Feeling Hungry Yet? – Psalm 119:1-56

Bread of Life

I am just about the opposite of a foodie. Though my boyfriend has gone to culinary school and makes just about the best food I’ve ever had, when I cook for myself, normally my meals are limited to eggs or maybe pasta. This being said, I have a love-hate relationship with food. Though I can’t detect hints of cinnamon or nutmeg in my food, man, when it comes time for lunch or dinner (or breakfast), I’m ready to eat. I tried to fast once (yep! Just once.) and I remember getting halfway through the day and calling it quits. My stomach was starting to grumble and hurt. When I tried to run, I remember feeling a little faint. I felt like I needed that food, right then.

Yesterday, we talked about wisdom and how important it is to follow God’s wisdom and trust in God. Today, we are going to talk about what it means to desire that wisdom. If we look at Matthew 4:4, Jesus likens the word of God to bread, to our daily food. We need this spiritual food to live, just as we need actual food.

What is your relationship to God’s word? Stop and think now about how you think about God’s word. Do you long for it as you get up in the morning and as you go throughout the day? Do you pant for it like someone panting for water in the hot summer Sun? If you go without it, do you start to feel those spiritual pains of grumpiness, anger, and hunger? Do you get hangry? The daily nourishment of God is even more important than the daily nourishment of our bodies with food. This sounds like a cliché. But, let me remind you, if you go without eating for long enough, you will die! This is serious and important stuff!

Growing up, I did not long for God’s word. I would read it every now and then, but it wasn’t something that I read in order to survive, to make it through the day. I had a friend recently whose relationship with God and his word has completely changed. She mentioned how after she had made a point to daily meet God in his scriptures, she had begun to desire it. She needed it. And now, she can’t imagine life without it!

Our verses today come from the longest chapter in the Bible, Psalm 119. This psalm focuses on what the Bible does for us and how we should desire it. If we seek God with all our heart, we will learn to keep his commands. Psalm 119:11 says, “I have treasured Your word in my heart so that I may not sin against you.” Do we believe that God’s word is such a gift that we treasure it in our hearts? Though discipline and commitment are incredibly important in every stage of our relationship with God, if we desire him and his word, our relationship with him will grow so much deeper!

To follow down the right path of life that we talked about yesterday, we have to make it a point to pursue God through his word. Psalm 119:2 says, “Happy are those who keep His decrees and seek them with all their heart.” Do you seek God and His Word with all your heart?

What path will you choose? – Jer. 17:5-10

trust in God

Breaking News::

Humans have been found to have an uncontrollable and incurable disease. As of yet, there have been no tests by humans that have been created to test for the disease. Worse yet, this disease can’t be seen; it’s almost undetectable. The only thing that can test for it is God. What is this disease? The conditions of our heart.

 

Though physical heart disease is an important and often fatal problem, we have an even more deadly disease in our spiritual hearts. If we look at Jeremiah 17:5-10, we see a portrayal of opposites that centers around the heart, and more specifically, on who the heart trusts in.

The first person is someone who trusts in mankind. They trust in themselves or in others. In doing this, this person has turned their heart from God. They are like a dead bush, a tumbleweed, in the middle of a desert.

The other person is a beautiful picture of someone who trusts and has confidence in God. They are like a tree planted beside water that stands firm even in hot weather because they are deeply enrooted by the life-giving stream.

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Like our memory verse for this week states, in our lives, we have a choice. We choose who we will trust in. That choice affects everything in our life. It affects our thoughts, actions, and feelings. In our lives, we tend to rely on our feelings and thoughts, the things that make up what the Bible calls the heart, to determine our choices. This shouldn’t be!

The prophet Jeremiah says that the heart is more deceitful than anything else. It’s incurable and unknowable on our own power. Only God can examine the mind and test the heart to know what is in it.

Thankfully, God doesn’t leave us in this place. God can transform our hearts! In Romans 8:29, it says that God has predestined us so that we would be “conformed to the image of His Son.” Through God’s Spirit, we are being made into the perfect image of Jesus! On our own power, we cannot change the heart. It will guide us down wrong paths that seem correct according to worldly wisdom. But, through God’s help, our hearts can be revived and transformed to become a man or woman after God’s own heart.

 

God’s Spirit works in us in many ways, one of which is through the wisdom that it gives. We learn what true wisdom is from God’s word (Prov. 1:2). James 1:5-8 says, “Now if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without criticizing, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith without doubting. For the doubter is like the surging sea, driven and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways.” If we come to God and ask for wisdom through prayer, he will give it to us through his word and wise counsel.

This week, we will be talking more about the importance of gaining wisdom through God’s word for choosing the right paths of God. Remember: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways, and He will guide you on the right paths.”

Choose Life!

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This year at Fuel, we have talked about honor. We know now that we should honor God first with our lives and honor other areas of our lives like our parents, the Bible, Christ, relationships, others, and our internal and external selves. As we move into the upcoming year at Fuel, our Grow Devotions will look a little different. We want to keep growing in our understanding of who God is and in our relationship with him. To do this, we have to make it a daily task to get into God’s word. And, we shouldn’t only get into it! We have to write it on our hearts. We have to make it something that is our reflex reaction to turn to in hard situations. Each week, we are going to begin the week with a video, audio clip, or blog introduction of our devotional writer for the next week. Then, we will dive into our scripture reading which we will read daily throughout the week, followed by a recap on Saturday about some of the highlights of the previous week. We encourage you to memorize the weekly scriptures and write them on your heart so that you can have them be the truths that you go to for encouragement and wisdom, instead of turning to the lies of the world.

View the video clip above to learn about our memory verse this week and what we will be talking about this week!

Our Memory Verse:

I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set befoore you life and eath, 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.                                            ~ Deuteronomy 30:19-20

Say Yes

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Saturday, July 22

The Bible begins in the book of Genesis with God and his children named Adam and Eve living in a perfect garden where his children have immediate access to the presence of God and can interact with God face to face.  The act of rebellion against God caused them to be separated from God.  They initiated this process by hiding from God and by their failed attempts to cover over their guilt and shame.  The consequence of their rebellion against God was that they were cut off from immediate fellowship with God, they were cut off from the garden which, along with all of the earth and the inhabitants of the earth including animals and humans fell under the curse of death.

Within God’s ruling of the consequences of sin and the resulting curse came a kernel of good news in Genesis 3:15.  One would come who was a “seed of the woman” meaning a child, a human child, who would ultimately defeat the serpent, which represents evil.  In the process of destroying the evil serpent, that human would also suffer a wound (a bruised heel).

The rest of the Bible is the story of how God’s plan to rescue the earth from the curse and restore  and redeem humanity that was cut off from God is fulfilled ultimately by Jesus Christ, the human being, he was a seed of the woman, who was also the perfect and sinless son of God.  In going to the cross and dying for the sins of all humanity, and being raised up by God to everlasting life, Jesus defeated the serpent.

Revelation 20-22 provides a vision of the ultimate victory of how this is ultimately realized.  The serpent/dragon/devil/satan(adversary) is permitted to influence the world only so long, and then it will finally meet it’s end.   Evil will be defeated by Jesus Christ.  Christ will return, the dead will be raised, there will be a final judgment based upon what we have done.  Some will be resurrected to everlasting life with God on a renewed earth in the city of New Jerusalem.  Some will be judged and condemned by God and cast into the lake of fire, which the Bible calls the second death.  (Note that it does not teach that they will be tortured for eternity, but that they will die a second and final time in a type of mass cremation).  Death has to be destroyed.  Those who reject God’s love and gracious gift of salvation will not have it forced upon.  God allows us the freedom to accept his love and the offer of salvation, but he also gives us the freedom to reject it.  Just as a bride must consent to marrying the groom in order for a marriage to be valid, we, God’s people must consent to God’s love before our covenant relationship will be valid.

For those who reject God’s love, they will finally and mercifully be brought to everlasting destruction.  Those who accept God’s love through Christ, will be granted everlasting life.  The Bible ends with the reversals of Genesis 2-3.  God will again make his presence here upon the earth.  The image John gives in Revelation is of a New Jerusalem coming down from God to take up occupancy on the earth.  This new Jerusalem, interesting, is built on the same scale as the Temple in Jerusalem was… only so much larger.  The new temple occupies a territory that rivals the ancient Roman empire.

For Christians living in the first century suffering under Roman oppression, this must have given them hope.  Rome/ or Babylon or whatever earthly power that was anti-God would be brought to an end, and God’s Kingdom, God’s government would cover all the earth, with Jerusalem acting as a giant temple where God and his people would dwell for all eternity.  Within the temple, emanating from the throne of God is a river of life surrounded by the tree of life.  The tree of life was the very reason why Adam and Eve were banished from Eden, so that they would not partake of the tree of life/immortality in their sinful and broken condition.  Sin had to be defeated once and for all before immortality could be enjoyed.  But now, in Revelation, we are free to partake of the tree of life, we are free to embrace immortality, and we will live forever with God in His Kingdom on this renewed earth.  We have, in a sense, come full circle, we are back home with God’s presence in the new Eden, and we are forever blessed.  Even those who have suffered martyrdom for their faith, will enjoy the benefits and blessings of the New Jerusalem the New Eden and the New Earth.

If you’ve never said yes to God’s love, I don’t want you to miss out on this greatest of all blessings.  Say yes to God, you can do it right now.  And then solidify that “Yes” by entering into a covenant relationship with God through Baptism.  And then live as a child of God and share this good news with as many as you can, until the day all is fulfilled and Christ returns, or the day that you draw your last breath.

-Jeff Fletcher

(https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/Revelation-22-12_Inspirational_Image/)

 

Love, Obedience, Truth

Sunday, July 16

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2 and 3 John, Jude

Congratulations, you were born at a time when society rejects the notion of absolute truth!  The world of the late 20th and early 21st century is characterized by a movement known as Post-modernism.  It’s the age of skepticism, of subjectivity.  It’s the age when society has been systematically doing away with notions of absolute, objective truth.  The Post-modern notion is that reality is socially constructed.  A good example of this is the idea of gender.  Back in the olden days, before Post-modernism, you were either a male or a female.  The way that you knew this was fairly simple and it was based on your physical anatomy.  You were objectively a male or a female depending on how your body was equipped.  But we were so unenlightened back in those days.  Now we know that gender has nothing to do with the objective reality of your biological make up or even your  D.N.A.  It is determined by how you feel… it’s subjective and it’s fluid.

Along with the death of absolute truth in favor of subjectivity has come a change in notions of what is right and wrong.  It used to be that right and wrong were measured against a set of standards given by authority.  That authority was either God, or the laws of society.  So things like murder or stealing, or adultery were wrong.  Now, it seems,  the far greater wrong is to tell people that they are not free to do as they please.  It’s wrong to tell a man that he’s not free to marry another man or to tell a woman that she is not free to marry another woman.  It’s wrong to use the masculine pronoun “He” to refer to God… or to even say that there is a God who makes rules about what is right and what is wrong.

These changes in our worldview are troubling to older people like me, and they should be troubling to younger people, too.  However, this should not come as a surprise to any of us.  For the Bible predicted, nearly 2000 years ago, that such things would happen.  In fact, it was beginning to happen in some places even then.

In the back of your Bible are some letters that are so small they are almost invisible.  The letters of 2 and 3 John and Jude are extremely brief.  Sandwiched between the longer letter of I John and the book of Revelation, 2 and 3 John and Jude are short, but don’t dismiss them as being unimportant.  Each of them has some important things to say about the need for objective truth and the need for Christians to stay faithful to the truth and to fight for the truth.

“I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands.” II Jn 5-6.

Love is a great thing and it is at the heart of Christianity.  Jesus said that the most important command is to love God and to love others.  It’s important to understand that love is a term that is often subject to people’s arbitrary definitions.  Love has become highly subjectivized.  Love is whatever I say it is.  John here offers a corrective to this subjective, Post-modern view of love.  Love, as John defines it, is to “walk in obedience to his commands.”  Love is more than just feeling good inside about God or your neighbor.  There is objective content to love.  It’s in a different part of the Bible, but go back sometime and check out I Corinthians 13 vs. 4-7.  It gives a good, practical description of what love is… and it has very little to do with your feelings and everything to do with right actions.  Love of God and neighbor is all about doing the things that God has commanded us to do.

3” It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth.” – III John 3-4.  Here, John holds up the standard of truth for Christians to follow and live by.  We are to “walk in the truth.”  This has to do with obedience to an objective standard or truth.  God has things that he expects us to obey.  There is a way that God expects us to live.  Truth has objective content that we need to understand and obey.  Post-modernism has tried to jettison this idea of objective truth and replace it with our own definition.  Again, this is nothing new.  In the Old Testament book of Judges it describes a time in Israel before there were kings that’s described as follows: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25.  Just as Judges points to a time in our past history when people followed their own subjective desires rather than submitting to the objective truth of God as revealed by His word and by Jesus Christ, Jude warns of a time that was still to come when this would again be the case:  18…“In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.” Jude 18-19

As followers of Jesus, who is our true and ultimate king, we must reject this.  We must follow the teaching of our king, we must receive his instructions to us as absolute truth and we must follow him by walking in that truth.  It is sad when the people of the world abandon truth and follow their own desires.  It is absolutely  tragic when Christians abandon the absolute truth of God and fall for the subjective lies of this broken world.  And yet, many Christians have done exactly this.  Jude gives a strong admonition to all believers:3 “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”  Jude3-4

Jude wants desperately for us to not allow ourselves to be lied to by any who would distort and twist the clear objective truth of God’s word and the absolute teachings of Jesus, in order to justify their own perversions.  Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking that there’s no absolute truth, no black and white or right and wrong.  There is and always will be truth, and that truth, as Jude contends, is worth fighting for.  As you go to school or university or talk at work or with your friends, or even at Church, wherever you go where some would seek to undermine the objective truth of God’s word and substitute the subjectivity of this world with its anything goes faulty belief system, stand firm, don’t give up!!

-Jeff Fletcher

(Photo Credit: https://dailybiblememe.wordpress.com/2014/02/17/2-john-16/)

 

While We Wait

2 Peter

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Friday, July 14

During high school, I would bring my Bible to study during lunch and free time. Numerous people would ask me why I would put my faith in a book that was written by various authors and not “actually written by God.” I always tried to defend why I believed what the Bible told me but felt like I wasn’t explaining it correctly. 2 Peter 1:20-21 states that we “must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Had I come along this passage while defending the Bible, it would have been a lot simpler to explain my reasoning.

Being mature in our faith and living Godly lives is imperative these days due to the fact that God and Jesus will soon return. We are to “make every effort to add to our faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if we possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV). The reason we should ensure that we are living to the standards set for us by God is because there are false teachers in the world who will try and lead us astray. These teachers will tell lies that seem to be true, but will also deny the Lord and live sinful lifestyles. The people that are most vulnerable to this destruction are those who don’t have solid foundation in Biblical teaching.
While we wait for the day of the Lord to arrive, we need to “be on our guard so that we may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from our secure position. But we should grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:17-18 NIV). Today, I want you to take the time and ask God to show you how to live a life pleasing to Him and ask Him for forgiveness of your sins. He doesn’t want any of us to perish and wants everyone to repent. I look forward to when God and Jesus come back to make the Kingdom here on earth and pray that we all have salvation! May God bless you today and always. Amen.
-Cynthia Fyfe
(Photo Credit: https://dailyverses.net/2-peter/3/9)

Just What I Needed

Hebrews 5-7

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Sunday, July 9

Every so often, I open my Bible and turn to a random book and start reading. I know that whatever page that I turn to that there is a lesson that I specifically need to learn. Interestingly enough, I found that the devotionals that I chose to write on about a year ago were the books of the Bible I needed to read now.

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I wish I could say that I grew up in the Church of God- Abrahamic Faith, attended Sunday School, and went to church every single Sunday. A lot of my friends have grown up in the church, gone to state camp, Family Camp, Southeast Camp, and on retreats throughout their entire life. Growing up, I felt like I wasn’t spiritually fed and was still like an infant in my faith. Hebrews 5 explains that many people should be teachers of scripture yet they are still learning the basics rather than expanding their knowledge of what God wants to teach them.
I decided to attend FUEL for the first time about ten years ago to learn more about the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith and just what it meant to be a Christian. I wasn’t disappointed. Hebrews 6:13-15 states: “When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, ‘I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.’ And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” I love our church because I know that we are a part of this promise.
Hebrews 7 talked about how Melchizedek (who is known as a priest forever) and Abraham (the father of the chosen people) were two men who were faithful to God and followed Him because they had confidence that God would fulfill His promises. None of this would have happened without an oath. “Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant” (Hebrews 7:22). Jesus is known as the high priest who is able to mediate between us and God since he sacrificed himself giving the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the people. Hebrews 7:28 states: “For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.” I don’t know about you, but I am extremely thankful that Jesus saved us from our sins.
It is important to understand that God wants us to obediently devote time in our every day lives to offer up prayers, work hard for His glory, and wait patiently for His promises. So take some time today and pray that God will provide confidence in you and that He will teach you something new.
-Cynthia Fyfe
 
(Photo Credit: http://www.alittleperspective.com/hebrews-7-our-better-hope/)

Rest

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Hebrews 1-4

One of my favorite things to do on a dark stormy day is to curl up with a good book, relax, and ultimately take a nap.  It’s one of the best times for me to forget all the things to do that swirl around my mind and just rest. After that period of rest, I feel refreshed, renewed, and better able to work through what needs to be done.  Rest is not just something we enjoy but we are actually commanded to rest in both the Old and New Testament but since today’s reading is Hebrews 1-4 that is what we will stick with.

Hebrews 4:11 says, “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” We NEED to rest.  It doesn’t say rest if you have the time or only rest when you are tired but instead it says to be “diligent.”  I am diligent to eat dinner every night and I am diligent to read my Bible each day but am I diligent to rest every day?

We are reminded in 4:13 that nothing that we do is hidden from our creator.  We might be able to hide our lack of rest from our friends and family but we cannot hide the truth from God. One day we will enter God’s rest in God’s Kingdom but until then let us rest from the turmoil of each day and focus on the one who promises us peace.

If you haven’t tried it already for the remainder of the time that you are reading through the Bible, before you jump into reading take a few minutes to rest.  Turn off your phone, go to a quiet place, breathe deep, and be still.  When you feel as though your mind is no longer racing then spend time in prayer and begin your study.

-Lacey Dunn

Perseverance in Suffering

2 Thessalonians 1-3

What does it mean to suffer? By Webster’s definition, it is, “To submit to or be forced to endure.”  In chapter 1 verse 5 we find that Paul speaking about how the Thessalonians are suffering.  They don’t appear to be suffering from hunger, thirst or illness but instead, Paul says they are suffering for The Kingdom of God. They are suffering persecution for their faith and because they have chosen to commit themselves to endure suffering they are commended for their great faith and perseverance.

Sadly until God’s Kingdom is established we, as Christians, will suffer persecution.  Chapter 2 even discusses that the Kingdom will not come until after a period of suffering where a “man of lawlessness” will “display himself as being God” (vs.4). This will be a dark time for all Christians and whether or not we witness this event we must always encourage each other.  If we spread love and encouragement to one another in our current sufferings it will continue to ripple through to generations in times to come.

Remember that no matter what comes, you were created and loved by the God who created the entire universe.  It is He who can give you the peace, wisdom, and strength you need to endure the suffering you are faced with every day.  The suffering is only temporary, the outcome is the eternal gift of God’s Kingdom where there will be no suffering ever again.

-Lacey Dunn

Say No to Cheap Imitation

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1 Thess. 1-3
When I think of the word “imitation” my mind links the word to things that aren’t so great. Think “imitation cheese product” instead of cheese carved off the block or “pleather” compared to the feel and smell of real leather. We would do well to remember that imitation isn’t reserved only for things that aren’t so great but rather that imitation can be powerful and amazing. The imitation that is spoken of in this passage isn’t of the “imitation crab” variety but instead it paints a picture of faithful and unwavering believers spreading the good news of the Kingdom of God like wildfire.
In 1 Thessalonians 1-3 we are told of how the Thessalonians were being imitators of Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy and yet ultimately imitators of God. 1 Thess 2:13 NASB says, “For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe.” Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy were not spreading their own words but God’s words. Had Paul decided to be a cheap imitation of God and not spread God’s truth the message would not have spread with such conviction yet because Paul poured his heart and life into being a true imitation of God the message did spread with that same conviction which allowed both Jews and Gentiles to hear the good news.
We live in a world where cheap imitations are the norm. If you can’t afford some designer luxury item a cheap imitation is usually available to replace it. It makes it appear like you have the real thing but you really don’t. Please understand I’m not saying go throw away your processed cheese and pleather shoes, those are just material things. What I’m asking you to do is to truly and passionately accept the love and grace given to you by your heavenly Father and to live in such a way that others can see His light in you. Don’t say you are a Christian yet live the same way everyone else does. Stand out! Be unique! Be that true imitation of God like Paul and the Thessalonians and let your light shine into the darkness all around you!

– Lacey Dunn

Greetings from Michigan! My name is Lacey Dunn and I am part of the Garden Park Church of God family in Grand Rapids, Michigan but I am originally from Missouri. I have an amazing husband, three adorable (most of the time) kiddos, an unofficially adopted 21 year old and a lazy dog. In my spare time I love to read, chill at the beach, and have dance parties with my kids.

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