Led Astray by the Sweet Aroma

Proverbs 5

Have you ever tasted vanilla extract? Vanilla extract is a kitchen ingredient that has a decadent scent. Whenever I use it in recipes, I am always tempted by its sweet vanilla aroma. However, I know better because of giving into this temptation when I was a young child. I remember when helping my grandma make cookies, I smelled the extract. It smelled so nice. So, I tried a bit and quickly spit it out as it was very bitter. Did you have the same reaction?

Vanilla extract smells as though it should be pleasing to the taste buds, but it leads us astray. It is, in fact, not delicious as its scent would make us believe. It instead leaves us with the desire to wash our mouths out.

In Proverbs 5 an adulteress in mentioned. The adulteress, it reads, has lips that drip honey, but in the end are actually bitter. Much like the seductive nature of the adulteress, so is sin in our lives. The things that tempt us may look good at first. But in the end will only be bitter to us. What looks pleasing to us in the moment, may not be so pleasing if we fall into the temptation.

The book of Proverbs time and time again tells us to listen to instruction so that we may be able to stay away from temptation. My grandma had told me that the vanilla extract was bitter and that I would not like it. But I didn’t listen. I could have avoided the bitter taste, but I was led astray by the sweet aroma. I forsook her instruction for the vanilla extract that looked pleasing in the moment.

-Hannah Deane

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 2 Kings 1-2 and Proverbs 5

Watch Your Step

Proverbs 4

Have you ever seen the videos of people walking down a street when suddenly they fall in a construction hole? They were too busy watching their phone screen that they did not look where they were going. Because they were not watching, they stumbled and fell into something that was well marked as being dangerous. Maybe you have experienced something like this yourself.

Sometimes in life we can be like this. In our walk of faith, we don’t pay attention like we should. Something other than the path draws our attention and we stumble. In those videos, the person usually walks right into a construction zone that is marked with bright orange cones and construction tape. It is not a secret that what they are walking into is dangerous. However, they refuse to look at their path and keep walking regardless.

Proverbs 4:25-27 tells us to look ahead and to keep our eyes fixed on the path ahead. When we allow our eyes and our thoughts to be distracted by other things, we are more likely to fall into the pit. We need to instead put our eyes away from such distraction and turn to the LORD. We need to keep our eyes on Him and His Word so that when temptation comes our way, we can see it and turn from it. Just as Proverbs reiterates, we need to listen to instruction. Instead of ignoring the warning signs, we need to avert our path away from them. We need to follow the directions that guide us away from the hole. We need to keep our eyes on the path.

-Hannah Deane

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Kings 21-22 and Proverbs 4

When You’re Ready to Give Up

1 Kings 19-20

Have you ever been hiking on a strenuous trail or baled hay on a hot summer day? These tasks can prove quite difficult as your muscles become strained, you become overheated, and your endurance slowly dwindles. The idea of stopping and taking a nap or just quitting all together sounds very tempting. It seems like the best thing to do, but you have to keep going.

I remember one day when I was unloading a wagon full of hay bales on a hot and humid summer day. There were about 60 hay bales to unload and stack in the barn. About halfway through, I started to get tired. I was hot from the bright sun. I was itchy because of the hay that covered me, and I had rope burns from the twine on the bales. I was ready to be done, but I couldn’t stop. Rain was coming in that evening and I had to get the hay under cover before that happened. So, I kept going until my task was finished.

In 1 Kings 19, we find Elijah at a point where he is ready to give up. He is on the run again. Jezebel wants him dead, so he flees from her grasp. But he is tired of running and having to look over his shoulder. He felt like he could not continue in this way any longer. Those before him had been put to rest and he says he is no better than them. Therefore, he asks God to let him die.

Rather than letting him die, though, God sent him sustenance through an angel. Bread and water were offered to Elijah that he might have the strength to continue. So, he went to sleep again and then the angel appeared once more providing more food. This food gave him the strength he needed. For without it, he could not have made the journey. It was not yet Elijah’s time. There was work that he still needed to do, and God gave him the strength to do so.

Sometimes it can be hard to carry on with our tasks, but God is there to strengthen us. Like a cool glass of water at the end of a hike or when baling hay, God is there to sustain us. God was there to strengthen Elijah and we too can be strengthened through God.

-Hannah Deane

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Kings 19-20 and Proverbs 3

Brought Together by God

1 Kings 17-18

In 1 Kings 17, we are introduced to a widow that was struggling in the time of the drought. Now Elijah had been sent to stay with this widow by God. The brook he had been living at dried up. He needed somewhere to go, and this was where he was told to seek refuge. When he comes upon the widow, she is out gathering sticks to fuel the flames that would cook what she perceived to be her and her son’s last meal.

When Elijah asked her for a drink, she was more than happy to comply. However, when he asked her for some bread, she revealed her situation. She had no bread. All she had was a small bit of flour and oil. She said she was saving this for her and her son, for they were going to eat it and then die. She did not believe that they were going to make it through the drought. In her mind, this was the end of the road for both her and her child.

But then, as we read, Elijah tells her not to fear for the LORD would not allow her to run out of flour or oil until rain came again. He offers her hope. The widow showed great faith in what Elijah said. She did not question this or wonder how such a thing could be promised. She went in and did as Elijah had said. She had faith in God’s promise. And so, as Elijah had said, the flour nor the oil went empty. They had plenty to eat. God had provided for them and kept his promise.

Here was this widow and her son. She is on the brink of preparing their last meal, when Elijah shows up. God used the widow’s home as a place for Elijah to find refuge. And through Elijah staying there, God provided for the widow and her son who were on the brink of starvation. God orchestrates many stories and brings many people together so that they may help one another. God used the widow to help Elijah and Elijah he used to help the widow.

-Hannah Deane

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Kings 17-18 and Proverbs 2

The Instruction Booklet

Proverbs 1

Have you ever tried to help a child put together a toy train track? There are so many pieces and in the end they are supposed to make a complete track. Some of the pieces make sense and, well, others are like that onion ring you find in an order of fries. No instruction booklet is included, so you are on your own. You attempt to put the train track together yourself based off of what you think it looks right. If you are like me, the end result is a train track with very strange turns and a dead end. It is not the complete figure eight as pictured on the box. If only the factory had sent some sort of instructions, then perhaps you wouldn’t be in this fix.

In Proverbs 1, we learn from that, “the beginning of knowledge is the fear of the LORD”. It tells us that only fools despise the wisdom and instruction that they receive. The Bible offers us so much instruction on how to live our lives. Proverbs tells us to walk in the way of wisdom and here we are told that to be knowledgeable we must look to God. He is the foundation of knowledge and only through Him and the heeding of His word can we hope to access true wisdom.

It is encouraging to know that, unlike the factory and the toy train, God gave us an instruction booklet. He didn’t expect us to just figure it out, but God gave us His word so that we may have wisdom and know Him. Sometimes, though, when we are going through hard times, it can be difficult to remember to go to Him and His word for guidance. Like with the train, the instruction booklet may not have been included, but I could have Googled it. Sometimes we get so caught up in the moment that we forget to look for wisdom and instruction.

-Hannah Deane

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Kings 15-16 and Proverbs 1

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

Believing God in Tough Times

Acts 27

Paul’s journey to Rome in this passage is anything but simple. When those with Paul on the ship to Rome went days without seeing the guiding light of stars or the sun, they gave up hope of ever being saved. But then Paul spoke. He shared with them what the angel of God had told him. He assured them that although their situation seemed dire, they would be delivered. It was God’s plan for Paul to appear before Caesar and Paul, neither Paul nor those with him, were to be lost at sea before that could happen.

Although this situation and the knowledge that he was to be tried by Caesar when he reached Rome must have been difficult, Paul kept trusting God. When God sent word to him, Paul did not look at the situation and doubt what God was saying. He believed God’s word, and so much so that he shared what God had planned. From the passage we can see that Paul did not even question the way in which they were to be saved- a shipwreck! Here Paul is lost at sea, facing trial by the ruler of the Roman empire and now finds out he is to be preserved for that by being saved through a shipwreck. That is a lot to take in and yet, Paul remained faithful.

This made me think of a time in my own life when I was being driven to an airport on a major highway. A car sideswiped us, and we went across several lanes of traffic, nearly hit a concrete barrier and then swerved back over a few lanes. In that moment, it seemed the vehicle I was in was going to be hit again. The situation seemed taut and like there could be no good outcome. However, miraculously the vehicle I was in and the vehicle that had hit us suffered no injuries and were not hit a second time in the busy traffic. Even in a situation that seemed hopeless, God preserved us, and we even got to the airport on time.

Sometimes, though, in these moments it is easier to think of what could happen, like getting hit a second time or being lost at sea and not on what we should be thinking about- God. But we must look to Paul as an example and trust God in tough circumstances as he did.

-Hannah Deane

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Kings 11-12 and Acts 27

“Truth has Perished”

Jeremiah 7-9

Jeremiah 7 27b NIV

In this world we come across many lies on a daily basis. Through misleading advertising, exaggerated and twisted news stories, social media, and what the masses say, we are introduced to many forms of dishonesty. Sometimes it is difficult to know what to think or what to believe. This can also take a somewhat dangerous turn when we start to believe the lies we are told. Sometimes the truth makes us uncomfortable. Therefore, it is easier to accept the lies and trust in that which makes life and our decisions a little simpler. We begin to trust in deceptive talk.

This is a topic that is written about in Jeremiah chapter 7. The LORD tells Jeremiah to relay to the people that they should not trust in deceptive words. God says that such words are worthless. The actions that believing in such nonsense bring about not only pulls us away from God, but also brings shame upon ourselves.

Sometimes we may view our faith as an entre that we order from a restaurant. We read the menu and instead of accepting the dish as it is, we decide we need to tweak it. We want it to fit our taste and what we want. So, we ask the waiter or waitress to leave the onions off the burger. We may even ask that instead of a beef patty, could it be replaced with a chicken patty? And maybe instead of a bun, we ask for lettuce. We also ask to substitute the fries for a baked potato. At the end of our ordering process, our entre looks completely different. Instead of a burger with fries, we have chicken with a salad and baked potato.

It is easy for us to treat the Bible in the same way. We may like this passage and this one, but not that one. So, we keep what we like and ignore what makes us uncomfortable. We then begin to believe this deception that we have told ourselves and that perhaps others have told us as well. The world might even tell us what we should and shouldn’t believe in the Bible. This is what the people of Israel did as well. They began to forget the ways of the LORD. They did what they wanted and what suited them. They still would go to the temple, though, and say that they were safe there. They wanted God to bless them, but they didn’t want to put in any effort. They believed the other nations and followed the gods of those people. They allowed themselves to be deceived and misled.

Let us take this as a lesson. We can learn from the mistakes of the people in this passage. We have to actively search for the truth. We can dig into scripture. We can, as written in Proverbs 7:3, write it on the tablets of heart. Through doing this we can determine what is true and right. We can avoid believing in the worthless words of deceit.

Hannah Deane

 

Today’s Bible passage, Jeremiah 7-9, can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+7-9&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Jeremiah 10-13 as we continue on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

At the Crossroads

Jeremiah 4-6

Jeremiah 6 16 NIV sgl

Imagine that you are on vacation. You are searching for a special restaurant that you wanted to visit while in the area. However, you get lost and come to a crossroads. You don’t know which way to go.  There are two clear options that you have. You can either look for guidance from your GPS or you could ask a local. The other option is relying on yourself to figure out the way even though you are at a loss.

There are many lessons that are taken out of Jeremiah 4-6, but perhaps the one that stands out the most is found in chapter 6. In verse 16 it talks of standing at the crossroads. It says that we should seek the ancient paths when at the crossroads of life. We need to seek the guidance offered to us.

There are many crossroads in life such as the one in the vacation example. However, the crossroads are sometimes not as material as the one in the example. The crossroads we face are not necessarily physical. Many times, they are mental and spiritual ones. Sometimes we feel lost and we do not know where to go next. We don’t know what decision to make, where we should go, or even if we should take that job, or go to that college. Life is full of decisions.

In these times of uncertainty, though, we do not have to find the right way on our own. God is there and if we seek him, he will lead us. He will direct our steps. If we go it on our own, more than likely we will take a wrong turn. We will end up feeling more lost and confused than we did in the beginning. If we rely on ourselves and our sense of direction in an area that is foreign to us, we could get in trouble. We could follow a road that would take us into the bad part of town or to a place where the bridge is out.

However, if we ask for guidance; if we seek the ancient ways, as Jeremiah calls it, we will be set in the right direction. The locals and the GPS have wisdom and perspective that we do not.

How do we seek these ancient ways? Reading the Bible, digging into that Word, and prayer is a great way to seek this guidance. I have come across many so-called crossroads. Some of them more confusing than others. These crossroads included times when I didn’t know where I should work, if I should serve in a certain mission field or not, what I should study in college, and figuring out how I should react in certain situations. I would always feel confused in these situations, but when I remembered to pray, it seemed to come into perspective. That guidance and comparing the aspects of the situation to the stories in the Bible helps me to make these decisions. By seeking the counsel of the LORD, I was able to know which way to go when brought to the crossroads. Prayer is a powerful tool that we have graciously been given access. So let us use what has been made available to us.

 

Hannah Deane

 

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

Tomorrow’s reading will be Jeremiah 7-9 as we continue our journey through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Called and Used by the Generous God

Jeremiah 1-3

Jeremiah 1 5 NIV sgl

These first 3 chapters of Jeremiah have several applications for the reader. In the beginning of this book, we learn about the calling of Jeremiah. Before Jeremiah was even born, the Lord set him aside to be a prophet. God wanted to use Jeremiah to fulfill this calling. Jeremiah at first believed himself incapable of such a thing. But the LORD said he would be with Jeremiah. He would not only guide him; he would also protect him. Jeremiah then trusted God and began this work.

We can learn a lesson from this. Sometimes it is easy to doubt ourselves and believe that we are incapable of something. We may think that God couldn’t use us because of x, y, and z. In reality, though, it is not by our strength or ability that we serve the LORD. It is rather him working through us. So, by doubting ourselves, we are doubting the ability of the LORD to work through us. Jeremiah also did not believe himself capable of being called, but nonetheless he was. The LORD called many sinners such as David, Jonah, Paul, and countless others. So, do not doubt yourself. The LORD is capable of calling you and through him, you are capable of answering that call.

Another interesting thing found in these three chapters is the fact that God warned the people of their ways. He did not make them guess. Sometimes when we are upset with someone, we think that the offending party should be able to figure out why we are upset with them. God did not do this. He used Jeremiah to tell them what they were doing and what they needed to do. If I really think about this, I think of how generous and caring this act is. Even though the Israelites were completely in the wrong and should know what it was they were doing, God still communicated with them. He did not keep them in the dark even though they were ignoring him.

It is interesting also that it seems like the main thing that God is asking of the Israelites in these chapters is for their repentance. Through Jeremiah, he tells them that they should not continue on in their ways as though they are doing no wrong. They should acknowledge what they are doing and repent. They needed to accept that they were wrong.

It can be hard though to admit when we are wrong. By doing this our pride is injured and we have to humble ourselves. It is far easier to keep doing what we were doing and act like we are in the clear. This, however, is not right. We need to admit when we are wrong. Through doing so, we can grow and mature.

 

Hannah Deane

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+1-3&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be Jeremiah 4-6 as we continue on our journey through God’s Word with the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan