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

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

A Fake News Detector

Jeremiah 23-25

Jeremiah 23 21 22 NIV sgl

The Cambridge Dictionary has recently added a new entry: Fake News.  Fake news is defined as: “false stories that appear to be news, spread on the internet or using other media, usually created to influence political views or as a joke.”

President Trump can probably be given a lot of credit for making this term a part of our everyday lexicon.  But fake news is nothing new.  In fact, it’s been around since the days of Adam and Eve and the serpent.  When the serpent told Eve, “You shall not surely die” if she ate from the forbidden fruit, the serpent was spreading fake news.

During the time of Jeremiah there was a lot of Fake News going around Jerusalem and throughout the land of Judah.  The fake news was being spread by people who claimed to be speaking God’s truth.  They were prophets and priests and other religious leaders who were telling everyone, “Everything is going to be okay, nothing to worry about, the king has everything under control.”  The problem was, everything was not going to be okay, there was plenty to worry about and there was absolutely nothing that their king could do to stop it.  Those messengers of fake new were peddling a false hope to the people of God, and they were doing a lot of harm.  God said that they were actually strengthening the evildoers so that they don’t repent.  They were doing the exact opposite of what God wanted.

Against the backdrop of fake news that was being spread by false prophets, God called Jeremiah to be a voice of truth with a clear message from God.  Amidst all the claims of “everything is going to be okay”, Jeremiah said to the king and other political leaders as well as the priests and religious leaders, “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture, declares the Lord.”  Woe, is a word of warning, it is a word of condemnation, it is a word of judgment.  God is declaring judgment against the civil and religious leaders in Jerusalem who are allowing God’s people to practice idolatry and all kinds of evil.  God is declaring judgment against the kings who are entering into alliances with the surrounding empires, hoping that Egypt or Assyria will protect them against their enemies.

God had been extremely patient with His people.  Psalm 103 reminds us that God is “slow to anger.”  God had sent a steady succession of prophets to speak truth and warn His people to stop worshipping idols and stop looking to their neighbors to be their protectors.  God sent prophet after prophet to call his people to repent.  Jeremiah alone had been prophesying for 23 years, warning people to repent.  Yet they still failed to listen.  They chose instead to listen to the fake news that was being spread by the false prophets who were saying everything is going to be all right.  God said that they actually “prophecy the delusions of their own minds” (23:26) and that they are spreading “reckless lies.”  “Each ones words are their own message.”

Truth is very important to God.  He wants His people to speak the truth.  Jesus would later say, “I am the way, the TRUTH and the life, no one comes to the father but by me.”  Paul reminds us that we are to practice speaking the truth in love.  Telling the truth whenever everyone else is spreading fake news is an act of love.  For Jeremiah to courageously stand up year after year in the midst of false prophets telling lies should inspire us today to not be afraid to stand up and speak the truth.  Of course, to speak the truth we must make sure that we are hearing it from God.  We must keep our eyes in God’s word and our heart tuned in to God’s spirit and we should filter everything we hear and think through the filter of God’s revealed truth.  That takes both courage and dedication, and time.  Are you willing to invest the time into hearing and discerning God’s truth?  Do you have your fake news detector fully operational?  Are you willing to speak God’s truth in love, even if it feels like you are a lone voice and nobody is listening?

Pastor Jeff Fletcher

 

Today’s Bible passage, Jeremiah 23-25, can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Jeremiah+23-25&version=NIV

Tomorrow we will read chapters 26-29 of Jeremiah as we continue through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan