Watch Your Step

Proverbs 4

Have you ever seen the videos of people walking down a street when suddenly they fall in a construction hole? They were too busy watching their phone screen that they did not look where they were going. Because they were not watching, they stumbled and fell into something that was well marked as being dangerous. Maybe you have experienced something like this yourself.

Sometimes in life we can be like this. In our walk of faith, we don’t pay attention like we should. Something other than the path draws our attention and we stumble. In those videos, the person usually walks right into a construction zone that is marked with bright orange cones and construction tape. It is not a secret that what they are walking into is dangerous. However, they refuse to look at their path and keep walking regardless.

Proverbs 4:25-27 tells us to look ahead and to keep our eyes fixed on the path ahead. When we allow our eyes and our thoughts to be distracted by other things, we are more likely to fall into the pit. We need to instead put our eyes away from such distraction and turn to the LORD. We need to keep our eyes on Him and His Word so that when temptation comes our way, we can see it and turn from it. Just as Proverbs reiterates, we need to listen to instruction. Instead of ignoring the warning signs, we need to avert our path away from them. We need to follow the directions that guide us away from the hole. We need to keep our eyes on the path.

-Hannah Deane

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Kings 21-22 and Proverbs 4

When You’re Ready to Give Up

1 Kings 19-20

Have you ever been hiking on a strenuous trail or baled hay on a hot summer day? These tasks can prove quite difficult as your muscles become strained, you become overheated, and your endurance slowly dwindles. The idea of stopping and taking a nap or just quitting all together sounds very tempting. It seems like the best thing to do, but you have to keep going.

I remember one day when I was unloading a wagon full of hay bales on a hot and humid summer day. There were about 60 hay bales to unload and stack in the barn. About halfway through, I started to get tired. I was hot from the bright sun. I was itchy because of the hay that covered me, and I had rope burns from the twine on the bales. I was ready to be done, but I couldn’t stop. Rain was coming in that evening and I had to get the hay under cover before that happened. So, I kept going until my task was finished.

In 1 Kings 19, we find Elijah at a point where he is ready to give up. He is on the run again. Jezebel wants him dead, so he flees from her grasp. But he is tired of running and having to look over his shoulder. He felt like he could not continue in this way any longer. Those before him had been put to rest and he says he is no better than them. Therefore, he asks God to let him die.

Rather than letting him die, though, God sent him sustenance through an angel. Bread and water were offered to Elijah that he might have the strength to continue. So, he went to sleep again and then the angel appeared once more providing more food. This food gave him the strength he needed. For without it, he could not have made the journey. It was not yet Elijah’s time. There was work that he still needed to do, and God gave him the strength to do so.

Sometimes it can be hard to carry on with our tasks, but God is there to strengthen us. Like a cool glass of water at the end of a hike or when baling hay, God is there to sustain us. God was there to strengthen Elijah and we too can be strengthened through God.

-Hannah Deane

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Kings 19-20 and Proverbs 3

Brought Together by God

1 Kings 17-18

In 1 Kings 17, we are introduced to a widow that was struggling in the time of the drought. Now Elijah had been sent to stay with this widow by God. The brook he had been living at dried up. He needed somewhere to go, and this was where he was told to seek refuge. When he comes upon the widow, she is out gathering sticks to fuel the flames that would cook what she perceived to be her and her son’s last meal.

When Elijah asked her for a drink, she was more than happy to comply. However, when he asked her for some bread, she revealed her situation. She had no bread. All she had was a small bit of flour and oil. She said she was saving this for her and her son, for they were going to eat it and then die. She did not believe that they were going to make it through the drought. In her mind, this was the end of the road for both her and her child.

But then, as we read, Elijah tells her not to fear for the LORD would not allow her to run out of flour or oil until rain came again. He offers her hope. The widow showed great faith in what Elijah said. She did not question this or wonder how such a thing could be promised. She went in and did as Elijah had said. She had faith in God’s promise. And so, as Elijah had said, the flour nor the oil went empty. They had plenty to eat. God had provided for them and kept his promise.

Here was this widow and her son. She is on the brink of preparing their last meal, when Elijah shows up. God used the widow’s home as a place for Elijah to find refuge. And through Elijah staying there, God provided for the widow and her son who were on the brink of starvation. God orchestrates many stories and brings many people together so that they may help one another. God used the widow to help Elijah and Elijah he used to help the widow.

-Hannah Deane

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Kings 17-18 and Proverbs 2

The Instruction Booklet

Proverbs 1

Have you ever tried to help a child put together a toy train track? There are so many pieces and in the end they are supposed to make a complete track. Some of the pieces make sense and, well, others are like that onion ring you find in an order of fries. No instruction booklet is included, so you are on your own. You attempt to put the train track together yourself based off of what you think it looks right. If you are like me, the end result is a train track with very strange turns and a dead end. It is not the complete figure eight as pictured on the box. If only the factory had sent some sort of instructions, then perhaps you wouldn’t be in this fix.

In Proverbs 1, we learn from that, “the beginning of knowledge is the fear of the LORD”. It tells us that only fools despise the wisdom and instruction that they receive. The Bible offers us so much instruction on how to live our lives. Proverbs tells us to walk in the way of wisdom and here we are told that to be knowledgeable we must look to God. He is the foundation of knowledge and only through Him and the heeding of His word can we hope to access true wisdom.

It is encouraging to know that, unlike the factory and the toy train, God gave us an instruction booklet. He didn’t expect us to just figure it out, but God gave us His word so that we may have wisdom and know Him. Sometimes, though, when we are going through hard times, it can be difficult to remember to go to Him and His word for guidance. Like with the train, the instruction booklet may not have been included, but I could have Googled it. Sometimes we get so caught up in the moment that we forget to look for wisdom and instruction.

-Hannah Deane

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Kings 15-16 and Proverbs 1

Unexpected Places

Unexpected Purposes

Acts 28

Have there been times in your life where you’ve been taken somewhere you didn’t expect? Last spring, I was taking a drive when I became lost on some of the backroads. I was filled with uncertainty about my location and starting to get anxious about finding my way back. As I found myself where I didn’t expect to be, a lost lamb appeared on the road. It was nearly hit by oncoming traffic as it frantically sprinted down the pavement. The cream and brown spotted lamb was panting from exhaustion. It was scared and confused. Because I was at this unexpected intersection, I was able to get the lamb off the road and put it in my truck. After searching for its farm and calling the sheriff, eventually it was reunited with its home. Sometimes it is the places that we don’t see coming, where we prove to be the most useful.

In Acts 28 we learn about Paul’s experiences on the island where he and the rest of the people on his ship came to be shipwrecked. As we read yesterday, Paul’s journey was quite wild. But God had delivered them safely to this Island called Malta. When Paul left for Rome, he probably never expected to make a pit stop, let alone be shipwrecked at this place. Yet, this was where he was taken, and it was not without purpose.

            On this island, in the middle of the Mediterranean, Paul was able to interact with the people. These inhabitants of Malta saw something different about Paul as they had witnessed him being delivered from the sea and from a snake bite. And then Paul was able to pray for and heal their sick. An island that might not have been a priority for people of that time to take the gospel to had nonetheless witnessed it through Paul’s unexpected stay there.

So, although this time and stay in Malta had been unexpected, it proved useful and it exposed others to the One True God. So, while you may at times find yourself in an unexpected place, do not be discouraged. Sometimes it is the most unexpected places in our lives that God uses us for an unexpected purpose.

-Hannah Deane

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Kings 13-14 and Acts 28

Believing God in Tough Times

Acts 27

Paul’s journey to Rome in this passage is anything but simple. When those with Paul on the ship to Rome went days without seeing the guiding light of stars or the sun, they gave up hope of ever being saved. But then Paul spoke. He shared with them what the angel of God had told him. He assured them that although their situation seemed dire, they would be delivered. It was God’s plan for Paul to appear before Caesar and Paul, neither Paul nor those with him, were to be lost at sea before that could happen.

Although this situation and the knowledge that he was to be tried by Caesar when he reached Rome must have been difficult, Paul kept trusting God. When God sent word to him, Paul did not look at the situation and doubt what God was saying. He believed God’s word, and so much so that he shared what God had planned. From the passage we can see that Paul did not even question the way in which they were to be saved- a shipwreck! Here Paul is lost at sea, facing trial by the ruler of the Roman empire and now finds out he is to be preserved for that by being saved through a shipwreck. That is a lot to take in and yet, Paul remained faithful.

This made me think of a time in my own life when I was being driven to an airport on a major highway. A car sideswiped us, and we went across several lanes of traffic, nearly hit a concrete barrier and then swerved back over a few lanes. In that moment, it seemed the vehicle I was in was going to be hit again. The situation seemed taut and like there could be no good outcome. However, miraculously the vehicle I was in and the vehicle that had hit us suffered no injuries and were not hit a second time in the busy traffic. Even in a situation that seemed hopeless, God preserved us, and we even got to the airport on time.

Sometimes, though, in these moments it is easier to think of what could happen, like getting hit a second time or being lost at sea and not on what we should be thinking about- God. But we must look to Paul as an example and trust God in tough circumstances as he did.

-Hannah Deane

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Kings 11-12 and Acts 27

Two Choices

Saturday – May 29, 2021

1 Kings 9-10, Acts 26

Solomon has finished the calling that God assigned to him. The temple was completed. In addition, Solomon has built an elaborate palace and pursued wisdom in his life. In 1 Kings 9, God appears to Solomon and makes a second promise to him. If Solomon commits to following after God and living by the commandments of God, God will build his kingdom and establish it. But, this promise presents a choice: either Solomon can have a kingdom established forever or he would have his kingdom ruined and removed. These consequences are contingent upon the actions of the Israelites outlined in Deuteronomy 30: “I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, love the Lord your God, obey Him, and remain faithful to Him. For He is your life, and He will prolong your life in the land the Lord swore to give to your fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (v. 19-20). 

The Israelites could have life and blessings, but they needed to love God, obey him, and remain faithful to him. If they didn’t, they would live a life apart from God, full of troubles and difficult times. Even though the choice seems like a no brainer, generations of the Israelites still choose death, including Solomon. Because of their choices, they faced exile, famine, sickness, and death. 

We have the same choices today. We can choose life or death. I’ve always wondered why the Israelites couldn’t see the goodness that they were leaving behind because they chose to live a sinful life. However, when I look at my own life, I can understand why that path seemed pleasing to them. Sin feels good in the moment. It fills us up in the short term. But, as life continues and sin upon sin piles up, it turns out to be rotten. Like sweet cakes or soft drinks, it tastes good, but over time, too much leaves us feeling gross inside. Too much leads to death. To say no to sin requires self-discipline and sacrifice. We recognize that we are giving up something that may feel good now, because later on, we will have a better thing. 

Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, our consequences are not contingent upon all of our actions. We will not be judged by the law, because we have freedom in Christ – if we make one choice. If we choose to make Christ our Lord, we will have life in him. Today, choose life! Choose to live righteously and follow after Jesus, the perfect king. This choice and the sacrifice is so worth it!

~ Cayce Fletcher

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: 1 Kings 9-10 and Acts 26.

Conflict

Acts 25

Conflict within the church weakens community, and ultimately destroys the credibility of the church. In the eyes of the Romans, Paul’s arrest was just another Jewish squabble that needed to be controlled and contained. Arguments in the church make the world look down on us, instead of how God intended the church to be; a light to unbelievers, pointing others to God. Certainly God can still bring good out of conflict but the purpose of the church is to be Christ’s hands and feet doing God’s work.

It is hard to be doing God’s work while you are fighting with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul was following God’s direction for his life by going to Jerusalem where he knew he would be imprisoned by the Jewish leaders. From the time Jesus called him on the road to Damascus Paul had been obeying God’s instruction to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul and the Jewish leaders had a lot in common. They both believed in God, and followed all the Jewish teachings and traditions. The difference between Paul and the Jewish leaders is that the Jewish leaders were not listening to God like Paul was and it was creating conflict that affected everyone within the church, the Jewish leaders, and the Romans and Gentiles.

-Makayla Railton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Kings 7-8 and Acts 25

Our High Calling

Thursday – May 27, 2021

1 Kings 5-6, Acts 24

As Solomon’s reign continues, he begins to build the temple: the job promised to him by God through David. Solomon knows that this is his calling – and he wants to do it well. After David was told that he could not build the temple because of the blood shed on his hands, David amassed a treasure trove of building supplies for years. Even though temple building was not David’s calling, he still worked hard to make sure that he made Solomon’s task easier through his actions. 

One of the first actions that Solomon takes is to get the best lumber he could find. He goes to the king of Lebanon and asks for the cedars of Lebanon. Then, he began to build the temple – a process that lasted 7 years! 

Solomon knew that when God has called you to do something you make sure to do two things: (1) you give him the best of you first and (2) you complete the task assigned to you no matter how long it takes. Solomon didn’t let the difficulty of getting the cedars of Lebanon stop him from being sure to get the finest lumber. He also didn’t give up in the process of finishing the temple. He was committed to finishing the task he was assigned to well. 

In our lives, are you as committed as Solomon to completing the calling God has assigned to you well? We are God’s hands and feet in the world. Part of our testimony to the world is how well we complete our callings. “Let’s not grow weary of doing good” (Gal. 6:9). “Let’s finish the race we are running with endurance” (Heb. 12:1-2). 

~ Cayce Fletcher

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: 1 Kings 9-10 and Acts 26.

What are you asking for?

Wednesday – May 26, 2021

1 Kings 3-4, Acts 23

After Adonijah’s revolt, Solomon ascended to power, and in 1 Kings 3, Solomon began making decisions of what he should do as a king. 1 Kings 3:3 describes him when it says, “Solomon loved the LORD by walking in the statues of his father David, but he also sacrificed and burned incense on the high places.” Deuteronomy 12:1-6 specifically gave directions to destroy all the high places, but Solomon and the rest of the people went to worship there. In 1 Kings 3:1, one of Solomon’s first decisions is to make a treaty with Pharaoh’s daughter, going against Deuteronomy 17:16-17. Solomon seemed like he wanted to make good, godly decisions, but he didn’t know and apply God’s word enough to keep him from committing these oversights, these sins. 

Even so, in verse 5, after a large display of burnt offerings, God comes to Solomon and asks, “What should I give you?” This was a moment where he could have received so much from God – whether in power, wealth, status. But, instead, Solomon chooses to receive wisdom and discernment so that he could govern his people well. He recognized that he was a “youth with no experience in leadership” (v. 7) Solomon knew that he may have blundered in the past as he began to rule his kingdom. And so, he asked for the one thing that could truly help him to do better – discernment and wisdom from God. 

In our lives, we may feel that we are in situations that we have been thrown into. We may be overwhelmed. We may be trying to make the best decisions that we can. The thing that makes the difference in those situations is not how hard we work at them or the people that we impact or make happy. What we should pursue in those situations is the wisdom of God. That is the only thing that will help us to know what is right to do. It is the only thing that will help us to know how to keep ourselves on the righteous path and away from sin. 

What are you asking for from God? May we be a people who prays for the wisdom and discernment only God can give.

~ Cayce Fletcher

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading at Biblegateway.com: 1 Kings 9-10 and Acts 26.