Not Enough

Jeremiah 38-40 and Psalm 74 & 79

Jeremiah 38 18 NIV sgl

I believe today’s Bible reading ranks high among the most depressing passages of Scripture.   From the burning of Jeremiah’s scroll by King Jehoiakim which we read about yesterday to the major blows against Judah we read about today another 17 years has passed.  Jeremiah is still preaching, warning, and speaking truth for God, but very few seem to be interested.  In all, Jeremiah will have preached 39 years, his ministry reaching across the reigns of 5 kings of Judah, only one of whom truly listened to Jeremiah and had a heart for God.  If more had responded the way Josiah had, the disastrous events of today’s reading would have been avoided.  But instead, Judah’s final king, Zedekiah (chosen by Nebuchadnezzar), is a weak king who lacks the courage to do things God’s way.

Unlike Jehoiakim who scorned God’s word and His prophet, Zedekiah seems to know about God and His power.  He asks Jeremiah to pray for them and he secretly asks Jeremiah what he should do.  BUT – he doesn’t do it.  And, when feeling pressure from Jeremiah’s enemies, he even gives his permission for them to mistreat him and abandon him to die in a deep, muddy pit.  Thankfully, Ebed-Melek was there to petition the king to allow them to rescue Jeremiah.  Even at Judah’s final hour, with Babylon at the city walls, God, through Jeremiah, gave Zedekiah an opportunity to save his life and his city.  He could surrender to Babylon and peacefully accept the “time-out” Judah deserved for her waywardness.  But, instead he runs from God’s plan into a tragic, tragic end for himself, his family, his advisors, his city and his country.  Do you think he regretted his decision as he was watching his sons be put to death, or as his eyes were gouged out?

Suddenly, surrendering to God’s plan doesn’t seem so hard, difficult or painful after all -considering the consequences of the alternatives.  Is there an area where you are feeling too weak, too prideful, too insignificant, too scared to follow God’s plan?  Remember, there are often painful consequences of running from God’s plan.  It’s not enough to know of God and his power and truth.  It’s not enough to ask for prayer and guidance.  You must step up and do what God wants you to do.

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at Jeremiah 38-40 and 

Psalm 74 & 79

Tomorrow’s reading will be 2 Kings 24 & 25 and 2 Chronicles 36 as we continue on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

God’s Way Wins

Proverbs 19-21

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I encourage you to read these chapters focusing again on what stands out to you.  Depending on where you are at in life right now, different words of wisdom might stick.  Here are some that stuck out to me:

19:11 – A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

I’m someone who tends to hold grudges.  Especially if I wasn’t asked for forgiveness.  When someone asks, I am usually willing to offer it, but the thing is, people don’t always ask.  And sometimes I perceived I was wronged when the other person doesn’t see it that way.  This proverb reminds me that it is better to forgive and move past an offense than to let it sit and weigh me down.

19:20 Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.

Accepting correction isn’t easy.  I tend to bristle at it (especially when I know it is something I did wrong, or need to change).  It puts my defenses up, and I imagine many others feel the same.  But when we accept proper discipline, we come out better.  We learn and grow, and don’t continue to make the same mistakes.  It is an important part of life to heed Godly advice and discipline, even when we don’t like it.

21:30 There is no wisdom, no insight, no plan that can succeed against the Lord.

This one is an encouraging one to end today’s thoughts.  Sometimes it can feel like in this world, evil is winning.  That people have made their plans, and they are succeeding despite it being contrary to God’s ways.  So here is your reminder: they won’t win out in the end.  Nothing can succeed if it is against the LORD.  We might feel weighed down and defeated when we see evil prevail, but we know how it ends.  We know who wins.  And it isn’t evil.

I’m writing this while life is weird.  We are stuck at home, not going to church (I don’t think I have ever not been to church on Easter Sunday), many people not going to jobs, not having dinner with families, not enjoying a dinner out.  But we can have peace when we remember that no matter what is happening now, God has a plan, it will come to be, and we can look forward to eternal life.

~Stephanie Fletcher

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Proverbs+19-21&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Proverbs 22-24 as we continue seeking and growing in God’s way during our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Patience while Preparing

2nd Samuel 5:1-10 & 1st Chronicles 11-12

2 Samuel 5 2b NIV

We return to the people, places and events of King David’s life in our reading today.  The last we read of David, he had been named king of his tribe of Judah following the death of King Saul and he was ruling in Hebron.  It is now 7 years and 6 months later, David is 30 years old and he will finally be anointed king of all 12 tribes of Israel. And he will conquer the town of Jerusalem to convert into his capital city: The City of David.

He has waited a long time for this moment.  Remember the day long ago when the prophet Samuel was sent by God to the town of Bethlehem to visit the family of Jesse.   God had revealed to Samuel that one of Jesse’s sons would be chosen to rule over Israel.  And how surprised everyone was when it was the youngest son, David, a little shepherd-boy, whom God led Samuel to anoint.

Much has happened to David since then.  His life has been full of many twists and turns.  It was not an easy or clearly illuminated path to the throne.  There had been days with great news where it seemed the kingship might not be too far off: invited into the king’s court as a musician, killed the giant, the king offers his daughter to David in marriage, and the king’s son says he wants to see David become king. But, it wasn’t to be – yet.  There would be many difficult years of hiding in exile from jealous King Saul who wanted nothing more than to see David dead.  But, Saul’s plans were nothing compared to God’s.  God would protect David, and use this time to refine David and prepare him to be king of His people.

You may be questioning God’s plans for your life.  Remember David.  You may be wondering how long you will need to be patient.  Remember David.  Even when you aren’t sure what the next step will be – rest in knowing God’s plans and design is greater than man’s.  His promises come true.  Use this time to work on refining yourself  in preparation for whatever God is preparing for you.

Don’t miss the many striking similarities between David and Jesus.  From the town of Bethlehem.  To Jerusalem.  30 years old.  King of the Jews.

Never doubt that God’s plan continues through the ages – including David, and Jesus, and YOU!  And God has so much more planned – including the return of Jesus as King and a New Jerusalem and reigning with Christ!   How are you preparing for what comes next?

Marcia Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Samuel+5%3A1-10%2C+1Chronicles+11-12&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Psalm 133 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Called – & Equipped & Planned – by God

Exodus 4-6

exodus 6 7

Anytime God asks a question, you should be thinking to yourself, “Why would God need to ask that question if he already knows the answer?” Here, Moses doubts that he has any ability to convince anyone that he had spoken with God. Then God asks him this leading question as if Moses should have known that he already had everything that he needed to fulfill the duty that God called him to. When you are given a task by God, you had better believe that he has already equipped you for the job. The staff is already in your hand.

 

The method that Moses is given of turning his staff into a snake is an interesting one. The Egyptians sorcerers already have tricks like this; they can perform a similar feat. God always has a plan and he knows the hearts of his audience. He knows that when Moses’ staff turns into a snake, no one will be surprised because they have already seen sorcerers perform the same feat. Then why would God use this method? This is simply the first of many signs to come that will change the hearts of the audience by degrees. This is the same method that Socrates extolls as the tool of a great rhetorician. The great rhetorician will not attempt to change a man’s mind by presenting him with facts. On the contrary, he will use his knowledge of the man’s heart and what is familiar to the man, even if it is false. In this way, you can slowly turn the man’s thinking towards your position by degrees, small increments. This is how I see the signs that Moses performs before Pharaoh and all of Egypt. In other times throughout the Bible, prophets perform different signs and these signs are more suited to the people of that time and region. If Elijah had performed the signs that Moses performed, he may not have been a successful prophet because the signs of Moses are too different compared to what his community was used to experiencing. If this is the case, what kind of signs might God use in our modern age?

 

Yesterday we saw some of the ignorance and incompetence of the Pharaoh, and again we see it today. When he takes the straw away from the Israelites and demands the same quota, he is acting as a bad leader. There are leaders like this who still exist today, be it our teachers or our bosses. The bad leader sees the failures of his subordinates and reprimands them by increasing their workload or taking away resources which he sees as a crutch. Doing this only makes their productivity decrease. The good leader sees the shortcomings of his subordinates and reinforces them in their areas of need so that they can be productive and produce good results. I don’t see Pharaoh’s action in this case to be cruel, merely foolish; he sincerely does not know how to lead people.

 

When God speaks to Moses again, he says that he has heard the groaning of the Israelites. What is incredible about that is that well before he heard their groaning, he had a plan in place to save them. He took the evil of the murder of all baby boys and turned it into good by allowing Moses to live. He allowed Moses to grow in knowledge by being raised as an Egyptian. Then He met with Moses to show him the way to deliver his people. This plan was set into motion before the Israelites even knew they needed saving. That is the power of a God who does not operate on our time. By the time we realize that we are in trouble, God has already been working to get us out of it.

 

Nathaniel Johnson

 

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=exodus+4-6&version=NIV

Can you believe we are about 1/12 of the way through the Bible already!  (Genesis and Job are big books!)  The Bible has 1,189 chapters in all – which means on average reading 99 chapters a month to complete the Bible in a year.  Well Done!  And, if you haven’t been reading every day – February is a great time to get started!

Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Exodus 7-9 on our 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

Ask & Receive

Luke Chapter 11

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This chapter is loaded with great stuff, but one particular section connected with me the most.  Starting in verse 9, Jesus says, “So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

11 “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? 12 Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13 If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

 

Does this mean that you can ask God for virtually anything and it will be given to you?  No it does not. God is probably not going to provide you with a brand new Ferrari, even if you ask very sincerely.  I believe those verses are referring to things that are in alignment with God’s plan for you. 

 

I can assure you that God DOES fulfill this promise.  I have experienced God giving me something I asked for, which was completely out of my hands, and only in His.  And I believe He blessed me this way because it was part of His plan for me.

 

Several years back, the person who does such a wonderful job overseeing these daily devotions, Marcia Railton, asked if I would be willing to teach a class at Midwest Family Camp.  I really hesitated because one of my biggest fears is speaking in front of people. So I asked God to help me with that, and trusting that He would, I accepted the invitation. That was the beginning of me teaching and speaking in nine different states about the truth of the Creation account in scripture and the falsehoods in the evolution theory.  And when I teach or speak on this, God removes all fears I have of speaking in public. I consider that a miracle. I didn’t take any classes to overcome my fear, or psyche myself up. I relied on God, and He delivered, big time.

 

I encourage you to put your Heavenly Father to the test in this area.  If you are feeling called to serve God in some particular way, but feel you are lacking in some area, ask Him to help you.  If you are supernaturally aided in this way, He gets the credit, and you don’t get a big head.  

 

One word of caution however.  SOMETIMES, what we think God’s plans are for us, and what God thinks God’s plans are for us are two different things.  If God is not blessing you on the path you are pursuing, it is not because God is giving you a snake when you wanted a fish, it is probably because you are simply not on the exact path God has mapped out for you.  Pray that He would guide you to the right path, and try again!

 

Greg Landry

 

Out with the Old, In with the New

2 Corinthians 3

2 Corinthians 3 9

This short chapter packs a punch while explaining the differences between the Old and New Covenants.  Any visual learners out there?  I like to SEE things; it helps me make connections better than just listening or reading. So here’s a little chart comparing the Old and New Covenants as taught by Paul in 2 Corinthians 3, verses 6-18.

Old Covenant

New Covenant

Verse

·      Of the letter (law)

·      Letter kills

·      Of the Spirit

·      Spirit gives life

Vs. 6
·      Brought death

·      Engraved in letters on stone

·      Came with glory

·      Israelites couldn’t look at the face of Moses (because he had been with God)

  Vs. 7
  ·      Even more glorious Vs. 8
·      Condemns men

·      Glorious

·      Much more glorious

·      Brings righteousness

Vs. 9
·      Was glorious

·      No glory now in comparison with (new) surpassing glory

  Vs. 10
·      Fading away

·      Came with glory

·      Much greater glory

·      Lasts

Vs. 11
  ·      We have hope

·      We are very bold

Vs. 12
·      Moses put a veil over his face to keep Israelites from gazing at it (radiance of being with God) ·      We are not like Moses Vs. 13
·      Their minds were made dull

·      Veil remains when old covenant read

·      Veil has not been removed

·      Only in Christ is veil taken away Vs. 14
·      Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.   (Don’t see Jesus)   Vs. 15
  ·      Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, veil is taken away Vs. 16
  ·      The Lord is the Spirit

·      Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom

Vs. 17
  ·      We have unveiled faces

·      All reflect the Lord’s glory

·      Being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory which comes from the Lord who is the Spirit

Vs. 18

I am reminded of a great free theme week of devotions this year by Jay Laurent on the Presence of God from February 3-9, 2019 (the New Covenant comes on the scene on February 7 https://grow16biblereading.wordpress.com/2019/02/page/2/).  Throughout the week Jay showed how God was revealing a plan to bring His presence to the people.  And, his plan grew and grew in greatness and glory.  From the very beginning, with creation, his plan was good (and even “very good”).  But it didn’t stop there!  God gave the law – the Old Covenant – to show people what was required to draw close to Him.  Only trouble is, humanity couldn’t get it right.  Everyone was guilty as a lawbreaker and deserved death.  Problem – because in death they were not drawn to God, but they were dead.  Solution – something or someone to remove the sin and show the power of resurrection.   Enter – Jesus!   The New Covenant!  The opportunity for sins to be erased.  Righteousness was in reach – and with it restoration with the Father.  And, that’s not all – Jesus would also bring the opportunity for resurrection and eternal life with God in the Coming Kingdom.  This is the miracle of God’s plan of life with Him that just keeps growing more and more glorious!

 

Thankful for the New!  Looking forward to the Newest!
Marcia Railton

 

 

 

The Long Journey to Rome

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Acts 27

Today it only takes a few hours to travel from the Holy Land to Rome. A non-stop plane ticket costs just a few hundred bucks. For a couple of hundred more, you can get upgraded to first class. That sounds rather nice–flying over the beautiful Mediterranean sea, being waited on hand and foot, heading to the former center of the Roman empire to take in the sights and sounds of this majestic ancient city.
For Paul, though, the journey was not so short…or luxurious. And it certainly wasn’t non-stop. The trek to Rome included a slew of problems for this man from Tarsus and his companions, such as a snakebite, a shipwreck, and a plan to slaughter prisoners. What happened during this voyage would have tested the most experienced seafarer. But throughout the storms and chaos, Paul remained calm and determined. When others had lost hope and were filled with fear, the Apostle took charge and restored order.
Paul was able to remain composed and didn’t cave to fear because of where he placed his trust. He had been informed by the Lord that he would make it to Rome to testify there and he believed this wholeheartedly. God had been faithful thus far and Paul knew this would continue. After all, he did write the words of Romans 8:28.
“We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him. They are the ones God has chosen for his purpose.” – Romans 8:28 (CEV)
God has a plan. From the Bible, we can gain a general understanding of it. We can see how He has worked in history and what He intends to do in the future. Sometimes, though, it can be difficult for us to see where we fit in the grand scheme of things or how God can work in us. God used Paul as an instrument for His glorious plan. It wasn’t because he was special that God chose to employ Paul as His messenger to the Gentiles; he was special only because he was chosen. We don’t have to be special for God to use us either (which is a good thing…because we’re not).
Paul found himself on that arduous adventure because he was doing work for God. If we are going to be active followers of Christ and productive promoters of his Good News, sometimes we’re going to find ourselves in difficult situations as well. But we, like Paul, can have courage knowing the plan God has for the future and confidence because we are doing His will.
-Joel Fletcher

A Most Encouraging, Comforting and Exciting Passage

Rev 21 4

We are excited about beginning our New Testament Bible Reading plan this coming Sunday.  The rest of this week we will be hearing from various writers on what God’s Word means to them.  Today, we are pleased to hear from Seth Ross, the Executive Director of the Church of God General Conference and Atlanta Bible College President.

 

Over the years, I have found certain portions of Scripture have come back to encourage me over and over. Revelation 21 is one of those chapters that encourages me when I’m down, it comforts me when I’m in pain, and it excites me when… well, all the time. When I’ve lost people close to me (grandparent, parent, etc) the particular verses below have given me comfort in what God has in store for us. On days when I’m not sad, this same passage excites me about what is coming and it gives me strength to make spiritual decisions that might not make sense to most people. In this special chapter, in this special section, there’s one special verse that gives me a sense of how much God loves for each of us individually and how much he really cares. This is what can encourage you to read the rest of the Bible through the year to see what else God has in store for you.

REVELATION 21:1-4
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”

TO MEMORIZE
“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” ~Revelation 21:4

 

-Seth Ross

 

 

There is a Time

 

ecclesiastes 3 11

Ecclesiastes 2:17-3:22

And now another exciting episode from the book of Ecclesiastes. “Everything is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

Here we find Solomon, as cheerful as ever, saying that he “hated life” and all the work that he had done. Not only does it not bring lasting satisfaction but anything that lasts beyond our life will likely end up going to some schmuck who does not deserve it, has not earned it, and will not appreciate it. A great misfortune indeed!

Verses 22-23 are kind of an “ah-ha” moments though. He uses the phrase “anxious striving” and states that “all his days” there is “pain and grief” and at night “his mind does not rest.” Solomon is talking about the drive that pushes many of us. It is a drive to provide a “better” life, to have more, to do more, and to never be … satisfied. This drive causes anxiety, pain, and grief. What does it get us though? We are never satisfied because we are never where we want to be and we never will be. Not here in this world at least. It frustrates our days and disrupts our nights. Think about it. When you set a goal, where you want to be or accomplish in a year, what happens once you have met that goal? You set another goal! “A chasing after the wind.”

Now Solomon is not condemning ambition or general goal setting. As a matter of fact he says in verses 24-25, “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without Him, who can eat or find enjoyment?” He goes on to say that the godly will be granted wisdom, knowledge and happiness. To the sinner… a consolation prize of fruitless labor! He will not have satisfaction in his work and may not even see the fruits of his labor. We see examples of this type of judgment throughout Scripture as well as in and around our lives. This is a temporal judgment though, in the here and now. A giving and taking away of that which will ultimately perish.

Then Solomon says “there is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” He says activity for a reason and it is because an activity is something deliberate. It is a willful act and so for every willful act there is a time, a point in time, and a season, a duration. This opening line gives way to a poem on fourteen opposites, each of which happens in its own time. He illustrates this in a multiple of seven, which is the number signifying completeness. Additionally, he utilized polar opposites in a poetic form known as merism that suggests totality. In this way Solomon affirms that all activities, both constructive and destructive, and all responses to all things happen in their time. Too deep? Then let me break it down.

The poem begins with life and death, the beginning and end of life. Two events over which we have little to no control over. He continues with deliberate acts of one who begins and ends plant life, takes and saves human life, and constructs and destroys buildings. All concepts of life and death. From these thoughts he writes of our responses to such events: weeping and morning and their opposites, laughing and dancing and all of the joy found in them. He then switches from life and death to man’s interest in things and his affections towards people. This is followed with a period of mourning and the completion of the mourning, when one would begin again to move forward in life. Of course it all ends with concepts that are as significant as the ones he began the poem with. They are two of life’s basic emotions with war and peace being the most poignant expression of each one.

Truly, the burden laid upon us is that we have knowledge and understanding. We see this great big world around us and realize its satisfactions are too small for us. He has placed within us knowledge of eternity but we cannot fully grasp it yet. We know that we likely play a role in God’s plan but do not fully understand what God’s plan is for our lives. Despite this we can trust that He will “make everything beautiful in its time.” This is the burden God has laid upon us.

For those who do not know God, they may see Him as arbitrary but Solomon described the nature of God’s plan and what the appropriate response of men should be. He has seen it all from beginning to end. He knows the choices we make and the consequences of those choices. And to all will come His righteous judgment. For the wicked and the righteous, for the just and unjust, a time will come.

“But he says that we are like animals? That we have no advantage over them?”

We were all dust and have received life from God. To the dust we will all return so in that he is correct. We are like animals with no advantage. Verse 21 however shows us a difference. The fact that we are capable of contemplating what happens to our spirit is an advantage. This awareness is an advantage. To wonder at the awesome power of God and to be inquisitive enough to seek after Him. Again though, it is an advantage that is also our burden. To ask why we are here? What is our purpose in His plan?

The answers to all of this will come … in its time.

To be continued …

Jeff Ransom