Surrender – to a Great God

Psalm 131, 138- 139 & 143-145

Psalm 145 5 NIV sgl

Throughout these chapters we see surrender, submission, exultation, and countless reasons to put our trust in God. Recognizing God’s glory, David humbly came before God and put his hope and trust in God while praising Him all the way.

 

By learning about who God is, we can then begin to see why He deserves all our attention. God’s attributes are a great place to start. God is omniscient, he knows everything. There is nothing you can hide from Him, ask Adam and Eve. “You discern my going out and my lying down. You are familiar with all my ways.” (Psalm 139:3) God is omnipresent, he is always present. “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7) God is omnipotent, all powerful. And therefore worthy of all our praise and worship. In reading Psalms we can see nothing but how Great our God is. God knows me better than my family does, or even my best friend, He knows all the hairs on our head, and even the number of tears we have cried. He knows where we are and is present at all times. These attributes of God should be such a comfort to us because He is such a loving God whose kindness reaches all. “The LORD will vindicate me; your love, endures forever.” (Psalm 138:8) His love endures forever. The same loving God we see throughout the Bible loves us. God loves us so much that we can be certain He has our best interest in mind. 

 

“When I called, you answered me, you greatly embolden me.’ Psalm 138:3

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18

 

Many times in the Psalms we can see this similar wording over and over again but I think it is important to point out that it starts with you seeking God first, and once you do and call on Him, He will answer. The fact that God cares about me enough to listen to and even answer me shows how Great a God He is. 

 

We are God’s workmanship, servant, and masterpiece. We are His people, and He is our God. Our creator, He knit us together in our mother’s womb, and because of that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. So find your worth in God and trust in Him, who, unlike the world, will give you the truth. 

 

It is so fitting that David ends Psalm 139 with a beautiful surrender to God. David sets the example of opening your life up to God and letting Him lead you in this walk called life. God deserves all our trust, hope, and praise. “May they sing in the ways of the LORD for the glory of the LORD is great.” (Psalm 138:5) Sometimes it can be easy to forget just how much God is deserving of all our praise because in reality he deserves so much more than we could ever give Him. Follow David’s example. Ask God to teach you His will and His ways. Ask Him to search your heart and thoughts. Then surrender to Him and give him all your praise and worship. 

Makayla Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+131%2C+138-+139%2C+143-+145&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Chronicles 26-29 and Psalm 127 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

God Speaks

1 Chronicles 23-25

1 Chronicles 25 1 NIV

I remember the song that came on the radio immediately after receiving the text that a dear woman of God was being placed in hospice care following her 4 year battle with cancer – I Can Only Imagine.  And God spoke to me.  My friend and mentor was getting closer and closer to the dark sleep of death and we would be separated from her for a time.  But at Jesus’ resurrection she will rise and be closer to Jesus than ever before!  I wonder – will she sing and dance or fall silent at his feet?  I Can Only Imagine.

I remember the song that echoed in the rafters as the Family Camp worship band led worship at the close of a Family Camp which had come at a time of great searching and pain for our family when we were unsure of what was next but felt God leading us away from the church that was home – These are the Days of Elijah.  And God spoke to me.  “There is no god like Jehovah”.  Yes, Elijah, Moses, David had trials, too.  They were unsure, they questioned, they experienced pain, and God showed up for them in mighty ways, just as He was revealing himself for us, one day at a time.  “There is no god like Jehovah”!

I remember the song that just last night my daughter started to sing as I read aloud the Bible reading for the day from Psalm 108 – “My heart, O God, is steadfast; I will sing and make music with all my soul.”  The tune probably wouldn’t sound familiar to you because my 3 kids wrote it out and practiced it over and over with piano, guitar and voice to remember it now, 4 years later, during our devotions.  And God spoke to me – through the words of David and the tune of my children.  God is worthy of praise – through all the years and generations and ages.  Sing to Him and tell the nations!

Music is powerful.  People choose and leave churches based on the worship style.   Many report that during the time of online church they miss most not meeting to sing together with the body of Christ.  It is interesting that the most popular post on this site was one titled after a rousing and uplifting worship song which vividly brings to mind God’s might and protection – The God of Angel Armies.

But what gives music its real power is that GOD speaks through it.

In our reading today we have 3 chapters written for the Jews returning to Jerusalem after many year of living in captivity.  They are reminded of how to be God’s chosen, holy people – and that includes the temple worship spoken of in these chapters – 1 Chronicles 23-25.  We read in 1 Chronicles 23:5 that King David himself provided the instruments for the 4,000 Levites selected to lead the people in musical worship to their God.  Chapter 25 lists the heads of the families selected, “for the ministry of prophesying, accompanied by harps, lyres and cymbals.” (25:1).  Often we think today of prophesying as foretelling the future.  But more generically, and often used in the Scriptures, prophesying is simply speaking for the Lord.  To be God’s mouthpiece.  To say what God wants to be said.

God speaks.   And sometimes that is done with a tune, set to music, with instruments and voices lifted high.   Sing to the Lord – and listen for what He is speaking to you today.

 

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+chronicles+23-25&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be back in the songbook of the Bible: Psalm 131, 138-139 & 143- 145 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.

Which verses would you make into a song to sing today?  

Do you have an interest in writing one devotion for this week?   If so, drop me a line at grow16br@gmail.com and we can discuss.

 

 

Trusting in God

Psalm 5, 38, 41-42

psalm 5 11 NIV sgl

 

I have always connected with David’s ability to cry out to the LORD. He isn’t afraid to depend upon him. He is willing to ask God directly to be delivered from his enemies. Even though David clearly expresses his weaknesses, he holds so much confidence in God that he is still willing to come before him and pray. 

 

When we think about the faith that David had, I think it’s easy for us to say, “Well, of course, we should ask God to conquer our battles.” And that is true, we serve a God who wants us to come to him. Through the sacrifice of his Son, we have the ability to come to God and ask him to intercede for us.

 

But when reality sets in, we have a tendency to become overwhelmed and ultimately rely on ourselves. We forget to turn to the one who created us for help. I think this is because it’s easier for us to fathom solutions to our problems that we can come up with on our own. 

 

It’s difficult to trust in someone to fight for us that we can’t even fathom. 

 

And yet, David still decides to trust God. So much so that he is praying that others follow suit. 

 

I find all of this relevant with the struggles that are currently overtaking the world. With hunger, disease, unemployment, and fear continuing to rise, it is natural to become overwhelmed. We want to fight for some sort of solution. We have to find some way to cope. But in all of this fighting, we likely end up crippled by fear. 

 

If our first action is to trust in God, our result is very different. We serve a God who will place a hedge of protection over us. He will provide healing for us. Because he loves us that much. A God who can move mountains is the same God who will make you stronger if you choose to come to him. 

 

David saw the glory and mercy that could come from following a path that would lead him to the LORD- a path of righteousness. Imagine what the world would look like if all of us stopped allowing the noise of society to consume us and rested in God. 

 

So, in the fear, in the hunger, in the waiting, let’s choose to take all of that emotion and let it drive us closer to our creator. Let us become a people who are willing to unapologetically depend upon God to fight our battles. 

 

Ironically, if we take refuge in our Almighty, we will see Victory. 

 

-Leslie Jones

 

Today’s reading can be read or listened at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+5%2C+38%2C+41-42&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 2 Samuel 22-23 & Psalm 57 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Your God or My God

1st Samuel 15-17

1 Samuel 15 22 23 NIV

Being raised as a pastor’s kid, I probably took for granted the accessibility of all things church related. Being a Christian was something that was easily practiced because of the environment I was constantly in. I asked Jesus to come into my heart when I was 5 years old. I was baptized the summer before my eighth grade. But it wasn’t until I went off to college that I really realized that my faith was my own responsibility. If I was going to have Christian friends, I needed to find them on my own. If I was going to attend a mid-week Bible study, I needed to find it on my own. If I was going to attend a Sunday morning service, I needed to find it on my own. Mom and Dad weren’t there to guide and direct me. If I wanted to continue to build up my faith, it was now up to me.

As we read through King Saul’s life, we see that he was hand selected and groomed to take on the role of leading Israel – everything was handed to him. And as a result, he never really owned the responsibility of the position he was put in. He never connected the dots of being the leader of God’s people and having a relationship with God himself.

This is particularly evident in 1 Samuel 15. Saul has carried out God’s instructions of taking up arms against the Amalekites. Once Israel wins the battle, they were supposed to destroy everything: man, woman, child, cattle, sheep, camels and donkeys. Nothing was to be spared. But…that’s not what Saul did. He kept the best of the spoils. He claims that he was going to use the prime plunder as a sacrifice.

Here’s how I know that Saul didn’t own his relationship with God: in verses 21 and 30 of chapter 15, Saul refers to the LORD as Samuel’s God.

…the best of what was devoted to God, in order to sacrifice them to the LORD your God at Gilgal.” (v 21)

…come back with me, so that I may worship the LORD your God.” (v 30)

Saul didn’t understand his disobedience because he hadn’t bothered to grow a relationship with the One who made him king of Israel.

More than anything God desires to have a relationship with us. He wants us to seek Him more than any other person or pursue any other passion. When we grow our relationship with Him, we come to know the things that please Him as well as the things that displease Him. As we grow our relationship with God, our hearts swell with love for Him, His word, and His people. And when our hearts are full of love, obedience comes naturally.

Bethany Ligon

Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+15-17&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be 1st Samuel 18-20 as well as Psalm 11 & 59.  In our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan, as we read events of David’s life we will also read the Psalms which he wrote at that time.  This will give us a deeper understanding of this “man after God’s own heart” as we see not only the events of his life but his thoughts and feelings and the growth of his relationship with His God – who wants to be Your God too.. 
And, during this Resurrection Weekend it is a great time to also read from the gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) as we remember the death of OUR Lord Jesus and eagerly await Resurrection morning.

Pouring Out My Soul

1 Samuel 1-3

1 Samuel 1 15c NIV

Raise your hand if you are in the habit of writing out your prayers.

I am not consistent with the practice, but whenever I do, I’m glad that I did. I’ve gone back and read some of my past prayers and I wonder who in the world wrote them. It’s like I’m a different person when I write out my prayers. As I write out my thoughts while praying, I spend much more time acknowledging God and less time on my own wants. When I write out my prayers my words are more intentional than when I speak. When I write out my prayers my ideas seem to be more in alignment with who God wants me to be compared to when I ramble on in my own mind without recording my thoughts.
As I read 1 Samuel 2, I take in the words of a woman who fully expresses who she has experienced God to be. He is her Rock, her God. God is one who knows her heart and strengthens her when she stumbles. God blesses her and sends thunder against her enemies.
I am thankful that this particular prayer was recorded for us to read. It’s an encouragement for us to persist in prayer. It reminds us of who God is and of his power and might, his peace and his love, his provision and his holiness.
If you are already in the practice of writing out your prayers, spend some extra time this week, going back and reading previous prayers. What have you learned since? How have you changed?
If you do not already write out your prayers, I encourage you to spend some time this week, recording your prayers. How do your written prayers compare to your verbal prayers? What might you gain or learn from the process?
Keeping a prayer journal is a discipline that has many benefits. Learn from Hannah and spend time praising God.
Bethany Ligon
Today’s Bible reading, 1 Samuel 1-3, can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+1-3&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Samuel 4-8 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Serving with Your Gifts

Luke 19

Luke 19_3a
Hey my name is Jesse Allen I am the Youth Pastor at Blood River Church of God in Springfield Louisiana. I am so impressed with our next 7 devotions for the FUEL Bible reading! These next devotions come from Students of the Blood River Church of God Youth Group. The devotions are on Luke 14-20. We are so glad you are able to read them and I pray you may be blessed by them!
 
Hey I am Brian and I love playing football, going fishing and riding atvs.  I’m glad to have an opportunity to talk to you about Luke 19:1-10 As football season started this year, I earned the spot of quarterback. I was excited and knew that it would be a good year. Through a series of unfortunate events, I had to move away for four weeks rights in the middle of the season. When I returned, I was a little like Zacchaeus (and not because I am short – I’m not) because I had to find a way to stand out and earn back the position that had been given to someone else. Zacchaeus had to climb a tree to stand out above the crowd. I had to work harder than everyone else to prove that I deserved the position for the rest of the season. Bryan
 
Hey I am Olivia, I have a younger sister and brother and an older brother. I was born in Indiana but moved to Louisiana in the 3rd grade. I love animals and want to be a vet. I enjoy sports and being active, I am a proud member of the Blood River Church of God family. 
Last summer I got the chance to go on a mission trip to Panama. While I was there we had a VBS program going for the kids. Before the trip I didn’t see how being good with kids could help me serve God and glorify him. As we went through the week more and more kids started coming and that led to more chances to spread and share the Gospel with them. Luke 19:16-19 Is the parable of the Minas and servants. In this parable the Servants use their gifts to increase their minas and they prosper but the one who did nothing got his mina taken away and it was given to the one who had the most. This story focuses on why we should use our gifts to increase God’s kingdom and to serve others so God may be glorified. What are you doing with your gifts to glorify God?  

Jesus’ Target Audience

Luke Chapter Five – Jesus’ First Disciples

Luke 5 10 11

Soon after Jesus began his earthly ministry, Jesus went out to find some people who would follow him.  One would think that Jesus would choose his followers from among the elite scholars.  After all, shouldn’t the king of kings have an elite group of close followers?  However, Jesus did not go that route.  Instead, we see in Luke chapter five, that Jesus chose the likes of fishermen and tax collectors to be his select, close followers.  Fishermen had very little to no education, and they would have been close to no one’s first choice when starting a revolution.  Tax collectors, on the other hand, had a poor reputation, as they often tried to cheat people out of their money.  Therefore, tax collectors would have been close to no one’s first choice either.  For whatever reason, Jesus chose this group to be his followers and to take over when he was to ascend to heaven.

 

A big part of Jesus’ ministry revolved around healing people of their ailments.  In chapter five, Jesus heals both a leper and a paralytic.  One would think that after Jesus got done healing people, he would want them to go tell everybody of the great miracle.  However, the opposite is true.  Often after Jesus would heal somebody, he would tell them to tell no one!  We see this in verse 14, as Jesus told the leper to tell no one.  Now, why would Jesus not want others to share of the great wonders Jesus had done?  The answer is because Jesus’ time to die had not yet come.  Jesus still had much to accomplish before his death.  If word had spread too much, they would have had him killed sooner.

 

After Jesus had called Levi, a tax collector, to be one of his disciples, Jesus went to eat with the tax collectors.  This caused the Pharisees to grumble and ask Jesus why in the world he would eat with the sinful tax collectors. Jesus replies, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance,” (Luke 5:31).  Here Jesus says that his target audience are the sinners rather than the righteous.

 

Too often in church, our focus is on the righteous rather than the sinners.  We design our services, classes, and events for those that are churched and not unchurched.  Perhaps we should consider the words of Jesus in Luke 5:31. Perhaps we should put our focus on the sinners, rather than the righteous.  It is those who are lost and sinners that really need the church!  Our churches should contain people who are not currently saved but are on the road to salvation.  Jesus says it is these kinds of people that he came to call to repentance.  Our target audience should reflect that of Jesus’ target audience.  At the same time, we do need strong Christians within the church to bring up the unchurched.  There is a healthy balance somewhere that we all must find.

 

Kyle McClain