Promise Keeper

Old Testament Reading: Numbers 34-36

Psalms Reading: Psalm 75

New Testament Reading: 2 Corinthians 12

Looking here at the last three chapters of the book of Numbers, it can often be easy to gloss over it, and miss the bigger picture of what is happening. It is easy to look at this as just some boring passages about land being divided between the tribes of Israel. But when we look at the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible) we are supposed to look at it all together as a whole. Really we are supposed to look at the whole Bible that way, as one continuous story that leads to Jesus, and the work that God did through him on the cross.

When we look at the Pentateuch we see that the land of Canaan is referred to as the Promised Land. The reason for that is because way back in Genesis, God promised Abraham that this land would belong to his descendants: “The whole land of Canaan, where you now reside as a foreigner, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:8) And so as we look at the end of Numbers what we are seeing is the fulfillment of God’s promise to Abraham. This passage even goes so far as to show that God is providing a place in the land of Canaan for those who are guilty of accidental murder, and for a family of sisters, whose dad had died without any male heirs.

Nowadays we look at that last chapter and say, “Well of course those ladies should inherit their father’s land,” but in those days that was unheard of. In the days of the Israelite conquest of Canaan, the only people who could legally inherit land from their fathers were men. But God had promised to Abraham that all of his descendants would be part of that inheritance. And God keeps His promises.

I think that is a big takeaway for us out of this passage. We can be sure that God keeps His promises no matter what. In II Corinthians (which we will also finish tomorrow) Paul wrote “For no matter how many promises God has made, they are ‘Yes’ in Christ. And so through him the ‘Amen’ is spoken by us to the glory of God.” (1:20) Just like it was surely difficult for God’s people when they were trapped in slavery for a few hundred years to hold on to the promise of freedom and a land of their own. And like it was most likely hard for the Israelites who were exiled in Babylon for seventy years to hold onto the promise of being returned to their home in Israel. In the same way it may have been difficult for Simeon to hold onto the promise that his eyes would see the Messiah before he died. In the same way, it is difficult for us today to hold onto the promises that God may have given us. But just like in all these stories and so many others in the Bible, God fulfilled all of His promises.

When we read passages like this, we shouldn’t just gloss over them, but instead celebrate with the people that God’s promises were fulfilled in their lives. And we should also remember that just as He fulfilled his promises for them, He will do the same for us. So if you are struggling with fear and doubt about whether something God promised you will happen and take place, take heart because God will never ever ever break a single promise that He makes.

-Jonny Smith

Reflection Questions

  1. What promises of God have already been fulfilled, both in Scripture and in your own life?
  2. What promises of God are you still expecting to be fulfilled? How sure are you that they will indeed happen? What should we do while waiting for them?
  3. Using what you have read in His Scriptures, how would you describe God?

Love Letters

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 35, 36 & 37
Psalm Reading: Psalm 44
New Testament Reading: Romans 14

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Have you ever received a mushy love letter that resulted in a permanent smile pasted on your face? My late father-in-law Rex Cain shared stories about writing love letters to his girlfriend Grace (who later became his wife) when he was states away at Oregon Bible College in the 1950s. He would save his pennies for postage stamps and brief long-distance phone calls while he anxiously awaited her letters via snail mail. 

Communication has changed a lot since then. Now we can reach people almost anytime, anywhere, as they probably carry their cell phones everywhere they go. We can video chat instantly with people from all over the world and send written correspondence lickety-split via email and text. (Call me old fashioned, but even though I am very grateful for the technological advancements that have allowed us so much more contact with each other, nothing can quite replace a handwritten letter or card from someone you love.)

I’ve heard it said that the Bible is God’s love letter to us. I also envision that many of the Psalms are the writer’s love letters to God. Psalm 44 begins as a love letter style – it might have even been put to music. The author writes about God’s faithfulness to His people in the past and renews their devotion to God. “For not in my bow do I trust, nor can my sword save me… In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah.” (Psalm 44:6, 8 ESV)

Then in verse nine, this love letter turns a bit sour as the writer wonders aloud why God seems to have abandoned them. Something bad has happened to Israel, perhaps some battles that didn’t end well, even “though we have not forgotten you, and we have not been false to your covenant. Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way…” (vs 17,18). Israel is still faithfully serving God, but things are not going well for them. 

Here, the writer is poetically penning the collective thoughts and doubts of God’s chosen people, speaking directly to God. They need help and answers! Perhaps sometimes we are afraid to tell God what we really think, but He already knows. He created us with emotions and feelings, and I think He wants us to share those with Him. But notice how this psalm ends. It doesn’t conclude by harping on God and turning away from Him. Rather, in verse 26 we observe an optimistic plea as the author remembers how God has always been faithful in the past, and believes that He will yet again show up to help His people: “Rise up; come to our help! Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!”

Even in your times of doubting, don’t forget to remember God’s faithfulness. The Bible is packed with true tales of God’s provision, and if you think back hard enough into your own life, I bet you will recognize many times when God came through in your darkest moments as well. 

-Rachel Cain


Pen your own psalm. In this season of life, would your psalm be mostly praise and triumph, or more lamenting and questioning? Be sure to remember His faithfulness in your life as you close out the psalm. 

Do you journal? It can be a great way to remember God’s faithfulness in your life. It doesn’t have to be elaborate; you can even do a quick bullet journal style. Journaling is a concrete way to look back to see God’s provision in your life. Jump in this week and give it a try! 

Which  part of this psalm speaks most to your heart today? 

What does God want you to know about Him?

Is God Faithful, or Not?

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 21 & 22
Psalms Reading: Psalm 39
* New Testament Reading: Romans 9

Romans 8 ended with the promise that nothing can separate us from the love of God.  But then in the next chapter, we find Paul saying, in Romans 9:2-4, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.  For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers… the people of Israel.”

You may be thinking, “Wait a minute, is God faithful, or not?  Didn’t he choose the Israelites as His chosen people originally?  Apparently, that didn’t work out so well, so then God threw them away, and now Christians are His chosen people.  Will God get tired of us too, and throw us away too?”

I’m glad you asked.  Let’s look at that.

God chose the Israelites.  They were His people. God gave the Israelites the law, the temple worship, and the promises, the patriarchs, and the human ancestry of Jesus.   God extended tremendous grace to them.   God was (and is) faithful.  But despite that, many turned their back on God.  Romans 9:6 says, “It is not as though God’s word had failed.  For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.”  The problem was with the Israelites.  They weren’t faithful to God.  Even though they had the right ancestor (Abraham), they didn’t have the right heart.

Romans 9:27-28 later says, “Though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only the remnant will be saved.  For the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality.”

This should be a warning to us.  God told us in Romans 8 that nothing external can separate us from the love of God.  But we are free to walk away from Him if we choose.  Even though God extended tremendous grace to Israel, many rejected God, and only a remnant will be saved.  God has now extended tremendous grace to us Gentiles through Christ.  Unfortunately, I fear the same will be true of those of us who call ourselves Christians.

Romans 9:30-32 then stresses again the importance of righteousness by faith, “What shall we say then?  That the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have obtained it, a righteousness that is by faith; but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it.  Why not?  Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works…”

To recap, God is merciful, gracious, and faithful.  He showered His love on the Israelites, but many rejected him.  And many who didn’t reject Him tried to please God by just following a bunch of rules.  I picture their attitude as something like this:  “I’m going to do what God demands, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it.”  God then rejected those who rejected Him and those who tried to earn their way into his favor.

God has showered his love on us through Jesus, and has invited us to be adopted as His children.  How will you respond?  Will you reject Him?  Will you try to earn His favor by following a bunch of rules?  Or will you develop a loving relationship with Him and live by faith?  Only one of these choices will result in eternal life.  Which will you choose?

-Steve Mattison

Reflection Questions

  1. In this chapter on God’s Sovereign Choice how many times does Paul quote the Old Testament? Why do you think Paul does so?
  2. Are there times you have questioned if God is faithful? Do you find anything in Romans 9 that would have helped you (or did help you) through these times? How can you help someone else who is questioning?
  3. What do we learn about God and His character and roles and desires in our reading of His words today?

The Beginning

Old Testament Reading: Genesis 1 & 2

Psalm Reading: Psalm 3

New Testament: Matthew 2

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” Genesis 1:1-3

The origin of the universe is a topic of serious debate in both Christian and secular culture.  There are many who spend their entire lives, tens of thousands of hours, dissecting chapter one of Genesis or looking for clues through a telescope of how we came to be.  While I hope to shed some “light” and context to today’s reading, you will be disappointed if you are looking for a detailed outline of theory or a presentation of observable evidence; you have the wrong blogger.  What has become apparent to me in my last couple of readings of Genesis is the simple significance of verse one of our sacred scripture.  Whether you argue the lifetime of the universe or the age of earth is thousands or billions of years old, God wanted you to know the understatement of eternity: He created the heavens. He created the earth.

The newest estimates place the universe somewhere at 93 billion lightyears across.  This space is  filled with roughly two trillion galaxies, each containing millions of stars. It’s incomprehensible, without description, unfathomable to our miniscule minds.  While there is “universal” truth when we look to the heavens (Psalm 8:1-4), it is no wonder God doesn’t bog us down with the details. The focus of this revealed narrative is on Earth; the light, the sky, the lands, the seas, the moon and sun, the animals, and finally, us. This makes perfect sense when we consider it was deliberately made for you and I to inhabit for eternity, not just for the handful of breaths that are in life as we know it. 

“Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth. God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” – Genesis 1:26, 27

While all creation gives glory to God, much of it inspiring awe and wonder, we are the only creation that is directly made in the likeness of the Creator (Gen 1:26). The two-billion galaxy creating Heavenly Father has exalted you as the highest and most purposeful creation. Each one of your 100 trillion cells carry 3.2 billion pairs of unique DNA coding that makes you, you. Again, these are pretty profound and puzzling figures, speaking to the deliberate nature of God Almighty. Because we are made in his likeness, and through Christ are adopted as children of the Light, we have access to the God of the infinite expanse.  And He is not only the God of initial creation, but the God of new creation. The same power that raised Christ from the dead, can be the power that lives in each one of us (Eph. 1:18-21). Jesus has let it be known that there is a place that is being prepared for us according to this new covenant, so we may not only have access to God, but to fully dwell with our Father, God and His son, Jesus Christ. Hallelujah – this is the plan from the beginning.

–Aaron Winner

Reflection Questions

  1. Where do you see God’s amazing qualities in His creation?
  2. What does it mean to you that you are made in His image?
  3. How would you describe the new creation (through Jesus)?
  4. Today is a really fun day to ask – What does God reveal about Himself to you in Genesis 1 & 2? What difference does that make in your relationship with God? Throughout the rest of our Bible reading this year, take note each time God’s creating is mentioned, it might be more than you think. You can create a marking, such as a C in a circle, to add in your Bible margins or journal pages whenever you find reference to God creating.
  5. Praise and thank Him for being the God he is!

(Editor’s Note: If you find yourself unsure of God’s creating – or enjoying more “proof” to share with others – keep searching. There are many scientific and well-researched articles with evidence pointing to the Creator of Genesis 1. You might be interested in starting with a series of devotions written for SeekGrowLove in January 2021 by Greg Landry. Click here for the first one.)

How Could They?

Luke 22

Thursday, December, 29, 2022

            Can you imagine if you lived in Bible times and the son of God handpicked you to be a part of his very exclusive inner circle?  How amazing that would have been to be chosen as one of the twelve disciples!  Spending time in conversation with him daily, watching him perform many miracles, listening to him teach the people and reveal the coming kingdom, and just being around the most awesome dude ever would have been incredible.  Surely, that group of twelve would be so devoted to him that they would never turn against him.  Or, maybe they would.

            Let’s start with Judas.  I’m not making excuses for him, but Luke 22:3 does say that Satan entered into Judas right before he went to the chief priests and officers to devise a plan to betray Jesus so he could be put to death.  Although, how in the world could one of the twelve disciples get to the point where Satan would be allowed to have so much influence over him.  He didn’t have to go along with the temptation Satan presented to him, but he willingly did turn his back on Jesus.  I don’t really understand how he could have justified in his mind such an evil plan, but clearly, he was weak in the faith department and not strong enough to not give in to the temptation.

            I think we accept the fact that Judas betrayed Jesus – because he was Judas.  Who has anything good to say about Judas?  It’s not like he was John, James, or Peter, some of the most impressive disciples.  They would never turn their back on Jesus, until Peter did.

            Peter showed over and over that he loved Jesus and was totally onboard for the cause.  His faith was pretty strong also – strong enough to walk on water for a little bit.  So what went wrong?  How could he have denied Jesus three times in one night.  Furthermore, to make it worse, Jesus even told him right beforehand that he was going to deny him three times.  It seems like after the second time he would have thought, “Okay, that was two times, but there’s no way I’m messing up a third time.  I’m not falling for that one.”  But one of the most devoted of Jesus’ inner circle was not strong enough to not give in to the temptation.

            Let’s fast-forward to today.  How strong is your faith?  Are you onboard with the cause 100% or are you a fair-weather Christian?  What can you do to make sure you don’t give into temptation when tough times hit?  There is one suggestion from Jesus that he stated in verse 40 and again in verse 46.  He told the disciples to pray that they wouldn’t enter into temptation.  I find it interesting that he didn’t tell them to pray to not enter into sin; he told them to pray to not enter into temptation.  Temptation is not wrong.  Jesus was tempted in the same way we are tempted, but he did not give into the temptation and sin.  That is deep, at least to me it is.

-Rick McClain

Time to ponder:

Many of us spend time figuring out how we are not going to enter into sin, but have you ever thought about what you could do (or not do) to not enter into temptation?  That seems like a great place to be because you will probably not sin if you are not tempted to sin.

Is there anything else you can do to prepare yourself to be strong enough to not give in when strong temptations arise?

I’m not going to give you a third question because I think it would be wise to use your time to keep thinking about the first two questions.  There really is a lot there to think and pray about.

Some Big Jobs to Do

Luke 17

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Forgiveness. We’ve all been there and have wrestled with this single task. Except, it isn’t a single task is it? Forgiveness happens over and over and over again. Forgiveness can be a hard concept to grasp. It is human nature to want to fall into our sinful desire to repay evil with evil, turn a blind eye to those who hurt us, or to decide that one is simply not deserving of our forgiveness. Luke 17:4 states, “Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent’ you must forgive them.” I find the next verse to be so interesting as the apostles reply back to Jesus as he’s teaching and call out, “Increase our faith!” How easy is it to feel like we do not have the kind of faith that is capable of believing in the teachings we’ve learned, to feel like we simply can’t trust God in every circumstance, or that we don’t have the strength to obey God’s commandments? We are not perfect by any means, but we are able to serve the Lord and fulfill our duty even with the smallest amount of faith. 

In this chapter we are encouraged to do many things: to teach little ones, not causing them to stumble or cause a hindrance to their faith, to forgive anytime you can, and to serve with all that you have so that when you return to your master you can tell them that your duty has been fulfilled. Can you imagine the great and mighty things that can be done if we take our faith, no matter how small it may be, and place it into an all powerful, all knowing God? We as humans are not strong enough to bear the stumbling blocks of this world alone. May we rely on the strength that comes from God to overcome such things to live a life that is pleasing according to God’s perfect will.

Romans 12:2 

“Do not conform to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is– his good, pleasing, and perfect will.  

– Kayla Elwell

Reflection Questions

  1. Is there currently somebody you need to forgive? Do you feel like you need an increase in faith to do what Jesus has told you to do? What would Jesus say? (Check Luke 17.)
  2. As today is Christmas Eve, consider the faith of those in Luke 1 & 2. Whose faith is an example for you to follow? Whose faith fell short for a time?

Amazing Faith

Luke 7

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

There are few instances recorded in the Bible that describe Jesus being amazed, but one of them is found in Luke 7. When Jesus came into Capernaum, word spread, and when a Roman centurion heard that the Messiah was in town, he didn’t hesitate to send help for his sick servant. Those who were sent attempted to persuade Jesus to come by attesting to the centurion’s worthiness, confirming that he loves their nation, and even built the synagogue. But that’s not why Jesus went with them. He went with them because he was astounded by the man’s faith; faith even greater than he had witnessed in his own people. He was astounded by the amount of compassion and love in the man’s heart. On his way to the centurion’s home, he received another message, this time the centurion was declaring his unworthiness to be within Christ’s vicinity, asking only for a simple word of healing. In doing so, he further displayed immense humility as well as abounding faith.

This soldier showed more awareness of Christ’s purpose and authority on earth than even the Jews. His level of faith is what we should strive for as followers of Christ, a humble and simple faith that doesn’t waver, a faith that even the Messiah can’t help but be impressed by. A faith that acknowledges Christ’s sovereignty in every situation, whether or not a request is fulfilled. Knowing in every scenario that we serve a God who is fully capable of supernatural, miraculous phenomenons, but that He is also good no matter how He answers our prayers and requests. Let us pray today that God instills within us a faith as deep and true as the faith modeled by the centurion over 2,000 years ago, and thank Him that we have so many examples of immense faith to reflect on and live by recorded in His Word.

-Isabella Osborn

Reflection Questions:

  1. Where do you find yourself sometimes initially looking for worthiness in the world?
  2. How do we know that God sees us as worthy, despite how much distance there is between us and Him?
  3. In what ways does the story of Jesus healing the Centurion’s servant apply to your own life?
  4. How can you make it your first instinct to turn to God when facing difficult circumstances?
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