Restored!

2 Kings 7-8


Our God is a God of restoration. There will ultimately be a full restoration, but full restoration can only happen when the world is once again the beautiful, perfect place God created it to be, when His Kingdom is established on earth. Partial restoration, however, has been happening ever since the beginning of time. We read about restoration countless times in the Bible, and if you look, you can see it in our lives today, too. God constantly restores what has been lost to His people, whether it be a physical ability, such as sight, or movement, or a spiritual restoration, such as that of faith, or even the restoration of life.


Today, we read in 2 Kings chapter 8 about a Shunammite woman who lost everything she had during a 7 year famine, but because of her faith in God and willingness to obey, it was restored to her. Now this woman was not new to witnessing God’s ability to restore what was lost. In chapter 4 of 2 Kings, we read about how Elisha rewarded the Shunammite woman’s kindness with fertility, and she bore a son. Sadly, the son later died, but she had faith in God’s power, so she sought out Elisha. Elisha came, and the son was brought back to life; he was restored.


It is clear that this woman had remarkable faith. Perhaps this is why Elisha warned her about the famine that would come on the land for 7 long years, and advised her to leave. So without question, she and her household left their home and stayed in the land of the Philistines for 7 years, until the famine was over. When they returned, she had to appeal to the king to get back her home and all her land. The crazy thing is, right as she was coming to appeal to the king,
Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, (who in chapter 5 was cursed with leprosy, and left Elisha… so it can be assumed that these chapters are not necessarily in chronological order) was telling him the unbelievable story of the miracle Elisha performed in the resurrection of the son of the Shunammite woman. The woman, who just happened to show up during this particular story
time, also gave an account of what happened, and the King was so impressed that he instantly granted her the land and all that she left 7 years ago.


This story speaks volumes of God’s perfect timing, and adds to the common theme we see throughout the Bible of God’s willingness to restore what has been lost to those who are faithful. Look closely at the different ways in which God restores things in your life, and let it remind you to live everyday for the ultimate restoration that’s coming.


-Isabella Osborn

Today’s Bible reading devotions can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Kings 7-8 and Proverbs 8

Not What You Expected

2 Kings 5-6


As ignorant, stuck-up, entitled humans, we often think we know what we need. We have this nice little idea of what will make our lives better, and we go to God expecting Him to grant us our wishes. But the thing is, we don’t know what we need; we don’t know how God works or what He plans to accomplish through us, or how He even uses our situation for His glory.


In 2 Kings 5, we read about one particular ignorant human who went to Elisha hoping to be healed of his leprosy, despite being a gentile and enemy of Israel. Now this man, Naaman, wasn’t mistaken in thinking he would receive the help he needed, but what he thought he needed and what God knew he needed were two separate things. When Elisha told Naaman to wash 7 times in the river Jordan, he became angry and almost turned around to head home, because this wasn’t the grand solution he expected to hear. Fortunately, however, his servants reminded him what was at stake, and what he should be willing to try for the sake of healing his leprosy. So Naaman, I imagine quite reluctantly, went down to the river and followed Elisha’s instructions. And what do you know – he was healed!


After experiencing this miraculous restoration of health, Naaman knew who the one true God was (and is), and came back a changed man. Even in the few paragraphs we read about Naaman, we can see a drastic difference in his overall attitude and behavior. God changed his heart. If Naaman wasn’t lucky enough to have those servants around, he would’ve missed out on everything he gained in his short encounter with Elisha. Because of his own pride and desires, he
was prepared to walk away from the only chance he would ever get at healing his fatal disease, and finding a relationship with his Creator.


Naaman’s story can serve as a reminder to let go of our self-conceived ideas of what is best for us, and instead trust God to handle every situation His way. God’s way is always the best way, whether or not we are capable of understanding it. He has a plan for all His children, and this plan has already been set in motion. He answers our prayers in ways we could never imagine,
and sometimes in ways we can’t even see. We have to trust that our loving, heavenly Father knows what’s truly best for us, and that everything He does is part of the ultimate plan He has for us to live together with Him in His eternal Kingdom.


God knows what you need, all you have to do is trust Him.

–Isabella Osborn

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Kings 5-6 and Proverbs 7

Questions for Me

From His Stories

Joshua 5-6 and John 6

When you read the Bible, what do you read it for? Is it merely a collection of stories? Great history? Interesting information? Or are these stories more than that? Do they give us something that will open us up to the Creator of the universe? Will it speak to our thought and memories and give us understanding? We can and should live our lives and order our memories not only historically but theologically, not simply recollecting what happened or what we did but searching out what God was doing. This keeps us from over honoring ourselves in success or despairing in our struggles. Part of the key to enjoying peace is to be continually praising the Lord for what he has done and is doing for us because the stories we read and tell of our lives are not so much about us but about Him. Are you reading to find the principles in the story? Or reading it like a homework assignment?

Today’s devotion is taken from John 6 and Judges 5-6. Some of the greatest stories and life lessons ever written about are in these chapters. Did you read the story of the feeding of the 5000 and see Jesus bring his disciples into responsibility when he asks them, “Where shall we find bread for these people to eat?”. What does that say to you? Or how about when Jesus walks across the lake! Can you imagine the disciples’ fear, amazement and awe? Who is this Jesus? Matthew even records that Peter walks out to see him. What faith! What courage! And then to sink and have Jesus say, “You of little faith. Why did you doubt?” Or how about in the Old Testament when Gideon lays out a fleece and gets an answer and asks again? Did he not like the first answer? Did he doubt? Was he afraid?

So many questions arise from these stories. So many principles to glean from them. Are you wrestling with them? Do you search for God in them? Do you see what God wants you to know? Don’t rush reading these stories but find God in them and use that to understand him more. Happy reading and may you draw closer to God as you work through all that God has to say to you.

-Andy Cisneros

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Joshua 5-6 and John 6

Complaining

Numbers 11-12 and Psalm 42-43

A couple of years prior to Numbers chapter 11, the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt.  They were being mistreated by the Egyptians, and they wanted out!  God answered their plea, and he delivered the Israelites from the Egyptians.  It wasn’t an easy process though, as man could not have done it alone.  God had to perform a number of miracles along the way to free the Israelites. 

If we fast forward back to Numbers 11, the Israelites begin to complain because they are hungry.  They complain to Moses who then complains to God.  It’s as if the Israelites completely forgot all of the miracles that God performed in the first place to get them out of Egypt.  When I read about how the Israelites complain time and time again about being hungry, thirsty, or whatever, I get irritated with them.  I ask how in the world could they complain after all that God has done for them?!

Unfortunately, the more I think about the Israelites complaining, the more I realize similarities between them and many of us today, myself included.  God may not have rescued us from the hands of the Egyptians, but He has done so much more than we could ever begin to ask.  God laid down his own Son for us, so that we could have everlasting life in His coming Kingdom.  That’s powerful!  After all that God has done for us, we still have our bad days.  We still have our days in which we complain to God about the current issues we are experiencing in life.

From the outside looking in, the problems that the Israelites faced seemed like such small issues in the big picture, and the truth of the matter is that they were.  The same could be said about many of the small issues that we face on a daily basis and have the audacity to complain to God about after all He has done for us.  I’m all for being honest with God and expressing our real, raw feelings to God, so I don’t think that’s the issue.  Rather, maybe we shouldn’t let the small issues that we may experience affect us so much.  We need to put all the temporary issues that we experience into perspective.  Most of the issues that a lot of us, myself included, may complain about aren’t even worth complaining about in the first place! 

A small bump in the road may seem like a giant mountain when we are going through it, but hindsight is often able to put those issues into perspective.  Let’s work on putting those small issues into perspective in the moment, which is a lot easier said than done.  If we do this, then our positive attitudes will uplift us and those around us.

A note from Psalms:

“Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!” Psalm 43:3

This ties directly in to our conversation yesterday about being led by God.  Pray for God to send out his light and truth to us to lead us where He sees fit.

-Kyle McClain

Links to today’s Bible reading – Numbers 11-12 and Psalm 42-43

God Guides

When you Look for It

Numbers 9-10 and Psalm 40-41

I always love a good celebration with my friends and family!  The Israelites had a number of different celebrations, but arguably the most important one to them was the Passover.  The Passover was in commemoration of God sparing the Israelite firstborn sons during the tenth and final plague to free the Israelites from Egypt.  All of the Israelite households who spread the blood of the lamb on their doorposts had their firstborn sons spared, but everyone else did not.  In chapter nine of Numbers, God instructs the Israelites, through Moses, to celebrate the Passover.  This is a vital celebration that the Israelites struggled to remember to celebrate later on.

It would be cool to see the whole nation of Israel gather together to celebrate the Passover.  Truth be told, there are a ton of events recorded in the Bible that would be flat out awesome to see firsthand!  Of all the awesome things to see, Numbers chapter 9 records one of the top 10 things that I would have liked to have witnessed firsthand – maybe top 5.  That awesome thing recorded is the pillar of fire that guided the Israelites where to go at night.  During the day, a pillar of cloud guided them, but at night it had the appearance of fire.  How cool would it be to see the pillar of fire in the sky at night?!  I would say top 10 throughout the whole Bible!  Our God is incredible, and he is capable of some awesome feats.

I don’t think many of us are going to be led by a pillar of cloud or fire.  However, similar to the Israelites, we can and should still be guided by God.  There’s a very good chance that the guidance that God provides you will not be as obvious as the pillar of cloud or fire.  Therefore, we really need to be in tune with God and keep our eyes, ears, heart, and mind open to His guidance.  There are a number of ways in which God can lead us, so we should be ready at all times.  If we are actively seeking God’s guidance, then we are much more likely to see it.  That has to do with our Reticular Activating System in our brains.  If you don’t know what that is, then look it up on Google or YouTube.  You’ll be amazed.

 I would encourage you all to pray to God to help you become susceptible to God’s guidance.  You may be surprised with all the ways that God attempts to guide you.

A note from Psalm:

“Blessed is the one who considers the poor!  In the day of trouble the LORD delivers him,” Psalm 41:1.

Let this serve as a reminder to be generous with everything that God provides us with.  If we consider the poor with our resources, then God will deliver us!

-Kyle McClain

Links to today’s Bible verses – Numbers 9-10 and Psalm 40-41

Giving and Serving

Numbers 7-8 and Psalm 38-39

The Tabernacle played a very important role for the Jews before the Temple era.  The Tabernacle served as the central area where the Jews worshiped God.  Therefore, it was important that the Tabernacle was well taken care of.  We discussed two days ago that the Levites were responsible for the upkeep of the Tabernacle.  Although not all the tribes participated in the actual work of the upkeep of the Tabernacle, the tribes did provide gifts for the Tabernacle.  When we think about the church today, we may not all partake in the physical upkeep of the church building.  However, we should follow the example set in Numbers 7, and everyone should provide for the needs of the church.

After 88 verses describing the different gifts that the tribes presented to the Tabernacle, Moses communicates with God.  Moses went into the tent of meeting (the Tabernacle), and God spoke to Moses from above the mercy seat that was on the Ark of the Covenant.  The Ark of the Covenant represented the presence of God to the Israelites, and it was an extremely important artifact for the Israelites.  I, along with Indiana Jones, have often wondered where in the world the Ark of the Covenant is located today. 

Chapter eight talks more about the responsibilities of the Levites.  Not only were the Levites responsible for the upkeep of the Tabernacle, but they were responsible for serving the people of Israel at the Tabernacle.  The upkeep of the Tabernacle and the upkeep of our church buildings are important, but it is all for naught if we neglect the people of God.  Therefore, let these two chapters serve as a reminder to provide for our church buildings, but also more importantly to care for the people of God.

A note from Psalms:

“But for you, O LORD, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer.” Psalm 38:15

Praise God that we serve a good God who hears and answers our prayers.  God may not always answer our prayers the way we want or expect to, but he will provide an answer.  Sometimes, we need to remember to wait on the LORD.

-Kyle McClain

Links to today’s Bible reading – Numbers 7-8 and Psalm 38-39

Delighting in the Law of the Lord

Psalm 1

For most people, these next two weeks are the most difficult to continue doing your Bible reading plan. These next two weeks deal with the book of Leviticus, which is chock-full of descriptions of sacrifices and offerings that seemingly no longer apply to us today, and many people wind up either skipping it or quitting their Bible reading plan altogether. However, my goal this week in these devotions is to hopefully build your appreciation for this crucial book in the story of Israel’s history and what it can possibly mean for us. This is one of my favorite books in the Bible, possibly because I’m either just weird or like to research things that other people don’t. I do want to give a brief shout-out to Professor Bob Jones at ABC for developing my appreciation for this book; if you want to get excited about the Old Testament, go speak with him and you will never be the same again.

Before we dive into this difficult book, I want to tap into Psalm 1 for this week. The psalmist states that there are two different kinds of people: those who are wicked and sinful, and those who delight in and meditate on the law (Torah) of YHWH. God doesn’t judge people by race, gender, or nationality, but on their devotion to Him and His laws. The psalmist states that God protects those who love His laws and causes them to prosper; however, those who reject His commands are already condemned and are on their way to destruction. Which group of people do you want to be a part of?

What the psalmist is referring to as “the law of YHWH” are the commands found in the first five books of the Bible, otherwise known as the Torah, or Books of Moses. I want you to notice that one of the books that is included there is Leviticus; we are supposed to delight in and meditate on Leviticus! Unfortunately, this book has a bad reputation in our culture today, as it speaks out specifically against all types of sins that people love to enjoy. However, it is a powerful testimony of the love, patience, and mercy of God in the midst of our struggles, and a clear reminder of the ways that we are supposed to live.

My hope and prayer is that you will be as excited about Leviticus as the psalmist was and as I am. There is so much information found in there that is still relevant to us; it just needs to be carefully dug out and discussed. Let’s look forward to this book and try to find God’s voice in it!

-Talon Paul

Links to today’s Bible reading – Exodus 39-40 and Psalm 1-3

The Veil Torn

Mark 15

            God never does anything by accident, and what we read in Mark 15 is no exception. To me, one of the most incredible events surrounding the crucifixion of Jesus is the temple veil being torn. This is what Mark 15:37-39 says about the event, “And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’”

            There is a great significance in the veil being torn. To understand how important this is, we first need to understand the temple layout. Moving from outside the temple in, the first thing upon entering is the outer court. This is where the altar was kept for offering sacrifices. After walking into the temple, is the holy place. This is where the showbread, incense altar and lamp stands would be. Only priests were allowed in this part of the temple. The next and most precious part of the temple is called the holy of holies. This was the innermost part of the temple and it was cut off from the rest of the temple by a giant veil. The veil would have been thirty feet long and thirty feet high. Talk about a big piece of cloth. The holy of holies was cut off from the rest of the temple because it was the place God dwelled. Only the high priest, once a year, was allowed to go into the holy of holies. This veil was the literal barrier keeping God separate from the tainted and sinful world. So when Jesus dies, why is this veil torn?

            The simple answer is this, when Jesus died he removed the barrier between God and man. God no longer needed to be separate from His people because Jesus covered that sin and washed it away. This means that those who put their faith in Jesus could now have access to the father like never before seen in history.  Look at what 1 Timothy 2:5 has to say, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus”. We no longer have to bring sacrifices to the temple because Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice that paid for sin once and for all. We no longer need a high priest to enter the holy of holies for us because Jesus is now our high priest serving as a mediator between us and God. Thereby, giving us full access to the father. We no longer have to gaze from outside the temple wondering what it is like to be in the presence of God because now, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are being made into a spiritual temple where God resides in us. The church, which is us, is now where God dwells. Do you see now the significance of the veil being torn? It is a representation of one the biggest shifts in history. The veil being torn is a mile marker of a new age, the church age, where God is no longer is hidden in the holy of holies, but has poured His Spirit out upon the church.

            We now have the great pleasure of living a life of freedom and access because of what Jesus did that day. When the veil was torn, everything changed. The next time you’re in trouble, hurting or wanting to rejoice, remember that you have access to the Father. There is no veil separating you from God.

-Josiah Cain

Links to today’s Bible reading – Exodus 35-36 and Mark 15

God Doesn’t Change

Mark 12

            One of the things I love about God most, is His consistency. He doesn’t change based on His mood or a novel whim. He is consistent because He is utterly and entirely good, loving, and holy. He already knows what the best is and what the future holds, so why would there be a need to change? This unchanging consistency is something that we can see in the words of scripture. For example, Mark 12:28-31 says, “One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, ‘What commandment is the foremost of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The foremost is, Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” How does this show God’s consistency?

            God knew all the way back in the time of Moses what the most important things to Him are. It’s not like He discovered sometime between the time of Moses and the time of Jesus that He wanted people to love Him with everything they had and for people to love each other. These were foundational truths from the beginning because God was loving from the beginning. The proof that God doesn’t change is right here in Jesus’ words. If things had changed or if God wanted something new to be known, Jesus would have spoken it right then, but he didn’t. Jesus quoted what was already written.

            The truths concerning God’s nature and His desires were given to us from the beginning of scripture and repeated over and over again through the rest of the Bible. I think God used this method on purpose, because sometimes, it takes awhile for an idea to sink into our brains. God’s message doesn’t change, just the way it is delivered. The big take away from all of this is that God is trustworthy and reliable. When God promises something, we know He will follow through. When God says something, we know that He isn’t going to change His mind later down the road. This means our salvation, our hope for the future kingdom and the love that we’ve received are sure to stay that way. Let that thought live in your heart, encouraging you and lifting you up day by day.

-Josiah Cain

Links to today’s Bible reading – Exodus 29-30 and Mark 12