Teach Me, God

Psalm 25

Psalm 25 5 NIV

Truth in our current culture has been a major point of contention. The common motto of today is “You have your truth and I have my truth.” As if truth is something that can be different to different people. I believe that there is only one truth and I think this is the one that includes God in your worldview. I believe that when we become Christians, we are forced to accept the truth that there is a God in the world who is all powerful, with us and loves us.

Our faith or belief about what we believe should greatly inform how we act and how we view our world. Belief or faith in God should change our paradigms regarding the things we do, what we worry about and what we focus on. When we view the world, we cannot accept the natural possibilities but we are made to view the world in light of the knowledge that we have a miracle-working God alongside of us who is active in our world. An example where this plays out best is in the beatitude blessed are the meek because this is so contrary to the world in which we live. Living meekly through the natural course of this world doesn’t end up with our benefit but God tells us to live meekly and believe that following God’s commandments is ultimately to our benefit. This allows us to be meek because we believe that God exists, knows what’s best and cares for his people.

I think that the world teaches us a bunch of lies about how our lives should go and what will make us truly happy.

Therefore, if we have faith, we should seek and know God’s commandments and words to follow them to the best of our ability. I think this is what David is looking for in Psalm 25. I love how David opens up this psalm.

David is completely committed to the truth that God exists. He opens up the Psalm by saying to you I lift up my soul. I feel like this would be a great thing to incorporate into our own prayers. Just opening up our souls to God to begin our prayer time.

He follows that up with “O my God, in you I trust; let me not be put to shame; let not my enemies exult over me.” What this prayer says to me is David wasn’t seeking his own victory. David was seeking and depending on God for victory. David was dependent on God for his life. He submitted his life to the paradigm that God was in control and put his battles, struggles and life in God’s hands. David was humble before God by living in obedience and submitting to his leadership.

Verse 3 shows David’s conviction to this idea. David articulated a very important scriptural theme. David recognized that having faith in God meant waiting for God to act and bring victory.

In verse 4 and 5 David is asking for guidance. He asks to know God’s ways and to be taught his paths. This should be a prayer for all of us. I think sometimes we don’t seek God’s guidance in our lives. Not just in specific instances, I think we sometimes forget to ask God to teach us how to live life while believing him. The teachings of Jesus give us a great list of things we should be doing but I would rather God show me his way and his path than trying to do those things on my own path. David in this verse was acknowledging the truth of God in this world and seeking to be taught by God directly.

David later in the Psalm says that the man that abides in the path of God will have his soul abide in well-being. Is there anything more you could want? To have a soul that is abiding in well-being is the best life I can imagine. This is what happens when we learn the ways and paths of God.

In verse 5 David asks God to teach him his truth. He asks God to teach him. That is so convicting for me. I am not sure that I really do this. I just kind of assume God will because of my heart for him. We should be asking God to teach us just like we would our earthly fathers. I think that learning God’s truth will change the way that we view everything. There is only one truth and it’s God’s.

So, today I pray that God would teach us his truth. God, I ask that you would change our paradigms, the way we view others, the way we view our lives and the way we view you. I pray that you would teach us your ways, teach us your way of doing life and lead us in our pursuit of you. I pray that you would teach us.

“See” you guys tomorrow. Have a great day.

Daniel Wall

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+25%2C29%2C33%2C+36%2C39&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 2 Samuel 8-9 & 1 Chronicles 18 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Who Are You Blaming?

Job 29-31

Job 31 2 NIV

I love the orderly layout for Job’s final 3 chapters of his defense before God and man.

 

In chapter 29 Job longs for his earlier days, “When the Almighty was still with me and my children were around me” (Job 29:5).  He isn’t dwelling on all the wonderful material  goods he once enjoyed, though we know they were many.  Rather, he is fondly recalling the interactions he had with others – the respect he felt, the ability he once had to help others: serving as the father to the needy, rescuing the fatherless, and comforting the mourners.  And, then he became the mourner.

 

In chapter 30 Job details his current despair.  Now he is detested by men.  He has lost all former dignity and safety and feels terror instead.  He is physically suffering with gnawing pain; blackened, peeling skin; and fever.  And perhaps worst of all, he feels like God is ignoring his cries for help.

 

In chapter 31 Job affirms his righteousness, denying his friends’ claims that he must now be suffering because of great past sins.  He describes many sins: lust, dishonest business transactions, marital infidelity, injustice, not caring for the poor and fatherless, abusing power, greed, idolatry, rejoicing over one’s enemy’s misfortune, and hiding guilt.  For each sin he says, I didn’t do it.  And for each sin he names a punishment a just God could give to him or anyone else who did that evil.

 

The problem is Job – and his friends we have heard from in the past many chapters – don’t understand that there are multiple reasons why we may be enduring trials.  His friends say trials are a result of God’s punishment.  And they were right – but only partially right.  They were erroneously blaming Job for his current trials because he must have deserved it.  Job says he was righteous (not sinless, but righteous) and thus shouldn’t be experiencing trials if God was just.  But, just who is God?  And why does He allow suffering?  These are still the questions that need answers today.

 

Last month I was delighted to watch the youth of our church develop and share a Youth Sunday based on several “apologetic” questions people ask about God.  Does God exist?  Did He create the world?  Is the Bible accurate and reliable?  Are science and the Bible enemies?  AND the biggie – why does God allow suffering?  Too many times a faithful person can believe all the right things and live the right life (just like Job) – until trouble comes.  And then the blaming and questioning tears them away from what they knew was true and the God that loves them.  It was powerful seeing these young people studying truth (guided by godly mentors) and gaining this understanding which will prepare them for trials to come.

 

I want to share with you a brief outline which youth group members, Kaitlyn and Addie, presented on “Why Does God Allow Suffering?”

  • The Fall (Genesis 3:14-19, Romans 5:12)
  • The Devil Causes Evil (2 Corinthians 4:4, 1 Peter 5:8,9)
  • God’s Judgments (Romans 6:23, Genesis 19:13) – this was the one Job’s friends knew about
  • God Uses Suffering for Good (Romans 8:28, James 1:2-4)
  • Sometimes People Don’t Get Healing Because of a Lack of Faith (Matthew 9:22-24, Mark 9:29)
  • Time & Chance (Luke 13:1-5, Ecclesiastes 9:11)

 

Many sermons could be written about any of these but I want to say just a few words about the devil, Satan, the accuser, the serpent, or the god of this age…the list goes on.  He goes by many names – perhaps a part of his deception and secret identities.  I find it very interesting that he plays a KEY role in Job 1 & 2 – and yet is not mentioned again by either Job or his friends.  He is the one bringing about these trials (which God is allowing) but everyone is pointing the finger at God rather than at Satan.  It is true that the Old Testament has a very limited number of references to Satan.  They did not yet have a very thorough understanding of many things God would reveal to His people through time – the Messiah, the resurrection, and Satan.

 

When Jesus enters the scene, he works to bring a clearer understanding of all these things.  All 4 gospel writers record Jesus speaking about (and sometimes directly to) the devil/Satan and the power he wields to tempt, deceive and inflict.  Every New Testament writer references the devil or Satan.  I believe we still point the finger at God often times when we ought to be recognizing, and fleeing from, the power of the god of this age.  Perhaps there is something you need to stop blaming God for and give the “credit” to Satan instead.

 

And, that is just ONE of the other Biblical reasons for our trials.  So much to think about in the book of Job!

 

I enjoyed looking into Job with you this week and I greatly look forward to the coming week when we get to hear from Cayce (Ballard) Fletcher as we get into the BEST parts of the book of Job!

 

Keep Reading and Seeking, Growing and Loving
Marcia Railton

 

To read or listen to today’s Bible passage check out – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+29-31&version=NIV

 

Tomorrow’s reading will be Job 32-34 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

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.)

 

 

 

Reader Beware!

The Letter of Jude

Jude 24 b

“Judgment is Coming, Especially for False Teachers”

“He who saved a people of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe” (1:5).

The Letter of Jude is very similar to 2 Peter. The letter is a warning to believers that false teachers who have perverted the grace of our God into a license for sin will undergo a devastating, destructive judgment.

 

Turning the Grace of God into a License to Sin

Jude states that the faith had been delivered once for all to the saints (1:3). The believers were “once for all fully informed (1:5). This new teaching was a perversion. The new teaching was brought by false teachers who “pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (1:4). Some people perverted the grace of God and the work of Jesus on the cross into a license to sin. Their attitude was something like: “Our sins our forgiven, so let’s do whatever we want”.

The New Testament strongly condemns such an attitude (Romans 6:1-15, 1 John 3:4-10). Rather than promote sin, the grace of God through the work of Jesus on the cross condemns and defeats sin.

 

Examples of Judgment

Jude reminds his listeners that there is a devasting, destructive judgment in store for these false teachers, but also by implication for those who follow them. Jude gives several examples from the Old Testament to illustrate that judgment will eventually come.

  • God brought Israel out of Egypt, but afterwards destroyed those (in the desert) who did not believe (1:5).
  • Angels who “did not keep their proper position” have been kept in chains “until the judgement of the great day” (1:6).
  • Sodom and Gomorrah acted immorally but were destroyed by an eternal (of an age) fire.
  • Jude also mentions the “way of Cain”, “Balaam’s error” and those who perished in Korah’s rebellion.

All these serve as evidences and examples that God will judge wickedness. It is a great error to turn the grace of God and the work of Jesus into a license to sin.

 

Admonition to Stay Faithful, 1:17-23

Jude knows that a warning is needed, but hopes that his listeners can maintain their “holy faith”. He says believers should not be surprised that false teachers have arisen. The Lord Jesus and the apostles said this would happen (1:17).  In the Old Testament, one reason that God allowed false prophets among the people was to test the people, to see if they loved God with heart and soul, or not (Deuteronomy 13:3).  Likewise, one reason false teachers are around today is for our testing (2 Peter 2:1-3, 1 John 4:1).

“But you beloved…keep yourselves in the love of God; wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal (of the age) life” (1:20-21).

 

Bill & Stephanie Schlegel

 

(Editor’s Note: Yesterday, we provided some links to Bill’s website, Satellite Bible Atlas and trip to Israel.  Today you might enjoy this interview with Bill from our friends at Restitutio.  https://restitutio.org/2019/08/01/interview-53-why-knowing-the-land-of-israel-matters-bill-schlegel/.)

Where’s the Truth?

John 17 17

 

Building off of what a very wise woman shared yesterday in this same FUEL Bible Reading blog, I would also like to focus on the truth of the Bible.

This is what I appreciate most about God’s word. We can trust that it is true.

Culture, morals and laws are always changing. Things that were once taboo, largely in part because of God’s word, are now celebrated. How can we know if those things should be accepted morally or not? God’s word.

Many scientists believe that the entire universe exists only because of an accident, billions of years ago, and that each one of us is a result of billions of small built-up accidents over the last several hundred million years. In other words, there is no purpose or thought behind our existence. How sad is that sentiment? How can we know how we were created and if we truly have a purpose? God’s word.

There are many today that say that once you are dead, that is the end of your existence, and thus, we have no hope for a better future. And there are any numbers of world-ending scenarios that exist as well. But how can we know what our future truly holds? God’s word.

Truth, in the secular world, is always changing, always “evolving.” What is “truth” for one person may not be “truth” for another. That should clearly reveal that at least one person’s “truth” is not truth at all. We obviously need to all have a standard of truth when it comes to such things as morality, our origin and purpose, and our future hope. Thanks be to God that He was so wise as to have others write down and keep for all time the truths of His word.

How can we know that scripture is true? Proverbs 119:160 says that all of God’s words are true. Jesus confirms that God’s word is true in John 17:17. And we can know that Jesus does indeed exist and that God’s word is indeed truth because it has stood up under historical scrutiny, it has correctly predicted hundreds of specific prophecies, and as Hebrews 4:12 says, “…sharper than any double-edged sword, [God’s word] penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow…”

As yesterday’s devotion pointed out, we need to constantly be in God’s word so that we KNOW the truth that it contains. This is both for our benefit, and for others that we can then share that truth with, as God’s word instructs us. I encourage you to begin and end each day in God’s word, so as to not be swayed by the untruths of this current age.

-Greg Landry

 

Today, we are pleased to have Greg Landry writing on the importance of God’s Word.  Greg and his wife Susan (who wrote yesterday) are active in many ministries.  Greg has a great passion for researching and teaching on the lies of evolution.  His website, https://onegodsixdays.com/, offers readers many opportunities to become better informed on this important topic, which has sadly become a great stumbling block for many young Christians.  Susan has a great blog (https://thesparrowshome.com/) with a good variety of content for faith, family, food, games and homeschool. She has also started a website called http://onelegacy.net/ where she works to provide resources for Biblical Unitarian homeschoolers, families and churches working to actively instill a Godly worldview in their children.  Greg and Susan are a delight as they love and apply God’s Word in their own lives – and help grow that love in others.

Are you Blind?

john 8 34 35

Are you blind!?!  This is one of our favorite questions to ask when those around us are missing something that is so obvious.  It is extremely frustrating to us when they just don’t get it or they just don’t believe us when the truth is right in front of their eyes to see.  This is how Jesus felt when he was dealing with the Pharisees.  His frustration with them oozed all the way through John 8 and 9 because they just “didn’t get it”.  They didn’t believe he was who he was even though it should have been very obvious to them.  They were closed-minded and not willing to listen to witnesses like the blind man who had been healed.
In John 8:34-35, Jesus says that anyone who commits sin is the slave of sin, and the slave does not remain in the house forever.  If you have a sin in your life that you deliberately keep doing, you’re going to get kicked out of the house because you are a slave to that sin.  When you keep choosing to sin, God is getting very frustrated with you, just like Jesus was frustrated with the Pharisees.  He’s probably thinking, “They know I don’t want them to do that, but they keep doing it anyways.  I have given them my Word to read, but they don’t see how they are supposed to act.  Are they blind!?!  They just don’t get it.”  Don’t be that guy.

-Rick McClain

Who I Am

l jones mon

“But by God’s grace I am what I am, and His grace towards me was not ineffective…”

1 Corinthians 15:10

 

It is easy for us to focus on our inequities. It is easy to dwell on our shortcomings, failures, and insecurities. The truth is the world thrives on the failures of others. One’s shortcoming is another’s gain. The world tells us to find our worth in relationships, friendships, and our careers.

 

But, the truth is that we weren’t created to find sufficiency in any of these things. We were created to glorify God and follow in the footsteps of his Son, Jesus Christ.

 

I know it sounds cliché, but we can only find our true worth in God. He is the only one who looks at us, can count the hairs on our head, wipe the tears from our eyes, and see us for what we are actually worth.

 

We are who we are. God created each of us in a unique, precious way that should be celebrated. None of us are perfect. And, all of us will fail. But, it is important to realize that even though we haven’t earned it, the God we serve will give us grace and favor.

 

This week, we are going to dive into what it means to find empowerment and confidence in God. Because, when it comes down to it, we cannot experience true joy without him.

 

-Leslie Jones

What Are Your Passions?

matt 22 37

We hear a lot about people finding a job that they are passionate about. I was listening to a radio program one day, and the man said that you can tell what people are passionate about by what they talk about and taking a look at their checkbook, to see what they spend their money on. I asked my children based on that, what did they think that my mother, their Grandma Bonnie was passionate about and they said: Family, Bible, and Flowers (add politics and you have some of my passions, as well).  They were right, those are the things that she cares about and that she talks about whenever they are around.

In Deuteronomy, Chapter 6, it talks about the importance of talking to our children, grandchildren, and others about God and the things that he has done.  “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  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.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates.”  These verses are very important to the Jewish people, they are called the Shema, and they recite these verses daily, they should also be as important to us. First it says that we are to love God with all our heart, soul, and strength; He should be the most important thing in our life. It doesn’t say to love Him with part of those things, it’s to be all, and we need to be “All In”, as a coach once said. In Matthew 22:37, Jesus said that this is the greatest commandment.  Then the verses in Deuteronomy say to tell others about God, when you sit at home, when you’re walking, when you lie down, and when you get up. That basically covers every area of our life. God doesn’t want to be something that we think about on Sundays and Wednesdays, he wants us to be thinking and talking about Him, and His goodness to us, all the time. It says to write the commands on our door frames and our gates. Everyone that would pass that house would know that they believed in the One True God.  Because it was important to them, it would not be something that they hid from those passing by. In Psalm 78 2-4 it says: “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.” We need to be passionate about God and passionate about telling others about him every day. We have wonderful stories to tell to others about the glory of God and His coming Kingdom.

Sherry Alcumbrack

How Remote are You Willing to Go?

acts 1_8 earth

“…you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”  Acts 1:8

 

Going to the remotest part of the earth can sound overwhelming and scary.  But with the new Roman road that God prepared for us, it doesn’t have to be.  When you reach out to people online you have time to think about what you want to say.  You can look up verses and you can consult with others before replying.  You don’t even have to get out of your pajamas!

Are you up for the challenge?  Are you willing to give a little of your video watching and game playing time to God?  Imagine sharing Jesus’ gospel in Muslim countries without the risk of getting put in prison!  I was thrilled the other day to connect on a 3-way Skype call with a man in Russia (Pastor Maksim) and an Indian in Oman (Majo).  It was awesome hearing their joy as they met one another and heard each other’s stories (with me translating) and how they both love the One True God and His kingdom hope, even though they have no other Christians in the cities where they live.  They were both so encouraged in their faith and in their kingdom work and evangelistic outreach!

Read Matthew 25:14-30.  Which servant will you be?  In America we have been given many “talents” or things we can invest – time, money, opportunities and freedom.  It would be quite arrogant to think that we deserve more than our brethren in third world countries or those who live their faith out in Muslim countries.

As the verse says, much is expected when much is given.  How will you use what has been given to you?

-Tracy Zhykhovich

Where is Your Judea and Samaria?

Acts 1_8 JS

“…you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.”  Acts 1:8

 

Yesterday we got started in you and your home town.  Obviously, in order to be a witness, one must have something to witness about, and it is natural to start closest to home.  Take some time to read Peter’s sermon in Acts 2:14-36.  He addressed the important doctrines (teachings) and gave the people hope.

Jesus’ disciples must be able to teach what Jesus and his apostles taught.  When we become passionate about this kingdom hope, there is no greater joy than sharing it with another person!  I was an All-American athlete and had many highs on the soccer field and on the basketball court, but nothing comes close to the high you get sharing your faith that you have in such a wonderful hope!  God’s words are alive and they not only pierce to the inner most being, but they also empower and ignite an inner flame in the speaker.

Now consider how this might help you not only share with those closest to you who haven’t heard this Great News, but how it might help you share in your Judea and Samaria, the cities and states around you.

This summer some friends and I are going to rent a space at the county fair and have a survey for people to take.  This will open things up for people to talk and we may find a genuine truth-seeker!  If you or your youth group would like more information on that or would like our questionnaire, please get in touch with me and I would be happy to pass it on!

-Tracy Zhykovich