis 37-39

Who Are Your Providential Relationships?

bethany beach

Footprints in the sand” by Andrew Huff is licensed under (CC BY-NC 2.0)

During our week at FUEL, we had the chance to examine five different ways that God uses to GROW our faith. It was on Wednesday that we took the time to hear the stories from Josiah Cain and Sean Finnegan of how Providential Relationships can impact the growth of our faith.

As we begin reading the epic story of Joseph in Genesis 37, we see multiple examples of the various relationships Joseph had and we begin to see how each played an important part in the development of his faith. Because of his relationship with God, Joseph was given some outrageous dreams for what his future would hold. Because of his relationships with his brothers, Joseph was sold off into slavery and taken to Egypt. Because of his relationship with Potiphar, Joseph had an unfortunate false accusation of misconduct and was sent off to prison.

When we think about Providential Relationships, it’s easy to have a narrow focus and just concern ourselves about the relationships that are easy and non-confrontational. But within these chapters we see how difficult relationships are often the ones that push us closer to God.

So if you’re in a difficult relationship right now (maybe it’s someone at school or work, or even a family member), take heart. God is near. He is guiding you every step of the way. Seek His wisdom to know what to say and how to act. Trust in God’s faithfulness to provide for your every need.

Many Blessings,

-bethany ligon

 

 

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