Stuck

Genesis 19-21

Genesis 19 16

Have you ever gotten your car stuck before? Growing up, my brothers and I often went over to our grandparents’ farm. In high school, I started helping out with keeping up around the place. I would load up in the old beat up farm truck and head to the places that need to be looked after, which sometimes took me down into the swampy parts of the property. Some days, I could maneuver just fine through the trees and brush, but on others, I would begin to sink. If the truck got into a place where the tires couldn’t get traction, then they would start to spin, sinking the truck even deeper into the muck.

 

Lot has got himself stuck in a similar situation. In Genesis 13, Lot chose the edenic land close to the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, while Abram moved further away from him. Abraham, through his prayers and his concern for his nephew Lot, convinced God to relent in destroying the city in chapter 18. But, even so, we see the depth of the evil of the city in chapter 19, where the angels could not even find 10 righteous people. Because of this, the destruction God had planned was set to occur. God was going to destroy the city with burning sulfur (Gen. 19:23-26), an epic and troubling display of God’s wrath.

 

In the midst of these verses, filled with despicable actions and God’s judgment of them, we also see the tender portrayal of God’s forgiveness and compassion. While getting ready to destroy the city, the angels, who God had sent, grabbed Lot’s hand and pulled him out of the city. This was done “because of the Lord’s compassion for him” (Gen. 19:16). Lot was stuck in his ways, stuck in the lifestyle of sin created by the place he was living in. He was stuck in the filth and mud. God however loved Lot too much to leave him in this place. He grabbed Lot and brought him out of his former life.

 

So often, we are like Lot. We thought we chose the best path for ourselves when we survey the options in front of us. Sometimes though, what looks best to us may lead us too close to the lifestyle of sin. We get into that swampy place and spin our tires – stuck even if we wanted to get out. It’s in these moments that God reaches in and pulls us out. It may be painful, but it is so so worth it to leave behind those sinful places and follow God out of what is destined to be destroyed.

 

Do you feel like you are stuck in sin? Pray for God’s salvation today.

 

-Cayce Fletcher
Read or listen to today’s Bible reading here – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+19-21&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Genesis 22-24 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

To Trust God

Genesis 16-18

Genesis 17 1 NIV

In chapter 12, we met Abram and the covenant story of the Bible began. God expands on that covenant in chapter 15 when he promises that Abram, who was childless, would have a son who would be the father of nations. Genesis 15:6 says, “Abram believed the LORD, and He credited it to him as righteousness.”

 

Many of us wonder how we can be righteous, and some of us may feel like, to be righteous, we need to live a perfect, sinless life. However, we can learn from the life and attitude of Abram that righteous living is not only about right actions. Righteous living also centers around our belief. What does it mean to believe in God? Many assume that this belief is just to acknowledge that God exists. However, James says that even the demons know that God exists and shudder (James 2:19). Belief that produces righteousness is not simply that. Instead, belief is trusting in God and letting that trust influence our actions. Through belief, we do end up living a righteous life, but that is because we know that God’s plan for our life is trustworthy- it is the best way to live.

 

To trust God is not a one time choice that we make. It takes a lifetime to learn how to truly trust God, and many times it seems like we are taking one step forward and two steps back on our trust journey. Abram certainly experienced this. In chapter 15, he believed in God’s promises and trusted him. But, in chapter 16, he tries to build a family in a way that was not God’s plan through his servant, Hagar. Then, in chapter 17, he shows his commitment to the covenant through circumcision. Our lives will often mirror this. When we feel like God is delaying in his promises, we may stop trusting him and try to fulfill those promises ourselves, falling prey to the lie the serpent spoke in Genesis 3 when he said, “Did God really say…?” We have to remember that God’s timing is the perfect timing and be assured of his faithfulness.

 

Where do you need to trust God today? What steps do you need to take in faith to show that trust?

~ Cayce Fletcher
To read or listen to today’s Bible passage check out https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=genesis+16-18&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be Genesis 19-21 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

The Covenant Story Begins

Genesis 12-15

Genesis 12 1 CSB

Genesis 1-11 details the heartbreaking story of a perfect world and people, created lovingly by God, turning away from him to pursue the desires of their heart. The consequences for this sin is great, but like the rainbow after the flood symbolizes, the redemption God provides is also great. In Genesis 3, God promises a future savior who will fight for and redeem mankind. In today’s reading, we see the plan set in place since the beginning start to take shape.

 

In Genesis 12, God tells Abram, a man from Ur (in Mesopotamia), “Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation, I will bless you. I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (vv. 1-3).

 

These verses are so important, because in them, we see the storyline of the redemption begin. God chose Abram, the man from whom the Jewish people would be descended, and made a covenant or promise with him. If Abram followed God’s plan, then he knew that he would be blessed by God. This covenant was built on and changed over the course of scripture, but ultimately, it is still being fulfilled even now through Christ’s death on the cross. Abram began the chain reaction that led to Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. Because Abram listened to God, we are blessed through him.

 

Abram is a prime example of a faith filled life. He didn’t know anymore of God’s plan than just to go and leave everything that he knew. Despite this, he eagerly followed God. This pattern of obedience continues throughout the rest of his life. When presented with God’s new covenant, the promise of salvation in Christ, do we faithfully trust that he will keep his promises? Do we faithfully obey when we hear his call?

 

As we read through the Bible this year, keep an eye out for the word covenant. God continues to refer to both this first promise and the promises he made after this as he faithfully pursues his covenant people.
Cayce Fletcher
You can read or listen to today’s passage at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+12-15&version=CSB
Tomorrow’s passage will be Genesis 16-18 as we follow the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

To Know God

Job 40-42

Job 42 3 NIV

The last chapters of Job leave us with a terrifying and convicting picture. God continues to describe his wonders through his creations. We may have a pretty tame view of God based on a Santa Claus version of him that is popular in churches today. However, when we think about the fact that God, who made every great and mighty thing in the world from alligators to great white sharks to tornadoes and hurricanes, also controls them. He is greater and mightier than anything that exists.

 

When God tells these things to Job, Job recognizes how small and insignificant he is – just like we do when we stand on a mountain top or look at the vastness of the ocean. Job, before this moment, knew a lot about God. He knew the right theology and lived righteously. At the heart of the matter though, he didn’t truly know the depth of who God was, and because of that, he tried to put God in a box. He tried to put limits on God based on his own limited human understanding.

 

If you’ve grown up hearing about God, whether the things you heard were true or not, you may have a mistaken understanding of who God is. It’s like the game of telephone, where one person starts off a chain of spoken words. We all can remember some of the hilarious phrases that are morphed out of simple sentences when we don’t get the original saying from the source. When we try to base our understanding of God on what we’ve heard by word of mouth, we may have some pretty wacky understandings of God. When we come face to face with Him through the scriptures, we begin to see with clarity the awe and majesty of God.

 

That’s our hope for the new year. By the end of the year, we should say, like Job, “I had heard rumors about You, but now my eyes have seen You” (Job 42:5). Let’s commit to this goal together to desire to know God instead of just learning more about God this year.
~Cayce Fletcher
Meet God face to face in His Word.  You can read or listen to God here https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+40-42&version=CSB
We have finished the book of Job – tomorrow we return to the book of Genesis (chapters 12-15) in our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Letting God be God

 Job 38-39

Job 38 33 35a CSB

The end of Job takes a dramatic turn as one more speaker steps in to answer Job’s question of why bad things happen to good people. For the previous 35 or so chapters, Job and his friends have tried to sort out this question based on their own understanding. In chapter 38, the only one whose opinion matters steps in to set the record straight. God speaks and asks of Job and his friends, “Who is this who obscures My counsel with ignorant words? Get ready to answer Me like a man; when I question you, you will inform Me” (Job 38:2-3). God then begins to ask Job a series of questions about the earth and its creation. The question God begins with is “Where were you when I established the earth? Who fixed its dimensions? What supports its foundations?” (Job 38:4-6). To all of these questions, Job could only meekly respond, ‘God, you did. Only you could know.’

 

Too often in life, we can feel like we know what’s best for our lives. We have things all planned out, from where we are going to get lunch the next day to where we will go to college or get a job. When our plans don’t match up with our realities, we can begin to question God’s goodness. Because our lives don’t match up with the ‘good’ plans that we have created, we may think that God is not good. These chapters in Job reorient us to the deep truth that we need to cling to when faced with these discrepancies between our plans and life’s reality: We are not God. Job’s questions and those of his friends all centered around their actions and their righteousness. When God steps in, he redirects them to the real truth about their lives, the scriptures, and the universe as a whole. It all exists for the glory of God. In addition to this, all of creation was made by God. He knows the purpose behind what exists and what occurs. He is using all of these things to bring him glory.

 

So, when we begin to question God and ask why his plans don’t match our own, we can rest in the fact that God is God. He is sovereign and has a plan for our lives. Sometimes that plan can be painful, but ultimately, that is helping us to become mature and complete in our Christian walk (James 1). When we allow God to be God, it’s easier for us to fulfill our main purpose in life: living our lives to glorify him.
Cayce Fletcher
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+38-39&version=CSB
Tomorrow’s reading will be the final chapters of Job – 40-42.  And then we will jump back into where we left off in the book of Genesis as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.  Let’s SeekGrowLove together!

Pursuit of a Righteous Life

Job 35-37

Job 35 3 CSB

Today, we read as Elihu continues to reason out why bad things happen to good people. In chapter 35, we read about a dangerous attitude: being righteous for the sake of what we can gain from God or others. The second that our circumstances turn negative, we can easily fall into the trap that Elihu explains in verses 2-9. In these verses, he says, “Do you think it is just when you say, ‘I am righteous before God?’ For you ask, “What does it profit you, and what benefit comes to me, if I do not sin?”

 

Even though we may not admit it, we may begin to think the same questions as Elihu and Job when we face difficult circumstances. Sometimes we think that we follow God for the benefits that we gain in this life. We feel that if we do the right things (we do not lie, cheat, steal, etc.) that we should have a good life with a good family, nice house, and steady paycheck. It is true that following the wisdom that we find in Proverbs and other books can lead to better life outcomes than following the path of the wicked. This being said, we were never promised an easy life full of worldly comforts. In fact, Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:19 that he should be pitied more than all other men if it’s only for this life that he is hoping for. Jesus said in John 16:33 that we will have suffering in this world. In Luke 6:20-23, Jesus even says that we are blessed when we mourn and face persecution and difficult times. When we choose to follow Jesus and pursue a righteous life, we are choosing a more difficult path.

 

When we think in terms of what we can gain in this life, it may seem like there is not much benefit in pursuing a righteous life. So why should we decide to live a righteous life and not sin? Elihu attempts to answer how our sin affects God and others in verses 6-9. He says, “Your wickedness affects a person like yourself, and your righteousness another human being. People cry out because of severe oppression; they shout for help because of the arm of the mighty.” When we sin, we not only are grieving God, but also we are hurting those around us. Yes, we may not always have an easy life, but ultimately, we are living a better life when we choose to live by the commands that God gives us.

 

If you are facing difficult circumstances, you may feel like giving up on God. It may seem like he is silent. You may feel like the sacrifices you’ve made for your faith are not resulting in the good things that you want from God. But, don’t give up on pursuing a righteous life! Your actions will lead to a better life for you and those around you and will guide more people to the kingdom.

Cayce Fletcher

You can read or listen to today’s passage here – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+35-37&version=CSB

Tomorrow’s passage will be Job 38-39 as we follow the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Trusting in the Character of God

Job 32-34

Job 34 10b csb

We are deep into the book of Job, listening to Job’s friends who make pretty poor comforters as Job tries to process his grief. At the heart of all of these arguments which make up Job 3-42 is the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” We saw last week that Job had argued successfully that he had done nothing wrong; he was a righteous man. His friends though just couldn’t believe that God would allow bad things to happen to righteous people, unless it was as a form of discipline.

 

As we get into chapter 32, we hear from another one of Job’s friends. As with all of the other arguments, some of what he says is true and valid, while other parts are not. Elihu feels as though he has to speak because Job had “justified himself rather than God” (Job 32:2). He tells Job:

 

“It is impossible for God to do wrong,
And for the Almighty
To act unjustly
For He repays a person according to his deeds,
And He brings his ways on him.
Indeed, it is true that God
Does not act wickedly
And the Almighty does not
Pervert justice.”  (Job 34:10-12)

 

When we deal with difficult situations, we can be tempted to be like Job’s friends. We want to blame our situation on God disciplining us. When we feel we are righteous in our own eyes, we can begin to be bitter towards God and question his goodness and justice. We know that God is just and good. It’s so important not to lose sight of that fact as we deal with challenging situations. We need to rest in the character of God, rather than allow our circumstances to dictate what we believe about God’s character. The messy truth is that every good thing in our lives is a gift from God (James 1:17). When we receive these things, it’s not that we’ve gotten what we’ve earned. Instead, we have received grace upon grace. When we rest in God’s goodness and justice, we can face those hard days with more strength and peace, because we know that God is good despite what goes on around us.
Cayce Fletcher
You can read, or listen to, today’s passage at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+32-34&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s Bible passage will be Job 35-37.  Print a copy of the schedule and follow along on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan