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

 

Don’t Just Save Yourself

Deut 6 7

FREE THEME – The rest of the story in Deuteronomy 6

Yesterday we looked at the beginning of Deuteronomy 6 and saw God’s blueprint and purpose for spiritual education: God makes the rules and sends Moses to teach the people so that they will obey and receive God’s blessings.  God’s people need to be learners who study what is right and do it – not just once or twice – but continually.  Are they really God’s people if they don’t believe and act like it?  And how can they believe and act like it if they haven’t truly learned what God requires?  And, not just what others say God requires, for there are many who distort God’s Words and have not learned from Him.  God’s word needs to be a vital part of us – “These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.” (Deuteronomy 6:6).   It is our connection to God Almighty.

But, it is not enough for you to be connected and learning.  Your next job – is to be a teacher.  For Moses continues, “Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. ” (Deuteronomy 6:7).  It’s not enough for me, or for you, to be full of God’s Word – just for our own health and benefit and blessing.  It must be shared.  It must be passed on to others – and specifically to the next generation.  They need to know about the One true God.  They need to know about His love and faithfulness and also His requirements and even His anger.  They need to know about the blessings and curses He laid out for His children – so they can choose wisely.

Further along in Deuteronomy 6 Moses reiterates – be sure to follow God’s laws for your life so you will “do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so that it may go well with you.” (6:18).  But, it’s not enough to save yourself.  In 6:20 we are to have an answer for our son (perhaps a teenager – or a college student) questioning why we live the way we do.  We are to tell about God’s goodness and faithfulness and the promises we have seen Him keep.

We see this over and over again in Scripture.  Learn – and teach.  Listen – and speak.  Live it – and Give it.  In Psalm 78 we read:

Listen, O my people, to my instruction;
Incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
I will open my mouth in a parable;
I will utter dark sayings of old,
Which we have heard and known,
And our fathers have told us.
We will not conceal them from their children,
But tell to the generation to come the praises of the Lord,
And His strength and His wondrous works that He has done.

For He established a testimony in Jacob
And appointed a law in Israel,
Which He commanded our fathers
That they should teach them to their children,
That the generation to come might know, even the children yet to be born,
That they may arise and tell them to their children,
That they should put their confidence in God
And not forget the works of God,
But keep His commandments,
And not be like their fathers,
A stubborn and rebellious generation,
A generation that did not prepare its heart
And whose spirit was not faithful to God.

 

The battle is real – and it is for the lives of our neighbors, our children, even the children yet to be born.

If your excuse is that you don’t know enough – see part 1 from yesterday – be a learner.  Get into God’s Word and then pass it on.  But don’t wait until you think you know everything (never) – start with what God teaches you today – and share it.  And don’t be surprised when you learn even more as you seek to share it with others.

 

Keep Growing – and Helping Others Grow

Marcia Railton

 

A Lifelong Learner

FREE THEME – Deuteronomy 6

Deut 6 6

Go ahead give it a read – even if you are pretty familiar with the chapter of Deuteronomy 6 already.  It is the well-known home of the Shema – a declaration of the oneness of God.  “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”  (Deuteronomy 6:4).  But, it doesn’t start or end there.  Let’s look at the rest of the chapter, too.

First off, the word Deuteronomy means “repetition of the law”.  Moses had already written down the events of his own life and the commands of God in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers.  Now, close to his own death and the time for the Israelites to enter the Promised Land led by Joshua, Moses uses the book of Deuteronomy to retell what is MOST important for God’s people to remember and live by to receive His blessings.  It’s a great book for God’s people today as well.

Deuteronomy 6 begins with Moses telling the people that these are the laws and commands that 1.) were God given,  2.) which Moses was to teach,  3.) so the people and their descendants would fear and follow God and 4.) thus experience blessing from God.  The blessings come to obedient people who listen to the teachers who teach what God requires.  This sounds like a great description of Christian Education – as designed by God.  But, sometimes we don’t do such a great job of following what God designed.

God’s people were – and are – to be learners.   They need to be hearing God’s Word (daily Bible reading, sermons, Sunday School classes, youth group, small group Bible studies, email devotions, etc…).  I am so thankful for those who have taught and are still teaching me God’s Word and the importance of knowing who the one true God is and how to follow Him and His Son.  I immediately think of my parents, pastors and Sunday School teachers as those who have poured God’s Word into me faithfully and consistently.  I am certainly still learning and correcting and learning some more.  It is a lifelong task to be a learner of God’s Word and His way.

Verse 18 says, “Do what is right and good in the LORD’s sight, so that it may go well with you…”  God’s people can only do right when they know what is right.  And, unfortunately there is a whole lot of confusion and mixed messages in the world about what IS right.    We need to be wise enough to know who to listen to – who is speaking the words of the one true God and what He requires – and who is a false teacher.

Sometimes the false teachers look pretty smooth and appealing and gain a popular following, all while twisting and perverting God’s Word.  They quote Scripture and try to make it say all sorts of ungodly things – even that abortion and homosexuality is approved by God (Does that sound familiar from any presidential candidates you know? Or, maybe a college professor, or a friend?)   And Satan smirks and cheers.  And God, I can only try to imagine, perhaps the sadness, anger, jealousy, patience and love mingled together as He watches and waits.  His judgment will be coming.

So, God’s People – will we be ready for His judgment?  Is it perhaps time to wake up?  Look in God’s Word and read the whole thing!   See who God really is – and isn’t.  Don’t be led astray.  What does He require?  What does He love?  What does He hate?  What is God waiting to teach you today?  Look in His Book.  Seek out wise teachers.

What is on your heart today?  How about some more of God’s Word.  It brings blessings.

Marcia Railton

(Tomorrow let’s continue in Deuteronomy 6 – there’s a lot more there.  Give it a read and I will see you tomorrow.)

 

 

 

Opening My Eyes and His Book

psalm 119 18

FREE THEME WEEK –

Today I do not have an amazing, earth-shattering verse to tell you about that will change your world.

Rather, I want to tell you that when you faithfully seek God, and His wisdom, truth, and love in His Scriptures, He responds in what may feel like earth-shattering ways that will change your world.

Let me give an example from just a few weeks ago, with a little background information first . . .

I have been working on reading 5 Psalms a day (as suggested by Pastor Jeff Fletcher in the Grow16BibleReading devotion a few months ago – https://grow16biblereading.wordpress.com/2019/06/02/just-two-choices/).  I have always been impressed with Pastor Jeff’s spiritual wisdom and figured if this was one of his techniques for growing, then I wanted to try it, too.  He explained, “Whatever day of the month you are on, read that (numbered Psalm), and then add 30 and keep going up by 30.  That way, in 30 days you will read all 150 psalms. On the first day of the month read Psalm 1, 31, 61,91 and 121, the next day read Psalm 2,32,62,92,122.”   Jeff spreads his Psalms out through the day so that his whole day is immersed in Psalms.  I like that idea, but am currently just working on being faithful with all 5 in the morning, along with the Proverb of the day and the Grow16 devotion chapter.

But, this particular morning I was already into the nitty-gritty of my day – my cute daycare kids had been dropped off in my home daycare, my husband and kids were off to their scheduled activities, and I was . . . clipping coupons and finding the best grocery shopping deals.  If you’ve ever tried it – you know it takes some time.  While I have always been frugal with my finances, my couponing goes in spurts – because of the time it takes.  Currently, I am trying to make a dream trip to Israel a reality so I am in super-saver mode which for me includes getting out the scissors and Sunday ads and digital coupons.    As I was snipping and clipping I was wondering if it was all worth it – should I actually be spending my time doing other (probably, more valuable) things?

WAIT – STOP!   All of a sudden I remembered – what about my morning Bible reading – how did that get missed?  Of course there was more valuable things to be doing than saving $1 on 2 boxes of General Mills cereal!  I put my scissors down and curled up in my favorite Bible reading corner of the couch.  I love having digital versions of God’s Word readily available at my fingertips and able to quickly do online searches to find just what verse or topic I am seeking out.  But, for daily Bible reading I am a huge fan of the comfortable, marked-up, leathery Word of God in my lap.

So, with a bit of guilt for not doing it sooner, I was flipping pages to begin with my Psalms of the day. I can not explain why my eyes FIRST took in one single verse from Proverbs 13 – it wasn’t even the 13th of the month.  Besides, I always start with the Psalms first.  The verse was not highlighted or at the top of the page.  There was nothing that should have pulled my attention to this Proverb.  Nothing – But God.  My eyes read: “Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.” Proverbs 13:11  WHAT!   I read it again and again -now with tears in my eyes.  I had JUST been questioning if my time couponing was of any value at all – and God sends me “accidentally” to this verse.  God sure got my attention – because He deserves it – so much more often than I willingly give it.   God told me – “Make sure you don’t steal your coupons – but go ahead and save your money little by little – it’s okay if it takes some time.”  Little by Little.

That morning I received God’s reassurance and promise – FIRST – keep FIRST things FIRST.  Come to Him and His Word FIRST – with every little need and worry and question.  And He is Big Enough to provide all we need.  Faithfully seek Him daily.

This was written thousands of years ago – for me at that moment in time.  I wonder how many others through the ages have found THAT specific verse at just the right time for them.  And then, to consider, that is just ONE tiny snippet of the truths stored up for each of us that seeks Him.

That verse – Proverbs 13:11 – probably isn’t THE verse you just needed to hear this morning.  I don’t know what your questions and needs are today.  But God does.  God directed me to the answer I was seeking that morning.  And, he has – and will – do it again and again.  The answer may not always come quite so immediately – but remain faithful – it will come – because He is faithful.

Our God is Big and Mighty and He lives and breathes in His Word.  Open it up and take in God.  He is not a foreign, distant God.  He has the answers and He wants to share them when His children come humbly and faithfully before Him.   He is waiting for me and you to draw near to Him.

Sit down and open up His Book – so He can reveal Himself in marvelous ways.

Marcia Railton