God Sends Answers

1 Chronicles 25-26

Reading through Chronicles it is easy to skim past large sections that seem to drone on for hours. But the fact that the whole book of Chronicles was true history of the Israelites, that was written down for us to read thousands of years later is truly fascinating. The book of Chronicles which starts off with the genealogy from Adam, shows how much the Israelites appreciated and treasured their heritage and lineage. They viewed their history as all the ways God provided for them over the years. 

Chapters 23-26 are devoted to the organization of the temple. It tells in detail the families who served in the temple and how God chose the people to be servants of the temple by being musicians, gatekeepers, treasurers, and temple officials. These positions were cast by lot. The high priest who wore the special ephod was able to cast lots using the urim and thummim. This was one way God communicated with his people. It allowed God to give the Israelites a direct yes (urim) or no (thummim) answer. 

There are many times in the Bible where it tells us that something was determined by lot. For example, Saul was appointed King of Israel by lot, and the lot was cast on Jonathan when he ate the honey he wasn’t supposed to eat according to Saul’s orders (1 Samuel 14:42), and Matthias was chosen as the apostle to replace Judas by lot (Acts 1:26), and to make decisions on how to divide the land to each of the 12 tribes (Joshua 18:6). The Bible records many other times when the people used lots to seek God’s counsel. 

So what can we take away from all of this? God loves his people, He wants to show us His plans for our lives. Part of God’s character is that he is immutable- never changing through the ages. In most cultures today, casting lots is often overlooked as a means of receiving communication and answers from God, but we must not overlook His word given to us – including Chronicles- which show God’s continuity and love to His people. God knows that we are a forgetful people who don’t remember all the many things God has done over the years. Through Chronicles we see a God who kept his promises to the Israelites and who organized the temple and determined its leaders by lot. This same God is involved in our lives as well. It’s filled with the history of God providing for and keeping true with his promises to his people. It was used to remind the Israelites of these things and it can remind us as well how God was working through their lives and how He is and was and will work in ours. And knowing this helps us Stand Firm for Him.

-Makayla Railton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Corinthians 25-26 and Proverbs 29

Conflict

Acts 25

Conflict within the church weakens community, and ultimately destroys the credibility of the church. In the eyes of the Romans, Paul’s arrest was just another Jewish squabble that needed to be controlled and contained. Arguments in the church make the world look down on us, instead of how God intended the church to be; a light to unbelievers, pointing others to God. Certainly God can still bring good out of conflict but the purpose of the church is to be Christ’s hands and feet doing God’s work.

It is hard to be doing God’s work while you are fighting with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Paul was following God’s direction for his life by going to Jerusalem where he knew he would be imprisoned by the Jewish leaders. From the time Jesus called him on the road to Damascus Paul had been obeying God’s instruction to preach the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul and the Jewish leaders had a lot in common. They both believed in God, and followed all the Jewish teachings and traditions. The difference between Paul and the Jewish leaders is that the Jewish leaders were not listening to God like Paul was and it was creating conflict that affected everyone within the church, the Jewish leaders, and the Romans and Gentiles.

-Makayla Railton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Kings 7-8 and Acts 25

Your Reputation

John 3

What’s your reputation? The Bereans were known for checking Paul´s words against Scripture. Thomas was the doubter. Saul had a reputation for persecuting the Christians before he became Paul. The Pharisees were hypocrites.

The Pharisees were the religious leaders of the day, and at the time were esteemed by many. But in the eyes of God they were dangerous men who didn’t get it. Matthew 16:12 ¨Then at last they (the disciples) understood that he wasn’t speaking about the yeast in bread, but about the deceptive teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.¨ What a common misconception, right? The Pharisees had all the knowledge of the scriptures and Jewish traditions and laws. They were the teachers and leaders of the Jews. Yet Jesus rebukes them because they were missing a love for God.

This type of thinking reminds me of chapter 5 of Matthew where Jesus keeps on telling the people  that they have all heard what the law says but Jesus comes along and ¨tightens¨ up the law, by changing the outward focus inward- off of the laws and onto the heart. The Pharisees had all the knowledge of the scriptures and Jewish traditions and laws but no matter how much they seemed to do they missed the point- following God, not just the laws.

 From what the Bible tells us about the Pharisees we see them continually trying to trick Jesus into messing up, or catch him red handed going against God´s law. They are the ones who plotted and killed Jesus! With the exception of Gamaliel and Nicodemus and Paul, the Pharisees are recorded as hypocrites, blind guides, lovers of  money, and a brood of vipers. (Matthew 23:23-24, Luke 16:14, 12:34) The Pharisees´ hated Jesus and everything he did and said.

In John 3 we see Nicodemus, a Pharisee, come to Jesus at night. Even to come at night had to have taken guts. But when Jesus tells him that one must be born again before they can see the Kingdom of God, he is stuck in his thinking as a Pharisee. But he knows Jesus is different from the rest of the Jewish teachers. Later on in John, Nicodemus makes steps in not following the Pharisees when he convinces his colleagues to allow a trial for Jesus, and when Jesus was laid in the tomb, it was Nicodemus who provided the myrrh and aloes and worked with Joseph of Arimathea to care for the lifeless body of Jesus.

What do you want to be known for? Nicodemus could have been a stereotypical Pharisee but he stepped out to learn from Jesus, the Son of God. He wanted to follow God instead of people. 

-Makayla Railton

Today’s Bible passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here Joshua 23-24 and John 3

How do you fit into His story?

Luke 24

The Easter Story is one of the most beautiful stories ever written, and the best part is, it’s even true! It is a part of a plan written by God and fulfilled through Jesus by his obedience to death on the cross all those years ago. There was purpose in this suffering: so that the sins of the world could be forgiven. There is purpose in every season. Likewise there was purpose in his life of ministry and ultimately purpose in his resurrection. All the seasons of his life brought about God´s perfect and pleasing will. God can use anything and everything for His good. Even pain and suffering. Even a blood-stained cross. Even the death of His precious son.

Jesus knew what he was called to do and he followed through, he died on the cross for our sins. For three days the world was without hope. At the time they all believed that a Savior would come with sword and shield to bring victory over the Romans. It would then make sense that they would reject Jesus as their Messiah because his entire life and tragic death was the exact opposite as how they expected their Savior to come. Thankfully though, God gives us what we need not what we think we want. 

Although Jesus´ disciples were plainly told all the things that were to take place including the hope of Jesus´ resurrection, there was no anticipation of his return because they had forgotten that God´s plans are larger than life- even larger than death, Jesus´ death. They hoped that Jesus would be the one to redeem Israel. Not only did he redeem Israel, but the world, just not in the way they believed it would happen. 

Someone asked me recently what my passions were. But it got me thinking, how do my passions and talents fit together into God´s grand plan? How do I fit into His story? The women who first found the tomb empty were staying focused on doing their ministry. Likewise the disciples all took part in the Great Commission, being witnesses of all that had happened. After Jesus´ ascension they set out to spread the gospel even to the point of becoming martyrs. How can I use where I am in life and who I am in Christ to further God’s plan?

Jesus entrusted his entire life- even life itself- into God´s hands. And it wasn´t without God´s response to Jesus´ obedience. The process is like the call and response section in the back of the hymn books. Back and forth between God and His people. It started in the beginning with God when he created the world and everything in it and brought forth the plan of salvation. Jesus already did his part by dying on the cross, and is now continually interceding for us to God. It’s our turn to call on God and turn our life into a living sacrifice in order for Him to respond in immeasurable ways. Jesus submitted to God´s will and God answered by raising him from the grave. In the same way I believe we as Christians are expected to follow the example Jesus set before us of obeying God´s calling for our life. Use the God-given talents and the passions he has placed on your heart to live for Him, serving Him wholeheartedly. And in God´s timing, His will and His ways will prevail.

-Makayla Railton

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGatewayJoshua 1-2 and Luke 24

Be a tree!

Matthew 13 & Luke 8

There is something so beautiful about watching a plant grow from a little seed to a strong healthy plant. Christians are compared to plants in this way. A spiritually mature Christian should still continue to grow in their walk with God. 

Jesus often taught the crowds and his disciples using parables, which can be found all throughout the Synoptic Gospels. With seven parables in Matthew chapter 13, the parable of the sower is the only parable in this chapter that doesn’t start with “The Kingdom of heaven is like” because this parable is how the Kingdom of God is going to begin. In fact, it is already happening right now. 

There are four different scenarios of what becomes of the seeds that are sown that Jesus depicts here, being eaten by birds, scorched by the sun, choked by thorns, or producing a crop. Which respectively relate to being taken by the evil one, trouble and persecution, worries of life and the deceitfulness of wealth, or yielding a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown. Out of four scenarios there is only one that has roots, which leads to salvation. By having the deep roots, a foundation on God and his word, you will bear fruit. Fruit that can show God’s love and share the hope that we have with others and by doing so yield sixty or a hundred times what was sown. 

To go along with the analogy, John 15:1-8 adds on to it and explains the dire need of having deep roots in God and Jesus. 

John 15:5 says, “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” 

So how are you going to strengthen your foundation and bear fruits? Be a tree! Three out of the four groups are between a rock and a hard place. So defy the statistics. Commit your life as a living sacrifice for God bearing cherries, apples, bananas, and pears. Put in the effort to focus on your foundation. Make it a priority to spend quality time with God. Paul tells us that fruit will come as a result of our faith, so when they do, nurture them, prune, water, weed, do whatever it takes to help them grow. The parable of the sower shows the importance of how we are living our lives right now. So go, be a tree, rooted in God and overflowing with fruit!

-Makayla Railton

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway – Matthew 13 & Luke 8

Tomorrow we will read Matthew 8:14-34 and Mark 4-5.

Thought Checker

Psalm 119:1-88

Psalm 119 11 NIV sgl

(We will read the second half of the longest chapter of the Bible on Sunday – but feel free to actually read the whole thing both days – it is full of good stuff!)

What comes to mind when you hear the word purity? Because we currently live in a fallen world where sin is part of our human nature, we are all impure. Think about it… what about your thoughts? What do you think about? Are there any sins that don’t start with a thought? I’m sure we could learn a whole lot about someone if we could read their thoughts, because the thing about our thoughts is that they are essentially hidden from the rest of the world. And this is why it can be so dangerous. What starts to be a single almost innocent thought can then eventually or suddenly develop from good to bad to ugly. So when would be a better time than now to examine our thoughts and heart. God knows our thoughts, we can’t hide anything from Him, remember? Our thoughts do matter. They reveal what is in our heart. 

 

Thankfully, we can find in Psalm 119 how to stay pure. 

 

Psalm 119:9 How can a young person stay pure? By obeying your word.

 

Psalm 119: 11 I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.

 

Because God’s word should be our treasure in life we should hide it in our heart and meditate on it so that we can obey it and therefore stay pure. So let’s see what Philippians 4:8 says. “ And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” This makes staying pure a little harder, not only should they be pure, they should be honorable as well.

 

 I am so glad this verse made it into our Bibles because it has certainly helped me. When I was little I used to have trouble falling asleep from worrying, until my mom wrote out Philippians 4:6-8 and hung it up next to my bed. Suddenly I had a way to check my thoughts. A thought checker. If it doesn’t align with Philippians 4:8 throw it out of your mind. And even more than that, I was able to memorize it and because of that I’ve been able to use it throughout the years. 

 

Starting some habits can be really helpful in controlling your thoughts. But the first step is to really know the scriptures so you know what is right and wrong. Because how else can we know what the Bible says if we don’t take the time to study, meditate, memorize, and know what it says? Also you will need to commit to memorizing scripture so that when the time comes that they are needed you will be able to pull them out of our pocket and meditate on them. 

Here are some great verses to memorize and hide in our hearts.

 

1 Timothy 4:12 “ Don’t let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way  you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity. 

 

Romans 8:1-2 “And so dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for your. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice – the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

Or 2 Corinthians 6:6, Romans 8:6, or 2 Corinthians 10:5, and many many others. 

 

So the next time you feel like your thoughts are controlling you, make it a habit to test your thoughts and make sure they align with Philippians 4:8.  When they don’t, affirm that it is a thought that doesn’t align with God’s word and toss it out. Just like Jesus said, “Get behind me Satan,” when Peter was a stumbling block for him, you might choose to say something in response to it to help combat it. Then, ask God to renew your mind and help you strive to live a life pleasing to Him. Lastly and one of the most important steps, meditate on scripture. Choose a specific verse that is personal and recite it over and over again. 

 

So how can a young person stay pure? By living according to God’s word. By meditating on Scripture and hiding it in your heart so that you don’t sin. 

 

Makayla Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+119%3A1-88&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Kings 3-4, 2 Chronicles 1 and Psalm 72 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Surrender – to a Great God

Psalm 131, 138- 139 & 143-145

Psalm 145 5 NIV sgl

Throughout these chapters we see surrender, submission, exultation, and countless reasons to put our trust in God. Recognizing God’s glory, David humbly came before God and put his hope and trust in God while praising Him all the way.

 

By learning about who God is, we can then begin to see why He deserves all our attention. God’s attributes are a great place to start. God is omniscient, he knows everything. There is nothing you can hide from Him, ask Adam and Eve. “You discern my going out and my lying down. You are familiar with all my ways.” (Psalm 139:3) God is omnipresent, he is always present. “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?” (Psalm 139:7) God is omnipotent, all powerful. And therefore worthy of all our praise and worship. In reading Psalms we can see nothing but how Great our God is. God knows me better than my family does, or even my best friend, He knows all the hairs on our head, and even the number of tears we have cried. He knows where we are and is present at all times. These attributes of God should be such a comfort to us because He is such a loving God whose kindness reaches all. “The LORD will vindicate me; your love, endures forever.” (Psalm 138:8) His love endures forever. The same loving God we see throughout the Bible loves us. God loves us so much that we can be certain He has our best interest in mind. 

 

“When I called, you answered me, you greatly embolden me.’ Psalm 138:3

“The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.” Psalm 145:18

 

Many times in the Psalms we can see this similar wording over and over again but I think it is important to point out that it starts with you seeking God first, and once you do and call on Him, He will answer. The fact that God cares about me enough to listen to and even answer me shows how Great a God He is. 

 

We are God’s workmanship, servant, and masterpiece. We are His people, and He is our God. Our creator, He knit us together in our mother’s womb, and because of that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. So find your worth in God and trust in Him, who, unlike the world, will give you the truth. 

 

It is so fitting that David ends Psalm 139 with a beautiful surrender to God. David sets the example of opening your life up to God and letting Him lead you in this walk called life. God deserves all our trust, hope, and praise. “May they sing in the ways of the LORD for the glory of the LORD is great.” (Psalm 138:5) Sometimes it can be easy to forget just how much God is deserving of all our praise because in reality he deserves so much more than we could ever give Him. Follow David’s example. Ask God to teach you His will and His ways. Ask Him to search your heart and thoughts. Then surrender to Him and give him all your praise and worship. 

Makayla Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+131%2C+138-+139%2C+143-+145&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Chronicles 26-29 and Psalm 127 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

What are You Looking For?

Seek the Lord!

Psalm 6, 8-10, 14, 16, 19 & 21

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Today’s reading contains my absolute favorite Bible Verse, Psalm 16:8, “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand I will not be shaken.” I love this verse because of its beautiful reminder to seek the Lord daily. Growing up as a Christian my whole life, there is an added need to make my faith my own. And with that comes the importance of having a relationship with our Creator. But no matter what walk of life we are on, we all need to be striving to seek the Lord in all that we do. 

If you make God your main priority in life, He will see you through the rest. Although this doesn’t mean you won’t have any more problems, you can be reassured that God will be by your side the whole way. Continually seeking the Lord.  It’s so simple, and we have all heard it a million times yet its significance is still so important. So how do we continually seek the Lord?

 

Worship- As great as worshiping with other believers can be and is, spending time alone with God in worship can be just as beneficial, if not more. Whether it’s turning on worship music or meditating and praying Psalms, take the time to unplug from the world and plug into God. 

Psalm 95:1-2  “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”

 

Reading the Bible – Dedicating time each day to read His word will realign your focus on God over and over again and is the best way to learn more and grow closer to God. God has given His word to you! Don’t leave him unread! 

 

Memorizing and meditating on scriptures-   Keep your focus in alignment with what is important. One way to do this could be to place a couple of your favorite Bible verses around your house to encourage you to continually seek the Lord throughout your day. Soon you will be thinking of Bible verses from memory. 

Joshua 1:8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; 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.

 

Pray- Just like any relationship between two people, there needs to be communication. Consistent communication. Turns out, the same is true for a relationship with God. When was the last time you talked to God, and I mean really talked, like spilled your heart out to Him? We have an amazing opportunity to talk with the Creator of the universe. And the most amazing part, he hears you. He’s waiting for you to open up your heart to him. 

Deuteronomy 4:7 “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him.” 

Psalm 27:8 “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming’

 

Call on Him- The outcome of seeking God- he will uphold you. When you seek the Lord wholeheartedly, you invite Him into your life, and He will touch every angle of it. That is how our lives can be transformed into  living for Him and His glory. God’s plan for you starts with you looking to the Lord as your strength and foundation every day. .  

Jeremiah 29:”Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 

James 4:8 “Come near to God and he will come near to you…”

Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” 

Psalm 91:14-15 “He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.”

Lastly, another verse from today’s reading, Psalm 10:4 “ In his pride the wicked man does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. 

 

Let’s learn from this wicked man and not make the same mistakes he did. Make room for God in your lives, He can be found when we seek Him wholeheartedly. It’s our job today, tomorrow, and forever.

 

Makayla Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be found at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+6%2C+8-10%2C+14%2C+16%2C+19%2C+21&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Chronicles 1-2 as we continue seeking God in His Word on our journey through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

 

 

 

Growing Love

FREE THEME – Loving through Service

Matthew 22 39

This past week I went to Love Grows, a weekend youth retreat focused on growing your love for others through service. Throughout the weekend we were striving to follow Jesus’ teachings when he told us the two greatest commandments: Love the LORD your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).  This is so important to live by daily. If we love God then we will love others. We need to express unconditional love to everyone, always. By doing this we can train ourselves to see God’s work that needs to be done. Ask God for courage to step out of your comfort zone to do His work. Thankfully, God has given us spiritual gifts, talents, and passions to serve those around us. So use them.  

 

One easy way to show love to others is to serve them. As Christians it’s our responsibility to be the hands and feet of Jesus.  Thankfully we can look to the best example of a servant’s heart. Jesus. The most exciting part is that there are so many different ways to shine and serve.  It could be as simple as giving someone a hug or a high five. Or even easier, smiling. Whatever it may be, take a minute of your time to invest in someone else’s life. Compliment. Listen. Encourage. It’s amazing how big of an impact a little kindness can have. We just have to keep our eyes open for opportunities. 

 

 I want strangers to be able to know that I am different. I want people to see God in me. And I hope you all have similar goals. The only hitch is that it has to be more than just a goal. We need to act in order to make it reality. We should make it a priority. Jesus called us to be different. Be the change. We have a higher calling. Higher standards. Higher expectations. Jesus is calling you to love. 

 

Makayla Railton

 

Saved to do Good Works

Titus 3_14

Titus 3

Today we are going to dive deeper into the discussion of good works and how we should apply it to our own lives.

Among some of Paul’s reminders to Titus, in chapter 3, verse 1, he mentions being ¨ready to do whatever is good¨. (Titus 3:1) Continue to ask God to show you what good works you can do. Ask Him to open your eyes to see what service needs to be done. Since God showed His love to us it is now our job to show that love to others. 

¨This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good.¨ (Titus 3:8)

As we wait for the coming Kingdom we have a job to do. An opportunity to make a difference. Not only that, but it leads to a joyful and fulfilling life focused on God.

¨Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order to provide for urgent needs and not live unproductive lives.¨ (Titus 3:14)

Throughout Titus I see a recurring theme of the importance of good works. This makes me believe that this was something Paul didn’t want Titus and the church in Crete to forget. So maybe we should devote ourselves to doing good as well. Find a way to serve and then do it. 

¨Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody¨       -Brad Montague

Grace (& good works) be with you all,

– Makayla Railton