Isaiah 31-34

The Lord gives victory to his anointed. Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.

One highlight of my year is going to South East Camp held on the mountaintops of the NC Blue Ridge. Years ago, we drove down the mountain to a center with a high ropes course. Everyone suited up with a helmet and a buddy and clipped their carabiner to the first level on the course. Now, I have some friends who are into rock climbing and would be happy to dangle off the top of a mountain just to get the adrenaline rush. However, I am not that person. As a child, I used to get weak knees going to the edge of the second floor balcony at my church. In fact, there are still some rides I refuse to go on at amusement parks, because the drop is just too much. I’ve gotten better, but I definitely am still scared of heights. Going back to our high ropes adventure, I made it through the whole course, including the more difficult parts, but then I came to the end where I needed to zip line down to the ground. 

Looking down off the ledge, I could already feel a tingling in my knees and my palms getting sweaty. At that moment, I felt like turning around and going through the whole ropes course again just to make it back down to the bottom, because I felt like that was something that I could control with my body. Even though my heart was racing, I paused to take a few deep breaths, and then I stepped off the side to zoom through the air. In truth, once I picked up my feet, I felt safe and secure in my harness. The obstacle I had to overcome was one of trusting that my harness would do what it was supposed to do. I had to trust in something that I couldn’t control, but was probably the quickest and safest way down. 

In Isaiah 31, we read about some trust issues that the Israelites had developed with God. They weren’t afraid of heights in this case; instead, they were afraid of the nations around them. Israel had chosen to rely on numbers of men and horses when they faced battle, and because of this, they had grown to depend on Egypt’s help. They thought that by controlling the amount of man- and horsepower they could bring to a fight they could ensure their victory. However, God reminds them that the “Egyptians are men, not God; their horses are flesh, not spirit” (Isaiah 31:3). God was so much stronger than anyone the Israelites would face, but they refused to see it. By not trusting in God, they paved the way for their own demise (v. 3). 

We also have a daily choice between trusting God or trusting our own flesh. It may come in the form of choosing to be obedient to God’s command, by giving away our money or time to someone in need, or by sacrificing a desire to make room for a deeper relationship with God. In those times, we may want to trust in our own minds or bodies, because we feel like we can control those things. But, remember, God is so much more mighty than we are. We can trust him in whatever situation that we face. 

~ Cayce Fletcher

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to on Bible Gateway – Isaiah 31-34.

Tomorrow, we continue reading about the history of Judah and Israel in Isaiah 35-36– as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan.

The Struggle with Sin Continues

January 3 – Genesis 8-11 

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Genesis 8-11 is a story of great hope and promise, and also a tragedy that reminds us all of our brokenness before God. After the great flood that God brought on the earth to remove all the sinful people, He is now ready to start over with Noah and his family. God gives them the same commands that He gave to Adam and Eve: “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” (9:1) The story appears to have taken care of humanity’s disobedience; unfortunately, that’s not the case. Noah apparently is just as sinful as everybody else, falling into a drunken stupor, and then something suspicious happens with his son, Ham. While we don’t know exactly what happened in this scene, we do know that it was sinful, as Ham’s son is cursed because of what took place.

 

This story should remind us all of just how broken we truly are. Although we have been redeemed by God through Jesus’ sacrifice and have escaped from the Final Destruction through his death, we still fall short and sin against our God. (Romans 3:23) The apostle Paul tells us his own struggle with sin, by stating that “I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15) He continues and says that, although his status is “in Christ”, his body still struggles to do the right things and falls into sin (Romans 7:18-25).

 

If you have accepted Christ, you are now experiencing a tension within yourself: the battle between the Spirit and the flesh (see Romans 8). Although you know that you have been saved by Jesus Christ, and desire to do the right thing, your “flesh” still struggles with sin. This is a constant struggle that we will face until Jesus comes back to finally deal with sin completely, in our hearts and in the world. This is a struggle that is painful and reminds us daily that “no one is righteous” before God (see Romans 3:9-12). However, it is a blessing, since God’s Spirit is working within us to clean up the areas where we are still dirty with sin.

 

Today, I challenge you to be aware of the decisions that you make. Is this something that is in line with God’s Spirit, or is it something that would be considered a “deed of the flesh”? (Galatians 5:16-25) Does the action I am about to take bring life or death? Does it build others up, or does it tear them down? Is it beneficial to my faith, or is it a barrier?

 

As you struggle along this journey of the Christian path, I want to encourage you that the hardship is absolutely worth it in the end! God loves you and is with you through this!

 

Talon Paul

 

 

Print your yearly reading plan here –  2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Read, or listen, to today’s passage here – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+8-11&version=NIV

Grow!

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“Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instructions about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits.” – Hebrews 6:1-3

 

I have three younger siblings, and have had the privilege of seeing them all grow up into some of my favorite people to be around (although we have our issues like all siblings). It is an absolute blessing to see the transformation that a person goes through in life, from infancy to adulthood. A person goes from being completely dependent on another human being, to being the one whom others depend on. Everybody sees this progress at some point in life. What is amazing, though, is how this progress is similar to what we experience in our Christian life.

 

When you first accept Jesus as your Savior, you are technically an “infant”, learning life all over again (see John 3:3). You are dependent on another Christian, likely the one who led you to Christ in the first place. You are not expected to know very much, but are in the process of learning and developing your faith. Eventually, the expectation is that you would become mature and able to train another “baby Christian”, just like parents eventually train their own children.

 

I want you to consider where you are currently as 2019 is wrapping up. Are you just now starting your Christian walk? Have you had years of experience in the Christian life and are now able to train others? Or are you somewhere in between, still developing your faith? Wherever you find yourself, it is important to remember that we are all expected to “press on to maturity”, always growing in our faith. That may look different for each of us, but we are all expected to “grow up”.

 

This upcoming year, what do you need to do to develop your faith further? Do you need to learn more about Jesus and the Bible? Do you need to put yourself into service to the Church? Do you need to find another Christian to train? What do you need to do?

 

Many blessings as you seek to grow this year!

Talon Paul

 

We are preparing to grow in 2020 with a chronological Bible reading plan.  Now is a great time to dowload and print your plan  2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan and subscribe to SeekGrowLove.com to receive daily devotions based on each day’s Bible reading.  

Signs

READ REVELATION CHAPTER 1

Revelation 1 3 road sign

Why do road signs exist? Road signs are very useful for driving and directing traffic and preventing unwanted circumstances. If followed correctly the road signs are very helpful to everyday life. They stop us before we get hit by other cars in the intersection, they warn us of upcoming obstacles and they generally help us know where we are at and where we are going.

“In the United States, the 1900s also came with a call for signs to meet automobile industry growth.Drivers were easily getting lost without signs. The signs that did exist at the time were often damaged or broken. As a result, Americans were becoming aware of a need for signs.”[1]

What do signs have to do with Revelation? Well I’m glad you asked. Actually, it’s in the very first verse of Revelation. In the NASB Rev. 1:1 says this “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bondservant John,”

The word communicated also can mean signified or to be made known. In other words God used an angel to “signify” (use signs, just like we use road signs) to communicate with John, so he could then reveal to “His bond servants” (Us/Christians) the things that have taken place, that are taking place and that will take place in the future (Revelation 1:19), during the time John was receiving this Revelation.  Hence the name of the book.

So, road signs are a sort of revelation of roadways and intersections, just like the things revealed to John in Revelation, passed down to us, are like road signs to living a Christian life. What John writes in the book of Revelation must be taken seriously just like road signs we encounter every day. That is because what John says, sees, hears, feels, and smells in Revelation are warnings, and guidelines on how to correctly live one’s life as a disciple of Jesus. While at the same time revealing consequences for the unjust/ungodly, and rewards for the Righteous and Godly. Revelation exists in the form it does not to confuse its readers (although it can be confusing at times) but to simplify the life of a Christian and not get lost.

Revelation, as we will find out in further investigation, has many different signs of its own resulting in various objects, colors, shapes, smells, images, numbers, places and characters. I want you throughout this entire study of revelation (Not just my part) to write down all the different colors, numbers, images, metaphors, etc. Look them up and question what they mean. Circle/underline/write down phrases that occur more than twice and also question what they have to do with Christian discipleship. You may be surprised how interesting they can be!

Jesse Allen

 

[1] https://www.degemmill.com/history-traffic-signs/

The Ultimate Leap – Matthew 6: 24-34

In Quantam Leap, Dr. Sam Bekett was a quantum physicist. He had a scientific experiment go bad and in result became trapped in “quantum leap” traveling from various time frames throughout history.  He was morphed into all body types and had to fix the situation to try to get back home.  He visited the Wild West, became a high school basketball star and even was even a prisoner seated in an electric chair.  Each episode had forms of humor, drama and suspense with Sam hoping each “morphing” would bring him back home.

We know that our forever home will be in God’s Kingdom.  We wish and pray for the Lord’s return.  Unlike Sam in this story, we will be victorious in finally seeing our Heavenly Father.  It is ours.  All we have to do is commit, follow, have faith, lead and serve.  Pray today to follow God’s will to be done in your lives.  Pray for his coming Kingdom. The ultimate leap is coming: rejoice and prepare for that day!

~ Emily Moyer

 

Empathy & Faith

Hello everyone!

Thanks to Graysen Pack for agreeing to write our devotions for this week. Check out the email below to learn a little bit more about the topic.

Our memory verse for this week is Galatians 6:2.

*** For our email followers, follow this link if the above video is inaccessible: https://youtu.be/MZdLKkwCrec.

 

 

Make Our Days Count

Psalms 38-42: Making all of our days count by living for God.

makecount

The New Year is just around the corner, and I have to say that I love each January 1st for all the possibility that it brings. When I was younger, I would pull out my journal or notebook and brainstorm the different New Year’s resolutions that I could pursue in the upcoming year. 365 days, 8760 hours, 525,600 minutes, or 31,536,000 seconds seemed like so much time waiting to be filled up with the sky only being the limit of what could be accomplished.

But, flash forward to the middle of the year (about the time of Fuel to be exact) and all the possibility seems a little less grand. The things that could fill up the New Year shrink a little more and a little more as the calendar days get a big slash through until wham, the calendar says December 31st.

Every year, as I begin to assemble my next planner and everything I want to accomplish, I always stop and think about the ways that God might use me in the upcoming year. It’s interesting that nestled between all of the psalms that we’ve been reading, we find psalm 39. In this psalm, David is struggling with sin for which he is seeking forgiveness. In the middle of his laments and prayers, we see this line in verse 4-5:

“LORD, reveal to me the end of my life and the number of my days. Let me know how short-lived I am. You, indeed, have made my days short in length and my life span as nothing in Your sight. Yes, every mortal man is only a vapor.”

Wow, what humility to pen these verses. Mortality has always been hard to come to grasp with, and death is one of, if not the, final enemy that is defeated at the end of time. That being said, what would you give if you could know how ‘short-lived’ you would be? Would you want to know? I would be hesitant to ask for knowledge, but I understand why David would want to know. If you can learn to make the most of the time you have left.

God may never reveal to us when the end of our life will be, but Moses in psalm 90:12 says a similar phrase when he asks God to “Teach us to number our days carefully so that we may develop wisdom in our hearts.”

When we are able to number our days and see how fleeting they are, we can recognize the importance of making each one count (so think about that the next time you binge watch your favorite show on Netflix). We all make choices of what we are going to pursue, so I encourage you to think about what choice you are making this year.

Each year, between the week of Christmas and New Year’s Day, we can always stop and reflect. We started this week by looking to the cross, we can begin each year recognizing that the cross and all the many gifts, blessings, and guidelines it brings with it is at the center of our life. Then, as the New Year comes to pass, we can rely on God to accomplish the work He has in store for us. By centering our lives around God, we can truly make our days count.

-Cayce Ballard