While We Wait

2 Peter

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Friday, July 14

During high school, I would bring my Bible to study during lunch and free time. Numerous people would ask me why I would put my faith in a book that was written by various authors and not “actually written by God.” I always tried to defend why I believed what the Bible told me but felt like I wasn’t explaining it correctly. 2 Peter 1:20-21 states that we “must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” Had I come along this passage while defending the Bible, it would have been a lot simpler to explain my reasoning.

Being mature in our faith and living Godly lives is imperative these days due to the fact that God and Jesus will soon return. We are to “make every effort to add to our faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if we possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep us from being ineffective and unproductive in our knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:5-8 NIV). The reason we should ensure that we are living to the standards set for us by God is because there are false teachers in the world who will try and lead us astray. These teachers will tell lies that seem to be true, but will also deny the Lord and live sinful lifestyles. The people that are most vulnerable to this destruction are those who don’t have solid foundation in Biblical teaching.
While we wait for the day of the Lord to arrive, we need to “be on our guard so that we may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from our secure position. But we should grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:17-18 NIV). Today, I want you to take the time and ask God to show you how to live a life pleasing to Him and ask Him for forgiveness of your sins. He doesn’t want any of us to perish and wants everyone to repent. I look forward to when God and Jesus come back to make the Kingdom here on earth and pray that we all have salvation! May God bless you today and always. Amen.
-Cynthia Fyfe
(Photo Credit: https://dailyverses.net/2-peter/3/9)

Pearls from Peter

I Peter 1-5

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Thursday, July 13

 

The Christian lifestyle can be hard to follow for a variety of reasons- worldly desires,  living in ignorance, not submitting ourselves to authority, or going through tough times. Thankfully, Peter gives us advice on how to live a life that is pleasing to God and, also, explains how to endure the struggles and hardship we may be facing in our daily lives.

Peter tells us that as God’s chosen people, we need to live holy lives by loving the brotherhood of believers, fearing God, honoring the king, and showing proper respect to everyone. 1 Peter 3:8-9 states: “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” Our lives may become more manageable and less stressful once we dedicate our lives to Jesus.
Suffering from major depression, anxiety, or any other hindrance can be hard to live with. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6-7 NIV). It is nice to know that all we have to do is ask God to take our pain and suffering away because he loves us.
According to 1 Peter 3:17-18, “it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God…”  We are taught to depend on Christ more when we suffer and we shouldn’t feel ashamed for suffering as a Christian. Luckily, we know that we aren’t the only ones suffering in the world and can help each other when things seem to get out of control.
Whatever you may be doing this week, next month, or a year from now, remember 1 Peter 4:7-11: “The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ.” I pray that we all learn how to live the correct way that is pleasing to our Lord and serve Him in whatever capacity we can with the gifts He gave us. God bless you. Amen.
-Cynthia Fyfe
(Photo Credit: https://dailyverses.net/1-peter/3/10-11)

Praying Hard

James 1-5

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Wednesday, July 12

I have seen several ruined relationships within families, friendships, and significant others due to not taming the tongue. Most of these situations would probably have been avoided if everyone were “quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry” (James 1:19 NIV). It is frowned upon to show favoritism to one person over another because it shows discrimination; instead we should be loving our neighbors as ourselves by showing them mercy and compassion.

Within the community that I live in, there has been a lot of (verbal) fighting via complaining, judgment, swearing, and insults. According to James 3:9-10: “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” The community dynamic would undoubtedly be a lot better to live in, despite having completely different personalities and interests, if the people involved thought before they spoke avoiding hurt feelings and strained relationships.

As Christians, our faith will be tested numerously throughout our lifetimes. This testing produces endurance and develops perseverance. Through the testing of our faith, it is imperative to follow what God’s word says while facing several trials. To live wisely, we need to show our faith to God and Jesus through our actions because “…faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:17 NIV). We also need to submit ourselves to God and never have doubts when asking for His provision. If we have the right intentions in asking, God will provide. It is important to humble ourselves before the Lord and stop boasting about the future. As a planner—I love making lists, looking at events to attend, and making plans with friends. However, I have no idea if I will even be here tomorrow. James 4:15 says that we should say “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that,” instead of making plans that might not even happen.

Prayer is significant and powerful in every life situation. I know quite a few people who have given up on hope and stopped being patient in waiting for God. As Christians, it is our job to help those who have wandered away from the truth. James 5:20 states that “… whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins.” So please pray for everyone you know that may need God and Jesus back into their life.

 

Dear Heavenly Father,

I pray that whoever reads this will ask you for help in whatever situation that they may be facing. I pray that people will stop fighting and instead listen to each other with better understanding. I hope that people turn from their wicked ways and “confess their sins and pray for each other so that they may be healed” (James 5:16). Please help me find a way to aid my friends back to you so that they may be saved. Thank you for sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins. I love you, Lord, and cannot wait for your return.

In Jesus’s Glorious Name, I pray, Amen.

-Cynthia Fyfe

(Photo Credit: https://www.kingjamesbibleonline.org/James-1-6_Inspirational_Image/)

Faith Check

Hebrews 11-13

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Tuesday, July 11

Faith is an interesting concept. Many people live their lives just “going through the motions and rarely stop to smell the roses.” Their focus is mostly on themselves and they are distracted by the interruptions the world presents daily. Faith is extremely important to have as a Christian because “without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him” (Hebrews 11:6 NIV). Faith directed the lives of Abraham, Moses, Isaac, Jacob, and continues to direct the lives of God’s children to this present day.

During my lifetime so far, I have had a struggle living for God and Jesus daily. I have tried to live peacefully with everyone and live a life pleasing to God. However, I am not perfect and, unfortunately, have sinned. An important lesson that I have learned through my everyday life as a child of God is that He will always forgive my sins if I ask for forgiveness. Hebrews 12:1-3 states, “… let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” It is imperative that we, as Christians, pay attention to when the Lord disciplines us and that we listen when God speaks because we should serve God with fear and awe in a way that pleases him.

Lately, I have been going through my possessions to figure out what I can donate or sell because I have a plethora of things that I do not need any more. The items that I own are causing me anxiety and making it hard to focus on the more significant things in life. Hebrews 13:5-8 reminds us to “keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So, we say in confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?’” Knowing that God oversees my life makes it much easier to have a clear conscience and a desire to live honorably in my faith.

Today, I want you to remember Hebrews 13:15-16: “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name. And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” God wants us to continue to love each other through good actions, to not fall in love with money, and to endure when life gets tough because gaining inner strength from God’s kindness is good for us. I pray that your faith grows significantly in the coming days and that you pay attention to what God is trying to tell you. In Jesus name, I pray, Amen.

-Cynthia Fyfe

(Photo Credit: http://www.dailylifeverse.com/posts/2014/03/hebrews-11-1)

Something NEW

Hebrews 8-10

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Monday, July 10

Throughout the Bible, there have been many examples of priests and chief priests. However, out of all the priests that have lived, there is only one that is the most important: Lord Jesus Christ. Unlike the other priests and chief priests, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice by dying for everyone’s sins and shedding his own blood rather than using goat or bull’s blood as an offering. Jesus died so that a new covenant could come into play. According to Hebrews 8:10-12, the Lord declared: “I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” This new covenant gives us the opportunity to know God through Jesus Christ if we believe that Jesus died for the payment of our sins and that he will come again to bring salvation to those waiting for him.

God wants us to be wholeheartedly obedient and devoted to him. He doesn’t want us to just be “half-time” Christians. “Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22). This is done when Jesus takes away our sins, enters our lives, and redirects us toward God through baptism. He wants us to encourage each other by showing love and doing good deeds. God is pleased with us when we continue to gather together with other believers because we belong with those who have faith and are saved. Some of you are serving on the UP Project in Minnesota this week, others are working or going to school, and still others may be so excited for FUEL that they are packing a week early. Whatever you may be doing, do it for the glory of God. Hebrews 10:36 states: “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” That sounds like some pretty good advice to follow.

Today, I pray that you find the time to open your Bible and really study God’s Word. He is waiting to have a relationship with you and truly wants your undivided attention. Come to Jesus and God with a sincere heart and a strong faith and ask Him what He wants you to learn or do for Him. Make sure you assemble with other brothers and sisters in Christ and be an encouragement to them. I pray that you will be strong in your faith and share what you have learned with others. God bless you. Amen.

-Cynthia Fyfe

(Photo Credit: http://www.alittleperspective.com/is-the-old-covenant-obsolete-2-2/)

 

Just What I Needed

Hebrews 5-7

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Sunday, July 9

Every so often, I open my Bible and turn to a random book and start reading. I know that whatever page that I turn to that there is a lesson that I specifically need to learn. Interestingly enough, I found that the devotionals that I chose to write on about a year ago were the books of the Bible I needed to read now.

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I wish I could say that I grew up in the Church of God- Abrahamic Faith, attended Sunday School, and went to church every single Sunday. A lot of my friends have grown up in the church, gone to state camp, Family Camp, Southeast Camp, and on retreats throughout their entire life. Growing up, I felt like I wasn’t spiritually fed and was still like an infant in my faith. Hebrews 5 explains that many people should be teachers of scripture yet they are still learning the basics rather than expanding their knowledge of what God wants to teach them.
I decided to attend FUEL for the first time about ten years ago to learn more about the Church of God of the Abrahamic Faith and just what it meant to be a Christian. I wasn’t disappointed. Hebrews 6:13-15 states: “When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, ‘I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.’ And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.” I love our church because I know that we are a part of this promise.
Hebrews 7 talked about how Melchizedek (who is known as a priest forever) and Abraham (the father of the chosen people) were two men who were faithful to God and followed Him because they had confidence that God would fulfill His promises. None of this would have happened without an oath. “Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant” (Hebrews 7:22). Jesus is known as the high priest who is able to mediate between us and God since he sacrificed himself giving the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of the people. Hebrews 7:28 states: “For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.” I don’t know about you, but I am extremely thankful that Jesus saved us from our sins.
It is important to understand that God wants us to obediently devote time in our every day lives to offer up prayers, work hard for His glory, and wait patiently for His promises. So take some time today and pray that God will provide confidence in you and that He will teach you something new.
-Cynthia Fyfe
 
(Photo Credit: http://www.alittleperspective.com/hebrews-7-our-better-hope/)

Do Your Best…Always

Colossians

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Saturday, July 1

Colossians 3:23-24 states, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”  It starts out by saying “whatever you do”, which means we are talking about everything that you do.  We are talking about your homework, your job, mowing the lawn, taking a vacation, praying, and brushing your teeth.  We are talking about how you spend your time every day all day long.  You need to do everything with all of your heart.

That seems a bit extreme.  Everything?  Really?  When you are baptized, you are saying that you are no longer going to live your life for yourself, but rather for God and Jesus.  Therefore, your whole life, everything you do, should be for your heavenly masters.  You will want to do your best, work with all your heart, because you are doing it for Christ, not for human masters.

If you find yourself not giving your best effort, you need to ask yourself a question.  Should I even be doing what I am doing?  If your grades are slipping in school because you just aren’t trying very hard, you should ask yourself if you should even be attending school.  If you come to the conclusion that school is important because of all of the learning and that it will help you be much more successful in life, then you should start doing your best because you are doing it for Christ.  If it is worth doing for Christ, you need to do it well.

Most people fail at this from time to time with their jobs.  You may not enjoy the work you do and are just doing it for the money.  You may not like your boss and find it easy to slack off at times.  However, if you have determined that you should keep your job, even if it is just for the money, you need to work at it with all of your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.

If you are baptized, you have given your WHOLE life to Christ.  If something is worth doing for Christ, you need to do it with all of your heart.

-Rick McClain

(Photo Credit: https://biblia.com/bible/esv/Colossians%203.23-24)

Power Struggle

Ephesians 4-6

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Thursday, June 29

There is no such thing as a power struggle in a Godly marriage.  Ephesians 5:23 states that the husband is the head of the wife.  I get the feeling that some women have a hard time agreeing with that these days.  They aren’t going to let their husband tell them what to do.  I am convinced that the reason God put man in charge has not changed through the years and this rule still applies today.  Why would God have the man and woman become one in marriage, but then tell the woman to submit to the man?

I think God was trying to keep harmony in the marriage.  Think about a church board that had two people on it and they both got one vote.  In other words, neither one had more power than the other.  What would happen if they disagree on something?  Perhaps they could compromise or one could give in to the other, but I suspect if they both had very strong opinions, they may not be able to come to a resolution.  It would probably not end well.  I am not sure, but I suspect this could be the reason we no longer have Simon and Garfunkel.  What a shame.

The husband is the head of the wife, but it is important to look at the whole picture.  God is in charge of everything and Jesus is next in line, above man.  Man is number three.  The man has been given orders on how to be a leader.  He doesn’t get to make all of the decisions.  Many of the important decisions have already been made for him and he just needs to carry them out.  Think of God as the owner of a store, Jesus as the manager of the whole store, and man as the department manager of one of the departments in the store.  The owner gets to do whatever he wants to do with the store.  The store manager follows the directions from the owner and makes sure all of the department managers are doing what they are supposed to do.  The department managers get to make some decisions within their area, but they must follow the directions from the owner and store manager.  Man does not have the freedom to do whatever he wants; he must follow the directions from God and Jesus.

Wives need to submit to their husbands, but Ephesians 5:25 tells husbands that they need to love their wives.  Verse 28 clarifies it even more by saying husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies.  We all have selfish tendencies so we all know what it is like to want to make our own lives as good as possible.  A massage feels awesome, certain foods taste wonderful, and eight hours of sleep feels great.  In the same way that we desire these good things for ourselves, men need to make sure that they are supplying this level of love to their wives.  They need to constantly be aware of their wives’ needs and fulfill those needs with the same vigor they would use to take care of their own needs.  In fact, they will need to sacrifice their time and energy to love their wives the way they should be loved.

Men, it is true that you have been given the power to make decisions in your marriage, but I suspect some men abuse their power and use it to keep their women down.  They enjoy being in charge and they make sure their women know that they are in charge.  They use that power to make their own lives better, rather than loving their wives the way they should be loved.  Ephesians 5:26-27 explains what men should do with their power.  He should present her in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless.  In other words, he needs to use his power to lift her up, not keep her down.  He needs to invest in her life to make her the most she can be.

The struggle is NOT real as long as wives submit to their husbands and husbands love their wives.

-Rick McClain

What is Jesus Doing These Days?

Ephesians 1-3

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Wednesday, June 28

God is eternal in both directions, past and future.  He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and the only God there is.  Jesus received all his power and knowledge from God and he had a beginning.  Jesus is not God.  That is very clear to me for many reasons we will not talk about in this devotion.  However, I have always tried to figure out what Jesus’ role is today.  I have heard very different opinions about his authority and power.  I have heard some say he is our king today and others have said he will be our king in the future.  Should we pray to Jesus or only to God?  Can Jesus forgive our sins?  Should we worship Jesus?  The answers to these questions cannot be explained by me in a few paragraphs and I cannot even say I am totally clear myself how it all works, but I am going to point to some scripture that will help to answer some of the questions.

Ephesians 1:19-22 says,”…These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised him from the dead, and seated him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come.  And He put all things in subjection under his feet, and gave him as head over all things to the church…”  Christ was put in a place of authority, power, and dominion FAR above everybody else when he ascended to heaven and was seated at the right hand of God.  This already happened so he is already in a great position of power and authority over all of us.

Does Christ use that power today?  In Matthew 11:27, Jesus says, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father.”  He follows that up in verse 28 by telling the weary and heavy-laden to come to him and he will give them rest.  He doesn’t tell them to go to God, Jesus says to come to him.  He clearly is willing to play an active role in our lives today.  This doesn’t mean God is not in the picture, in fact, Ephesians 2:18 says that through Christ we have access to the Father.  And again, all of this authority and power came from God in the first place.

In Mark 2:1-10, Jesus forgave the sins of a paralytic and the scribes started wondering the same thing that some still wonder today.  They thought only God alone could forgive sins.  Jesus let them know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.  Interestingly, this was obviously before he ascended to heaven that he already had the authority to forgive sins.

Philippians 2:9-11 states that God highly exalted Jesus, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  The definition of lord is master, which means Jesus is our master.  He is the head of the church, which I believe is not just a title, but an indication that he is very involved in the church today.

This is far from an exhaustive study on this topic, but it is clear to me that Jesus is not on the same level as man these days and he is active in our lives if we want him to be.  He is also not on the same level as God, and God is still involved in our lives as well.  I will continue to search the scripture for more answers on this topic, but I think what I have covered in this devotion is a pretty good start.

-Rick McClain

 

Living for the One who Died for your Sake

2 Corinthians 5-7

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Friday, June 23

For the love of Christ compels us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.   2 Corinthians 5:14-15

 

Has anyone ever done something really nice for you and you then feel like you just want to do something nice in return for that person? That is how Paul views the love of Christ. Elsewhere, Paul declares that “for one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die” (Rom. 5:7). Christ exemplified God’s selfless love in that he gave his life for us when we were nothing but unworthy sinners. We were not good people, or righteous people. We were sinners. But in spite of our rebellion and sin, Christ gave his life for us, and through that demonstration of love, we have been united with Christ in his resurrection and have new life inside us. Christ’s act of love and grace changed everything in Paul’s world, and it does in ours too.

 

Is the new life we have not the kindness and most generous thing anyone has ever done? Christ died for everyone so that everyone might have the chance to have true life in him. Therefore, for those who have put their trust in Christ and have received new life, the question becomes, “How should we respond to that act of kindness and love?” Do we feel like we want to do something nice in return? If we have the natural response to return kindness to our fellow neighbor for such a small favor of finite value, how much more should our response be to one who has shown the greatest kindness the world has ever seen?

 

Paul says that “the love of Christ compels us” (v. 14). He finds the rationale for this attitude in the fact that Christ’s gift of sacrificing himself on the cross is so moving and profound that it causes him to respond in humility and service to the Lord. Christ’s love is so deep and awe-inspiring that Paul describes it as a force that urges him to continue in his ministry and to live for the sake of Christ rather than his own self. The word translated “compels” means “to be pressing in” or “to constrain.” In Paul’s mind, he has “concluded” or “become so convinced” of the love that Jesus has shown him in his death that it has now become the controlling force that influences every single choice he makes in life.

 

What would make you not live for yourself but for someone else? Would someone dying in your place compel you to change your life? How do you repay someone who is responsible for saving you, for pulling you out of the death that so pervades the world and giving you a hope of a future and a joy and peace in your heart that exceeds anything the world can offer?

 

What is your response to such an act of love? Would you give up your selfish desires in response to that love? Would you live a life that glorifies and honors someone else and settle for being hated by the world? If Christ’s love compels you, ask in prayer how you should respond to the love of the savior? You might just find the most fulfilled life you never thought possible—living for the one who died for your sake.

 

-Jerry Wierwille

 

(Photo Credit: https://biblia.com/bible/esv/2%20Cor%205.21)

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