Where He Leads

Acts 15-16


When I started my teaching career 24 years ago, I had no idea that I would spend two and half decades in the same district. I only agreed to the original interview because I thought that it would be good practice for interviews with school districts that were better funded and closer to where I wanted to live. But through the years, I have had amazing students, super supportive principals and supervisors, and colleagues who have become my closest friends. 


There have been times where I sought other jobs outside my district. The crazy thing is that I have never had an invitation to interview for those other positions. Now either I have a highly inflated self-perspective of my skills, or I don’t know how to complete and submit an application, or just maybe, God wants me to stay where I am. 


So I can relate a little bit to Paul in Acts 16 when he realizes that he’s not supposed to go into Asia but rather head up to Macedonia.


Can you imagine setting out on a road trip and not really knowing for sure where you’ll end up?


It makes sense to pray and seek wisdom and discernment before making major life decisions. But this is how God wants us to live our day-to-day lives too. Yes, dreaming up plans, setting goals, and creating task lists are good things to do, but it’s also important to be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Asking God to help determine the best use of your time each week, each day, is a good way to practice your listening skills and hone your sensitivity to God’s direction. 


As we go about this week, pause and think about what you already have on your calendar of things to do and places to be at and people to meet up with. Does any of that need to be revised? Does something need to be removed or added? Do you have enough margin in your day-to-day that you can spontaneously respond to God’s leading? 


If nothing specific comes to mind or your days and week go pretty closely as you expected, that’s okay too. What really matters is that you sought God. You took time to listen and you were willing to act on his call. That’s the kind of heart God desires.

-Bethany Ligon

Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Acts 15-16

Tomorrow we will read Galatians 1-3.

Why are You Destroying Yourself?

Jeremiah 41-45

Jeremiah 44_71 NLT sgl

Life is often not what we expect.  The last few days we have read about the Jews who went into exile to Babylon under King Nebuchadnezzar.  This was punishment from God for turning their backs on Him and following after their own selfish interests – false gods.  No doubt it would be very difficult to be uprooted from your homeland and all you have ever known to be taken to a foreign land – with a strange new language, foods, neighbors, rulers, homes and customs.  It would be easy to think that the ones left behind to stay in Judah were the lucky ones.  But, that would depend on how they acted.  After having just witnessed their brothers’ and sisters’ tragic deportation, you would have thought they may have learned their lesson and stuck a bit closer to God’s guidelines.  But….then you would read today’s Bible reading (Jeremiah 41-45) and find out mankind doesn’t always do the wise thing.

When Babylon invaded Jerusalem the foreign commanding officer released Jeremiah from prison and gave him the option of going to Babylon and being well cared for in a foreign land, or staying with those left behind.  He (or God) chose for him to stay behind – perhaps knowing how much the people still needed a word from the Lord – if they would listen.  Before the Babylonians left town with their captives they set up Gedaliah as governor of the land.  But just 3 months later he is assassinated by Ishmael who also kills several Babylonian soldiers, some Judeans who were loyal to Gedaliah, as well as 70 travelers who had come to worship at the burned down temple.  Next, Ishmael kidnaps the king’s daughters and others that had been under Gedaliah’s care.  Violence, treachery and strife are still rampant in the land.

It seems like a bright new start when Johanan saves the day and Ishmael runs away and the people ask Jeremiah to ask God what they should do.  The people want to head to Egypt as they are scared Babylon will hear that the governor they left was killed and come to punish the whole tribe.  But they sound so brave and upright when they say, “May the Lord be a true and faithful witness against us if we do not act in accordance with everything the Lord your God sends you to tell us.  Whether it is favorable or unfavorable, we will obey the Lord our God, to whom we are sending you, so that it will go well with us, for we will obey the Lord our God.” (Jeremiah 42:5,6).   

Ten days later, Jeremiah tells them God says stay and He will protect you.  It should have been good news, and not too hard to follow.  But, suddenly their eloquent words mean nothing.  Because they were really hoping and thinking God would say to go.  That’s what they wanted to do – so that’s what they would do – regardless of a good speech about following God.  Suddenly, it was more convenient to call Jeremiah the liar and continue packing their bags in defiance of all God said, thus shattering the promise they had just made.

Jeremiah tells them that war, strife, famine, persecution and death will follow them to Egypt.  There is not a safe place to go to disobey God.  But off they go.  Totally disregarding God, they turned again to their false gods that would give them the answers they wanted to hear and let them go where they wanted to go and let them do what they wanted to do.

They thought they had won.  But they were actually destroying themselves (Jeremiah 44:7a NLT).  Just as Jeremiah foretold, Egypt was not a safe place.

It still happens today.  People who commit to follow God anywhere – until they decide they would rather make the rules and the map.  And, if you listen carefully to God and His Word, you can still hear Him say, “Why are you destroying yourselves?”.    Examine yourself and see if there are any ways you are breaking your commitment to God, and thus destroying yourself.  He has offered protection and hope for those who rely on Him and follow Him with their whole life.

 

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at Jeremiah 41-45.

Tomorrow’s reading will be Jeremiah 46-48 as we continue on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Making Space for God’s Leading

Exodus 39-40

Exodus 39 43 NIV

Throughout history God has lead his people many ways. To a few he spoke audibly, others in dreams but he used the tabernacle to lead the Israelites. They set up the tabernacle to the very detail as God requested. After it was complete, 40:34 says

Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. 

God made his presence known and clearly began to lead the people on their travels. Whenever the cloud left the people knew it was time to get up and go. Whenever the cloud would stop the people would also stop.

Sometimes I wish that God led us today in such an obvious manner. I need fool proof directions just to get across town let alone the race we are called to run as followers of Christ.

Although it is not as obvious, God still leads his people. He still tells us when and where to go and also when and where to stay.

The tabernacle was a dedicated place for God in the lives of the Israelites. They gave of their time, energy and resources to have a spot for God in their lives. Many often claim that they want direction from God but have not made space for his leading in their lives. They have not made time or space for God.

After the ascension of Christ, the believers were blessed with God’s presence in an even better way than the tabernacle. God’s power, his presence, his spirit can dwell in YOU!

Will you make time and space in your life – for the glory of God to lead you where he would have you go? And further, are you willing to follow that lead?

John Wincapaw

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=exodus+39-40&version=NIV

Tomorrow we begin the book of Leviticus – chapters 1-4 – as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan