Living Stones

1 Peter 2

1 Peter 2 5 NASB

Often, we think of our life as our own; and it is to a point. We think we just go and do what we want, when we want and no one else has any right to say anything about it. The thing we need to remember as Christians is that we have given our lives to another. We have devoted ourselves to service. As such the master to which we are devoted is constantly guiding us … Are we following?

Peter tells us to put aside ALL malice, guile, hypocrisy, envy, and slander. He suggests this will come naturally as we long for the pure word of God. This will cause us to grow in salvation and kindness. One of the best ways we can show love to one another is to show kindness to others. He says that as we have seen the kindness of God we will show kindness to others.

As His servants we are constantly being built up into a priesthood for Him. That does not mean we are going around in black shirts with white collars but it does mean we are to be serving Him with our entire being. We are called to offer sacrifices to God. Verse five of this chapter reminds me of Romans 12:1

Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Romans 12:1 (NASB)

The sacrifice we offer is one of ourselves, not merely something of value to us but our entirety. We are chosen to serve Him as capable in His power, we are His possessions to serve as His people, for His glory and purposes. Peter continues to tell us that as we do what is right we may turn others to serve God as they see our actions. Also in doing right we will silence false accusations as all have seen us doing right by Him.

We are also called to respond differently than those around us. Many people are vicious toward others, especially when wronged. God is calling us, through Peter, to a better way. He has called us to be true to Him and to turn the other cheek as Jesus gave example. He reminds us that sin is no longer our master but we are now servants of Christ and his Father, our Father.

-Bill Dunn

Thankfulness and Greater Blessing

Ruth 2 13

Ruth 2:13-23

Ruth exemplified a beautiful thankful heart in the beginning of this passage. She recognizes that she is being blessed by the customs of a culture where she really has no right to reap (pun intended) the benefits. Ruth thanks Boaz for treating her with such kindness, tells him that he has put her heart at ease and hopes that she will continue to find favor in his eyes. He immediately responds to her humble heart with greater blessings that are above and beyond the custom. He invites her to eat with him — a prominent and wealthy man — as well as indicating to his servants in verse 15, As she got up to glean, Boaz gave orders to his men, “Let her gather among the sheaves and don’t reprimand her. Even pull out some stalks for her from the bundles and leave them for her to pick up and don’t rebuke her.”
When Ruth returns to Naomi with the fruit of her labor, Naomi can tell that she had been truly blessed in her work and that someone had shown her great kindness. Here we see that Boaz is actually a close relative and Naomi and she determines that he is being kind and gracious due to the familial ties.  Naomi blesses Boaz for taking notice of Ruth and encourages her to stay with Boaz’ female servants as she knows no harm will come to her while she works in his fields. I believe the most important aspect of this passage that we can take away is thankfulness and humility.  Ruth is a hard worker who also shows great thankfulness in how she speaks to Boaz.  Not in every situation are we returned greater blessing when we have a thankful heart but we are called to be thankful to God. Ruth is really living out her faith by being grateful. Take a moment to search verses in the Bible on thankfulness. The Psalms especially are riddled with praising God and being thankful to him! One way to love God more deeply is cultivating this spirit of thankfulness and gratitude. In prayer today really thank God for who HE is and what HE has done — especially through Jesus to provide a way for salvation and our hope in the coming Kingdom of God.
Praise the Lord, all nations!

    Extol him, all peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us,
    and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.

Praise the Lord! (117:1-2)

-Shelby Upton

Kind and Good

Kindness & Goodness 2

Some have referred to kindness and goodness as the twin fruits. Kindness and goodness are so closely related that sometimes it is not easy to distinguish between them. A kind person is also a good person; a good person is by nature a kind person. Both of these characteristics stem from love. Some have said that patience is suffering love; kindness is compassionate love; and goodness is ministering love.

Kindness is more about our attitude and goodness is more about the things we do for others.  Some people are born with a kind, gentle personality. This may come natural to them. But others have to lean on the power of the Holy Spirit to help them be nice.

These characteristics which are produced in us by the Holy Spirit have to do with our relationships to others. We usually think of kindness as an expression of love from one person to another, and of goodness as a quality of being pure.  It is striking that parents are forever telling their children to “be good,” but they never need to suggest the opposite to them. Being “bad” seems to come naturally.

Without the Holy Spirit within us, our nature is inclined toward that which is evil and bad. But the Holy Spirit produces in us kindness and goodness, helping us to minister to the world with the love of Jesus. What the world needs is Jesus—that means more love, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and caring generosity.

Katie-Beth Fletcher

The Earth is the Lord’s

Psalm 24

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I absolutely love to see God’s creation. I love the snow falling on the bare, winter trees, covering them perfectly. I love to see the sun beams shining through a forest. I love the ocean and beaches with the seemingly never-ending water and countless (for me, not God) grains of sand. I also love rocks and mountains and caves. It’s amazing how different each nature scene can be, yet, each created by God.

Not only did God make these beautiful landscapes for us to see, but He also made YOU! Psalm 24 is one of my favorite chapters because of the first verse.

“The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it;”

 I love how this verse is a great reminder of how God made the earth and breath-taking landscapes along with all the people in it. In fact, we’re created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27). Each of us are created in the image of God, which shows how we should treat others with kindness and love, because they too are made in the image of God, just like yourself.

Going back to the 24th Psalm, verse one, helps me realize that sometimes, I just need to step back and remind myself that this beautiful earth is God’s and the people that live on it, are made by God, too. Next time you get to experience new parts of the world you’ve never seen before or even the next time you look outside your window or step outside your house – see the nature you pass by every day and remember who made it. Remember who the earth belongs to. Remember that you belong to God, too, and that’s pretty special!

-Moriah Railton

Empathy & Faith

Hello everyone!

Thanks to Graysen Pack for agreeing to write our devotions for this week. Check out the email below to learn a little bit more about the topic.

Our memory verse for this week is Galatians 6:2.

*** For our email followers, follow this link if the above video is inaccessible: https://youtu.be/MZdLKkwCrec.

 

 

It’s Always Been About the Condition of the Heart

Micah 5-7

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Tuesday, April 18

The latter half of Micah includes passages about judgement, God’s frustration with the people of Israel, and a prophetic utterance about the future king of Israel coming from a tiny blip-of-a-town, Bethlehem. Among these three chapters, we will look at Micah 6.6-8. Despite a common misconception that the Old Testament is concerned solely about external obedience to Torah (the Jewish law) and that it says nothing about the heart issue, our passage speaks directly about the heart.

Starting in verse six Micah asks a rhetorical question, ‘What should I bring to God”? Should it be burnt offerings? How about yearling calves? What about a thousand rams! The answer is none of these. We can find a similar message in Hosea 6.6. Micah tells the Israelites plainly “He [God] has told you, O man, what is good” (Micah 6.8). What is good in the sight of God are not sacrifices and mere external obedience but exacting justice, loving kindness, and walking or obeying God humbly, all of which are impossible to do without a transformation of the heart. The remedy to the corrupted leadership in Israel we looked at yesterday is found in here in verse eight. Israelites, return to God with all your heart-fully devoted to him, upholding justice, loving kindness, and obeying God, this is good in the sight of Yahweh!

You and I can read this passage and think ‘silly Israelites of course God doesn’t want your sacrifices, he wants your heart’! However, just because we’re removed from the historical context, doesn’t mean we don’t struggle with the same problems. For example, some of you reading this may keep up with the ‘look’ of a Christian, yet have let your heart linger far from him. You attend church, youth group, and camps. You instagram your Bible readings and caption verses on your selfies. These are not wrong or bad, however, if this is the extent of your Christian faith, God is longing for something much deeper and significant. He wants your heart. Have you surrendered in your heart completely to the will of God and what he desires for you? In the words of Micah, do you uphold justice? Do you love kindness and see people as God sees them? And lastly, do you humbly obey and walk with God? We all can return to God in some area of our lives and give our heart back to him.

-Jacob Rohrer

(photo credit: http://www.godswordimages.com/wallpaper/gentleness/micah-6-8/)

How Do WE Become Men/Women after Gods Heart? (2 Samuel 19-20)

Monday, October 24

By Sherry Alcumbrack

King David has a distinction that no one else in the Bible has. Act 13:22 “ After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.” God calls David a man after his own heart. When we read about King David, we read how he committed adultery with Bathsheba, had her husband killed, etc. But when God forgives us after we repent, he forgives and it is like it never happened.

What made David a man after God’s heart? One of his characteristics that stand out in these chapters is his kindness. He was kind to several people, and he wasn’t kind to these people because he thought they could repay him.

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The first instance is with Shimei, now you may not remember that name but in Chapter 16 he was the man, from the family of Saul, who came out cursing King David and throwing stones at him and his servants when Absalom was pursuing him. After Absalom is killed and David is coming back to Jerusalem, Shimei meets King David at the Jordan River, he bowed before him and asked for his forgiveness. Abishai advised the king to put him to death because he had cursed the Lord’s anointed. King David said in 22b and23 “Should any man be put to death in Israel today? For do I not know that I am king over Israel today?” The king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” Thus the king swore to him.

We heard about the kindness of King David to Mephibosheth earlier but he wasn’t finished. Mephibosheth did not leave with King David, and his servant Ziba lied to David about Mephibosheth. King David asked him “Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?” It had hurt King David because he thought another friend had deserted him. By this time King David had given Ziba the land that belonged to Mephibosheth but he restored it to him and said that he and Ziba would divide the land. But Mephibosheth was such a loyal friend that he said, “Let him take it all, since my lord the king has come safely to his own house.

The third story involves Barzillai, an old man who had taken care of the king when he was in Mahanaim. Barzillai was also someone that showed kindness to others and thought nothing of taking in the King even when he might have brought death to his own family if Absalom came after him. King David wanted to show his appreciation by taking him back to Jerusalem. Barzillai went with him as far as Jordan. He told King David, I am an old man, hard of hearing, I can’t taste what I eat or drink and I do not want to be a burden to you. Let me go back to my city to die near the grave of my father and mother. But he offered someone in his place, Chimham, (probably his son.) King David said “Chimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him what is good in your sight; and whatever you require of me, I will do for you.” Later it is noted in 1 Kings 2:7 David tells his son Solomon to “show kindness to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead and let them be among those who eat at your table.”

Showing love and kindness to others who cannot repay us is a hallmark of Christians. It is what we are called to do in Matthew 7:12

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Intentional Kindness (II Samuel 8-11)

Thursday, October 20

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Nathaniel Johnson

We all know that kindness is a trait that we should strive for as followers of Christ. Certainly kindness follows from serving others. In chapter nine, David shows a great act of kindness to a man that did nothing to deserve it. Sometimes, we think that kindness is responding positively when we see something. Like when you see a man struggling to carry a bunch of stuff and you offer to help him out and then go the extra mile with him and carry it for him (Matthew 5:41).  That’s a great way to show kindness, but what we see David doing here for Mephibosheth is very different. David didn’t know that Mephibosheth existed until he sought him out. Sometimes, to show God’s love, we have to intentionally look for situations where we can improve someone’s life. David did his research. He asked Ziba if there was anyone that he could show kindness to. For us to be as kind as King David, we also have to do our research. Maybe for you to show the kindness of a king is to volunteer and you, too, need to do your research. Find a cause that you can show kindness to. Do your research, and then hold nothing back, just like King David.

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