Filled with JOY

Psalm 126-128

Today, we will be reading from Psalm 126, 127, and 128. Wow, what an incredibly rich set of scriptures. As a worship leader at my local church in Nashville, I am always convicted to meet God in a deeper place when I read Psalms. These authors understood the honor and glory that worship brings to the LORD. 

I am in awe of the authenticity and vulnerability of these authors. I have always wanted to be able to worship like David — I hope to worship with him in the Kingdom. 

These specific Psalms are short in nature but packed for exaltation and prayer to God. I was specifically drawn to Psalm 126. 

“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,

    we were like those who dream.

Then our mouth was filled with laughter,

    and our tongue with shouts of joy;”  -Psalm 126: 1-2 

Have you ever been filled with so much joy that you can’t help but laugh? It’s the feeling where in that moment nothing else matters. All of the anxieties, worries, and struggles vanish in that brief time. I would like to think of this as a taste of the kingdom– where joy will be at home every morning. 

Today, my message is simple and short. Be a dreamer in God. Pray that he draws you closer to him. Pray for his plans for you to be made evident! And when he shows up (He is never late afterall), remember to give him the glory he is owed. 

Our God is a doer of great things. He has done so much for you. From raising his Son from the dead to bringing breath into your lungs, God has worked in your life. And he doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon.

Today’s song is “Great Things” by Phil Whikham. Is it theologically perfect? No. However, I believe it expresses the heart and mind of the author of Psalms who was brought to laughter from God’s providence. Yes and amen.

-Leslie Jones

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Ezekiel 39-40 and Psalm 126-128

Because He Accepted Me

Romans 15

Romans 15 7

Hello friends!

I do not necessarily have a set style of writing when it comes to devotionals… so (un)lucky for you, you get to listen to my general thoughts on the chapters this week!  I will list a few of my thoughts that are a little less common or obvious on each chapter and pose some reflection questions that will hopefully get you thinking deeper about what we’ve read this week.  My goal is that something I think of, you hadn’t thought about and you’re willing to dig deeper into the idea.  So, let’s look at Romans 15 according to Sarah’s brain, shall we??

Thought #1 – Vs. 1 – 12: There are some great verses in that small chunk that carry big meanings and can be so relevant to our lives!  Focusing on verse 7 specifically, I think it can be very easily manipulated to satisfy an individual’s personal agenda.  “Accept each other… ” that means you can’t tell me what I’m doing is wrong.  Because maybe it’s wrong for you, but it’s right for me.  How many times have you heard that or said that yourself?  I’ve definitely used that excuse!  And while that statement may not always be abused, or even inaccurate, we need to use discernment when bringing that idea up.  When we finish out that sentence, “Accept each other just as Christ has accepted you, SO THAT God will be given glory”  we see more clearly into the message Paul was trying to get across.  If we are accepting others as Christ accepts them, we are not letting them do whatever they want.  We are loving them enough to correct them when necessary, pick them up when they need, and not leaving them even when they mess up.  Let’s be honest, interacting with people can be difficult.  Accepting people who are difficult, is difficult!  But yet we are called to do so.  And why are we doing this?  SO THAT God will be given glory.  We don’t have to try to accept people when it’s hard for any other reason other than to bring God glory.  When you interact with difficult people in a positive way, what is your thought process behind it?  Are you doing it with a self-righteous attitude or genuinely trying to bring God glory?

Thought #2 – Obviously we know that prayer is important, but seeing yet another example of how Paul truly and genuinely believes in the power of prayer is very motivating to my own prayer life.  Not only does Paul live out a strong prayer life, he encourages others to join him and asks that they pray for him.  He clearly truly believes and trusts in the power of prayer.  Are you fully utilizing the power of a praying body of Christ?

Thought 3# – Vs. 30: Final thought for today… Sometimes you need to be refreshed by the presence of like-minded believers!  FUEL, Family Camp, ReFUEL, Refuge, Christian Worker’s Seminar…. These are all great places to be uplifted, encouraged, and refreshed.  But, just as Paul writes, I think it makes a difference in the attitude you come with.  If you are not looking forward to meeting with like-minded believers with joy and anticipation, are you being held back from refreshing company?

I hope some of these ideas were able to make you think a little deeper about our text today!

“May the God of peace be with you all.” Romans 15:33

~Sarah Blanchard

What’s in a Name?

matthew 2 13

MATTHEW 2

 

In the Bible, there is be a great deal of naming done for the sake of conveying a purpose or message.  It could tell the story of a birth (Samuel: God has Heard), a unique physical trait (Esau: Covered- with hair), to make a theological point (Abraham: Father of Many), or a prophecy (Yeshua: Saving One); nonetheless, these men and women (Ruth; Companion) are born-to or given to testify of the the glorious God we serve.

 

In the first two chapters of Matthew, a name that appears in equal amounts to the name of Jesus is Joseph.  As discussed yesterday, Matthew 1 is the genealogy of the line of Joseph, but equally important to note is Joseph’s role in the early part of Christ’s story – the announcement, advent, and escape.  This man entrusted with the care of Jesus was named, whether coincidentally or purposefully, for his famous great (great, great, great…) uncle Joseph, who was the famous dreamer and interpreter. It is then fitting that Joseph is given the word of God, not by messengers or a family member as we see with Mary (Luke 1), but in a dream.

 

Between Matthew 1:18 and Matthew 2:23, or a span of a couple of years, Joseph is recorded as spoken to by God in a dream on four different occasions. He is told not to be afraid to take Mary as a wife (1:20), move to Egypt (2:13), move to Israel (2:19-20), and finally, specific guidance to stay away from Judea, and go to Nazareth (2:22). Joseph, who may have initially been filled with doubt, becomes incredibly faithful to the will of God.  Just like his liked-name predecessor, He goes hither and yon to follow the will of God. At times, he looks incredibly foolish. He goes from the comforts of home to the foreign land of Egypt, yet ultimately, he brings glory to his father, for OT Joseph, Jacob, and for NT Joseph, YHWH.  In so doing this, he lives up to his name – not Joseph – but the one carried by his Son he so carefully protected.

 

While our name is not Joseph, (well, most of us), each one of us also have a calling on our name too (Rom 8:28).  We are not all named for the same reason – some have the name of a biblical figure (like me), and others are named for a special relative, and even a few are named for a Fleetwood Mac song, but God has purposed and fashioned us all (Psalm 139:13-17) to be faithful to him.  Joseph played his part in making sure there is one name that supersedes them all. We might seem foolish to some, we may be called to go hither and yon, leaving behind the comforts of this life, but ultimately we are bringing glory, not to our name, but to our Father in heaven. Does it matter what others call us? Or even what we think of ourselves? In the words of Shakespeare, “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” How much more does your Father in heaven know this? He has a plan for you. He wants a relationship with you, and truly, it began long before you were ever named. No matter the expectation, or lack thereof, attached to our name, there is truly only one name that matters under heaven: The name of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:10-12) because it is the only name by which we are saved. Like Joseph, it is now our time to play our part, hold onto Jesus, and carry the Son wherever we’re called to go.

-Aaron Winner

 

Aaron Winner is a worship leader and a middle school teacher in Upstate South Carolina.  He has been married to his wife Jennifer for 13 years today – yay!  Aaron is also a songwriter, currently working on his fourth album, “Wonderful”.  Additionally, he hosts his own blog at elattruthfillintheblank.weebly.com, which combines thoughts from his work at school and church; however, he is happy to write for us this week at the start of our 2019 Bible study!

Don’t Oppose God

Acts 12 24

Acts 12

“But the word of God increased and multiplied.” Acts 12:24

In this chapter we see a showdown between Herod and God. Not Herod the Great who was in power when Jesus was born, but Herod’s grandson who is also named Herod. I know, confusing.

Here is a summary of the showdown and the ways God showed His power time and time again:

  1. Herod kills James (v. 2) -> angel of the Lord kills Herod by having him eaten by worms. (v. 23)

  1. Herod throws Peter in jail (v. 4). -> angel of the Lord frees Peter (v. 7)

  1. Herod seeks Peter and orders him to be put to death (v. 19) -> God protects Peter (v. 16)

  1. Herod doesn’t give glory to God (v. 23) -> The word of God increases and multiplies (v.24)

So what’s the point? I think it’s pretty simple – if you oppose God, you lose. Even if you are part of the most powerful empire on earth, have all the resources and money in the world, nothing can come close to the power of God.

-Grace Rodgers

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