God Has Answers

Isaiah 5-8

Isaiah 8 20 NLT sgl

Today’s reading contained some pretty grim and possibly confusing stuff. In some sections it seems the people of Judah are completely doomed for destruction, while other parts tell of a coming protection. If you have come here today looking for an explanation and clarification on all that took place in these chapters – I’m sorry to say, I haven’t got one. Mainly because one perfect answer doesn’t exist. Scholars, theologians, historians, have all made attempts at understanding biblical prophecy. There has yet to be one universal agreed upon interpretation. The language barrier is one reason, as is the lack of context and historical gaps. If you want to know more about today’s reading and other prophecy, I encourage you to do two things. One, reach out to your local pastor with your specific questions. He or she would love to help you digest the Old Testament. Many have a wealth of biblical knowledge and bookcases stocked with resources. Plus, during this Covid time, many pastors are feeling a disconnect with their congregation, unable to meet under normal circumstances. They would welcome your questions and this opportunity to serve.

My second bit of advice is to follow that in Isaiah 8:20, “Look to God’s instruction and teachings! People who contradict his word are completely in the dark.” (NLT) Isaiah goes on to describe the type of darkness these people experience as a sort of wandering aimless search for answers. He paints a picture of people looking at the sky and shaking their fists at God. These people sought psychics and other mediums for answers, instead of seeking the LORD’s instruction. Whenever you are reading scripture and stumble upon a passage that confuses you, look to what you know to be true about God. Some of these Old Testament passages can be tricky and may produce the picture of God as being only angry and vengeful. Be sure to look to ALL of God’s instructions and teachings. Personally, when reading doom and gloom in the Old Testament, I try to keep in mind what God says about Himself as being “the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished;” (Exodus 34:6-7 NIV). I love this verse in Isaiah, because right in the midst of confusing prophecy, he gives us an answer, encouraging us to seek “God’s instructions” known to us through scripture.

This advice from Isaiah can also be applied to other aspects of our lives when searching for answers. I would say all aspects, except I’ve not yet found the part in scripture that explains calculus. Math aside, when we face difficult or confusing challenges, wandering in unknown darkness, we as believers are encouraged to seek God for the answers. We can approach God through our wonderful redeemer, Jesus Christ. Whether these answers are revealed to us by understanding scripture, receiving peace, or prayer, answers exist. I am experiencing some personal challenges in my life right now. A couple weeks ago, one of my best friends sent me a text reminding me to seek answers from God during this trial. Her encouragement applies also to you, and whatever your current struggles may be. The last part of Isaiah 8 reminded me of her words. I want to share some of them with you as a closing thought.

“It may seem like the pain, loss, confusion, and hole in your heart, are the only things you will ever know, but please remember, the Lord has a plan for you and He is there to listen to you, He is there to listen to your cries of anguish and despair. And He will console you, but you have to ask Him for His help. Please don’t shut yourself out of His sweet  and divine presence, my dear friend. Ask Him to give you guidance for what you should do next. How you should proceed with your life. Ask Him for His wisdom so that you can understand what lesson He wants to teach you, how He is trying to mold your character. And also maybe think of what He wants you to ask Him. What is HIS will?”

Emilee Ross

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+5-8&version=NIV

Tomorrow we begin another prophet writing at a similar time – Amos, chapters 1-5 – as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

 

Beware of the Buttkissers

1 Kings 22 & 2 Chronicles 18

1 Kings 22 5 NIV sgl

Yes, I know, a bit of a sensational title. In fact, I can hear my mom reaching for the Irish Spring to place in my mouth because “butt” is not a church word. Please give me grace just a few sentences longer as I am someone who spends a great deal of time at school with 11 and 12-year olds. I often use a bit of high-brow potty humor for the connection and to make sure that I have your attention.  From here on out, I promise <crossing heart> I will use yes-men, suck-ups, sycophants, or something similar, but we’ll both know that I truly mean <in a whisper> “the ones who kiss b-u-t-t.”

Scattered throughout the last couple of weeks, we have read about the life of King Ahab. Today we will finish off Ahab [spoilers ahead] in more ways than one.  Ahab has grown unhappy that a previously Israeli owned-city, Ramoth Gilead, is now occupied by the Syrian (Aram) people, the very nation that was given over to him by God (1 Kings 20).  No doubt that Ahab’s misintentioned mercy to the Syrian nation (Again 1 Kings 20) has become less than advantageous, contemptuous, or is now, simply biting him in the…rear.  Ahab forms an alliance with Judah’s king, Jehoshaphat, who says he will fight with Ahab to take back Ramoth Gilead if he consults the LORD first.  Ahab thinks, “No problem; I have plenty of prophets.”. Enter the yes-men.

‘So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?”  “Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.” – 1 Kings 22:6

Jehoshaphat isn’t convinced by the mass of soothsaying suck-ups for a simple reason: they do not mention God, YHWH, which prompts his head-scratching statement “Is there no longer a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?” “But didn’t the prophets say ‘the Lord will give <Ramoth Gilead> into the king’s hand?’” You may have heard it before, but it is worth reminding, that not all “lords” are equal in most English translations of the Old Testament.  L-o-r-d means master, which is often used for God, but L-O-R-D is the indisputable proper name of God, the Father, YHWH.  The sycophantic seers have not consulted with the Almighty, but have most likely consulted one another, telling the king whatever they think he wanted to hear.    Ahab confesses there is still ONE prophet of the LORD, Micaiah, but he doesn’t like to use him because he doesn’t like to kiss-up like the others. In fact, Ahab’s reluctance shows that he most likely already knew the truth. Micaiah lives up to his reputation, delivering a Word from the LORD that was unfavorable to what Ahab had already set upon his heart to do.

Is Ahab’s folly not our own? As I read about his fatal flaw, I can feel my own groan, lurch, and tumult described by Paul in Romans 7:15-20, between what I have intentioned in my heart and what the LORD wants of me.  What makes it worse is the body of booty smoochers ready to tell me that fulfilling my desires are what will ultimately make me happy.  In 2020, it doesn’t take much searching to find 400 people that agree with you.  Just because a crowd has formed in agreement with you, it doesn’t mean they (or you) know what’s best.  There are well-established organizations, conferences, websites, movements, forums, etc. that have opposing views to God’s desire for your life.  No matter how convincing the mob, there is only one way to get the truth: The Word of the LORD.  Yet the fact of the matter is as I wrestle with my desire, my pride, and my sin, I’d rather hear comforting, confirming, justifying lies from hundreds than hear a truth from a single person that would convict me and cause me to change. This would mean that the problem doesn’t externally exist in the world I live in, but within me, which is the hardest thing to hear (and the reason why we don’t invite challenging scriptures or a truth-telling Christian friend to the party, i.e. Micaiah)

“The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” – Hebrew 4:12

There is great advice in the word of Jehoshaphat, “First seek the counsel of the LORD.”  Before taking any course of action, no matter how great or small, let me stop consulting my social circle of “yes people” and search the Word of the LORD for discernment.  Almost always, our only reluctance is because we already know the answer that is buried not-so-deep within our heart. Let’s pray that God will bring his convicting truth to our aspirations and challenge us to listen to His voice only as He guides us to His way.

 

Aaron Winner

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Kings+22%2C+2+Chronicles+18&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 2 Chronicles 19-23 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Too Many Rules

Psalm 119:89-172

Psalm 119 105 NIV sgl

Being a Christian isn’t for me.  There are way too many rules.  My life would be so boring if I followed all those rules.  Have you heard anyone say that before?  Or maybe you are a Christian and you try to follow all the rules, but you feel like you are missing out on the fun.  Or worse yet, maybe you are a Christian, and during your weak moments you don’t miss out on the fun.  The Bible is a huge book with a lot of Do this’s and Don’t do that’s.  Why did God make it so difficult to be a Christian?

If you have ever felt a bit strangled by all the instructions to follow in the Bible, Psalm 119 will open your eyes to a whole new way of thinking.  God’s laws are not some kind of test to see if we can show self-control and prove we want to be Christians.  Psalm 119 says God’s commandments will make you wiser than your enemies, have more insight than your teachers, and understand more than the aged.  Let that sink in for a second.  These rules were given to us to make us smarter – even more intelligent than our teachers and those older than us who have more experience than us.

God did not make all the rules to make our lives MORE difficult; He gave us all the rules to make our lives LESS difficult.  He is watching out for us and has our best interest at heart.  God knows a lot of stuff and He is just trying to share with us some of what He knows to make our lives better.  Don’t be rebellious because you don’t like someone telling you what to do; instead, be thankful for the pages and pages of advice that God has shared with you that will help you out in life.  You might have an urge to lie, steal, have sex outside of marriage, look at porn, get drunk, or do any other sin of your choice.  All these things may seem like a worthwhile option in the heat of the moment, but God’s word lets you know that doing these things will make your life worse.  Trust Him; He knows what is best for you.

Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, And a light to my path.”  Life can be difficult, and many obstacles will get in the way on your path.  You can ignore God’s word and try to go it alone, but you will assuredly stumble around in the darkness.  Or you can read God’s word and follow the instructions so your path will be lit up.  Those same obstacles will be on your path whether you read your Bible or not, but if your path of life is lit up with God’s word, you will more easily see how to maneuver through the obstacles you will face.

How valuable are the words of God?  The psalmist who wrote Psalm 119 says in verse 127 that he loves the commandments above gold, yes, above fine gold.  The words of God are more treasured than gold!  Do you believe that also?  Your actions speak louder than your thoughts and words.  If you truly find the scriptures to be that valuable, you will search diligently by reading the Bible, and then you will mold your life to fit the words you have learned about.

One last part of this psalm that really drove home the value of God’s words to me was in verses 163-165.  He said he loves Thy law and praises Him seven times a day because of Thy righteous ordinances.  I feel like this is not an exaggeration to make a point (like forgiving someone 7 times 70 times), but probably a true practice that this individual followed for the most part.  If you are awake for about two-thirds of your day, you would need to praise God for his rules about every two hours to keep up with that psalmist.  You would be in a constant state of thankfulness for God’s laws every day, which seems like a bit much, but verse 165 tells us about the huge reward we receive for following His words.  He said that those who love Thy law have great peace and nothing causes them to stumble.  If you want to add stress to your life, just go ahead and break a rule.  However, if you want true peace in your life, search through the scripture looking for God’s advice and follow that advice.  Thank you to the psalmist for giving us this great perspective on rules.

Rick McClain

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+119%3A89-172&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Song of Solomon 1-8 on our journey through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Thought Checker

Psalm 119:1-88

Psalm 119 11 NIV sgl

(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

 

A Scrapbook of God’s Goodness

Psalm 81, 88 & 92-93

Psalm 92 4 NIV

 

“For you make me glad by your deeds, O LORD; I sing for joy at the works of your hands.

How great are your works, O LORD, how profound your thoughts!…

The LORD reigns, he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed in majesty and is armed in strength.  The world is firmly established; it cannot be moved.”

Psalm 92:4,5 & 93:1

 

I love the idea of keeping a Covid-19 scrapbook/journal/photo album to chronicle what you want to remember about this time in your life.  Sometimes a picture says 1,000 words and many emotions.  Some things are harder to capture in a photograph and you might want to add some of your own words.  But, here are some starter questions to get going – some of which were inspired by the snippets of Psalms above.

How did you spend your days?

What changed in your life?

What stayed the same?

What brought you joy?

What works of His hands made you smile?

How did you see God move?

How did you search out God’s thoughts?

What Bible verses meant the most to you during this time?

When or how were you reassured of God’s majesty and strength?

 

The Psalms can be viewed as the poets’ scrapbook of their lives and how they witnessed God at work.  What made them rejoice?  What made them mourn?  How did they see God?  What did they learn about themselves?  About their Creator?  About their world?  About those who reject God?  These are all still great questions to be considered today.  And it is well worth the time to look into the Psalms to see their answers as you work on your own.

I will talk less today so you have more time to work on your personal or family scrapbook.  Even if you don’t make a physical project, take a few minutes to answer some of these questions – or make your own questions.  A great starter is to scroll through your pictures to see what works of God make you glad – and thank Him – and share them.

OK – I will start.  The photo which accompanies this post was taken last weekend during a family hike.  So many things that made me glad – the warmth of the spring sunshine, family time – with no devices, and the health and ability to enjoy the rebirth and beauty of God’s creation.  The wild flowers growing off the path reminded me of God’s loving care and that He is still watching over us and I do not need to worry but I do need to seek Him & His Kingdom  (Luke 12:27-31).  I know, I am not quite as poetic as the psalmists, but that is okay.

Now it’s your turn.   You can post a comment below or share some pictures and thoughts with family and friends.   However you do it, just like the psalmists, take the time to ponder and share what the LORD has done for you.

Marcia Railton

Interesting Side Note- did you catch the Psalm in today’s reading that actually mentions the very modern problem of everyone on their own devices?   Hint – read Psalm 81 again – in the NIV.  Then, make sure you are not in that sinking boat.  Listen to the LORD.  Keep reading His Word and seeking Him as the psalmists did.  He has many treasures He is wants to reveal to you!

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+81%2C88%2C+92-93&version=NIV

In tomorrow’s Bible reading, 1 Chronicles 7-10, we will finish off the introductory genealogies and start in on the stories of the kings of Israel saved for us in the Chronicles.  2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

What are You Looking For?

Seek the Lord!

Psalm 6, 8-10, 14, 16, 19 & 21

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Today’s reading contains my absolute favorite Bible Verse, Psalm 16:8, “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand I will not be shaken.” I love this verse because of its beautiful reminder to seek the Lord daily. Growing up as a Christian my whole life, there is an added need to make my faith my own. And with that comes the importance of having a relationship with our Creator. But no matter what walk of life we are on, we all need to be striving to seek the Lord in all that we do. 

If you make God your main priority in life, He will see you through the rest. Although this doesn’t mean you won’t have any more problems, you can be reassured that God will be by your side the whole way. Continually seeking the Lord.  It’s so simple, and we have all heard it a million times yet its significance is still so important. So how do we continually seek the Lord?

 

Worship- As great as worshiping with other believers can be and is, spending time alone with God in worship can be just as beneficial, if not more. Whether it’s turning on worship music or meditating and praying Psalms, take the time to unplug from the world and plug into God. 

Psalm 95:1-2  “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”

 

Reading the Bible – Dedicating time each day to read His word will realign your focus on God over and over again and is the best way to learn more and grow closer to God. God has given His word to you! Don’t leave him unread! 

 

Memorizing and meditating on scriptures-   Keep your focus in alignment with what is important. One way to do this could be to place a couple of your favorite Bible verses around your house to encourage you to continually seek the Lord throughout your day. Soon you will be thinking of Bible verses from memory. 

Joshua 1:8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

 

Pray- Just like any relationship between two people, there needs to be communication. Consistent communication. Turns out, the same is true for a relationship with God. When was the last time you talked to God, and I mean really talked, like spilled your heart out to Him? We have an amazing opportunity to talk with the Creator of the universe. And the most amazing part, he hears you. He’s waiting for you to open up your heart to him. 

Deuteronomy 4:7 “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him.” 

Psalm 27:8 “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming’

 

Call on Him- The outcome of seeking God- he will uphold you. When you seek the Lord wholeheartedly, you invite Him into your life, and He will touch every angle of it. That is how our lives can be transformed into  living for Him and His glory. God’s plan for you starts with you looking to the Lord as your strength and foundation every day. .  

Jeremiah 29:”Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 

James 4:8 “Come near to God and he will come near to you…”

Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” 

Psalm 91:14-15 “He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.”

Lastly, another verse from today’s reading, Psalm 10:4 “ In his pride the wicked man does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. 

 

Let’s learn from this wicked man and not make the same mistakes he did. Make room for God in your lives, He can be found when we seek Him wholeheartedly. It’s our job today, tomorrow, and forever.

 

Makayla Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be found at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+6%2C+8-10%2C+14%2C+16%2C+19%2C+21&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Chronicles 1-2 as we continue seeking God in His Word on our journey through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

 

 

 

Starving for God

Job 21-23

Job 23 12b NIV

Poor Job.  I do pity him.  But not just for the extreme losses and suffering he endured.  Not just for the additional pain of unsympathetic, accusing friends.  But for being born when he was.

Previously we have mentioned Job’s yearning for a mediator – someone to stand before God on his behalf.  Someone in the middle who would reach out his hands to touch both God and man and draw them together.  Wise Job.  Can you imagine how thrilled he would have been to have the opportunity to meet, listen to, accept and follow the Messiah, God’s Son Jesus?  But, it wasn’t time yet.

It also wasn’t time yet for him to hold God’s precious living, giving words of life in his lap.  Job knew the power and gift of God’s words.  He stated, “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread” (Job 23:12).  But, at this time in history God would speak when He chose, where He chose, to whom He chose, and the record of his words would be passed down, mostly orally, to any who would listen. It was a good start – but Job longed for more.  He said:

“If only I knew where to find him;
if only I could go to his dwelling!
 I would state my case before him
and fill my mouth with arguments.
 I would find out what he would answer me,
and consider what he would say to me.”

(Job 23:3-5, NIV)

We know that Job will get the amazing opportunity to have the Almighty speak directly to him (that is coming in next week’s reading).  But that didn’t help him yet at the time of today’s passage.  He is searching for God.  He is starving for God’s word.  He needs to hear from God.  And he does not yet have the gift of God-breathed scriptures on his lap or in the palm of his hand.  God’s Word is powerful and a great treasure.  What a blessing we have in the gift of the Bible – where we find God, His wisdom, love, majesty, truth, encouragement, correction, as well as His Son, forgiveness, and a hope and a plan for eternal life.  It is an incredible gift to hear God.  It is an incredible gift to read the words of God.  It is a gift we too often ignore.

God warns that His Word will not always be readily available.  “The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign LORD, “when I will send a famine through the land– not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the LORD.” (Amos 8:11). Perhaps He was first referring to the 400 years of silence that would take place between the inspired Old Testament and New Testament.  But, I fear that it also refers to a time in the end days.  Perhaps we are seeing the beginnings of it even now.  Prepare by stockpiling God’s Word in your heart now.  It will help you both today and tomorrow.

If you ever feel God is distant – check to see how far away your closest Bible is.

If you ever feel you can’t hear God – turn off the distractions and open His Word.

If you ever feel you are starving for God – feast on His Word.

 

Seeking God in His Word,

Marcia Railton

 

To read or listen to today’s passage – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+21-23&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Job 24-28 in our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

 

 

 

Seek!

Jer 29 13

“For I know the plans that I have for you, declares YHWH, plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” – Jeremiah 29:11-13

 

Most Christians, myself included, are eager for God’s blessings, assistance, and attentiveness to our needs. We crave to know our Creator in an intimate way and desire that He listens to our prayers. However, we often forget that there needs to be effort on our part as well. In the same way that a relationship with a spouse is a 2-way street, requiring effort from both members of the relationship, so we are expected to put some effort into our relationship with our Heavenly Father. We are told, clear as day, that we will only achieve that intimate relationship with God when we “seek after Him with all of our heart”.

 

When I was growing up, I often went to church services and programs, but never put any effort into developing my faith. I assumed that, because Jesus died for my sins, that I wasn’t expected to do anything else. I told myself, “God knows I’m just young and dumb. He will forgive me”, without ever considering how much I personally needed to change and seek after Him. It took a dramatic act of God to get my attention and drive me to look deeper into my relationship with Him. Fortunately, God led me to Atlanta Bible College, where I was able to pursue Him intentionally and with great vigor. It was during this time that I truly felt that my relationship with Him had really  begun.

 

While not everybody’s story is the same as mine, the same command from God applies to all of us: “Seek me”. We need to be intentionally developing our relationship further with our Father if we expect Him to do the same for us. So, as we begin a new year and a new decade, I want you to consider the following questions:

 

  1. How is my relationship with God and Jesus currently?
  2. How much effort am I putting into that relationship?
  3. What can I do to develop that relationship further this year?

 

May you be blessed as you seek after your Heavenly Father in 2020!

-Talon Paul

 

One way to be Seeking God in 2020 is to commit to daily being in His Word – a most wonderful place to find Him!  Come join us on a chronological Bible reading plan!  Print out the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan and start reading on January 1.  Subscribe to be a follower at the SeekGrowLove.com site and you will receive daily email devotions based on that day’s reading.  Come Seek Him!  You won’t be disappointed when He shows Himself to you.  It’s well worth the effort!   And, change a life by inviting a friend to seek with you.                                         – Marcia Railton, Editor

A Preserving Parable from Proverbs

Proverbs 13

Proverbs 13 4 NIV

Despite the fact that I’m an adult, I still occasionally give into peer pressure. Years ago, my friends were all into preserving fruits and vegetables, so I thought I should, too.  I didn’t want to miss out on the fun. Not knowing what I was doing, I was happy to find the book, Canning for Dummies, at the local bookstore. Reading through the book, I realized that what makes the book “for dummies” was the use of the pedagogical tool, repetition. Every important step was printed in bold, circled, and repeated…repeatedly.

I suppose you can call Proverbs 13, “Wisdom for Dummies.”  The writer, inspired by God, wants the readers to take into consideration the differences between the wise, upright, righteous, and hardworking versus the foolish, wicked, and lazy.  In this chapter, 6 verses point out the rewards of being wise, 6 verses point out the rewards of being righteous, and 7 verses point out the rewards of being disciplined and hardworking.  Clearly the author believes these values to be highly prized and worth remembering. Thus, the repetition! Read it, Know it, Live it, Repeat. Hide these words in your heart.

It turns out preserving food is hard work and messy (maybe that’s just me). But it’s also very satisfying.  I feel great at the end of a day of canning. I also feel great months later when I serve my family home-preserved corn and green beans while it’s snowing outside. And because I’ve read Canning for Dummies so often and done it so often, I can tell you how to can green beans and blanch corn by heart.

Similarly, there is much satisfaction in learning and living the importance of wisdom, discipline, hard work and knowing it by heart.

Maria Knowlton

Dark Ways

October 2 – Proverbs 2 (& surrounding chapters)

Proverbs 2 12 13 NIV

Let’s continue to look at Proverbs 1-4.  Today we are going to focus in on the sections dealing with avoiding sin and living a righteous life.

Proverbs 1:10-19 issues a warning about hanging out with the wrong crowd.  “My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent.”  (Proverbs 1:10) It is critical to quickly and firmly resist even the smallest temptation.  Immoral people are often not satisfied with just doing bad things on their own, but they will instead often try to persuade others to join in their wrongdoing.  But Proverbs warns, “My son, do not walk in the way with them (sinners).  Keep your feet from their path, For their feet run to evil, And they hasten to shed blood.”  (Proverbs 1:15-16) The wise will not give into negative peer pressure, but they will quickly flee from temptation and those doing wrong.  It is dangerous thinking to believe that you can associate with habitual sinners, but not be affected yourself.  Verses 18 and 19 then explain that those that set out to do evil will ultimately harm themselves.  “But they lie in wait for their own blood; They ambush their own lives.  So are the ways of everyone who gains by violence; It takes away the life of its possessors.”

In chapter two Solomon continues to stress that a wise person will resist evil.

12 Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men,
from men whose words are perverse,
13 who have left the straight paths
to walk in dark ways,
14 who delight in doing wrong
and rejoice in the perverseness of evil,
15 whose paths are crooked
and who are devious in their ways.

However, it is not enough to just avoid sin, but it is important to go beyond that, and treat others with goodness and generosity.

27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due,
when it is in your power to act.
28 Do not say to your neighbor,
“Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—
when you already have it with you. (Proverbs 3:27-28)

In chapter four a stark comparison is given between the righteous and the wicked.

18 The path of the righteous is like the morning sun,
shining ever brighter till the full light of day.
19 But the way of the wicked is like deep darkness;
they do not know what makes them stumble. (Proverbs 4:18-19)

How important to realize that with every choice we make, we are choosing to either live in the light or the darkness.

Then Solomon ends chapter four with some straightforward advice about how to keep choosing to live in the light.

20 My son, pay attention to what I say;
turn your ear to my words.
21 Do not let them out of your sight,
keep them within your heart;
22 for they are life to those who find them
and health to one’s whole body.
23 Above all else, guard your heart,
for everything you do flows from it.
24 Keep your mouth free of perversity;
keep corrupt talk far from your lips.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead;
fix your gaze directly before you.
26 Give careful thought to the paths for your feet
and be steadfast in all your ways.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
keep your foot from evil.

We must read the word of God, not only looking on it, but keeping it in our heart, or following through and acting on it.  We have to guard our heart and mind, always being vigilant of our thoughts, actions and priorities. We must be careful of what we say.  We must keep our eyes focused on God and his plans for our lives.  And finally, we must make sure that we are always moving in the right direction, drawing closer to God, and never turning away from him.

Jill McClain