Naaman’s Ailment

2 Kings 5

March 17

I have a similar ailment to Naaman’s. No, not leprosy, but a pride that makes me want to be right, even sometimes to the point of thinking God (or the man of God) is doing it wrong if He/they aren’t following the step by step plans I designed. And, sometimes a pride like that leads to a bit of anger when our best laid plans are contradicted by an all-knowing and pretty creative God who also likes to witness our obedience.

So, here we have Naaman – the proud, leprous army commander of the country of Aram at the door of Elisha’s house. He had already humbled himself to listen to the captured Israelite servant girl who was sure Naaman could be healed of his dangerous skin disease if he got to the prophet of God in Samaria (capital city of Israel, Aram’s enemy). He had already secured from the king of Aram a very impressive payment (including 750 pounds of silver and 150 pounds of gold and 10 sets of clothing) for the one who could heal Naaman. He had already travelled by horse and chariot over 100 miles – first to the king of Israel (who was absolutely no help and was scared this was an enemy trap) – and now to the door of the prophet Elisha’s house.

Naaman has rehearsed in his mind how this is all going to go down. His life is about to be changed and the dreaded leprosy will be gone forever. So, he is completely caught off guard when Elisha instead of waving his magic wand (or hand) sends a servant out to him to tell him to go wash 7 times in the Jordan River which is another 30 miles down the road. 2 Kings 5:11 says, “But Naaman went away angry and said, ‘I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. ‘” He went away angry because God’s plans didn’t match up with his. He had envisioned instant and easy healing – the wave of a holy man’s hand. He had faith it could be so – that was good. But he also had prideful arrogance that he should be the one to choose how God worked. And when his plans and God’s plans didn’t match up – then God must be wrong. God desired faith and simple obedience. Naaman had faith and a big helping of pride, arrogance and anger. Faith without obedience (deeds) is dead. He would rather live with his deadly leprosy than humble himself to obey and do it God’s way. And he walked away from the healing God had prepared for him.

Some stories tragically end this way. How devastating if Naaman’s story also ended with him angrily turning his back on the blessings God wanted to pour out on him in the dirty Jordan River. Luckily for Naaman, he had some bold and wise servants who calmly reasoned with him and convinced him to try it God’s way. And, when he had faith and obedience, he received the blessing and new life that he was searching for – because he humbled himself and did it God’s way.

God, please heal me of my pride. I don’t want my stubborn pride to get in the way of receiving your blessings. Help me to faithfully obey you, even if I had a different plan. I don’t have to be right – You are. Always.

-Marcia Railton

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. Has there been a time your plans and expectations didn’t match up with God’s? How did you handle it?
  2. Why do you think people tend to get mad at God when they don’t understand or abide by His plan? Have you seen some angrily walk away from God and the blessings He wanted to give? What wise and bold counsel would you offer?
  3. How do you rate your own faith and obedience? How can you improve both your faith and your obedience?
  4. Later in this chapter Gehazi gets into trouble because of his covetousness. Explain what happens to him and why? What other sins did he commit? Has wanting what others have ever gotten you into trouble? How do we avoid the great dangers of covetousness?

Knowing to Trust

Exodus 32

February 14

When the people didn’t know what was going to happen with Moses, they turned to Aaron to create new gods. God was very angry.

We have struggled with plenty of fear just in the past few years. Not knowing is a great fear of mine. I struggle with not knowing which college I should go to or what I should do with my life.

The people were dancing and worshiping a golden calf. It says in Exodus 32 that the people are prone to evil. They asked for gods that will go before
them. Do we all struggle with evil or dirty desires? Most likely, but how we handle those desires is what matters the most.

Just because you can’t see what has gone over a mountain or you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t push for greatness. The kingdom is our goal. It is our motivation. We must trust in what we can’t see or can’t understand at the moment. We must understand that just because God sent Moses over a hill and we couldn’t see him and his plan – we must know there is one.

-Genesis Dylewski

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. The people were quick to take (sinful) action when they felt like they had been abandoned by God and Moses. Have you ever felt (even for a moment or a day) like you were abandoned by God and/or those who have represented Him to you? What options did you have in how you reacted? What would have been the best course of action?
  2. How can you build your trust in God so that even when He is harder to see, you know He and his plan can be trusted?
  3. What false gods or unhealthy practices are you tempted to turn to when you battle fear? What consequences are there in these actions or attitudes?

Know God’s Plan

Micah 3-4

Yesterday, we read about God’s words to a people who were on the breaking point. To be fair, Israel had seen a lot– civil disputes, mass religious wars, a kingdom divided. But here, Israel is facing its final days as an independent nation.

So we read Micah’s desperate attempts to warn his people– Israel and Judah both– that their only hope is to return to the LORD. Chapter 1 talked about the coming destruction. Chapter 2 talks about these “oppressors,” who are likely people of political or financial power that are abusing the people around them.

In chapter 3, Micah now addresses two groups of people: the political leaders and the prophethood. Micah tells the leaders that they “hate the good and love the evil,” (3:1). The prophets that Micah confronts were likely professional “prophets” that lived in the king’s court. They may or may not have been followers of the LORD and they were not like the prophets that God chose for Israel. Micah says they prophesy peace when it gets them something to eat (3:5) and teach the masses when it gets them paid (3:11). 

On and on, Micah confronts everyone in the nation who has shown corruption, greed, selfishness and evil. He closes chapter 3 by saying  these ways are going to leave Zion, God’s holy city– flattened to a plain. 

And then Micah’s message does a complete 180-degree turn. In chapter 4, he starts giving some really good news. He says that the house of the LORD will be a meeting place where everyone turns to know God (4:2). He says that God is going to bring the weak, lowly, hurt, sick, and anyone who’s been abused, and He is going to personally make them strong (4:6-7). 

And here we begin to see what we call “God’s redemptive-historical plan.” That’s a fancy way of saying that God’s plans span thousands of years. And although Israel rejected and resisted God, He would not give up so easily. God sent His Son Jesus into the world to be an atonement, a light, and a leader for all of humanity. And in this way, every good thing that God has promised to mankind will be made true in Jesus our King.

If this isn’t good news enough, wait until tomorrow, when Micah is going to have even better things to say! 

-Levi Salyers

Read or listen to the Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Micah 3-4 and Revelation 9

1 Short Chapter – 49 Cross References

Revelation 5

Imagine, for a moment, your favorite movie or tv show. How much of it can you quote? How many references have you made to your friends who have seen it with you a thousand times? How many times have you watched, acted it out, or recited memorable lines?

Revelation 5 is one of the most theologically packed chapters of the Bible. Why is that? Because the Bible is a complete, unified story that spans thousands of years and dozens of authors, and they all point to a single narrative. The author of Revelation, John, knows his Bible like a movie that he’s watched hundreds of times. In Revelation 5, my Bible shows 49 cross references to other verses. John really knows his Bible!

What’s the purpose, then? When we read Revelation 5, we’re reading the fulfillment of lots of God’s promises. In just 5:1, for example, we’re reminded of the throne room of God in Ezekiel 1, and the sealed scrolls in Daniel 12:4 and Isaiah 29:11. (Tip: when a biblical author makes a clear reference to a different spot in the Bible, they usually want you to go back and read it to see what they mean!!)

What is this scroll, anyway? And why is it that no one in heaven or on earth is worthy to open it? We have to keep reading to find out. And here lies the secret behind all of Revelation 5: God’s written plan, which he held in his own hand, could only be carried out by one very, very, very worthy individual. And his name is Jesus. 

The rest of Revelation 5 lists off the many qualifications that Jesus holds. He is the lion of Judah. (See Genesis 49:8-12, when God says that the ruler of Israel is like a lion, and he will be of the tribe of Judah). Jesus is the Root of David (see 2 Samuel 7:14, when God promises that one of David’s descendants would rule forever). Jesus is the lamb that was slain (read about the passover lamb in Exodus 12, and how Paul calls Jesus our Passover lamb in 1 Corinthians 5:7). We see how these immensely powerful creatures, who dwell constantly in the presence of God, sing about this important role of Jesus– that he can open the scrolls because he was slain, ransomed us for God, and made us a kingdom of priests to God, so we can reign on the earth. 

I hope you’re starting to see the story of redemption that God had been planning since Genesis. Jesus is the fulfillment of that story. And the four living creatures, the myriads and myriads and thousands of thousands of angels of heaven, are all “in on” this great story and its many references and quotes from history. They know that Jesus is the climax of God’s great story. 

So when we read Revelation 5, let us sing along with all of God’s angelic host in proclaiming that to God and the Lamb “be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”

-Levi Salyers

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Obadiah and Revelation 5

Words Matter

Jeremiah 1-2; Psalm 90-91

This past Saturday women (and some men) gathered in front of the US Capital in Washington, DC and in state capitals across the United States to protest for women’s rights to choose to abort their unwanted babies.  One of the signs held up said “Rage, Rage Against the Denial of Your Rights”.

That’s a dangerous way to begin today’s devotions.  Some of you are likely offended or possibly even angry at me for what I wrote.  I referred to them as unwanted “babies” and not “fetuses” or “products of conception.”  Words matter.  If a person says “illegal aliens” referring to those who cross the border without proper documentation and not “undocumented aliens” we know that they have an opinion about the status of those who have entered the country.  “Illegal” sounds like a bad thing, like someone has broken a law and might be punished, whereas “Undocumented” sounds like some innocent mistake or a government slip up.  I forgot my hall pass on my way to the bathroom and so I’m undocumented.  That’s different than bringing a gun to school or taking drugs at school.  Those activities are illegal and should be punished somehow, but crossing over the border without proper authorization, that shouldn’t be illegal, right? (If your sarcasm detector is now going off then it’s working properly)

Words matter, whether you say “illegal” or “undocumented” or whether you say “unborn or pre-born baby” or “product of conception.”  If I refer to a “product of conception” that a woman has a right to dispose of, that’s no big deal.  But if I say that it’s a human baby that is alive and waiting to exit her mother’s womb, and that we are killing that baby, that sounds pretty awful.  No one wants to think about killing babies.  No one should have the right to kill babies, but every woman should have a right to dispose of an inconvenient or unwanted ‘product of conception”.

Words matter.  Jeremiah 1 wasn’t written specifically to address the issue of human life, and yet Jeremiah’s inspired words, given to him by God, are worthy of reflection and application to our context today. 

“The word of the Lord came to me, saying,

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,

    before you were born I set you apart;

    I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”- Jeremiah 1:4-5

Here, God is calling Jeremiah to be his prophetic voice to the people of Israel.  Jeremiah is an integral part of God’s plan to prophecy against His people Israel for their worship of other gods.  Before Jeremiah was even born, God had a plan for his life.  While Jeremiah was still in his mother’s womb, God set Jeremiah apart to be a prophet.  This is such a rich passage and we could reflect on it a hundred different ways.  It speaks about God and his omniscience (that’s a technical term that means God knows everything).  God is able to peer into the future and see that this tiny little cluster of cells which carries in it the DNA for a male human person who  probably has brown eyes, brown hair and olive skin, will grow up to be able to speak for God 20 or 30 years in the future and be a key part of God’s plan.

This little tiny cluster of cells in that young Jewish woman’s womb would  one day be born, grow up  and go in the name of God to confront an entire nation with its rebellion against God.  

“My people have committed two sins:

They have forsaken me,

    the spring of living water,

and have dug their own cisterns,

    broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”- Jeremiah 2:13

It was this tiny pre-born human, who God would use to condemn his people because: “On your clothes is found  the lifeblood of the innocent poor.”- Jeremiah 2:34

God condemns Israel because her clothes are stained with the blood of the innocent and the helpless.  Again, in the context Jeremiah is not referring specifically to pre-born babies who have been unjustly murdered (aborted).  However, in our present context, those words have a clear application.  Who are the most innocent and helpless human beings in the world today?  It is the pre-born humans whose Mother’s don’t want to allow  them to live.  As thousands gather around the country to rage at the prospect of some states seeking to bring greater justice and defend the defenseless we must ask ourselves “How in the world did we get here?”

When God called Jeremiah it was to take a courageous stand against a wicked and corrupt nation.  Is God calling His people today to take a courageous stand?  I think so.

“Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you. Do not be terrified by them, or I will terrify you before them. Today I have made you a fortified city, an iron pillar and a bronze wall to stand against the whole land—against the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land. They will fight against you but will not overcome you, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.” -Jeremiahs 1:17-19

If you, like Jeremiah, accept the call to speak faithfully for God against the current culture of death, and in doing so invite the rage of those who don’t want their right to murder unwanted pre-born human babies, then put Psalm 91 in your back pocket and carry it with you wherever you go: 

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High

    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,

    my God, in whom I trust.”-Psalm 91:1-2

The Lord be with you.

Jeff Fletcher

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com hereJeremiah 1-2 and Psalm 90-91

More Opportunities

For God’s Children To Have a Relationship with Him

Isaiah 43-44 and 1 Timothy 3

When you read through Isaiah 43 and 44, what do you see?

I see a God who loves His people, whom He has chosen.  I see a God who shows mercy and patience.  I see a protective God.  I see a jealous God.  I see a God full of power and authority.  I see a world full of broken and lost people.  I also see a Father whose children have ignored Him.  I see a Father who knows there are unrighteous people in the world trying to pull His children off the path of righteousness.  I see a Father longing for a way to have relationships with His children.  I see children who do not understand what they are missing.

All of the great qualities we observe in or read about our God can seem far away when looking at the Old Testament and reading that He set His chosen people aside for destruction and abuse, or when we see large groups of people destroyed, or when the barbaric sacrifices of animals somehow allow for the forgiveness of sins.  I feel at times that the God of the New Testament seems to be much more loving and gracious than the God of the Old Testament.  And yet, since creation, God has had a plan for redemption not just for His chosen people, but for all who called upon His name.  The whole thing can be a bit confusing if I am being honest!  I have to remind myself that God has never changed, He has simply created more opportunities for His children to have a relationship with Him.

The Christian faith is one of just that, faith.  We can scientifically prove many of the events that have happened in the Bible did in fact happen.  However, the idea that an omnipotent God who has created everything in existence chose to create a group of imperfect beings to be made in His image with the purpose of praise, but then those imperfect beings were given free will and ruined it so He had to send them away but He still made a way for them to come back to Him but it still didn’t make them perfect enough so He sent a perfect being as a sacrifice for all the imperfect beings but then the perfect being came back to life to offer hope to the imperfect but the imperfect ones kept making the creation less perfect so one day the perfect one has to come back and fix the imperfect forever so that the omniscient one can live with the imperfect ones who will now be made perfect……Let’s be honest, it doesn’t make sense.  God’s grace requires faith to accept! 

1 Timothy 3:15 – 16 says “…This is the church of the living God, which is the pillar and foundation of the truth.  Without questions, this is the great mystery of our faith: Christ was revealed in a human body and vindicated by the Spirit.  He was seen by angels and announced to the nations.  He was believed in throughout the world and taken into heaven in glory.”  

Our God is a living God.  He has been at work in the nations from day one, and He has had a plan for us to all live in relationship with Him from the start.  Why?  I have no clue.  But faith allows me to know that this is true, and our hope through Jesus Christ allows me to live each day knowing that I have an incredible gift of grace that should be used to praise and glorify the One True God.  Do you accept the completely confusing idea of God’s grace? How do you show that daily? 

(In case you were wondering, I definitely plan on asking God why He gave us free will in the Kingdom…along with many other questions 😊)

-Sarah Johnson

Today’s Bible reading plan passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway.com here – Isaiah 43-44 and 1 Timothy 3

Our God is an Awesome God

Isaiah 41-42 and 1 Timothy 2

Good morning! (Or afternoon, or evening…)

Our God is an awesome God, and He has no problem telling us that!  Isaiah 41 is all about God telling the nations who is in charge.  In certain places, it can seem a little harsh… calling the Israelites weak worms, putting them in their place knowing that their work is worthless compared to God, etc.  HOWEVER, there are also multiple verses where God’s comforting love shows through as he reminds the Israelites not to fear, and that He is there to help and strengthen them (v. 10, 13, 17).  While the passage can be blunt at times, it ultimately is God simply speaking truth to a group of individuals that He cares deeply about.  He wants them to understand how great He is, and how much He cares for them!

In chapter 42 God provides a little more reasoning behind his passionate words towards the Israelites, He reminds them that they are a chosen people dedicated to being a light to the nations (v. 6).  Isaiah has been tasked with sending this message to the Israelites despite the way they continue to reject God.  I can almost feel his exasperation as he does his best to help them understand that they have a purpose, that God has a plan, and that they keep ignoring it! (v. 20) Do you ever feel like Isaiah trying to convince people that God has the best plan for their life?  It can be difficult to speak truth into the lives of others who are not receptive, and it can be hard to see them ignore the need for God in their life.  We must know that it is not our job to convince individuals they need God, He can do that all His own!  Our job is to share the information, model how God can change a life, and continue to pray for their eyes, ears, and hearts to be opened to the truth.

In reality, I think we end up being most like the Israelites ourselves!  We continue to disobey, ignore, or rebel against the purpose God has for us even though we may know exactly what God wants from us.  We all have sin in our lives.  It looks different in everyone!  That is why it is so incredible that God still includes us in His chosen people, and that we all have the same opportunity for salvation and an eternal life with Him in the Kingdom. 

Unlike Isaiah, we are fortunate to live in the time that we don’t have to just tell people salvation is yet to come; we get to share that a Savior has already come, already been put to death for our sins, and has already rose from the grave with a promise of eternal salvation!  We are told in 1 Timothy 2 that God wants everyone to be saved, to come to the knowledge of the truth (v. 4) and that Jesus was a human who gave himself as a ransom for all (v.5-6).  Who can you share some knowledge with today?

-Sarah (Blanchard) Johnson

Today’s Bible reading plan passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – Isaiah 41-42 and 1 Timothy 2

Unexpected Places

Unexpected Purposes

Acts 28

Have there been times in your life where you’ve been taken somewhere you didn’t expect? Last spring, I was taking a drive when I became lost on some of the backroads. I was filled with uncertainty about my location and starting to get anxious about finding my way back. As I found myself where I didn’t expect to be, a lost lamb appeared on the road. It was nearly hit by oncoming traffic as it frantically sprinted down the pavement. The cream and brown spotted lamb was panting from exhaustion. It was scared and confused. Because I was at this unexpected intersection, I was able to get the lamb off the road and put it in my truck. After searching for its farm and calling the sheriff, eventually it was reunited with its home. Sometimes it is the places that we don’t see coming, where we prove to be the most useful.

In Acts 28 we learn about Paul’s experiences on the island where he and the rest of the people on his ship came to be shipwrecked. As we read yesterday, Paul’s journey was quite wild. But God had delivered them safely to this Island called Malta. When Paul left for Rome, he probably never expected to make a pit stop, let alone be shipwrecked at this place. Yet, this was where he was taken, and it was not without purpose.

            On this island, in the middle of the Mediterranean, Paul was able to interact with the people. These inhabitants of Malta saw something different about Paul as they had witnessed him being delivered from the sea and from a snake bite. And then Paul was able to pray for and heal their sick. An island that might not have been a priority for people of that time to take the gospel to had nonetheless witnessed it through Paul’s unexpected stay there.

So, although this time and stay in Malta had been unexpected, it proved useful and it exposed others to the One True God. So, while you may at times find yourself in an unexpected place, do not be discouraged. Sometimes it is the most unexpected places in our lives that God uses us for an unexpected purpose.

-Hannah Deane

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Kings 13-14 and Acts 28

Just So You Know

Joshua 3-4 & Psalm 53-55

Yesterday, Makayla wrote about God’s plan and how perfectly Jesus accepted and fulfilled his part in allowing his body to be sacrificed and overcome by death – for 3 days. And she challenged us to consider how we will each respond, how will we play our part in the unfolding of God’s plan and His will. For each generation, and indeed each individual throughout history has the opportunity to choose how they will respond. Some have chosen very wisely.

Since January first our Old Testament reading has been in one of the first 5 books of the Bible – the Pentateuch, the Books of Moses. We have seen God’s plan unfold from His spectacular creation, the beginnings of life, to the the flood, the rainbow, and the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We saw how God provided for every generation including food during famine and a miraculous family reunion for Jacob and Joseph. And that was all just in the book of Genesis. Next came 4 books and 120 years of God leading and protecting His people through His man Moses – from the basket in the river to the Pharaoh’s palace, from Moses’ stumbling speech at the burning bush to the far side (the safe side) of the Red Sea, from the gift of the Ten Commandments to that wretched Golden Calf, from the mountaintop to the tabernacle God has shown His faithfulness and how He deserves to be followed. He led the Israelites right to the door of the Promised Land, but then ten of the twelve spies chickened out and the people forfeited their chance to be led by God into the land flowing with milk and honey. Instead, that generation would die in the next 40 years as they were wandering in the desert wilderness. Meanwhile, their children were growing up, preparing to wear their dead parents’ sandals (the same ones God made sure didn’t wear out) into the good land promised to the grandchildren of Abraham. Every generation, every individual gets to choose their response to God and His faithfulness.

So, here we are reading the first book of the Old Testament books of History – the book of Joshua. Moses has just died and the reigns of leadership have been passed on to the man who has been Moses’ sidekick for years. Before Moses’ death he had written out the early history of God’s people and God’s laws so that Joshua and those who would follow would know and remember. Moses and God had instilled into Joshua the need to return daily (day and night) to God’s Word as recorded by Moses: “Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:8-9 NIV)

This, too, is the key to our response. Stay daily in God’s Word (all 66 books now – what a treasure trove). The world is still a scary place, just as the 12 spies discovered. And, without a daily dose of God’s Word it is easy to lose sight of God’s provision and lose the strength and courage that comes only from a solid foundation in God’s power and promise.

As Joshua leads the people into the Promised Land it is still the land of giants and fortified cities that had scared away the generation that came before him. But, armed with God’s Word he has the courage to go with God. And God does not disappoint. The first obstacle is the Jordan River at flood stage. Not a problem. Once the feet of the priests touch the water’s edge the waters stop flowing and the people walk across on dry ground. God has Joshua select one man from each tribe to carry out a rock from the middle of the Jordan and these 12 stones are erected to form a monument to God’s miraculous provision, so they can remember and tell the next generation.

It is part of our response to His goodness. Remember. And tell the next generation. I have never seen that pile of rock. But I have seen God at work in my life and at work in the generations before me. And, I have a great gift that lasts longer than the greatest pile of rock – God’s Word. It has been given that I might know the Almighty Father and what He has done. Without it, my memory fails me, and I am fearful. Without it, I lose my courage in a scary world of giants. But, with it, I am armed with strength and courage that only God can – and has – provided. In a scary world – turn to His Word daily.

In our Bible reading today we also have a portion of the Psalms written by David. It reminds us everyone won’t have a wise response to courageously step out and follow God’s plan in a scary world. Every generation also has the fools who say in their hearts that there is no God. (Psalm 53:1) The noise of evil can be loud and distracting and scary, but like David and Joshua and Jesus and every generation and individual we have a choice who we listen to and how we respond. Be in His Word and follow His Way. He knows the way into the Promised Land and He knows how to do the impossible. There is no obstacle too great for our God. Arm yourself with His Word daily. Remember. And tell the next generation.

-Marcia Railton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway – Joshua 3-4 and Psalm 53-55

Good Gifts

Luke 11 

There is so much we haven’t covered in this past week. Just today both the Queen of Sheba and Beelzebul get mentioned in the span of a few verses.  And we never even touched on Numbers or Deuteronomy. But today I want to touch on two things in chapter 11 that I hope will encourage you through the end of lent up to Resurrection Sunday. 

The first is the hope in the good gifts from our Good Good Father. Jesus teaches that reluctant friends are willing to help to persistent demands. I’m a dad; I understand the power of persistent asking! But if my precious (and slightly precocious) daughter asks me for a unicorn, I’m not going to give her a spider. If she wants a PB&J, I won’t give her rotten ham and toe jam. I know what she wants and I WANT to give her gifts, because it brings her joy. 

God wants to see that joy on your face. He is willing to give you his Spirit. God’s Spirit is a powerful, active, guiding, teaching, comforting, and encouraging reality for the church. Called the comforter, the advocate, the Spirit of truth, the Spirit, though mysterious, is how God wants to interact with and empower you for his ministry and for your living. All you have to do is ask, and God is ready to give you this great gift. 

At the other end of the chapter, after Jesus thoroughly ticks off the scribes and pharisees for a majority of the chapter, we read that the Pharisees “began to get hostile” and were “plotting to catch him” in his words. But I want you to remember 9:52. Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem. He is walking there on purpose. While we could try and analyze God’s sovereign control versus human free will in a passage like this, I think there is something more life changing than that. God’s smart enough to work out all things for the good of his people. Jesus knows where his story leads; God is going to use human pride and sin to erase sin and pride. He is going to use the taking of life to bring about eternal life. He is going to transform the pain of this world into joy of the next. Think about that. These leaders think they are taking out a revolutionary “rabbi of the people” who has wounded their egos. Satan is stoking the flames of pride and stubbornness because he wants to take out the Messiah. But God is using all of this in his plan to save humanity. 

Today, when life feels out of control, or overwhelming…

When you are stressed, depressed or obsessed…

When you don’t know where to go, what to do, or how you’ll get through… 

Ask God for the Spirit. To empower you. Embolden you. Comfort you. Teach you. Guide you. Speak through you. 

And he will pour it out. 

Ask God to work all his for your good. Ask your dad to help. Your wise father to work things out in ways you don’t or can’t see. And believe he is already working. Not every pain will end. Sometimes victory is shaped like a cross. But, the end will be a world made better by you, a world blessed by you, and you blessed by the God over all things. Eternal life and eternal peace, in the presence of God, through the death of Jesus, by the power of the Spirit. 

God be with you during these final days of Lent and Easter. 

-Jake Ballard

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Jake Ballard is pastor at Timberland Bible Church. If you’d like to hear more from him, find Timberland on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/TimberlandBibleChurch/ ) and on Instagram (https://instagram.com/timberlandbiblechurch?igshid=t52xoq9esc7e). The church streams the Worship Gathering every Sunday at 10:30 and Sunday School at 9:30. Besides studying and teaching God’s word, he is raising three beautiful children with the love of his life, plays board games and roleplaying games with amazing friends weekly and tries and fails to be less nerdy every day. If you’d like to reach out to talk Bible, talk faith, or talk about Star Trek, look Jacob Ballard up on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/jacob.ballard.336 )or email him at jakea.ballard@yahoo.com

God bless you all!

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading passages at BibleGateway – Deuteronomy 5-6 and Luke 11

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